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A Fabulous Bucket List for New York Newbies

When you come to New York for WorldPride, it might be your first time in New York. If so, this list is for you. Put these essential NYC activities on your itinerary, from crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to karaoke-ing in K-town. Here are 16 pursuits to get your trip-planning off to a great start.


    nyc sunrise
    Photo by Tommaso Ripani on Unsplash

  1. Walk Brooklyn Bridge

    There is nothing like the exhilarating, 1.1-mile walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. This iconic 1883 structure spans the East River from Lower Manhattan to Dumbo in Brooklyn. On weekdays, the Brooklyn Bridge accommodates 100,000 vehicles, 3,500 cyclists, and a staggering 10,000 pedestrians. Take pictures to your heart’s content of the Freedom Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the rest of the New York skyline at any hour of day or night—though we’ll say sunset is pretty spectacular. Manhattan: Enter boardwalk from Centre St (east of City Hall). Brooklyn: entrances on Washington and Prospect Streets, or on Brooklyn Bridge Promenade at Tillary St.


  2. Scale the Empire State Building

    Okay, while you can’t pull a full-on King Kong, you can travel to the top of the Empire State Building via elevator. Measuring 1,250 from tip to toe, this Art-Deco icon is the jewel of Midtown Manhattan. You’ll get fantastic views of the surrounding city from the observation deck, while other floors now educate visitors on the history of this 88-year-old skyscraper. 20 W 34th St., 212-736-3100,


  3. Wait in Line for The Met’s Costume Institute Exhibit

    This massive art institution would take weeks to explore properly. That’s why we’re only putting one exhibition space on your bucket list: the Costume Institute. Every year, the Met launches a fashion exhibit exploring a certain designer or theme. These fabulous exhibits attract enormous crowds (and hence, lines), especially once they view the star-studded red carpet of the Met Gala that kicks off each Costume Institute show. This year, the exhibition is Camp: expect ironic, silly, and over-the-top ensembles on display. 1000 Fifth Ave., 212-535-7710,


  4. Relax in Central Park

    In June, it doesn’t get much better than picnicking and people-watching in the world’s most famous park. Whether you choose Sheep Meadow or a hill by The Lake, there are countless picturesque spots for a rest from the hectic city. We recommend picking up some take-out on your way in for a New Yorker’s picnic. And if you’d like to spend a full day in Central Park, here’s a handy guide.


  5. See a Broadway Show


    Credit: Hamilton

    Every season, New York City proves its mettle as one of the world’s great theater capitals. There are 39 Broadway venues within the Theatre District, showcasing a dynamic range of musicals, dramas, comedies, and everything in between. Whether you grab a cheap lottery ticket (the coveted Hamilton lottery ticket only costs $10!) or pay full-price, you’ll find world-class talent and stories from a diverse collection of voices on all Broadway stages. Click here for the latest in New York theater.


  6. Visit All 5 Boroughs

    New York City consists of five sections, or boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. (Here’s some more NYC geography if you need it.) While Manhattan gets the most visitors by far, the city is far more than the island’s bright lights and skyscrapers. The other four boroughs have so much to offer a curious traveler. You might bowl, drink, and see a show at Brooklyn Bowl; learn the history of movies at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens; soak in the natural beauty of New York Botanical Garden in The Bronx; and take the free Staten Island Ferry ride across New York Harbor for some excellent pictures of the Statue of Liberty. Those features, of course, merely scratch the surface of all these boroughs have to offer.


  7. Tour the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

    The terror attacks on September 11, 2001, left an indelible scar on the city and the world. See how downtown New York has rebuilt itself at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. This exceptional museum honors the lives lost in the attacks, the first responders who intervened, and the far-reaching effects of the event throughout a range of insightful exhibits. You’ll come away with, among other things, a better understanding of New York City. 180 Greenwich St., 212-312-8800,


  8. Dim sum in Chinatown

    Do yourself a favor, and dive into some dim sum while you’re around. Chinatown restaurants serve some of the best dumplings you’ll ever eat, and we guarantee you’ll never see brunch the same way again. Try popular spots like Golden Unicorn and Nom Wah Tea Parlor for a classic dim sum experience in downtown Manhattan.


  9. Chat with a local


    new yorkers to chat with
    Photo by Eddi Aguirre on Unsplash

    About 8.6 million people live in New York City. That’s 8.6 million stories, representing people from around the world with all kinds of dreams, talents, and struggles. Whether you strike up a conversation with someone on the subway or with your hotel concierge, you can learn some incredible New York stories from locals if you take the time to ask. And if they don’t have time to talk, don’t take it personally. Lots of New Yorkers are in a rush, so their communication style is, well, let’s just call it “efficient.”


  10. Karaoke in Koreatown

    Located in Midtown East, Koreatown boasts fantastic Korean restaurants, markets, and karaoke parlors. Sing yourself silly at one of these private rooms, where you and your friends can select from a thick catalogue of songs. The music videos playing behind the lyrics are a spectacle in and of themselves, whether you’re belting Celine Dion or a series of show tunes.


  11. Have a bagel for breakfast

    New Yorkers are quick to say not all bagels are created equal. But whether you’re picking up a cheap bagel from a street cart or indulging in one of the city’s best at Russ & Daughters, you’re eating a classic city breakfast. Bonus points if you get lox on top.


  12. Stare at the Grand Central ceiling

    It’s an NYC rite of passage: you’re looking at the gorgeous ceiling mural in Grand Central so long that you careen into a speed-walking stranger. Seriously, this happens about 4,000 a day (we assume). But chances are, the other person was staring at the mural too. Brush it off, and keep staring. PS: self-guided audio tours of the terminal are available in several languages. 89 E 42nd St., 212-340-2583,


  13. Stay up (or wake up) for sunrise

    Whether you’re out all night or wake up early for Shakespeare in the Park tickets, there’s nothing like the quiet of a New York dawn. Stroll through an empty Times Square, linger at a late-late rooftop party, chow down at a 24-hour diner, or just wake up and grab a coffee to see the sunrise over the East River. You may feel terrible the next day, but we guarantee it’ll be one of your favorite NYC memories.


  14. Hop a train to Coney Island

    The city retreats to Coney Island in the summer for amusement-park fun and sun-bathing on the beach. While not technically an island, this coastal strip in South Brooklyn is home to Luna Park, where you can ride The Cyclone and a host of other rides, plus the New York Aquarium and the Mermaid Parade. Escape the city for awhile, and be sure to grab a hot dog while you’re there (preferably after your roller coaster rides).


  15. Drink on a rooftop


    berry park deck
    Photo credit: Berry Park
    Martinis just taste better with a skyline in the background. Every bartender knows that, and you should too. Here are 19 rooftop bars where you can drink with a great view of the city, day or night.


  16. Witness the WorldPride March

    This year’s WorldPride theme is “Millions of Moments of Pride.” That’s due in part to the millions of visitors expected to show at the WorldPride March on June 30, 2019. It’s set to be the biggest LGBT+ march in world history, and that alone qualifies it as bucket list-worthy. Come celebrate diversity and equality at this global event; everyone’s invited! Here’s a Pride March Survival Guide to get the most out of the day.

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