NYC List: SIGHTSEEING

This is one of many posts in my NYC List series, in an effort to keep myself exploring the city. See where it started, and keep an eye on this tag for more posts.

coney island

As I continue these lists, this one might seem far too broad to be a category on its own. After all, pretty much every time I go outside – every block, every neighborhood, is a new sight to see. That building, this park, that street mural – a feast for the senses, and all noteworthy. But if I narrow it down, there are still a handful of specific spots I need to make it out to, the kind of spots I’ll want to be able to say one day that I’ve seen. 

Staten Island Ferry – though it’s a daily ritual for some people, a commute not unlike your drive to work, this industrial form of transportation is said to boast some of the best skyline views of the city, and for free to boot. Give me a sunny afternoon this summer without anywhere in particular to be, and maybe I’ll ride it there and back again.

Coney Island/Brighton Beach – Turns out, I can head to the subway station two blocks from my apartment, jump on a Q train, ride it to the last stop and find myself at one of the kitschiest, All-American spots of them all: Coney Island. Though it got hit hard in Hurricane Sandy (hit worse than this midwesterner ever realized), there’s a boardwalk to wander, hot dogs to nosh and people watching to rival Union Square on a Saturday night (especially for the Mermaid Parade).

Roosevelt Island (via aerial tram) – between Manhattan and Queens, there’s a sliver of land 800 feet wide that’s been used as a hospital, a prison and, as with the rest of every vacant piece of this land in this city, condos. Accessed by a special tram that flies you in from above (at the cost of a metro card swipe!), the Island has parks and historical spots enough to fill a charmed Sunday afternoon.

Governor’s Island – at the southern end of Manhattan, there’s an even smaller island that’s probably best known for the music festival it hosts every June. While that’s not exactly my scene, I would still totally be up for heading out there one weekend for a look-see. Though according to the website, that’ll have to be sometime after May, when the parks on the island re-open.

Empire State Building/Top of the Rock – I’ve technically already done this one half way, having been to the top of the Empire State Building in 2004. But it’d be worth another visit, if only to Instagram the sunset or something. And as Wikipedia says, it’s actually Rockefeller Center that’s got the best skyline views, because from there you can actually see the Empire State Building. Which, you know, you miss when you’re actually standing on it instead. Or whatever.

Wall Street/Financial District – I don’t imagine there’s really much to see or do in the heart of downtown, but it’s not a neighborhood I spend much time in, so it makes this list. There’s the bull, and Zucotti Park where the Occupy movement started (and is maybe still going on? No idea.). And generally speaking is a different vibe from the carriage rides of central park or the hipster shops of the Village, so it’d be worth a stroll one of these days.

Cemetery Tour – not sure where it comes from – I don’t go in for spooky movies or haunted houses, I’m not sure I believe in ghosts and goblins – but I’ve always found cemeteries profoundly interesting. And there are a couple in the vicinity that come recommended for a visit by the living: Green-Wood, in Brooklyn, and Woodlawn, in the Bronx. Might not hit both in one day, but I bet I could find some interesting epitaphs, wandering the grounds and dreaming up the stories behind them.