It’s the city that never sleeps, The Big Apple, New York. Although geographically speaking, New York City is rather small, there is so much packed into that little space, it can be hard to know where to go first. Here are nine great places that will give you a good taste of everything New York City has to offer and will leave you saying I ❤ NY:
Where to go:
Rockefeller Center (www.rockefellercenter.com)
Built during the Great Depression, Rockefeller Center has proven itself to be not only a mighty center of commerce, but also a cultural hub and interesting tourist destination. Incorporating artwork throughout its 22 acres, Rockefeller Center has a little something for everyone. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, some of the more famous sites to be found there are Radio City Music Hall (see more below), The GE Building (aka 30 Rock), and of course the famous Tree at Rockefeller Center (lit every year from early December to early January). The GE Building also holds Top of the Rock, a six level observation deck engineered in a distinctive Art Deco fashion to look like cruise ship complete with deck chairs and large air conditioning vents that look stacks on a ship’s deck. Next to the tree is probably Rockefeller Center’s most famous feature, the ice skating rink. Holding up to 150 skaters at one time, it is the ideal way to immerse yourself in the wonder of a New York winter. As you glide past Paul Manship’s Prometheus statue, you will feel why so many people call this grand city home. So much to do, plan to spend at least half a day exploring everything Rockefeller Center has to offer.
Central Park (www.centralparknyc.org)
In the heart of Manhattan lies a truly magnificent escape from the city. Designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, Central Park’s landscapes, waterscapes, and fountains are quite simply amazing. This natural gem is home a swimming pool, ice skating rink, a zoo, many gardens, even a wildlife sanctuary. This National Historic Landmark covers 843 acres and is one of the most visited parks in the United States. Although the outdoor scenery is the biggest draw, there are also other attractions as well including Belvedere Castle, a huge antique carousel, and a marionette theatre. Shakespeare in the Park is a summer staple and attracts many visitors. There are also fantastic statues and sculptures that dot the landscape such as the Untermyer Fountain, Alice in Wonderland, Hans Christian Anderson, and Cleopatra’s Needle. With major renovations currently underway, you can expect some very big things from this famous landmark in the years to come. With over 21 playgrounds, 36 bridges and 48 fountains, monuments & sculptures, Central Park is a place for the entire family. See full article on Central Park.
Times Square (www.timessquare.com)
When 42nd Street meets Seventh Avenue, expect magic. Hosting one of the biggest New Year’s celebrations in the world, Times Square is also home to Broadway shows, fantastic dining, art, music, and more. Originally called Longacre Square, its name was changed in 1904 to Times Square in honor of the Times Building (now One Times Square). Here sits the entry way to what was once the only way to cross the United States by car, the Lincoln Highway. Global commerce has painted itself throughout the intersection by way of numerous signs and advertisements from companies as diverse as Coca-Cola and Budweiser to MTV and ABC. Though they obscure the architecture (some buildings are completely covered in billboards and scrolling lights) they have become an architectural theme all their own, an ode to Capitalism and success. A symbol of America and all the greatness it has to offer, Times Square is a highlight to any visit of New York.
What to do:
Statue of Liberty (www.nps.gov/stli)
Liberty Enlightening the World, better known as the Statue of Liberty, has been welcoming the tired, poor, huddled masses to New York’s shores since she was gifted to the United States by France and dedicated in 1886. A vision of the legendary architect Gustave Eiffel (designer of the Eiffel Tower) a short ferry ride from Manhattan will take you to the feet of the definitive symbol of America. Inside the base, there is a museum where you can see the original torch (it was replaced in 1986) and a special exhibit with all sorts of interesting information and history on the Statue of Liberty. The crown portion recently reopened in 2009 (it closed after the 9/11 attacks), however the elevator is undergoing extensive renovations so only those physically fit enough to climb the 354 steps to the top should purchase the tickets to go all the way up. This is a pilgrimage no American or any other person should miss.
With its unusual service and matchless meals and desserts, Ninja is perhaps the most innovative restaurant found in New York. Modeled after a 15th century Japanese castle, Ninja is made up of both individual private dining rooms and a rock garden dining room with public seating. Probably one of the coolest reasons to make a visit is the “ninjas” that are hiding throughout the restaurant. Aside from serving you your food they also perform magic and even drop from the ceiling! These athletic servers take months of training to learn how to perform ninjutsu, magic, and learn about the history of ninjas. Ninja proves again and again to be a favorite of many. Each dish is created from scratch using only the freshest, all natural ingredients. One item that is quite typical of what you can expect of your dining experience is a salad presented on top of a grapefruit with a sword through it. Pulling out the sword releases a cool little smoke cloud. The food is often presented in such a way that you almost don’t want to eat it because it’s just too pretty. The cocktails and deserts are just as creative. Any trip to Manhattan calls for a stop over at Ninja for a delicious and exciting treat. See full article on Ninja.
Bronx Zoo (www.bronxzoo.com)
Consistently voted one of the top three zoos in the nation, the Bronx Zoo opened in 1899 with 843 animals and 22 exhibits. It is now the home of over 4,000 animals and is a major member of the Wildlife Conservation Society. It’s hard to picture 265 acres of New York covered in extensive gardens, galleries, and rare animals; however the Bronx Zoo has accomplished that and more. Check out the Butterfly Garden with a thousand lively butterflies fluttering freely around you. The Wild Asia monorail tour is both fascinating and educational. A trip to the sea lion pool is always fun. Best time to be there is feeding time when they get to show off all their talents. Make sure to also check out Madagascar and all the unique and wonderful creatures there. There are great interactive exhibits and tons for stuff for kids and adults to keep you busy, laughing, and learning all day. Open year round except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King Day this is a super destination for anyone in the New York City area.
What to see:
Empire State Building (www.esbnyc.com)
Still one of the most important buildings in the world and the tallest in New York State, The Empire State Building (completed in 1931) was the tallest building in the world for forty years. With two observatories (one on the 86th floor and a second at the top on the 102nd floor) you will get a amazing views of not only local landmarks like Central Park, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty but also see as far as Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Located at the intersection of the Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street the wide, outdoor promenades offer a truly unique 360 degree experience. Aside from tickets, proper identification and a security check are required prior to entry. There are also other fun activities like the Skyride Concession and the Audio Tour. The Skyride Concession is a flight simulator that takes you all around New York. The Audio Tour provides very interesting facts about the Empire State Building and city of New York. A visit to the Empire State Building is a must do for any first time visitor to New York City. See full article on the Empire State Building.
Museum Of Modern Art (www.moma.org)
New York’s Museum of Modern Art, located in Midtown Manhattan, has been the pride of New York City since 1929. Home to a remarkable collection of designs, paintings, sculptures, photography, and film, MoMA is also famous for its incredible library with more than 300,000 rare books. Developed by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Lillie P. Bliss, and Mary Quinn Sullivan it has held famous exhibitions by various renowned artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. The best collection of Modern Masterpieces in the world the museum has works by greats like Henri Rousseau, Piet Mondrian, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo. The Museum of Modern Art also has special treats planned out for the kids. Packed full of the latest technology, MoMA has found a way to enhance an already spectacular experience. Modern and Contemporary art come to life and leave an impression that will never be forgotten. See full article on MoMA.
Radio City Music Hall (www.radiocity.com)
Designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, Radio City Music Hall is a delightful entertainment venue located in New York’s Rockefeller Center. With some breathtaking interiors, Radio City Music Hall has been a huge draw since it opened in 1932. Covering 12 acres, this Art Deco masterpiece is magnificent to behold even when there are no productions going on. Speaking of productions, if you are going to see just one it has to be the Music Hall Christmas Show. This spectacular event showcases the talents of many great performers, including the world famous Rockettes. Radio City Music Hall has entertained more than 300 million people to date and it continues to be a grand experience. Some of the greats to walk its stage are Frank Sinatra, Bill Cosby, Ray Charles, and Celine Dion. Of course that’s not counting all those who have been there to receive awards at ceremonies hosted there such as the Grammy’s, the Tony’s, the ESPY awards, and The MTV Video Music Awards. A remarkable and fun filled experience, Radio City Music Hall is a must on any Mew York visitor’s itinerary. See full article on Radio City Music Hall.