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Attractions and things to do in New York City

Statue of Liberty in New York City

The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

Most of us all dream of one day visiting New York City's most iconic attraction which can only be Liberty Island's Lady Liberty herself standing 151 feet tall and weighing some 204 tonnes. This eye catching UNESCO World Heritage Site has appeared in top rated movies for decades and is now a must-see for anyone lucky enough to be in the Big Apple. The Statue of liberty stands wrapped in drapes and with a crown on her head; with a torch in one hand and a tablet stating the law in the other and lastly broken shackles at her feet.

The Statue is both a symbol of freedom and democracy of the United States. Originally a gift from France celebrating the Centennial of American Independence, the majestic Statue of Liberty has watched over New York Harbor since 1886 and once greeted the millions of immigrants which had to stop first at Ellis Island a short distance away before being able to begin their new life in the land of dreams. Today it welcomes not only new immigrants but also eager visitors to the city. After huge investments and renovations, access to the top of Liberty's crown has been facilitated and now allows wheelchair access too. For those that want to brave themselves and climb the 393 steps to the top you can do so and be triumphantly rewarded with one of the most brilliant and unique views of all of New York City.

 

How to get to Liberty Island and Ellis Island / How to get to the top of the Statue of Liberty

To get to the island where the elegant statue stands, it's necessary to take a $20 ferry ride from Battery Park NYC or Liberty State Park in Jersey city which takes no longer than 15-20 minutes. Get a 2 in 1 trip and take the morning ferry to be able to experience not only Liberty Island but the famous Ellis Island too - the gateway for immigrants to the US from 1892 until 1954. If you plan on entering the Statue of Liberty, a Monument Pass will be required and this should be booked in advance as only a maximum of 240 people are given permission to ascend the statue per day. If it's enough for you only to see the statue without stepping on the island, you can do so for free by catching a ferry ride on the Staten Island ferry or at a distance from Brooklyn's promenade or Battery Park for instance.

 

Stand at "The Center of the Universe" - Times Square

Flocks of people, street entertainers, musicians and performers, skyscrapers, electronic billboards, giant illuminated signs and lots and lots of bright colours are what make Times Square in midtown Manhattan the electrifying landmark it is today. Iconified as the "The Center of the Universe" and known as one of New York's biggest tourist magnets it is the hub of the Broadway Theatre District. Stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets, Times Square is the most bustling pedestrian crossroad on earth with so much to look at you just won't know what to feast your eyes on next! Every year on New Year's Eve, around a million people congregate at Times Square for the anticipated "Dropping of the Ball" which signals the beginning of a new year. This event is certainly one of the biggest street parties in the world and a great time to be in this part of the city. Follow in the footsteps of tens of millions of other tourists and head to this free spectacle which also offers great restaurants, shops and a Disney store.

 

Tour the "city in the city" - Rockefeller Center

Built by the Rockefeller family between 1930 and 1939, the Rockefeller Center near Times Square is a mini-metropolis of 19 commercial skyscrapers and nicknamed the "city in the city". Occupying the area between Fifth and Sixth Avenues on 48th and 51st Streets, Rockefeller Center is a US National Historic Landmark and has plenty of iconic things to see and experience. Its main attraction is the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Once you have bought your tickets, soar 70 floors to the top of the exceptional GE Building where you will find the deck and be surrounded by terrific 360º views over New York City with particularly impressive views over the Empire State Building and the gorgeous green of Central Park. It is in Rockefeller Center that the episodes for the famous NBC TV shows like Saturday Night Live, Today Show or Late Night with Conan O'Brien have been filmed. NBC also organises behind-the-scenes tours of New York City and will get you into places you never thought you'd visit. Whilst you tour around this tremendous complex you'll also come across flags of all nations, dozens of interesting art nouveau murals and mosaics in addition to renowned statues like the Atlas Statue and Prometheus Statue. If you're in Rockefeller Center during winter season, don't miss visiting Rockefeller Plaza where you'll find the famous Ice Skating Rink and gigantic Christmas tree we've all seen in America's Christmas-time movies.

 

Have a break in Central Park

Imagine serenity in the centre of chaos. You may not think it would exist but in the centre of Manhattan in New York City, it does. Situated between 79th and 86th Streets is Central Park also nicknamed the "People's Park". Within this 843-acre attraction of emerald gardens are beautifully-kept lawns, blossoming flowers, calm lakes, ponds and fountains. It was designed and built with the sole purpose of providing New Yorkers with a calm and natural environment where they could go to escape the hustle and bustle of their hectic city lives and enjoy leisure activities such as a picnic, strolling, jogging, cycling, inline-skating or simply walking their dog. It was also created with the intention of uniting New Yorkers or any other visitors regardless of colour, race or class. Besides the gardens, there are other interesting attractions to see within the grounds, for instance the Central Park Wildlife Center; Cleopatra's Needle, Belvedere Castle, various statues, the Bethesda Fountain edging the Lake and its Loeb Boathouse were you can also rent rowboats; the Shakespeare Garden; a bird-sanctuary and Strawberry Fields which is an area of the park dedicated as a memorial to the late John Lennon. Central Park also provides frequent entertainment in the form of free concerts and open-air theatrical shows. During winter season, the park is transformed into a winter wonderland and becomes a popular place for cross-country skiing and sledding. Don't forget to pass through yourself!

 

Soar to the top of the Empire State Building

Tearing through New York City's skyline is the glorious Empire State Building located on Fifth Avenue. This striking 103-storey construction which will leave you jaw-dropped, once held the title as the tallest building in the world for 39 years (from 1931 to 1970). It measures an impressive 1250 feet (381 meters) and a further 204 feet (62.2 meters) to the tip of the antenna spire located at the top of the structure. Currently it holds the title as the forth-tallest skyscraper in the US and is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Built with an Art Deco architectural style, the Empire State Building stands as a National Historic Landmark and icon of New York City. From the top of this incredible structure is an observation deck where you can gaze over an exquisite panoramic view of the entire surroundings for miles. Insert coins into the telescopes provided and get a close-up of other recognised skyscrapers and well-known landmarks comprising this electrifying metropolitan city.

 

Brooklyn Bridge

One of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States is the notorious Brooklyn Bridge connecting Brooklyn borough to Manhattan along the East River. Constructed in 1883 and once the longest bridge in the world, this architectural masterpiece symbolised optimism, faith, growth and man's control over technology at the time. Today, it is one of New York City's most iconic symbols and a National Historic Landmark becoming an inspiration for art and photography across the globe. Carrying not only automobile traffic, Brooklyn Bridge also has a pedestrian walkway for both walkers and cyclists which can get busy during the day but is definitely worth crossing. From here you can take just over a mile-long stroll stopping to take photos or soak in the views across NYC. One of the best times to envisage Brooklyn Bridge is at a distance at night when it stands illuminated at the forefront of the colourfully lit city; a breathtaking view that you will definitely remember for years to come.

 

Shopping in New York City

We've all seen the characters of Sex and the City prancing around Manhattan arms and hands-full with shopping bags and wished we could to the same. Whilst in New York City and if your budget allows, why not spoil yourself too and visit some of the most recognised stores across the nation and the fashion world. New York City's shopping scene is enormously varied; fun for both men and women and simply unlike any other. Visit sophisticated retail venues and department stores and spend some cash on trendy clothes, shoes and jewellery like never before! Head to Apple Store, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Columbus Circle, Barneys or Tiffany's for some medium to upscale shopping and for the kids, and the "big kids", visit FAO Schwarz which is an enchanting kids store and unequalled in its collection of toys for the perfect gift!

 

Metropolitan Museum of Art

For art lovers, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or "The Met" has been located in Central Park since 1880 and is a definite stimulating and intriguing visit. Housed within the museum are some of the most unsurpassed art collections ever seen which includes a staggering 2 million individual objects originating from prehistoric eras all the way up to the present day. Here you can find a range of artefacts, paintings, textiles, furniture, household furnishings, glass and ceramic work, costumes, musical instruments, photographs and armour from all corners of the globe such as Asia, the Middle-East, Europe, Africa and the Americas. "The Met's" unbelievable size of 17-acres makes it the biggest single-site attraction in New York's capital. Journey through the hundreds of rooms in the museum each with their unique displays and travel through time as you go along. Another highlight of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the Roof Garden open only between April and October where you can appreciate terrific views over the city and the enchanting Central Park.

 

Museum of Modern Art

Cutting-edge and hip, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is all about unpredictability and creativity; where the stranger something is the better! Prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of feelings as you are made to feel teased, confused, surprised and even moved as you make your way through this quite bizarre attraction. Attempting to reach a wide audience, the museum offers continuous weird and wacky exhibitions which will have you observing things from different angles and points of view. It also distinguishes itself by hosting cool musical events which maintains the MoMA museum as diverse and entertaining as possible. With well over 100,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models; 10,000 films and a library containing over 80,000 books there is almost no end to what a person can enjoy during their visit here. This is why it is one of the most sought after museums in New York City. So visit MoMA for yourself and discover what's new in the world of modern art!

 

Sightseeing in New York City – On the ground versus in the air

There are various ways to go sightseeing in New York City whether it's with your feet firmly on the ground or up in the sky. Walking through the long avenues and trying to get to all the must-see attractions the city has to offer can be exhausting and can sometimes take away from the excitement so finding alternative ways to see as much of NYC as possible during your holidays is important. One of the most inexpensive ways to tour NYC is by bicycle. Simply rent a bike and cycle safely on NYC's bike lanes at your own pace. You can stop when you want, where you want; checking out the places you always wanted to visit as you go along. If you prefer a guided bike tour there are several available from private to group tours. One of the most popular ways to go sightseeing is through The Hop-on Hop-off services which will see you cruising through NYC's streets on a double-decker bus without a worry in the world. This service allows you to escape the hastiness of the city whilst touring in comfort at reasonable prices. The trendiest way to go sightseeing in NYC now is up in the air. It is also the most expensive but worth every penny! If you've never flown in a helicopter, why not make your first time doing so during your holiday in New York. Not only will you be able to see this remarkable city from up above and fly close to well-known skyscrapers and over the Statue of Liberty, you will have one heck of a story to tell when you arrive back home too! Tickets for any of the mentioned tours should always be booked in advance so that you may be able to tour New York City as you want to.

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