This past fall, I took one of my most memorable trips to date - Three weeks of traveling across 8 US States. The end of that journey was the Big Apple itself. It was a mere five days in New York City for this photographer’s first time. Put your hiking shoes on, because you’ll find yourself walking a LOT to explore this big city - even with the subways.
That being said, I had an absolute blast exploring both touristy and non-touristy spots and have compiled a collection of my favorite 18 photos across all of the different locations I explored. Each has a caption telling you where it is and a bit about that image. Enjoy!
Foodies: Of course you can’t go to NYC and not eat amazing food! Don’t fret, there is an entire blog post dedicated to my favorite 15 savory and sweet dishes.
Manhattan Bridge @ Water St. and Washington St
Let’s start out with as touristy as you can get! This “photo spot” literally is marked on Google Maps as a fantastic view of the bridge. It’s surreal in that the bridge looks so huge that it almost looks fake next to the buildings. This was definitely a spot I seeked out. Despite all that, I was still surprised to see how crowded the street was with photographers.
Brooklyn Bridge @ Empire Fulton Ferry Park
As is the case at times, one of my favorite photos of a location ended up being 100% unplanned. I knew I wanted to photograph this bridge, but I only stumbled upon it by chance as I had been taken in by this stunning brick building with the sun peaking through. As we approached, I noticed the bridge. I was surprised this spot is NOT partially marked as a great scenic spot to photograph the bridge (like the Manhattan Bridge has in the street).
Central Park @ Bethesda Terrace
You’d be remiss to not spend some time in Central Park during your visit. The park is, of course, HUGE. That being said, I found the southern half to feature more photographable spots (start from the Belvedere Castle, work your way south through The Ramble / Bow Bridge, and then wind through Bethesda Terrace and hit the classic “The Mall” walk before ending at the Balto Statue).
Central Park @ Oak Bridge
Yes, two for Central Park. It’s that big! There is a wonderful view on this particular bridge that has greenery all around, with a view of the pond covered in boats and the skyline in the back. Beautiful at sunrise!
Grand Central Station
An iconic spot to photograph, with the “classic” wide view and blurred people to showcase the chaotic vibes of this crowded station. It is nice to have a photo goal where you WANT people “in the way”. In fact, the biggest challenge was waiting to get a shot where there weren’t too many groups holding STILL for minutes on end.
Staten Island Ferry @ Near Departure from NYC
The fact that this ferry is FREE is amazing. It honestly gives some of the BEST skyline views of the entire city, and as you’ll see in the next image - also a decent vantage point of the Statue of Liberty.
Staten Island Ferry @ Statue of Liberty
After exploring the New Jersey side to see how close a view you can get of the Statue of Liberty from land, it is no contest that THIS is the closest view you can get (without paying to go on the island of course). We timed our ride with sunset, and with a zoom lens, I was able to capture this panoramic image.
Empty Sky Memorial @ LIberty State Park (NJ)
OK, so this one is in New Jersey, but the view from here of NYC is stunning. This particular spot is New Jersey’s 9/11 Memorial. It is a beautiful and serene spot at day and at night.
Liberty State Park @ Abandoned Train Station
Right by the spot above is the takeoff for the Statue of Liberty boats, which is located in a building that used to be a train station and is now abandoned. It is a very cool spot to walk around while you are there.
Back to 200% touristy! This spot is of course best when it is darker out so you can see all of the billboards lit up. It was by FAR the most crowded spot we experienced in our entire trip. I can’t say there was a lot to do, but it just felt like an obligation to experience it once.
Summit One Vanderbilt @ Overlook Tour
One of the best decisions we made was picking the Summit One tour, taking you up 1,100 feet above Madison Avenue for one of the most amazing views of the entire city. But, as you’ll see in the next image, the fun doesn’t end there for this spot!
Summit One Vanderbilt @ Mirror Room
That’s right, the entire tour is inside of a very unique mirrored space. So, not only are you captivated by the view of the city, you get to explore this entire “experience” that is very fascinating and features a variety of rooms and art pieces.
9/11 Memorial Pools @ Ground Zero
Another essential stop on your list is to pay respects at Ground Zero, which features a North and South Pool. With a bit of effort and photoshop magic, I was able to create this vertical panorama that showcases the north pool by the One World Trade Center building.
World Trade Center Station @ Main Room
What is the best subway to get to Ground Zero? What is the COOLEST train station in the city? Two questions, one answer: The World Trade Center Station. This beautiful modern station features all white architecture throughout, and I’ll admit, I spent a fair amount of time here capturing these clean spaces.
World Trade Center Station @ Stairs to Subway
I don’t know what it is with shots like this, but I was in love with the clean white architecture and capturing all sorts of spaces in this station. This one in particular was one of my favorites, with the red/green arrows to add a little color.
Subway Entrance @ Bowling Green
Perhaps more “representative” of this entire category, but the subway system is not only your LIFELINE for getting around the city quickly (saving your poor feet from miles and miles of unnecessary walking), but it’s also an opportunity for some amazing photos. I found myself taking photos at EVERY station I went to, as each was unique and featured different murals to mark where you were.
Greenwich Village @ Apartments
Last on the list is Greenwich, an iconic district featuring beautiful red brick buildings for miles. Sights like this were common as you wander aimlessly around this area.
Father Demo Square @ Greenwich Village
We’ll end our journey here, at the TINIEST “park” that I fell in love with. This fountain rests in a triangle patch of greenery where 6 roads intersect. The fountain lined up beautifully with the nearby church, surrounded by fall leaves.
That’s all she wrote!
So, that was what I managed to see across 5 days in NYC. I both know it was a LOT and know there is SO much more I could explore. If you’ve been, comment below what spots I should put on my list when I go back!