As a pretty loyal Southern California girl, I tend to have a bias against every other place in the United States. It’s nothing personal — I just prefer my weather to be about 75 degrees at all times and the beach to be a 15-minute drive from my house. Despite my rather snobbish introduction, this article won’t be some judgmental and misguided discourse on why Los Angeles is better than New York City. But I must say, I did feel like the entire city was trying to suck all my money out of me. But wait — LA does that too! Anyway, New York, like Los Angeles, is a completely unique and magical place, and I certainly wasn’t going to let some strange city rivalry get in the way of having a good time.
On my long summer of ‘18 East Coast tour, I found myself hopping a Greyhound bus with my roommates and taking the long, four-hour journey from Washington, D.C. to the city that never sleeps. Which by the way, is a completely accurate name — we stayed near Times Square, so we experienced this firsthand. While my trip was short and NYC is a place you need lots of time to explore, I’d like to think my roommates and I experienced some of the best it has to offer.
Museum of Modern Art
While it’s famously known for being the home of Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” don’t miss the countless other masterpieces in the gallery, such as Claude Monet’s giant waterlilies. There’s also a sculpture garden in the middle of the museum that’s great to stroll around if you get tired of being indoors. Modern art certainly isn’t for everyone, but I’d encourage you to give this one a try.
Central Park boats
Central Park is one of the most fascinating parts of New York City. Somehow, in the middle of this giant, crowded metropolis, there’s a forest with a castle, seven bodies of water, paths to run on and a lovely view of the city skyline over the trees. There’s no better way to see it than in one of the Central Park rowboats. It’s a wonderful outing with friends and family, and pretty inexpensive as well.
Bryant Park and the New York Public Library
Bryant Park is another green oasis in the middle of Manhattan, with the famous giant library in it. The park has lots of seating for a nice lunch or reading session, and an adorable carousel. Don’t miss the game stand as well, where there is The Settlers of Catan among some other fun games — you just grab and play with friends or a stranger you meet in the park!
If you’re a fan of the Met Gala or a fan of ancient history, you’ll probably like the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Currently, the “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” exhibit from this year’s gala graces the walls with ominous church music and some ethereal dresses. Don’t miss the ancient Egypt exhibit, complete with the Temple of Dendur and a giant collection of sarcophagi. You can also go on the rooftop, which is complete with a bar and probably one of the best views of the city and Central Park.
Walking across the bridge is ridiculously touristy, but after trying it out, I can safely say it’s totally worth it. Ignoring all the wannabe Instagram models trying to pose on the rails and the families that like to block the pathway, it’s fun to walk and you can even get a little view of the Statue of Liberty.
Prospect Park Smorgasburg
Once you’ve walked across the bridge, and if it’s a Sunday, make your way to Prospect Park for its Smorgasburg. The Smorgasburg is basically a giant food fair, with an almost overwhelming number of food stands with treats from all different cultures. Some of my favorites were the raclette cheese sandwich, strawberry lemonade, Japanese shaved ice and fresh oysters. It’s a foodie paradise, but it also probably has something for even the pickiest eater.
New York City doesn’t feel like it’s an East Coast city. When I’ve been to other cities in the east, I’ve gotten a similar old, historical, colonial-era feel — but New York is different. It’s filled with so many fascinating people, smells, sights and so much culture. It’s created an identity for itself that can’t be seen or felt anywhere else; not even every movie ever can capture it. You truly have to go experience it for yourself.