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Concise Guide For Visiting New York  City

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New York City

The Statue of Liberty with the Empire State Building and New York Skyline in the background

Frank Sinatra described the magical attraction many have for the "Big Apple" when he sang these lyrics:

“Start spreading the news,
I’m leaving today,
I want to be a part of it,
New York, New York.”

New York has a vaunted reputation due to its place in history, commerce, finance, song, popular culture and theater. It is a magnet for those who want to experience the phenomenal  city that is considered by many to be the most interesting place on Earth.

There is no question that visiting the Big Apple is a polarizing event.  Forty-seven million visitors come to New York each year and most of them love New York and would return again in a "New York Minute".  Others, however, seem love to hate New York and, somewhat curiously, there appears to be no middle ground.

However, most sightseers are not auditioning New York as a place to live, but as a city with some exceptional attractions.

Founded in the mid-to-early 17th century (although, even this is  a matter of acrimonious debate), New York has many nicknames, such as the "Empire City",  "Gotham", and the "Big Apple".  We think the name “Big Onion”, is especially appropriate, as the name was given in appreciation of the many layers of history and culture that you can find while exploring New York and its complex neighborhoods.

There are an enormous number of worthwhile attractions in New York and we have deliberately limited our recommendations to provide you with a manageable list of the best places to visit.  So, let's get started exploring. Rest up before your actual visit since New York is regarded as the city that never sleeps.  Perhaps, Simone de Beauvoir was right when she  said, "There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless."

New York City's Best Places to Visit

Everyone's Favorite Attractions

  • Statue of Liberty National Monument (including Ellis Island) . This famous statue, which was a gift from the people of France, has served as an icon of America to the world and has greeted immigrants to the United States since 1886. The plaque on the interior of the Pedestal includes the famous inscription, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to break free..." that has come to represent the significance of this most dramatic and impressive of statues.  Our New York Travel Guide provides all the details on visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  The Statue of Liberty infrastructure, but not the Statue itself, was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, although the facility was reopened by  the National Park Service  on July, 3, 2013. Ellis Island  was damaged by the same storm in late October 2012, but the "Island of Hope and Tears," has reopened and is open every day except December 25.

  • Times Square and the Theatre District.  Times Square, its modest plaza and gazillions of neon lights at Seventh Avenue and Broadway is an attraction visited by the majority of the tourists to New York.  There is a vibrancy here that eludes other parts of the city, and it is where the new year is celebrated in the United States. Click for more details on Times Square in our New York Guidebook.

  • Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History America's first public park occupies a large expanse in the heart of New York City.  With miles of paths for pedestrians, as well as 36 bridges and arches, Central Park can be a fun outing.  Add in the 50 fountains, monuments and statues and you will think you have landed in a pastoral wonderland.  In addition, Strawberry Fields, dedicated to John Lennon is one of the most visited sections of Central Park.  Just across from the Park is the American Museum of Natural History famous for its Rose Center for Earth and Space and its amazing Dinosaur Hall. Check our Travel Guide to New York for details on visiting Central Park and the Natural History Museum.

  • Empire State Building,  Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center  A visit to the Empire State Building is one of the highlights of a New York Visit.  Perhaps it is the role it played in over sixty movies, or simply nostalgia for times gone by, but the Empire State Building remains one of New York's top attractions.   Of course famous Fifth Avenue, lined with retail brands we all know and often covet, is another staple of visitors who enjoy the fun of shopping, exploring and "just looking."  Finally, Rockefeller Center with its Top of Rock makes another excellent viewing platform to take in the New York Skyline, tour the NBC studios or a visit to Radio City Music Hall.  Each of these wonderful attractions is described here in our New York City Travel Guide.

  • 9/11 - World Trade Center Memorial New York city has many attractions that provoke strong emotions, but for most visitors the World Trade Center Memorial, honoring those who died in the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, is the most thought- provoking and emotionally charged location in New York. The new memorial is tastefully done and incredibly sad, evoking tears in many and determination in others. The Memorial is one of the most visited locations in the City.  For more details on the World Trade Center Memorial see this page of our New York City Travel Guide.

Other Favorites

  • Art  and Design Museums (the Met, MOMA,  the Guggenheim and  the Copper Hewitt National Design Museum).  New York City is the home of numerous, world-class museums and this elite group are the ones that are truly outstanding.  For details on each museum, photos and information on visiting, click for this page of our New York City Travel Guide.

  • Buildings/Structures (Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and Cathedral of St. John the Devine). New York is known for its amazing architecture.  We take you on a tour of the best of the best and think you will be amazed by these world-famous structures.  See this page of our New York City Travel Guide for more details on each of these famous landmarks.

  • Places/Neighborhoods/To-Dos (Bronx Zoo, Carnegie Hall, Chinatown, Coney Island, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Seaport, Circle Line Downtown, United Nations, Wall Street, Yankee Stadium, famous parades, and TV show tapings).  The Seaport area and Coney Island were damaged by Hurricane Sandy so check locally before visiting.

  • There is always something to do in New York and visiting the city's unique neighborhoods provides something of interest to almost everyone.  In addition we add in some interesting things to-do including touring the United Nations, Coney Island, the Bronx Zoo, Carnegie Hall and more.  See this page for more details on a host of amazing neighborhoods and other attractions in New York City.

If you already know the names of the attractions you want to see in New York City, look for them below in our Index, which links directly to the information we provide on these best places to visit.

Index to Attractions

Buildings/Structures/Monuments  Museums

9/11 Memorial / World Trade Center
Brooklyn Bridge
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Chrysler Building
Ellis Island
Empire State Building
Rockefeller Center
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Statue of Liberty

The American Museum of Natural History
The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum
The Guggenheim Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Museum of Modern Art

Attractions        Neighborhoods  and    To-Dos
Bronx Zoo
Canyon of the Heroes
Carnegie Hall
Central Park and Zoo
Circle Line Downtown
Coney Island
Discovery Times Square
Fifth Avenue
Greenwich Village
Lennon Memorial

Little Italy
South Street Seaport
Theatre District
Times Square
United Nations
Wall Street
Yankee Stadium
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
St. Patrick's Day Parade
Television Show Tapings


Transportation Tips - Getting Around New York in Six Steps

1.  Click for our detailed map of the best places to visit in New York to familiarize yourself with the geography you intend to visit.
2.  Study the MTA's official  system maps for details on  public transportation routes in New York and explore the official MTA website  for details on how to use public transportation in New York.
3.  Use the subway as often as you can for travel, but be sensible about late night riding. 
4. Use buses  when available, but be sensible about late night riding
5.  Use Taxis or the Uber app when other options can't get you there in time, can't get you close to your destination, or you are unsure you know how to get to your destination from the public transportation drop-off.
6. Walk whenever you can to experience New York's famed ambiance, but be sensible about walking late at night or in districts in which you feel  apprehensive about your safety.

If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index  or Googling ThereArePlaces.

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