New York, NY is more often than not the first choice destination for people when visiting the states. The New York City skyline, lights and atmosphere are infamous across the globe and attract millions of tourists each year. People come back year after year to see the landmarks and recognisable sights on every street corner in this constantly changing city. It is also an incredibly popular destination for shoppers and can definitely compete on an international stage for the right as the shopping capital of the world; at Christmas time it is particularly busy.
Must see and do
The Empire State Building has been the pinnacle of Manhattan ever since King Kong scaled this structure in the 1920′ s. This 102 storey goliath stands proud over the entire city providing views as far out as Brooklyn and Queens on a clear day. This is the most popular attraction on the island. The queue can be immense in peak season and many people actually miss out on the opportunity to get to the top simply because they do no have enough time to wait in line. You can save time by pre purchasing your ticket in advance but will of course have to queue for security and the elevators to the observation deck and it will also double the price of your ticket. There is also an audio tour available for an additional fee.
Central Park is an oasis in the hustle and bustle of this metropolis. This square area of greenery is instantly recognisable and a welcomed sanctuary from the traffic mayhem in Manhattan. Many people on a nice day can be found having a picnic or throwing a frisbee round in the park on hot summer days. In the winter you can ice skate in Central Park and all year round there are horse and carriage rides available.
Times Square You may recognise Times Square from the New Year’ s count downs on the television where each year thousands of people gather to celebrate. It is a central hub of Manhattan and a very desirable area to stay in due to its optimal location. It is close to Broadway and 5th Avenue and many popular restaurants. Of course being such a good location will mean you pay extra to stay in the vicinity.
Statue of Liberty The Statue of Liberty is a national symbol of freedom and democracy and a must see attraction for any New York visit. You catch the ferry to Liberty Island from Battery Park on the south tip of Manhattan. Included in the ferry ticket is a drop off to Ellis Island where all the immigrants who came across in search of liberty and democracy landed and were assessed before being allowed to enter America.
Being a National Monument means there is no fee to enter the statue but you are of course charged for the ferry ride. At time of writing (2009) it is $12.00 for adults. You are able to climb to the base of the statue but no longer are you able to ascend right to the crown due to strict health and safety regulations. This is a cheap and must do activity for any tourist in New York. Expect long queues in peak season.
5th Avenue The shops are chic, stylish and perhaps a little pricey but undoubtedly you will take a stroll down 5th Avenue during your stay perhaps on your way to Central Park. Not all the shops are designer and out of price range but you will not find much here if you are a bargain shopper. Prada, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s are some of the retail elite to acquire stores on this prestigious stretch. For those with less money than sense it is good for window shopping and it is popular to browse the FAO Schwartz toy shop, the Disney Store and the Apple Store.
Ground Zero This is quite a morbid tourist attraction but many people do visit the former site of the twin towers to pay respects and to view the plaques. Due to its location it can be combined with the walk to the Liberty Island ferry.
Broadway Broadway is instantly recognisable on a Manhattan map because it goes against the grid like road network. Broadway is all singing and all dancing and the theatrical centre of New York. There a variety of shows to choose from so look out for discount tickets on sale from nearby box offices.
On a nice day why not make a picnic and take it to central central Park. There are plenty of sandwich outlets and convenience stores to bulk up the hamper.
It is expensive to stay in Manhattan itself so many tourists stay out in Brooklyn and Queens and ‘commute’ to Manhattan each day. There is a Holiday Inn Express and a couple of hostels in Manhattan itself so cheaper accommodation is available.
Visit one of the three discount show ticket booths on Manhattan. These generally offer 25% – 50% reductions on same day or sometimes next day performances. There is a booth at Times Square located in Father Duffy Square on Broadway and 47th Street.