New York City
New York City Stands Ready to Entertain You
New York is not only the nation’s largest metro area, but is also an influential world city that sits at the center of global commerce, culture and entertainment. For those who come from quieter surroundings, or just about anyone who is not a local, the pulsating lights and sounds of New York City are the essential backdrop for a memorable urban experience.
In recent years, the metropolis has even managed to turn around a once seedy reputation and reinvent itself as a safe, welcoming, and even family-friendly destination. Our guide will highlight New York’s most famous attractions and introduce the wide variety of cultural and entertainment opportunities available to wide-eyed visitors.
Landmarks and City Lights
Even if you have never been there, NYC has starred in so many movies and television shows that you probably already have a list of places you’d like to see in person. Here are just a few of the most recognizable monuments and landmarks to be found in the midst of the familiar skyline.
Most everybody knows that the Statue of Liberty is an international symbol of freedom and democracy, or even that it was gift of friendship from France. Visitors may not be fully aware that the national monument in the middle of New York Harbor is only accessible by ferry from Battery Park in Manhattan or Liberty State Park in New Jersey, and that you may need to secure reservations with the National Park Service weeks in advance if you want to enter the statue itself. Visitors may purchase ferry tickets and visit the Liberty Island grounds without an advance reservation.
The same ferries provide service to The Immigration Museum on Ellis Island, which is also in the harbor. It will take several hours to complete a meaningful guided or self-guided tour of the facility that processed more than 12 million immigrant steamship passengers upon arrival to the United States. Visitors can also search through a database of immigrant manifests for ancestors who came through the island.
Once left to rot and almost destroyed, Grand Central Terminal was thankfully saved and restored to its original 1913 grandeur. Rededicated in 1998, the terminal now houses commuter and subway trains of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, specialty shops, fine dining and casual, international eateries. Book a personal tour in advance, or take a self-guided walking tour on your own time. Either way, you won’t want to miss any of the history and architectural splendor of this classic depot.
Times Square, when brilliantly lit at night, is a sight to behold. You won’t want to miss it even if you have seen that ball drop on New Year’s Eve too many times to count. Explicit adult venues have been replaced with G-rated restaurants and big name retail establishments, including a huge Toys R Us with an indoor Ferris wheel.
Rockefeller Center is home to NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall. You can tour the center’s historically significant buildings, gardens and works of art, or even get a look behind the scenes at NBC. The Top of the Rock is an observation deck on the 70th floor with 360 degree views of the city. In the winter, the giant Christmas tree and ice-skating rink have become treasured holiday traditions.
You can reach the observatory on the 86th floor of the legendary Empire State Building by high speed elevator. The glass enclosed areas on the observation deck are climate controlled, and there are also outdoor promenades from which to overlook the incredible city views. Be prepared for long lines, some of which can be avoided by purchasing tickets in advance or paying a premium for express passes.
The first public park built in America, Central Park is still one of the most impressive with 843 acres of woodlands, lawns, gardens, lakes and ponds. The man-made sanctuary contains walking and bridle paths, fountains and sculptures, 21 playgrounds and more than 9000 park benches on which to relax. Don’t miss Belvedere Castle, which affords a view of the great lawn. Nature lovers will appreciate the 26,000 mature trees, and more than 275 species of migratory birds.
New York’s museums are no less than some of the finest in the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, affectionately called the Met, sits at the edge of Central Park on the museum mile. Plan to stay for a while, the building itself is nearly a quarter mile long—and the gallery occupies 2 million square feet of space.
The newly renovated Guggenheim Museum is also located on the section of Fifth Avenue known as museum mile. Housing collections of modern and contemporary art, the unique spiral building was renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s last major work.
The American Museum of Natural History is another favorite. The mammoth museum has more than 25 interconnected buildings that include exhibition halls, research labs, a planetarium, IMAX theatre and a library. Its collection of more than 150 million specimens is immense, and both the permanent and special exhibits are truly enlightening.
A Competitive Edge
For fans of professional sports, New York City is either the center of the Earth or hated enemy territory. Both the powerhouse Yankees and the cross-town Mets have been rewarded with majestic new major league baseball stadiums. Football fans root for either the Jets or the Giants of the NFL, but probably not both. Madison Square Garden is the iconic Manhattan arena that hosts both New York Knicks basketball and the Rangers of the National Hockey League.
For an overview of everything the big city has to offer, there are a number of tours to choose from, a couple of which offer both informative narration and flexibility. Grayline’s Double Decker Bus Tours make a comprehensive loop of the most popular sights, and riders can jump on an off at predetermined stops for 24, 48 or even 72 hours.
The New York Water Taxis offer harbor tours of the waterfront, as well as hop on/hop off service at 12 stops that are in reach of many the city’s top sightseeing spots.
Let NYC Entertain You
Broadway’s Theatre District is made up of 40 large professional theatres, presenting what are generally considered the highest quality commercial productions. Broadway theatres have 500 seats or more, but there are additional, more intimate shows off-Broadway as well. The longest running Broadway show, The Phantom of the Opera, has performed continuously since 1988.
In this vibrant city you’ll also find live music around every corner, shopping from vintage to couture that is unmatched on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as thousands of dining options that range from simple burgers and pizza to ethnic delicacies and famous 5-star establishments.
New York City offers more thrilling entertainment and cultural enrichment than any other place on earth. For directions and more specific information about this exciting urban destination, visit the New York City & Company tourism website.