Story originally appeared on Westgate Resorts.
New York City is known to be one of the most vibrant cities on earth – it’s the city that never sleeps! And although the city was quiet for most of 2020, the Big Apple is coming back to life in a big way. NYC has always attracted a diverse company of residents and visitors, because of its unique ability to cater to the interests of everyone lovers of theater, art, history, fashion, architecture, nature, food and music all conglomerate in the roughly 33 square miles of Manhattan and beyond. From rooftop bars NYC locals love to karaoke places and haunted spaces, there are so many things to do in NYC and now is the perfect time to visit the city and make the most of your time there. Here are 10 Reasons to Visit NYC Right Now!
1. To take a winter stroll through Central Park
No trip to the city is ever complete without a walk through Central Park. Compared to the sweltering months of summer, a winter walk through the park is relaxing and a great way to get fresh air and your steps in. Is it even a trip to Manhattan if you don’t hit 10,000 steps before noon? Grab a cup of hot coffee or hot chocolate and throw on your walking shoes for a workout that’s relaxing, scenic and classically NYC. New York can be quite gray during the winter, so bonus points if your trip includes a sunny day! Other fantastic parks to relax in around the city include Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, and Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
2. To enjoy smaller crowds than ever before in the city
It’s no secret that the past year has hit the travel industry hard, with millions of people around the world putting their travel plans on hold. During my last visit to the city, Midtown was packed shoulder to shoulder as visitors from every corner of the globe fought the crowds to get the best glimpse of window displays and synchronized light shows. Visiting the city now will allow you to enjoy smaller crowds more than ever before. This is especially true at major tourist attractions in Midtown like Rockefeller Plaza and the Empire State Building. As much as we want the city, and life as we knew it to return to normal, for now, these small crowds are a huge plus!
3. To get that drool-worthy Instagram shot
Now is your chance to get that influencer-quality photo without a million people in the background of your shot! While the entire city could easily be your backdrop, some popular photo op spots include the Vessel, the Flatiron building, Times Square and if you venture into Brooklyn, the intersection of Washington Street and Water Street, where the buildings perfectly frame the Brooklyn Bridge – known to be one of the best instagram spots in NYC .
4. To support small businesses and local eateries
After being forced to close for several months, many NYC eateries are struggling to stay afloat. Between take out and outdoor dining options, there are still tons of restaurants that are open, eager, and ready for your business. Piccola Strada is one of my favorite family-owned and operated spots in all of Manhattan. Located in the East Village, this tiny Italian eatery packs a big punch! It’s BYOB so you can save money on drinks and focus on their mouthwatering menu of homemade sauces and Italian classics.
5. To get a great rate on a hotel!
Looking for the best hotel deals NYC has to offer? So many of the city’s hotels are offering great deals to entice travelers to begin visiting the city again. Before booking an NYC hotel, consider the health and safety procedures they have in place. Many hotels in the city also offer a destination fee make sure you select a hotel that offers food or beverage credits to use throughout your stay and make this fee worth your while. While the subway system makes it super easy to get around, it’s still a good idea to consider the area your hotel is in and what you might be able to enjoy within a comfortable walking distance. You may also want to check into the hotel’s cancelation policy with the travel environment changing so frequently at the moment.
6. To explore a new neighborhood
If you tend to stick to one or two neighborhoods during your visits, now is the ideal time to explore a new part of the city. Every NYC neighborhood offers something different, from museums and nightlife to family-owned cafes dating back to the 1920s. You’ll immediately notice changes in the atmosphere as you make your way from the quiet, tree-lined streets of the Upper West Side, through the towering office buildings of midtown, and down into the hip and trendy corridors of Greenwich Village and beyond into downtown Manhattan. Although the city has taken great steps to sanitize its intricate public transportation system, NYC is the most walkable city on earth. Take advantage of cooler temperatures and walk! Pro tip: Download the app Urban Archive to be notified when you pass by a historic building or site it’ll tell you facts and stories about buildings that may look normal from the outside, but from the inside, tell the vibrant tale of one of America’s oldest cities.
7. To enjoy NYCs classic landmark attractions
Many of New York’s quintessential attractions have reopened and are safely accepting visitors again. Take in views of the city from 80 floors up by visiting the Top of the Rock or check out the history of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty! Make sure you hop online and check the attractions COVID-19 Advisory Statement or adjusted hours of operation before planning your visit or buying your ticket. What’s more New York than Broadway? While theater productions are still shut down, lovers of the arts will enjoy Broadway Up Close a tour group of industry insiders that provide visitors with a behind-the-scenes look at the making of beloved Broadway musicals. If you watched Hamilton for the first time this summer, take their HamilTour and visit the historic sites mentioned in the popular musical!
8. To shop til’ you drop
While 5th Avenue is a known shopping mecca for fashionistas around the world, now is the perfect time to scour the side streets and shop local! Between carefully curated vintage and secondhand shops and eclectic boutiques, each neighborhood in NYC has plenty of small businesses to fulfill your need for retail therapy. These small shops really need your business right now, and you take home some quality items that will remind you of your time in the city – a win-win!
9. To visit some of the cities many museums
Spend a socially distanced day strolling the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with over 2 million square feet of floor space and a collection containing over 2 million pieces of art, the Met is the largest museum in the United States. The Guggenheim is also open and accepting visitors with new safety measures in place so you can focus on enjoying your experience. One of my favorite smaller museums is the Tenement Museum located on the Lower East Side, which shows what life in Manhattan was like for the estimated 15,000 people that lived in the building in the 19th and 20th centuries. Due to the tight quarters of the building, apartment tours are currently closed, but you can still help support the museum by taking one of their educational neighborhood walking tours or virtual tours. Virtual tours will take you around the homes of real immigrant families who occupied the building and show how the families lived, worked and preserved important cultural traditions that helped shape NYC into the melting pot it is today.
10. To feel like a local
With Manhattan usually bustling with commuters and tourists alike, visiting the city now is your opportunity to blend in and experience New York like a true local. With the city moving at a slower pace, take the time to seek out lesser known spots and places that you wouldn’t usually have time to squeeze into a quick trip. Enjoy talking to the staff and other guests at the coffee shop or deli near your hotel and hear their stories. You’re bound to leave with a greater appreciation for the city and its resilient residents.
Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend trip to get out of your house, or you’re able to cash in the vacation time for a week or two in the city, one thing is for sure now is a great time to visit. One of the reasons NYC is such a popular travel destination is because the city is a destination within itself! Even if you chose to forgo spending tons of money on attraction tickets and things to do, simply walking around and taking in the sights and sounds of the city can be a lot of fun. The only real decision you have to make? JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark?!