The Big Apple, the city that never sleeps, the city so nice they named it twice – everyone has a different nickname for New York and it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of things to do and see. Whether travelling solo, with a partner or friends, or enjoying a family trip, here’s our pick of the best things to do in New York
You may feel a bit nervous at first being in the city by yourself, but an organised tour is a helpful way to learn to navigate it. New York has hundreds to choose from – topics are as diverse as bagels and gospel music. We like the sound of the 90-minute Walkin’ Broadway tour which combines a live tour guide and an audio recording, including tracks from popular musicals and backstage secrets. It runs three times a day, and costs $30.
- For details call 212 997 5004 or visit www.walkinbroadway.com
If you want to know what it’s really like to live in the city, consider booking a Big Apple Greeter. These generous people provide a free service for some 7,000 visitors a year. You are matched up with a resident with similar interests who can answer your questions and show you the sights often overlooked by tourists. It’s a wonderful way to discover hidden gems – and you might just make a new penpal!
- To sign up or find out more, call 212 669 8159 or visit www.bigapplegreeter.org
Escape the crowds with a visit to the High Line – a park above the streets, built onto an abandoned freight train line. It’s a unique place to gather your thoughts, plus it’s wheelchair accessible. Entry free, open from 7am-11pm daily. Find High Line on Manhattan’s West Side.
- For information call 212 500 6035 or visit www.thehighline.org
With your partner
You’re sure to have fun at Coney Island – a retro playground with old fashioned boardwalk, fairground rides and hotdogs, combined to make an exciting all-American night out.
- For inspiration, visit www.coneyisland.com
There’s so much to do in Central Park – from horse-drawn carriages to carousels – but for a truly romantic trip, why not go for a sedate cycle together? From April-November bikes can be rented from Loeb Central Park Boathouse (between 76th and 77th Street) on a first-come, first-served basis. In the winter months, go ice skating instead at Wollman Rink (southern end of the park) – or watch everyone else over a cup of hot chocolate!
- Find out more about both at www.centralparknyc.org or call 212 310 6600
Enjoy a beautiful view of New York harbour on a 25-minute boat ride…for free! The Staten Island Ferry travels between Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan and St George on Staten Island. Make sure to get off and explore the city’s third largest borough, where there are museums, galleries and activities from bird watching to kayaking. The ferry runs every half hour, and more frequently during commuting hours.
- Find out more at www.siferry.com
Indulge yourselves on a dessert-themed walking tour. You’ll get to try lots of treats, as well as designing your own cupcake. Tours cost $50, last two hours and run Thurs-Sat from Union Square.
- For more information call 917 675 3170 or visit www.greatnewyorktours.com
Alternatively visit one of the city’s four famous Magnolia Bakeries, or the amazing cupcake-dispensing ATM machine at Sprinkles on Lexington Avenue!
Go up in the world with an eagle’s eye view from one of the city’s many vantage points. The Empire State Building is the traditional choice, but you could also try the Rockefeller Center, which stands an impressive 70 floors up in Midtown Manhattan. It’s open from 8am to midnight, and is worth visiting day or night for gorgeous views. You’ll need a timed ticket, costing $29, but can stay up there as long as you like.
- For information call 212 698 2000 or visit www.topoftherocknyc.com
A cliché, but true – NYC is one of the world’s best shopping destinations so pack comfy shoes for a day trawling the shops. And have your photo taken outside Tiffany’s, à la Audrey Hepburn.
- Find whatever you’re after here www.nycgo.com/shopping
With the grandchildren
Little ones will love the Bronx Zoo, which is the area’s largest with around 6,000 animals, although there’s also one in Central Park. The zoo, which does enormous amounts of work towards conservation, offers camel rides, a monorail and a 4D cinema.
- Save ten per cent on a ticket by booking at www.bronxzoo.com or call 718 220 5100 for information
If the grandchildren have been really good, consider treating them to a visit to famous toy shop FAO Schwartz. There’s something here to tempt all ages – grown-ups included – and you can even build your own ‘Muppet’ style puppet for $99.
- Find the store at 767, 5th Avenue at 58th St, call 212 644 9400 or visit www.fao.com
Fans of the film Night at the Museum will already be familiar with the American Museum of Natural History. An enormous collection of artefacts charting human and natural history, children will love the dinosaur wing and planetarium. General admissions cost $22 although special exhibitions cost more.
- Call 212 769 5100 or visit www.amnh.org
We’ve included local phone numbers to use once in New York, but if you want to call from the UK before you travel, just add a 001 to the start of each number. Obviously international rates will be higher.
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