With diverse attractions spread across the five boroughs, New York City (NYC) offers visitors a range of experiences that is unmatched. Below you'll find a guide to some of the City's “Must Sees.”
~ Recognized the world over, the high-rising City skyline is an attraction unto itself. Many of Manhattan's skyscrapers are national landmarks, dating to different eras in NYC history and representing diverse architectural styles. Viewed from street level, each offers an impressive sight. But observed collectively from on high, the City's buildings along with its many bridges and open expanses like Central Park offer a sweeping beauty unlike anything in the world. See it from the Empire State Building Observatory or the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.
Times Square/Broadway Theatre District
~ Lit up 24/7 with animated TV screens, oversized billboards and theater marquees, Manhattan's Times Square is considered by many to be the heart of New York City and the crossroads of the world. Times Square is also synonymous with Broadway, as the neighbourhood is home to some of the City's most famous theatres, housing many of NYC's hottest shows.
Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island
~ Since 1886, the Statue of Liberty has been a beacon for countless immigrants. View the statue up close on a tour or from the Brooklyn Bridge, the Staten Island Ferry or the shoreline of Manhattan's Hudson River Park. In the harbor, nearby the Statue of Liberty, is the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, housed in the building that served as the historic gateway and disembarkation point for millions of people looking to start a new life in America.
~ Spanning 843 acres in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park encompasses a diverse landscape of rolling fields, walking trails and tranquil waterways. Among the park's landmarks: Wollman Rink, ideal for winter ice skating; two zoos, the Central Park Zoo and the Tisch Children's Zoo; the Central Park Carousel; and Tavern on the Green, one of NYC's most famous eateries. The park's sprawling open expanses, including Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn, serve as relaxing spots for locals and visitors alike to enjoy outdoor activities including picnics, sunbathing and ballgames.
~ The Brooklyn Bridge holds a special place in New York City history. As the oldest of three bridges linking Brooklyn and Manhattan, it stretches nearly 6,000 feet across the East River. Upon its completion in 1883, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, and in 1964 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Today, it stands as one of the City's iconic attractions and is a favored pastime for many visitors, as the upper walkway is open to both pedestrians and cyclists.
Prospect Park / Grand Army Plaza
~ Located in the heart of Brooklyn, the 585-acre Prospect Park was designed by Olmsted and Vaux, the same architects responsible for Central Park. Prospect Park is a rambling, lush site for relaxation and recreation. The Kate Wollman Rink provides skating in winter and boating in summer, while the Bandshell is a popular spot for outdoor concerts in warmer weather. Grand Army Plaza, with its soaring archway commemorating the Civil War, forms the main approach to the park. The plaza is also a short walk from the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The museum is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country, featuring collections of Native American art and Egyptian artifacts that are both recognized as being among the world's finest. Botanic Garden encompasses more than 50 acres. Highlights include the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the Fragrance Garden and the Steinhardt Conservatory, home to one of the largest bonsai collections in the US.
Lower Manhattan / Wall Street
~ The Financial District in Lower Manhattan is home to the World Trade Center site. The Tribute WTC Visitor Center offers on-site walking tours, exhibits and programs. A street-level viewing wall is set up on Church Street; Ground Zero may also be seen from the World Financial Center's Winter Garden, a vast steel-and-glass atrium that doubles as a performing arts space. A few blocks away, centered at Wall and Broad Streets, historic sites and high finance sit side by side on narrow streets that hark back to Peter Stuyvesant and the City's days as a Dutch trading post. Among the attractions are Trinity Church (where George Washington prayed) and the New York Stock Exchange, as well as Federal Hall, the first capitol of the United States of America and the place where George Washington took his oath as the nation's first president. More recent additions include the African Burial Ground National Monument and the Charging Bull sculpture. Visitors can also shop and dine at nearby South Street Seaport or walk to Battery Park, where ferries depart for Staten Island, Liberty Island, Ellis Island and Governors Island.
Staten Island Ferry
~ More than a means of transportation, the Staten Island Ferry provides an attraction unto itself. Totally free of charge, visitors can voyage by water from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island and glimpse the Statue of Liberty, the stunning vistas of the City's harbor and the Manhattan skyline. The ferry drops visitors off at the St. George Ferry Terminal, near cafés and shops, a scenic harbor walk and the Staten Island Yankees' ballpark (open seasonally). Gray Line New York Sightseeing also offers a quick one-hour bus tour showing off area highlights.
Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden
~ Located in the City's northernmost borough, the Bronx Zoo is the nation's largest metropolitan wildlife preserve, featuring lush new habitats. More than 4,000 animals roam these naturalistic enclosures. Notable among these are the lemurs of the new Madagascar! facility and the residents of the Congo Gorilla Forest. Just north of the zoo is the New York Botanical Garden, where sun-soaked greenhouses, educational exhibits and a peaceful 250-acre landscape of colorful plants make for a fun day for the family.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
~Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens is an essential stop for visitors interested in the latest in art, science and sports. The Queens Museum of Art offers cutting-edge contemporary artwork. Its centrepiece, the Panorama of the City of New York, is an intricate 9,335-square-foot architectural model. The New York Hall of Science features hundreds of hands-on exhibits including a 60,000-square-foot outdoor science play ground for all ages. At the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center home of the annual US Open, which draws top international players tennis lovers can practice their backhand on the same courts where greats like Venus Williams and Roger Federer have won.
~ The stretch of Manhattan's Upper East Side bordering Central Park from 82nd to 105th Streets on Fifth Avenue has come to be known as Museum Mile. There are a total of nine cultural institutions that make up the mile-plus tract. They form a diverse group, displaying some of the world's finest collections of art, history, design and culture.
Anchoring the lower end of Museum Mile is the world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art, whose permanent collection comprises nearly two million works. Must-sees include an impressive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts, highlighted by the room housing the Temple of Dendur, and the museum's latest addition, the New Greek and Roman Galleries. Lovers of art and architecture will also want to visit the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, known as much for its distinctive design by Frank Lloyd Wright as for its collection of modern and contemporary art. For those looking to experience a diversity of cultures, there's El Museo del Barrio, devoted to Latino and Puerto Rican art and heritage; the Jewish Museum, one of the world's largest collections of Judaica; the Neue Galerie, dedicated to early-20th-century German and Austrian art and design; and the Museum of the City of New York, which anchors the north end of Museum Mile.
Uptown: Harlem, Morning side Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood
~ North of Central Park, broad boulevards fill with the sights, sounds and tastes of Harlem. The campus of Columbia University one of the nation's premier academic institutions is a great place to explore; many of its buildings are designed in the Beaux-Arts style, and the central quad in particular is perfect for a stroll. Just around the corner is the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine with a lovely, peaceful garden. Try mouth-watering soul food at Sylvia's Restaurant, see contemporary African-American art at the Studio Museum in Harlem, spend an evening at the legendary Apollo Theater or experience one of many jazz clubs. Visitors can also continue north through Washington Heights and on into Inwood to make a final stop at the Cloisters. Situated on a bluff with sweeping views of the Hudson River, the Cloistersa branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Arthouses thousands of medieval artworks.
The Empire State Building
~ Without a doubt the most famous building in New York, the Empire State Building soars more than a quarter mile into the Manhattan sky, offering visitors breathtaking views from the 86th floor and 102nd floor observatories. Visiting Observatory creates a thrill and a memory that stays with you for the rest of your life. It was once said, "You can live in New York all your life, but until you see it from the top of the Empire State Building, you haven't seen the city."
Is it any wonder that many films and Television specials have been shot on location at the building? Several documentaries have also been produced featuring this landmark. Whether it was your favorite love story about an unlikely couple named Harry and Sally, or a memory from your childhood of a great hulking ape named Kong that hated airplanes, you probably remember our unnamed and magical hero's true identity, The Empire State Building.
The high point (no pun intended) of every visit to the Observatory is, of course, the spectacular 360-degree view of the Big Apple and the metropolitan area. That experience is even more exciting and rewarding with the audio tour. Narrating the tour is Tony, a fictional, but nonetheless authentic, native New Yorker. The tour is written from Tony's point of view, is available in 8 languages and is filled with his colourful, amusing and informative observations about his favourite city . . . and his favourite building.
The 86th floor Observatory, 1,050 feet (320 meters), reached by high speed, automatic elevators, has both a glass-enclosed area, which is heated in winter and cooled in summer, and spacious outdoor promenades on all four sides of the Building. High powered binoculars are available on the promenades for the convenience of visitors at a minimal cost. The 86th floor observatory is handicap accessible.