When it comes to booking a city break, many people will immediately think about European destinations like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Paris but head a little further afield and you could instead elect to spend time in New York - without doubt one of the most famous, and most iconic, cities anywhere in the world.
New York is a vibrant and cosmopolitan location that offers something for everyone, which is partly why it is dubbed as the ‘City That Never Sleeps’. Quite simply, there is always something going on no matter what time of the day - or night - it may be.
As one of the most accessible cities in the United States for visitors from the UK thanks to a relatively short flight time of little more than seven hours, New York is hugely popular with people looking for a short city break as well as those who are planning to spend a longer period of time on American soil and are simply passing through.
Truth be told, there isn’t a bad time to visit New York, although the spring and autumn seasons are when you are likely to find the most favourable weather conditions.
That’s because you won’t have to deal with the heat and humidity of the middle of summer, and will also avoid the cold winter months when New York will often be turned white by a shower of snow.
At the same time, that is the exact reason why some people visit in early December for some pre-Christmas shopping and to embrace the festivities…
When it comes to things to do, the options are all but endless - with plenty of attractions across the Big Apple that cater for everyone.
Famous locations like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Times Square feature highly on the ‘to do’ list for many visitors, as does Central Park and the theatre district around Broadway.
Big department stores such as Macy’s, Saks and Bloomingdales cater for those who want to spend their time in New York undertaking some retail therapy and afterwards, there are all manner of top class restaurants where you can sit down for a bite to eat.
Alternatively, there is no shortage of street vendors offering the chance to grab something on the go as you head from one attraction to the next.
Throw into the mix accommodation to cater for all budgets, and regular deals on flights, and New York suddenly becomes a much more affordable option than you may have believed - which only heightens the appeal of a city that should be high up the list of options if you are looking for an overseas adventure.
In much the same way that people visiting Tokyo have to visit the Shibuya Crossing, so people visiting New York have to visit Times Square, which is widely regarded as one of the most visited attractions anywhere in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people pass through the square on a daily basis, many of whom are tourists drawn in by the vibrant and colourful billboards and the various attractions that are found nearby. Visit at New Year and you’ll be right in the heart of the celebrations as the annual ‘ball drop’ takes place on the roof of One Times Square.
Empire State Building
Ask anyone to name a famous building in New York and there is a good chance that the Empire State Building will come back as a reply. Built in the early 1930s, the tower was once the tallest building in the world and is one of the most recognisable structures on the city landscape; thanks in part to the mast on the roof that was used for mooring airships. The tower features two observation decks that provide fantastic views across New York and the surrounding area, with an open air area on the 86th floor and a closed viewing area on the 102nd - and top - floor. On a clear day, you might be lucky enough to see up to 80 miles into neighbouring states. Be aware that you can now only visit the attractions in the Empire State Building by booking in advance.
One World Observatory
One World Trade Center opened in 2014 on the site of Six World Trade Centre; part of the complex that was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Standing at a height of 1,776 feet, the building is the tallest in the United States and home to a high level of observatory for those who want to gaze out across the city. There are also various dining options and multimedia exhibitions, whilst the elevator ride to the top is something of an attraction in itself.
New York is a top destination for anyone who enjoys a bit of retail therapy, particularly in the run up to Christmas when the festivities are in full swing. In fact, in late November and early December, there are plenty of deals on short breaks to the city with a focus very much on hitting the shops for a Christmas bargain. Department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are well known as is Saks - one of a raft of top line stores that you’ll find along the famous shopping street that is Fifth Avenue.
In the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world sits Central Park, covering more than 800 acres of land in Manhattan. Now designated as a historic landmark, the park is one of the most visited in the United States with millions of people every year taking a stroll as they look to break away from the busy city streets. The park is home to a number of sculptures, fountains, lakes and playgrounds as well as a small zoo whilst each winter there are two skating rinks. As well as exploring the park by foot, many enjoy taking a ride in a horse drawn carriage.
The High Line
A relatively new addition to the list of attractions in New York, The High Line opened back in 2009 and is a park that was created on an old freight rail line that runs above the streets on the West Side of Manhattan. The elevated park features a number of native plants and trees which give the park a natural feel whilst also allowing you to look down on the city streets below.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
The events of September 11 2001 shocked the world when New York found itself at the centre of the worst terrorist attack in history. Almost 3,000 people lost their lives when two hijacked planes were flown into the World Trade Center, with a third plane hitting the Pentagon and a fourth coming down in Pennsylvania when passengers onboard fought back against those trying to take control of the flight. A memorial for those people who were killed in the attacks, as well as six people who died in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, can now be found where the Twin Towers once stood, with a museum located between two square pools that are surrounded by panels featuring the names of those who lost their lives.
Statue of Liberty
Arguably the most iconic structure in the United States, the Statue of Liberty is regarded as a symbol of freedom and has welcomed people to the city from its position on Liberty Island since being dedicated in the 1880s. You can easily view the statue from Manhattan but for the best experience you need to take a trip by boat to Liberty Island itself where you head into the pedestal of the monument or visit the museum to learn more.
There are plenty of things to do on an evening in New York but taking in a show on Broadway is one of the best. The district is home to various theatres that put on some of the most famous shows in the world, including the likes of Chicago, Cats and Wicked. The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running of them all, with the first showing back in 1988. Since then, more than 13,000 performances have taken place at the Majestic Theatre.
The Rockefeller Centre is a huge complex located between Fifth and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan that comprises of a range of art deco buildings that have been designated as historic landmarks since the 1980s. One of the big cultural attractions in the city, the Rockefeller is home to another of New York’s many viewing platforms and can be explored in full on a guided tour. At Christmas, the Rockefeller is one of THE places to visit, with a huge Christmas tree taking pride of place alongside a large skating rink.
Natural History Museum
The American Museum of Natural History is located on the Upper West Side and close to Central Park and is one of a raft of museums that are worth exploring on a trip to New York. Founded more than 150 years ago, the museum welcomes millions of visitors each year who are drawn in by the chance to explore the extensive list of exhibitions and scientific collections found within.
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden is one of the most iconic arenas in the world, and plays host to a wide range of events over the course of the year - meaning there will always be something going on regardless of when you find yourself in New York. Both the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks call MSG home which means there are regular NHL and NBA games whilst it is also the go-to destination for some of the top musicians in the world when they are planning a show in New York.
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