New York City is the world's gathering place and I could sense that right away. Looking around, there are people from all walks of life and you hear a variety of different languages. I've yet to go to a bigger, more diverse city in all my travels and I don't think I ever will.
I've been to the Big Apple a few times and am nowhere near to having explored even a small fraction of it. To be honest I haven't really tried to, opting instead to "just be" and leisurely roam around. No itineraries, no tight schedules - just hanging out with my good friend who lives there and walking the streets.
That being said, there were a few things that I made a point to do and that I'd recommend and do again.
The Brooklyn Bridge
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan at dusk is great because not only is it an easy walk with a lot of views, the views change dramatically as the day turns to night. From the Manhattan skyline illuminates as you walk towards the city and the cars streak lights as they're zooming past down below.
The Empire State Building
For anyone who likes nighttime cityscapes as much as I do, heading up the Empire State Building after sundown is incredible. 360-degree views of the city from an open-air deck at the top of a skyscraper that was built at a ridiculous speed, being completed in just over a year.
The Statue of Liberty
It may be the most touristy thing to do in New York, but the Statue of Liberty is on everyone's list and no visit is complete without seeing it. Don't be like me and not see it on your first visit - long story short: Overbooked flight, couldn't join my friends who went before I arrived. Thanks United ;) If you're like me and don't have a burning need to go right up to Lady Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry gives a view of her for a cheap. Just hop off when the ferry docks, u-turn and hop right back on. I guarantee that you won't be the only one doing that.
Other places like Chelsea Market, the High Line (a park & rec area converted from a railway), SoHo, or seeing a Broadway/off Broadway play are other fun tourist activities to do. I don't consider myself someone big on plays, but the first time I went (RENT), I was completely blown away. To see the talent that these actors have is mind-blowing.
Walking through Central Park and Times Square never disappoints.
Wandering random streets and watching people can be entertaining as well.
Honestly though, I find that walk into any random store, talking to some random person (and be OK with being ignored or told to hurry up and move along - personal experience!)
Halal guys is already famous and it's for good reason. Not only are they open late, but they're affordable and damn delicious. They mix Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors and their foods really hit the spot. Quite possibly the best food truck food I've ever had. I'm definitely stopping by the next time I'm in the city.
First seeing this in the movie Serendipity, I decided I had to try their frozen hot chocolates. Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack made them look so good! It was a bit of a wait outside, but consider popping into this quaint little, hole-in-the-wall style dessert cafe especially if you liked the movie.
My favorite fresh juice and smoothie bar. I've tried a few of their smothies but their Mr. Greengenes with hemp milk is my favorite. Creamy and perfectly balanced flavors.