Plane tickets to New York City? Check. Gorgeous hotel room? Check. Itinerary? Um… There’s almost too much to do in the city that never sleeps, so we figured a handy guide could help you from getting overwhelmed (or giving up and settling for the Applebee’s in Times Square). Here, a mix of worth-it touristy spots and locals-approved activities.
1. Visit at least one of the iconic art museums: The MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and the Whitney.
2. Eat at one of the iconic food institutions: Katz?s Delicatessen, Carnegie Deli, Delmonico?s Bar & Grill, Forlini?s or 21 Club.
3. Stand under the constellation ceiling mural at Grand Central Terminal and marvel at how quiet the place is.
4. Then head uptown and stand under the giant blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History and marvel at how gigantic the thing is.
5. While you’re up there, eat a hot-out-of-the-oven cookie from Levain Bakery(hands down the best in the city).
6. Then do a loop in Central Park. Your best bet for not getting totally lost: download the guided app.
7. Rent a Citi Bike and ride it along Hudson River Park for fabulous views.
8. Take a stroll on the High Line, which is a lush park built on an abandoned elevated railroad track in the old Meatpacking District.
9. Sample a New York slice. (Or two. Or five.) A few of our favorite places: Lombardi’s in Little Italy, Patsy’s in Harlem and Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn.
10. Take yet another stroll (we do that a lot here) across the Brooklyn Bridge. There will be even more pizza waiting for you on the other side.
11. Ride the subway. We know it’s confusing and smells funny, but you can take it to some pretty cool places (like all the way to the end to Coney Island for a ride on the 100-year-old Wonder Wheel).
12. Now that you’ve earned your subway cred, check out the Transit Museumand see how the whole infrastructure was built.
13. Get lost in the West Village along the quaint, tiny streets that don’t follow the grid.
14. Ask a New Yorker for directions. Believe it or not, they’ll probably be friendly–and have a lot of opinions about the best way to get wherever you’re going.
15. Visit the 9/11 Memorial. Yes, it’s really worth the crowds.
16. See a Broadway show. Yes, it’s really worth the money.
17. Stay up late for Rock ‘N’ Roll Karaoke (with a live band) at Arlene’s Grocery on the Lower East Side.
18. Then sample cheese pierogies at Veselka in the East Village at 3 a.m. (or anytime–the Ukranian restaurant is open 24 hours).
19. Ride a loop on the Staten Island Ferry. You’ll get perfect views of the Statue of Liberty, and best of all, it’s free.
20. Do a real New York brunch at 2 p.m., complete with Bloody Marys and mimosas. We’re partial to Jacob’s Pickles on the Upper West Side and Russ & Daughters Café on the Lower East Side.
21. If you can’t swing a whole brunch, at the very least get a bagel, anywhere. On top? Preferably lox and a shmear.
22. See a jazz band at Smalls in the West Village–or combine two items on your list and try a jazz brunch.
23. Be a little cheesy and visit a spot made famous by a movie or TV show, like Tom?s Restaurant (Seinfeld), Magnolia Bakery (Sex and the City) or the Empire Hotel (Gossip Girl).
24. Take at least one lap around the legendary Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue. (Good luck not letting those Valentino bags haunt your dreams.)
25. Set aside an afternoon to kick back and relax at Spa Castle. It?s basically the Disney World of spas.
26. Track down a hidden speakeasy like The Garret, tucked away above a Five Guys in the West Village.
27. See a legit comedy show at the Comedy Cellar. (The likes of Louis C.K. and Amy Schumer are known to drop in unexpectedly.) Just stay away from those guys hawking tickets in Times Square.
28. But of course, do go to Times Square. Get in, snap a pic (no, not with an off-brand Elmo) and get out. You’ve got a ton more of the city to see.