Tourists Share Their Favorite NYC Spots

Ever wonder what NYC spots are most popular amongst visitors?  Me too!  I was excited to stumble across a survey conducted by Kaplan International, where they asked 355 of their students, aged between 18 and 59, from 39 countries, about what they loved doing in New York during their time here.  Here’s a link to the complete article, but check out this quick video and let’s talk about the survey results:

The most popular tourist attraction was voted Times Square.  Love it or hate it, I have to agree with this one.  Visiting New York and NOT making your way to Times Square would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower, Siem Reap and not visiting Angkor Wat, or Athens without a stop by the Parthenon!  It’s a must-do, at least once.

Some of the other survey results I absolutely agree with are “best loved shopping destination” (SoHo), “favorite park” (Central Park), and “favorite area for nightlife” (Meatpacking District).

Photo Credit: Robin Vandrunen

Now if I were answering the survey, a few of these answers would change, looking more like this:

“Most popular gallery or museum”.  They said the MET.  I say MOMA.  Let’s chalk this up to personal taste in art.

“Favorite place to eat out.”  They say Little Italy.  I say…anywhere BUT Little Italy?!  Granted, I’m SURE there must be some solid, authentic, hidden joints in the hood, but if so, I’ve yet to go to one.  Everytime I walk through the area, it’s a hoard of young hostesses trying to wave you in from the sidewalk with promises of heaping plates of overpriced noodles and tomato sauce that taste more like Ragu than Naples.  And let’s not skip over the key word here: overpriced.  Now, if any locals (or visitors!) want to challenge me on this and point me in the direction of a tried and true, authentic, high quality restaurant in Little Italy, I’m totally game!  Leave your suggestions in the comment section below, I do love a challenge!

Photo Credit: Steve Hinkle

“Best loved Broadway musical.”  They say Lion King.  Which I love, truly I do!  But Mama Mia will always hold that top spot in my heart, sorry Disney.

“Most popular live music venue.”  They say Madison Square Garden.  I say…hey!  You’re in New York, small and intimate is the way to go!  I’ve always been a fan of Joe’s Pub for a solid lineup, cool vibe, and great location.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  If you’re a New Yorker, do you agree/disagree with these?  And for the non-New Yorkers, are these spots that would peak your interest to visit?  


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen



This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.





  • Michelle says:

    I would add Grand Central Station and The Highline as “must visit sites”. Other than San Genarro festivities, I’ve never understood the hype about Little Italy. Visitors like Lombardi’s, since it’s the oldest pizza place in the U.S.; however, there is a less touristy and quite delicious NoLita spot with happy hour (and brunch) specials, Lasso.

  • Heather says:

    I agree that Times Square is classic NYC and think Central Park is the best park in the world, let alone Manhattan :-) I’ll take the Met over MOMA because some things are better when they’re old and art is one of them. I think the worst Italian food I ever had was in Little Italy while some of the best was in Hell’s Kitchen. My girlfriends took me to Mama Mia for part of my bachelorette party and we had an amazing time, but I still think Cabaret (saw three times) and Rent (saw twice) are my favorite shows. My visiting family members, however, preferred the Lion King, which I also saw twice. Gosh I love talking about New York! It gets me all sentimental :-)

    • Used York City says:

      Aww, I love hearing all your faves, Heather! I also LOVE Rent (it’s a Top 5!), and Cabaret is for sure on my list to see!

  • I agree with your thoughts on Little Italy Jess. In a city where there are so many fabulous places to eat, why on earth would you head there! It’s Moma for me over the Met but I can live without heading to Time’s Square! For me, a walk through Central Park says welcome to New York!

    • Used York City says:

      I LOVE Central Park and try to get there daily (when the weather is decent, mind you!), for a stroll with my chihuahua:-)

  • Leigh says:

    Loved Mamma Mia when I was there and find your comments about Little Italy interesting. What are the names of your favourite places to eat?

    • Used York City says:

      Oh boy, my favorite places to eat would take up an entire post of its own;-) That’s actually great inspiration for a Foodie Friday post, Leigh, thanks! But to wet your taste buds I’d have to say my favorite for comfort food + atmosphere would have to be Freemans on the Lower East Side!

  • dig this alot. It’s a great list of places for staycation exploration too

  • Johanna says:

    I’ve never been to New York, but I love reading posts about it and being inspired! Loved the pic of Central Park by Robin … very atmospheric. Yes, I’d go Mama Mia as my fave musical too – makes me laugh and cry every time!

  • Mike says:

    You KNOW this post is right my alley of interest, Jess! Very interesting on your take on Little Italy. I just filed that away in my noggin’ (no guarantee it will stay there ha,ha). I did pull up Joe’s Pub online and since you recommend it I would surely check it out. Good post! :)

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks Mike! I LOVE Italian food, just haven’t found a spot to love in Little Italy as of yet! Will keep you posted if that changes;-)

  • Maria Falvey says:

    Great tips – even more excited for my next trip to NYC now that I’m armed with new spots to check out.

  • There are so many favorite places in NYC, but I would like to show my grandkids Coney Island. Also Radio City Music Hall is amazing anytime. Hope the winter storms are over in New York.

    • Used York City says:

      Coney Island is definitely a favorite!

      And thanks! We actually had some sunshine today, yay!:-)

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