New Yorkers may loathe having to constantly move around slow-walking tourists on the streets, but in the end, we love many of the same city spots that sightseers do (admit it).
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
One of the thrills of living in New York City is staring at the iconic skyline—obviously the world’s best—every once in a while. You’ll find no better vantage point than the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge (enter at Park Row and Centre Street; nyc.gov). Stroll across the legendary structure and take in the view; if you look to the south, you’ll see Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty. Once you’ve hit Brooklyn, head into Brooklyn Heights and stroll along the Promenade, overlooking lower Manhattan.
Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society
The massive institution is home to more than 5,000 creatures in myriad exhibits, including an outdoor baboon reserve, a sea-lion pool and an exhibit dedicated entirely to Madagascar. Visitors can ride the Wild Asia Monorail, which tours 38 acres of exhibits that house elephants, Indo-Chinese tigers, deer, antelope and Mongolian wild horses, or wander over to see two gargantuan Nile crocodiles. Amphibian fans can also read about the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts to save the Kihansi spray toad, a species now extinct in the wild.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Those searching for a little peace and quiet will love this verdant oasis. The garden, which is right next to two other neighborhood gems, the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park, was founded in 1910 and features thousands of types of flora, laid out over 52 acres. Each spring, crowds descend on the space for the Sakura Matsuri Festival, during which more than 70 trees bloom along the Cherry Esplanade. But equally impressive are serene spots like the Shakespeare Garden, brimming with plants mentioned in the Bard’s works.
Divide-and-conquer might be the best strategy when exploring Central Park—its sprawling 840 acres are too great to take in during one visit. Instead, hit some of the highlights: Go for a stroll around the tranquil Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (circle the 1.58-mile track a few times for an actual workout), or join the semi-clothed hordes who lay out in Sheep Meadow during the summer. Or find the details in some of the park’s most famous attractions, such as lines from Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” inscribed along the base of the Alice in Wonderland statue. Once in Central Park, don't miss the museums around the park as the American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you get a New York City Pass, you can visit these and other museums with a discounted admission.
Grand Central Station
The MTA spent 12 years removing decades of cigarette smoke and train exhaust from the ceiling of the train station in order to recapture its sea-green splendor. You can get an idea of how much elbow grease was needed for the project—the cleaners left an untouched, almost-black tile over Michael Jordan’s steakhouse. Visit at midday, when you can stare up at the zodiac signs painted in gold leaf on the ceiling without being trampled by commuters. Take a virtual tour of Grand Central Station here.