New York City’s Finest

New York City, USA

10 Of The Best Things To See And Do In The Most Arresting City In The World.

You’ve arrived in New York City, taxied to your hotel, unpacked your suitcases and are enjoying a well-earned drink downstairs in the bar. You are thinking to yourselves “Well, here we are in the Big Apple! Where do we start?”

Manhattan is crammed-packed with a million things to see and do. One of the best things to do first-up is to get a ‘lay of the land’, a look and feel for these amazing 59 square Manhattan kilometres. The best way to do this is on a ‘Hop-On Hop-Off’ bus tour. There are a number of companies offering these bus tours. You can check out the options and then pre-book on line at: www.bustoursnyc.comYou can also buy tickets directly from the bus tour vendors at major street intersections throughout the city, however it is best to check it out online first so you know what you are buying. You can get a Same Day (One Day) Pass for US$29, through to an All-City 5 Day Pass for US$59. You can also book a specialty Night Tour to see the city lights for US$29. Whatever tour you choose, you’ll get a great look at this great city and be entertained by some pretty witty New Yorker commentary from your tour guide along the way. And you can get on and off the bus as often as you like.

So, let’s get started with my top 10 things to see and do in New York City.

  1. Junior’s Restaurant

Yesterday was a long day travelling. But a good sleep and you are ready to take on America’s best. So, best to start with a hearty breakfast. There is no better place to breakfast than legendary Junior’s. Located just off Broadway on W43 Street in Midtown, since the 1950’s Junior’s has been famous for great food, great fun, great service and its signature cheesecake. The cuisine is listed as ‘American’, which means huge servings of everything. It’s also famous for the famous faces that have dined here over the last 6 decades, and the walls are plastered with their pictures. Junior’s is open from 6.30 am till late – to cater for the early risers, the brunchers and the late night after-show diners. There is no better way to start your New York adventure!

  1. Take a walk around

Walking is the best way to see any city and New York is no exception. The city is built for visitors and tourists. You virtually can’t get lost. The avenues run north-south and the streets run east-west. The streets are numbered, so if you are looking for W34 Street, then head towards the lower end of Manhattan (the Wall Street end) and you’ll find it on the west side of 6thAvenue, between 33 and 35 streets. You can pick up a free tourist street map from your hotel or if you get really lost, do what I do. Ask a cop! Walk the avenues – Lexington Avenue, Madison Avenue, 5thAvenue, 6thAvenue (the Avenue of the Americas). You’ll find endless places of interest – amazing buildings like the art-deco Chrysler Building and the majestic Grand Central Station. If you are into slightly unusual landmarks, check out the subway grate on the sidewalk at Lexington and East 52nd Street. This is where Marilyn Munro was famously photographed, white dress billowing in the air.

  1. Views from the Top

There’s the New York skyline at street level and there’s the New York skyline from a hundred floors up! Two of the most spectacular views of New York and surrounds are from the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Centre. Open every day of the year, the Empire State Building Observation Decks on the 86thand 102ndfloors offer unbelievable 360-degree day and night panoramas of the city skyline. This iconic 1930’s building on the corner of 5thAvenue and W34 Street was once the tallest building in the world and is a NYC and world landmark. Check it out and buy tickets at:

Another great place to see New York is from the Top of the Rock on the 70-floor of the amazing Rockefeller Centre complex on 5thAvenue between 48 and 51st Streets. You can buy your tickets at:

  1. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

If we’re talking iconic New York landmarks, it doesn’t get any more iconic or more impressive than the Statue of Liberty at the entrance to New York Harbour. Since 1886, the ‘liberty goddess’ has stood as a symbol of freedom and hope for immigrants from all over the world looking to start their new life in the ‘lucky country’. For the over 12 million immigrants who sought to call the U.S. home, the first stop was the nearby Ellis Island Immigration Centre, their gateway to the United States. No matter how many times you’ve seen the Statue of Liberty in movies and in travel brochures, nothing beats getting up close and personal with the ‘goddess’. The best way to do this is to take a Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Harbour Tour, departing Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Find your tour and book at: 

  1. Central Park

In my opinion, Central Park is the saviour of New York. Without its green spaces, New York would be one large canyon of skyscrapers. The Park spans 843 acres (3.41 square kilometres) in central Manhattan between 5thAvenue and Central Park West, running from 59thStreet to 110 Street. Central Park is an oasis in a frenetic city-scape and a great escape, being an easy walk from Midtown Manhattan. You can walk, cycle and even roller-blade around the park, though on foot is by far the most popular way to explore. Here you will get to experience the four seasons as the trees take on their Summer foliage in Spring and then, in a blaze of ambers and oranges, loose their leaves in Fall. There is so much to see – meandering walkways, fountains, waterfalls and in the winter, ice-skating on the frozen lakes. There is even a castle.

  1. Memorials and Museums

While in Central Park, make sure you visit Strawberry Fields and the memorial to John Lennon. It is directly across the road from John’s NYC home in the Dakota Building on the corner of Central Park West and 72ndStreet. An absolute must-see is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET) on 5thAvenue. You can easily spend a day wandering the amazing and ever-changing exhibits and exhibitions. Check online at: see what is showing. There are more than 100 museums to visit in New York, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Guggenheim Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History. In short, there is a museum for every interest. See all there is to see is

  1. Shop. Shop. Shop

Manhattan is one of the great shopping destinations of the world. From high-end department stores like Bloomingdales and Saks 5thAvenue, to the legendary Tiffany & Co, you’ll find whatever it is you are looking for. Here you’ll discover the latest in seasonal fashions at affordable prices with many retailers offering additional discounts for international visitors. Be aware when you are shopping and comparing prices. Invariable the prices displayed do not include local and state taxes. There are also speciality retail stores selling everything from sporting memorabilia to musical instruments. I found a set of Conga drums adorned with the Cuban flag at Sam Ash Music Stores. Getting them home to Australia was a challenge! Check out:

  1. The best bars, bar none

Your feet ache from all the walking and you are museum-ed out. Time for a little quiet time – in one of the busiest bars in New York! On W54thStreet, the Three Monkeys is an American-style New York bar in Midtown. Here you’ll see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil while you enjoy a quiet Bud (Budweiser Beer) or a pint of one of the finest craft beers in Manhattan. You can even take home a souvenir T-Shirt that proclaims: “The Monkeys Made Me Do It!” Closer to home on the Upper West Side, my favourite watering hole is the Dublin House Bar Room. No prizes for guessing the ethnic origins of this bar. Fact is, there are hundreds of Irish bars in New York, a legacy of the city’s significant Irish population. Located on W79thStreet, the Dublin is a traditional New York village bar where you will feel like a local.

  1. Eating Out

TV shows such as Seinfeld and Friends highlighted the popularity of eating out in New York. There are literally thousands of restaurants and eateries across the length and breadth of Manhattan, so the choice is huge – everything from silver service to ‘serve yourself-all you can eat’. Two of my favourites at the affordable end of the scale are the Brooklyn Diner in Times Square on 43rdStreet and Angelo’s Pizza in Midtown East on 2ndAvenue. The Brooklyn Dinner is like stepping back in time to the old neighbourhood – a welcome at the door, friendly service, comfy seating in booths and generous servings of excellent food. Angelo’s is traditional New York – no frills, just real New York pizza washed down with a glass of Italian red. Unbeatable. You can check out where to eat in New York at:

  1. Catch a Show

You can’t visit New York without catching a live show on Broadway. The most famous show biz street in the world, there are 41 theatres on Broadway. There are shows that have been running for years; including the Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King and Les Miserables, and there are shows that have just commenced their season. You can dress up for an evening at the theatre, with supper after the show at a late-night eatery such as The Halal Guys on W53rd and 6thAvenue. Or, like Dinah and I, you can dress down for an afternoon matinee, with a glass of wine after the show at the trendy rooftop Skylark Bar at W39th Street and 7thAvenue. You can book tickets at the theatre box offices or online, or queue and buy cheap tickets at the booth in Times Square. See what is playing where and when at:

Photo Gallery

Main picture: Me, on friendly terms with a horse-mounted cop in upper Manhattan

  • Dinah enjoys a great start to her day at Juniors Restaurant
  • Finding your way around New York City is easy
  • Great at ground level, NYC is spectacular from the top of the Empire State Building
  • The Statue of Liberty from our ferry on a particularly bleak New York day
  • Looking across Central Park at sunset towards the gothic Eldorado apartment complex
  • The Dakota Building on Central Park West, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s home in NYC
  • Harley Davidson on Lexington Avenue.The shopping in this city is high octane
  • Me outside The Dublin House on West 79th Street in the Upper West Side
  • My son James at the famous Brooklyn Diner on 42nd Street
  • Times Square and Broadway. Grab a ticket and its showtime!
  • The best Beatles cover band I have ever heard – live at 42nd Street Subway Station