New York. People either love it or hate it. Either way, it is one place that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. It’s a non-stop party. The lighting is amazing. Everywhere you look is familiar because you will have seen it in a film or a picture – so you feel at home immediately.
The noise is incessant – car horns blaring, NYPD blue car sirens, people shouting. Smells pervade the air – street vendors selling bagels and coffee. Depending on what time of year you visit, the heat is phenomenal or the cold is painful. In Sex and the City, Miranda once asked Carrie “Why do I think living in Manhattan is so fantastic?” Carrie’s reply “Because it is.” Let’s see why.
The Top Ten New York Tourist Attractions
1. Empire State Building
Get a breathtaking view of Manhattan from this world famous skyscraper, located at 350 Fifth Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets, in midtown Manhattan.
High speed elevators take you up 1,050 feet to the 86th floor. This observatory has an area which in glass-enclosed. You can also walk out in the open air around all four sides of the building for a 360° birds eye view and binoculars are for hire up there too. This observatory is accessible for handicapped people.
The Empire State Building is open every day of the year, from 8am to 2am, with the last elevator going up at 1.15am.
What about the queues?
The waiting lines do put a lot of people off. There are three different lines, the first for security check, the second to buy a ticket and the third, for the elevators. However, you can buy an Express Pass ticket online that gets you moved to the front of each queue.
2. Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty celebrated her 100th birthday on October 28, 1986. She was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States in recognition of their friendship established during the American Revolution. Liberty is a worldwide symbol for freedom and democracy.
Liberty is clad in copper and it is the verdigris on this copper which gives her distinctive green color.
Visitors arrive by ferry and climb 146 steps of an internal spiral staircase to reach the top of Liberty. There are 25 windows inside her crown, giving a view of New York Harbor. Because Liberty faces Brooklyn, you don’t get a view of Manhattan, except through some small windows on the left of her crown.
The lines for tickets can exceed three hours but you can skip these by buying online in advance here.
3. Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central is located in the heart of midtown Manhattan, on 42nd Street and Park Avenue.
It has now been restored back to how it was in 1913. Grand Central is not just a transportation hub. There are five wonderful restaurants and cocktail lounges as well as 20 places to eat in the lower level, celebrating all forms of international dining. You can buy gourmet items from Grand Central Market and enjoy the fifty specialty shops that are featured on all levels.
4. Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center is between 48th and 51st streets between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. It’s a complex of 19 buildings over 22 acres and was built by the Rockefeller family. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
It’s most famous for its’ outdoor ice rink, Christmas tree, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Radio City Music Hall, NBC outside broadcasts as well as numerous places to shop and dine. This variety makes it a great destination for any type of visitor at any time of year.
5. Ellis Island Immigration Museum
This fascinating museum tells the story of the thousands of immigrants who flocked to a new life in America and passed through the gateway of Ellis Island. To find out if your ancestors were among them, you can perform a free search here. To have your ancestors name inscribed on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor at Ellis Island, go here.
6. Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry carries a staggering 20 million people a year (60,000 passengers a day not including weekend days) between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. That’s 60,000 passengers every day and that doesn’t even include weekends. Forget pricey tourist ferries, this is the way to see the Statue of Liberty and to get a great view of Manhattan – and a true taste of a New Yorker’s lifestyle.
For sailing schedules, look here.
7. American Museum of Natural History
Located at 79th Street, Central Park West, (Upper West Side), the Museum has been open to the public since 1869. It includes 25 interconnected buildings that house 46 permanent exhibition halls, research laboratories, and a world renowned library.
The collections contain over 32 million specimens, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time. Check here for details of current events.
You can buy tickets online here.
8. Central Park
It is located between 59th Street (Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North), and is 0.5 miles wide between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West.
Central Park is the world-famous green retreat for New Yorkers and tourists, occupying around 1.2 square miles (843 acres) of prime Manhattan land. between 59th Street (Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North), and 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West. It was opened in 1859 and made a National Historic Landmark in 1963.
25 million visitors flock there every year to escape the buzz of the city, enjoy open-air theatre and concerts, visit the zoo, go skating, partake in sports or enjoy a carriage ride. Many also make a pilgrimage to the ‘Strawberry Fields’ John Lennon memorial as he was tragically shot outside the Dakota Building (located on the northwestern corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West)
9. Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, known affectionately as The Met, is an art museum located on Museum Mile. It has a permanent collection of over two million works of art, in 19 departments. The main building houses one of the world’s largest art galleries.
10. Museum Mile…
…covers a section of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, from 82nd to 104th Streets along the Upper East Side. The mile is actually two blocks longer than a mile and houses eleven museums:
- 89th St. National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts
- 88th St. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (The Guggenheim)
- 86th St. Neue Galerie New York
- 83rd St. Goethe-Institut New York/German Cultural Center
- 82nd St. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
- 91st St. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution
- 2nd St. The Jewish Museum
- 94th St. International Center of Photography
- 104th St. El Museo del Barrio
- 103rd St. Museum of the City of New York
- 110th St. The Museum for African Art (under construction)
- 10. The Museum of Modern Art
Located in Midtown Manhattan on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, this museum was the first dedicated to show only contemporary art. It was founded in 1929 is said to be the most influential museum of modern art in the world. The collection is huge and covers architecture and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and prints as well as illustrated books and artist’s books, film, and electronic media.
Other things to see…
The list is endless but here are a few of the other most popular attractions in New York:
- Broadway theatre – see what’s on here.
- Times Square
- Shopping on Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue
- Macy’s Department Store at 151 West 34th Street (featured in the film Miracle on 34th Street and famous for its’ Thanksgiving Parade and Christmas window displays)
- Bloomingdales at 59th Street & Lexington Avenue, (home of the ‘brown bag’)
- Greenwich Village
- Canal Steet (great for markets and bargains)
- Wall Street
- United Nations Building
- Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. Amazing jewelry and where many iconic photos of Audrey Hepburn were taken for the film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’
- Madison Square Garden – Take a tour of the World’s Most Famous Arena which is located in Manhattan on Seventh Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets, catch a concert or watch a sporting event.
- Yankee Stadium – situated in the Bronx, home of the New York Yankees
- The Wine Regions on Long Island
- Chelsea Market – 75 9th Ave (between 15th & 16th) great eating and entertainment
- Coney Island – situated in Brooklyn
Get your tickets to New York Events.
What’s the best way to get around?
You can save a lot of time and money with a New York Pass that you can buy online before you travel. This pass allows you to skip lines and to save money on entry fees to over 100 of New Yorks best attractions, museums and tours. You will find that the Hop on Hop off Buses are a great way to get around the city and stop at points of interest. You can see as many attractions as you like for the duration of your pass.
New York is easy to navigate as it is on a grid system with Avenues running one way and Streets running across them. Buses either run along streets or along Avenues so hop on and off until you reach your destination. Yellow cabs are everywhere and the subway is also quick and easy to navigate.
Will I see any celebrities?
It’s possible! You can check out which films and TV programs are being made in New York here.
Celebrity haunts to help you maximize your chances
- Angels & Kings 500 East 11th Street Ashlee Simpson, Tommy Hilfiger, Kate Bosworth and Josh Hartnett
- Barney’s 660 Madison Avenue Victoria Beckham, Halle Berry, and Chloe Sevigny
- Butter 415 Lafayette Street Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Beyonce, Hilary Duff and Hayden Panettiere.
- Hotel Chelsea 222 West 23rd Street Uma Thurman, Rosario Dawson.
- Hotel Gansevoort 18 9th Avenue Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Leonardo diCaprio, Jessica Simpson, Jay-z, Lindsay Lohan, Kelly Ripa, Nicky Hilton.
- J. Sisters 35 West 57th Street, 3rd Floor Gwyneth Paltrow, Tyra Banks, Fergie.
- Nobu 105 Hudson Street Robert De Niro, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet.
- Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon 825 Washington Street Sarah Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts, Julianne Moore, Renee Zellweger.
- Day Spa 754 Fifth Avenue Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Dita Von Teese.
Food and drink
For the best round up of what’s available in New York – and there is a lot – take a look at Time Out’s constantly updated lists of best places to eat, best ‘all you can eat’ places and best places for coffee, When we were there we ate at the ‘Soup Nazi’ shop that was mentioned in an episode of Seinfeld, Red Lobster where we had amazing seafood, and at the various deli’s, of which there are many in New York.
New York, New York…
If you’re planning a trip to New York, do some research before you go and try to plan what to go and see. One trip is only enough to scratch the surface of this vibrant and unique city beloved by so many – so it’s a great excuse to go back again…and again…and again. Enjoy!