Your Basic Tourist Guide To Exploring New York

A city so beautiful, they had to name it twice.

As a tourist, New York might seem overwhelming. In this city which never sleeps, it can be confusing navigating the city which seems to have iconic attractions and countless museums at every turn of the corner.

New York City

We’ve put together a basic guide to exploring New York as a tourist by picking out the most iconic New York City attractions.

Visit Lady Liberty on her island

Out of all the iconic landmarks that New York is know for, the Statue of Liberty is probably the most famous. The copper statue is one of the largest statues in the world, standing just under 152 feet tall from the base to the torch.

Every ferry ticket includes an audio guide (available in various languages) to guide you through the island the history of the monument as you walk around the grounds. You can choose to take the ferry from either Battery Park (Manhattan, New York) or Liberty State Park (New Jersey). The queues from Liberty State Park is much shorter because most of the tourists would be coming from Battery Park. During peak periods, you can expect to wait for queues for up to 2 hours at Battery Park.

Statue Of Liberty from the ferry

You can also visit the crown and the pedestal of The Statue Of Liberty, although you have to purchase separate tickets in advance for that. The view from Lady Liberty will give you a bird’s eye view of Manhattan from across the river, which can only be topped by view on the Helicopter Tour around Manhattan.

Skipped the lines with our tickets which we booked through Klook

After you’re done, you can choose to stop at Ellis Island which is just next to Liberty Island to drop by the Immigration Museum. There is also an audio tour for the museum, which details the history of Ellis Island which was door to America for over 12 million immigrants, whose descendants now make up more than half of the entire American population. The ferry would then drop you off at Battery Park which is near our next must-visit tourist spot if you’re very auspicious – the Charging Bull on Wall Street.

From $78. Skip the lines when you book your Statue Of Liberty Ferry tickets through Klook. Statue Of Liberty Ferry tickets are also included as one of attractions under the Go New York City Card – Explorer Pass. Booking your tickets online is recommended, especially during peak travel season. 

Alternatively, if you just want to get as close to Lady Liberty without actually stepping foot on the island, there is a free ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island where you can get a closer view of the Statue of Liberty. The Staten Island Ferry operates between the Whitehall Terminal on Manhattan (next to Battery Park) and the St. George Terminal on Staten Island.

Rub the Charging Bull for some luck 

Walking down Wall Street isn’t enough to bring you luck in your financial endeavours. Try rubbing the golden bull for some luck, and you’ll need even more luck to get a picture alone with the bull as it will most likely be surrounded by tourists.

Both the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl have now become a tourist attraction for those visiting Wall Street

The massive bronze statue was created as a symbol that anyone from around the world could overcome every obstacle through hard work and determination. Now it has become a talisman for Wall Street traders, and has now been joined by another statue, Fearless Girl.

Snap a picture with the Empire State Building 

Visiting the Empire State Building might be on top of your must-do tourist list, but here’s our tip if you want to get a picture with the entire Empire State Building. Instead of going up the Empire State Building, visit the Top Of The Rock over at the Rockefeller Center.

The Empire State Building from the 70th floor on the Top Of The Rock

The lift going up (and down) is pretty fun, with futuristic music and neon lights to make your lift trip up more exciting. Once you get to the 67th floor, head up the escalator and up another flight of stairs to the 70th floor where you’ll get a view of Manhattan and the Empire State Building without having to look through a grimy piece of glass. Watch the sunset over the city and the buildings start to light up the night before you head back down for dinner.

Go to the very top for an obstructed view of Manhattan

It’s also good to decide if you want to see Manhattan during the day or at night beforehand. If you want to catch the view of the city at the Golden Hour, try to get there about one hour just before sunset. It takes at least 20 minutes to get to the top as you’ll go through security, a photo opportunity, and watch a few mini-films on the way up as you wait in line for the lift up.

I booked my tickets through Klook, which means that I didn’t have to wait in line with everyone else. The ticket desk will also tell you what time the sun will set, current weather conditions (you might want to visit on another day if it’s too cloudy because you wouldn’t be able to see much) as well as the temperature and winds at the top for that particular day.

During winter, you can head back down to the outdoor skating ring outside Rockefeller center- another must-do for both locals and tourists alike. After Thanksgiving, the Christmas Tree will be erected, and you’ll be able to spin under the lights just like Buddy The Elf and Jovie do in Elf.

From $52. Skip the lines when you book your Top Of The Rock admission tickets through Klook. Top Of The Rock admission tickets are also included as one of attractions under the Go New York City Card – Explorer Pass.

Bike across the Brooklyn Bridge

Past the first pillar

The Brooklyn Bridge has inspired many generations of poets, songwriters and painters with its Gothic-shaped arches and suspension cables. You can view the bridge from various ferries, but you can also walk across the bridge. Better yet, you can also bike across the bridge.

Biking across the bridge might be tricky during peak times because of human traffic
View of the Brooklyn Bridge from Empire Fulton Ferry Park
Manhattan Bridge
Empire Fulton Ferry Park/ St. Ann’s Warehouse
Brooklyn Roasting Company
Brooklyn rooftops from the Manhattan Bridge

Instead of just cycling across the Brooklyn Bridge and back, plan your route so that you can see more of Brooklyn. Here’s my recommended route that you can easily complete in 3 to 4 hours.

  • Pick up your bike at Unlimited Biking at 110 South St, NY10038 or 38 Park Row
  • Follow the crowd to the Brooklyn Bridge! Note that the entrance to the bridge is away from the water’s edge, and starts at New York City Hall/ City Hall Park.
  • After you pass by the first pillar, turn and take a picture of the bridge with the World Trade Center in the background.
  • When you come to the end of the cycling path at the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge, turn right and follow the path back to Empire Fulton Ferry Park
  • If you want a bite, stop by Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Grimaldi’s Pizza, Shake Shack or Luke’s Lobster.
  • Stop by Pebble Beach where you get both views of Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. Note that there is only one cycling path in and out of Pebble Beach, and its entrance is at Plymouth St/ Main St.
  • Continue onto John Street Park.
  • Cycle by Brooklyn Roasting Company ( 25 Jay St.) which is just one street away for a cold brew or hot brew depending on the season. Remember to lock your bike!
  • Head back to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. You’d want to cycle on the left side so that you get a view of the Brooklyn Bridge, because the other side is just graffitied rooftops (yep, I made the mistake of cycling back on the wrong side).
  • Ride through to Chinatown. You’ll know when you’re there because there’ll be loads of Asians on the streets and buildings are adorned with neon signs and Chinese characters that remind us of Hong Kong’s Kowloon at night. Further down in the same direction is Little Italy.
  • After returning your bike to where you picked it up from, head to The Rooftop at Pier 17 for some live music and a pint. Singers and comedians like Trevor Noah, deadmau5 and All Time Low have performed there.

Bike rental prices: USD$8/per hour, USD$40/ per day
Book your bike through Klook as one of attractions under the Go New York City Card – Explorer Pass. You can also book a guided tour of the Brooklyn Bridge through Klook from $60.
Bring: ID, credit card for bike insurance

Update your wardrobe with some new threads at Woodbury

The only thing Singaporeans love more than complaining is shopping. And there’s no better place to go shopping for discounted threads than Woodbury Commons. Unless you’re going to rent a car with a group of friends, the best way to get to Woodbury Common is by booking a coach.

I got my bus tickets through Klook, which also came with a VIP coupons booklet with EVEN more discounts. The best part about these VIP coupons is that they are stackable on top of all the existing discounts and promotions that the brand is having.

Unless you’re planning to come back again, you’d want to hit all the shops. Shortlist the shops instead of blindly wandering around so that you can hit all the brands you want to see. Brands include Michael Kors, Coach, Calvin Klein, Pandora, Kate Spade New York, Nike, Marc Jacobs, Polo Ralph Lauren and Under Armour.

You can also take this chance to get some luxury threads, and you’ll find some higher end brands include Dsquared2, Gucci, Balanciaga, Prada, Tory Burch, Saint Laurent.

If you’re looking for branded bags at cheap prices and you don’t mind that they are a few seasons old, head to Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. Take note that not everything there is in top-top condition because they could include some returns, but you’ll be able to find a few gems if you have time to spare to dig around.

Venchi at Woodbury Common

Looking for a midday treat? Get some gelato at Venchi or a huge soft pretzel from Auntie Anne’s to get some sugar in your bloodstream.

Michelle’s tips:

  • Leave an entire day for this trip because the trip one way takes about an hour.
  • CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST. Woodbury Common is outdoors, and you don’t want to be stuck in one shop while it pours because the rain is relentless
  • Collect your VIP coupon booklet and a map because the place is HUGE.
  • Want to try Shake Shack but hate the long queues everywhere? Plan your shopping route so that you’ll reach Shake Shack for lunch. Queues here during peak times are considerably shorter.
  • You might want to consider bringing a luggage if you’re going to be doing A LOT of shopping.

$57, book your seat on the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets Bus From New York on Klook, which includes a roundtrip and a VIP coupon booklet. The bus is also included as one of attractions under the Go New York City Card – Explorer Pass.

Stop by Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe at Times Square

If you’re a die-hard fan of Hard Rock Cafe like me who needs to visit every city’s outlet, you’re in for good news because there are 2 Hard Rock Cafes in New York. One’s at Times Square and the other’s at the Yankees Stadium – both major tourist hotspots. I didn’t have time to visit both, so I decided to pop by the one at Times Square.

A good ol’ burger

I’ll be honest: there are plenty of better burger places around the city (we’re in New York, seriously) and the food at Hard Rock is decent enough. The Hickory Smoked Ribs though – that deserves a mention. For a better experience, visit Hard Rock Cafe at night when there’s live music, or maybe even an artist in the flesh!

A guitar signed and used by Linkin Park hangs in the hallways, amongst other band memorabilia

Just like every other Hard Rock Cafe around the world, check out the awesome instruments and even costumes from The Beatles, Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Nirvana.

The bar at Hard Rock Cafe Times Square

Just before you leave, browse through the shop for some souvenirs. New York City-exclusive shirts, pins and cups are always good souvenirs for your music-lover friends!

Leading up to the exit

Book your meals from $44 through Klook for both Hard Rock Cafes in Times Square and Yankees Stadium. All tips and gratuities included. Just flash your voucher just before you order your meal.

HARD ROCK CAFE TIMES SQUARE
1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, USA
Open daily

Take a break from the city with some beach time

When you think of New York, you won’t think of a relaxing beach holiday. Just an hour’s ride on the train on the other side of Brooklyn is Coney Island, a beach with white sands and blue waters. The blue seas and even bluer skies is a quiet respite away from the hustle and bustle of New York.

Coney Island
Coney Island boardwalk murals
Coney Art Walls
Coney Island Circus Show

The boardwalk is lined with walls covered in colourful murals. There is also a whole other section, the Coney Art Walls, dedicated to graffiti and murals which make good photo ops. If you walk around, you’ll find the Coney Island Freak Show, and hte New York Aquarium is just a 10 minute walk away.

Coney Island/ Luna Park

If you’re bored of people-watching, head over to Luna Park for some old-school fun. Luna Park has rides for kids to adults, which makes it much more family-friendly than Six Flags. There are over 50 rides in Luna Park, in addition to more slushie carts and carnival game booths. The rides are ranked from ‘mild thrill’ to ‘extreme thrill’, with rollercoasters, rides that’ll spin you upside down till you puke, a slingshot, and even a water ride to cool down in the heat.

Wonder Wheel at Luna Park on Coney Island

Luna Park Entrance from Coney Island
Luna 360 at Luna Park
Carnival games!
Wild River at Luna Park

Make sure you grab a hot dog from Nathan’s, with a pint of Brooklyn Lager to wash it down. Sit by the beach or sidewalk as you eat, but watch out for seagulls who can be very aggressive if they spy you with food.

Nathan’s on the boardwalk

When the sun sets, head to Steeplechase Pier for a view of the cotton candy skies. You’ll also be able to spot a couple of helicopters and a stray plane here and there. It can get cold out here by the sea, even during summer, so bring a cardigan to protect yourself from the winds!

Coney Island boardwalk from Steeplechase Pier
Gorgeous sunsets over Coney Island

Redeem your unlimited rides pass as one of attractions under the Go New York City Card – Explorer Pass, which you can get through Klook. You can also get day passes from lunaparknyc.com from USD$29. Luna Park also sells individual ride credits or single ride tickets.

Wake up (or pretend you did) on the Upper East Side and sit on the steps of The Met 

Any Gossip Girl fans out there?

Take a seat on the steps of The Met (or also known as The Metropolitan Museum of Art) in the shoes of Blair Waldorf. To get the full GG experience, bring along a cup of coffee and people watch on the steps. The nearest place for coffee is Dean and Deluca on 1150 Madison Avenue a couple of streets away. These same Met stairs are also the one which the celebrities walk up for the prestigious annual Met Gala.

The steps of The Met

If you decide to go in, you can explore exhibitions and art pieces from all over the world (although they tend to be on the more historic side – for more modern works, head to the Museum Of Modern Art/ MOMA). Head up to the rooftop for (another) cup of coffee. Just like every other place in New York, you can expect the rooftop to be crowded too.

Inside The Met
Inside The Met
From the rooftop of The Met

Tickets from  $35, available from Klook. The Met tickets are also available as one of attractions under the Go New York City Card – Explorer Pass.

After you’re done at the Met, walk through Central Park which is right next door.

Central Park

If you want to hit several attractions, it’s better to get an attractions pass as you’ll be able to save some money. There are various attractions passes with different combinations of attractions, and I decided to get New York City Explorer Go Pass because it offered me the most flexibility in terms of schedule and the number of attractions offered.

Book your New York City Explorer Go Pass through Klook here. Choose a combination of 3, 5, 7, or 10 attractions from over 80 attractions – but you don’t have to pre-select your activities. Just flash your printed out Explorer Go Pass for access to activities, although some tours do require an advanced reservation. Your Explorer Go Pass is valid for 30 days from the day you use your first attraction.

Manhattan skyline from Exchange Place

First time booking through Klook? Here’s another discount code for you!

Book tickets through Klook and use our code “NYLON5” to get $5 off for first-time users!


All images shot on the LG G7+ ThinQ