New York City – Things to do with your Team

New York City is known as the city that never sleeps. It is a wonderful place to visit and a daunting city to try and figure out if you’re not from there.

When visitors talk about New York City, they are generally referring to Manhattan, one of the five boroughs that make up the city. Visiting Manhattan with a group or team will require some great organizing and planning. You likely already have your list of the most well-known attractions, like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. While these are certainly all worthy of a visit, there are some things to know that will make those visits easier.

Here are some suggestions for some of the bigger at attractions and a few other ones, as well as restaurants you might consider for your itinerary. All are close to the Times Square District, or a straight shot to get to from there.


Things to Do

Staten Island Ferry

New York CityWant to see the Statue of Liberty with less wait and hassle? Then take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. Don’t let anyone kid you, unless you want to walk to the top of the Statue; I have and it’s exhausting; then the best view of the statue is from the water. Yes, you can stand in line to buy tickets for the statue cruise, or you can take this ferry for free.

The ferry is run by New York City to transport Staten Islanders to and from Manhattan. Yet, the five-mile, 25-minute ride also provides great views of New York Harbor as well the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the skyscrapers and bridges of Lower Manhattan.

The ferry schedule has boats leaving every 30 minutes; or every 15 minutes during weekday rush hour times; so you can return to Manhattan without having to deal with a long wait. Don’t miss this iconic national landmark during your trip to New York City. 4 South St, New York, NY 10004


Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center is a large open complex consisting of 19 high-rise commercial buildings covering 22 acres between 48th and 51st Street, and 5th and 6th Avenue. It features well-known landmarks like Radio City Music Hall and 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which is home to NBC and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.

Everything is centered around the spacious Rockefeller Plaza, where the Christmas Tree lighting takes place each holiday season. About 200 flags surround the recessed Lower Plaza. They are normally those of the United Nations member countries except when they are rotated out during the Christmas season and for certain holidays.

While there, you can visit the NBC Experience Store, take an NBC Studio Tour, visit the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, or catch a taping of The Today Show45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111


St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Just two blocks away from Rockefeller Center is the incredibly beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which completed a $177 million renovation in late 2015. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest neo-Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in North America.

The cathedral, which can accommodate 3,000 people, takes up a whole city block, between 50th and 51st streets, and Madison Avenue and 5th Avenue. The magnificent stained glass windows were created by artists from Boston and European artists from Chartres, France and Birmingham, England. The Pietà, sculpted by William Ordway Partridge, is three times larger than Michelangelo’s Pietà. This is a must-see stop!  5th Ave, New York, NY 10022


Empire State Building and Top of the Rock Observation Deck

New York CityThere is only one Empire State Building and since it’s in New York City, you should stop and see it. If that is on your team’s bucket list, please don’t let me deter you from going. The view is great, and at 1,050 feet from the 86th floor observation deck and 1,250 feet from the 102nd floor observation deck, it offers the highest vantage points you will find in New York City. The building is a little out of the way however, sitting on 5th Avenue at 34th Street, and that’s really all that’s there, unless you are planning to visit Macy’s flagship store a block away.

The Top of the Rock Observation Deck is not as high as the Empire State Building, rising only to 850 feet, but Rockefeller Center has a lot more going on since it is closer to Times Square, and in my opinion, has the better view of the city. From the Top of the Rock, you get a fantastic view of Central Park, and among other points of interest, the best view of the Empire State Building. 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001; 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112


Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum sits in the legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid and boasts some of the coolest objects and exhibits in New York City.

From the legendary Space Shuttle Enterprise to some of the world’s fastest jets and guided missile submarines, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone planning to visit New York City. When else are you ever going to get a chance to walk the decks of an aircraft carrier and see a space shuttle up close, all in one place? Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY 10036


American Museum of National History

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world and very likely the coolest museum you will ever visit. Located on the west side of Central Park at Central Park West and 79th Street, the two million-square-foot museum complex is made up of 28 interconnected buildings housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, as well as a planetarium and a library.

The Hayden Planetarium, connected to the museum, is now part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, housed in a glass cube containing the spherical Space Theater. The Heilbrun Cosmic Pathway is one of the most popular exhibits in the Rose Center. Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024


Madame Tussauds New York

Madame Tussauds New York is full of impressive wax figures of anybody that’s anybody in the world of “famous.” Madame Tussauds is a blast to walk through, as the number of personalities on display is huge and the settings and costumes are all very well done. One of the most impressive things to me is to see the height and body-type of many of the figures. Some are much taller, or shorter than you would ever imagine.

Also, Madame Tussauds often has people out front on 42nd Street passing out discount coupons, which are sometimes as good as “buy one, get one free.” So look for any of those folks before you go in and pay full price. 234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036


9/11 Memorial & Museum

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is incredibly well done. Some visitors have described their time there as the most moving experience of their lives. The emotion is immense; the sadness for the victims and first responders that lost their lives and the exuberance for the survivors and stories with happy endings. Everybody should see this once.

You will just need to decide if a team trip is the time, or the kids are old enough, to appreciate it without going away shaken. If you do go, give yourself plenty of time. Lower Manhattan where this is located always has lots of traffic, and the lines to get in the museum are often long, but it’s worth it to learn about the event that changed New York City and the world forever. 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007


Chelsea Piers

Chelsea Piers is a 28-acre waterfront sports village located between 17th and 23rd Streets along Manhattan’s Hudson River via the West Side Highway.

Situated on Piers 59, 60, 61, and 62, the complex features the following sports and entertainment venues: The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers; Sky Rink with twin ice-skating rinks; the Field House with youth and adult sports; Bowlmor Chelsea Piers, which is a state-of-the-art bowling complex; and the Chelsea Piers Maritime Center, which offers cruises aboard Spirit Cruises and Bateaux New York, a fancy, all-glass boat.  62 Chelsea Piers, New York, NY 10011


M&M’s World and Hershey’s Chocolate World

New York City

There’s no argument here; the sweetest spot in New York City is at the north end of Times Square on the corner of 48th Street and Broadway.

Right across the street from one another is the impressive three-story M&M’s World store and the less impressive; at only one-story; but not any less tasty, Hershey’s Chocolate World. Both are New York City gift bonanzas, and I challenge you and your families to walk through either without buying something. 1600 Broadway, New York, NY 10019; 1593 Broadway, New York, NY 10019


Broadway shows

Let’s start with two things: a Broadway show in person is like nothing you will ever see. Secondly, they have become incredibly and unreasonably expensive. It is impossible to get a Broadway show seat much under $125 unless you find a discount somewhere online, or are willing to take whatever seats are still available on the day of at one of the TKTS Discount Booths.

Also, the shows these days; as the airlines do; keep the best seats to sell as “premium priced” seats; often $200 and up. So if you are planning to go to a show, you should join a very affordable online discount site like Entertainment-Link, or learn the ropes of the TKTS Discount Booths.


Central Park

Visiting Central Park sounds simple, until you realize that the park consists of 843 acres and spans 51 blocks of New York City. You definitely should visit the park though, which receives about 40 million visitors a year, making it the most visited park in the U.S. and one of the most filmed locations in the world.

But you should have a plan of what to do when you get there. Here are my suggestions for the park starting at 59th Street and Central Park South and moving north:

  • Rent a bike

The best way to see Central Park, unless you want to hike it, is with a bike ride around the perimeter of the park. The ride is about six miles long and the terrain is mostly flat, and you will have an almost unlimited number of photo ops and stops on your self-guided tour. You can likely rent a bike for as little as $7 an hour.

  • Central Park Zoo

New York CityThe Central Park Zoo sits on six and a half acres in the southeast corner of Central Park. It’s about as small as zoos go; for comparison, the Philadelphia Zoo takes up 42 acres; but it is a quiet sanctuary in New York City with some nice exhibits between their main zoo and the Tisch Children’s Zoo. There is also a 4D theatre worth checking out.

If you are walking through the park looking for it, you may miss it, as the main entrance to the zoo is off of 5th Avenue at 64th Street.  E 64th St & 5th Ave, New York, NY 10021

  • Central Park Carousel

The Central Park Carousel, with its captivating calliope music and 57 impressive horses is one of the park’s most popular attractions. The story goes that a live mule or a horse, hidden beneath the carousel platform, powered the original amusement ride from 1873 until 1924. The animals were taught to start and stop when the operator tapped on the floor.

The current vintage carousel, built in 1908, was found abandoned in an old trolley terminal on Coney Island. It remains one of the largest carousels in the United States, as well as one of the finest examples of American folk art. The carousel is located in the center of the park at 65th Street. 1802 65th St Transverse, New York, NY 10065

  • Central Park Mall and Literary Walk

The Central Park Mall is a quadruple row of American elms and is the park’s most photographed feature. The elms form a cathedral-like canopy above the park’s widest pedestrian pathway, which serves as a walkway leading to the beautiful Bethesda Terrace. The Central Park Mall runs through the middle of the Park from 66th to 72nd Street.

The southern end of the Mall is known as Literary Walk, where in addition to a statue of Christopher Columbus, stand tributes to four prominent writers. The Mall, New York, NY 10022

  • Bethesda Terrace and Fountain

Offering great views of the Central Park Lake and Loeb’s Central Park Boathouse, the Bethesda Terrace, located at 72nd Street Cross Drive, is an architectural marvel. The terrace was one of the very first structures to have been built in Central Park and was completed in 1863.

The Bethesda Fountain sits in front of the lake with the famous Angel of the Waters statue atop as the centerpiece. The Bethesda Terrace Arcade is the arched, underground walkway in the center of the park that links the Mall to the Bethesda Fountain and the Central Park Lake. Created in the 1860’s, the Arcade features a stunning Ming Tile Ceiling! New York City is full of architectural wonders, but the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain are two of the best. 72 Terrace Drive, New York, NY 10021

  • Belvidere Castle, Vista Rock, and Turtle Pond

Belvidere Castle and Vista Rock where it is located provide the highest point and the best views of the park. The castle is one of Central Park’s five visitor centers and home of the official Central Park weather station. Calvert Vaux, co-designer of the park, created the miniature castle in 1869 as a whimsical structure looking out on the reservoir to the north; now the Great Lawn; and the Ramble to the south.

Both overlook Turtle Pond, a year-round home to five species of turtles. You will find this area in the middle of the park just north of the 79th Street transverse. 79th St, New York, NY 10021


Places to Eat

5 Napkin Burger

If you take 10 ounces of fresh ground chuck, put lots of awesome ingredients on it, then tell your customers that you better have five napkins available when you are eating this or there will be problems, you end up with 5 Napkin Burger630 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036


Tony’s Di Napoli

Tony’s Di Napoli is not only my favorite Italian restaurant in New York City. It’s my favorite restaurant hands down. Carmine’s is another popular family-style Italian restaurant, but I think Tony’s is better.

New York City

The food is delicious, the portions are huge, the service is great, and the atmosphere is outstanding. There is not a busier restaurant in the city, so make reservations in advance. Also, ask for seating on the first floor, as the basement dining room atmosphere is not as fun. Before you leave, try the family-style strawberry shortcake or chocolate cake; your life will be better for it. 147 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036


Virgil’s Real Barbecue

Virgil’s Real Barbecue was one of the first barbecue joints in New York City, and though there are many there now, it is still at the top of my list. I have eaten barbecue in every southern and western state there is, and there isn’t better barbecue out there, especially when talking about their ribs or pulled pork. Be sure to order the hush puppies and honey butter.

Like Tony’s, their two floors have different atmospheres. Definitely ask to sit upstairs here. 152 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036


Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Ellen’s Stardust Diner would simply be a fine diner with good breakfasts and lunch sandwiches if it wasn’t for their servers who are all Broadway actors and actresses waiting for their next part. It adds a delightful and fun touch when your server pours you more coffee, then immediately turns around to start singing a show tune for the crowd. Expect a wait; but it’s worth it. 1650 Broadway, New York, NY 10019


Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Okay, yes, it’s a chain. But if you have not been to a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., then let me tell you this: it is kid-friendly, reasonably priced, has a fun atmosphere, and serves large portions; pretty much everything a team would want.

The menu is a bit heavy on shrimp dishes, but this chain is very popular with youth sports teams that I deal with across the country. So try it; I think you’ll like it! 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036


New York CityBouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery is famed chef Thomas Keller’s unique take on a French boulangerie, offering sandwiches, quiches, soups, and salads, as well as a wide range of confections, pastries, tarts, cookies, and more.

I haven’t been to this one, but have been to their bakery in Napa, and the food we had there was mouthwateringly delicious. 1 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020


R Lounge

Located in the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel, R Lounge overlooks Times Square with breathtaking views of a zillion twinkling marque and billboard lights.

The drink and food prices are surprisingly reasonable given the location, and kids are welcome as long as they understand their surroundings. 714 7th Ave, New York, NY 10036


Honestly, many cities across the country have fun team building activities. New York City just has more! No matter where your team goes and what you eat, I promise your trip to the Big Apple will remain as one of the most memorable trips that you have ever experienced.