Travel to New York City?
New York has an
energy like no other city and a skyline and sights that you've already
seen a thousand times on screen, though actually what most tourists think as New York is in fact just Manhattan island.
Sometimes you have to realise the virtual images and walk in the
shadow of the skyscrapers, sip a Manhattan cocktail, see a Broadway
pasta in Little Italy, climb
the Empire State building, stroll Central Park, window shop on 5th Avenue, stagger around a vastly impressive museum (for free! see below) and all the rest...
The clear grid system makes city walking easy to navigate
and these days New York is safer than most other large American
- the famous subway (metro/underground) system
is poorly signposted, both outside and inside, so tourists
used to European subways may experience difficulties.
- New Yorkers have a notoriously self-centred
attitude and will pass by on the other side if you have a
problem, while service personnel (such as subway staff) can be ill-mannered, especially if you forget to tip!
- Manhattan suffers an endless white
noise of traffic hum, air conditioners, sirens, while the endless concrete canyons
can be claustrophobic.
New York Weather
Best: The 'shoulder months' of May, June, September, October are usually warm and pleasant, though they can be changeable.
OK: Summers are hot and sticky, especially at night when heat gets radiated out from concrete. Summer temperatures range from 24C (75F) to 32C+ (90F+).
Worst: Winter, January, February, short, damp, dark days, can get very cold, or quite war, but usually averages around freezing.
Current New York temperature and time.
Manhattan: this borough (district) contains nearly all of New York City's
main sights such as
The Financial District for amazing
skyscrapers as well as the massive building site of 9/11's Ground
Zero, while Battery Park on the tip of the island is a green,
tranquil oasis and also base for ferries to The
Statue of Liberty. Get there by ferry - as early as possible
for a hope of a climb to the top. Also visit the Ellis
Island Immigration Museum to see just how much of New York
is imported and how it happened.
Chinatown offers cultural colour, while SoHo, Greenwich
and the trendy Meatpacking district are arty and packed with
funky shops, bars and restaurants.
Around Manhattan's Midtown further
famous tourist sights include Times
Square (now sanitised and revitalised with plenty of
kid's stuff), Broadway for musicals
and the Empire State Building - the
granddaddy of the skyline.
Park is an enormous and delightful space of trees, lakes,
rock outcrops, funfair, baseball pitches, and cafés - full
of dog walkers, joggers, skaters and cyclists, with horse drawn
carts for romantics.
The Upper East Side warrants a visit
for window shopping and museums along 5th
Avenue, while the previously dreaded Harlem has metamorphosed from ghetto to residential haven, with Bill Clinton among other lodgers.
Grand Central Terminal has a
fantastic concourse that's worth a sightseeing visit apart from the selection of large restaurants and trains.
walk or bike across the famous, iconic and busy Brooklyn
suspension Bridge, will take you to Brooklyn (above the traffic) to stroll around 19thC buildings
at Brooklyn Heights and the greenery of Prospect Park.
Great free stuff!
...apart from walking and window-shopping!
Notorious Needle Park has been reinvented as Bryant Park (40th and 5th Ave), a freebie space offering free ice rink in winter, free wifi, free T'ai Chi and Yoga from April-October; free concerts and movies in the summertime.
The Staten Island Ferry gives classic, heady downtown views for free as it shuttles back and forth to Staten Island. It leaves every half hour or more from the south tip of Manhattan. South Ferry subway.
Free museums, days and times: daily, National Museum of the American Indian; Wednesdays at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (for African, Asian and Latin American art); Saturdays at the Jewish Museum; Friday nights at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Guggenheim Museum; pay-what-you-can at Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the Frick Collection on Sunday mornings.
New York online information for free NYC events, Free in NYC, Club Free Time and New York City Parks for free plays and concerts in parks; and finally Big Apple Greeter for free neighbourhood walks conducted by local volunteers.
See below for where to find discounted price theatre tickets.
Museums (also see Free museums, above): the
Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art are stars
of New York's wonderful cluster
of museums, though the newly moved Museum of Arts and Design sports some supremely wacky works, even if you do have to pay for the pleasure.
Some of the buildings are works of art in themselves, such as the Museum
of Modern Art and the Guggenheim.
The American Museum of Natural History
has grand dinosaur exhibits, while the Rockefeller Cloisters
Museum is gorgeous and has amazing views over the city.
New York is loaded with ground-breaking theatre (theater!) and dance, much of it in the Times Square vicinity, while Classical
Music, Ballet and Opera
have many grand homes such as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera House.
Discounted tickets for shows (up to 25% off) are available from Ticketmaster or Best of Broadway the day before the show or for same-day tickets head for the Times Square TKS kiosk from 3pm-8pm. Try to avoid ticket touts - known as scalpers in USA - whose prices will be silly. The NYC tourist organisation are a useful tourism resource who occasionally point at free or special-price events.
City transport: The subway can be confusing but once you've got the hang of it it's the best way around the city. Varied train lines are colour coded and often run from the same station while express trains miss out on some stops altogether.
Trains run 24/7 and are reasonably priced compared to London, cleaner and probably safer too. One day and one week Metrocard passes are good value and widely available from machines or local shops while subway maps are free from stations.
Taxis are quick, convenient and not expensive outside the rush-hour, but sitting in heavy traffic gets costly.
Bus destinations are confusing though travelling down the same long street you're on can be an efficient way to move.
From either of New York's airports, JFK and Newark, the SuperShuttle is the best deal for speed/efficiency, sharing a door-to-door minibus with a few other passengers; backpackers may prefer to take their time (and do some walking) on a the regular airport service while the more flush will enjoy the immediacy of an hour's taxi ride - it's best to take an official yellow cab or even a limousine (you can usually negotiate a reasonable price) - or even a not-ridiculously costly helicopter ride into town.
Tipping is an integral part of New York City life and many service personnel rely on tips so get used to it! This means as much as 20% in bars, restaurants and taxis, $1 per bag for porters and don't forget a decent tip for your hotel maid when you leave, of up to $5 a day.
One of the best cities in the world for shopping, with
a great variety of goods at generally reasonable prices.
Shoes/trainers are eternally fashionable here and are particularly
Barneys has a free personal-shopping assistant (www.barneys.com).
Exclusive: Bergdorf-Goodman and SAKS on Fifth Avenue.
Famous: Macy's, Bloomingdales
Shop as Art: Prada's block long showroom in Soho and Apple's store
If you are not living in America and buy electronic goods, such
as a camera, you may find that there is no international warranty
on it. i.e. if it breaks down you've got an expensive repair to
An option offered by some shops is to buy a separate and extended international
warranty. Avoid this like the plague, especially
Trips out of town:
Island: beyond Queens and Brooklyn on the southwestern tip of the
island lies New York's main seaside recreation area, with popular
beaches and resorts.
Festivals and Events Guide:
Chinese New Year, Chinatown.
17th March, St Patrick's Day Parade, go green! 5th Avenue.
mid May, International Food Fair, 9th Avenue.
June, Comedy and Jazz Festivals.
June, Change your Mind Day, Central Park.
4th July, Independence Day (great fireworks).
31st October, Halloween Parade, Greenwich Village.
November, Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.
Dec 31, New Year's Eve, for ebullience bordering on claustrophobia try Times Square.
some precise dates see: English
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New York Map, Manhattan | USA Map
New York hotels are generally pricey at over $200 a night for a double, plus 13% tax and a substantial pillow tip (for the room maid of up to $5 per night! However, weekends can be discounted.
B & Bs are a growing source of low cost accommodation, as are vacation apartment rentals.
New York City Pictures | New York area | USA