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New York City Travel Tips and Information
A variety of multi-attraction plans give you flexibility and great savings, plus some have line-skipping privileges to save valuable time.
Explorer Pass - (www.explorerpass.com). You can choose 3, 5, 7 or 10 top attractions to visit. Cardholders have 30 days to use the pass after visiting the first attraction. Attraction choices include Empire State Building Observatory, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Top of the Rock Observation, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex, NBC Studio Tour, movie tours, cruises, and more. Included with the card are shopping, dining, and many additional attraction discounts.
CityPass – (citypass.com). Gets you into 6 New York attractions within 9 days of first use for a greatly reduced rate. The attractions are the American Museum of Natural History; Guggenheim Museum; Museum of Modern Art; Empire State Building Observatory; The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cloisters; and the option between a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise OR the ferry to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. $79 adult, $59 youth aged 6–17 (save from combined regular admission of $140 adults and $101 youth).
New York Pass - (www.newyorkpass.com ). Access to over 50 top attractions with line skipping privileges. Passes are available for 1 day ($75 adult, $55 child), 2 days ($110 adult, $90 child), 3 days ($140 adult, $120 child) or 7 days ($180 adult, $140 child). You can visit as many attractions as you want during the time period - the more attractions you visit, the more you save. Includes a free 140 page guide book.
Below you will find helpful information on New York’s top landmarks and destinations.
Statue of Liberty (www.nps.gov/stli/). The ferry ($19) leaves every 25 minutes from Battery Park and stops at Liberty Island and Ellis Island (www.nps.gov/elis/). You must (in advance) reserve a time to enter the museum at the base of the statue, and then undergo cumbersome security procedures to enter the museum in the statue's pedestal. The Immigration Museum at Ellis Island is worth a visit, and it is FREE. Tour Tips: Ferries leave daily every 30 to 45 minutes from 9am to 3:30pm, with more frequent departures in the morning and extended hours in the summer. Try to go early on a weekday to avoid the crowds that come in the afternoon, on weekends, and on holidays. A stop at Ellis Island is included in the fare, but if you catch the last ferry, you can only visit the Statue or Ellis Island, not both.
Brooklyn Bridge. You may walk across this historic bridge in either direction (takes about 30 minutes each way), or bike across it, for no toll. The view is beautiful going into Manhattan. On the Brooklyn side, you can get pizza, or dine by the waterfront in the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area. You can also take the F train to York Street, hang out in the DUMBO area and then walk across the bridge back into Manhattan.
Central Park with its lawns, trees, bridges and lakes is popular for recreation and concerts and is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park Zoo.
Times Square. Centered on 42nd Street and Broadway. Depending on your perspective, this area is a world of wonder or a tourist’s nightmare. The "New" Times Square is a family-friendly theme park of restaurants, Broadway theaters and hotels, as well as a developing business district. Broadway theaters are nearby (just off Times Square). For a pre-theater meal, walk 2 blocks west to Ninth Avenue where you will find a number of relatively inexpensive, good restaurants. This area is packed with New Year’s Eve revelers on December 31.
Lincoln Center, Broadway at 64th Street (www.lincolncenter.org). The world's largest cultural complex. See theater, symphonies, ballet, opera, movies, art exhibits or just wander around the beautiful architecture. Subway access: 1 to 66th St. or walkable from A, B, C and D trains at 59th St. or the 2 and 3 trains to 72nd St. The famous Julliard School of Music is also here. Within a few blocks are a large Barnes and Noble Bookstore, three "art-house" movie theatres and an AMC movie theater which includes New York's only commercial IMAX screen.
Rockefeller Plaza, 630 5th Avenue. The Christmas Tree, the Skating Rink, the shops - you can't miss it. The Christmas Tree and the Skating Rink are not year round. You may also take skating lessons. The art deco buildings of Rockefeller Center are cool. Saks Fifth Avenue is across the street, and there are many other stores throughout the complex. Subway: B, D, F, V to 47–50th Streets-Rockefeller Center.
Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Plaza. The Top of the Rock is the observation level of the Rockefeller Center. Incredible views of New York City, without the crowds you find at the Empire State Building. Observation deck is open from 8:30am to midnight. Reserved-time tickets are available online at www.topoftherocknyc.com.
The United Nations, 1st Avenue at 46th Street (www.un.org). Has a park overlooking the East River and interesting tours of the general assembly and secretariat.
Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue at 34th Street (www.esbnyc.com). The Empire State Building is open until 12 midnight (2am on the weekends during the summer). Strongly consider going to the Empire State Building at night. During the day, lines can be between 1 and 4 hours long. At night, the lines are significantly shorter. If you can get to the observation deck at dusk, you will be treated to the magic of the city’s lights just starting to come on. You can call in advance to get an estimate of the wait in line, plus the visibility from the observatory, by calling 877-692-8439.
World Trade Center Site, Trinity Place and Fulton Street. The site of the September 11th terrorist attacks has become popular with visitors (and it was popular with visitors even before the attacks). Various plaques are on display documenting the history of the WTC.
New York Stock Exchange, 20 Broad Street (at Wall Street). The most important stock exchange in the world, the NYSE is the most watched indicator of economic performance in the global economy. The activity on the trading floor is mind-boggling. Beware, however, that security is tight, and sudden closures are a possibility. Visitor admittance to the interior has been suspended indefinitely. Subway: 4, 5 to Wall Street; J, M, Z to Broad Street (weekdays only)
New York Public Library, Corner of Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. After the Library of Congress, this is the largest non-academic library in the United States. It is housed in a beautiful building by Carrer and Hastings, which is seen as the greatest example of Beaux Arts architecture. The main reading room is glorious, and the library contains numerous important rare items such as Thomas Jefferson's handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence (Super Cool !!).
Grand Central Terminal, 42nd Street and Park Avenue. One of the busiest train stations in the world. Grand Central is a must for architecture lovers with its vaulted ceiling covered with a medieval zodiac design.
Trinity Church at 79 Broadway (Trinity Church). In the mid-1800’s it was the tallest building in Manhattan. One can only imagine how tranquil and pastoral Manhattan was when this historic church dominated the landscape. Crumbling headstones from the 17th century hint at the history of this hallowed ground. Only a few blocks from the World Trade Center site (Ground Zero), this church housed and fed many of the rescue workers after the terrorist attack. Trinity Church is also prominently featured at the end of the popular movie “National Treasure”.
Museums, Art and Culture
New York has some of the finest museums in the world. All the public museums (including the Metropolitan Museum) are run by the city and accept donations for the entrance fee. Private museums (especially the Museum of Modern Art) can be very expensive. Many galleries and museums in New York close on Mondays, so be sure to check hours before visiting.
Brooklyn Museum of Art, on Eastern Parkway (Eastern Parkway stop on the 2 or 3 train) is a large museum which contains excellent collections of Egyptian art, 19th-century American art, and art from Africa and Oceania. Just past the museum are the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (separate admission charge), so you can visit both in one pleasant afternoon.
The Bronx Zoo (www.bronxzoo.com). The largest metropolitan animal park in the United States and one of the city’s best attractions. Try to visit on a weekday to beat the crowds. May and October are also good times to visit, as the Children’s Zoo and Express Monorail are still open and hopefully the weather will not be too warm. Expect to spend an entire day at this world-famous zoo. Subway: Take the number 2 train to Pelham Parkway and then walk west to the Bronxdale entrance.
The Cloisters. Located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park, the building incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters and other monastic sites in southern France. Its gardens are a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon. Pay for the Cloisters or the Metropolitan Museum and see both for the price of one.
Coney Island and the New York Aquarium. An old-fashioned amusement park on the beach (www.coneyisland.com), plus a nearby aquarium (www.nyaquarium.com) and historic Nathan’s Hot Dogs for your dining pleasure. Coney Island attracts more than its share of odd and funky individuals. Best time to visit is between Memorial Day and mid-September. About an hour’s subway ride from Midtown Manhattan.
The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street at 5th Ave, (www.frick.org). One of our personal favorites. The Frick is intimate in size and setting like a beautiful, large, private home. See classic works by Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, Vermeer, El Greco, Goya, Whistler and many more famous painters. A highlight of the collection is the Fragonard Room. Tues-Sat. 10am to 6 pm, Sun. 11am to 5pm. Closed all major holidays. Admission: $15 adults, $10 seniors, $5 students. Children under 10 are not admitted. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Subway: 6 to 68th Street/Hunter College.
Guggenheim, (www.guggenheim.org). The architecture is more interesting than its collections. It was designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1959.
International Center of Photography, 1133 Sixth Avenue (at 43rd Street). Devoted solely to photography, this museum is a block from Times Square and always has interesting exhibits.
Museum of Sex, 233 Fifth Avenue at 27th Street, (www.mosex.com). A museum that chronicles the evolution of sex. It features images, films, and sex devices. They also sell some adult collections.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), 11 West 53 St (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), (212) 708-9400, (www.moma.org). Sat–Mon, Wed–Thurs 10:30am–5:30PM, Friday 10:30AM–8PM, closed every Tues., Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. $20 adult, $12 student, FREE under 17; FREE for everyone Friday 4–8pm. Quite lengthy line to have bags checked. All expensive items must be carried on person (laptops, phones, cameras) as the staff refuse to check such items. The most astounding and comprehensive collection of modern art in the world. So large that it would require multiple visits to see all of the works on display. If you want to see the real crowd-pleasers, go to the 5th floor, where you will find works like Van Gogh's Starry Night and Picasso's Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. An art freaks dream world. Subway: E or V to Fifth Ave/53 St; B, D, or F to 47–50 Streets/Rockefeller Center.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, (www.metmuseum.org). Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum is located in New York City's Central Park along Fifth Avenue. This is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere and attracts more people than any other spot in New York City. Masterpieces of all world cultures are the rule, not the exception. From Egyptian mummies, to ancient Greek statuary to Islamic carvings to Renaissance painting to Native American masks, you could spend your entire vacation in the museum and not see the entire collection. The Rembrandts and Vermeers alone are incredible, but the collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist canvases is also breathtaking. Other major collections of the Museum include arms and armor, Asian art, costumes, European sculpture and decorative arts, medieval art, musical instruments, drawings, prints, antiquities, photography, and modern art. A good way to get an overview is to take the Museum Highlights Tour, offered every day at various times (usually between 10:15am and 3:15 pm; tours also offered in Spanish, Italian, German and Korean). Visit the museums website for a schedule of this and other walking tours. Another good alternative is to grab a map at the round desk in the entry hall and concentrate your visit on what you like. The museum also contains several dining facilities, including a full-service restaurant serving Continental cuisine (call 212-570-3964 for reservations). Hypnotic beauty will overwhelm you in every corner of the museum.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, (www.nycwax.com). New York City's branch of the famous London wax museum. Features over 200 detailed life-like wax models of celebrities, politicians, athletes and historical icons in the heart of Times Square.
Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave. at 75th Street (www.whitney.org). Arguably the finest collection of 20th-century American art in the world. Major works by Hopper, Bellows, O’Keefe, Lichtenstein, Johns and others. Admission: $15 adults, $10 seniors, students and children under 12 are free. Also, the best museum restaurant in town: Sarabeth’s at the Whitney. Subway: 6 to 77th Street.
American Museum of Natural History (www.amnh.org). This is a hot ticket. From the famed dinosaur halls (4th Floor) and Hall of Ocean Life to the Butterfly Conservatory and Rose Center for Earth and Space, this 4-square-block museum houses the world’s greatest natural science collection. Buy your tickets in advance for the Space Show in order to guarantee admission (available online). It is also recommended buying tickets in advance for a specific IMAX film or special exhibition, such as the Butterfly Conservatory. Call 212-729-5200 for tickets or 212-769-5100 for information. Suggested admission $14 adults, $11 seniors and students, $8 children 2-12. Space show and museum admission is $22 adults, $17 seniors and students, $13 children under 12. Additional charges for IMAX movies and some special exhibitions. Subway: B,C to 81st Street; 1 to 79th Street.
USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, 12th Ave & 46th St, (212) 245-0072, (www.intrepidmuseum.org). Kids and adults love this place. See the aircraft carrier Intrepid, climb inside a replica of a Revolutionary War submarine, sit in an A-6 Intruder cockpit, and there is much, much more. April–Sept. Mon–Fri 10AM–5PM, Sat–Sun 10AM–6PM; Oct.–March Tues–Sun 10AM–5PM. $16.50 adult. Subway: A,C,E to 42nd St./Port Authority.
New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street in Queens located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, (718) 699-0005 Groups: (718) 699-0301 (www.nyscience.org). Open M-F 9:30AM to either 2PM or 5PM depending on the day and season; 10AM to 6PM on weekends. Free hours are available from September to June on Fridays from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, and on Sundays from 10AM to 11AM (first open hour of the day), with the Science Playground available for an additional fee. The New York Hall of Science is on the grounds of the former World's Fair, and incorporates one of the buildings of the Fair, known as the Great Hall, which is available for private events. Many hands-on exhibits that will thrill children. The park also offers a carousel, zoo, and boat and bike rentals. Lots of family fun.
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn. Home to the impressive Brooklyn Philharmonic, BAM is one of the best places in the country to attend cutting-edge musical and dance performances. The Next Wave Festival every autumn is a much-anticipated event.
Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue, (www.carnegiehall.org). The premier venue for classical music in the United States, Carnegie Hall is famous around the world for its dazzling performances. Playing at Carnegie Hall is, for many classical musicians, the pinnacle of success. Carnegie Hall houses three different auditoriums, with the Isaac Stern auditorium being the largest venue.
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). The Chamber Music Society is the most prestigious chamber music ensemble in the United States, playing in the acoustically impeccable Alice Tully Hall.
Metropolitan Opera at Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center, (www.metoperafamily.org), 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). The Met (as it is known) is one of the greatest opera companies in the world. The company performs six days a week (Monday-Saturday) during the season (September-April), and always features the greatest singers from around the world. Expect to pay a small fortune for the most expensive seats, but upper-tier seats can cost as little as $25.
New York City Opera at New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, (www.nycopera.com), 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). The slightly more accessible and energetic younger sister of the Met, the NYCO is a world-class company that puts on a dynamic series of performances. Tickets can go for as little as $16.
New York City Ballet at New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, (www.nycballet.com), 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). Founded by George Balanchine, the New York City Ballet is among the world's finest dance companies. Their performances of the The Nutcracker during the holiday season are very popular.
New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, (www.nyphil.org), 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). One of the premier orchestras in the United States, playing a wide variety of concerts (more than 100) to sold-out crowds. The Philharmonic is well-known for its standard-setting performances of the classical canon. The season runs from September to June, and in the summer they play free concerts in parks around the city (http://nyphil.org/attend/summer/index.cfm?page=parks).
Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, (212) 632-3975, (www.radiocity.com). See the Rockettes or another show or just tour the famous Art Deco masterpiece.
New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Running in October, the New York Film Festival is one of the country's best, with great films from around the world accompanied by interesting discussions, lectures, and panels. Be advised that tickets usually sell out at least a month in advance.
Tribeca Film Festival. Throughout May the movie theaters of Lower Manhattan are taken over by the Tribeca Film Festival, which puts on an enormous number of screenings and talks. Just a few years old, the Tribeca Film Festival has already secured a prominent place on New York's film calendar.
New York City hosts some of the most famous and fun parades in the world.
New York's Village Halloween Parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
St. Patrick's Day Parade
Below are some hotels we feel are a notch above the rest -
Best "Family-Friendly" Hotels:
Best Hotel for Romance:
There are plenty of fine restaurants in New York City. We will be listing many in our “Attractions” section as we move forward with our site.
A number of restaurants in New York do not take credit cards, particularly smaller establishments, so you may want to ask before you sit down (or wait too long). Reservations are always a good idea, especially for popular restaurants or parties larger than two. If you are staying at a hotel with a concierge, don’t be afraid to use them – they can often get you into hot spots that are difficult to get into. You cannot smoke in any restaurant in the city. Also, tipping is easy in New York City. Just look at the sales tax on your bill (8.375%) and double that amount to come up with your tip.