Destination Insight: New York City Guide
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Even to first time visitors, New York always seems so immediately familiar, thanks to its iconic skyline and its regular appearance on the big and small screens. Of course 'the city that never sleeps' offers such a bewildering array of attractions that it can be hard to know where to begin.
So here is our list of some perennial highlights, alongside a few slightly more offbeat choices for first time visitors to the Big Apple.
Walk the High Line
One of Manhattan’s biggest attractions is the High Line, an elevated 6km long, landscaped stretch of urban walkway running along a former railway line which was once used to transport goods through Manhattan's industrial areas for over 40 years, until it was re-imagined as a community garden for the public to enjoy in 2009.
These days the High Line hosts a constantly evolving array of pop-up bars, street food stalls, art events, exhibitions and much more. The gardens are wonderfully rendered with plenty of benches and recliners dotted along the way, while the elevation affords you a marvellous perspective of the city's lively Chelsea and West Side neighbourhoods.
Cruise on the Staten Island Ferry
One of New York’s most iconic experiences is also completely free. The free ferry to Staten Island now running every half hour from Lower Manhattan is simply something every first time visitor must experience, mainly because the 20-minute crossing gives you a prime view of Lady Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Since the ferry is still used by many commuters and New Yorkers it can get very busy of course, so if you want to get the best view or pic be prepared to jostle a little for a space on the small outdoor deck.
Take Wall Street by the….Horns
Now be honest, have you never taken one of those cringey tourist selfies propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Eiffel Tower? Yeah, thought so. So we’re guessing that you’ll probably want to channel your inner Gordon Gekko on Wall Street then and pose for a picture with the famous bull and grab him by the ‘you-know-whats’ for good luck with that all-important business meeting. It’s ok, we won’t dob you in to the tourist cliché police.See a Broadway Show
Whether you’re entertaining clients or just planning some relaxation time, you can’t go far wrong squeezing a Broadway show into your Big Apple travel plans. Some of the top ones to choose from currently include Tim Minchin’s musical of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, perennial favourite Jersey Boys or long running stalwarts like Chicago and Cats.
Spectacular new blockbusters planned for the autumn months include Chekov’s the Cherry Orchard, A Bronx Tale: The Musical and Cirque du Soleil’s debut musical outing, Paramour. So why not surrender an evening to the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint?
Visit the 911 Memorial
If you can filter out the selfie stick wielders, the 911 Memorial is a suitably sobering and stark tribute to the thousands who lost their lives in the 2001 terror attack. The sheer scale and stark simplicity of it (a vast, black square hole in the ground with simple fountains of water cascading into its depths) can’t help but make you pause. Just stand quietly, peer into the void and reflect.
And if you’re visiting this autumn then you might also want to check out the new exhibition in the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11.
Nearby in Lower Manhattan is the One World Trade Center (at 1,776 feet, it’s currently the tallest building in the western hemisphere) and you'll almost certainly pass through the city’s major new transport hub of the same name, housed under the impressive bird-like Santiago Calatrava–designed Oculus.
Catch a Ballgame at Yankee Stadium
If the vagaries of baseball still flummox you and American Football leaves you cold, don’t worry, you can still get a slice of the sporty action at the world famous Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where you can now watch New York City FC show off their fancy footwork in a game of good, old fashioned soccer, as our American cousins still insist on quaintly calling it.
Scale the Rooftop Bars
Having one of the world’s finest skylines, also means there are no shortage of places where you can enjoy a high altitude cocktail or two, while impressing a client with your metropolitan élan into the bargain.
High rollers will appreciate the exclusive vibe of Plunge Bar & Lounge at the top of the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District, keen Instagrammers will flock to the likes of 230 Fifth for the sublime views of the Empire State Building afforded from its vast patio, while art aficionados will be naturally drawn to the bar at the Met Roof Garden & Café, with its astro turf lawn looking out onto Central Park and environs.
Who needs Top of the Rock, when you can go upscale and have it on the rocks?
Take the Brooklyn Pizza Tour
Once you’ve seen the best of what Manhattan has to offer, you’ll probably want to experience one of the other five boroughs, and Brooklyn tends to top most lists, with its classic movie locations, handsome brownstones and hip, indie boutiques and eateries galore.
Grab an authentic slice of life on this half day tour which takes you to the front of the queue in all the famous pizzerias, such as Grimaldi’s and the Sicilian-style of L&B Spumoni Gardens and then also whizzes you round many of the borough’s prime locations, such as Coney Island, the Brooklyn Army Terminal and of course the mighty Brooklyn Bridge itself.
Are you planning a business trip to New York soon? Why not add on a few days of fun exploration to your itinerary? Speak to our trusted leisure partners at the Internet Traveller who can tailor-make something truly sopecial for you.