New York City is one of the most visited places in the world, there is so much to see and to do there. It is good to have some idea of what the city has to offer, to make the most of your visit, both day and night. Having been there, a few times, these are my choices for a first time visitor, or even a repeat visitor.
1. Rockerfeller Center, between 5th and 6th Avenues, in Manhattan, was built during the great depression at a time when it provided employment that was badly needed. It is home to the cities most noteworthy landmarks and attractions. A tour of the center will take you to places not seen by the casual visitor and includes noteworthy landmarks and celebrated attractions as shown below. On the 70th floor is the Top of the Rock Observation Deck” which begins with a thrilling ride on one of the glass ceiling sky shuttles to the top, where there are unobstructed 360 degree views of the city below. Then there is the famous Radio City Music Hall, which has been restored to its original 1930′s splendor. Over the years it has been home to the famous, such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Elton John and Anita Baker, and of course the famous Rockettes This year the Radio City Christmas Spectacular celebrates its 78th season and features the Rockettes in the classic 1933 “Parade of the Toy Solders”. Outside are the beautiful Channel gardens, running the length of the Promenade, where no matter what season, there are always plenty of greenery. In winter the legendary Ice skating rink comes alive with visitors and New Yorkers alike, spinning and twirling amid a backdrop of sparkling lights. Visitors who are lucky to be in the city in December can join thousands of spectators, for the lighting of the giant Christmas Tree, a ceremony that has been performed for 75 years, It is lit by 30,000 environmental lights and crowned with a Swarvoski crystal star, this year it will be lit on Nov. 30th.
The concourse, a complete underground city, with a vast network of pedestrian passageways that easily connects every building in the center. There are over a 100 fabulous stores, 40 places to get a bite to eat and seven subway lines. It is a destination in itself and definitely worth a visit.
2. Times Square, perhaps one of the most famous sights in New York City, was originally called Longacre Square. The name was changed in 1904, which was the first time the New Years Eve celebration was held, but the first “ball drop” did not occur until 1907. The ball drop has happened every year since, except in 1942 and 1943, due to war time restrictions. Stretching from 42nd to 27th street, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, it has been called the Crossroad of the world and the Great White Way, it is the only neighborhood with zoning ordinances requiring every building owner to display illuminated signs. Here you’ll find the Theatre District, NASDAQ Market site and the NY Times Headquarters. For a period of time the area was not recommended, but with the opening of a Disney store, which attracted family friendly business, it is again recommended for tourists, and a place I always visit.
3. FAO Schwartz, located at 767 Fifth Avenue, is a store for kids with an unparalleled collection of toys, dress-up and play areas, a do-it-yourself department and a doll factory, where kids can design their own 10-inch doll, nearly live-size giant Steiff stuffed animals and a child-size Ferrari, with leather interior, that travels at 15MPH. Be sure to allow plenty of time to visit here, especially if the kids are in tow.
4. Soho a one time artist’s mecca is now a posh outdoor Mall, with cobbled streets and great shopping.
5. Tiffany and Company, at 727 Fifth Avenue has long a favourite of visitors to the big jewellery houses, they welcomes everyone, whether they arrive by Town cars, Taxis or Tour Buses. There are key rings, cuff links, and money clips for sale, as well as expensive watches and kitchen ware and their classic 6-prong diamond engagement ring.
6. Ellis Island, one of the most popular places in New York City, can be reached by a free ferry ride. This is where it all began for most immigrants to the new world. Here also is the Statue of Liberty, a gift to America on its 100th birthday, from France. It stands 305 feet tall from the bottom of its base to the tip of the Torch. Tours are available but require reservations due to the large amount of people visiting.
7. Museum of Modern Art or simply MOMA, between 5th and 6th Avenues in Midtown Manhattan, exhibits, Architecture and Design, Paintings and Sculpture, Lectures and Events, a great place to visit and bring the entire family.
8. Empire State Building, a favourite of visitors for over a century. For the thrill of a lifetime journey to the 86th floor Observatory, on a high speed elevator, that shoots up 1050 feet. At the top visitors can either peek out from behind a glass enclosed pavilion, or be brave and see the city from the open-air decks lining all four sides of the building. The building is open 8am to 10pm daily. Also on the Second floor, is Skyride, another way to see the city that never sleeps, zoom through the city’s famous traffic, soar a mile above the city to experiencing the famous sights then zoom down to the sidewalk, in the blink of an eye. This awesome, aerial tour takes you above, around and even below all the city has to offer from the comfort of a specially built, motion simulated big screen seat.
9. World Trade Center. This is perhaps the most visited place in New York City, due to when America was attacked and thousands of our citizens and other nationalities were killed. It is now a place of remembrance. Visit the Visitors Center at Ground Zero, walk by the exhibits, see the pictures, read the tributes, but do not miss it.
10. Yankee Stadium, 161st Street. Home of the New York Yankees, is almost a self-contained city of its own. Beside the Baseball Diamond there is a Museum, martini bar, Sun sports bar and a New York Steak and Hard Rock Cafe. There are also 56 luxury suites and 410 party suites. If you visit New York when the Yankees are not playing, the stadium can still be visited as it is open year round.
When you go to New York City, be sure, not only to visit one of my favourite places above, but discover some of your own and pass the tip along to friends and family.
Mona Graham, A Way To Travel
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Photo via Wally Gobetz (wallyg) on Flickr.