As with any country or city that you are visiting, especially for the first time, I highly suggest doing some research. Download a metro/subway map and have a rough plan or itinerary of what you would like to see, and most importantly how you are going to get there. Most major cities have a Hop on/Hop off Bus tour company, generally I find these most valuable for the first day to get my bearings of where things are and what I would like to see. New York is such a structured city that this option is not the most warranted if you are staying for more than 3 days. New York has so much happening and so much to see, there is always a new show or restaurant opening that you could live there your whole life and never see it all. The best way to have a more comprehensive account of New York is to do it by districts. When I stayed in Manhattan I stayed in an apartment in the Financial District and although it was bustling during the day, it was relatively peaceful at night. I was able to take walks along the Hudson River early in the morning and enjoy the view of New Jersey almost to myself. So Lower Manhattan is where I will start.
For those who do not wish to climb the Statue of Liberty and simply just obtain that iconic snap the Staten Island Ferry allows for the perfect shot. It is a free Ferry that runs around the clock, departing every 15 minutes, every day of the year. It operates at the Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan (4 South street, Manhattan) and the trip is about 25 minutes long. Once you arrive at Staten Island you will be made to depart the Ferry and re-board, so if you have time spend this occasion exploring the Island. The Ferry to the Statue of Liberty Island departs close by from Battery Park.
At the lower end of Broadway, where it forks into two, you will find the iconic Charging Bull, but we mindful of queues. Wall street will lead you to East River and has some beautiful archaic buildings along the way.
Ground Zero is also in Lower Manhattan and there are many options in regards to paying your respects. Although the Ground Zero memorial is free they operate on a booking system to accommodate the ongoing construction. The website in order to book your ticket and time is provided below, please note there is a $2 service fee per ticket. The Museum, within the memorial, has an entry fee (albeit free on Tuesday evenings 5pm-8pm) and prices are provided on the website below.
Last but not least is the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, the pilgrimage across this structure to the neighbouring borough is a must. The structure is a pure delight and it would be a crime not to mention the beautiful views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines that you get, also for free. If you have time I suggest exploring Brooklyn, it has just as many awesome restaurants and shops as its neighbour. What I found worthwhile was walking across the Bridge in the morning and upon my return to Manhattan I went to the TKTS booth at South Street Seaport, at the corner of Front and John Street. Here you can buy last minute, heavily discounted Theatre tickets. This TKTS booth opens at 11am (I arrived at 10am and was second in a fast growing line). There is a Diner across the road that will serve your Breakfast needs. Just take it in turns waiting in line. This is the best TKTS booth as it opens hours before its Time Square counterpart, which will only sell the tickets available after the sales of the South Street Seaport AND Brooklyn booths. Your best option at getting the show you want with good seats is here. A list of all current Broadway shows is provided on the website link below. I highly suggest seeing Wicked if available.
So there you go, next time I will do Midtown Manhattan. Enjoy!