There are three main airports in New York - John F. Kennedy (JFK) which is the biggest international airport located in Queens and about 15 miles from Midtown in Manhattan, then Newark (EWR) about 16 kilometres from Midtown and La Guadia (LGA) which is just 8 miles from Midtown.
An Air train runs from JFK to the MTA Subway in Manhattan, or you could share a Transit van or catch a taxi. From EWR you can also take a shuttle van/bus or take an Air Train, and LGA has van/shuttles and taxis to take you to the City. Depending on traffic it could take up to an hour to get to your hotel from any of these airports.
Most tourists coming to New York head to Manhattan Island – the center of New York. Manhattan is an island and is where all the Broadway shows, museums, art galleries, Central Park, the Empire State Building and other attractions that New York is famous for are located.
While it is possible to stay in other parts of the City and often cheaper too, if you can book a hotel in Midtown, Manhattan near Times Square, then you are right in the heart of the City with many of its attractions walking distance away. Another part of the city that is popular is around Soho and Chelsea, but equally you could stay in Brooklyn and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, just like a ‘New Yorker’. There are lots of choices.
Manhattan Island is a long island bounded on the west side by the Hudson River which runs into New York Harbor and on the east side by the East River. You will have heard people refer to Upper Manhattan, Midtown and Lower Manhattan – and these refer to their location, north or south. In the north – Upper Manhattan is Harlem which is north of Central Park. The Bronx on the mainland is north of Harlem, separated from Harlem by the Harlem River. Central Park is bounded by two sides- Upper East Side and Upper West Side, and then right in the center of the Island is Midtown. South of Midtown you will find on the west side – Greenwich Village, Chelsea, the Meat Packing District, Soho and Chinatown and on the east side – Union Square, Flat Iron District, Gramercy, East Village and Lower East side. Lower Manhattan is on the southern end of Manhattan and this is where you will find Lower Manhattan and the Financial District where Wall Street and Battery Park are located. Across the East River are Queens and Brooklyn, while across the Hudson River to the west in New Jersey.
You can get to know New York at street level by walking, biking, by car, bus, taxi or limousine, below ground on the subway or look down over the City from the Empire State Building and most likely you will do all three. It is worth getting a map to help guide you.
Remember too that New York can be snow bound in the middle of winter around Christmas time, and very hot in summer too – but year round and especially in summer, fall (Autumn) and spring there are lots of things happening both indoor and outdoor.
New York is a relatively safe city, something that New Yorkers takes pride in. There is great wealth but also poverty too, rich opulent areas and places that been abandoned or neglected. You will see both.
On these pages we have set down what we think are the best things to see and do in New York –
TOP PRIORITIES –
- Book a show on Broadway or at Madison Square Garden– there are lots of big name shows and performance always happening and it is best to book as soon as you can to fit in to your plans. Once you have your show booked, you can work out all your other plans around it.
- Sports fans – see a game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx ( E.161st Street at River Avenue) or a Mets game – great atmosphere.
- Plan what you want to see in the time you are in New York. You won’t see everything – so give a priority to the things that interest you most – seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station (Terminal), the 9/11 Tribute Center (where the Twin Towers were located), Central Park and the list goes on. There are so many great things to see.
- Empire State Building – 350 Fifth Avenue at 34th street– for the best views over New York and a true landmark in every way.
- Chrysler Building – Lexington Avenue at 42nd Street. One of the most beautiful art deco buildings in the world, it was built in 1930.
- 9/11 Tribute Center – 120 Liberty Street (between Church and Greenwich Streets). See it in the day or night. At night two light beams point upwards to the sky as a symbol of the Twin Towers that once stood here.
- Statue of Liberty – take a cruise from Battery Point to see the landmark entrance in the harbor to New York City.
- Ellis Island – also take a cruise to see where millions of new immigrants arrived in the United States. The immigration Museum is located here too.
- United Nations Building – and visitor center is located at 405 E. 42nd Street. Tours run from here to see inside and hear about the work of the United Nations and its other organisations.
- Rockefeller Center – was built by John D. Rockefeller Jnr. The center covers some 22 acres of ground with 19 commercial buildings. 75 Rockefeller Plaza, between 48th and 51st Streets. It is best to take a tour to get an understanding of the Art deco buildings and there is a great view across Manhattan from on top too at what is called “Top of the Rock”.
- Lincoln Center – Columbus Avenue between 62nd and 65th Streets. Head to the Revson Fountain from where you will see the main buildings where the New York Philharmonic Orchestra play, New York City Ballet perform and the Metropolitan Opera Company is located. You may be able to buy tickets for nightly performances here too. Here at 2 Lincoln Square there is the American Folk Art Museum too.
- Grand Central Terminal – (Station). Even if you don’t catch a train, this historic building is worth seeing, and it is best to take a tour to really get a feel for its unique features. It is located at 89th E.42nd Street.
- Coney Island – 1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn is where Luna Park is located, where the first Roller Coaster in the world was built in 1884 when the Roller Coaster was called a “Switchback Railway”. Coney Island is “defending the honor of American popular culture”, so even if you don’t go to Luna Park, it is a fun place to visit and buy a true American Hot Dog. There is also the Coney Island Museum and the Steeplejack Pier that is on the Boardwalk with Brighton Beach and the Atlantic Ocean right there.
- Cathedral Church of St John the Divine – 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at W.112th Street. Its construction began in 1892, it is the third biggest Cathedral in the world. There are over 10,000 pieces of glass making up the Rose Stained Glass window, while the grounds around the Cathedral cover an area of 11 acres of ground.
- ‘The Met’ – Metropolitan Museum of Art – one the most famous Art Galleries in the world started in 1870 and houses an amazing collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Arabian, Ottoman, European and American Art –1000 Fifth Avenue 82nd to 86th Streets
- MoMa – Museum of Modern Art – 11 W. 53rd street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. This is where you will see the big name artists like Roden, Picasso, Van Gogh and others. Also see the sculpture garden here too. Spectacular.
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – stunning exhibitions in the Frank Lloyd Wright designed building – 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street
- Museum of the City of New York – 103th street. Lots of historic New York exhibits from the city’s past, but also current work too.
- National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts – 89th street
- Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design – 103th Street.
- Jewish Museum – 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street. Located in a 1908 French Gothic Mansion and containing more than 30,000 Judaica paintings, sculptures and other works
- El Museo del Barrio – 104th Street. The Latino museum.
- Museum of Sex – 27th Street. Adults only.
- Frick Collection – between 70th and 71st Streets. A great collection of European artworks.
- Neue Galerie – 1048 5th Avenue has German and Austrian art and design located in a restored 1914 Mansion.
- Cloisters Museum and Gardens –99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park overlooks the Hudson River in the north of Manhattan. It shows Medieval treasures from European monasteries.
- New Museum – 235 Bowery and Prince Street. Explores art and ideas.
- Seneca-Iroquois Museum – 814 Broad Street, Salamanca. Also buy Native American beadwork here too. Tel: (716) 945 1760.
- National Museum of the American Indian – 1 Bowling Green is located in lower Manhattan in the old 1907 Custom House Building.
- American Museum of Natural History – Central Park West at 79th Street.
- Fraunces Tavern Museum – 54 Pearl Street (Cnr. Broad Street). Five buildings with amazing colonial displays and exhibitions.
- New York Historical Society – 170 Central Park West at 77th Street. Great collection of historic documents and other collectibles showcasing New York history.
- Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum – Pier 86, West 46th Street and 12th Avenue, where you will see the British Concord aircraft, other aircraft, a submarine , Intrepid Aircraft Carrier and Enterprise Space shuttle.
- MOBIA – Museum of Biblical Art – located in the 1887 restored Eldridge Street Synagogue – located at 12 Eldridge Street, between Canal and Division Streets.
- Museum of Jewish Heritage – 36 Battery Place
- Morgan Library and Museum – 225 Madison Avenue at E. 36th Street. Fine art and music.
- Whitney Museum of American Art – 945 Madison Avenue.
- Museum of Art and Design – 2 Columbus Circle, between Broadway and 8th Avenue.
- Skyscraper Museum – 39 Battery Park, tracing the history and stories of the Skyscraper. The first skyscraper was built in NYC in 1902, the 21 storey Flatiron building at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue.
- Studio Museum in Harlem – 144 W.125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard. A museum to tell the story of African Americans and showcase their work.
- Museum of American Finance – 48 Wall Street (Cnr. William Street).
- NYPD – New York City Police Museum – 100 Old Ship (between Water and South Streets)
- Studio Museum of Harlem – 144 West Street near 125th Street.
- Frederick Van Cortlandt House Museum – Broadway at West 246th Street in the Bronx, built in 1748.
- Dyckman Farmhouse Museum – 4881 Broadway at 204th Street.
- Seabury Tredwell’s Merchant’s House – now a Museum - 29e 4th Street between Lafayette and Bowery Streets. A red Brick mansion with furnishings dating back to 1843 when the merchant, Seabury Tredwell lived here.
- Archibald Gracie Mansion – East End Avenue at E. 88Th Street. Built in 1799 it was the home of a number of New York Mayors for many years.
- Morris-Jumel Mansion – built in 1865. 65 Jumel Terrace (near 160th and St. Nicholas Ave). See www.morris-jumel.org . George Washington once stayed here.
- Tenement Museum – 97 Orchard St on the Lower East Side. See www.tenement.org . Some 7000 immigrants lived in this tenement building over the years, and this museum and the talks that are given, detail their stories. Tel: (817) 975 3786.
- Louis Armstrong House – 34-56 107th Street Corona Heights in Queens. This is the house that Louis Armstrong lived in for 28 years of his life. (See www.louisarmstonghouse.org )
- Philipse Manor Hall – 29 Warburton Avenue Yonkers. Tel: (914) 965 4027. This was the city home of Frederick Philipse III, Lord of the Manor – and a loyal subject of the British King, George III at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The history of the home and its owner brings early British-American history to life, and the Georgian Manor Hall – its architecture, furnishings, paintings and its 1750’s papier mache Rococo ceiling is something amazing to see. The family’s country Philipsburg Manor House, estate and Mill is located in Sleepy Hollow in the Hudson River Valley.
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum – 145 Brooklyn Avenue, Brooklyn. First opened in 1899.
- Brooklyn Historical Society – 128 Pierrepoint St.( Cnr. Clinton Street)
- Jewish Children’s Museum – 792 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. Gallery of games.
- New York Transit Museum – 235 Bowery St, Brooklyn. Great displays.
- Brooklyn Museum – 200 Eastern Parkway (Washington Avenue) Brooklyn.
- Weeksville Heritage Center – 1698 Bergen Street (between Rochester and Buffalo Avenue to see and learn about African American heritage and history.
- Brooklyn Botanic Gardens – 900 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn.
- Queens Museum of Art – The New York City Building, Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Queens.
- Museum of the Moving Image – 35th Avenue at 36th Street. This is for movie buffs and has more than 130,000 props, costumes, film clips and stage sets to see from movies and TV. See www.movingimage.us ) They also show films too.
- New York Hall of Science – 47-01 111th Street, Queens.
- MoMa PS1 – 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens. Lots of Contemporary Art to see here and changing exhibitions. (See www.momaps1.org )
- Sculpture Center – 44-19 Purves Street, near 43rd Street at Long Island City, Queens.
- Socrates Sculpture Park – Broadway at Vernon Boulevard. 4 ½ acres on the East River with sculptures and light shows at night. (See www.socratessculturepark.org )
- Historic Richmond Town – 441 Clarke Avenue, Staten Island. Some 28 Historic buildings built within the 100 acre grounds.
- John A. Noble Maritime Collection – 1000 Richmond Terrace, Building D. See www.noblemaritime.org A Gallery featuring the John A. Noble’s paintings of ships from the age of sail in New York Harbor.
- Snug Harbor Cultural Center – 100 Richmond Terrace, between Snug Harbor Road and Tyson Street. Here you will also see the Botanic Gardens.
- Central Park Zoo – www.centralparkzoo.com 6 ½ acres of zoo in Central Park. 64th Street and 5th Avenue.
- Bronx Zoo – www.bronxzoo.com The famous zoo with 6000 animals and 650 species of animals. Located at 2300 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx.
- Prospect Park Zoo – www.prospectparkzoo.com 12 acres of zoo. 450 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn.
- New York Aquarium – www.nyaquarium.com Surf Avenue and West 8th Street, Brooklyn
- Queens Zoo – www.queenszoo.com 53-51 111th Street Flushing Meadows , Corona Park, Queens.
- Staten Island Zoo – www.statenislandzoo.org 614 Broadway, west Brighton, Staten Island.
- #1 is Central Park – see below
- Battery Park – see www.thebattery.org is located right on the southern waterfront tip of Manhattan and looks directly out to the Statue of Liberty. There are 25 acres of green parks and gardens here including the Garden of Remembrance for the 9/11 2001 victims, and the Bosque Garden designed by Dutch landscape designer, Piet Oudolf. It is also here where you will pass through the Pieter Minuit Plaza (see History), and the New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion. Ferries and cruises head out from here.
- High Line – is a great walking trail on an old rail freight line in Manhattan that runs between Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing District to West 34th Street between 10th and 12th Avenue. The hours differ from summer to winter, and it is both a great walk and views too over this part of the city, the Hudson River and wharf areas. There are lots of places to sit and enjoy the garden areas and area on each side of the High Line.
- New York Botanical Garden – 2900 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx. Trees, flowers, pathways – a must see in the Spring or in the Fall (Autumn).
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden - 900 Washington Avenue Brooklyn, is located in Prospect Park, where Prospect Lake and Audubon Center Boathouse are also located as well as the 5 storey Brooklyn Museum of Art with over a million sculptures, painting and other exhibition pieces.
- Brooklyn Bridge Park – faces the East River between Atlantic Avenue and Adams Street. Besides the great views of the river, you will also be able to see the hand painted Jane’s Carousel built in 1922 inside a glass pavilion. See www.janescarousel.com .
- Fort Greene Park – Between Myrtle and DeKalb Avenues & Washington Park & Edward Street in Brooklyn. This 30 acre park is where a number of Forts were built in the Revolutionary Wars with Britain. There is a 149 foot high column located here, built in 1905 to commemorate the 11,500 American prisoners of war who died in British prison ships that were moored in the New York Harbor during the wars.
- Corona Park – Flushing Meadows in Queens. 1255 acres of parkland, walkways and buildings including the Unisphere, Queens Museum and Botanic Gardens. This is also where the US Open is held each year.
- Snug Harbor Cultural Center – 100 Richmond Terrace between Snug Harbor Road and Tyson Street. Here you will find the Botanic Garden, an also a Tuscan and Chinese Scholars Garden too.
- Wave Hill – West 249th Street (at Independence Avenue Riverdale-Knightsbridge in the Bronx, has an old stone mansion surrounded by 28 acres of parkland overlooking the Palisades in New Jersey.
- Rockaway Beach – is in Queens and said to be New York’s best beach. It is also next to the Gateway National Recreation Area, which covers an area of around 26,000 acres.
CENTRAL PARK – has to be one of the highlights of a visit to New York, being one of the famous parks in the world. This is big urban green space covering 843 acres of land in the center of Manhattan. Construction began in 1858. Here you will find places to walk, sit, rest, bike ride, people watch, walk a dog, push a pram, roller-blade, play checkers or chess, ice skate in the winter and just take time out from the busy streets of New York.
In the Park look for –
- Strawberry Fields ( In honor of John Lennon), Sheep Meadow, Cherry Hill, Shakespeare Garden, The Mall , Literary Walk, The Ramble and the Great Lawn. All great green spaces to enjoy.
- See the Lake, the Pond, the big Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the Pool and the Conservatory Water where model boats can be seen sailing.
- See the New York Zoo.
- Hire a rowing boat at the Loeb Boat House, or hire a bike.
- Ride the Carousel
- See Beledere Castle, Bethesda Terrace with its Minton tile ceiling and fountain, the Dairy Visitor Center and Gift Shop, Chess and Checkers House, Harlem Meer and the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center.
- Cross over Gapstow Bridge, Bow Bridge and head through the Huddlestone Arch.
- Skate in winter at the Wollman Park Ice Rink.
Walking, hiring a bike or taking a tour of Central Park is a great way to get a real feel for New York.
NEW JERSEY –
New Jersey is in New Jersey State, not New York State, but the state border is right in the middle of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge that separates the two states. The bridge is a suspension bridge and was built between 1927 and 1933 when it was a single level bridge, but a second roadway level was later built, and today the traffic heads over the bridge on two levels, with around 102 million cars passing over the bridge each year.
New Jersey, “The Garden State” may be different state, but it is part of Greater New York City, with thousands of commuters heading from New Jersey to Manhattan every day. The State is also home to more than 10,000 farms that send their produce to New York and across the nation, as well as more than 4000 lakes and rivers, with beautiful parklands and forests and the Jersey Shore oceanfront where there are a number of historic lighthouses and small towns and villages along the coastline.
The State was the 3rd State in the Union with its history dating back to the 1700’s, becoming a State in 1787. There is around 127 miles of coastline, historic landmarks and you will no doubt have heard of Atlantic City, Newark and Princeton University that are all here, but may not have heard of the State Capital, which is Trenton.
In Trenton you will find the New Jersey State House and Annex, the New Jersey State Museum, State Planetarium and War Memorial, with the Old Barracks Museum that was built in 1758 located at 101 Barracks Street.
Atlantic City – has a long boardwalk along the beach front, and the City is known for its gambling casinos, though the city has hit hard times and some of the Casinos have closed down, as other cities and states have opened newer casinos. Boardwalks along the beachfront have become a part of American culture, and the Atlantic City Boardwalk was the first one to be built in 1870.
Newark – is best known as a transport hub, with Newark Airport being one of the three big airports in Greater New York. The city has a population of around 270,000 people and being so close to Manhattan a number of big companies have moved here out of Manhattan. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center is located here at One Center Street.
Frankie Valli, the famous singer with the ‘Four Seasons’ group, now made famous again through the show ‘Jersey Boys’ was born and grew up in Newark. This is a great show to see, if you haven’t seen it already.
While American highways, freeways and turnpikes provide the fastest way to get to a destination, it is the smaller roads that lead to villages and smaller towns. If you are seeking that more leisurely drive and small town experience – head to some of the small towns listed here –
- Princeton – home to the Ivy League Princeton University, the fourth oldest college in the USA, starting in 1746. Look for the Princeton University Art Museum and Nassau Street. The town around the University is also very picturesque too.
- Ringwood – is where you can see the 96 acre New Jersey Botanical Gardens (www.njbg.org) which surrounds the Skylands 1920’s Tudor Revival Stone mansion. In Ringwood also see the Ringwood Manor house built in the 1700’s, and also the Norvin Green Forest and Shepherd Lake.
- Lake Hopatcong – the biggest lake in New Jersey, and a great place to see the forest surrounds – and in the Fall (Autumn) the changing colors of the leaves. Also see the villages of Netcong, Andover and the Allamuchy Mountain State Park.
- Waterloo Village – is in Stanhope – a restored 19th century village.
- Hackettstown – is where you can see the Pequest Trout Hatchery.
- Millville - is where the Wheaten Arts and cultural Center is located – famous for glass making with the Museum of American Glass located here
- Bridgeton – has more than 2000 restored Victorian and Colonial Buildings, also a Zoo and a Swedish farmstead to see.
- Wharton State Forest – is where you can canoe, hike, camp, fish and swim.
- Batsto Village – see the Batsto Mansion here, and also the historic village where ammunition was made for the Continental Army.
- Chatsworth – if you love cranberries, this is the place to go.