New York City Travel Guide
Introduction to NYC
Home to people of almost every culture and ethnicity in the world, there are few (if any) cities on Earth that are more cosmopolitan than New York City. Here, a palatable buzz runs through the streets at all hours of the day and night, whether it is during the working hours of the day as people rush to and from work or lunch, or at night, as locals blow off steam at countless bars, clubs, and speakeasies.
In these establishments, it is not unusual for your average patron to drop $12 or more on cocktail without even flinching – make no mistake, this town is expensive. But for eight million people to not only stay here but love it, a toughness has developed that has driven the folks that live here to the greatest pinnacles of achievement, a character trait that has helped build one of the finest cities in the world, a place that people strive to not just survive in, but thrive, in spite of any difficulties they might face.
Indeed, a walk through these streets will inspire you, as people from every corner of the world have carved out a place for themselves in this loud, brash, but ultimately fabulous metropolis.
Cultural Experiences in NYC
While many families have lived for generations in New York City, they or their ancestors had to make a long arduous journey from their country of origin to get here first. Prior to modern times, Ellis Island was their first point of contact with America, as this was the main immigration control station for travelers and immigrants entering the United States by ship.
Today, it is a museum that chronicles the history of immigration to this country, which includes a hospital where hopeful immigrants were inspected for signs of illness and quarantined if they had a disease that could wreak havoc in the general population.
On the island of Manhattan, there is a wealth of amazing museums that count among of the best collections of their kind in the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art definitely qualifies to be part of this elite class, as it possesses the biggest collection of art pieces, some 2 million strong, in the United States, and one of the ten biggest in the world.
The superlatives don’t stop there, as the Beaux Arts influenced building is one of the largest art galleries by area in the world, and the best part of it all? Admission is by donation, so if you’re hard up for cash, you could get away with dropping only a couple of dollars. If you’re flush though, the recommended donation is about $25, so don’t be a cheapskate if you got the dollars!
While the Guggenheim Museum‘s biggest draw will undoubtedly be its innovative modern architecture and interior design, its collections are certainly no slouch compared to its colleagues over at the MMA. Focusing more on impressionist and modern art, the Guggenheim will draw in those that love the edgier form of the medium, and even if this art form is a bit out there for you, its airy and inspired interior is still worth a quick look.
If you’re more into science than the wishy-washiness of the arts, then a trip to the American Museum of Natural History will likely be a better idea for a rainy day than the previous two places. This place will swallow up an entire afternoon, if not the whole day, so be prepare yourself before heading out to tackle this colossus.
27 interconnected buildings hold 45 permanent exhibits, ranging in scope from human anthropology to dinosaurs, await your inquisitive mind, so if you’re into the history and science behind life on Earth, then this world class museum is a must-do for you and your party.
The most recent addition to the museum landscape in NYC has been a sombre one, as the National September 11 Memorial, built on the site of Ground Zero where the World Trade Center once stood, has been completed in the past couple of years.
Honoring the victims of one of the worst terrorist attacks in human history, the beauty of this memorial will move you in a profound manner. Memories of the fateful day will mix with the serenity of this site to create an experience that will stay will you long after you leave the reflecting pools of this place behind.
New York City is one of the world’s foremost locations for seeing top-level stage shows. Broadway is the street where most of these performances can be seen, some of which have run for years on end. 40 theaters are available for your live action pleasure but be aware that most houses are closed on Monday… good to know if you’re tight on time!
Want to curl up with a coffee and a book in artsy surroundings, or do you simply wish to go hunting for hipsters (cameras only please… guns aren’t cool man)? If you wish to do either, than crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg will give you the best possible chance of successfully accomplishing your mission.
From restaurants that source their ingredients from rooftop gardens, to a bar that is stuffed full of arcade games from the 70’s and 80’s and up to 30 different microbrews on tap, the endless surprises you find here may just convince you to stay and don an ironic beret and lens-less glasses and become one of them.
Other Attractions in NYC
After spending several action-packed days of getting underneath the surface of NYC’s culture (getting to its core will take months at least!), start your tour of its modern attractions by first visiting the Statue of Liberty. A symbol of freedom sent to the United States by France to celebrate 100+ years of independence from Great Britain, this statue has come to represent the country as a beacon of liberty for oppressed people around the world, mostly because it was the first impressive sight that immigrants saw as they arrived by boat in the 19th and 20th centuries. While the crown observation deck was closed in the years following 9/11, it has once again opened, granting unforgettable views of the New York skyline.
If you’re too cheap to go to the Statue of Liberty, then taking the Staten Island Ferry will provide you an alternate way of capturing a million dollar photo of the fortress-like skyline that defines Manhattan Island.
Boarding this boat is free of charge, and while there aren’t any major sights of note on suburban Staten Island, a little bird tells us that there are no shortage of high quality Italian restaurants that are considerably cheaper than anything you’ll find in Manhattan, so chow down!
While the new World Trade Center (aka the Freedom Tower) is impressive, it simply doesn’t have the old-school coolness of the Empire State Building. While the shape of the building is incredible to look at, taking an elevator to the observation level on the 86th floor will provide you with an idea of how densely populated this city is, as a sea of skyscrapers spreads out in nearly every direction from the 360 degree observation deck.
Since people with lineage from nearly every culture in the world calls this megalopolis home, it only makes sense that the United Nations has made its headquarters here. Technically, the UN sits on international land (just don’t have any wild parties in public though, as it’s not the same as international waters in that Simpsons episode … trust us), but it is effectively still in the US due to being served with protection by the NYPD. Tickets must be bought online prior to any tour, so don’t walk up expecting to see the meeting chambers, or you’ll walk away in disappointment.
If your visit can you coming through New York in the winter time, a visit to Rockefeller Center is highly advised. Serving officially as the home of many American corporations, it is at the heart of commercial goings-on in NYC, but it is the skating rink at the base of 30 Rock (30 Rockefeller Plaza) where locals and tourists looking to see and be seen strap on a pair of blades and attempt to stay vertical as they circle the ice surface with dignity.
Being the entertainment, retail and tourism hub of the entire city, Times Square is one of the most visited places in New York. Being the epicenter for the yearly New Year’s Rocking Eve celebration, and being a non-stop locus of activity on every other day of the year, Times Square is a place where anybody with a heartbeat can find something to keep themselves entertained.
After all that running around, save Central Park, a green center of solace in the midst of the urban chaos that defines New York City, for last. Numerous water features and expansive green spaces provide plenty of chill out spots, while paths wind their way underneath and through dense groves of century old trees. Additionally, the Great Lawn hosts many free concerts during the summer, so inquire with park officials during your visit to see what’s playing.