New York City hits your senses on every level; from towering skyscrapers, glitzy neon lights, 24/7 entertainment scene, fabulous shopping and incredible food. The impressive skyline is instantly recognizable from the many popular TV shows and movies. It’s one of those American cities that you just have to experience for yourself before you die;
Plan a full day to visit Central Park which has over 840 acres (3.41 km²) of natural beauty. Set in the very heart of the Manhattan district this world famous park first opened in 1857. One of the best ways to see it is by bike which you can rent for just 10 USD an hour. Take a few minutes to stop at Bow Bridge, which is one of the most popular spots in Central Park for photograph opportunities. It was constructed in 1862 and stretches an impressive 60 feet over the lake. Bring a packed lunch or eat at one of the cafes surrounding the park. Note that Central Park is closed overnight and on Sundays.
Empire State Building
Everyone who comes to New York wants to see the iconic Empire State Building. Built in 1929, it proudly stands at 102 storeys in total. Designed by architect William F. Lamb, the building sits on Fifth Avenue. The Empire State Building is probably one of the most famous office buildings in the world. Take the trip up to the 86th floor observatory for an awesome view over the panoramic Big Apple. It’s actually possible to see five different states from this point on a clear day. It is open past midnight 365 days a years and is a great place to sneak a late night kiss.
Statue Of Liberty
Since it was built in 1886, the Statue of Liberty has symbolised freedom. The Statue of Liberty was designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and was a gift from the French. The robed figure represents ‘Libertas’ who was the Roman Goddess of Freedom. It is a very touching sight for most Americans who remember what some of their own ancestors must have thought when they entered the harbour and saw this one of a kind sight. It is possible to take a ferry over to Liberty Island to explore, although since devastating Hurricane Sandy in November 2012 the internal tours are currently paused to allow for renovations. Travellers can still wander the island and take plenty of snaps from outside.
Note – The Statue of Liberty monument and Ellis Island are currently closed due to damage sustained in Hurricane Sandy. Check the latest status prior to travel on the official site.
Shopping in the Big Apple
Shopping in New York is a whole heap of fun with everything on offer from luxury designer boutiques, high street brands and hidden-away market stalls. Chinatown is interesting, but don’t expect to find great prices, unless you haggle hard. They have all kinds of replica sunglasses, purses and shoes. Remember to bargain with the vendors but check the quality of the goods first. The sidewalks can be crowded and the stores can be cramped especially during holiday season. Wear comfortable shoes, allow plenty of time and stay polite.
Movie Set Tours
Calling all TV series and movie fans! If you’ve ever watched Sex and The City or The Sopranos, then a film set tour is a must for you. A walking tour of the Sex and City settings can be a great way to spend the afternoon visiting famous haunts of where both the film and TV series were filmed. Much of this show was filmed right in Greenwich Village which is home to designer boutiques. Visit the ‘Scout’ bar which Steve owned, visit the glam MePa neighbourhood where the girls hung out and visit their favourite cupcake store. Take a Sopranos screen tour which takes in the ‘Bada Bing’ club, Tony’s legitimate company ‘Barone Sanitation’ and Father Phil’s Parish. There is also a celebrity walking tour of NYC where you will hear all the latest gossip and scandal.
The Metropolitan museum of Art
If you love art then you’ll want to include this on your must-see list. It is often referred to simply as the ‘Met’ and is the largest art museum in the USA. Established in 1870, the Met has a wide range of art and some of the favourites are the Greek and Roman collections. There is also an ancient Egyptian collection that was established in 1906. In total there are over 2 million pieces of art under one Gothic Revival roof.
Another famous New York landmark is Times Square, aka "The Crossroads of the World”. This famous square is popular 24/7. It is located on the corner of Broadway and Seventh Avenue in mid-Manhattan. On New Year’s Eve Times Square really comes into its own as its hosts a lavish mammoth party where over a million people come every year to watch the famous ball drop. This is probably the best place to countdown to the New Year in the world.
9/11 Memorial at World Trade Center
Visit the 9/11 memorial site at Ground Zero to remember the thousands of people who died here on September 11 2001. It is also a memorial for those who died at the world trade center in 1993. There are two pools called the twins and they are surrounded by bronze plaques that have everyone’s name that died in these two tragedies inscribed on them.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
It doesn’t matter if you attend church or not, you will want to include this beautiful Cathedral on your list of things to do in the Big Apple. The Neo-Gothic-style structure sits in the middle of Rockefeller center on Madison Avenue and is the biggest Cathedral in the United States, reaching 100m in height. There is a mass held every day of the week and it is open for visitors from 6:30 to 8:45 all year. Christmas and Easter are wonderful times to visit. There is always plenty of room for worshipers to enjoy some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Of course it is free and everyone is welcome.
Grand Central Station
The Beaux-Arts style Grand Central Terminal is a commuter station located on 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Covering around 1 hectare in size this is a mini village complete with shops and restaurants. Opened in 1903 it’s also a great place to rest awhile and people watch. Notice the marble floors and the lavish gold chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
Catch a show on Broadway
Some people come to New York just to take in some of the amazing shows on offer at the 40 professional Broadway theatres. There are some the world’s best plays and musicals right here. Tickets can be expensive but are well worth the costs for a once in a lifetime experience. Plan ahead and take in several plays or shows. Shows vary from the awesome Lion King, perennial favourite Mamma Mia! based on Abba’s hits and Wicked, which is based on the Wizard of Oz.
Most people forget that there is a great zoo in New York spread over 250 acres and home to some 4,000 animals from 650 different species. Plan on a half a day at least to see everything across the 107 hectare site. There is not one ticket for the zoo. You simply buy tickets to the parts you want to see. It takes a little bit to get use to the idea, but the system works well. There is also a 4-D theater and a monorail. The zoo is open Monday through Friday from eight to five and a little longer on the weekends. For out of town visitors with children it is on the must see list for sure. It provides a little break for all the rush of the city.
Staten Island Ferry
If we’re counting iconic New York sights then the Staten Island Ferry is right up there and is the best way to see city skyline. The first ferry started running in 1905 and has been operating ever since. Over 19 million people a year use the service which runs every half an hour and takes about 25 minutes. It a popular means of transportation for tourist and locals alike and runs 24 hours a day. It is possible to buy beer, hot dogs and pretzels while on board.
Food in New York City
It’s important to include food as part of the best things to enjoy with literally every cuisine on earth on offer in NYC. There are some great pizza shops and nothing is better than traditional New York pizza. It is possible to grab a slice or sit down and enjoy one of the many famous pizza restaurants. A trip to New York would also not be complete without a slice of cheese cake. Bagels are also popular and can be found on many street corners. So, come and be prepared to eat and enjoy some of the best food in the country.
Everyone loves a parade. If you plan your visit right, you might be able to take in one of the many parades that New York has to offer. The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is one of the most popular. People come from all over to see this magnificent event. It can be cold so plan accordingly. There is plenty of room for everyone to get a good spot for the parade. Some people get their seat before six in the morning though, so plan on getting out there early. It last about three hours if you are near the end of the route. Get a complete copy of the route before you choose where you want to see the parade from.
New York has a range of different activities for you to do while you're there. This article will take you through the best things to do while your there and why you should book a New York holiday now!