"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover."
i will list the typical "touristy" things, and expound on them:
1. Statue of Liberty: the staten island ferry is FREE and you can see her from the boat if you take it. just get on the 1 train all the way to south ferry. to get to ellis island the ferry is $17 and it's $3 to climb to the crown. there is also a museum on the island.
2. Times Square: make sure you get the obligatory picture in front of the screens. the 1, 7, and NQR lines stop at times square, which is 42nd st.
3. A Broadway show: just go. it's worth the expense. if you have time to kill, the tkts booth in times sq sells discounted day-of tickets, but i believe it's a first-come first-serve basis
4. Rockefeller Center: my favorite place. accessed by the BDF trains. climb to the top (top of the rock- $27) for views of the city skyline, shop at anthropologie, the lego store, j.crew, longchamps, and many, many more. see radio city music hall and the classic gold statue. in the summer the sea grill restaurant seats people under it and in the winter it's an ice skating rink. the home of nbc universal studios is there, and i hear celebrity sightings increase in that area. you're also close to...
5. Magnolia Bakery: delicious cupcakes!
6. Empire State Building: a gorgeous site to behold from all over the city. $27 to climb. 33rd and 5th ave - take the NQR or BDF lines
7. Chinatown/Little Italy/SoHo: find fun, quirky, gifts, scarves, jewelry, food and other things in this area. be prepared to bargain! the 6, J and NQ trains will get you to these 3 places.
8. Chrysler Building : don't confuse the empire state building and the chrysler building. check out my "how to not be a touristy tourist" link for the difference.
9. Washington Sq Park: near nyu, with the washington arch that always reminds me of l'arc de triomphe in paris. take the FM or NQ there.
10. 9/11 Memorial: the E train is probably the best one to take. you must make a reservation, but i believe the memorial itself is free.
11. Columbus Circle: central park south and 59th st. i think this is such a pretty area. take the AC, 123 or BD trains.
12. FIT - Fashion Institute of Technology: free museum - it's small but chronicles the history of fashion and you can always see some very interesting outfits in this area. take the 1 train.
13. Central Park & Central Park Zoo: well cp is huge, and there's a ton to see. a little respite from the crazy city. take a horse-drawn carriage tour ($50 for 20 min), enjoy the zoo, which is $12 admission or find the bethesda fountain where a scene from enchanted was filmed.
14. Strand Books: 18 miles of new, used and rare books. 828 broadway (near union sq).
15. Grand Central Station: this place is beautiful. just beautiful. full of restaurants, shops and also a subway station, this place is worth going into whether you need the subway or not! park & 42nd.
16. MOOD: "thank you mood" the famous saying from project runway. a hidden little gem filled with fabrics and all sorts of sewing goodies. 7th & 37th; probably the 1 train is the best bet.
17. Macy's on 34th St: just go :)
18. Brooklyn Bridge: get lost in brooklyn, then walk the bridge back into the city. it's so gorgeous and you can view the skyline on your way over.
19. Greenwich Village: i searched for a "friends" tour and found a $40 for a tour of movies/tv shows filmed in nyc. i'm sure with some more hunting i can find out exactly where the set is that they used for the show. gv is close to washington sq park.
20. Madison Sq Park & the Flatiron Building : near the 456 train to w 23rd in between broadway & 5th ave will get you here. eataly is near here, the flat iron building is just cool looking and the park is a nice place to sit and eat (there's a shake shack in the park that's delicious)!
21. watch the sunset on Riverside dr: on the upper west side. you get a view of jersey city and see the sun set over the hudson river.
22. Highline Park: such a cool place. it's a 1-mile park that's elevated on old train tracks. there are benches, plenty of greenery, and art and restaurants. it ends near the meatpacking district, so after the walk you can shop or eat. the ACE line and then a little walk will get you to the highline.
23. MOMA, the Met, museums galore: so many museums. they may have an admission price, but it's a "suggested donation" so just give whatever you feel like you want to. don't pay the $25 tourist trap price. locals pay between $2-$7 for the museums.
24. Bryant Park - shops, a small ice rink in the winter, restaurants.