It’s a blustery evening, a sudden gust of wind whips through the trees, shimmying directly underneath Marilyn Monroe’s dress, airing out her unmentionables, and scintillating audiences worldwide. This scene, like countless others, takes place in New York City, a playground for tourists from around the globe. In 2011, approximately 51 million people visited the city that never sleeps, according to New York City and Co. research. Touring NYC is a must, if not for the experience, then for the bragging rights of having visited some of the most photographed and recorded spots on the globe. Where should a traveler go to make the most of this epic trip?
To get the pulse of a city, you must dive headfirst into the culture. Taking a tour first thing is the best way to get a sense of what makes NYC tick. Big Apple Greeter is a not-for-profit organization that connects you with real New Yorkers who walk you through various parts of the city, offering insight into the inner workings of each neighborhood. The tour is free, and the information is fresh and authentic. This organization is designed to connect visitors to the city beyond the glitz and the glamour. Additionally, if what you want to see is what is in the magazines and movies, there are tours available specific to your requests.
Even lifelong New Yorkers will admit, some of the attractions most worth your money and time are often mislabeled as kitsch or cliche. Don’t let the sharp-tongued wit of the natives sway you from checking out the city. There is no shame in experiencing what lifers have forgotten, the absolute joy and wonder of the spectacle that is the Big Apple. Witnessing the lights and splendor of Broadway plays is an unforgettable excursion and worth the expense. Watching high-profile actors and actresses, all while steeping yourself in the history of theater, is a trip in itself.
You must eat, and in NYC, the choices are endless. After a long day of sightseeing and adventure, fine dining may not be your immediate desire. Instead, stick to fare you can scarf with your hands — sandwiches. Adam Platt of New York Magazine affirms sandwiches are the comfort food of the moment, and boy, is he right. There is nothing better than a portable, sometimes gourmet, and other times economical, sandwich. Check out the iconic Butterfly NYC for a succulent six ounce patty melt and a cocktail or two.
Or, if you are looking to engage with the hipster crowd in Brooklyn, try Sea Witch Tavern’s famed wonder, Steve’s Polish Wedding Kielbasa sandwich, made with garlic kielbasa and barrel cured sauerkraut, and served with house mustard. This sandwich is what hot dogs dream of becoming. Sea Witch Tavern also offers a variety of snazzy cocktails, so booze freely.
And, of course, you’re probably wondering, what about the Statute of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, and Grand Central Station? Well, indeed, do check those out, but don’t forget to get off the beaten path, and experience the concrete jungle in all its diverse glory.