Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

February 27, 2020

Ultimate NYC Bucket List: Best Things I've Done + Things I Want To Do

     New York City is the US city that I've visited the most times as a tourist, and probably the place I've spent the most time in that's not somewhere I've lived! My family went every 1-2 years for vacations pretty much until I went to college. My dad is originally from nearby Long Island, and he has some extended family that still lives in NYC as well. The town in Maine that I grew up in is only about 6ish hours away, so it was an easy and accessible destination for family trips when I was growing up, and even some still now into adulthood!

     If you're on the East Coast, NYC is a super accessible city. When I would make trips with my parents while growing up, we've done it all transportation-wise. My dad has driven us several times, and we've also done trains, busses, and flights! In the times that I've visited since I've moved to the South, I always fly to NYC, but the other options are technically still there as well. 

     In honor of the fact that I'll be up there this weekend, I thought it would be fun to finally share an NYC bucket list! I'm sharing 10 of my favorite things that I've already visited or gotten to experience, as well as 10 that are still on my list for future trips. And a few throwback photos too of favorite NYC trips past!

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New York City Bucket List: Things I've Done
  1. Visit the Empire State Building Observatory: When I was five years old, my dad promised me that he would someday take me to the top of the World Trade Center to the observatory. 9/11 happened less than two years later, and I was always a little sad to know that childhood dream would never come true with my dad. Well- the next best thing finally happened when I was 16! My dad and I were in NYC for a family event, and we went up to see the Empire State Building Observatory. It took a long time to get up there (long lines and security), but was so worth the views. I highly recommend doing this!
  2. Stay in Times Square: A lot of people find Times Square to be over the top and tacky, but to me there are few places as exciting and fun in the world. When I think NYC, this is what I think of! My parents and I have stayed at the Double Tree Times Square a few different times over the years and I can't recommend it enough, and I'm also going to be staying in Times Square at a different hotel this weekend for my upcoming trip. 
  3. Attend an NYC wedding: My dad and I attended my step-cousin's incredible black tie wedding at the legendary Plaza Hotel when I was 16. Not only was it so cool to attend a wedding at such a famous and fancy hotel, but this was also my first time attending an NYC wedding. Too cool!
  4. Visit the Museum of Natural History: My parents and I did this together on a trip when I was in high school! The museum was absolutely incredible, we only spent a couple hours in it and I'd love to go back someday and see more.
  5. Make a designer purchase in-store: I purchased my first pair of Tory Burch Millers at their store on Madison Avenue last year when I was up there for NYFW! I could've bought those shoes at a Nordstrom here in Virginia or online, but it was much more special to make the purchase in NYC. 
  6. See a Broadway show: I haven't been to many Broadway shows (nor am I really into theater or keeping up with the new shows), but I feel so lucky to have been to two! My dad and I saw Bombay Dreams with my aunt and uncle on a trip when I was nine, and then my dad and I together saw Phantom of the Opera on a trip when I was a freshman in college.
  7. Attend NYFW: I got to cross this off of both my personal and blog bucket list in February 2019- check out my recaps of the wonderful experience I had in this blog post and this blog post
  8. Visit Chinatown: I first got to see Chinatown on a trip with both my parents, and then my mom and I explored this part of NYC together during a girls' trip when I was 15. I'd love to explore this area again someday.
  9. See a Radio City Rockettes show: My parents, myself and my grandma came to NYC for Christmas when I was 13! What's a Christmas trip to NYC without seeing the famous Radio City Rockettes?! 
  10. Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: We spent Thanksgiving in NYC when I was 14! We spent part of the trip on Long Island with my dad's family, but we woke up in Manhattan on Thanksgiving Day and got to watch part of the parade live on the streets.
Chinatown, 2010

My cousin's wedding at The Plaza, 2011

Times Square with my friend Soo Jin, 2016

My first New York Fashion Week, 2019

New York City Bucket List: Things I Want to Do
  1. Watch The TODAY Show from their Plaza: I became obsessed with watching the TODAY show in 2017/18- the year that I lived in Vermont! One of my least favorite things now about my morning show schedule now is that I am at work during the whole time the show is on. I miss spending my mornings with the TODAY show crew! I would love to stand out in their Plaza someday and try and make it on the cameras!
  2. Attending a taping of LIVE with Kelly and Ryan: My other favorite morning television program that I also miss watching daily. I absolutely adore Kelly Ripa, and I've been a longtime fan of Ryan Seacrest (I really admire his success in the radio world!), so I was excited a few years ago when they begun hosting LIVE together. I used to watch this every morning in Vermont as well! I'd love to go to a live taping.
  3. Visit the Top of the Rock Observatory: Visit the Empire State Building Observatory meant a lot to me, so I'd love to check out Top of the Rock as well someday. I've heard in travel forums that this one has some of the best views in all of Manhattan. 
  4. Visit the One World Trade Center Observatory: Do you see a theme here with my love for observatories? This one would be a must-visit in the future for me as well. 
  5. Visit the September 11 Memorial & Museum: If I ever get to visit the One World Trade Center Observatory, visiting here would be a must as well. I was only seven when 9/11 happened, so as a young child I could't then appreciate the full scope of the tragedy. I'd love to pay my respects as an adult by visiting here.
  6. Take a Manhattan Island boat cruise: I've really enjoyed doing sightseeing and sunset cruises in other places I've visited, so I'd love to finally do one in NYC. I've heard the skyline views you can get from the water are just incredible!! This would be a fun summer activity I think. 
  7. Have tea at The Plaza Hotel: As I shared above, I've already been to The Plaza before to attend a wedding (still one of the coolest experiences ever!). I've also enjoyed eating in the food court in the hotel basement on a few different trips. But one thing I have yet to do at The Plaza is attend their iconic high tea! I've shared about my love for going to tea at other places before on the blog- someday I'll have to make it happen here (but be forewarned, it isn't a cheap activity!).
  8. Go to the Met Museum: I've never made it to visit this iconic museum yet (although I think this might be on the agenda for this weekend's trip). Typically I'm not a huge fan of art museums, but this one is so famous and large that I feel like even I'd enjoy it. Plus I'm dying to get that iconic Gossip Girl style photo on the steps!
  9. Walk The Highline: Prior to going to NYFW last year, I hadn't explored the West side of Manhattan too much. Some of the shows that I attended were near The Highline- I remember passing it in Ubers a few times! This is a mile and a half long free outdoor walking trail that follows the path of old train tracks. I'd love to walk this someday and explore.
  10. Walk The Brooklyn Bridge: Another famous walking spot! I've been in cars that have gone over the bridge before, but never gotten to walk it! The pictures that you can get from the bridge walkway are just incredible- plus any free activities in NYC are great! 

     If you've been to NYC before- I'd love to hear the top things you've gotten to do in the city! And of course I'd also love to hear what's still on your bucket list (same if you haven't been yet!). 

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 


  1. Oh I just love NYC! That's so cool that your dad is originally from around there.

    We did the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2005 and stayed in Times Square. It was super cold and being from Florida I immediately got sick. I'd love to go again one day when my son is old enough to experience it.

    In 2018, my husband, brother-in-law and I took the train from Philly into the city for 12 hours. We jam-packed as much as we could into that short amount of time. We saw the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. It was an incredible sight. Very somber to be there but it felt like I had a little closure to the events of that day.

    Next time I go back I want to get to a Yankees game and visit Ellis Island to see where my great-grandmother signed in to come to America.

  2. Ahh I just love reading this! I’ve been to NYC once and LOVED it. I’ve been craving a visit back ever since. I am dying to buy something designer on 5th avenue, that’s a huge dream for me too. NYFW and The Macy’s Day Parade are also on my bucket list. So neat you got to go to NYFW. I got to see the Rockett's preform in Dallas, but it's my dream to see them in NYC too.

    I am saving this for when we get to go back someday. My dream is to go during Christmas season, since they decorate it so beautifully.

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  4. I just love NYC. My manfriend works there a lot and it's easy to pop up from DC, so I've been there a ton. I, too, made a designer purchase there but my story isn't really a happy ending like yours. I was in college and HAD to have a Burberry bag. I over-withdrew my account and my dad was MAD! He still brings that up at family gatherings. Whoops. Something to add- check out O'Hara's near the 9/11 Museum. It's a small Irish pub that's not much to write home about otherwise, but it was a refuge during the attacks. Ask the bartenders the story--they all know it.



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