Here's a thrill better than any amusement park ride, and with none of the long lines: a brisk walk or bike ride across the George Washington Bridge in Washington Heights.
The world's busiest motor vehicle bridge—completed in 1931—includes paths for pedestrians and bicyclists on either side, although only the south sidewalk is currently open.
To reach it, enter at the corner of West 177th Street and Cabrini Boulevard, just three blocks west of Broadway (more detailed directions can be found here).
After some sharp twists and turns along a narrow path, you ascend to the actual bridge and find yourself astonishingly high above the Hudson River; the bridge at its center is about 212 feet from the water.
The central part of the pathway, continuously shaking from the astounding 14 lanes of traffic, is wrapped in large nets to prevent things—and people—from falling into the Hudson.
(It should be noted, if you have a fear of heights, this bridge is not for you—the sidewalk puts you very close to the GW's vertigo-inducing edge.)
As you continue across, you'll pass the bridge's massive towers, which—unlike those of its famous cousin, the Brooklyn Bridge—have been left exposed, giving them their signature crisscross look.
These towers are surely why French architect Le Corbusier called the George Washington Bridge the most beautiful bridge in the world.
It should take you about 20 minutes to walk across to Fort Lee, New Jersey, and about half that time to bike across. Pedestrians have the right-of-way.
You can also just go to the first part of the path (right before the netting starts), take in the mind-blowing views of Manhattan and the Hudson, then head back to terra firma and take a deep breath.
Note: The sidewalk is subject to closures depending on construction and the weather, but the Port Authority keeps an updated page you should consult ahead of any visit; there's also an email and texting alert system regarding sidewalk closures.