New to New York? Time limited and you want to see as much as you can while still getting a real flavor for the city? Then there are a few activities and sites worth avoiding.
Neither take a yellow cab or a “pedi-cab.” Only tourists take the price gauging pedal-pushing, wallet-emptying gimmicky form of New York transportation; while taxis in New York may seem convenient, but in order to get through the insane New York traffic, they may give you a heart attack. Therefore, get underground and take the beloved subway. Get there fast, get there safe, and still have some money left to actually have some fun on the other end of the ride.
Did someone suggest visiting the Empire State Building? Well, don’t. Not unless you find long lines-five to be exact-and hard sells of stupid products like a “3-D ride over the city or an “express ticket” as some kind of fun. Consider going to the Rainbow Room instead. Trek on over to Rockefeller Plaza, 65th floor, order a drink, sit back, and for the same $20 you would have spent waiting on line at the Empire State Building, admire the exact same view.
Dreaming of a romantic ride on one of those lovely horse-drawn carriages through Central Park? Well, you better dream of something else. The rides are nothing like what you might imagine. The horse will have no get up and go, you will travel on the same well-worn paths with little interest, the driver will talk about things of little interest, and you will spend most of the time staring at the back of the carriage in front of you.
We recommend waking up with the sun and strolling through the beautiful Central Park with your bestest friend for a real, romantic moment. Forget the overpriced horse and get real.
A relative newcomer in New York City, The Native Plant Garden of the New York Botanical Garden only just opened in the spring of 2013. In actuality, however, there has been a native plant display since the 1930s on the same 3.5 acre site where a newly landscaped and redesigned habitat has been created to better showcase the wide assortment of plants that grow in a variety of habitats throughout the northeastern part of North America.
The garden does more than just display native plant life, but also exhibits a sustainable and environmentally friendly landscape created with local, recycled materials. The centerpiece of the garden is a lovely pool which is fed from recycled storm-water collected on site and filtered naturally by aquatic plants. The buildings and benches in the garden are made from salvaged, recycled, and sustainably harvested materials. The wood for the boardwalks comes from the black locust tree, a native hardwood.
The Native Plant Garden holds within its small secluded paths, shaded woodland, dry open meadow and lush wetlands close to 100,000 plants, heritage oak trees, shrubs, wild flowers, ferns and meadow grasses.
The garden is truly an oasis in the middle of the bustling metropolis of New York. Visitors will no doubt find a few moments of peace and tranquility to reboot their nervous systems before they get back into the crazy pace of life in the Big Apple.
Take a tour of one of the world’s greatest landmarks. You get a boat ride, too!
You probably already knew this, but it is nice to have one’s suspicions confirmed- according to NYCTourist, the five “must-do” activities for families in New York are:
• The American Museum of Natural History: Dinosaurs; giant whales on the ceiling; an awesome sky show at the planetarium. You name it, its inside this amazing building filled with mysteries revealed, little-known creatures and anything else your imagination can, or sometimes cannot come up with.
• Broadway: Singing, dancing, drama- the Great White Way will light up you and your family’s life like no other experience. Yes, its expensive, but there are ways of saving lots on your tickets, either on the internet or getting tickets at the last moment in Times Square. Don’t miss giving your family memories that will last a lifetime.
• NY Skyride: Take the elevator up, up, up to the top of the Empire State building and enjoy a 30 minute virtual tour in a simulator which is a one-of-a-kind. Passengers move in synch with the 18-foot high-definition screen while flying above the streets and landmarks of NYC.
• Statue of Liberty and Skyline Cruise: going to the SOL is like getting two great activities rolled into one. A fun boat ride with the best view of the NYC skyline imaginable; and an exciting and educational tour of one of the greatest landmarks found anywhere in the world. Take the kids, you won’t regret it.
• NYC Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tours: really get down to the nitty-gritty of what NYC is all about. It’s about the culture, and where better to explore the culture than in the neighborhoods and the unique foods offered. It’s something different and sure to please.
Winter might be the best time of year to visit the Statue of Liberty. Lines are shorter with less tourists and natives willing to bundle up against the cold winds blowing up river. But if you are a hardy soul and don’t mind the chill, then you can save yourself hours of time on line and have a great experience.
Most people choose to visit the great sculpture, which was a gift from the French people in the 1870s, via ferry boat from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. But if you really want to beat any possibility of crowds you can sail over to Liberty Island from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. Same tour, shorter lines.
After a visit to the statue take the ferry over to Ellis Island and tour the Immigration Museum. It is a wonderfully told story of the people who sought the American Dream as they fled poverty, persecution, and violence in their homelands. There is no doubt you will come away inspired and thankful that the United State of America has been a safe haven for so many, and an opportunity for more.
There is no charge to visit the island, but unless you swim or have your own boat, you will have to pay $13 for the roundtrip ferry ticket. An audio tour of the museum is $8. For more information you can go to the website of the National Park Service, who administers the park and museum.
Only five minutes away from midtown Manhattan, visitors to New York may want to consider some of the new hotels that are popping up in Long Island City. For a fraction of what a guest would have to spend to stay at a centrally located hotel, visitors can enjoy a good night’s sleep and some well-appointed spaces only slightly off the beaten track.
Take the Ravel hotel as an example. This boutique hotel has a waterfront view of New York’s iconic skyline and offers a complimentary ride in their Mercedes shuttle to the nearby subway entrance. On the roof of this classy hotel is their Penthouse808 where socializing and excitement pervade the atmosphere. Surrounded by retractable glass, the eight thousand square foot space is a delight to guests.
Other perks offered by the Ravel are:
• Free Parking
• Room Service
• Dry cleaning and Laundry Service
• Gourmet Mini Bar
• Virtual Wine Bar
Treat yourself in style without breaking the bank.
It is fascinating to look at renovations that hotels have undertaken and the surprising finds that they’ve made along the way.
The Hotel Belleclaire, owned by Shimmie Horn, for instance, spent much of 2012 renovating their lobby. In the midst of these renovations, they discovered incredibly high ceilings that are over 17 feet high. They are framed in intricate, ornate crown molding and have mosaic-tiled floors.
They also recently discovered a 40 foot skylight that also dates back 100 years. As they describe on their website for the Hotel Belleclaire with Shimmie Horn, “What originally began as a lobby redesign has emerged into a restoration and enhancement project. After extensive research on Emery Roth’s original design elements; we have decided that the traditional details will be refashioned using historical references and modern techniques.”
Another example of hotels that have made dramatic renovations is the Westin New York Grand Central. They showed their renovations on October 12th, after investing $75 million into their renovation project. All of the 774 guest rooms received complete makeovers and the 12,000 square foot meeting space did as well. There is now a 3000 square foot fitness studio to rival some of the best in New York.
These are a few of the many examples of hotels in the New York area that are getting dramatic face-lifts. Certainly guests will benefit from these investments for years to come.
Have you ever thought of visiting New York’s branch of the Federal Reserve Bank? It is completely free and well worth the effort of joining a guided tour in order to see the high-security vault. Behind that impregnable door lies over 10, 000 tons of gold reserves, safely stowed 80 feet underground. For those on the tour only a small percentage of that mass of precious metal will be on view. To book your free tour, which is the only way to get a glimpse of the vault, you will need to reserve about 6 weeks in advance of your planned visit. The tour can accommodate up to 25 visitors, takes about 45 minutes, and begins several times during the day between 11:15am and 3:00pm. A visit can be reserved as far as 90 days in advance.
New York Federal Reserve Bank Vault
Self-guided visits are also possible and also need to be booked ahead on-line, and do not include a visit to the vault, but does enable you to see the Museum of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which has an interesting display of the history of money. Self-guided tours are usually available with only one day’s notice.
Spring has sprung, and what better way to enjoy the warming, blooming city, than with a bike ride through Central Park.
Bikers can choose to go out on their own, exploring the many gorgeous nooks and crannies that make this incredible inner city park one of New York’s favorite attractions; or they can participate in a guided tour throughout the magnificent park, visiting some of the highlights of the park, including: Strawberry Fields, Belvedere Castle, Wollman Rink and lots more.
There are additional tours available touching on some fascinating themes such as the Movie Scene Tour in which bikers spend their two-hour tour visiting the spots where many scenes from famous movies were filmed, such as scenes from “When Harry Met Sally,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “August Rush.”
Also available are the Arts and Architecture Tour and a Central Park Walking Tour. Biking and/or walking through this historic park, one of the greatest public spaces on earth, is an experience not easily forgotten.
First time to New York? You might want to consider the perfect way to introduce yourself to all the wonder and excitement that New York has to offer. On the second floor of the most famous building in the world, the Empire State Building is a simulated skyride narrated by actor Kevin Bacon, which takes you on a half hour fantastic adventure across the iconic New York skyline to visit almost three dozen of New York’s most incredible landmarks.
Visitors stand on a specially engineered platform before an 18-foot high-definition screen, and feel like they are on a magical voyage of exploration. When you are finished, it is just a step away to visit the must-see Observatory, where the magic of New York truly comes to life.
Visitors to New York should know about a great way to save money and time when they visit some of New York’s most beloved attractions, CityPASS.
For only $79 for an adult and $59 for a child, New York CityPASS allows holders to strut right past the lines for tickets to the following six destinations, at about half the price it would cost if the entrance fees were paid for at each site.
• The Empire State Building
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art
• The American Museum of Natural History
• The Museum of Modern Art
• Either the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour or a Circle Line Cruise
• Either Top of the Rock or the Guggenheim Museum
The CityPASS is valid for nine days from the time the first attraction is visited. You receive with your tickets in-depth information about each site, including hours of operation, location, a map and tips.
Next time you are in New York, consider getting a CityPASS to ease your stay and make it the best visit to the Big Apple that you ever had.