Central Manhattan’s top attractions- Times Square, Fifth Avenue and Central Park.
Lots of people contemplate Midtown as Heart of New York. The signature attractions, including Times Square, the Empire and Rockefeller Centre, are world renowned and habitually featured in films.
For a sight of the brilliant magnificence of the city, take a speedy elevator up to the observation decks of the Empire State Building. NYC's second-tallest structure (behind One World Trade Centre) offers breath-taking views from the highest open-air observatory in the City.
Midtown also features some of the world's best shopping. Wander up 5th to visit famous Tiffany & Co., the flagship location of Saks Fifth Avenue and toy store FAO Schwarz. Later, atone for your worldly interests at St. Patrick's Cathedral. This stunning edifice is the largest Gothic cathedral in the United States, with seating capacity for 2,500 and a giant organ equipped with 7,300 pipes.
Across the street from St. Patrick's is Rockefeller Centre, home to NBC Studios, an ice-skating rink and a plaza that's houses annual Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. For a different perspective on the City and Central Park, visit Top of the Rock, the observation deck located atop the famous “30 Rock” skyscraper. Underneath that building, you can explore a 2-mile-long concourse that houses a variety of shops and restaurants.
Lunch and After
The massive collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) hold many of the art world's most cherished works, including Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory. MoMA's cafeteria and its restaurant, The, are both excellent eateries, but there are plenty of inexpensive, casual options in the neighbourhood as well. Although they don't offer much by way of atmosphere—you'll have to find a place to sit—the award-winning food cart Halal Guys, a favourite of the office crowd, serves up spicy proteins (chicken or lamb) over rice at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 53rd Street.
Carry on up Fifth Avenue to visit the renowned institutions along the Upper East Side's Museum Mile, including the recently reopened Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, with its prints, textiles and new design library; the Museum of the City of New York, which provides an in-depth look into NYC's past; and the Metropolitan, home to one of the most extensive collections of art, history and culture anywhere on earth. (Note: each of these is worth spending a full day in on their own.)
For those who'd rather spend time outdoors, Central Park is the place to go. The 843-acre park is an oasis of trees, gardens, water features and Rolling Meadows. Don't miss attractions like the Zoo, Bethesda and Strawberry Fields, named after The Beatles song "Strawberry Fields Forever" (John Lennon lived nearby, at the Dakota). Meanwhile, across the park on the Upper West Side, children and adults will love a visit to the American Museum of Natural History, packed with exhibitions showcasing all manners of creatures living and extinct, including those toothy giant dinosaurs.
Conceivably Midtown's most famous attraction—and, statistically speaking, the NYC's most visited—is Times Square, site of the famous annual New Year's Eve celebration along with a host of other year-round entertainments. Among them: the Theatre District, where you can see new and classic Broadway musicals, comedies and dramas. Long-running shows like Chicago, Wicked and The Phantom of the Operahave delighted millions. (To peruse current shows, and buy tickets, visit our Broadway section.) The area also contains a diverse selection of eateries. Nearby institutions like Barbetta, serving Italian food in a chateau setting, and B. Smith's Restaurant, offering Southern cuisine, are two good choices along Restaurant Row. For post-theater dining,Carmine's is a favorite for Italian food served family-style.
Realise American history and pub fare in Lower Manhattan, and gardens and Italian dishes in Staten Island.
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Lower Manhattan is rife with US history. The area has hosted some of the nation's most significant events, including the first inauguration of President George Washington and the founding of America's first bank (now the Museum of American Finance). Start out with a weekday tour of Federal Hall, where the first session of Congress took place in 1789, or City Hall, the oldest building of its kind in the nation still serving its original municipal function. History buffs will further enjoy seeing President Washington's old stomping grounds, Fraunces Tavern, where period rooms, paintings and exhibits explore the tavern's importance to Revolutionary America. Within the tavern are a variety of rooms for eating and drinking: the Porterhouse Bar (with a small bites menu), theDingle Whiskey Bar (lots of Irish whiskeys) and the Tallmadge Room, where you can eat American grub while surrounded by photos of past patrons.
Other aspects of American history can be gleaned by visiting the National Museum of the American Indian, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, which can be viewed up close on a Statue Cruises tour; best to purchase tickets in advance. The iconic symbol of freedom can also be seen for free from Battery Park, a 25-acre green space at the base of Manhattan that offers views of New York Harbor.
The area is also known as the seat of American finance, and no visit to Lower Manhattan would be complete without a trip to Wall Street. (Wall Street Walks and The Wall Street Experience are two tour options for those with pecuniary interests.) While the New York Stock Exchange trading floor is closed to the public, the bronze Charging Bull sculpture at nearby Bowling Green Park, symbolizing financial health, is always available for a photo op. For those looking to shop, Century 21 is stocked with bargains. Expect to pay 40-to-70% below retail prices for designer duds.
Lunch and After
Many visitors will want to pay their respects at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The memorial is a moving tribute to those lost on September 11, 2001: twin reflecting pools, located in the footprints of the Twin Towers, afford quiet moments for contemplation. Located underground, the museum tells the story of the City's response to the tragedy through exhibitions and video installations. Meanwhile, One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the United States, now soars above the site.
A great place to take a break is on Stone Street, one of the City's oldest paved thoroughfares. There you'll find charming establishments, many inside restored brick buildings, including standouts like Harry's Café & Steak, Beckett's and Stone Street Tavern.
For waterfront views, there's plenty of outdoor seating at P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson, located on the west side (in Battery Park City), close to cultural hub Brookfield Place and the Hudson River. Across Manhattan, the South Street Seaport affords visitors the chance to learn about the City's seafaring past, along with shopping, dining and other entertainment opportunities adjacent to the East River.
Sunset is the picture-perfect time for a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, which you can catch at the Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan. Along the 30-minute trip from Manhattan to the City's southernmost borough, you will be treated to skyline vistas. When you get to the island, you'll be in St. George, a neighborhood that offers plenty to explore. For theater, comedy and music try the historic St. George Theatre; if you're visiting during the summer, take in a minor league baseball game at Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees (the Single A affiliate of the New York Yankees). Nearby attractions include Fort Wadsworth, a 226-acre public park that was once a military stronghold, and Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, an 83-acre complex that houses gardens and historic buildings.
If all the sightseeing leaves you famished, Staten Island's restaurants offer some delicious fare. For classic Italian dishes made by nonnas Italian grandmothers try Enoteca Maria. Ruddy & Dean, meanwhile, specializes in juicy, dry-aged steaks. Other worthy spots include Cajun-Creole eatery Bayou, celebrated pizza tavern Denino's and seafood spot Blue.
Explore Brooklyn’s cosy neighborhoods by checking out their cultural sweet spots and incredible food.
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Centre Brooklyn, surrounded by the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill and Fort Greene, is one of the borough’s hubs of arts and culture. BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), for instance, is a performing arts center that showcases a range of offerings theatre, film, opera and more, much of it with an avant-garde bent. In warmer weather, the outdoor space MetroTech Commons grasps exhibitions, performances and other special events. BRIC House and the New York Transit Museum are among some of the other cultural institutions in the area. Of course, the neighborhood is also home to a range of restaurants—from small bistros like Café Luluc to classic diners like Junior’s, whose cheesecake is the stuff of legend.
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Farther north, located on the East River, DUMBO is home to art studios, galleries, luxury boutiques and independent bookstores. (The name is an acronym for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.”) The neighborhood's recently developed Brooklyn Bridge Park provides spectacular views of the Lower Manhattan skyline, and is a wonderful location to unwind and take the kids for a spin on Jane's Carousel. Stop for a comfort-food brunch at Vinegar Hill House (weekends only; otherwise, it opens at dinnertime), or join the line of hungry diners for crispy coal-oven pizza at the famous Grimladi's. Cap off your meal with homemade frozen treats at the charming Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
Enjoy a walk on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, part of Brooklyn's first Historic Preservation District. Measuring about a third of a mile, the esplanade offers scenic riverfront views and the neighboring streets are lined with gorgeous town houses and mansions. (It also served as a backdrop for movies like Annie Hall and Moonstruck.) Near stately Brooklyn Heights are Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, providing more territory to explore. Local dinner and drinking options include French bistro Bar Tabac and Southern barbecue joint Char No. 4.
If you'd rather call it a night in Manhattan, head to The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in the Financial District. This Irish whiskey bar has won numerous awards, including North America's Best Bar of 2014 and Time Out New York's best new cocktail bar of 2014. You can get there by traversing one of the City's most famous attractions—the Brooklyn Bridge. Walking the 130-year-old structure, and taking advantage of the photo ops along the way, is a must for many visitors. (Bonus if you click pictures during sunset.)
Take a break from viewing NYC's monuments, skyscrapers and museums by engaging in two of our favourite activities: eating and shopping.
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Once a low-rent district filled with galleries and artist lofts, these days SoHo (an acronym for “South of Houston Street”) is best known as ashopper's paradise. Walking the area's streets is like flipping through a luxe catalogue of high-end brands, with outlets for Prada, Saint Laurent,Alexander Wang and others. Department stores like Bloomingdale's SoHo and Opening Ceremony offer a range of designers, while vintage haven The Reformation reworks used apparel into affordable—and stylish—gear.
Restaurants in the area tend to be just as high powered. Tried-and-true, Balthazar offers consistently excellent eats and similarly excellent people-watching, thanks in part to the mirrors hanging over the bar. The Dutch, Mercer Kitchen and Jack's Wife Freda are also popular spots. If you can't wait for lunch, you can always try your luck at Dominique Ansel Bakery, which made the Cronut a household word.
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Nearby NoHo (a short version of “North of Houston”), is a slice of a neighbourhood with extra-large appeal. The former stomping grounds of artists like Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and once the location for underground music club CBGB (now a John Varvatos store), NoHo is still an undeniably cultural district. Hear live music at Bowery Electric (in the evening), see theatrical performances at The Public Theater (the same, usually) or view art at neighborhood gallery The Hole. Costume and clothing designer Patricia Field sells glittery apparel from her nearby storefront; Dashwood Books stocks a range of beautiful contemporary art and photography tomes; and the Makerbot Retail Store offers 3-D portrait printing, in case you want to take home a bust of yourself (or have one created as a present).
Next to to NoHo, the East Village is the neighbourhood that Blondie, the Ramones and the New York Dolls made famous in the late 1970s. Today that history is perhaps best explored by visiting record stores likeA1, dive bar Continental and punk-rock clothing boutique Trash and Vaudeville. Gem Spa, a newsstand at the corner of St. Marks Place and Third Avenue, is one of the area's longest-running businesses, having opened in the 1920s, and is commonly credited with inventing the egg cream—a classic NYC specialty involving soda water, milk and vanilla or chocolate syrup. Closer to Union Square, the Strand is another long-running neighbourhood institution—a 90-year-old stalwart that proudly touts its "18 miles of books."
Over by New York University, Washington Square Park (and its arch, modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris) is deliberated the heart of Greenwich Village. A former bohemian mecca, the area is known for clubs like Café Wha? And The Bitter End, where musicians like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Patti Smith first played. Perhaps because of its proximity to NYU, the area teems with inexpensive restaurants; two standbys are Mamoun's Falafel for Middle Eastern favorites and Artichoke for ultra-thick pizza. But in keeping with the rest of the City, the neighborhood offers high-end fare as well. Mario Batali's Babbocontinues to be as popular as ever; Blue Hill is famed for its sustainable, farm-to-table cuisine; and Minetta Tavern offers delicious food (say, the $28 hamburger made from prime dry-aged beef cuts) in an active atmosphere.
The quaint, tree-lined streets of the West Village make for perfect pre- and postprandial walks. The neighborhood is filled with top-notch restaurants; try the meatball sliders at the Little Owl, the burger at the Spotted Pig or pan-roasted seafood at Pearl Oyster Bar. (Just remember to make reservations first.)
Many other downtown neighborhoods feature culinary delights as well:Little Italy, Chinatown and the Lower East Side among them. All offer a hint, too, of their immigrant heritage—and in the case of the Lower East Side, vibrant nightlife as well. If you've saved room for dessert, visit Ferrara in Little Italy for espresso and pastries, Kung Fu Tea in Chinatown for tasty bubble milk tea or the LES staple Russ & Daughtersfor raspberry rugelach. The latter is within walking distance of another famous institution, Katz's Delicatessen.
Queens is home to great art, dining and skyline views, while North Brooklyn holds it down with vintage fashion, live music and locally brewed beer.
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Queens is widely recognized as one of the most culturally diverse destinations in the country, full of a variety of international cuisines, museums large and small, and acres of sprawling parkland. Accessible via a short train ride from Midtown, Long Island City is a great place to museum hop, anchored by MoMA PS1, a former city schoolhouse showcasing experimental contemporary art and summertime outdoor DJ sessions. The serene Noguchi Museum houses the work of Japanese-American sculptor and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, while the nearby Socrates Sculpture Park is a wonderful spot to survey regularly changing installations while strolling along the shore of the East River.
In Astoria, a neighborhood with deep roots in film and TV production, theMuseum of the Moving Image explores all facets of these industries with immersive, interactive exhibitions for the whole family. Astoria is also known for its strong Greek influences and delicious, affordable Mediterranean food. Try Ovelia for traditional moussaka (a meat and eggplant casserole) or BZ Grill for a tasty gyro.
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Downtown Flushing is New York City's largest Chinatown, home to some of the most authentic Asian cuisine this side of the International Date Line. Hunan specializes in spicy dishes like steamed fish head with chopped chilies and sautéed spicy frog with cumin, while Tasty features a few exotic dishes such as stinky tofu along with less experimental Szechuan delights like fried spare ribs with fresh garlic. At the Anthony Bourdain–approved Golden Shopping Mall, discover shops and tucked-away eateries that serve all kinds of quick-eating dishes: Taiwanese beef noodle soup, lamb face salad, assorted dumplings and the like.
Flushing is also home to some of the City's best-known recreational attractions, including Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the borough's largest park. Snap a selfie beneath the iconic Unisphere, erected for the 1964 World's Fair, before popping into the recently renovated Queens Museum, the kid-friendly New York Hall of Science or the Queens Zoo. If the timing's right, consider a trip to Citi Field, where you can catch a New York Mets home game (spring and summer), or a tennis match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, home of the US Open (late summer).
Watching for the Brooklyn of moustaches, vintage clothing and artisanal cocktails? Step right up to Williamsburg and Green point. While you could spend a whole day traveling the shops and dining spots of these vicinities, you'll really want to experience their exceptional nightlife, which caters to almost every whim imaginable. Spaces that feature live bands almost every night include Music Hall of Williamsburg, the music venue-cum-bowling alley Brooklyn Bowl and the Knitting Factory, which showcases untried acts as well as Sunday night comedy.
Get a taste for Williamsburg's grungier side at one of its remaining Bedford Avenue dive bars. Turkey's Nest Tavern serves up giant frozen margaritas and sports games; The Charleston is a punk holdout that has a long happy hour featuring complimentary pizza with drink purchases, and Rosemary's Green point Tavern boasts giant cups of beer and year-round holiday lights. For a more upscale experience, try the speakeasy-styled Hotel Delmano, where bartenders take their libations seriously.The Richardson is also known for its artisanal cocktails, as is the The Shanty, which is set in a distillery and complements its mixed drinks with a selection of craft beers.
Up in connecting neighborhood Green point, Bar Matchless, St. Vitus andNo Name Bar offer a low-key vibe and cater to heavy music crowds (bands play regularly at the first two). Other area watering holes include the beer hall Spritzenhaus, Nights and Weekends and piano bar Manhattan Inn.
The Bronx and Harlem are both teeming with music history, lively energy and thriving restaurant scenes.
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The home of hip-hop, the New York Yankees and great home-cooked food, the Bronx is known for its energy, attitude and cross-cultural influences. A great place to get familiar with the borough's deep Italian roots is Arthur Avenue, where food shops and restaurants pride themselves on following the old-school ways. Try bocconcini (bite-size mozzarella balls) at Casa Della Mozzarella or sample cookies and cannolis at Sicilian pastry shop Madonia Brothers Bakery. Walk off the calories in the nearby Fordham neighborhood, which features cultural institutions like the Bronx Zoo (one of the country's largest), the New York Botanical Garden and Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, where the tortured writer spent the last years of his life penning "Annabel Lee," "The Bells" and other canonical poems.
Farther north in Riverdale is Wave Hill, an estate with 28 acres of gardens and woodlands that surround a pair of historic houses. Enjoy the educational programming, walk around to admire what's in bloom and take in the sweeping views of the Hudson River.
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While in the Bronx see the New York Yankees, 27-time World Series champions, at their deluxe stadium, or go further afield to take advantage of the borough's green spaces. Situated on 1,146 acres, Van Cortland Park contains playgrounds, picnic areas and hiking trails as well as the country's oldest public golf course and one of the largest freshwater lakes in the City. Full of similar amenities is Pelham Bay Park, which at 2,766 acres is three times the size of Central Park. Its man-made attractions include the Bronx Equestrian Center and Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, a former residence that dates back to the 1840s.
Dynamic Harlem, rich in African-American history and culture and full of inventive restaurants and sizzling nightlife, is a quick subway ride from the Bronx. Those absorbed in music and history had better chance catching up a performance at the Apollo Theatre. Jazz lovers can check out a session at Minton’s, where some say bebop was native. Get nourishment for your night out (or grab a post-show bite) at Red Rooster Harlem, which serves a varied menu of reinterpreted comfort-food classics and hosts live music in its downstairs lounge, Ginny's Supper Club. If you'd rather sample traditional Southern fare like fried chicken and waffles, consider Harlem's famed soul-food spot Sylvia's Restaurant.
Time to take it easy in the City’s booming soothing spas
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