Spontaneous Things to Do in NYC

Though New York City has some of the world's most famous landmarks, sometimes you're in a mood to do something spontaneous. Try taking a different path than all of those other tourists. You can stare up at the majestic Empire State Building or take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, but New York is brimming with life. Even if you only have one day in New York, there are many others places to see and things to do.
Rockefeller Center

Located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, Rockefeller Center always has something special happening. In the winter, a giant Christmas tree towers over this 22-acre complex, where you can strap on some skates and take a spin around its famous ice rink. There is also Radio City Music Hall, which features the Radio City Rockettes and numerous shows and concerts. For those who like to shop, there are stores and restaurants in the center itself.

Central Park

If the weather is nice, you can have a barbecue or toss around a football in Central Park. Grocery and corner stores are plentiful in the city. Buy some food and have a picnic among New York's 800 acres of meadows, trees and ponds. Or stroll one of the Central Park trails that meander through wooded sections and around ponds and reservoirs. Or visit the Gothic-style Belvedere Castle, home to Shakespeare in the Park performances.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Impromptu musical performances are part of the attraction at St. John the Divine, a cathedral on the Upper West Side, close to Columbia University and Harlem. Or you can wander the grounds and hallways or look at its pews, naves, stained glass windows and altars. Upon completion, St. John the Divine will be the third-largest cathedral in the world, after St. Peter's in the Vatican and St. Paul's in London.

David Harris is a writer living in Portland, Ore. He currently is the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Spectrum Culture. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.