Just this past Fourth of July weekend, I was in New York City getting my miles in and seeing all the great sights and finding hidden gems. So, to honor the most amazing city in the United States, if not the world, I thought I would share some of the places I went.

Bouchon Bakery

This French bakery in Rockefeller Plaza is a bit expensive for your early morning coffee and pastries, but definitely worth it if you’re not worried about spending the last few dollars in your wallet. The coffee is divine and brewed with love and topped with latte art and their macarons are even more delicious. I had the vanilla one and it melted in my mouth. I would’ve bought a dozen if I had enough money. If you’re not into having sweets for breakfast, they do offer croissants, yogurt parfaits, muffins, other assorted pastries, and sandwiches. There really is something for everyone.

The Today Show

Right next to Bouchon Bakery in Rockefeller Plaza is the set of the Today Show. If you don’t mind getting up early to go make a sign and potentially get on television, then you definitely need to do this. Show your family and friends how famous you are by getting a hug and a selfie with one of the today anchors. They are extremely nice and happy to say hello, acknowledging your sign (if you have one) and coming outside throughout the show for different segments, providing enough photo opts to fill your camera roll.

Top of the Rock

Since you’re already in Rockefeller Center and filling your camera roll, why not make your way to the top of the iconic building and catch an amazing view? Top of the Rock is an elevator ride to the top of Rockefeller Center where you can look out over New York City on three tiered observation decks. From each deck, you can look out over the city. On one side is a straight-on view of the Empire State Building and the edge of Manhattan. On the other side is Central Park, its green trees, lawns, and glistening lake a stark contrast to the metallic high rises that surround it.

Central Park

Being in Central Park is definitely better than just looking at it from a distance. People may assume that Central Park is only known for its green sprawling green space and carriage rides, but there’s so much more to see than that. There’s the Central Park Zoo that sports red pandas, sea lions, seals, snow leopards, penguins, and so much more. There are also portrait artists and print vendors to explore and see who’s offering the best price. If you’re lucky, you can catch musicians and dancers performing in the shade of its trees and bridges. It’s also incredibly relaxing and culturally satisfying to see and sit on the rocks or the grass and take in the beauty of the surrounding city.

8th Avenue Street Market

This is a more local find. If you’re able to get to this little horseshoe shaped market of little white stalls along Eighth Avenue, then you will find the definition of the American dream at work. There are people from all over the world: Nepal, Russia, Poland, etc. trying to make a living by selling their goods. On the right are the personalizers- where you can get your name on a bracelet or ceramic tile. In the back are the merchants selling bags, jewelry, and dresses made from their country. The quality of the merchandise is better than you would expect—I bought a backpack that is water-proof, and lined with inseam stitching—and at decent prices.

Playwright Celtic Pub

If you’ve managed to do all of the above in one day, I applaud you. It took me two. If you’re at the end of your day with sore feet and ready for a hearty meal, then definitely sit down in this little pub where they have a good drink to pair with every entre. The Playwright Celtic Pub has four floors of seating surrounded by poet portraits, dark hardwood tables and wainscoting, and mood lighting. After you’ve had your Fish n’ Chips or other classic Celtic plate, then you can finish off the meal as any visitor of New York should: with New York-style cheesecake. It was so good!

Published by Anne Long