If Times Square looks familiar, it should be—it’s where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, and is very likely what inspired the saying “Bright lights, big city”. Luminous digital billboards rise into the sky and surround Times Square, the heart of New York City, a location from where visitors can explore Midtown easily on foot, especially since the City closed Broadway to traffic from West 42nd through to West 47th Streets. Visit flagship retail stores like Toys ”R” Us, Music Row where many rock legends have purchased guitars and other instruments, see “celebrities” at Madame Tussaud’s and browse items for sale by local artists. Wander down 42nd Street to find both Broadway and off-Broadway shows to attend, and don’t forget that the Theatre District is reknowned for dining, especially the famous Restaurant Row that stretches west from 8th Street on 46th Street. There’s even a Times Square Museum that’s well worth a stop, especially since it is combined with a Visitor Center.
In a city as big and bustling as Manhattan, the residents appreciate that city planners spared 843 acres for the wonder that is Central Park. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux to be reminiscent of the English countryside, and became one of the city’s most massive public works projects, which opened for general use in 1859. The 55-acre Great Lawn, the Conservatory Garden, the Wildlife Sanctuary and the Reservoir are just a few of the ways that the landscape of Central Park was created to be the antidote to city life. There are several ways to tour the Park, from horse and carriage and pedicabs to Vespas and bicycles. Today, both residents and visitors use the Park for running, cycling, baseball, tennis, inline skating, ice-skating in winter and even catch-and-release fishing, as well as using numerous grassy areas for casual and team sport events. Families can explore the historic Belvedere Castle and the Blockhouse, a fort that remains from the War of 1812. The Central Park Zoo & Wildlife Center and the Central Park Carousel are a delight for children, as are the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre’s productions of such classics as Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk. Adults can enjoy Shakespeare in the Park during the summer at the outdoor amphitheater and other events, including the performing-arts festival SummerStage, recitals from the Metropolitan Opera and open-air concerts from the New York Philharmonic and Central Park Brass. At any time of year, Central Park provides the public with a wealth of opportunities for recreation, relaxation and cultural enrichment.
Statue of Liberty
Since its inception, the Statue of Liberty has stood at our country’s gateway, welcoming immigrants coming to this country in search of the American dream. It is recognized across the world as a symbol of America, and a landmark that is a must-see during a visit to New York City. Don’t miss a trip to Liberty Island by ferry, where you can access the Statue’s pedestal and observation deck—if you’re one of the lucky 3,000 visitors allowed each day. That pass will also give you entry to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, as well as a ferry ride to the island, where over 12 million immigrants waited to be let into the United States. Take a self-guided tour through the Great Hall and hear the moving stories of Ellis Island immigrants via interactive displays, and check the passenger manifests for records of your own ancestors. For a unique look at the period before the immigration rush between 1890 and 1924, visit The Peopling of America® Center that chronicles the emigrants from all over the world who came to build our nation.
This New York hub is a place to stop and watch the world go by—from the ground floor or up at the Top of the Rock’s three indoor/outdoor observation decks. The Center is home to an art gallery, the famous statues of Prometheus and Atlas, plenty of retail therapy and some of the City’s most celebrated events. From winter ice skating under the Center’s enormous and glittering Christmas tree to the Today Show’s Summer Concert Series, the Rockefeller Center is always a buzz of activity. If you’re looking for food, don’t miss New York’s famous Dean & DeLuca or Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, while shoppers can explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art store and the LEGO store’s largest selection of sets available. And, since it’s the home of NBC Studios, stay on the lookout for your favorite TV stars on their way to work.
Radio City Music Hall
After the stock market crash in 1929, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., RCA and theatrical genius S. L. “Roxy” Rothfael made their dream come true: Radio City Music Hall, a place of beauty offering quality entertainment at prices everyone could afford. Since 1933, over 700 movies have opened here, including National Velvet, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and even recent films such as The Lion King. Ray Charles, BB King, Stevie Wonder and Celine Dion are just a few of the musical stars who have thrilled audiences at the Hall, and it has also been the host to the Grammys, the Tonys, the MTV Video Music Awards and the ESPY Awards. But one of the most treasured events at Radio City Music Hall is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the famously long-legged dancers The Rockettes. Since 1932, the show still entertains over one million people each year.
The High Line
In 1999, a 1.34-mile-long historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side was under threat of demolition. Community residents founded the non-profit Friends of the High Line and fought for its preservation and transformation in to an impressive public space for all visitors to enjoy. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. There are four elevators for visitor access, guided walking tours in every season but winter, and the 23rd Street Lawn, an open green space for picnics, sunbathing and relaxing. Between April and October, the High Line is host to several food vendors, including the Terroir at The Porch, an open-air, full-service café with small plates, beer and wine. Park hours and times allowing access to the lawn vary, so please check their website before visiting.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
It’s almost impossible to visit New York and not think of the events of September 11, 2001, where nearly 3,000 people were killed in the terror attacks on the World Trade Center, near Shanksville, PA., and at the Pentagon. The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to those who lost their life in the tragic event, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. In the footprint of the two towers lie twin reflecting pools, each nearly an acre in size and featuring the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The names of every person lost in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are stencil-cut into bronze panels edging the Memorial’s pools, allowing visitors to look through the names at the water and even create paper impressions or rubbings of individual names.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum’s 110,000 square feet of exhibition space will be located within the heart of the World Trade Center site, where it will serve as the country’s principal institution for examining the implications, the impact and the significance of the September 11, 2001 attack. Visitors will have an opportunity, through multimedia displays, archives and artifacts, to have the opportunity to learn about the event and the men, women and children who died because of the attacks. The Museum is still under construction, and therefore there is a reservation system to visit, and although there is free admission at the Memorial, the passes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Passes can be reserved online or by phone, but carry a $2 non-refundable service fee per pass—families of the victims are not charged