An Amateur’s Advice to the Capital of the World: A Miniature Tour of NYC

A week ago, I boarded a plane and flew as far away from Helena as I have ever been. My family and I had been planning our New York City adventure for a year, so finally watching the lights of the city come into view from the airplane window felt surreal. Although we were there for six whole days, it felt like the time went by in a blur of subways and neon billboards.  


There is so much to see and do in NYC, so seeing everything that it has to offer in just six days is impossible. So, if you ever happen to find yourself wandering out of JFK Airport looking for something to do in the city, here are some places I consider worth a visit: 


Firstly, if you are a first-time visitor to New York City like my family and I were, you should definitely include the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island National Museum somewhere in your trip. They have earned the notoriety as the most cliché, tourist-y locations possible to visit in NYC, but they are worth visiting at least once. Both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are teeming with history, especially Ellis Island.  


In fact, I preferred visiting Ellis Island a bit more than the Statue of Liberty. The museum is preserved to look exactly as it did when it was still functioning as an immigration center, and it features an incredibly well procured collection of historical documents and items related to the stories of Ellis Island immigrants. The best part is that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Museum do not require tickets for admission. Instead, visitors just have to pay a fare to get on the ferry that takes them to both locations, which is only about 24 dollars. 


Outside of the typical tourist locations, my family and I went to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, the opera Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera, and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Far and away, these were my favorite activities of the entire trip. The sheer amount of talent and artistry in these locations is astonishing, and almost overwhelming to be honest.  


The performers in both Turandot and Phantom of the Opera were phenomenal, and it was a joy to watch both productions. If you have the chance, I would highly recommend seeing each of these shows. However, both Broadway and the Met Opera have many different productions, so there are plenty of different show options to attend that could cater more to what you are interested in. Taking in a show from both major production companies is absolutely worth your time and is a great way to experience a preview of the immense talent NYC holds.  


Furthermore, the massive collection of art in the Met Museum is nothing short of jaw-dropping. The museum is so massive that, despite its large number of visitors, we could almost always find an unoccupied room or gallery. I saw a Monet and Picasso painting within one hundred steps of one another, a prime example of the number of artistic masterpieces held in one beautifully designed building.  


Although the entire trip was amazing, the one place that I felt we could have skipped was the Museum of Natural History. While the Museum of Natural History did have an amazing collection of fossils (insert pictures of Doug the Dino here) and was full of great information, I found it to be a bit more chaotic than the Met Museum. There were a lot more children in the Museum of Natural History than the Met, making the museum’s atmosphere very noisy (little kids are bigger fans of cool dinosaurs than Greco-Roman Art I guess). There were not a lot of places where you could sit and read the plaques in front of exhibits without feeling rushed. This was the opposite in the Met Museum, where you could take all the time you wanted to admire one painting or sculpture.  


Overall, my trip to NYC was truly an amazing experience, and I enjoyed every second of it. If you ever plan to visit (which I highly recommend you do), be sure to take full advantage of your time there, and learn to love crowded subways in advance!