If you’re like me, a student on a budget, or just have some time to spend in the city, here are a few options that range from tourist-mode to quiet down time. I haven’t included all the tourist hotspots, just a couple which really left an impression on me. The rest are just places in the city I really enjoyed.
This is my absolute favorite place in the city. A rather small park, surrounded by tall buildings, Bryant Park is a small escape from everyday life. Grab a book, a blanket and enjoy sitting on the green grass as the sun shines down on your face. While there are some tables and food & drinks available at the small café around the park, sitting on the grass is free and if you’re looking to avoid city stress an hour in Bryant Park is the perfect idea.
Big plus: Free. Close to Times Square and thus many subway lines.
Cons: Not as enjoyable if the weather isn’t great; good to check reports before heading there for the afternoon;
One World Trade Center
This is my absolute favorite view of the city. The 360 degree view is breathtaking and of course personal photo-ops with a background like that will turn out pretty great. Not a free option, but if you’re looking for a very tourist-y option to get a skyscraper snap of the city, this is definitely the place to go.
Big plus: If you’re like me and are terribly afraid of heights, you’ll appreciate the fact that the elevator isn’t a glass one looking outside and that it travels super-fast.
Cons: There is a line and it’s not always short. My advice: buy the ticket in advance to avoid it and plan accordingly.
This is the place to go if you’re looking to enjoy something that isn’t really the city itself. The ocean, the beach and the amusement park certainly make you feel like you’re very far away from the rush of NYC. It can be a bit crowded, but if the weather and company is nice, it’s a great way to destress.
Big plus: It’s the beach – perhaps the best location to be at in the summer.
Cons: If you’re like me and aren’t driving, it’s not very close. If you go I suggest making the most of your day: bring friends, games and high spirits to enjoy it and make the long trip worth it.
Jersey City Waterfront
Ok, so this isn’t exactly New York, but it IS an amazing view of the city. Both daytime and nighttime are absolutely stunning. Exiting the Path train, you’ll find yourself literally two minutes away from the Hudson River, overlooking NYC and especially the financial district. You can spot all the major buildings and walking down makes for a very enjoyable, quiet afternoon. Bring a friend or a book and enjoy!
Big plus: Literally makes for the best memories of what the city looks like. Not just for photos, but just for taking in its beauty in a rather peaceful environment.
Cons: If you don’t care that much for the views, you’ll be bored rather fast.
Statue of Liberty
Ok, so this is easily a very tourist-y thing to do. A must I might add, but it can be very enjoyable. The park surrounding the Statue itself is beautiful and again you have a great view. I chose to take the ferry from the New Jersey side and although there was a crowd, having bought the ticket in advance I didn’t really wait that long. I however did not plan for the burning sun, so make sure to bring some sun screen, a hat or anything if you want to avoid turning as red as I did.
Big plus: The ferry ride; I get sea sick easily, but thanks to medication I really enjoyed the ride to the Park, the sun and wind in my hair.
Cons: It can be very crowded, so come mentally prepared for it.
The Frick Collection
If you’ve been to The Met and MoMA multiple times, you might want to try something else. I was very much taken aback by the beauty of this place. Not only you can see many great (and some famous) pieces, but the “castle feel” it has makes you never want to leave. I returned to the Fragonard room multiple times during the same tour, just because I thought it was so beautiful. And if you do some research, you’ll be able to find discounts or even free entrances on certain occasions.
Big plus: The interior garden; a small lake in the middle of it, benches to sit on
Cons: It’s not a large collection, so it won’t take up a whole day to see. But Central Park is right across, so you can end your art-filled afternoon with a walk in the park.
A park on abandoned train tracks – what more hipster way to enjoy the city? And while the place might be a bit crowded, the originality of the idea and the addition of some much needed vegetation among all the concrete makes a visit at High Line worth it. Bring a snack, walk and enjoy this city escape.
Big Plus: It’s a low stress activity and it doesn’t take much time – perfect ending to a full day of activities in the city, whether work or just visiting.
Cons: Well again, you need good weather to really enjoy being outside, so … you know what to do 🙂
Disclaimer: This post is in no way endorsed by any of the places or establishments described. This is a personal opinion.
Photo credits go to the website’s author.