New York City Vacation Ideas
New York City is comprised of five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. Most visitors head for Manhattan, famous for its historic attractions, a wide choice of hotels, spas, Broadway shows and scenic points. Manhattan is divided into three main tourist areas with a very distinct personality: Uptown, Midtown and Downtown. Book your hotel in the area that interests you the most so that you can be within walking distance of your points of interest.
Uptown Manhattan is home to Central Park and famous museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art , The Guggenheim and the American Museum of Natural History. Midtown features famous attractions like Times Square and the Rockefeller Center. Downtown is comprised of diverse areas such as Chinatown, SoHo, TriBeCa, the Village and the Financial District. Battery Park and the South Street Seaport offer some of the best views of Downtown Manhattan, while the terrace at Wollman Rink features beautiful views of the Midtown.
Walk along the famous Brooklyn Bridge for a unique perspective or take a cruise. Circle Line Cruises offers sightseeing trips that offer views of New York City from the water. Trips last from one to three hours and depart from the South Street Seaport and Pier 83 at West 42nd Street.
Times Square is a must-see stop for every New York City visitor. Whether you want to purchase discounted Broadway tickets or are just looking for a New York experience, Times Square is the place to go. A jungle of restaurants, Broadway theaters, hotels and souvenir shops, Times Square is most famous for its giant bright neon billboards.
New York City offers a great selection of hotels and inns, whether you are looking for a luxury getaway with a full service spa or a unique townhouse hotel that feels like a private residence. New York City hotels tent to be expensive, so look for specials and packages, particularly on weekends. Prices are higher mid-week because of business travelers. If you are planning a trip around a major holiday like New Year's or Thanksgiving, reservations are a must because rooms quickly sell out.
Near Central Park, there are many choices with stunning park view rooms and suites, including the famous Plaza Hotel which has been featured in many movies, The Helmsley Park Lane, The Sherry Netherland, Le Parker Meridien New York with modern rooms and Herman Miller chairs, Mandarin Oriental, New York in the Time Warner Center, the luxurious The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park with the La Prairie Spa, AKA Central Park with an outdoor bed, Dream New York and Jumeirah Essex House.
Midtown Manhattan offers many hotels. If you want to be close to Time Square, choose from Hotel 41 at Times Square which is next to a Broadway theater, Moroccan-style Casablanca Hotel, the Zen-inspired W Hotel New York - Times Square, The Michelangelo Hotel with its oversized rooms, and the boutique Chambers Hotel. The Library Hotel is a unique hotel for book lovers near the New York Public Library.
Close to the Fifth Avenue shopping and the Rockefeller Center are the luxury New York Palace, The Waldorf Astoria Hotel and the exclusive The Waldorf Towers, great for longer stays. The Algonquin Hotel with its famous cat and the recently renovated 70 Park Avenue Hotel are also nearby. Other great Midtown hotels include the modern Alex Hotel, Hotel Giraffe with a private roof-top garden, the band new NoMad Hotel, W Hotel New York with the reliable "whatever, whenever" service, Grand Hyatt New York with a 24-hour gym, Loews Regency Hotel which offers a selection of suites, and the renovated landmark St. Regis New York. You may also like the romantic Hotel Elysee, The Iroquois with a Les Clefs d'Or certified concierge, the chic Night New York, The Benjamin Hotel which is dedicated to giving you a good night's sleep, St Giles Hotel New York - The Court and St Giles Hotel New York - The Tuscany.
In Downtown Manhattan, there is the W Hotel New York - Union Square, perfect for fans of the Union Square farmer's market, Hotel Gansevoort with a heated outdoor swimming pool, The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park with spectacular water views, The Inn at Irving Place that has a residential feel, 60 Thompson Hotel right in the center of Soho shopping, SoHo Grand Hotel and the Tribeca Grand Hotel.
If you are looking for a stylish affordable option with scenic Manhattan skyline views, check into the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn.
A popular honeymoon destination, New York City offers everything - from romantic hideouts in Central Park to unique restaurants and fabulous museums. For a taste of classical romance, book a suite at the St. Regis or the Plaza Hotel. Take a carriage rides in Central Park and explore this romantic destination with famous attractions such as the Strawberry Fields and lesser known nooks like The Ramble and the Arthur Ross Pinetum. Watch a spectacular performance at the Lincoln Center.
The best place for families is New York City is Central Park. It has its own Zoo, 21 themed playgrounds, a Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, statues from children's stories, a historic Carousel, a model boat pond Conservatory Water and a large lake. Read more about New York City's Central Park for Kids. Kids also like historic ships at the South Street Seaport in Downtown Manhattan, American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium.
Lincoln Center Out of Doors takes place every summer at Lincoln Center in New York City. The festival features 100 free events, including American, Haitian, Brazilian and Pacific Rim music. If you are planning a New York City vacation during the summer, Lincoln Center Out of Doors is a great place to spend an afternoon. For a complete calendar of events, visit www.lincolncenter.org.
The River to River is the largest free arts event in New York City history. Running from May through September, the festival presents over 500 different performances. Events are held in Downtown Manhattan at Battery Park, Castle Clinton, City Hall Park, Rockefeller Park, The Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, South Street Seaport, Wagner Park, and World Financial Center Plaza & Winter Garden. A complete calendar of events can be found at www.rivertorivernyc.org.
In Chinatown, there are several celebrations throughout the year. Chinese New Year takes place between the months of January and February. During this celebration, homes are adorned in red and gold. During the Lantern Festival, part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, lanterns are hung in the streets while dragon and lion dances are held. Ghost Festival takes place on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
If you are a fan of Asian cuisine, be sure to explore Chinatown. In addition to Cantonese, Shanghainese, Szechuan restaurants, you will be presented with a choice of Thai, Singaporean, Japanese, Indonesian and Asian fusion dining venues. Chinatown is also home to numerous bakeries where you can try Chinese pastries ranging from sweet to meat-filled and red-bean flavored. May May Gourmet Chinese Bakery located at 35 Pell Street (Mott Street & Bowery) serves great finger food (888-788-0481, www.maymayfood.com). Chinese tea houses are a great place to rest while sightseeing and shopping. Try Silk Road MoCha (212-566-3738) located at 30 Mott Street, or Ten Ren's Tea Time (212-732-7178) located at 79 Mott Street.
Central Park SummerStage presents a number of concerts, dance performances, readings and other events throughout the summer in New York City. Many events are offered free of charge. To reach the Central Park SummerStage, enter the park at 69th Street and 5th Avenue. A complete calendar of events is available online at www.summerstage.org. Co-produced by the League of American Theatres & Producers and the Times Square Alliance, Broadway on Broadway is a free annual concert that attracts 50,000 theatre fans. The concert takes place outdoors in Times Square. Expect to see live performances on a huge stage, celebrity performers and a shower of confetti.
If you are staying in Downtown Manhattan this summer, take advantage of numerous free outdoor events that take place there through the end of August. From June 15 through August 31, the Hudson River Festival in Battery Park features free performances by various artists as well as other events such as garden tours, Tai Chi and preschool play. The Hudson River Festival events take place in Battery Park City, in the World Financial Center Plaza and in Castle Clinton. For a complete calendar of events, visit www.hudsonriverfestival.com.