By Andrea Romano
Jan 6, 2021
BROADWAY, MUSEUMS, AMAZING FOOD… A trip to New York City is obviously on any traveler’s bucket list. COVID-19 might be conspiring against your flying there, but there are still a lot of ways to enjoy the Big Apple without putting yourself or others at risk.
Virtual experiences have been surging in popularity since the pandemic began. Not only are they a sort of salve for people who really love going to new places, they also make certain destinations more accessible for those who can’t prioritize travel in their budget.
While you may not be able to visit NYC any time soon, there are a ton of virtual resources. So we picked out some of the most iconic things to do in the city that never sleeps, which you can experience whenever you want with just your Wi-Fi connection.
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
This virtual walking tour takes you from Brooklyn to Manhattan along the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. YouTuber Action Kid took a walk across the bridge from Cadman Plaza East, taking all viewers along for the trip. It was originally filmed in 2018, so don’t be too shocked at the lack of mask-wearers.
Explore Central Park
Of New York City’s more than 1,700 parks, the most famous is of course Central Park, which takes up some hefty real estate in Manhattan. Even in real life, it can take hours to explore every corner. There are quite a few ways to enjoy the park from home, including viewing the #MondayMeditations, which show you beautiful views of nature, or taking a virtual tour via YouVisit, encompassing iconic spots like Strawberry Fields and Bethesda Terrace, with accompanying audio.
Learn about botany at New York Botanical Garden
The beautiful, massive New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx has tons of virtual experiences on its website, ranging from virtual tours of the natural wonders to classes on botany.
See the animals at the Bronx Zoo
One of the best zoos in the country has been here to deliver cute animal content throughout the pandemic. The zoo hosts live webcams of sea lions, sharks, and more animal species, as well as offering virtual zoo “visits.”
Discover the past at the American Museum of Natural History
One of the most popular museums in the city is the American Museum of Natural History. While you may not be able to get to the Upper West Side, you can still see dinosaurs, the origin of humans on earth, and lots more scientific discoveries at the museum thanks to its many virtual “field trips.”
Listen to the New York Philharmonic
Everyone has been looking for ways to thank the frontline workers in the midst of the pandemic, including the New York Philharmonic. The organization created an online concert for essential employees like doctors, nurses and post office workers, but anyone can go to YouTube and enjoy it for themselves.
Enjoy a concert from Carnegie Hall
The famous Carnegie Hall hasn’t been slacking on creating beautiful music in 2020. While going to an actual concert may not be in the cards for tourists or locals alike, anyone can still enjoy a “live” performance on the concert hall’s website. There is also an opportunity to donate to this non-profit organization if you like what you hear.
See on and off-Broadway shows from Manhattan Theater Club and Broadway HD
New York City is a performing arts town, so it’s been very different in the city without its theater. While theaters will remain closed into 2021, there are still ways to see a musical or play from home. If you’re looking for big Broadway performances, subscribing to Broadway HD is the perfect way to see some of the most iconic on-stage musicals from past years. Or, if you’re looking for a free option, Manhattan Theater Club has a playlist of its best off-Broadway performances on YouTube.
Step into Grand Central Station
Stepping off the train into Grand Central Station is a truly cinematic experience. Indeed, it’s been featured in countless films and TV shows, especially the gorgeous ceiling that shows different constellations. If you can’t get on the train, you can still visit the station virtually via YouVisit.
See breathtaking views at the Empire State Building
There’s no better view of the city than from the Empire State Building. Luckily, I Love NY 360 has a virtual tour that will take your breath away. This 360-degree virtual tour has a view from the 102nd floor of the building, where you can see the city for miles, including the outer boroughs.
Remember September 11 at the 9/11 Museum
The 9/11 Museum is one of the most-visited in the city. This solemn dedication to the lives lost on September 11, 2001, is a must-go if you ever have the chance to see the city, but until then Google Street View has you covered. If you want to “walk” around the fountain at the memorial, you can easily do so at your leisure.
Visit the Guggenheim, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, MoMA, and more
New York is bursting with museums. You can easily see lots of famous New York institutions on Google Arts and Culture, or some museums have even put together their own tours on their websites. Places like the Guggenheim, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, and MoMA all have ways to enjoy art, history, and culture online.
See the beauty of the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library isn’t just a place to check out a book; it’s also a gorgeous piece of architecture that design buffs would love. Many tourists love to browse the shelves, but since that’s extremely limited right now, you can still enjoy a virtual tour to see the beautiful Midtown building.
See Times Square (without the crowds)
It’s a common joke that New Yorkers like to avoid Times Square like the plague, but there’s no reason not to like a virtual tour that allows you to enjoy this bustling square without bumping into people on all sides.
Marvel at the Statue of Liberty
The National Park Service has you covered when it comes to famous national parks and landmarks, including Liberty Island, which the Statue of Liberty calls home. Tourists flock to this place and enjoy the view from Lady Liberty’s crown, and luckily you can do this from the comfort of home. In fact, there is a store of virtual experiences involving New York landmarks online.
Create your own slice at the Pizza School
What do you think of when you think of New York food? Pizza, of course. Getting a pizza slice in the Big Apple is truly a quintessential experience that everyone must try when they eventually come to the city. But if you have the craving now, you (and your family) can make your own with the Pizza School online.