You’re destined for hundreds of high-rises towering above you, distinct accents filling your ears; fanny-packs, cameras, and maps crowding your line of sight, and hotdog-stand aromas tickling your nose. You’re destined for New York City, our country’s forever-buzzed-about tourist mecca.
You’ve long known about the all-too-typical tourist sites like the grand Statue of Liberty and the hectic Times Square but you want more. Whether you’re a returning visitor or just someone who fancies a rare look at the big city, there are tons of unique excursions sure to put that NYC sparkle in your eye.
If asked to describe New York City, most people mention the iconic skyline, the Empire State Building, Central Park and other famous sights in Manhattan. But New York City is made up of five boroughs, and visitors who cross the river will find many attractions to rival Manhattan, so it’s worth making a trip to Brooklyn too.
Go on a Bicycle Tour in Central Park
With 843 acres of flora, fine art, and beautiful creeks, Central Park provides an escape from the frantic city with its serene sounds and scenic views. Twenty dollars will get you a two-hour bike rental, where you can explore the park’s highlights like the Row Bridge, Belvedere Castle, and the John Lennon “Imagine” mosaic tribute.
Walk in Prospect Park
Prospect Park in Brooklyn was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park. He considered Prospect Park his better work. Covering 586 acres, Prospect Park contains a lake, a forest, meadows and hills, and numerous attractions including a zoo, an Audubon Centre and a skating rink. Nearby are Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, a plant-filled oasis covering fifty-two acres. It specialises in Japanese flora and has a cherry-blossom festival each spring. Newer parks include the Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has a vintage carousel and offers wonderful views of Manhattan from its riverside esplanades, and Marine Park, which has many recreational facilities and a Salt Marsh Nature Centre.
Enjoy an Artisan cocktail at an Old-Fashioned Speak Easy
Pretend you’re living back in the Prohibition era, when alcohol was banned and speakeasies were your illegal ticket to sip booze. Swanky and exclusive bars like Death & Company and Employees Only will transport you 90 years back in time, and they’ll serve you expertly concocted libations.
Slurp an Oyster in Grand Central Terminal
Before entering this historically famous train station, be sure to know its proper name. Grand Central Terminal (not station) is a shrine to New York’s famed history. On your way to the iconic oyster bar downstairs, be sure to delight your eyes with the incredible mural painted on the ceiling of the main concourse.
Play Fan For the Day at a New York Sporting Event
Grab a jersey and a ball cap and head to Madison Square Garden to witness the Knicks shooting 3-pointers or to Yankee Stadium where a home run is a likely occurrence. For an adrenaline rush, grab some New York Islanders tickets and head to the coliseum in Long Island for a possible “hat trick.”
Take the Train to Brooklyn for a Pizza Pie
Sure, you can get the famed, floppy crust NYC-style pizza at any corner in the city; however, you need to devour the cheesy, red-sauced dough where it’s deemed supreme by New York food bloggers and critics alike. Joints like Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and Di Fara’s Pizza will be the ultimate lunch break after strolling the cultured and charming streets of Brooklyn.
Be a Part of the Williamsburg Nightlife
One of the hippest areas of New York is Williamsburg. This Brooklyn neighbourhood has reinvented itself from an industrial area to a cosmopolitan centre of creativity, filled with artists, writers and musicians living in warehouses and brownstones among interesting restaurants, bars, clubs and shops. Many bars have live music, including the Music Hall of Williamsburg, the Monkey Lounge and Sound Fix. Bowling alleys, such as Gutter or Brooklyn Bowl, are another popular way to spend the evening. Other nightlife hotspots in Brooklyn can be found at Coney Island and the nearby Brighton Beach. The latter is often termed ‘Little Russia’ due to its large immigrant population, and the vodka flows freely in the district’s many bars and nightclubs.
Plan a Picnic at the High Line
A glorified and pristine park, this stretch of deserted railroad track sits 30 feet in the air, overlooking fascinating views of the Hudson River as well as the hustling New Yorkers on the sidewalks below. Grab a couple of bagels and relax in the natural, native-like landscaped surroundings.
Vist the Brooklyn Museums
The Brooklyn Museum is the second-largest in the city, and far less crowded than the museums in Manhattan. It has a huge Egyptian collection, an art collection including works by Monet, Cezanne and Degas, and unique African and Pacific Island galleries. The New York Transit Museum, in the Downtown area, displays the history of the New York subway system and has many historic subway cars. Other interesting museums to visit are the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Jewish Children’s Museum and the Harbor Defense Museum, the only military museum in New York City.
Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the great symbols of New York. It was built across the East River in 1883 and is one of the oldest suspension bridges in America. It is open to cars, and has a wide walkway for pedestrians and cyclists. It takes about thirty minutes to walk over the bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of three bridges that cross from Manhattan to Brooklyn. The other two are less used by tourists, but both Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan Bridge have pedestrian walkways and all three bridges are a great place to view New York City.
For a taste of nostalgia, visitors should head to Coney Island. Although damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Luna Park has re-opened and visitors can still ride the iconic Cyclone. This wooden roller-coaster was built in 1927, and is an official New York City Landmark. As well as numerous rides and arcades, Coney Island houses the New York Aquarium and Nathan’s Hot Dogs, a stand that has been open since 1916. The company sponsors an annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest that draws crowds. A quieter time can be had in Green-Wood Cemetery, a wonderfully Gothic burial place filled with mausoleums, rolling hills, ponds and greenery. Many famous Americans have graves here, including Theodore Roosevelt and Leonard Bernstein.