NYC is teeming with worthwhile attractions—from historic skyscrapers and thought-provoking memorials to sprawling grassy grounds and all-encompassing museums—making it hard to narrow down the list to a few manageable excursions. If you want to experience a lot while in the city but aren’t quite sure of where to start, don’t worry, Ela Orosova is here for assistance. Below, the Loews Regency Hotel, New York (540 Park Ave., 212.759.4100) concierge shares seven must-visit attractions you should add to your NYC itinerary.
“You can visit Central Park any time of the year and always do something different,” Orosova says of the world-famous green space, adding that the list of options includes everything from leisurely walks, horse-drawn-carriage rides and boating on the lake to ice-skating, tours, taking in concerts and movies, and experiencing free Shakespearean plays during Shakespeare in the Park. If traveling with the kids in tow, Central Park boasts a children’s zoo—with plenty of fun activities and exhibits to keep youngsters occupied. Fans of The Beatles can pay their respects to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields, a memorial to the legendary musician that rests near Central Park West between 71st and 74th streets.
In Lower Manhattan, One World Observatory is one of the newest attractions to open in NYC. The observatory is housed on levels 100, 101 and 102 of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. “I felt like an excited child when I took the elevator to the 102nd floor,” Orosova says. “There, I was welcomed by beautiful, 360-degree panoramic views.” To add to the experience, visitors can rent iPads, which allow you to see more than 40 of the most iconic attractions in NYC. On the food front, One World Observatory has three dining options: One Café, One Mix and One Dine—the latter of which requires a reservation. Hungry visitors can also opt for a trip to the nearby shopping complex Brookfield Place, which features several dining options, including a French market. “I really like going there to eat at the food court or Le District,” Orosova says.
Also located in Lower Manhattan, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum honors the memory of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 and Feb. 26, 1993 World Trade Center attacks. “It’s free to visit the memorial [twin reflecting pools that rest where the Twin Towers once stood] but [most days] the museum requires a timed ticket,” Orosova says. “The museum is located underground, and you can easily spend two to three hours inside. If you prefer a tour, they are about 30 minutes to an hour long.” While at the memorial, Orosova says, be on the lookout for the “Survivor Tree,” a charred trunk of a Callery pear tree that was salvaged from the 2001 attacks and replanted near the memorial.
In Midtown, “Rockefeller Center immediately brings to mind thoughts of the Christmas tree, ice-skating, beautiful view from Top of the Rock, SNL and Radio City Music Hall,” Orosova says, adding that the famous complex is also home to Rainbow Room, a stunning restaurant and private event space on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. “Rainbow Room is open to the public for Sunday brunch, as well as select evenings for dinner and live entertainment,” Orosova says. “Across the hall is SixtyFive, where you can have a cocktail and enjoy beautiful views of the city.” For family fun, the complex is also home to The Lego Store and FDNY Fire Zone.
“Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most recognized bridges,” Orosova says. “To walk or bike over to Brooklyn from Manhattan might take approximately 20 to 30 minutes.” Once there, Orosova suggests exploring the surrounding area, including the DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods, as well as Brooklyn Bridge Park. “One of my favorite restaurants is The River Café, which is right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge,” Orosova says. On the return trip to Manhattan, Orosova suggests taking a water taxi for picture-perfect views of both boroughs.
Spanning a large section of Manhattan’s west side is The High Line, an elevated freight rail line turned public park that stretches from Manhattan’s W. 34th St. south to Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District. “You can explore the park on your own or via tours,” Orosova says. There are several exits peppered throughout the park, offering the opportunity to discover many West Side neighborhoods. “In Chelsea, visitors will find galleries and unique retailers,” Orosova says, “At Story, you will find the cutest gifts and I really like [the art gallery] Chamber.”
For even more art, Orosova suggests a trip to Museum Mile, a stretch of Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side peppered with well-known museums and cultural centers, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Galerie New York, The Frick Collection and more. “You must walk into at least one of the world-famous institutions in this area,” Orosova says. For assistance, “check with a concierge about current exhibitions and inquire about VIP tickets,” she suggests. A concierge can also tell you about pay as you wish days and free entry options.