New York City Guide
As the biggest and most populous city in the United States, New York City is influential in the world of global commerce, finance, media, the arts, fashion, education and much more.
1. If you simply want to see New York City - and have fun doing it - go on a public scavenger hunt. Watson Adventures creates city-wide scavenger hunts on the weekends. That way, you can see a little bit of everything, while you run all over town.
2. If you want to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the world's most popular TV shows, you can do that, too. If you're willing to get up before the crack of dawn, you can head to Rockefeller Centre and watch the "Today Show" being taped. If you're not an early bird, sleep in for a few extra hours and then go over to the Ed Sullivan Theatre in Midtown to watch David Letterman film "The Late Show".
3. For a sight that will tug at your heartstrings, head to Lower Manhattan and check out Ground Zero. There, you can take in the tragedy and heroism of the World Trade Centre firsthand. You can take guided tours of the area, or you can simply wander onto the viewing platforms.
4. Or, you can soak up the sun at Central Park. Covering more than 800 acres, Central Park offers everything from carousel rides, to boat trips, to picnics. And, because it's so big, there are plenty of New York City hotels that come with a view of the park, so you can take in the sights anytime!
5. Finally, don't miss the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of New York's most popular tourist attractions. With more than two million individual pieces in the collection at any one time, a yearly budget of $120 million, and more than five million visitors every year, the Met is simply a must-see. Even if you only have a few hours to spare, a brief tour through just one wing is well worth the trip.
New York is known for its iconic signature foods. Though it's tough to say definitively where to find the best of the best, there are a few classic dishes that everyone should try before leaving the city:
1. Hot Dogs: This popular sausage has been a New York City staple since the 1800s. Visit the legendary Nathan's on Coney Island, Gray's Papaya on the Upper West Side, or hit up any one of the hundreds of street vendors - just be sure to get "the works": spicy brown mustard, sauerkraut, relish and onions.
2. Bagels: There's nothing like an authentic New York bagel, boiled then baked, with a touch of sweetness that you can't find anywhere else. You can get a great bagel just about anywhere in the city, but locals love H&H Bagels (locations on the Upper West Side or Midtown West). Ask for yours with a "schmear", a small, thick swipe of cream cheese. or splurge on "lox", thinly sliced smoked salmon.
3. Pizza: New York pizzerias have been slinging their particular brand of pie since the early 20th century. Real New York pizza has a thin, chewy crust and very little sauce; pies are sliced into giant triangular portions. This is one of the city's truly cheap eats, and you can find fantastic pizza parlours dishing out slices for about $2.50 all over the five boroughs. If you're looking for a bit of history, visit Lombardi's at 32 Spring Street - America's very first pizzeria.
4. Egg Cream: This classic drink doesn't actually contain eggs or cream; it's made with milk, seltzer water and chocolate syrup. Sold at soda fountains all over the city since the late 1890s, you can still find the frothy concoction at the Lexington Candy Shop on the Upper East Side or at Katz's Deli.
5. Cheesecake: It may not have been invented here, but New York style cheesecake has been served up at city eateries since the 1920s. Try the original at Lindy's in Midtown, or Junior's on Broadway.
For a unique way to experience New York City, try a self-guided pub crawl around some of the city's iconic watering holes.
Start in Green Point, one of Brooklyn's most impressive neighbourhoods. The Manhattan Inn is popular with hip locals and on-the-go business types who love the cocktails and high-end pub fare, including braised pork belly and Kimchi Panini.
Across the East River on Manhattan's Lower East Side, stop in at Double Crown. The clientele are gorgeous, the food is elegant Pan-Asian fusion, and the atmosphere is industrial-chic. For a more low-key drink, try Madam Geneva, where the funky antique décor and signature gin cocktails keep the locals happy.
At Crif Dogs - a hipster hot dog and burger joint in the East Village - you'll be confronted by a discreet phone booth. However, you're not here to make a call; the booth is actually the entrance to Please Don't Tell, a backroom lounge that is big on exclusivity but small on attitude. Sample the upmarket comfort food or try some truly exotic cocktails, such as bacon-infused bourbon.
In TiBeCa, see what you can make of the intense wine list at Terroir, or grab a plate of exclusive bar snacks including bone marrow bruschetta or oxtail meatballs. Over in the West Village, Cabrito is a lively Mexican dive bar featuring a fantastic selection of tequilas and mescals, as well as the best fish tacos this side of the Rio Grande.
After hours, The Standard Hotel's Top of the Standard (locally known as ‘The Boom Boom Room'!) is where the beautiful people go to end the night. If you can still hold your head up, don't miss the sun rising over the Hudson River.
One of the best things to do in New York is to shop at a farmers market. You'll find fresh, local fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, baked goods, flowers and more at the city's many street markets. Most are open several days a week, while others are open all year round. One of the best is the Union Square Market at 17th and Broadway, which is open from 8am to 6pm every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday throughout the year.
Tired out by fast-paced city life? Visit City Island. Located just off the Bronx coast, this small seaside community has all the charm of a New England fishing village. You've got to try the cuisine at one of City Island's famed seafood restaurants; The Lobster Box, The Snug, and The Black Whale are a few of the best in the neighbourhood.
What better way than to celebrate being in one of the hotspots for American culture than to see an art-house film? There's a film festival on nearly every day of the week somewhere in the city, showing independent and experimental films from all over the world. Some of New York's best indie art-house cinemas include the Angelika, the IFC Centre, and the historic Film Forum.
For the best bargains in NYC, shop vintage in the East Village. Hipster locals love to hunt for trendy, retro treasures at places like Metropolis Apparel or Atomic Passion. If vintage music is your thing, head over to Club Cache on Mondays after 8pm, where you'll find Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks playing 1920s and 1930s jazz covers.
Missing a bit of green space? Try walking the High Line. Once an elevated train line passing through Chelsea, the High Line railway has been abandoned and on the decline since 1980. Now, the spot has been salvaged by local community activists and transformed into a unique public park and green space covering more than 2km, complete with benches, walking trails, and more than 200 native plant species. This hidden treasure offers some of the best views in New York.
New York City is in close proximity to a wide variety of attractions; perfect for a day trip. If you've got a bit more time to spend on your holiday, it's well worth heading out of the city limits to explore.
Popular activities include a day of upmarket outlet shopping in The Hamptons and Sag Harbour, taking a cruise up the Hudson River to historic Bear Mountain for some hiking and a picnic, travelling to Boston for a day of whale-watching and sightseeing, or travelling down to historic Philadelphia to take in the unique cultural heritage, as well as nearby Amish Country.
When it comes to New York City hotels, the priciest are usually in Manhattan. But with so many to choose from, you can usually find good deals on cheap New York City hotels.