Visitor’s Guide to the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid, New York (Our Experience)

When you’re in Lake Placid, a visit isn’t truly complete without exploring the Olympic Jumping Complex. Here, you can witness aspiring Olympians display their skills and dedicate themselves to achieving their dream of standing on an Olympic podium. It’s a unique and awe-inspiring experience that you definitely don’t want to miss.

In the following guide, I’ll provide you with all the essential information for your visit to the Olympic Jumping Complex, including the most cost-effective approach and tips on securing the best vantage point.

What is the Olympic Jumping Complex?

The Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid, New York, is a sports venue that was originally constructed for the 1980 Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid. It is primarily used for ski jumping events and features two ski jumps: the K-90 and K-120 meter ski jumps.

The complex not only serves as a competition venue but also as a training facility for athletes aspiring to participate in ski jumping events. Visitors to the Olympic Jumping Complex can also take tours and even experience the thrill of heading to the top of the structure. More on that below!

Olympic Jumping Complex ski jump

Where is the Olympic Jumping Complex?

The Olympic Jumping Complex is located at 5486 Cascade Rd, Lake Placid, NY.

It’s located close to the Lake Placid Horse Show which is close to where you can find the site of the 1980 Winter games Olympic torch (adjacent to the Lake Placid Track).

How can you visit the Olympic Jumping Complex?

As explained below, you can access the jumping complex for free and watch some of the athletes perform their training jumps.

But if you want to get up close to the action or head up in the ski jump then you will need to pay for a ticket which involves a ride on the gondola.

If you plan on seeing other sites in the Lake Placid area then I would recommend for you to purchase the Lake Placid Legacy Sites Passport.

The Lake Placid Legacy Sites Passport gives you the following benefits for $64:

  • One-time admission to the Veterans’ Memorial Highway
  • Ride on Whiteface Mountain’s Cloudsplitter gondola
  • Olympic Legacy Tour at Mt Van Hoevenberg
  • Skyride Experience at the Olympic Jumping Complex
  • Entry to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum
  • Sticker set to collect at each venue
  • 10% discount on purchases made at the various retail stores and food and beverage vendors located at the destination venues

Related: Cliffside Mountain Coaster Review: A Thrilling & Historic Ride — But Worth It?

Olympic Jumping Complex ski jump

Our experience at the Olympic Jumping Complex

We made several trips to the Olympic Jumping Complex, eager to witness the incredible feats of these promising young athletes as they soared through the air.

To witness the spectacle, we checked the schedule ahead of time and arrived when the athletes were training. You can find these schedules in paper form at the main lodge (where you buy tickets, souvenirs, and snacks), or you might want to give them a call in advance to inquire. I’m uncertain if these schedules are regularly updated online.

Of course, they also still hold major ski jump events here so keep that in mind. In fact, it’s reported that the jump complex is the only one in North America “homologated for winter and summer jumping competitions.”

The site itself is impressive to explore even when you don’t catch the jumpers in mid-air action, but aligning your visit with their training sessions significantly enhances the experience. I highly recommend planning your trip during those times for an even more memorable visit.

On one side of the complex, you’ll come across the Freestyle Aerial Training Center which houses a pool equipped with some jaw-dropping ramps that launch skiers into the water. During our visit, we had the pleasure of witnessing a training session featuring young skiers of different skill levels.

One of the skiers appeared to be in the early stages of their journey, while the others showcased more advanced skills, pulling off some seriously impressive aerial maneuvers.

Olympic Jumping Complex frrestyle

The scene had a fun vibe with blasting music, creating a unique and captivating spectacle as they honed their craft. What’s even cooler is that this entire area is open for viewing without requiring an admission fee.

Olympic Jumping Complex frrestyle

Following our exploration of the freestyle jumps, we proceeded to make our way up to the higher ski jump.

To reach our destination, we hopped aboard the Skyride, an enclosed gondola that swiftly transported us uphill. While it’s priced at $20 for the ride, we used our legacy sites passport..

Upon reaching the summit of the hill, we strolled over to the foot of the towering 128-meter ski jump and ascended to the pinnacle in a glass-enclosed elevator. The vistas during the elevator ride and from the summit were undeniably awe-inspiring, as were there during the peak of foliage season.

Olympic Jumping Complex gondola
Olympic Jumping Complex gondola view

Once you step onto the Sky Deck, you’ll be treated to sweeping, panoramic views of Lake Placid and the majestic Adirondack Mountains that envelop the area. It’s an incredibly stunning sight to behold.

Olympic Jumping Complex ski jump

Once you’re up there, a cozy lounge awaits, providing a space to unwind. You can catch a screening of one of the films delving into the history of the Olympic Games, gaining insights into the events of years gone by.

Olympic Jumping Complex ski jump lodge

Afterward, step outside and ascend a flight of stairs to reach the pinnacle of the jump.

From this vantage point, you’ll stand in close proximity to the very spot where Olympians stood during the 1980 Winter Olympic Games.

It offers an incredible view looking down, allowing you to vividly imagine the rush of adrenaline and intense concentration that ski jumpers experience as they prepare to launch down this slope. If heights give you a thrill, don’t be surprised if your palms start to get a bit sweaty while you’re up there!

Olympic Jumping Complex ski jump

After soaking in those breathtaking vistas, you can either extend your stay at the launch area a bit longer or opt for the descent.

During our visit, we strategically timed it to catch a glimpse of the daredevils from the coach’s deck. This vantage point, situated right beside the ski jumps, offers an unparalleled view of the skilled ski jumpers in action.

There are two different decks and I would recommend the bottom deck because of how close you can get to the ski jumpers coming down hill. The second deck also has good views but there is a corner reserved for the coach so keep that in mind.

After a couple of days spent observing and chatting with fellow spectators, it became evident that their training sessions don’t usually kick off precisely on time. Typically, they get underway about 15 to 20 minutes or later than the scheduled time.

However, if you’re eager to secure a prime spot on the coaches’ platform, you might not want to wait that long. We managed to snag a corner spot on the platform, which offered the best view, especially if you’re keen on witnessing the skiers’ full run as they descend the hill and execute their landings.

Prior to their jump, you can catch the jumpers in the midst of their warm-up routine, which includes stretching and various drills to prepare themselves. It’s quite fascinating to observe their interactions with their coach as they gear up for their gravity-defying feats.

You’ll know that the action is about to commence when the sprinkler systems kick in, showering the jump and the green landing area below to ensure a slick surface.

Eventually, we witnessed a group of young jumpers making their way up the slope.

Once their coach gave them the green light, it took mere seconds for them to hurtle down the ramp at astonishing speeds and then gracefully take flight.

Olympic Jumping Complex ski jump

Each jumper executed seemingly flawless landings — it was truly impressive.

It’s one of those experiences that you’ve watched on TV during the Olympics for years. But seeing it live is just different and gives you a new appreciation for the sport.

Olympic Jumping Complex ski jump

After each round, the jumpers head back up using the gondola to prepare for another thrilling round of jumps. Following our observation of two separate rounds, we decided to head to the bottom to gain a different vantage point, which was equally fascinating.

Olympic Jumping Complex ski jump

This alternative perspective doesn’t require any payment, and if the sun is shining and it’s a bit warm, a great spot to watch from is the pavilion connected to the main visitor center and gift shop. There, you’ll find comfortable chairs to relax on while enjoying a pretty impressive view.

Final word

Visiting the Olympic Jumping Complex was an absolute highlight of our Lake Placid experience. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the Winter Olympics and utterly captivated by the ski jump event.

It always struck me as an awe-inspiring feat, and at this center, you can watch athletes launch themselves off the ramp, which takes the experience to a whole new level of incredibility.

So, while a visit when no training sessions are happening is certainly worthwhile, for some, I’d go as far as saying that I’d do everything in my power to time the visit with a jumping session at the ski jump and also at the pool. It adds an extra layer of excitement to an already fantastic experience.

Cliffside Mountain Coaster Review: A Thrilling & Historic Ride — But Worth It?

The Cliffside Mountain Coaster in Lake Placid offers a thrilling adventure on North America’s longest coaster, featuring a unique path along historic Olympic bobsled tracks.

This coaster combines excitement with Olympic history, and it is not to be missed when you are in the Lake Placid area.

Below, I’ll tell you everything you need to know before booking and riding the Cliffside Mountain Coaster.

What is the Cliffside Mountain Coaster?

The Cliffside Mountain Coaster is a standout attraction known for its distinction as North America’s longest coaster, stretching over a remarkable 1.4-mile track.

What sets it apart is its unique path, which closely follows the historic alignment of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Bobsled tracks as it descends the mountain. Another cool feature of this coaster is that riders have the ability to control the speed of their car throughout the thrilling journey.

The experience is undeniably captivating, allowing visitors to zoom down the very path where Olympians once raced decades ago.

For many, like myself, who have never before laid eyes on a bobsled track, the novelty of the experience adds an extra layer of magic to what is already is a pretty fun adventure.

Cliffside Mountain Coaster

Where is the Cliffside Mountain Coaster?

The Cliffside Mountain Coaster is located at 220 Bobsled Run Lane, Lake Placid.

While technically in Lake Placid, it’s actually found at Mt Van Hoevenberg, which is a little bit outside of the downtown Lake Placid area. From the Olympic Museum, it’s about a 13-minute drive.

When following directions to get there, be aware that the parking situation can be a bit tricky. We found ourselves at a parking lot that happened to be closed and there are some other parking lots in the vicinity that grant access to the trails.

To ensure you’re in the right spot, keep an eye out for the unmistakable electric vehicle parking options – a clear indicator that you’ve found the correct parking area. It also will likely be the parking lot with the most amount of vehicles.

From the parking lot, you can walk up to the main visitor center where you can find a restaurant or you can head directly to the coaster (just look for the signs point to you in the right direction).

The Cliffside Mountain Coaster is just one of the many thrilling activities available in this area, so it’s advisable to explore all the options before planning your visit. Among the other popular attractions to consider is the bobsled experience, which promises its own unique and exhilarating adventure.

Booking the Cliffside Mountain Coaster

One crucial detail to keep in mind when considering booking a ride on the Cliffside Mountain Coaster is that while it does operate throughout the year, it doesn’t always operate every day of the week. To ensure your visit aligns with its availability, it’s wise to plan accordingly.

During our trip, we discovered that it was not operational on Wednesdays and Thursdays but you can find the latest updates here.

Booking your tickets online is highly recommended for a seamless experience.

This not only allows you to confirm the coaster’s availability, which can sometimes be limited, but also lets you handle all the necessary waivers in advance. This proactive approach ensures a speedy and efficient process when you arrive.

You can book a single adult ticket for $55 but if you want to add a child that will be sitting with the adult it’s only $10 extra. That’s a pretty expensive ticket for a single ride attraction but I will talk more about if it’s worth it further down in the article.

Be sure to keep in mind the ride requirements for the Cliffside Mountain Coaster, which are as follows:

  • Drivers must be at least 9 years old and 52 inches tall.
  • Passengers must be at least 3 years old and 36 inches tall.
  • To ride with a passenger, you must be 18 years old.
  • The maximum weight per cart is 300 lbs.

When booking, you’ll select a designated time slot for your ride and are advised to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to that scheduled time.

An interesting tidbit we learned is that if you happen to arrive a bit earlier than your allotted slot, you can inquire about the possibility of boarding earlier.

During our visit, we were fortunate to hop on board a full 20 minutes ahead of our scheduled time, and with no lines in sight, it made for a wonderfully swift start to our adventure.

Cliffside Mountain Coaster

Our experience on the Cliffside Mountain Coaster

As we stepped through the entrance gates and presented our tickets, we were promptly ushered towards the coaster cars. These individual coaster cars were designed with a resemblance to bobsleds, adding a delightful touch to the experience.

Cliffside Mountain Coaster

Our attentive attendant provided us with an overview of what lay ahead and explained the lever system.

This mechanism allowed us to exercise control over our speed: pulling the levers back applied the brakes, while pushing them down unleashed the thrill of full-speed adventure.

The need for braking seemed largely unnecessary for most of our exhilarating journey (until the end when we had to disembark).

However, having the option to slow down could be a reassuring feature for those who might find the ride’s top speed, reaching up to 25 mph, a tad intimidating or uncomfortable.

Another crucial purpose of utilizing the brakes was to maintain a safe distance from the other coaster cars on the track. The park’s guidelines stipulated a specific separation requirement between vehicles, which needed to be even more generous during rainy and wet conditions to ensure safety.

It’s worth noting that our attendant skillfully managed our ride, expertly maintaining the necessary spacing between our coaster car and the others. Consequently, adhering to these safety measures never posed a concern during our thrilling journey.

Cliffside Mountain Coaster

Our adventure kicked off with a rather long uphill ascent. As you made your ascent, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in an engaging audio tour that provides insights into various facilities and the past Winter Olympic Games along the way.

The journey to the summit spanned approximately five and a half minutes, affording you more than ample time to unwind, soak in the breathtaking scenery, and prepare for the thrilling downhill escapade that lay ahead!

Cliffside Mountain Coaster

Upon reaching the summit, you’ll encounter a helpful attendant who will guide you to push down on your levers, signaling the start of your thrilling journey downhill!

As you embark on your descent along the tracks, the audio tour becomes an engaging companion, offering intriguing insights into the course by John Morgan, the sportscaster who made an appearance in the 1993 Disney film Cool Runnings.

The audio tour introduces you to the names of some of the turns and provides fascinating details about their design, adding an extra layer of appreciation for the ride’s intricacies. Expect it to take you about three minutes to make your way down assuming you don’t overdo it on the brakes.

While capturing the excitement with your cellphone camera is possible, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for the descent.

I attempted to take a few snapshots and video myself, but I quickly realized the intensity of the ride made it challenging to maintain a steady grip with one hand.

Consequently, I opted to secure my phone by just sitting on it since I didn’t have much time to put back in my pocket.

However, this strategy had its own set of challenges as the ride’s bouncy nature caused my phone to shift and slip around, almost falling off the coaster! This meant a portion of my descent in the latter part of the ride was spent ensuring my phone stayed in place.

In hindsight, it would have been a wiser decision to simply keep my phone securely stowed in my pocket to fully embrace the adrenaline-pumping experience.

One choice that truly paid off was our decision to bring GoPros to document the entire adventure.

Upon reviewing the footage, it’s surprising how the speed of the ride didn’t appear as rapid as it felt in the heat of the moment. To clarify, this isn’t a high-speed roller coaster designed to leave you breathless, but it’s not without its moments of excitement.

In fact, there were a couple of turns and unexpected twists where the experience took an unexpectedly spicy turn, injecting a few shots of adrenaline into the ride. But again, nothing overwhelming.

I found the timing of our ride in late September to be particularly delightful, as it coincided with the onset of the vibrant fall foliage. The spectacle of the changing colors added a wonderful layer of charm and ambiance to the entire experience, enhancing its overall appeal.

Final word: Was it worth it?

At $55 per person, the Cliffside Mountain Coaster is undeniably one of the more expensive single-ride attractions I’ve encountered.

However, for someone like me who has always been captivated by the Olympics, harbors a deep appreciation for history, and revels in the beauty of fall foliage, this experience was an absolute treasure. The added charm of witnessing the color change during our visit made the price tag even more justified.

That being said, it’s important to manage your expectations. If you aren’t particularly enthralled by Olympic history and are seeking a pure adrenaline rush, the coaster may not meet your thrill-seeking desires to the fullest. So just set your expectations accordingly.

Renaissance Albany Hotel Review (New York) [2022]

Albany, New York, is an interesting city. It’s got a lot of history linked to major advances in technology and transportation like the telegraph, the first long-distance plane ride, and the first passenger rail road.

And of course there are all of the historic ties to the American Revolutionary War.

So when we visited, we wanted to get a taste of that history and chose the Renaissance Albany Hotel which sits at the site of the historic DeWitt Clinton Hotel and was reopened to the public in 2015 after a $48 million project.

In this review article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about the Renaissance Albany Hotel and give you a feel for what our experience was like.


Heading from DC to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, we wanted to break up the drive and to check out a new city in the process so Albany, New York, seemed like the perfect destination.

We chose the Renaissance Albany Hotel because we’ve had some memorable experiences in Renaissance hotels like the St. Pancras and this one looked like it would be an interesting way to spend some time in Albany.

We booked one night and utilized a Marriott suite night certificate to increase our upgrade odds. We got confirmation about five days prior to the stay that we had a confirmed upgrade and looked forward even more to the stay.

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Location overview: Downtown Albany

The Renaissance Albany Hotel is located right in the heart of Downtown Albany.

It’s within walking distance to the New York State Capitol which is one of the most beautiful and iconic capitol buildings I think I’ve ever seen.

You also have nearby attractions/sites like The Egg, Empire State Plaza, and the New York State Museum which I highly recommend. The hotel building is also connected to the Albany Capital Center so be sure to check if any events are taking place you’d be interested in.

If you’re a fan of history/Hamilton the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site is not far away and it’s a really cool historic site to check out. You can actually tour the mansion but you need to book in advance by calling and making reservations.

We were only in town for one night so we didn’t have the chance to explore a lot of the city but overall Albany did seem like a city with a lot to offer in terms of architecture, museums, dining, shopping, and even surrounding nature/parks. I’d love to go back and see more.

It was fun exploring downtown for a day but we did run into a couple of people who were clearly drugged out of their mind. We never felt unsafe but it was pretty much the typical encounter with the homeless you might experience in a downtown area. So just be aware of what to expect.

New York State Capitol
The New York State Capitol, built in 1899.

Experiencing the history at check-in

We arrived around 1pm and were able to get early check-in no problem. The staff issued us a room key card that we would also use for in-and-out parking privileges from the parking garage attached to the rear of the building, making it easy to get around.

Upon entering the lobby, I was immediately impressed by the historic feel of the space, which dates back to 1927 when the hotel opened as the DeWitt Clinton Hotel.

With its close proximity to the capitol this hotel became known as the “Democrat’s Hotel” while the nearby Ten Eyck Hotel on North Pearl Street was known as the “Republican’s Hotel.” It’s reported that a lot of the legislative deals were made in this hotel.

The DeWitt hotel was converted in the 1970s into an assisted senior living facility and in the 1980s it was once again converted to a subsidized housing facility. But later in 2014 the property was purchased by Columbia Development and efforts began to restore the hotel to its original look.

Two interesting facts about the hotel:

  • The architect of the original hotel, Kenneth Franzheim, has ties to my hometown of Houston which I didn’t expect.
  • The first overnight guest was a feral black and white cat nicknamed DeWitt Clinton jr.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a departure from the usual look and feel of a modern hotel and to experience a hotel that feels a bit more connected to your destination. In this case, the hotel had been around since the 1920s and had a stately appearance but with a touch of glitz — a very different experience from your typical chain hotel.

Renaissance Albany Hotel lobby

The corner room 

The corner room we were upgraded to on the 11th floor was a pretty impressive room that was extremely spacious — it’s essentially a junior suite just without any real partition. I never saw the room listed on the hotel’s website so I wonder if this is sort of a special room that is not explicitly advertised?

The rooms here definitely have a unique vibe with the decorative mineral green carpet, friar gray walls, and sparkly accents. When I first walked in, I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of the look but after spending some time in the room, it grew on me (the views certainly helped).

Renaissance Albany Hotel corner room

As soon as you enter the room there is an entry way with mood lighting where you’ll find a counter with a coffee maker, cups, and ice tray.

You also have a nice little mini-fridge underneath.

The bed was really comfy and all the bedding felt fresh. The padded headboard is pretty equipped with lamps on both sides along with some vertical mirrors and reading lights.

Read: Do Hotels Wash Bedding Between Stays?

Behind the lamps you’ll find two power outlets along with USB ports for easy and convenient charging. Make sure you read our guide on using USB ports in hotels before you plug in your device!

Under the nightstand you can pull out a Bible or Book of Mormon, common materials to find in a Marriott hotel.

Related: Why Hotel Rooms Have Bibles & Why That’s Changing

hotel bible

The layout is a little bit odd with the workstation in the middle of the room.

It’s still pretty nice (and good for dining) but I found it’s just a different vibe when you’re working in the middle of the room like that.

I really liked the modern touch lamp and contrasting carrot orange chair, even if it wasn’t the most comfortable chair.

I thought it was pretty cool to have a TV that can face the bed or swivel out to the opposite direction where the sofa is.

The sofa is actually a cool place to sit down and check out the view, which was nice to do around sunset.

There is a little cove that wraps around the room where you can find a full-length mirror and the room’s closet. It also has a nice view out the window.


Sliding doors open up to a modern and relatively spacious bathroom which was nice even though the counter space on the sink is pretty limited.

Bathroom amenities were issued by Aveda, which I did not have a lot of experience with but thought they were pretty high-quality.


The hotel’s hallways had some cool mood lighting that I thought was a nice modern twist on a historic building.

Our room had a camera right outside of it, which was a little interesting and kept us on our best behavior.

Related: Hidden Cameras In Hotel Rooms!? Tools To Find Them & Where To Look

They also had some cool Johannes Vermeer wall decoration in the hallways, which was a nice surprise since we’d just explored some of his work in DC.

Fitness center

The hotel has a really nice gym. There were no views down in the gym but there were some interesting decorative walls that sort of reminded me of a Centurion Lounge (at least from afar).

For a hotel with just over 200 rooms I thought the gym was very well equipped with both cardio and machines.


Because of coronavirus, the full breakfast experience was not available. Instead, we had credits to order breakfast via room service.

Honestly, having breakfast delivered to the room was awesome. Almost every time we have ordered room service it’s been for dinner or dessert so I appreciated the early morning convenience of just waking up and eating.

I thought the waffle and eggs Benedict were pretty tasty but I felt like the breakfast should have been delivered on a plate and not a friggin to-go box, which made it awkward to eat.


We did not have the chance to try Wellington’s but it has some pretty solid reviews on its GMB profile so it’s probably worth checking out.

Final word

Overall, I thought this was a great hotel stay. The location is fantastic if you want to explore what Downtown Albany has to offer and the property felt unique and historic which added a bit of charm to the hotel stay. I would definitely recommend them.

Top 10 Completely Touristy Things to Do in NYC

It’s your first time to NYC and you’re looking for some advice on what to see and do… my recommendation: just bite the bullet on this first trip and be “okay” with being a tourist for a week (or at least a couple days). NYC simply offers too many good tourist attractions to not partake in them at least for some of your time there.  With that in mind, here are 10 top tourist attractions to consider on your first trip out to New York City.

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1. Catch an amazing view of Manhattan from up high

Nowadays you have three great options for obtaining the perfect view of the New York City Skyline: top of the Rock, top of the Empire State Building, or the new viewing platform at WTC One.  I haven’t checked out the WTC One view but I have checked out the views from the ESB and top of the Rock. I recommend the the Rock as I found it more photogenic for the simple reason that you can photograph the ESB.  However, if you’re more into bragging rights or bucket-list type attractions, going to the top of the Empire State Building is a pretty cool experience as well.  It costs an extra $15 to go from the 86th floor to the 102nd floor to get inside the spire of the ESB but the crowds are usually thinner up top and it’s really cool to see photos of the ESB and think back to a time when you were hanging out inside its massive spire.

View from the Top of the Rock New York
View from the Top of the Rock
View from the top of the Empire State Building
View from the top of the Empire State Building

Tickets for these experiences range from about $30-$70 depending on things like express packages. Skipping the line may be worth it as sometimes the crowds can get pretty ridiculous. We actually visited the Empire State Building on a rainy late afternoon and because of the weather, the crowds were non-existent. By the time we got up to the top, the rain had cleared out but low-lying clouds were still hovering through the city and it made for some great photographs.  If you’re wanting to see the city during the day but also catch the amazing night skyline, the Top of the Rock offers an option for you to visit the observation deck during both the day and later on during the night. I highly recommend night time visit because the view of the city lights is stunning.

Top of the Empire State Building
Top of the Empire State Building
View from the top of the Empire State Building
View from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building

2. Bike through Central Park

Central Park is pretty massive and while it’s a great place to go for a stroll, it’s also a perfect place to go for a bike ride.  Look for vendors near the main entrances of the park. Prices for bike rentals start at about $15 an hour and go up a few bucks for each additional 30 min or hour.  It was a lot of fun riding around the park but we definitely had to bob and weave through a lot of people so just keep an eye out for other tourists and locals. Also, another great option in addition to cycling is to rent a boat and go for a paddle through Central Park. Boats also start out at about $15 per hour with usually an extra $3 charge for each additional 30 minutes.

Central Park as seen from the Top of the Rock
Central Park as seen from the Top of the Rock
Lake in Central Park
Lake in Central Park

3. Broadway

The tickets can be a little pricey, depending on the show and your desired seats but this one is pretty much a given for most tourists that come to NYC, especially for the first time. I’ve only seen a few Broadway shows to date, but I highly recommend The Lion King to anyone that’s not seen it or ever been to a Broadway show. Tickets can be bought on sites like but some recommend purchasing tickets the day-of so to save up to 50% or more off the price.  While you’ll usually save money buying last minute tickets, keep in mind that seat availability will often be limited and you might get stuck with some less desirable seats for your show. Expect to spend anywhere from $100-200 if going through a site like Ticketmaster.

As a interesting side note, my room mate from law school (in California) just happened to be in the same exact showing of the Lion King when we saw it… pretty crazy considering we no so much as mentioned to each other that we’d be in NYC that week.

View of Times Square from the Lion King Theater
View of Times Square from the Lion King Theater

4. Museums

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (known as the Met) and the Museum of Modern Art (known as MoMA), are two of top museums you’ve got to check out on your first visit to NYC.  The Met is the largest art museum in the US and one of the top 10 in the world. MOMA is of course home to Vincent van Gogh’s, The Starry Night, among many other famous and inspirational works.

5. Statue of Liberty

Take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and check out the most iconic statue in the world up close and personal. Gifted to the US by the French in the late 1800s, the statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, and is the ultimate symbol of freedom if you ask me. It costs $18-21 to get over to the statue depending on whether or not you want to inside of it up to the crown. Also, the tours usually stop by Ellis Island, where you can see where tens of thousands of immigrants first arrived in New York after being greeted by the Statue of Liberty.

Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

6. Food Carts and Trucks

So these may not exactly be touristy, but you shouldn’t pass them up! The food carts are what kept me out of many restaurants in NYC. We found these all over the city and had amazing food of all different ethnicities. Whether you want Mexican, Mediterranean, hot dogs, burgers, sweets, whatever… if you look hard enough, you’ll find them. I wish I had thought more about it before my trip and I would’ve researched more places to check out but I can honestly say that all of the places that we stopped by on a whim were excellent. So my suggestion: research the top food stands and trucks nearby where you’re staying so you’ll have a couple of go-to places in case you can’t decide on where to eat.

Food Stand with the Chrysler Building in the background
Food Stand with the Chrysler Building in the background

7. World Trade Center Memorial

This was one of my favorite things to see in NYC.  It gave me goosebumps to see those two empty square holes in the ground where the Twin Towers once stood. It was definitely moving and now there’s a museum to check out on site where you can learn more about the victims, their families, and the heroic efforts of first-responders on that day. They also have massive beams and parts to the Towers on display that are warped from the extreme pressure and heat they endured and they are very moving to see. Regardless of what state or country you’re coming from, I highly recommend a stop to the memorial site for everyone.

Tickets to the museum and memorial are $24.

World Trade Center Memorial
World Trade Center Memorial

8. Walking through the city

There are plenty of places and neighborhoods  to see on foot around Manhattan.  I enjoyed checking out the Flatiron building, strolling through the Greenwich Village and popping in and out of a few pubs, exploring Little Italy and Wall Street, and even enjoyed experiencing the madness of Times Square.  There are great photo opportunities at just about every corner so have your camera ready at all times.

New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street
New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street
Little Italy in New York
Little Italy in New York
Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village New York
Washington Square Park in the Greenwich Village

One walk I recommend is the walk across the historic Brooklyn Bridge.   It’s easy to overlook the Brooklyn Bridge with all of the other things to see but don’t forget this was once the longest suspension bridge in the world and was also considered to be the 8th wonder of the world for a while.  It was pretty packed when we made the walk and there were plenty of cyclists on the path so it was a bit crowded but I still enjoyed the walk and the views of the city are great, too.

Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
View from the Brooklyn Bridge
View from the Brooklyn Bridge
Times Square
Times Square

Of course, you never know who you might run into in NYC. Here’s a photo of people going into a frenzy when Ricky Martin showed up around Times Square.

Ricky Martin spotted at Times Square
Ricky Martin spotted at Times Square

9. Taking a ferry tour around the city

Taking a ferry boat tour around Manhattan gave me a better appreciation for the massiveness of the New York skyline and all of it’s great bridges that I wouldn’t have gotten by just walking around. Not only will you get amazing photo opportunities but it’s also just a great way to relax, maybe have a couple of beers, and catch the sights of this amazing city.  I think the only view that probably beats this would be booking a helicopter tour, which is something I would have definitely looked into had it came across my mind.

Manhattan Bridge New York
Manhattan Bridge
The Financial District New York
The Financial District
New Yorker Hotel
The famous New Yorker Hotel
Stacks with Empire State Building
Empire State Building looming in the background

10. Yankees game

You either hate them or love them, but you can’t deny the legacy behind the New York Yankees.  While the old Yankee Stadium is long gone the new state-of-the-art stadium costed $2.3 billion to construct! It’s a great stadium and even for non-MLB fans it’s a bucket-list type experience, especially if you can catch them when the Red Sox are in town.

Yankee Stadium field
Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium sign
Yankees vs Red Sox!
Inside Yankee Stadium

One last thing, if you’re going to be visiting a lot of these places then you may want to look into the City Pass which will save you some change on your admission to many of these places and also allow you to skip the lines at some of the attractions.

Obviously, New York City is a special place that offers visitors endless attractions beyond these major tourists attractions.  However, if it’s your first time in the Big Apple, you owe it to yourself to at least check out about half of the things on this list.