I've lived in New York for a long time. I love the whole city—but like all locals, I also have favorite places that I think everyone should see. I couldn't include everything—no matter how much time you spend here, you'll never run out of stuff to do—but here are a few places to check out in all five boroughs:
Nathan's Famous: Is there anything better than a Nathan's Famous hot dog, a stroll on Coney Island's boardwalk and a thrilling ride on the Cyclone? Fugeddaboudit! And the annual Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest is a great New York City tradition.
Weeksville Heritage Center: The restored, landmarked 19th-century homes along Hunterfly Road are what's left of Weeksville—one of America's first free African-American communities. The bravery and creativity of that community represents an important part of New York City's deep African-American heritage.
Italian food on Arthur Avenue: Manhattan's Little Italy is famous, but for New Yorkers in the know, Little Italy in the Bronx offers its own tastes of the City's rich Italian history on a quiet and charming street. The area's traditional restaurants and shops make it a real hidden gem.
Bronx Zoo: The Bronx Zoo is America's largest urban wildlife preserve. It's a great place to spend a day with your family—and kids have so much fun here they hardly realize they're learning. For a wild deal, come on Wednesdays for "pay-as-you-wish" admission.
Times Square: The lights! The crowds! The bustle! No wonder Times Square is one of the first places people imagine when they think of our city. And with Broadway closed to traffic, we get a new awe-inspiring perspective on the crossroads of the world. Just stand in the middle of the street and look up at all the buildings—it's like no place else in the world!
Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall subway stop: My morning 4 train commute ends here (the 5 and 6 also stop at this station). It's steps from my desk at NYC's historic City Hall—the nation's oldest city hall that's still in use by a government—and it's also a great starting point for a scenic stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Unisphere at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park: You can hear about 200 languages on New York City's streets. No borough reflects our global spirit more than Queens—quite possibly the most ethnically diverse place on the planet—and no structure symbolizes it better than this remnant of the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair. The park itself is one of NYC's best places to picnic and play—especially the Flushing Meadows–Corona Park Natatorium and Ice Rink, which features an Olympic-size pool and an NHL-regulation ice rink.
Downtown Flushing: If the Unisphere symbolizes diversity, Downtown Flushing is diversity. So many different cultures come together here, and there's something exciting happening every day. I love the Lunar New Year celebrations and parades—their colorful dragons and fireworks are a feast for the senses. As for the neighborhood's dim sum and Korean barbecue—they're just a feast, period.
South Beach Boardwalk: This recently renovated esplanade hosts free concerts and fireworks, and features a fishing pier, playgrounds, bocce courts and a spectacular beach—all against the picturesque backdrop of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Staten Island Ferry: Back when I was young and just starting out in New York, one of my favorite places to bring a date was the Staten Island Ferry. You can't beat the views—or the price! See the skyline, the Statue of Liberty and all the harbor lights—it's a great way to spend a night, and it's all for free.
For more great NYC tips from notable New Yorkers, visit google.com/favoriteplaces. And to view favorite places using Google Maps on your phone, text "fav" to Google's 33669 short code.