We’ve all been there: You’re planning a trip to New York City and you have no idea what you’re going to do while you’re there. You want to plan the best trip ever and take in everything there is to see around NYC without seeming too touristy. To help you plan your trip, here’s a roundup of the best things to do in and around the city, and not one involves visiting Times Square.
Check out the theatre scene.
New York City is home to one of the greatest theatre scenes in the world. From the Public Theatre (which hosts Shakespeare in the Park) to Broadway, there’s something for everyone. If you’re planning at the last minute, you can score discounted tickets for Broadway shows by Googling “broadway shows NYC” or by visiting TodayTix. So whether you want to see The Rockettes, West Side Story, or Mean Girls, you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank.
If the traditional theatre scene isn’t for you, why not attend a live TV show taping? It might seem touristy, but being part of a studio audience can be fun. You can tell everyone at home you were on The Tonight Show, and you can learn more about how TV is made.
Go on a culinary journey.
As America’s melting pot, NYC offers a diverse range of cuisine you won’t find anywhere else. Try some Japanese chicken-skin skewers at Oh! Taisho in East Village or a Balkan pie at Ukus in Astoria. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Queens Night Market for cultural performances, art, and food.
If you want to keep it simple, nothing compares to a slice of New York pizza. If you’re interested in learning history about New York’s most iconic food, exploring the neighborhood where it all began, and finding out what all the fuss is about, consider embarking on an expert pizza tour.
Go apple picking.
If you’re looking to venture outside the city, central NY has plenty of beautiful farms and orchards. Plan a visit in the fall to see the changing leaves in the Catskills—or, if you want to travel more upstate, the Adirondacks. You can also harvest some of the best Gala, Red Delicious, and Fuji apples for cider and pies.
If you’re planning a spring or summer trip, don’t worry—many orchards, like Stuarts Farm, are open year-round and also offer strawberry, blueberry, and blackberry picking.
Venture into New Jersey.
New Jersey isn’t as bad as everyone says it is—in fact, there’s a lot to love about Jersey. Jersey is equal parts suburban, rural, and urban, and combines the charm of Pennsylvania with the grit of New York.
Take the time to explore the Appalachian Trail, Short Hills, and Seaside Heights, and you’ll see what Jersey is all about. If it’s your first time in NJ, make sure to stop at a diner to try a fat sandwich, the ultimate late-night Jersey comfort food. Instead of renting a car, look into bike-sharing in North Bergen, NJ for a more affordable trip.
Visit the One World Trade Center Observatory.
Located in Manhattan’s Financial District, the One World Trade Center Observatory is the highest building in the Western hemisphere. Although it might seem touristy—and you’ll have to deal with crowds, cameras, and selfie-sticks—visiting the Observatory is a one-of-a-kind experience that’ll leave you speechless. If you’re interested in visiting, buying tickets beforehand can help you skip the lines, and every ticket comes with a virtual reality guide to the city.
Whether it’s your first time visiting NYC or you’re coming back for more, these ideas can help you make the most out of your trip.