It's called The Big Apple and the City that Never Sleeps. Though other cities boast about their endless attractions, it's really true that you'll never run out of things to do in New York, which is why it's a top tourist destination.
From the New York art scene, which is among the best in the world, to family-friendly fun like ice-skating in Rockefeller Center, every minute in New York is an adventure.
Famous Manhattan alone is home to many individual neighbourhoods with distinct personalities that have been depicted in books and movies, and need to be experienced for the full New York experience. The history of New York is the very definition of a melting pot, and one of the best ways to sample its international flavour is in New York City restaurants and eating spots, which, in their thousands, offer the most diverse range of food you can imagine in a single city, from the humble hotdog to the country's most celebrated chefs.
As you'll see in our guide, most tourist attractions are located in Manhattan, the long narrow island many people think of when they picture New York. Try to get out also and visit the areas around Manhattan: New York City is made up of five “boroughs” — The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island — and each has its own culture.
Getting in and around New York
New York airports
Most people fly into one of three New York airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport(LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey (EWR) — all no more than 18 miles from Midtown Manhattan. When making the trip from any of these airports to your hotel, most people choose cabs, take public transportation, or hire a car.
Car rentals are only recommended if you're very familiar with the city or if you plan to stay outside the city.
New York Transport
The subway is a quick, easy, and cheap ($1.50 per token) way to navigate the city. There are nearly 470 stations throughout Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens. Cabs are also popular. When moving between Manhattan and Staten Island, New York City provides free transportation in the form of the Staten Island Ferry.
New York Car Hire
If possible, avoid renting a car if you plan to stay inside New York City; the streets are very crowded, taxi drivers aggressive, and it's easy to get lost in this huge metropolis. This added to the fact that street parking is practically nonexistent, paid parking ridiculously expensive, and gas stations are few and far between, having a car will actually hold you up as a visitor in New York City.
If you do need a car for heading out of town, car rental agencies can nonetheless be found throughout the city, although prices are expensive comparative to other US cities.
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New York accommodation
Four- or five-star hotels in Manhattan, New York
Live it up in the Big Apple with one of these accommodation options.
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- The Waldorf-Astoria on ritzy Park Avenue is one of the best New York City hotels and caters to the rich and famous with boutiques and world-renown restaurants.
- Tribeca Grand Hotel, located in the area that hosts the Tribeca Film Festival, provides a 24-hour fitness centre and in-room dining.
- The Muse Hotel is a boutique hotel near Times Square that takes its inspiration from Broadway. It's pet friendly and offers in-room spa services and a 24-hour fitness centre.
- If you're staying a while or just wanting to stretch out your budget, you can still find a place to lay your head. Competition's fierce for the best cheap beds so be sure to book early.
- The Harlem Flophouse, a charming brownstone celebrating the Harlem Renaissance, offers large rooms with quirky names and delightful decor details like claw-foot tubs.
- SoHotel is clean though small, but its fabulous location — right near SoHo, Chinatown, and Little Italy — make this hotel a great deal.
- Colonial House Inn is a gay-specific hotel in the Chelsea neighbourhood that doubles as an art gallery. It also offers a roof-top deck, breakfast, and satellite TV in all rooms.
- Lafayette International Hostel, located in Brooklyn but just steps away from a subway ride into Manhattan, offers linens, parking, Internet access, and lockers.
Things to do in New York
It can be overwhelming to try to plan an itinerary for a city like New York. The suggestions below should help you plan your stay.
See the Statue of Liberty. It's a fact that the Statue of Liberty is the ultimate New York City attraction, and internationally a symbol of freedom. Most visitors are aware of the history of the Statue of Liberty—that it was a gift from France—but a Statue of Liberty tour can help fill in other details that everyone wants to know: how tall is the Statue of Liberty? How long did it take to assemble? and much more.
Explore Manhattan. The proximity of Manhattan to all the tourist attractions, not to mention some of the city's best-known restaurants, makes Manhattan the perfect base for your stay. (Manhattan accommodation options are plentiful in light of this, but book early if you intend to stay here, as they're also expensive.) Popular landmarks and tourist sites in Manhattan include Times Square, Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue (traditionally known as the world's premier shopping districts), Carnegie Hall, The World Trade Center Site, Madison Square Garden, and the Brooklyn Bridge, which you can walk over to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Empire State Building. You can't holiday in New York without checking the Empire State Building which you'll recognise from movies including King Kong and Sleepless in Seattle. Exhibits tell you how tall the Empire State Building is (over 1,453 feet), the history of the Empire State Building (the first light to shine from the top of the building announced that Franklin Roosevelt had been elected president in 1932) and more.
New York Broadway. Take in a Broadway show. Broadway is the ultimate dream of stage actors around the world. From lavish Broadway musicals to comedies to serious works, a Broadway play is one of the best ways to enjoy New York.
Survey the architecture. Most New York tours include landmark architectural beauties such as the Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building, and the Guggenheim Museum, all with very interesting histories.
Go ice skating at the Rockerfeller Centre if you're in the big city in Winter!
Don't forget the street food! There's no bagel like a New York bagel — and there's no food item that says “New York” quite like this food item, an import from the city's Jewish immigrants. Other must-do items to include on your lunch menu are the ubiquitous New York hotdog (with your choice of toppings), the soft New York Pretzel (also sold by street vendors around the traps), the New York Pizza sold by the slice, the rich heavy New York Cheesecake.
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Day trips in and around New York
MoMa (The Museum of Modern Art) is famously home to the world's most comprehensive collection of modern and contemporary art. You'll need more than one visit if you want to see it all; the fifth floor is where the well-known works are kept if you don't have much time and just want to see the real versions of existing favourites like Van Gogh's Starry Night.
Central Park Zoo For a bit of greenery in the middle of the city, head to Central Park and visit the Central Park Zoo , ride a boat, or take a bicycle tour of Central Park.
The funky neighbourhood of Greenwich Village (aka “the Village”) in lower Manhattan should be an inclusion in any New York travel experience. Exploring the eclectic shops, creative dining options, and abundant nightlife are all terrific things to do in Greenwich Village. The birthplace of the Beat Movement and of gay rights, it's home to some significant historical and cultural sites, with its arts scene and its well-known live-and-let-live attitude being something residents remain proud of even while the area has gentrified.
Check out the other four boroughs. Even if you don't have much time, you should try to get out of Manhattan and see the rest of New York City: each borough has a culture all of its own. Bus tours focusing on the individual boroughs can get you around, and knowledgeable guides can offer a comprehensive overview.
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