Written by Mark Smith. Published on .
The City That Never Sleeps… The Big Apple… whatever the tagline, New York remains one of the most visited cities in the world, and for good reason!
No matter the time of year, New York draws people from across the globe to showcase it’s wares; Spring brings pleasant weather and the New York Yankees; Summer has a full calendar of outdoor music against the stunning skyline; Autumn showcases the world of fashion; and Winter has Thanksgiving Parades, Christmas decorations, and the famous ball drop on New Year’s Eve!
But along with all the famous landmarks, attractions, sports, and holidays, the city constantly hums with activity, and scratching the surface to find amazing eateries and restaurants can be as rewarding as that selfie from the Empire State Building! Whether it’s your first time in the city, or you’re already an old hand at navigating the grid system, New York holds the fascination of millions every year.
You can’t turn a corner in Manhattan without recognising it from a movie or TV show! From Friends, Gossip Girl, and NYPD Blue, to When Harry Met Sally, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and Ghostbusters, the skyline feels like an old friend. One of the best ways to experience many of the landmarks, and to get a sense of direction and distance in New York, is to jump on a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour, but if you are looking for something extra special you just can’t beat a birds eye view from the cockpit of a helicopter!
With so many to choose from, New York doesn’t disappoint with it’s endless display of fantastic architecture and world-renowned buildings. Some of the most iconic that must be seen on a first time visit include the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Centre, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library, Grand Central Station, the Flat Iron Building, and St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Manhattan’s diverse areas offer visitors something different throughout the city. Whether it’s dinner in Little Italy, the frantic pace of life at Wall Street, the oasis of Central Park, the bright lights of Times Square, or the iconic figurehead of the city, the Statue of Liberty, what you see and experience is only dependent on the amount of time you have to explore!
Fantastic all year round, the shopping in New York is some of the best in the world! At no time is this more evident than in the lead up to Christmas, with store windows filled with displays, and prices slashed in the sales after Thanksgiving. From 5th Ave to bohemian markets and everything in between, the shopping scene in this city caters for all!
Along with Rodeo Drive in LA, the Ginza in Tokyo, and Avenue Montaigne in Paris, 5th Avenue in New York is iconic for its designer shops. Saks 5th Ave, Tiffany & Co., and Bergdorf Goodman are just a few names to see, but just a few blocks west or east and you’ll discover great department stores such as Macy’s, Barney’s, and Bloomingdale’s showcasing labels at fantastic prices!
In Lower Manhattan, between Midtown and the Financial District, are a number of areas where shoppers can pick up a bargain or see iconic independent stores. Century 21 near the World Trade Centre is renowned for selling designer labels at heavily discounted prices. Be aware though that you’ll have to dig for them, and maybe even have to brave crowds of focused and serious bargain hunters.
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift? Try The Strand Bookstore, a musty, multi-story institution that opened in 1927. With ladders blocking aisles and piles of books in the seemingly endless shelves and tables, the store can be hard to navigate… but ask a staff member and they’ll track down the new, used, or even rare copies that you’re after.
No other city in the world is like New York for it’s choice of cuisine, but what comes with that is an ever-changing list of where to go and what to have. Some come and go as passing fads, but there are certainly a rare few that have stood the test of time, and should be experienced on a visit here if at all possible.
Spending a special occasion in New York? Per Se is the place to celebrate! With unbeatable views over Central Park, the master chef Thomas Keller provides 2 tasting menus of 9 courses using locally sourced and foraged produce. Be aware though, reservations must be made well in advance and it comes with a price tag!
No less impressive are the stalwarts of the restaurant scene in a city that is constantly changing. The highly awarded Gramercy Tavern, the regularly voted “Best Everyday Restaurant” Balthazar, and the unique and interesting Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant, all hold a special place in the hearts of New Yorkers, but more and more are taking the trip over the East River to Brooklyn to establishments such as the Peter Luger Steakhouse where good old fashioned service and quality food is still more important than frills.
No trip to New York is complete without doing as the locals do, and whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, these icons have etched their place in history for a variety of reasons.
Breakfast on-the-go has become the New York way of life, and with specialities like the bagels at Russ & Daughters it’s easy to see why. Lunch can be had at the deli made famous by the scene from When Harry Met Sally. Order the pastrami on rye at Kat’z Deli and see how good it really is! Head east across to Brooklyn for a dinner of New York’s finest pie. The pizza at Di Fara is still made by the 80 year old owner Dom DeMarco as it has been since 1965, and wait times can be long but take the time to see the master at his craft. Finally, the decadence at Lady M‘s flagship boutique on the Upper East Side is available throughout the day, serving numerous delights from cakes to eclairs and everything in-between.
Holidays to New York are never going to be able to fit everything in all on the first visit, though there are a number of things that will help you make the most of your time there. The New York CityPass, Explorer Pass, Freestyle Pass, and others make things easier by skipping lines and offering savings to multiple attractions for a set number of days.
One of the best ways to either see some of the big ticket items, or to delve into a specific subject or district, is to join a tour. From walking tours of the High Line or Central Park, Cycling tours that will take you across Brooklyn Bridge, or bus tours taking in the sights of famous films and TV shows, there is a tour suitable for every person and every interest.
Those looking to experience some of the best museums in the world will be spoilt for choice! The list of first class cultural exhibitions is nearly endless, with highlights including the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Some of the lesser known museums are well worth a visit also for specific interests, such as the Frick Collection, the Met Cloisters, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the Morgan Library & Museum, and Ellis Island, which all hold fascinating insights into their chosen field or the history of a specific subject.
After a day of exploring and sightseeing, why not finish the day off with a show? Whether it’s a Broadway (or Off-Broadway) show or a spot in the audience of a late night talk show, there are a multitude of seats on offer to suit all. Alternatively, catch a performance at Radio City Music Hall or Madison Square Garden, or chant with the crowd at Yankee Stadium or MetLife Stadium.
Like restaurants, hotels in New York range in style, size, facilities, location, and price, with a few general rules of guidance. The main areas include Midtown, with Times Square, the Theatre District, Hell’s Kitchen, and the south side of Central Park all popular places to stay; and Lower Manhattan, around Downtown and Battery Park. Hotels often have a smaller room size than in most cities, but often make up for it in quality appointments and views.
Almost all major hotels chains are available, such as Fairmont, Waldorf Astoria, Hyatt, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, and Hilton, with most having multiple locations in Manhattan, but smaller boutique and independent hotels also offer visitors fantastic accommodations. Kimpton’s Ink48 in Hell’s Kitchen and the Empire Hotel near Central Park are just two examples where quirky and interesting interiors means not feeling like another number.
All up, New York has to be seen to be believed. Suited to all types of visitors, from business people to family holidaymakers, and in all seasons, this is why New York should be your next destination whether you’ve been there before or not!
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