Visiting New York City: Your 2020 Guide, by Travel Radar Correspondent Luke Will
Visiting New York City
Visiting New York City (NYC) involves some careful research and planning in exchange for a lot of fun and enjoyment. But what will you do when you get there?
Whether you are travelling solo, with family, friends or as a couple, here’s some ideas for making your New York Plan.
It’s best to decide what you’re going to do in New York before you arrive there. It is unlikely you’ll be able to fit every single thing in to one trip. This article offers you activity ideas for your New York City trip and tips on the different areas where you can stay.
The New York City Vibe
Poets to film stars and every world nationality have been attracted to The Big Apple. for their holidays and to work and live. So what has New York City got that draws folk back here time and again. Or even makes people want to stay for ever?
Multi-Cultural Hustle and Bustle
NYC contains a multi-cultural society living in diverse city boroughs. In addition, there’s the multitude of annual tourists using the streets, subways and visiting the attractions. Everyday New Yorkers going about their business plus the hustle and bustle of holiday makers make for an interesting visual experience. Noise from taxi horns, shouts from driver’s car windows and tourist touts all vying for your attention overloads your oral senses.
And then you can find sanctuary in one of the parks or just sitting by the Hudson river.
New York City as seen on TV
Central Park and Battery Park are good areas to get some fresh air away from the hustle and bustle.
Once you have decluttered your mind, on you go with your sight-seeing mission.
If you have never been to New York City you will no doubt have a pre-conception of how it will be. You’ll have heard stories from friends and watched ‘Taxi’, Seinfeld’ or ‘Sex and the City’ on TV. But no words or TV series can describe the NYC vibe to you. The only way is to experience New York City is to go there and find out for yourself!
The City that never Sleeps
New York, set on the Hudson river, is nicknamed the city that never sleeps. Very fitting for this American hub with so much to do! In fact you won’t be able to fit everything in to just one trip. Visiting New York City makes you want to stay up all night and cram as much as possible into 24 hours.
But the reality is you will need to sleep even if this city never does. Your hardest decision is what are your must-dos and what will you save for another trip? This post helps you make informed activity choices about what to see and do in NYC. Also you’ll need to know a bit about the different regions of New York City.
The New York Boroughs
The five boroughs of New York are Brooklyn, Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens and Staten island.
In 1898, these 5 boroughs officially combined to become New York City.
NYC as a whole, just squeezes into the top 10 of most densely populated world cities.
Let’s take a look at Manhattan. (The other 4 NYC boroughs mentioned above have links for further reading).
Manhatten is where everyone wants to come when visiting New York City. Why? Because it’s where all the most famous tourist attractions are!
New York City Famous Landmarks
The Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park, Madame Tussauds, Macey’s and many more. Which is why Manhattan is generally the most expensive place to stay of all the New York City Boroughs. There are four different parts to Manhattan. Each of it’s parts mentioned below are further divided into East and West side (remember West Side Story?)
The different areas of Manhattan
- Lower Manhattan (or downtown) is the most Southerly region of Manhattan and includes everything below Chambers street. It’s is where wall street and the financial district is and where awful events now known as 9/11 occurred. Other areas you may have heard of are Tribeca, Little Italy, and Chinatown and Greenwich village. All these areas are located in Lower Manhattan.
- Midtown Manhattan is between 34th and up as far north as 59th street. Times Square and Theatre district on Broadway (equivalent to London’s Soho and Piccadilly) are in Midtown.
- Uptown Manhattan lies between 59th to 96th street.
- Upper Manhattan lies above 96th street.
Getting Around New York
The Streets in the main area of Manhattan are based on a Grid System. It is fairly easy to negotiate your way around NYC. Arm yourself with a subway map and a Metro Card. Visit Tourist Information for any further details you need.
When in New York…
Or on the other hand when in New York, why not do what many New Yorkers do? Walk everywhere to keep fit and healthy. All you need is a good New York street map
The New York Pass
If you plan to see lots of tourist attractions visiting New York City; the New York Pass can work well for you. I highly recommend it; you can save a lot of money on multiple tours and venues. Definitely worth checking it out.
Make the New York pass work for you when visiting New York City.
The History of New York City
Major events shaping New York today include immigration, financial events, architectural design and the tragic events of 11th September 2001.
Immigration and the statue of Liberty
Visiting New York City hasn’t always been for pleasure. For some it has been a matter of survival, pure and simple. Many Irish coming to the city in the mid 19th century did so to survive the great famine in their own land. Others arrived in NYC to escape religious persecution.
Ever since the early 19th century people have come to New York in search of a better life. Financial gains, better jobs prospects and better housing have enticed people to NYC over the past 3 centuries.
Out of Control Immigration
By 1925, 40% of the total population of New York City were foreign born. As a result, the American government revised immigration laws. Offices on Ellis island that had been helping with the administration of the new influx immigrants instead became a detention and deportation centre
Not only the deportation centre but Ellis island as a whole closed in 1954. It remained abandoned for 30 years. Then in 1984 the centre underwent an extensive restoration and refurbishment.
The offices became an enlightening immigration museum and remain so to this day. Here you can learn so much about New York City’s foreign settlement. Take a boat Trip to Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty was unveiled in 1886. Originally it was intended as a symbol of friendship between France and America. But as time has gone on, it’s came to signify much more.
Lady Liberty is now a sign of democracy and hope for a better life for the American people. The torch that she holds is lighting the way to freedom for New Yorkers today. Both for natives and settlers.
Trip to The Statue of Liberty
Visits to the Statue of Liberty
Visit the statue of Liberty and the immigration museum at Ellis Island by boat using the new York pass. Pick the boat up early from the Statue Cruises kiosk in the Battery Park area of New York City.
Get there early as the queues can be massive, especially during school holidays.
Get Lady Liberty photo’s without Queues
Is it photo opportunities (without the queues) of the statue of Liberty? Then just do a boat trip. Photo ops. from your boat make much more sense than the long queues!
Circle Line sightseeing tours offers a daylight or sunset cruise with great photo opportunities for the Statue of Liberty.
Your New York Pass includes trips with Circle Line or book directly with circleline.com
New York City Architecture and Skyline
If you are visiting New York City to see medieval architecture, you will be disappointed!
The oldest surviving building in New York City only dates back as far as 1652. It is the W
yckoff Farmhouse Museum in Brooklyn.
Although if you’re a fan of the Art Decor era, you won’t be disappointed. New York architecture has strong influence from this style. Both externally and internally. The city sky scrappers such as the Chrysler building and the empire state buildings are example of this era.
Art Décor Interiors
Inside The Chrysler building and the Empire State Building there are exhibits from this 1920’s-1930’s Art Décor era of popular art.
The same applies to in and around the Rockefeller Centre.
Gothic Style Architecture
St Patricks Cathedral is a gothic-style landmark building designed by James Renwick in 1878. It is the largest catholic cathedral church in America. St Patrick’s cathedral is located at 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st street.
Influential People in New York’s History
John D Rockefeller junior (1874-1960) has made major contributions to New York. He supplied the land that the Rockefeller centre is built on. It employed thousands of people during the height of the depression. He also helped finance housing projects in Harlem, the Bronx and Queens and provided land for the United Nations Buildings.
The Rockefeller Centre
Visiting New York City wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the Rockefeller Centre free with the New York Pass
Learn about all the buildings and spaces that make up the total Rockefeller complex. Find out about the Rockefeller family and their famous art collection. The tour is conducted with an historian. You won’t miss any of the detailed account as you get a head-set for the tour duration.
Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Skating Rink
Rockefeller is the location of the famous New York Christmas tree and outdoor skating rink. The tree lighting ceremony is on Wednesday 4th December 2019 if you are planning a Christmas trip. The Rockefeller skating rink is open from late October. Check out this link for more details.
Top of The Rock
If you want to get on top of the Rockefeller art décor building and get some snaps, you can do so on a separate tour.
It’s called The Top of The Rock Tour and again it is free when you have bought the pass. In day light hours your camera captures the greenery of Central Park and the Hudson river. After dark you get the impressive New York skyline lit up
New York City Entertainment
Visiting New York City means Showtime! Make your New York trip complete by taking in a matinee or evening show. The longest running and best known shows at the time of writing are Wicked and The Lion King. Jersey Boys has also had an epic run. Even if you’ve seen these shows on the London stage, the scripts in NYC will be slightly different. The American actors and their accents add something different and fun to your audience experience.
Get tickets for Broadway Shows
NYC for music lovers
Downtown Manhattan is famous for the New Wave punk movement of the seventies. Blondie, the Ramones and Patti Smith all have their roots here.
If you love jazz, visiting New York City will delight you. Billy Halliday, Miles Davies and Ella Fitzgerald are all names associated with the Harlem Jazz scene. Discover more on the Harlem jazz series tour, free with your New York Pass.
Smoke jazz and supper club a venue you may also enjoy.
Check out also Showman’ Jazz Club
The NBC Studios
The NBC studios are part of the Rockefeller Complex. You can tour the NBC studios seperately. This is where Jimmy Fallon ‘The tonight show’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’ are filmed.
The NBC studios are part of the overall Rockefeller Centre .
Film Buffs in NYC
Visiting New York City for Families with Children
The National History Museum is more of an educational experience aimed at school age children up to mid-teens rather than adults. That is not to say adults won’t enjoy it though!
The American Museum of Natural History is just across the road from Central Park. Go for a walk there afterwards and visit John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ shrine in that area of the park.
Most smaller children love Trolls. Not the internet type but the brightly coloured hair variety.
Why not take them to see ‘The Troll Experience‘
If your kids love animals, visit the urban Bronx zoo. This outing is not available with the New York Pass
Read Bronx Zoo Trip Advisor Reviews to see that your kids will just love it!
Eating out with kids
Kids will love the Hard Rock at Yankee Stadium or Dave and Buster’s at Times Square where they can play interactive games and meet friends.
Not so great for the teeth but a real treat for your sugar junkies (and you!) visit Dylan’s Candy Bar
New York Art
From graffiti street art to comprehensive collections in large galleries, art lovers will have their artistic senses stimulated.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Also known as ‘the Met’, this is one the biggest art museum/gallery in the world let alone in New York.
History of art lovers and fans of the classics will be more than content here with.
And what’s more it’s free with the New York Pass. The museum reopened on 29th October following a major refurbishment.
The Guggenheim art gallery come museum is a great place to visit. It is as famous for the building itself as for the artwork. Paintings by all the greats are on display here such as Picasso and Van Gogh.
Street Art and Graffiti
This wall art of Debbie Harry the lead singer with Blondie is in East Village downtown NYC. Brooklyn is a great place to see talented New York graffiti artist’s work. Go on The Brooklyn street art tour where you can see more street art like this. Do it free with your New York Pass.
For more information about the art galleries mentioned here
Get practical tips on NYC art galleries.
New York City Sport and Exercise
Cycle, Run, walk in central Park. Locals run around the reservoir in Northern Central Park. You can even ice skate outdoors here at the Wollman ice rink between October and April.
Baseball fans can tour the Yankee stadium in the Bronx
Watch the US Tennis championships at Queens in August and September.
Do the New York Marathon early November. Plan your accommodation well in advance though as it is very busy in NYC at this time.
Religion in New York City
Food and Drink
Contrary to what you may have heard, eating and drinking out in restaurants in New York City is not that cheap. Obviously we all have different perceptions of what ‘cheap’ means. For example, 3 people eating and drinking in an average American diner in Uptown Manhatten cost $176 in 2019. That was for 1 starter, 3 main courses, 2 desserts and 2 bottles of wine. Basic food, nothing fancy. Wine is expensive, even when it is imported from California.
New York Drink Tours
Beer, Spirit and Wine Tour is a favourite with tourists.
The New York Craft Cocktail Tour is also very enjoyable especially if you want to socialise.
Chinatown is the obvious choice if you are after Chinese food. The Great New York Noodletown restaurant in Bowery Street is a favourite for it’s soups and noodle dishes. Try also the creatively prepared seafood.
New York Restaurants
Eating in New York makes for an article in itself. Follow this link for a guide to finding eateries in New York to suit your tastes and budget!
New York Shopping
When people told me that clothes in NYC were cheap, I believed it. But after 10 days there I hadn’t found New York’s equivalent to Primark. What they hadn’t told me (and I hadn’t looked into) was that they meant the outlets on the edge of town.
Smaller Shops and Boutiques
Coming from London, I personally find Bloomingdales and Macey’s are overrated. When you are used to having Selfridges and Harrods within easy reach, no stores surpass these!
What I did love was New York’s SoHo for shopping It’s a pleasant browsing experience in Lower Manhattan. You can find both mainstream stores and designer boutique shops here. Prince Street is good for the boutiques.
You can also find many eateries and bars and do some celebrity spotting in SoHo. Find out about other things to do in SoHo (also written Soho).
There’s a flea market at 100w.77th street known as the Grand Bazaar. Here you can get your hands on all things vintage including clothes, books and jewellery. Chelsea Flea market in downtown Manhattan is also worth a visit if you’re into this kind of stuff. It’s at 29 West 25th street right by the Flatiron building.
New York Fashionistas
Look into doing the Fashion Windows Walking Tour which takes you on a tour of the city’s best loved stores.
TUI – Putting ‘U’ in the middle
TUI is a reputable holiday provider, offering hundreds of hotels for you to choose from. You’ll find them in eye-widening destinations all over the world, from the far-flung corners of Southeast Asia to the gold-sand-gilded islands of the Caribbean. Plus, their hotel range offers something to fit budgets of all shapes and sizes. If you’re looking for a trip to downtown New York, TUI might be the perfect operator for you!
So the best advice I can give you is to:
- Firstly decide first what you want to do when visiting New York City.
- Secondly Check out the locations of the attractions on Google Maps.
- Thirdly find a hotel within your budget that is central to all your excursion choices
Check out The Opodo Booking Agent or TUI’s Hotel Listings for some good choices of flights and hotels. Note: Package holiday options can sometimes offer the best deals!
From bus tours and boat trips to late night jazz clubs (and everything in between) Visiting New York City offers something for everyone! Planning a trip? Send us some photos from it for use in future content!