Visiting New York for the first time – a first timers guide

by Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders

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I have now visited New York three times, but I wanted to put a post together on visiting New York for the first time. As someone who loves to visit new places rather than re-visiting previous destinations it shows not only how much I love this city. But there are some things are essentinal to see when visiting New York for the first time.

Image of the Stars and Stripes Flag, visiting New York for the first time

My first two trips were essentially trips where I was visiting New York for the first time. Way back when was 17 went with my family and then again in 2012 with my best friend. These trips covered a lot of the necessary ‘tourist’ destinations. I absolutely loved both trips and would not change them for the world, but it was so lovely to go back, eat and drink my way through the city and get to know New York a little deeper.

However for for this blog post though, I will share some of my highlights so far from my first two trips. Essentially covering the things you must not miss when visiting New York for the first time!

The must see’s when visiting New York for the first time:

1.Trip to Ellis Island

Image of Ellis Island, a must see when visiting New York for the first time

I found visiting this island much more interesting that Liberty Island. The island was so interesting and so fascinating to learn about the history. I visited here the first time in New York. The island was actually closed when I went back because of the hurricane.

Of course, one a first trip to New York you need to see the Statue of Liberty. You can combine this with a  tour out to Ellis Island. However, if you were only interested in seeing the statue I would recommend getting the ferry over to Staten Island. It’s free and you get great views!

Image of the statue of liberty, a must see when visiting New York for the first time

2.Head up to Top of the Rock

Of course heading up to to the top of the Empire State building is top of most lists. But for me I much preferred Top of the Rock. From here you have an amazing view of the iconic Empire State, which is obviously missing when you are up it!

Image of view from top of the rock, a must see for first visit to New York

If you are torn between the two, I would definitely recommend Top of the Rock. The queues are less, it is cheaper, you can get that iconic shot of the Empire State and if you go around Christmas you can see the beautiful tree at the bottom.

image of the Rockefeller Christmas star

3.Wander around Central Park

Absolutely no trip to New York, never mind just when visiting New York for the first time, would be complete for me without a wander around Central Park. I mean who wouldn’t want to?

Image of central park - first time visit to New York

When I visited in Autumn, it was just so beautiful. I could have spent days in this beautiful huge park in the middle of the city and actually wish I had ventured further up into the park than we did. Strawberry fields and, of course, the boating lake where two of my highlights. My first trip did involve hiring one the boats – a must do!

Image of the boat house in central park, visiting new York for the first time

image of strawberry fields, new York

4.Visit the Natural History Museum

Of course, all the museums are spectacular, but this one really hit home for me. I loved the dinosaurs in the entrance, and there was a beautiful tree decorated with origami animals.

Image of the Natural History Museum, a must see for first time visit to New York

We took advantage of buying a City Pass , which is a great way of seeing the main sites for good value. Ideal for a first time time to New York. This pass also includes Top of the Rock!

5. Char Sui buns from Momufuku

Of all the foodie experiences we had in New York this one is by far the top and the most memorable. I can’t even describe how delicious these were, and in fact is the only place I revisited on my return trip in a months time. I was far too excited to take photos the first time, but did manage it on my return. Have a look at my guide on food and drink of New York. 

6. The Knicks!

Going to see the Knicks play at their home stadium of Madison Square Gardens was such an experience.

Image of the Knicks, must see on first time visit to New York

Image of Where Charlie Wanders

I am not a big sports fan, and never go to watch anything in England, but I was so determined to go and see a Knicks game (yes, it was mainly because of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). It was everything I hoped. I bought the foam finger, ate all the necessary food, and cheered in all the right places. The atmosphere was electric and the rules weren’t that hard to follow. And even better there was a proposal!

I absolutely loved the whole experience.

Image of proposal at Madison square gardens

This post doesn’t, and couldn’t, even begin to come close to scratching the surface of this amazing city but for me some great memories. Arguably the most famous city in the world; I don’t think any blog post could do it justice, least of all one written by me. But it makes me happy being there and so I want to write about it. New York is one of my favourite cities and my trip 5 years ago gave me some of the happiest memories of my life with my best friend.

To read about my later experiences of New York and getting to know the city even better have a look at these posts:

5 Days in New York.

Food and drink of New York.

Have you ever been to New York? What would be on your list for a first visit to New York? 

Like this post? Don’t forget to pin it for later

Image of visiting New York for the first time

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Elle January 20, 2018 - 2:14 pm

Loved reading about some of your NYC experiences!

AzarEats February 26, 2018 - 6:02 pm

Central Park in autumn is when it is most beautiful, in my view! Great post, you definitely hit up some essentials.


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