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New York City really is the city that never sleeps. There are countless landmarks, museums and parks to visit and new experiences to enjoy at every corner, at any hour, whether you happen to be here on a short business trip or just found an apartment for rent in New York City and you’re eager to explore the urban jungle that you are now calling home.
When it comes to things to do in New York City, the number of attractions can get overwhelming. But we’re here to help you with a list of essential attractions that will help you discover the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.
Take a stroll along the High Line
What better way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city than by taking a walk along the High Line on Manhattan’s West End? This abandoned 1.45 mile-long elevated freight rail was transformed into a public park that runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District all the way to its terminus on W. 30th St. in Midtown — with several access points in between, including one at Hudson Yards.
The High Line is the perfect place to take photos of Manhattan’s incredible architecture, admire works by local and international artists and wander through one of the many gardens inspired by the plants that once used to grow on the derelict rail tracks.
See a Broadway show
No trip to the City that Never Sleeps would be complete without catching a Broadway show. There are plenty of great shows to choose from year-round, including The Music Man, Moulin Rouge, The Phantom of the Opera, Hamilton and Chicago, our all-time favorite, which is playing at the gorgeous Ambassador Theatre on W. 49th St.!
Broadway shows attract thousands of people each night, so make sure you get your tickets — and score those great mezzanine seats — in advance. Next, arrive at the theatre a few minutes before the doors open: queuing outside and building anticipation just adds to the experience!
Get in touch with nature at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park
Central Park is undeniably one of the most famous parks in New York City and the entire world — but we challenge you to go off the beaten path and visit another green gem that’s just as exciting! Take at least a few hours to explore Flushing Meadows–Corona Park (or simply Flushing Meadows, as locals call it), which is located in Queens, the largest borough of New York City. Tucked between the Flushing and Corona neighborhoods, the park is only half the size of its bigger brother in Manhattan but has something for everyone, including a zoo, a carousel, Queens Theatre, Queens Museum and the New York Hall of Science.
Plus, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center that’s located here hosts the U.S. Open, so the park is a well-known destination for tennis fans as well. Perhaps the most recognizable attraction at Flushing Meadows is the Unisphere, a metal structure that’s a remnant of the 1964 New York World Fair. The stainless steel globe appeared in various music videos, movies and TV shows and was used for promotional material by music bands like Depeche Mode and the Beastie Boys.
Wander through memorabilia at the Museum of the Moving Image
Ready, set, action! The history of the Museum of the Moving Image is intricately tied to the history of Famous Players-Lasky’s (later known as Paramount) first studio, which opened in Queens in 1920. This was way before movie production companies started relocating their studios to California in the 1930s and Hollywood became the epicenter of the film industry. The museum occupies one of the 13 buildings that once made up the Astoria Studio complex.
Located on 36th St. and 35th Ave. in the Astoria neighborhood, the studio has seen many silent films recorded here, featuring movie stars like Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino, as well as some of the first-ever “talkies”. After several decades of falling into disrepair, the establishment — now known as Kaufman Astoria Studios — is going through a revival, with “The Irishman”, “Ocean’s 8”, “Sesame Street” and Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” filmed here. With a focus on history, technique, technology and art of the moving image, the museum is a great place to visit for both film buffs and aspiring filmmakers.
Get your hip-hop groove on
The Bronx is widely recognized as the birthplace of hip-hop music, so it only makes sense to explore the genre’s history, especially if you’re a die-hard fan of the style. The best starting point for your trip down the hip-hop memory lane is at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. in the Morris Heights neighborhood. The very basement of this apartment building is where the Godfather of hip hop, DJ Kool Herc, presided over what is arguably known as the first hip-hop party nearly 50 years ago, and the rest is history.
Next, immerse yourself in the surroundings while walking along the Hip-Hop Boulevard. We’re not making that up: a portion of Sedgwick Avenue has been officially recognized by a bill signed by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio. You’ll definitely want to check out the Universal Hip Hop Museum that’s dedicated to documenting, preserving and celebrating anything hip-hop, from music and dance to culture and art. The museum, which is scheduled for opening in 2023 or 2024, currently occupies a space at the future Bronx Point on Exterior Street in the south part of the borough.
Explore DUMBO like a local
If this is your first (or second, or third) trip to New York City, you’ll most likely want to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge that connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. And while the bridge is an iconic destination in itself, we encourage you to walk even further and explore DUMBO, a small neighborhood that has emerged as one of Brooklyn’s top places to visit in recent years. First, you should know that DUMBO stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The neighborhood is a former industrial area known as Gairville, that has been repurposed into a lively residential area filled with apartments, lots of pizza restaurants, shops and art venues.
For those who happen to visit the area in May, the most fun thing to do is attend the famous DUMBO Drop, Brooklyn’s most iconic block party where thousands of toy elephants are parachuted onto Washington Street. This is actually a fundraiser party, and you can even decorate an elephant’s parachute for $5, with all the proceeds going to help Brooklyn’s public schools.
Admire Lady Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island is the fifth borough of New York City and perhaps the least visited by tourists, but we guarantee it’s just as interesting! It’s also the greenest borough, boasting no less than 170 parks, including a huge landfill that’s being converted into a 2,200-acre public park. Plus, Staten Island is a great place to visit for history buffs: Historic Richmond Town, located on the South Shore, is the island’s oldest and largest cultural site, with lots of restored buildings dating back to the 17th century.
On the North Shore, you can also check out the Alice Austen House, where female photographer Alice Austen spent her childhood in the 19th century. One of the top attractions here is the Staten Island Ferry, which is the only transportation directly between Manhattan and Staten Island and has been fare-free for more than 20 years. So why not take the opportunity and get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline like a local?
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Veronica Grecu is a senior creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With more than 10 years of experience in the real estate industry, she covers a variety of topics in residential and commercial real estate, including trends and industry news. Previously, she was involved in producing content for Multi-Housing News, Commercial Property Executive and Yardi Matrix. Veronica’s academic background includes a B.A. in Applied Modern Languages and an M.A. in Advertising and PR.
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