Dense, bustling, stylish and full of life, there is no place quite like New York City, whose impressive skyline includes the Empire State Building and where crowds flock each night to the theatres on Broadway.
Famous for its bright lights and known as “the city that never sleeps”, New York keeps tourists on the go. With a subway system that runs 24 hours a day and the majority of the city planned out as a grid, a good pair of walking shoes and a pocket-sized map are a visitor’s best friends.
The city is organised into five boroughs; however it’s the borough of Manhattan, the most urbanised and architecturally diverse of the five, that visitors are likely to envision when they think “New York.” Manhattan boats many neighbourhoods, from SoHo to Murray Hill, Harlem to TriBeCa, and each with their own unique flavour and style. To get your bearings, hop aboard one of the city’s double-decker bus tours where a guided overview of the many districts is available in a variety of languages.
For 12 million American immigrants between the late 19th to mid 20th century, Ellis Island was the port of entry into their new homeland. Greeted by the famous Statue of Liberty and then registered at Ellis Island, the United States National Park Service has preserved these sites and created a museum where visitors can even trace their family’s ancestry from the records once taken here.
Located in midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building boasts one of the most popular observation decks in the world where millions of visitors each year take in the impressive views from the top of one of the world’s tallest buildings.
Central Park, an oasis of green in the city’s centre, forms a link between Manhattan’s Upper East and Upper West sides. The park offers horse-drawn carriage rides, bicycle rentals, sprawling meadows ideal for a picnic lunch, a popular jogging track encircling a scenic reservoir; and in winter, an ice-skating rink.
Running the full length of Manhattan, Broadway is the oldest main thoroughfare in New York and dates back to the first New Amsterdam settlement.
At the intersection of 42nd Street, one will find themselves in New York’s Times Square. Awash in neon lights and a few steps away from Madison Square Garden, Rockefeller Center, and the city’s behemoth department stores Saks, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, this also happens to be the spot where New Years Day is greeted by enormous crowds of revelers cheering for the glittering ball to drop at midnight.
The most famous stretch of this wide and historic avenue runs through midtown Manhattan and is lined with theatres offering musical entertainment each night. For something more offbeat, skip the queues on Broadway and head down to the Lower East Side. Here you’ll find smaller, ‘black box’-style theatres with a quirkier selection of performances at typically nominal admission fees.
New York boasts some of the finest restaurants in the world and the variety of cuisine on offer is without compare. New York loves to eat and New Yorkers are passionate about their favourite spots for everything from where to find the best bagel to the finest five-star gastronomic experience.
On the New York restaurant scene, competition is fierce, and there’s always a new must-try restaurant in the spotlight, as well as long-standing institutions that have served their beloved recipes for generations, such as The Russian Tea Room and Carnegie Deli.
Just let the city’s many neighbourhoods guide you. Stop in for dim sum in Chinatown, pasta in Little Italy, or southern-style ‘soul food’ in Harlem. Even on the city’s streets, there is authentic American snack fare on offer – roasted nuts and grilled hot dogs whose powerful aromas prove irresistible to tourists and locals alike.
Manhattan alone can occupy a tourist for weeks, but a trip beyond the city is rewarding. With New York’s plentiful transportation network, trains and buses can take you beyond the city or even outside the state.
Just outside of Manhattan, Brooklyn is a popular borough enjoying a present-day cultural renaissance. In and around the Williamsburg neighbourhood, many of the city’s artists and young entrepreneurs come to launch their careers, opening eclectic restaurants and boutiques, giving performances and showcasing innovative artwork.
For further exploration of America’s Northeast, the heart of New England lies a few hours from New York. Spend a day in Boston sipping coffee with the intellectuals in Harvard Square, or enjoy a whale-watching cruise from the city’s harbour. From there, head to the mountains of Maine or Vermont where winter skiing, summertime hiking and beautiful autumn foliage make for outdoor adventures in all seasons.