New York Guide. Leisure Guides.

 

One of the world's great creative centres, New York City is a dynamic metropolis of art, music and fashion, with a staggering array of museums, theatres and concert halls, vertiginous nightlife and one of the best restaurant scenes on the planet.

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Getting around


New York City has an excellent public transport network run by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). The extensive, 24-hour subway system will get you just about anywhere you want to go, and express lines are handy when you're travelling long distances. Simply buy a Metrocard from one of the automatic machines or you can opt for a seven-day unlimited pass – only worthwhile if you plan to use the subway extensively. 
 
Ubiquitous yellow taxis, which operate on a meter, are available all over Manhattan. These are particularly handy late at night, when subway trains come less frequently, making for sometimes long waits on the platform. To hail a cab, look for a lit centre light on the roof. If the light is off, the taxi isn't available so don't bother trying to hail it -- a sure sign that you're not a local! 
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Hotels


New York City's accommodation scene is as diverse as its residents, with a mix of venerable luxury options, stylish boutique hotels, homey B&Bs and less expensive chain hotels. No matter where you stay, book in advance, especially during the summer. 
 
The Ritz-Carlton Central Park (50 Central Park South) has fabled views over Central Park, a world-class restaurant and impeccable service befitting its five-star pedigree. Downtown, the Smyth Tribeca (85 West Broadway) is a boutique charmer with modern, luxuriously appointed rooms. For urban cool, it's hard to fault the Thompson LES (190 Allen Street), with industrial loft-like rooms, stunning views and a rooftop bar for guests only. The Ace Hotel (20 West 29th Street) is a fun and quirky three-star option, with a lively lobby bar, a great café and restaurant and a welcoming vibe – even pets are welcome.
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Nightlife


Ever-evolving, New York City's nightlife encompasses cocktail lounges, dive bars, hipster haunts, basement jazz clubs, trendy nightclubs and much more. If you're just out for bar-hopping and taking in the scene, the buzzing streets of the East Village and the Lower East Side are among the best places to start. 
 
The Library Bar (1170 Broadway) is a beautiful setting for a classic cocktail. Boasting fantastic views over the city, 230 Fifth (230 Fifth Avenue) is a memorable spot for a drink. An anchor of the Lower East Side, Pianos (158 Ludlow Street) hosts first-rate bands and DJs and is a good place to start off the night. Dance lovers still flock to Cielo (18 Little West 12th Street), a mainstay of the Meatpacking District, where DJs spin house, trance and techno amid great ambiance. 
 
Jazz is still big in New York. The long-running Blue Note (131 West 3rd Street) and the Jazz Standard (116 East 27th Street) are top places to hear established groups; for up-and-coming talent, check out Small's Jazz Club (183 West 10th Street). You'll find a more eclectic line-up at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker Street), an art-minded space that stages concerts, burlesque shows and late-night parties with DJs. For something more upmarket, check out City Winery (155 Varick Street), which hosts live music most nights to go with the wine and food. 
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Restaurants


Loosen your belt buckle: New York City is home to over 10,000 restaurants. Diners face staggering choices from both celebrity chefs and humble ethnic eateries serving dishes from every corner of the globe. Formal dining rooms aside, New York City is a great place to grab a slice of pizza, nosh on a bagel and lox at a Jewish deli, or enjoy a no-frills feast at one of the city's many food trucks – which prepare everything from kimchi-covered tacos to Jamaican-style curried goat and oxtail. 
 
One of New York City's best dining spots right now is Daniel (60 East 65th Street), a celebrated French restaurant on the Upper East Side. Near Central Park, Per Se (10 Columbus Circle) has decadent nine-course menus showcasing American nouveau cuisine. Boasting downtown style, Acme (9 Great Jones Street) serves creative, locally sourced dishes. Brainchild of famed chef David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar (171 First Avenue) serves up perfection in the form of plump pork buns, delicately spiced ramen and tender razor clams. 
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Shopping


For the major fashion houses and luxury goods (Tiffany & Co, Bergdorf Goodman, Versace), stroll down Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to 46th Street. For vintage fashion and indie boutiques, check out the East Village or the Lower East Side. Soho is a mixed bag with high-end boutiques as well as big-box retailers; smaller, more innovative stores are in Nolita, a few blocks east. A few stores that figure high on most shopping itineraries include Century 21 (22 Cortlandt Street, Lower Manhattan), a vast emporium selling name-brand fashions at discounted prices. 
 
Bibliophiles should hit the endless rows of books at the Strand (828 Broadway at 12th Street). On weekends, a sprawling antiques market takes over a parking garage in Chelsea at the Antiques Garage (112 West 25th Street at Sixth Avenue). Near Union Square, ABC Carpet & Home is a beautifully decorated store with housewares, antiques, jewellery and gift ideas spread over six floors. 
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Top 10 sights


Top 5 sights for first-timers
 
Empire State Building 

One of New York's most recognizable landmarks, the 102-storey skyscraper has long loomed high over the Big Apple. The view from the top is magnificent, but the long lines to get up can be tedious so try to book your ticket online. The best time to go is around sunset, when the amber glow over the city is pure magic. 
 
350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
www.esbnyc.com 
 
Statue of Liberty 

A global icon, the Statue of Liberty is deeply associated with the millions of immigrants who arrived in New York Harbor, and saw that 93-meter-high statue as a symbol of hope and opportunity. Boats out to Liberty Island depart from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Buy tickets online (www.statuecruises.com) to avoid painfully long queues.
 
www.nps.gov/stli 
 
Metropolitan Museum of Art  

Home to more than two million objects, the Met is one of the world's greatest art collections. You'll find everything from ancient Roman and Egyptian works to well-known paintings by the giants of the 20th century. Don't miss the roof garden, with views over Central Park, in the summer. 
 
Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
www.metmuseum.org 
 
Times Square

The epicenter of Manhattan is undoubtedly Times Square, a buzzing crossroads of frenetic energy, with flickering billboards, jostling crowds and tooting taxis. This is also the gateway to New York's celebrated theatre district, aka Broadway. 
 
Broadway at 46th Street 
www.timessquarenyc.org
 
Central Park  

New York's long, green oasis is a verdant retreat from the bustling streets just beyond its rectangular borders. Here you'll find open expanses for sports and sunbathing, a picturesque lake where you can hire rowboats, open-air concert and theatre space, a small zoo, shaded walking trails and horse-riding paths, and an ice rink in winter. It's a popular year-round destination, and you can hire bicycles or hop aboard a horse-drawn carriage to take it all in. 
 
59th to 110th Streets
www.centralparknyc.org 
 
Top 5 sights for old hands
 
Chinatown

Wandering the narrow streets of Chinatown is pure sensory overload, with fishmongers and fruit markets, Chinese bakeries, atmospheric restaurants and narrow storefronts packed with merchandise from the Far East. There are even a few Buddhist temples and a park where local residents practice tai chi and chit-chat over lively games of mah-jongg. 
 
Brooklyn Bridge   

Built in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the world's first suspension bridge and attracts millions of visitors who come to admire its unique design. The best way to see it is to put on your walking shoes, head down to City Hall Park and stroll across. Go early in the morning to beat the crowds, or come around sunset for memorable views.
 
The Museum of Modern Art 

The rock star of the modern art world, the MoMA has been hosting cutting-edge exhibitions since its opening in 1929. The permanent collection showcases the great artists from the past 100 years, while temporary exhibitions feature retrospectives by some of the world's best living artists. Don't miss the sculpture garden and the first-rate restaurant overlooking it. 
 
11 West 53rd Street
www.moma.org 
 
The High Line 

Running from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea, this long landscaped park is built on old railway tracks and offers fascinating perspectives over the city. Amid rusted rails and wild native plants, the park has sun chairs for lounging, food vendors, views of the Hudson River and various platforms for observing the action on the street below. 
 
The West Village

Set with peaceful tree-lined streets and tiny parks and plazas, the West Village seems a world removed from the traffic-clogged avenues of Midtown. Unique restaurants, cafés and boutiques draw a well-heeled crowd, and the winding lanes are a great place to wander and lose yourself.
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Top 5 activities


Spectator sports

New York is home to a number of professional sports teams, with games happening year round. Nothing quite compares to the excitement of seeing a game live, whether it's hockey, basketball or baseball. Among the best places to go: Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and Brooklyn's new Barclays Center. 
 
Walking tours

Sign up for an organised walking tour to get an inside perspective on the Big Apple. There are numerous themes, from literary pub crawls to elucidating forays into New York's distant past. 
 
Cycling

New York has become a much more bike-friendly city in recent years, with new bike lanes all across the city. Central Park aside, one of the best places to ride is along the Hudson River, on a cycle path that follows the entire western length of Manhattan. 
 
River cruises 

One of the best ways to see the city skyline is from the deck of a boat. There are numerous options, from sunset and dinner cruises to the more pedestrian (and free) Staten Island ferry. There are also cruises that circumnavigate Manhattan, making a memorable sail beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. 
 
Spas

After long days pounding the pavement, spending a few hours at a peaceful spa is the perfect treat. You'll find a range of options and treatments – the finest spas have indoor waterfalls and organic designs that may make you forget you're in America's densest metropolis. 
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Top 5 events


Central Park SummerStage 

During the summer, Central Park hosts over 100 big, free performances featuring music, theatre, dance and spoken word. Past artists include Bebel Gilberto, Norah Jones, Vampire Weekend and Youssou N'Dour.  
 
Date: June-September
Venue: Summerstage, Central Park 
 
July 4th Fireworks 

On Independence Day, New Yorkers gather on the Hudson riverfront for a spectacular fireworks display over the river. The event kicks off around 9pm, though you'll want to arrive much earlier to get a good spot. 
 
Date: July
Venue: West side of Manhattan
 
Dumbo Arts Festival

The waterfront neighbourhood of Dumbo in Brooklyn stages New York's liveliest arts fest in late September, with art installations on the streets and in the galleries, live performances, music, food and kids' events. 
 
Date: September
Venue: Dumbo, Brooklyn
 
Halloween Parade 

Don your craziest costume and join thousands on a parade up the streets of Manhattan, which starts in Soho and heads up the West Village. 
 
Date: October
Venue: West Village
 
New Year's Eve 

All eyes are on Times Square and the glittering, Technicolor ball which announces the arrival of another year. Thousands throng the street, with millions of others celebrating at bars and clubs around the city. 
 
Date: December
Venue: Citywide

Written by World Travel Guide

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