Even if you’re a regular visitor to New York, there’s always new places to see and explore. Each of the five boroughs is as individual as its residents and the varied neighborhoods offer diverse lifestyles and perspectives to contribute to the melting pot.
If you’re a first-time visitor, essential things to do should include the city’s unrivaled shopping and dining, as well as visits to the major landmarks, easily reached via New York’s excellent public transportation, taxis, or, in the case of the Statue of Liberty, a ferry trip around the harbor. Chinatown and other ethnic enclaves, Brooklyn and its famous bridge, arty SoHo, Long Island in Queens, Times Square, Broadway and Wall Street are all contrasting facets of this astonishing conurbation.
A watery tour around New York Harbor includes a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty, the iconic representation of a new life to the millions of immigrants who arrived by sea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Zerve NY offers cruises on a 1920’s-style yacht, taking in Lady Liberty, Ellis Island where the immigrants were processed, as well as Brooklyn, Queens and views of the New York skyline from the East River.
The Brooklyn Bridge was once infamous for its criminal fraternities, bootleggers and teeming tenements crowded with immigrants. Nowadays, it’s gentrifying fast, but its gritty New York character is still there. On the Brooklyn bank of the river there’s a promenade with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, while the downtown hub boasts magnificent heritage buildings. Coney Island is still a popular beachside amusement park and Viator give interesting tours of the borough.
Chinatown’s exotic, scruffy atmosphere is most evident around Canal and Mott streets, which sits next door to Little Italy with its unmistakable Neapolitan and Sicilian flavor. Chinatown’s heart is around East Broadway, packed with ethnic stores, drugstores, markets and hundreds of restaurants serving authentic Chinese regional cuisine. NYC Chinatown Tours give a great overview of the area.
SoHo’s glorious cast-iron architecture is as admired today as it was the ’60s, when the district was a hub for bohemians and New York’s art community. Now known for its shopping and dining, the former warehouse district was the initiator of the loft apartment revolution which spread across Western Europe. A walking tour is offered by Walking Tours Manhattan.
Central Park is the playground for New Yorkers desperate for fresh air in the stifling city summers, and skating on the ponds in winter is a favorite with many. A giant tree-lined rectangle in Upper Manhattan, it’s home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and bordered by the famous fashion boulevard of Fifth Avenue. Harlem lies along its southern border and the Puerto Rican hub of Spanish Harlem is also close by. A fun biking tour can be taken with Mustsee Central Park.
Manhattan’s Theater District boasts Broadway, Times Square and Wall Street, all well worth a wander. Broadway’s theaters have welcomed more stars than the Milky Way, and while Times Square may be touristy, it’s the heart of the city with its neon lights, digital displays and themed eateries. A Wall Street visit with Manhattan Walking Tours reveals the Federal Hall where George Washington was proclaimed president and the National Historic Landmark of the New York Stock Exchange, fronted by its famous bronze bull.