With skyscraping sights, massive museums and fashion houses galore, holidays to New York will keep you wide-eyed from dawn to dusk.
The Big Apple
The Empire State Building. Lady Liberty. Times Square. New York tops the world’s city superleague. But it’s got more than one green-tinted crown to its name. Dining and shopping capital, arts and culture hub, nightlife king – this trendsetting metropolis has earned them all.
It’s not dubbed the city that never sleeps for nothing. Ergo, you’ll never be short of things to do. Crane your neck to see the sun glinting off the Gatsby-era Chrysler Building, go google-eyed in Times Square or fill your bags full on Fifth Avenue. Even the train station is a work of art. Then there’s the spectacular skyline, as seen from those architectural movie stars – the Empire State and the Statue of Liberty.
Beneath its touristy veneer, New York’s got even more going for it. Off the tourist trail, the crowds thin out and the streets get leafier. Oh-so-cool neighbourhoods like SoHo, Chelsea and Greenwich Village line up cupcake cafés, cocktail bars and laid-back boutiques. And right in the middle of the city is colossal Central Park – a soul-soothing escape from Manhattan’s concrete jungle.
Things to See and Do in New York
Skyscrapers and mega-shopping centres aside, New York is fringed by some prime coastline. And the stretches here come in all shapes, sizes and styles. There’s everything from untouched, people-less swathes to all-singing-and-dancing strips with theme parks, swimming pools and bustling boardwalks.
Everyone who’s anyone has heard of Coney Island Beach. When summer hits, city-slickers head to Brooklyn for a dose of sunbathing, mixed with theme park thrills. It’s a lively affair here – adrenaline-fuelled screams play out from the nearby rides, and the smell of just-grilled hotdogs wafts over the boardwalk. Saying that, the beach is still the main attraction – all three miles of it.
Just 40 minutes’ drive outside Manhattan, Fort Tilden Beach has been left remarkably untouched. This could be down to the tricky journey to and from – you can’t reach it by subway or car, but you can cycle there. Once here, you’ll find a lifeguard-free ribbon of sand, which unravels for going-on three miles. It’s part of a National Recreation Area, so there are plenty of nature trails around. Just make sure to pack a picnic, as the restaurants and shops are few and far between.
For New York’s highest concentration of designer shops, make tracks for Fifth Avenue. This high-end haven is home to the likes of Tiffany & Co, Cartier and Gucci, as well as the soaring Trump Tower. Another staple is Bloomingdale’s on the chic Upper East Side. It’s known for its designer clothing and iconic ‘little brown bag’.
Macy’s has been a New York institution since it opened in 1902. Today, the gigantic department store spreads across a whole block, and rises up over 11 levels. As you’d imagine, you can pick up everything from kitchenware and perfume, to clothing and furniture.
If you thought New York was reserved for big-budget shoppers, think again. The city is awash with bargains – take Brooklyn Flea Market. It’s the go-to place for antiques and vintage trinkets. Plus, you can snap up stuff from the latest up-and-coming designers. If a designer label’s what you’re after, head to Century 21. Here, you’ll find bags, shoes and clothes at discounted prices – sometimes up to 70 per cent off.
New York does hotel bars well. If you’re looking for a low-key night out, simply plump for one of the sophisticated haunts inside the city’s swanky hotels. Inside, the timeless décor is just as decadent as some of the cocktails. And you can sip your carefully-constructed creation to the sounds of live jazz music. Alternatively, you can head to a secret bar for a prohibition-themed tipple.
As you’d expect, the city that never sleeps has its fair share of nightspots. There are the rooftop bars, which come with skyline views and hot tubs on the dance floor. Or you’ve got up-all-night clubs in the trendy Meatpacking District. And last but not least, the big-hitters, like Space and Pacha.
It was the Italians who brought pizza to the city back in the 1900s, but locals have made it their own. Here, it comes by the slice, so you can pick one up on-the-go. It’s all about simplicity, too. Think classic marinara sauce and mozzarella.
New Yorkers take their bagels seriously. Cinnamon, garlic, poppy seed – you name it, they’ve done it. Salmon and cream cheese bagels are still one of the most popular combos, though.
Most self-respecting New York cafés will have a pastrami sandwich on their menu. Originating from the city’s kosher delis, this classic staple is usually made with rye bread, mustard and sliced pastrami. The beef has been pickled with herbs, then smoked and steamed, hence the distinctive, peppery taste.
New York Cheesecake
Thick and ultra-creamy, with just a dusting of icing sugar – that’s what an authentic New York Cheesecake should be. Lots of places are now adding their own flavoursome touch, with chocolate swirls through the base, or fresh fruit toppings.
While the Manhattan’s exact origins are up for debate, this classic cocktail certainly packs a potent punch. It’s a concoction of rye whisky, vermouth and a couple of dashes of bitters, topped with a sweet maraschino cherry.