There's nothing like a trip to Broadway. It is the mecca for live theatre in this country, and people come from near and far to experience the thrill of the many various productions running at any given time. Those lucky enough to live in the city have their favorite attractions, but many who visit for a show are left wondering what else to do on their trip. In my trips to the city, I have discovered a bunch of great places to go before, between, and after shows. Here is a list of some of the top spots I have visited, divided by general vicinity in Manhattan.
(1) Times Square: One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it's worth visiting the big stores and restaurants here at least once. Biggies include M&Ms World, the Hard Rock Cafe, the Disney Store, Planet Hollywood, and a giant Toys "R" Us complete with a Ferris Wheel. Address: At the intersection of 7th Avenue and Broadway (between West 42nd and 47th Streets, roughly)
(2) Rockefeller Center: In addition to an underground concourse for shopping and dining, check out the NBC studios and the NBC Experience Store. Where else can you get a Dwight Schrute bobblehead and a Smelly Cat t-shirt? Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza (between 5th and 6th Avenues, and between West 49th and 50th Streets)
(3) Museum of Modern Art: With a little something for every art connoisseur, the MOMA is floor after floor of amazing exhibits, and it has one of the coolest gift shops in the city. Address: 11 West 53rd Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)
(4) Ellen's Stardust Diner: Enjoy classic diner food while being entertained with performances by aspiring singing actors who belt pop and musical theatre standards. Address: 1650 Broadway (between West 50th and 51st streets)
(5) Museum of Sex: Not your everyday kind of museum, this one is obviously just for adults. Shedding light on a subject that is largely taboo, it features everything from the history of sex in film to animal sexuality and reproduction. Address: 233 5th Avenue (at East 27th Street)
(6) 5th Avenue: The area between 49th and 60th Streets features some of the most prestigious boutiques and flagship stores in the world, including Chanel, Armani, Cartier, Prada, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Versace, and many more. Address: 5th Avenue
(7) Columbus Circle: A major landmark of the city, Columbus Circle's central location makes it the point from which distances from the city are measured. Enjoy shops and attractions like the nearby Museum of Art and Design. Address: The intersection of 8th Avenue, Broadway, Central Park South (West 59th Street), and Central Park West (8th Avenue)--at the southwestern corner of Central Park
(8) FAO Schwartz: They have everything from a baby boutique to a huge LEGO wonderland, and you can even get your own Muppets! Wokka Wokka! Address: 767 5th Avenue (between 58th and 59th Streets)
(9) Lincoln Center: Aside from housing a Broadway theatre, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts also features classical music, dance, opera, film, and other stimulating offerings. Address: 70 Lincoln Center Plaza (at West 62nd Street and Columbus Avenue)
(10) Dylan's Candy Bar: It's like stepping into Candyland; they have every sweet you could crave as well as an ice cream and cocktail bar. Say hello to Princess Lolly and Lord Licorice. Address: 1011 3rd Avenue (at 60th Street)
(11) Central Park: The biggest patch of green in the city, Central Park is a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the streets. Visit the zoo, play some frisbee, or just kick back under a tree with your favorite book. Address: Between 59th and 110th Streets (a.k.a. Central Park South and Central Park North), and between 5th and 8th Avenues (a.k.a. Central Park East and Central Park West)
(12) Chelsea Market: A foodie's paradise, Chelsea Market houses the Food Network's Studios and features dozens of cafes and specialty food shops. One of my favorites is the Fat Witch Bakery, famous for their decadent brownies. Address: 75 9th Avenue (between 9th and 10th Avenues, and between West 15th and 16th Streets)
(13) Canal Street: Though it can be a bit seedy, bargain shoppers enjoy this street famous for its shops and stands where they can haggle to get great deals on a wide variety of items from jewelry and art to handbags and sunglasses. Address: Canal Street
(14) Little Italy: I had one of the best meals of my life at one of the many authentic Italian restaurants here, and for a very reasonable price. While you're here, hit nearby Chinatown for some more tasty ethnic treats. Address: Between Canal and Bleecker Streets, and between Lafayette and Bowery Streets (roughly)
(15) Union Square: A charming park is the focal point here, but the outskirts include many shops, restaurants, and other attractions. It is also the site of the Union Square Greenmarket, a farmer's market where you can get fresh produce and other goods from small, regional producers. Address: Between East 13th and 18th Streets, and between 4th and 5th Avenues (roughly)
(16) Max Brenner: The title man is a real life Willy Wonka. You'll find drums and pipes of melted chocolate as well as jars of sweets lining the walls. The savory food is delicious, but you'll want to save room for dessert (or just skip straight to it). The menus includes sundaes, chocolate fondue, molten chocolate cake, make-your-own tabletop s'mores, and much, much more. Address: 841 Broadway (between East 13th and 14th Streets)
(17) Chop't: I discovered this chain on one of my first trips to the city and it's now a frequent stop. For about 10 bucks, you can get just about anything you could want in a salad in just a few minutes. I like to try a different combination (there are hundreds) each time.
(18) Starbucks: This is by no means strictly a New York City stop, but for a pick-me-up, a wake-me-up, or an afternoon snack, it's great. And trust me: you will have no trouble finding one.
(19) Jamba Juice: Coffee not your thing? Try one of the healthy delights at Jamba Juice, especially refreshing on a hot summer day.
(20) Subway: If you're like me and you're spending some serious money on the Broadway shows, museums, shopping, and other attractions, you will enjoy saving some "dough" with a five dollar foot-long.
(21) Pinkberry: Another chain I discovered in my NYC wanderings (they also have stores in other cities), Pinkberry offers low-fat frozen yogurt that is so rich and creamy, you will forget that it's not ice cream. They offer a wide variety of toppings, from chocolate chips to fresh berries.