New York City. Home to so many big dreams, diverse personalities and never-ending sightseeing. New York is one of those cities you could visit a dozen times and still never run out of things to do or see. When I traveled to New York this past Holiday season, my schedule only allowed for 1 full day in Manhattan, which is why I assembled a list of the most photo worthy locations that I knew I wanted to see.
I did a little work in advance by putting these spots in Google maps so that I could map out the most efficient course of walking for the day. Our day started at 8:30 am in Central Park and ended at our 7:30 pm reservation at the Museum of Ice Cream in Soho. I believe we clocked in 35,000 steps this day! 😊 Of course, we took some breaks in between for coffee, dinner and a few other photos ops that didn’t make this list but in all my traveling I think this was the most productive day of sightseeing + content shooting that I’ve ever had!
Bow Bridge, Central Park
You probably recognize the Bow Bridge from many famous New York photo’s, TV shows or movies. In my opinion, the bridge is much smaller in real life than it always appeared to me on screen. Nevertheless, this bridge offers a sunny spot in the park to pose for photos against some of Manhattan’s prettiest buildings in the background.
Bethesda Terrace, Central Park
When I first saw Bethesda Terrance on Instagram over a year ago, I never knew such a place existed. I was determined to see it on my next trip to NYC. Unfortunately, several trips to New York had passed without managing to find the spot or make the time to. This most recent trip I was determined to get here. You guys, I was absolutely blown away at how pretty it is inside. I also love that most of the photos I see on Instagram have a different spin on such a small spot.
Umpire Rock, Central Park
Admittedly, I didn’t know this spot had an official name until I looked it up to write this blog piece. I knew about this spot both from seeing it in person scrolling through the park and seeing it on social media. If you climb Umpire Rock, you’ll get an awesome view of Manhattan’s skyline but be warned that there are usually tons of other people up there with you. Also, if you’re like me and wear a poor shoe choice (booties with a small heel) just very careful climbing up and down!
Ohhh, Times Square. Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with Times Square? Every single time I come to New York I feel like I must walk through it. I know it’s hectic and there’s people dressed like cartoon characters and comic hero’s that you don’t want to be bothered by but the energy in this area is unlike anything else I’ve seen before. I was here 4 days before New Year’s Eve, so I feel like the crowd was even crazier than usual since they were already setting up for the famous ball to drop and people were stopping to talk photos of it.
Bryant Park is home to many Insta-famous photos especially during the Holiday’s. Since I was here just a few days after Christmas, the tree was still up and all the small Holiday shops were still open. The ice-skating rink was also open although I barely managed to grab a photo since there were literally hundreds of people lined up around the rink! I look forward to visiting this park again in another season.
Flat Iron Building
When you’re passing through midtown, making a pit stop at the Flatiron Building is a must. This building is such an iconic part of New York and reminds me of a much smaller version that is across the street from my apartment in Chicago. There was scaffolding on the building during our last visit but of course we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a photo as we passed by.
New York Subway Station
You can’t come to New York without experience a ride on the subway. I’m from Chicago so I’m hardly phased by the “interesting” things I see on public transit now, but New York definitely takes it to another level. The New York subway system confused me at first but now it’s super easy for me to understand and get around! Plus, it’s so much more efficient than transit by car.
Washington Square Park
Last Summer when I visited New York, we showed up to Washington Square Park only to see there were literally thousands of people sitting, standing and laying around all over the park. I guess I don’t know why I would expect anything else but let’s just say I didn’t really photograph it in a way that I wanted to. This most recent visit was much less busy, and I managed to take a couple of photos at the famous archway without being photobombed by a dozen people.
Oculus Building, One World Trade Center
The Oculus Building is only a few years old and is now a major hub for public transit in lower Manhattan. I think the inside and outside both offer some awesome photo ops but my personal recommendation is to walk a little bit away from the building and take your photo from afar. We arrived around 2pm and the inside was a total mad house, not surprisingly, but is super unique and can be a cool photo if you manage to find a quieter space.
I wouldn’t have known about this place if it weren’t for seeing it all over social media. Nomo is a hotel but also has a restaurant inside that is open to the public. This entryway might be one of the prettiest hotel entrances I’ve seen but trust me when I say that everyone else shares that same opinion! 😊 There was one other group shooting photos when I arrived and by the time they finished and then I took my turn, there were another 3-4 groups waiting in line.
Pietro Nolita, Soho
Pink has been my favorite color since I was a little girl so how could I possibly pass up a photo op at this adorable Italian spot in Soho. I think it’s nice to be a paying customer at locations I’m trying to shoot at, but unfortunately, we already had dinner plans on this evening, so we didn’t go in to eat. However, the reviews online were all wonderful and I’ll be sure to stop in next time I’m in NYC.
Yumi Kim Garbage Cans, Soho
I bet you’d never think that garbage cans would make a list of Insta-worthy photo locations, huh? The best part about these cans is that the artist changes designs with the changing of the seasons. What you see in the above photos may not last until Spring so if you like this color scheme by sure to go see it quickly!
Ice Cream Museum, Soho
Full disclosure, this is one location on my list that you can’t get to for free but is worth the cost of admission. The ticket for the museum is $40 but not only do you have so many photo ops inside, you also get 4-5 sweet samplings during the tour. If you love ice cream, you won’t want to miss this! In my opinion, it’s a good tour to do just once but no need to come back every time you’re in New York.
I had my heart set on getting a photo at the Brooklyn Bridge during sunset. However, after a long day of venturing from Central Park to downtown, we didn’t arrive at the bridge until after dark. I was surprised to see that the Brooklyn Bridge was still shoulder to shoulder at 7pm but with over a mile of real estate there are plenty of spots along the walk to get to the side and snap a couple of shots. I recommend walking far enough across the bridge to get a nice wide view of Manhattan’s skyline in the background.
NYC Skyline (from Brooklyn or Hoboken)
Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to Brooklyn during this trip even though I had a few photo ideas in mind. Luckily since we were staying with my sister in Hoboken, New Jersey I was still able to execute some shots from the other side 😊 I love that New York kind of has two mini skylines – predominately downtown and also midtown. Depending on how far away from the water you’re standing and your lens, you will probably only get one part of Manhattan or the other. There’s several piers in Hoboken to set up your shot and luckily it’s not as hectic with people as Manhattan can be!