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New York City, one of the most fascinating places on earth, offers a wide range of activities and adventures for everyone. Even if you’re lucky enough to visit New York more than a few times, you still won’t even come close to seeing all the secrets the city has to offer. Deciding exactly where to go and what to do is definitely a fun process, but it can also be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ve never been to the city before. Here is a summary of the 5 top things to do in New York City:

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1. Lady Liberty and Ellis Island

The ever unique and widely diverse history of our country can be found at Ellis Island, where years ago so many of our ancestors set foot on American soil for the very first time looking for freedom and prosperity. If you’re a genealogy buff, look through the registry for names of relatives who may have stepped off a boat here before heading on to visit the Statue of Liberty, fondly known as Lady Liberty. If you’ve never seen the statue in person, she is definitely a sight to behold with her strong, majestic presence and watchful eyes overlooking the ocean. To visit Ellis Island from the city, or from New Jersey, take a ferry for $12, which also goes to Liberty Island where the statue is situated. Tickets often sell out, so buy yours early if at all possible, either online or from the site where the ferry departs. You can also tour the crown of the statue, but this might entail an extra cost. These tickets sell out fast as well, so reserve them quickly.

2. Times Square

There is so much to do in this one district and it’s all for free! (Well, unless you buy souvenirs of course). This is where you can watch the ball drop every New Year’s eve. There are plenty of shopping opportunities and stores to go into. There are also plenty of places to dine and eat. There is a tourist information center on 7th Avenue close to 46th Street. From Times Square there are endless possibilities. You can get tickets to one of the many Broadway shows or just sit back and enjoy the night life.

3. Central Park

You definitely won’t be bored in Central Park, which is free to visit unless you plan on riding the big, colorful carousel or visiting the zoo located inside of the park, which both charge admission. If you’re a John Lennon fan you won’t want to miss Strawberry Fields, the aptly named monument to the former member of The Beatles, located across the street from the Dakota, the apartment building Lennon lived in and lost his life in front of in 1980. The solitary word “Imagine,” one of Lennon’s most beloved hits, marks a circular set of stones to honor the late musician.

4. Ellen’s Stardust Diner.

For ’50s style fun, delicious food, and an incredible ambience for both kids and adults, visit Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which is not too far away from Times Square, located on 51st and Broadway. At Ellen’s you will be sung to by waiters and waitresses who know all of the best Broadway show tunes. In fact, several employees of Ellen’s Stardust Diner have gone on to successful careers on Broadway. If you can, sit in the upper dining area which provides a view of the whole place. Food is on the pricey side, but well worth it. While reservations aren’t necessary, the diner is rather well known, so plan on waiting in a long line most days.

5. The Empire State Building

Head to the top of the Empire State Building on a clear day and you will be rewarded with a stunning view of all the surrounding states. This is New York’s tallest building and is also one of the world’s most recognizable structures. It has appeared in several well known movies. Adorned with red and green lights for the holidays, the top of the Empire State Building also has various look-out points and binoculars for visitors to use. Admission to the building is $19 for adults, $2 less for those with a military identification, and discounts can often be found through AAA, in entertainment books, and newspapers. You can also buy tickets in the building’s lobby, but because this is one of the city’s most popular attractions, be prepared to wait in line many times during the year.

When in New York…

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