The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. Empire City. The Melting Pot. City of Skyscrapers. Each of New Yorkâ€™s nicknames has merit in this hectic, sophisticated, fashionable, and culturally diverse city of over eight million people. Whatever you call it, one thing is for sure â€“ there is more to do and see in New York than you could possibly manage in one visit. In fact, the scope of New York sightseeing is so vast that I’m going to narrow the focus of this post to only Manhattan and even then, will only touch on some of the most popular attractions.
Manhattan is a long, skinny island roughly divided into three sections: ‘Downtown’ is the southern end, including Wall Street; ‘Midtown’ runs from approximately 31st Street north to 59th Street at the southern edge of Central Park; ‘Uptown’ is considered anywhere north of that.
Downtown Manhattan Sightseeing
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum on the site of the former World Trade Centers is a poignant place to pay respects to the nearly 3,000 victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The Memorial features two huge waterfalls and reflecting pools in the footprint of the twin towers with the names of the victims inscribed on bronze panels lining the pools. Travel Maestro tip: Save 42 percent on 9/11 Memorial Museum admission, plus five top New York City attractions within 9 days with New York CityPASS.
The busy financial district and Wall Street are nestled into the southern tip of Manhattan, although the historic New York Stock Exchange is no longer open to the public for tours after 9/11. Near there, you can take the free orange ferry over to Staten Island to get spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and the welcoming Statue of Liberty. Tours also depart from downtown to Ellis and Liberty Islands to see the historic immigration center and visit the Statue of Liberty and the new museum that just opened in 2019. Travel Maestro tip: Walking across the historic Brooklyn Bridge is a must-do for a panoramic view of the New York skyline.
Strolling through the ethnic enclaves of downtown is a hip and tasty experience. Explore the art galleries and upscale boutiques of SoHo or taste your way through the many cafes and restaurants of Greenwich Village. Visit the noodle houses and Asian markets of Chinatown or stop for a brick oven pizza and a cannoli in Little Italy. Travel Maestro tip: The East Village and Lower East Side areas have been transformed from warehouses and tenement buildings to chic restaurants, nightclubs, and music venues, making the area one of the cityâ€™s hottest spots for nightlife.
Midtown Manhattan Attractions
Iconic sights pack the heart of the city from the glowing neon signs of Times Square to the beautiful beaux-arts facade and grand entrance hall of the New York Public Library. Visitors can ogle the window displays of the world-famous Fifth Avenue department stores â€“ especially during the holiday season. Stroll through outdoor art-deco sculpture and public art in Rockefeller Center – some of the best in the city – or check out the elegant lobby of the Chrysler Building. Other amazing architecture includes the enormous and ornate, Gothic-style St. Patrickâ€™s Cathedral and Moorish-Romanesque Temple Emanu-El, one of the largest synagogues in the world (technically Uptown).
The Top of the Rock is three floors of indoor and outdoor observation decks at the top of Rockefeller Center that offer breathtaking panoramas of New York City. The express elevator, dubbed the sky shuttle, takes less than a minute to reach the 67th floor. Travel Maestro tip: Try out the interactive beam walk to experience what it’s like to walk the tall steel of a skyscraper being built.
Be sure to see the magnificent Sky Ceiling of Grand Central Terminal, a calm astrological scene arching above the frenetic commuters. When there, stop for a thirst-quencher at the famed Oyster Bar and donâ€™t miss the Whispering Gallery where two people can stand at opposite corners of the busy gallery and hear each other whisper. In Midtown you can also take a tour of the U.N. Headquarters with its crescent of colorful world flagsÂ or ride up to the observation deck of the quintessential New York landmark, the Empire State Building, for a King Kong perspective of Manhattan.
MoMA, as the Museum of Modern Art is affectionately known, houses one of the worldâ€™s finest collections of contemporary and modern art in all forms of visual expression including painting and sculpture, drawings, prints and illustrated books, photography, architecture and design, and film and video. Travel Maestro tip: MoMA is closed until October 21, 2019. When it reopens, check for free admission days
Uptown New York Sightseeing
Huge Central Park, with its meadows and lakes, carousel and â€śZooâ€ť (actually Central Park Wildlife Center), is a green haven in the urban jungle. Flanking Central Park on the Upper East Side is a stretch of Fifth Avenue known as â€śMuseum Mileâ€ť lined with at least nine world-class museums. You wonâ€™t be able to see them all in one day or even one week, but art enthusiasts should see at least some of the massive collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum is a six-story spiral topped by a 92-foot dome that displays modern art on a circular ramp. The American Museum of Natural HistoryÂ is another favorite along the Museum Mile.
North of Central Park, in historic Harlem you can learn about the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s through walking tours, enjoy a gospel brunch or visit the historic Apollo Theater. The Studio Museum is a nexus of works by worldwide artists of African descent. Farther north, the Met Cloisters is a castle-like museum built from medieval monastic artifacts. Dedicated to the Middle Ages, it houses priceless 16th-century collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
New York Performing Arts and Cultural Entertainment
Performing Arts in New York are some of the finest in the world and excellent facilities like Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera House, and Madison Square Garden host world-renowned talent year-round. Many other stages throughout the city, including Radio City Music Hall and Broadway theaters, offer high-quality performances as well. In addition to musical and theatrical performances, visitors can attend live television tapings of popular shows such as Good Morning America, Saturday Night Live, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Travel Maestro tip: Pick up a free copy of The L Magazine for up-to-date museum and gallery shows, jazz, theater, and music performances.
New York is a bustling, stylish, extraordinary city full of historic buildings, ethnic diversity and cultural stimulation. For more information on when to go, what to see and where to stay in New York, contact Covingtonâ€™s expert vacation advisors then prepare for an active New York sightseeing experience.