Fondly dubbed The Big Apple, New York City is one of the most densely populated cities in the United States and the home to a scope of cultures and diversity. New York City consists of 5 boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island; Each being so vastly different from the next, moving between them will often feel like stepping into another city entirely.
But what makes New York City one of the most popular cities to visit in the United States?
This bustling metropolis has cemented itself as one of the most iconic cities in the world. The diverse culture and economic success make for an intriguing vibe and a unique way of life you won’t find in any other city. The city that never sleeps has something for everyone; there’s always something to see or do. With terrific places to eat, drink and shop, breathtaking views from immense structures and landmarks, as well as a plethora of museums and broadway shows, this buzzing city has so much to offer.
Here are our top picks and must-see highlights:
One of the most popular attractions in Manhattan, the Empire State Building is a must-see for any first-time visitor to New York. At 1,454 feet tall, this distinctive Art Deco structure is one of the tallest and most recognisable buildings in the world. With observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors open from 8am to 2am every day of the year, visitors can delight in stunning views of the city skyline; each with a different perspective on the view depending on the time they choose to visit.
Central Park is a peaceful escape from the busy city streets for tourists and residents alike. The 843 acres feature green landscapes, tranquil bodies of water, and magnificent foliage that looks even better in the autumn months as the leaves turn golden. Central Park offers a range of attractions and activities, such as The Central Park Zoo, the Wollman Ice Skating Rink, and the Central Park Carousel. Central Park is the perfect place if you need a break from the towering skyscrapers.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or The Met for short, is one of the most visited museums in the world, welcoming over 6 million visitors per year. Located on Museum Mile in Manhattan, it’s home to more than 2 million works as part of its permanent collection, ranging from classical art from European painters such as Monet; to Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art, as well as some modern art. If you’re an art enthusiast, you certainly can’t give this one a miss.
No trip to New York is complete without visiting the dazzling Times Square, one of the most visited places in the world. Times Square isn’t just a top spot for an instagrammable moment, it’s also home to a lot of great activities and attractions. Marvel at over 200 wax figures in Madame Tussauds; if you’re up for something fun and lighthearted, Ripley’s Believe It or Not will be right up your street. And of course, there are plenty of broadway or comedy shows to choose from.
Another must for first-time visitors to New York is to see the stunning Statue of Liberty that’s accessible by ferry. Designed by the French artist Frederic Auguste Batholdi in 1875, the statue symbolises the ideals that America was founded on. Most ferries to this inspiring monument also take you to Ellis Island, where you can soak up the history as the first place more than 12 million immigrants arrived into the USA from 1892 to 1924.
If you’re a movie buff then a visit to the Grand Central Station is a no-brainer. Having been the backdrop for numerous blockbuster films such as Men in Black and Armageddon, the architectural design of the Grand Central Station truly is a sight to behold.
Since there’s so much to do in the city that never sleeps, you could easily spend your entire trip in Manhattan. But to get the full NYC experience, checking out the other boroughs is highly recommended if you have the time.
Here are some of the top picks from the remaining boroughs of New York:
The Brooklyn Bridge
Take in beautiful views of Manhattan, the east river, and the waterfront by taking a walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge on a walkway specially designed for pedestrians and cyclists. This bridge was the world’s first steel suspension bridge, an engineering feat when it was built, and the breezy walkway is a great place for photo opportunities.
The amusement-filled boardwalk and sandy beach of Coney Island is at it’s peak of popularity during the summer months in New York City. Featuring historic rides such as the Wonder Wheel, a 150 ft tall ferris wheel that first opened in 1920, which provides you with great views of the boardwalk and beach as well as a feel for the history of the area.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
This public park was the site of the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair, although one of the only surviving structures makes for the focal point of the park: The magnificent Unisphere, a massive globe surrounded by a fountain. The Unisphere has been featured in countless films, from Iron Man 2 to Spider-Man Homecoming.
Museum of the Moving Image
This museum centred around film, television and digital media is a great day out for all ages, featuring everything from TV and film from video games to props and more. The Jim Henson Exhibition is one of the museum’s highlights, showcasing Jim Henson’s work as the genius behind shows like The Muppet Show, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth.
One of the largest zoos in America, the Bronx Zoo is situated in Bronx Park and offers visitors a unique experience, with natural habitats, a variety of animals, and a focus on the conservation efforts of native species. The zoo is also located close by to the New York Botanical Gardens, which makes for a relaxing addition to a fun-filled day at the zoo.
Costing a whopping 2.3 billion dollars to construct, the Yankee Stadium is a must for any sports fan. Apart from watching a game, you can also take part in tours that run daily to get a behind-the-scenes look at the team and the history behind them.
Chinese Scholar’s Garden
Featuring a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, and a koi-filled pond, the Chinese Scholar’s Garden tranquil atmosphere makes for an unforgettable experience. Beautifully designed to evoke China during the Qing Dynasty of the 18th century, the garden takes inspiration from the Couple’s Retreat Garden in Suzhou, China.
Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry has been operational since 1905, and is the main mode of transport, running 24 hours a day, connecting Staten Island to Manhattan. The ferry offers breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline from the water.
One of the most ideal times to visit New York City for decent weather and fewer tourists is in the spring, from April to June. The weather is most preferable around these months, with an average high temperature of 16°C in April, rising to 27°C in June.
In the winter months, New York comes into its own, between November and December the city is adorned with festive lights, as well as special events and attractions which make for a magical trip. However, New York is also at its busiest during this time, especially in December, with average temperatures as low as 0°C.
The best place to stay in New York always depends on what you plan to do there. For first-time visitors, mid-town Manhattan is ideal as it plants you right in the middle of everything, with great public transport links and hotels. If you’re wanting to focus your trip on culture, Soho is the spot for you. If you’re travelling on a budget, hotels in Brooklyn are the most affordable while still being close to the main attractions.
New York has a fantastic public transport system, so the best way to get around if you can’t walk to your destination is by taking advantage of the bus and rail systems. The subway is open 24 hours a day and is the quickest way to travel around New York. For around $32 you can purchase an Unlimited Metrocard, allowing you to travel as much as you like within a fixed time period for 7 days; other options are available for longer stays. If you plan to visit Staten Island, the only way to reach it is via ferry.
New York is a brilliant location for an action-packed holiday, with tons of amazing sights, entertainment, museums, food, drink, and shopping; there’s something for everyone in this lively city. If you’re looking for a holiday where every day is different from the last, New York has you covered, all you need to do is set a date.
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