It’s bright, bawdy, in your face, exciting, intriguing and one of a kind. There’s no city like New York and there’s no people like New Yorkers. A New York minute is the fastest in the world because this city never sleeps, never stops changing and always has something new and exciting to see or do. Festivals, performance art, one-off shows, entertainment – but blink – and it will be gone!
New York City is made up of the five boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan, and is home to over 7.2 million people. They come from all kinds of cultural backgrounds, with significant Spanish, Irish, Italian, Chinese, Russian and Jewish populations. This eclectic mix creates a wonderful melting pot of cuisines, cultures and lifestyles.
Best Time To Go
New York is a top destination all year round. Each season offers visitors a unique experience, with the city embracing all types of weather.
During Spring the city flourishes with blossoms, making it the best time to visit Central Park and surrounding botanical gardens.
During the warmer Summer months the city comes to life with outside concerts, movies and plays.
The Autumn months bring cooler days, and is the time of year many museums and theatres debut their headline exhibits and shows. A number of street parades take place during this season.
During the Christmas period, temperatures drop and the city embraces elaborate holiday decorations. If you have ever dreamt of having a white Christmas then New York is your destination. The city also offers a number of outside skating rinks.
Situated in the heart of New York City, Central Park boasts an array of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. Spanning 843 acres, this beautiful park is perfect for long strolls, bike rides or even a picnic. Offering its own zoo, horse-drawn carriage rides and performing arts centre, the park is always a hub of activity. Central Park is open daily 6am till 1am.
This iconic intersection is the perfect spot for your tourist snapshot. Situated at the junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue (stretching from West 42nd Street to West 47th streets) the area is filled with electronic billboards, cinemas, street performers, tourists and New York locals. Being one of the most globally visited tourist attractions (with an estimated 300,000 daily visitors) be prepared for a bustling and dense crowd.
Statue of Liberty
Originally a gift from France, the Statue of Liberty has become an American icon and much loved tourist attraction. At a total height of 92.99mts, she stands as an iconic monument of freedom and democracy. Located on Liberty Island, the monument is accessed by ferry, which can be boarded from Battery Park and Liberty State Park. Please note that in peak hour periods, wait times to board ferries can reach over 90 minutes. Cost of the ferry transfer and entrance to the attraction can range from US$9-US$20, depending on age and access level. Or , if you just want to admire the view of the Statue, jump on the Staten Island Ferry which runs every day, and is free.
The Museum of Modern Art is often touted as the most influential museum of modern art in the world. Housing 6 levels of art, visitors are treated to an extensive collection of architecture, design, sculpture, photography, print, film, and illustration. Open 7 days a week, visiting hours are 10:30am – 5:30pm. Cost of entry ranges from US$14 – US$25. Friday nights, 4-8pm are free.
This New York neighborhood is home to the famous American amusement area. With over 50 rides, the New York Aquarium and its own beach and boardwalk the area is fun day trip for both adults and children. It is very tacky (think plastic palm trees on the beach), and you’ll see some real characters here. The island is accessible through all modes of public transport. Opening hours are subject to season.
New York City plays home to a number of American television programs. Being part of the audience crowd is a fun way to get close to some famous personalities. There are a range of programs to choose from including Saturday Night Live, Up Late with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America and The View. Tickets are often free but can be hard to come by and may need to be planned in advanced. Searching online or contacting the station network directly is your best bet.
The site of the September 11 terrorist attacks is a place of remembrance and quiet reflection. Paying your respect to the 3000 victims can be an emotional but memorable part of your trip. Visitors must hold a visitors pass, which is available online. The site is accessible by all modes of transport.
Banksy is recognizably the most famous graffiti artist in the world, with his work becoming an integral part of the New York City streets. His work is often seen as a form of political and social commentary often incorporating dark humor. A more unusual thing to do in NYC is a self-guided walking tour that will take you across the city, visiting his most famous artwork.
While in New York seeing a show on Broadway is a must. Broadway is sure to offer something to suit everyone’s interest. Why not start a night out with dinner and drinks and then finish with a world-renowned show?
Top of the Rock
The Top of the Rock Observation Deck offers one of the best views of New York. Standing 70 floors above ground, the deck is located within the Rockefeller Centre and offers 360 unobstructed views. The site offers a breathtaking view, with fewer crowds then the Empire State building. Tickets are available online or onsite. Prices start at US$17.
Meat Packing District
If you want to see New York’s fashionistas all in one place, head to the Meat Packing District on a Saturday night. The bars around the Hotel Gansevoort are the place to hang and the rooftop bar at the hotel is where the beautiful people imbibe.
And a Few More NYC Experiences
These are some of Cherry’s favourite things to do, that aren’t the major attractions:
- Take a stroll through the pretty, tree-lined West Village and have a cupcake from the famous Magnolia Bakery
- Spend a night at the Film Forum on West Houston
- Head over to Long Island City to the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre – a challenging exhibition that showcases the new breed of up and coming artists
- Grand Central Terminal (locals never call it Station!) is like visiting a bygone era. Grab a drink at the Oyster Bar and watch the world go by or go to the Whispering Gallery, stand down one end, a friend at the other and tell them a secret – the sound travels along the wall. Meander around the gourmet culinary market. So much more than a train station!
- Explore Chinatown – the smells, sights, colour and food are worth the visit
- Take a walk along the High Line in Chelsea. Perched above the street, filled with trees and greenery, it’s a great place for experiencing the city from a local’s perspective
- Eat your way around Chelsea Market. Delicious bakery treats, great coffee, buzzing atmosphere
- Take a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway. This tramcar glides through the sky across the East River. Amazing views of the city.
Tips & Tricks
There are three main ways of travelling through New York: Taxi, bus and subway. New York taxis are an interesting experience. It’s really the luck of the draw of the taxi driver, and how bad the traffic is at the time. Hailing a cab can prove to be quite a task, especially in the rain. The secret to hailing is to take notice of the taxi’s roof light. If the light is turned off, the cab already has a customer. If the sides of the light and taxi number are lit up it means the cab is off duty. It is only when the entire roof light is lit the taxi is available. Also note that taxis cannot be pre-booked, they must be hailed.
Public transport is convenient and fast. The easiest way to pay is by picking up a pre-paid Metrocard from any subway station. The Unlimited Metrocard allows users an unlimited number of rides set within a chosen time frame and is most popular with visitors. Although the subway is cleaner and safer than it has ever been, always stay aware of your surroundings and get off if you feel uncomfortable. Buses are also plentiful and easy to navigate.
ATMs are widespread throughout the city and most hotels. Restaurants and shops happily accept credit cards. Banks and money exchanges are also available throughout the city and at the airport when you land.
Tipping & Taxes
Tipping is an accepted part of the US service economy and local culture. Most workers are paid low wages and depend on tips to make most of their income. At restaurants and bars, a tip will be automatically added to the bottom of your bill, often titled as ‘gratuity or service charge’. Tipping to hotel staff, taxi drivers etc are expected in cash. The average tipping rate is between 12-20% of the cost of transaction, depending on your own judgement of service. Be aware however – unlike Australia where you don’t tip at all if service is poor, this is not acceptable in New York. Even if the service is appalling make sure you leave at least 10% or you’ll get harassed, abused or even chased down the street. We kid you not.
Be aware that when shopping most prices advertised will not include the 8.875% Goods and Services Tax. The tax will be added on at time of payment.
Traveling with Kids
New York is abundant with activities to keep children entertained. Do be mindful of the dense crowds and take precautions in case a child gets separated. There are plenty of family friendly places to eat in New York – Cowgirl Sea-Horse, City Hall Restaurant, Crepes du Nord, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Shnipper’s Quality Kitchen, to name but a few. And don’t forget the obligatory visit to FAO Schwarz toy store.
New York has two main airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport. The John F. Kennedy airport located in Queens is one of the busiest airports in the world and is where all international flights are based.
If you are heading to Manhattan a taxi from the airport will cost a flat rate of US$45 and take approximately an hour. Taxis are easily available outside the airport. For a cheaper ride, the subway provides an inexpensive Airtrain system, which will take you into the city. It is suggested that those travelling with large items of luggage chose to travel by taxi.
The La Guardia airport is a domestic airport, which is also located in Queens. Taxis are also easily available and will take an approximate 20 minutes to the city. Public bus routes are a cheaper alternative.
If something happens on your trip and emergency medical treatment is needed, the emergency department of any hospital is obliged to treat you. Be prepared for long waits and delays. If you become unwell and wish to see a doctor, there are a number of medical centres within New York. Keep in mind that healthcare is extremely expensive in the US, so you will need to have adequate travel insurance.