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Itineraries to inspire


Duration: 3 days
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Statue of Liberty - Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY 10004, USA

This itinerary - penned for me by a local I sat next to on a flight into New York - gave me a wonderful insight into Manhattan - and New York City has since been permanently engraved into my mind as a great city of culture, history and entertainment. Since my first visit, I have been back on multiple occasions - with friends and family - and I always try to see as much as possible on foot - weather permitting. Getting Around On my trips to NYC, I've always enjoyed walking between destinations. It gives me a sense of how the city fits together, and I really enjoy the sights and finding somewhere new. However, if it's too far for you, you can check out transit options such as Subway, bus, tram and taxis on The Official Guide to New York City Where To Stay In New York City? When tourists refer to visiting New York City, they are often talking about Manhattan Island (22.8 sq. miles, population 1.6 million) - the most densely populated part. Manhattan Island consists of 3 areas: Upper Manhattan, Midtown and Lower. When I have been visiting as a tourist, I have always stayed in Midtown - since it is so convenient as a base for exploring. When I have been travelling for work purposes, I have stayed in Lower - in the financial district. Do invest time in researching which hotel you should stay in. Hotels are the usual option for most travellers. Which Time of Year Is Best To Visit New York? I've visited New York in the winter time when it has been incredibly cold with biting winds, I've visited on very hot summer days, and I've visited in-between, when the temperature has been just right for exploring. September was my favourite month for visiting New York. Photo Credits: 1. Photo by Florian Wehde on Unsplash 2. Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash 3. Photo by Cody Nottingham on Unsplash

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Places to explore


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Culture-Art Gallery Exhibition-Artwork Virtual-Virtual Social Distance-Social distance friendly
1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, USA

Click on the website link to start the virtual tour Photo credit: Tomas Eidsvold

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Nature-Park Virtual-Virtual Social Distance-Lockdown friendly Social Distance-Social distance friendly
Central Park, New York, NY, USA

For the virtual tour, click on the website link. Photo credit: Jermaine Ee, unsplash.com

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Culture-Historical Building Culture-Museum Nature-Island
Ellis Island, United States

A bright new world - a land of possibilities, the opportunity to live what would become known as the American Dream. Back in the old world of Europe, enterprising individuals and entire families dreamed of creating a brighter future for themselves - and America was seen as the place to head. Living conditions in Europe in the 1800s were affected by economic uncertainty, religious persecution and an unstable political landscape. Prior to 1890, the individual states in the US policed their own immigration policies - and in New York State, this was carried out at Castle Clinton (formerly Castle Garden), from 1855 onwards. Some 8 million Europeans, mostly from the northern climes - passed through the state's administration facilities to settle into their new lives. As the Federal Government moved in to standardise immigration, the 27.5 acre Ellis island (a former naval magazine) was chosen as the location to build the new landing facility. The facility including quarantining facilities - in an attempt to prevent the new arrivals bringing disease from Europe with them. In 1892, the first year of operation, some 400,000 new immigrants arrived at the new facility. Inspection facilities screened arrivals for signs of both physical and mental illness. Approximately 1% of those who were screened were deemed to have failed the requirements for entry and were sadly scheduled for deportation back across the Atlantic. The buildings you see today are in fact the second incarnation of the immigration centre - the first wooden buildings (themselves having processed 1.5 million arrivals) having burnt to the ground in 1897 - including all of the immigration records. The second immigration centre, which opened in 1900, went on to process a further 12 million immigrants up to the year of 1921. After 1921, arrival inspections were carried out on the arriving boats themselves - and Ellis island was relegated to a detention centre for migrants. I visited the Ellis Island museum back in 2006, but the memorable experience has stuck with me to this day. I took the audio guide option - which was excellent - and it added an extra dimension to the learning experience. To think of the boats arriving, loaded with passengers seeking a new life in America, after a gruelling voyage across the Atlantic - only to face uncertainty as to whether they would be allowed in - evokes the emotions. Sadly, some of those turned away took their own lives rather than face the return journey. Entry to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National museum is free - however getting there is not. Only one vendor is permitted to drop passengers at the islands - Statue Cruises - and tickets must be obtained directly from them (ignore all non-authorised street vendors who overcharge, and sell fake tickets). For tickets, see: https://www.statuecruises.com/. Children under 3 are free on the ferry, but ages 4-12 cost $9. The ferry departs from both Castle Clinton in Battery Park (NYC) and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Arrive in plenty of time! Image Credits: 1. by Chris Engel from Pixabay 2. By Unknown author - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a14957.

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Culture-Landmark Culture-Monument Culture-Museum
9/11 Memorial & Museum, 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, USA

Just about every person on the planet can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when the terrible events of 11 September 2001 began to unfold. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum at ground zero (the former site of the World Trade Center), was founded with the goal of documenting the attack and its lasting impact. It remembers the 2,977 people who were lost on that tragic day, and also the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, which killed 6. The memorial is open daily between 1pm and 8pm. The memorial consists of a collection of 243 white swamp oak trees, and two 9.1m deep reflecting pools - each representing the site of one of the twin towers. The memorial is sombre and its size reflects the enormity of the tragedy. Water flows across where the each stood. The names of the victims stand engraved on stone plaques around the perimeter. I remember visiting the World Trade Center site a few years after the tragedy, seeing the gaping hole in the ground. It really gave a sense of the enormity of what had happened to an entire city block. Today, this memorial provides a lasting reminder. The design selected for the memorial was that of architect Michael Arad, an Israeli-American - based in San Francisco. It was opened on September 12, 2011 - after just over 5 years of construction. The museum itself is located at 180 Greenwich Street. It includes many artefacts from the site, including the Survivors Staircase - which, after the towers fell, was the final remaining structure on the site. The stairs saved hundreds of people from the World Trade Center on 9/11. The museum prices are listed on this page, but in addition, there's a family pass ticket available for $82, which covers 2 adults and up to 3 children. Children aged 7-12 are priced at $15, and under 7s are free. US Military (active or retired) gain free admission. Between 3:30pm and 5pm on Mondays, admission is free for everyone. Photo Credits 1. Photo by Axel Houmadi on Unsplash 2. Image by Jens Junge from Pixabay

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Culture-Art Gallery Culture-Museum
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA

2020 marked the 150th anniversary of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York - often referred to simply as "The Met". The Met has 1.5 million works of art - spanning 5,000 years of human creativity - divided over its two locations: Fifth Avenue in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and The Met Cloisters in the north - at Fort Tryon Park. This article focuses on The Met Fifth Avenue. The Met Fifth Avenue is one of the world's largest art galleries - and it had nearly 6.5 million visitors in 2019. Not only will you find masterful paintings, drawings and sculptures, but the museum also places a focus on interior design, and even houses an antique weapons collection. The permanent collections include ancient Egyptian artefacts, works from the European masters, classical antiquities and American art through the ages. There are 35,000 art works from Asia, 17,000 works from ancient Greece and the Roman period, one of the world's largest collections of Islamic art, and a 4,000 square metre exhibition hall (The Rockefeller Wing) including 11,000 pieces of work from sub-Saharan Africa, The Pacific Islands and The Americas. With the museum having a specific focus on modern art, needless to say there are some incredible pieces to see: Jackson Pollock's Autumn Rhythm, Picasso's Gertrude Stein and cubist works by Picasso, Braque and Gris. The modern day building contains nearly 2 million square feet of floor space, and is nearly 1/4 of a mile long (400 meters) - but it wasn't always this way. The original building of 1880 was 20 times smaller - but the modern day building (owned by The City of New York) - has been expanded over the years. The Beaux-Arts front to the museum was a later addition - and its iconic appearance, in my opinion, couldn't be improved upon for a museum of this significance. How long should you spend at The Met? The answer to that depends entirely on you. The museum is huge - and one could easily spend an entire day here. Several hundred thousand works of art from The Met have now been digitised and made available online by the museum - so if you miss something - you can check it out from home. During Covid restricted times, The Met is open to guests who have pre-booked at the museum website (link on this page), at the following times: Tuesdays and Wednesdays: Closed Thursdays and Fridays: 12-7 Saturday–Monday: 10-5 The Met has made available an audio guide on the SoundCloud.com website. Image by anielbaez0 from Pixabay

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Settlement-Neighbourhood
Chinatown, New York, NY, USA

The highest concentration of Chinese people living in the West can be found in Lower Manhattan's Chinatown - one of 9 Chinatowns to be found in New York City. Around 100,000 people live here, together with an additional 800,000 ethnically Chinese people in living in the New York metropolitan area. Approximately 64% of the population of the Chinatown on Manhattan are of Asian ethnicity. Bordering Little Italy, if you're exploring Lower Manhattan on foot, it's worth experiencing Chinatown - and some Chinese culture. The population is divided between Cantonese and Fuzhou - although since the Cantonese population has traditionally dominated the business district, many Fuzhou speakers have since learned Cantonese. The official language of China is Mandarin - and since the start of the new millennium, there has also been an influx of new Mandarin speakers to the area. As well as greengrocers, fish mongers and street vendors, tourism and the restaurant business dominate the economy of Chinatown. There are more than 300 restaurants here, and if you enjoy Dim Sum, check out the restaurants on Little Fuzhou - East Broadway. It was back in the 1850s when the first resident of Chinese origin moved into the area - Ah Ken. If you want to dive deeper into the area's history while you are here, check out MOCA - the Museum of Chinese Americans - at 215 Centre Street. Although damaged by a fire in January 2020, many of the original items were fortunately salvaged, and a prior digitisation effort had already captured 35,000 of the items. Originally opened in 1980, the museum was opened with the goal of sharing the Chinese Americans experience through its exhibitions. If you're not used to exploring large cities, it can be quite eye opening to step through such distinctly different neighbourhoods that border so closely. In this part of Manhattan, a short walk can take you from the Financial District through to Chinatown and then Little Italy. Two subways serve Chinatown - one at Grand Street, and one at Canal Street. Photo Credits 1. Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash 2. Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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Settlement-Neighbourhood
New York, NY 10036, USA

"The Center of the Universe", "The Heart of the World", "The Crossroads of the World", "The Great White Way". However you refer to New York's Times Square, and whatever you think of it - there's no escaping the fact that here lies one of America's most iconic landmarks - and 131 million annual visitors come here to be a part of it. Bright lights and billboards beam down on passers by - showering their commercial messages and mesmerising those of us from more subdued climes. The competition between pedestrians and traffic along this diagonal intersection has been somewhat tamed - thanks to Mayor Bloomberg's pedestrianisation efforts. A staggering 460,000 people walk in the square on its busiest of days - and thanks to the removal of some of that traffic - there are now significantly fewer traffic-person collisions. To further improve air quality, smoking has been banned in Times Square since 2011 - with a 50 dollar fine for those not adhering to the law. Bang in the centre of mid-town Manhattan, where Broadway and Seventh Avenue intersect, this is the epicentre of the Broadway Theatre District. If you're in New York City for entertainment - you'll be in the "very heart of it" in Times Square. While you're here you could check out Madame Tussauds New York, The Hard Rock Café, The National Geographic Encounter, Ripley's Believe it or Not, the Swing 46 Jazz Club or countless other entertainment venues. There are over 200 cafés and restaurants in Times Square's immediate vicinity. You may think of Times Square as a commercial hub, but it is also home to some 5,800 residents. 172,000 office workers commute through Times Square on a regular day. The square is frequented by costumed characters - who are not actually residents, but may as well be. Here to entertain, it's customary - but not required - to tip them. To find out about on-going festivals and events in the area, visitors can check out the Official NYC Information Centers. The nearest one to Times Square is located at Broadway Plaza between 43rd St and 44th Street - and is closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. News Years Eve holds a special meaning for Times Square - with over 1 million revellers typically attending for the strike of midnight. Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

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Culture-Historical Building Culture-Landmark Culture-Tower
20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001, USA

For 42 years from its construction in 1930, the iconic Empire State Building, on the west side of Fifth Avenue on Manhattan, stood as the world's tallest building.The World Trade Centre building took its top spot. After the WTC's tragic collapse on 9th September 2001, the Empire State Building again became New York City's tallest building - reigning until 2012. Following a construction boom, the Empire State Building is today (2020) relegated to the 7th tallest building in New York City and the world's 48th tallest. The building attracts 4 million tourists on a regular year - thanks to its central location in Midtown Manhattan, its Art Deco style and the popular observation decks. And, truth be told, it's the observation decks that they stand in the long lines for. And when I say long lines, they can get very loooong! On my last visit, with my father, we opted for the $69 VIP Express Pass - at a $30+ premium to the regular ticket price. When your stay in New York City is limited and you want to maximise your time by seeing as many sights as possible, the last thing you want to do is waste hours in lines. On that occasion, I must admit to feeling a bit of a cheat as we were escorted to the front of the lines - but as we saw how many people we passed, I am extremely glad we made the investment.The observation decks are located on the 80th, 86th, and 102nd floors. I really enjoyed my visit to the observation deck - and I can highly recommend it, to gain a real life perspective of the scale of Manhattan. You stand outside the building, behind iron railings. It's an odd feeling to see regular skyscrapers look relatively small below you. Pushed ahead by the roaring 1920s "Race To The Sky", the buildings plans went from 50 to 60 to 80 floors and then to the present 102. Rivalry with the Chrysler building, and fears that the owners of that building could plant a spire on top to win the crown of highest building, pushed the owners of the Empire State Building to a final design of 1,250 feet (380 meters). There were 15 versions of the original plans made, before the building was finally approved. The final building has been called one of the 7 wonders of the modern world. 3,500 workers contributed to the construction of the Empire State Building - and it was completed in a mere 18 months. The building has 6,514 windows and 73 elevators. Photo by Kit Suman on Unsplash

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Culture-Landmark Settlement-Neighbourhood
Wall St, New York, NY, USA

Although Wall Street has become synonymous with references to the big financial institutions in the US, it is actually an 8 block thoroughfare between Broadway and the East River in Lower Manhattan. The actual financial district, housing the multitudes of brokerage firms that support the exchange, extends way beyond this street. There were, at one point, 6 major exchanges on Wall Street: The New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, the American Stock Exchange, the New York Mercantile Exchange the New York Futures Exchange and the New York Board of Trade. The New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ remain the world's two largest exchanges by market-capitalisation - that is the sum of all the tradable securities on their markets - at almost $23 and $11 billion dollars respectively. The next largest in the world is the Japanese Exchange, with $5.8 billion market-cap. If you start at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, and walk down Wall Street for 2 blocks and look right, you will see the grand entrance to the New York Stock Exchange - on the corner with Broad Street. These days, many exchanges no longer have a trading floor where dealers (with their distinctive coloured jackets that indicate which firm they deal for) interact - most transactions of stocks take place between 2 computer systems. In fact, from 2000-2010 I was myself a software developer creating systems that trade on these markets - but that's another story. Located only a few blocks from the former World Trade Center, the attacks of 9/11 also destroyed the communication networks that were vital to the New York Stock Exchange. Many of the financial firms that trade on Wall Street also rented offices in the World Trade Center towers - and it is estimated that up to 45% of the office space required by Wall Street firms were destroyed in the attacks. Many firms have since relocated to New Jersey, Mid Town Manhattan, or other cities, such as Chicago. It was in 1789, that the first US president - George Washington - was inaugurated on Wall Street. As a tourist, the main reason to visit here is to see the world's central financial hub and the New York Stock Exchange entrance with your own eyes. There's not much more to it than that. If you've ever got excited by movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, or Oliver Stone's Wall Street - then you can now put a face to a place. To get to Wall Street, you can use one of the 3 Metro stops, the ferry terminal, grab a cab, or, if you're a tourist, walk. Photo Credits: 1. Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash 2. Image by Alexander Naumann from Pixaba

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Culture-Landmark Culture-Statue Nature-Island
Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY 10004, USA

A gift from the people of France to the people of the USA to celebrate their independence, the Union victory in the civil war and the abolition of slavery, the Statue of Liberty is perhaps the most iconic symbol of the United States. Conceived by Édouard René de Laboulaye, it was his hope that the people of France would also be motivated by the symbolism, and rise up against the ruling monarchy in a push for democracy. Thought to have been conceived in 1865, it was finally dedicated in 1886. While France gifted the statue itself, America was responsible for finding a suitable location (formerly known as Bedloe's Island), and building the pedestal to hold this 46 metres giant built from 27.2 tonnes of smelted copper. The copper itself is a mere 2.4mm thick, and it covers 113 tonnes of steel. Located close to Ellis Island - the Federal immigration entry point in use from 1892, the statue was a welcoming sign for immigrants arriving from Europe. The statue itself is of the Roman goddess of Liberty: Libertas. The shackles lying broken at her feet celebrate the abolition of slavery, and in her left hand she holds a tablet inscribed with the date of American independence in 1776: July 4th. Upon approaching the island by ferry you'll get some great photo opportunities of the statue itself - perhaps even better than on the island. Upon docking, the National Park Service (who run the island) provides a guided tour via their Rangers. This complements the excellent free audio tour - and both services provided within the cost of the ferry ticket. Entry to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National museum is free - however getting there is not. Only one vendor is permitted to drop passengers at the islands - Statue Cruises - and tickets must be obtained directly from them (ignore all non-authorised street vendors who overcharge, and sell fake tickets). For tickets, see: https://www.statuecruises.com/. Children under 3 are free on the ferry, but ages 4-12 cost $9. The ferry departs from both Castle Clinton in Battery Park (NYC) and Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Arrive in plenty of time! Note: CROWN ACCESS at the Statue of Liberty costs an additional $3. Photo Credits: 1. Photo by Andy MacMillan on Unsplash 2. Photo by Avi Werde on Unsplash

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Culture-Art Gallery Culture-Museum
1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, USA

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is an art gallery in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It has a focus on contemporary, impressionist, post-impressionist and early-modern works of art. It's located on 5th Avenue, near the lower east side of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, in Central Park. The museum has 7 sister museums - 3 in the Americas, 3 in Europe and 1 in the Middle East. From the exterior, the white, swirling 1959 Guggenheim Museum building itself is a piece of art. The architect was the innovative Frank Lloyd Wright - who created over 1,000 buildings over his 70 years of work. The design of the Guggenheim building (considered Wright's masterpiece) is not only eye-catching, but its form is functional: the swirls on the outside translate into 7 floors of continuous walkway on the inside - leading visitors upwards while they admire the art that adorns the walls. On Manhattan, where ground space comes at a premium, this makes a good deal of sense. In regular years, the museum attracts around 1 million visitors per year. The museum is open 7 days a week, from 10 am, and generally closes at 5.30pm, except for 8 pm closing on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing. The best time to visit is opening time, if you want to avoid the crowds. I visited on a Sunday morning, and didn't find the museum to be crowded at all at that time. Allow yourself between 1 and 3 hours to visit The Guggenheim Museum - depending on your interest in studying the works of art. As with most galleries, the exhibitions at The Guggenheim consist of permanent and temporary exhibits. There are over 30 Picasso paintings on permanent display, as well as works by Gaugin, Klimt and Degas. On my visit, I particularly enjoyed the works of Jackson Pollack. In order to educate yourself of the art works, the museum provides an audio guide which is available to patrons for free. As well as in English, the guide is available in French, Italian, Spanish and German. The museum has 2 eateries: on the 3rd floor you'll find Café 3 - with a view over Central Park, or you could try The Wright restaurant. Photo Credits: 1. Photo by Tomas Eidsvold on Unsplash 2. Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

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Culture-Landmark Nature-Park
Central Park, New York, NY, USA

Central Park sits in central Manhattan - between the Upper East and Upper West sides - and is the breath of fresh air you just might need amongst the hustle and bustle of city life. There are 18 gates used to get in and and out of the park - located around the nearly 9km long stone wall that surrounds it. The park covers 843 acres (3.4 square km, or 1.3 square miles), and is 2.5 miles long, by 0.5 miles wide (4km by 0.8km). When you're in it, this feels like a very substantial urban park - but it is actually only the fifth largest park in New York City. There are approximately 40 million visits to Central Park per year - made by approximately 9 million people. It is estimated that 70% of these visitors are New York City residents. The winning design for the park was selected in April 1858: Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's "Greensward Plan". Top soil was shipped in to the park in enourmous quantities: around 5 million cubic feet (140,000 cubic meters). 700 workers contributed to the overall building project - that included a reservoir and lakes, 3 wooded areas (North Woods, the Ramble, and Hallett Nature Sanctuary) contributing to the more than 20,000 trees in the park, numerous plazas and entrances. There are 29 monuments in the park - with Bethesda Fountain being the only statue actually commissioned for the park. If zoos are your thing, you can check out the Central Park zoo while you are here. Residents of Manhattan make great use of Central Park for recreational purposes. The 6.1 miles (nearly 10km) of driveways are used daily by joggers, runners and inline skaters, to get their cardio fix. A staggering 26 baseball fields lie within the park's bounds. In the winter months, the park plays host to 2 skating rinks. Younger children need not feel left out as there are no less than 21 playgrounds in the park - the largest being Heckscher Playground. On my last visit, I rented a model boat from the Kerbs Memorial Boathouse - which I found to be very relaxing. Both radio controlled and wind powered boats are available. If a full size boat is more your thing, then between April and October you can rent a rowing boat or gondola at the Lake - from 10am until dusk. For more information, check out: thecentralparkboathouse.com. You can also enjoy a ride in a horse driven carriage, or take part in a bicycle tour around the park. On your way around, check out some of the stone bridges (for example, Balcony Bridge) - at least to me they felt like they had been lifted right out of the European countryside. There are so many features of interest in the park - and I can highly recommend visiting the Central Park Conservancy's website to get a full overview: https://www.centralparknyc.org/attractions/ There are numerous opportunities for refreshments in the park. 3 restaurants and 6 cafés supply the parks visitors with their fares. Check out Ballfields Cafe if you fancy a sandwich, salad or a burger. Photo Credits: 1. Image by David Mark from Pixabay 2. Photo by Jason Forrest on Unsplash 3. Image by Leonhard Niederwimmer from Pixabay

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