I was a child the first time I visited New York City, but I didn’t love it then. Not even close. I came from a small Ohio town where everyone knew each other, yards weren’t separated by fences and most homes were a single story with a basement. New York was a huge culture shock. I don’t remember much about it other than thinking the buildings were tall, the city was loud, and everything felt really crowded.
These days, Manhattan is one of my favorite places to visit. There’s so much to love about New York City. No other place has had so many movies, TV shows, books and songs written about it. But here I am adding to the accolades with my contribution: ten reasons, in no particular order, why I keep going back.
I love New Yorkers. Seriously. They’re direct, they don’t waste words. I get why they have a reputation for being rude or brash, but I’ve met so many nice people in the city. And we’ve all seen how they pull together in a crisis. New Yorkers are awesome.
Every city has it’s own special “thing” that makes it unique. In New York, it’s like an invisible current that flows through the air, infusing excitement into everyone and everything that goes on. You feel it the moment your feet (or your wheels) hit the pavement. People move faster, the lights are brighter…it may be a cliché, but once you’ve experienced it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s like no other place I’ve visited.
As one of the oldest cities in North America, New York has plenty of history. It was the original capital of the United States – George Washington was inaugurated here – and the boroughs have buildings dating back to the late 1600s. If you go beyond obvious landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, you’ll find that Manhattan has plenty of historical treasures. For instance, if you visit St. Paul’s Chapel, you’ll see the George Washington sat in when he attended services. You can also tour the Morris-Jumel Mansion, the oldest house in the city, built in 1765. Plus, NYC can proudly say that both Scrabble and toilet paper were invented here. And Lord knows the world is a better place thanks to these two inventions! (Visit NYCurbed, ILoveNY or NYDailyNews to find more cool historical facts.)
With more than 200 museums, 75 theaters, galleries, botanical gardens, libraries and studios woven into the very fabric of the city, New York has an abundance of cultural attractions. When my daughter and I visited the Museum of Modern Art, I was blown away by the incredible paintings hanging there: Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Pollack, Miró, Monet, Kandinsky, Rousseau. It was staggering the number of masterpieces housed inside this building. And that’s just one of the museums. Even if you visited a different attraction every single day, one year later you still wouldn’t be done. Incredible. (Visit NYCGo to find museums with free entry.)
Just about every turn you take leads you to a spot that is recognizable from TV or the movies. As we strolled through Central Park, we found the tunnel from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, where Kevin meets the bird lady and traps the bad guys. You can eat in McGees, the pub that McLaren’s is based on for How I Met Your Mother. It’s across the street from Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, The Original Soupman. Walking around the campus of Columbia University the steps of the library brings back memories of Ghostbusters. Everyone from Batman to Superman to Carrie Bradshaw, Monica Gellar and Big Bird calls NYC home. Because it’s where the cool kids live!
Whatever you want to eat, whenever you want to eat it, you can find it in New York. TripAdvisor lists more than 14,000 restaurants, and more than 3,000 of them have vegan options! You’ll find every cuisine, every variation on a theme, more chains than you knew existed, as well as homestyle mom and pop eateries. With this much competition, every place fights to be at the top of their game. And truthfully, I have yet to eat something awful in New York. It really is a foodie paradise.
I love how easy it is to get around New York City is so easy. Ubers and taxis are everywhere. Subways and buses are regular and dependable. You can even use apps like Transit to track exactly how long your wait will be for the next one to come along. But my favorite mode of transportation is my own four wheels. The city is extremely walkable . Plus, you get to see all the people, shops and restaurants that you would miss if you were underground or cruising by on a bus or Uber. No matter how you choose to get around, you’ll have an easy time of it since Manhattan Island is just under 23 square miles. Yep, more than 2 million people crammed into that narrow strip of land!
I live on a lake near the mountains so I know all about natural beauty. But I’m equally enthralled with the beauty of the city: the skyscrapers, the iconic brownstones, the tree lined streets and historic architecture. Central Park is an unexpected wonder and the community gardens that pop up between buildings are amazingly cool. There is so much beauty in New York and it captures me in different ways every time.
It’s open 24/7
There’s a reason New York is called the city that never sleeps. You want donuts at 2 am? There’s a place that delivers. No matter what time you go out, day or night, there are people around, lights shining bright, and plenty to do, see and eat. And unlike some other major cities (London and Paris, I’m calling you out), the subways run 24/7.
Yes, there are people from every country, every walk of life, but there is also diversity in what you can do. As in, you can do just about anything you want to do! See a movie, see a play, shop, eat, paint, take a tour, take a class, people watch, see a jazz band, attend a rooftop party, discover a new band — the possibilities are endless in New York.
That’s my list. What appeals to you about Manhattan? Do you love New York City? Tell me in the comments below!
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