Top 5 things to see and do in New York City

The ‘city that never sleeps’ is one of the world’s most exciting, most colourful and most intoxicating destinations. New York is a shopper’s paradise and there are bargains to be had.

What never changes is the fact that the city is one of the world’s greatest entertainment and cultural capitals and crammed full of sights, museums and dazzling theatres. So whether it’s for gifts, sales bargains, a Broadway show, jazz in the ‘Village’, the sight of the Manhattan skyline, or simply for the city’s unique atmosphere, this is a city break to take before you.

Central Park

New York’s chill out zone, Central Park, was the first landscaped park in the United States and it’s located in the heart of New York. Manhattan locals escape to here from their skyscrapers and hectic lives to enjoy some time away from the madding crowd. The park has appeared in so many films and TV series, it even has its own celebrity status.

Central Park hosts the much anticipated annual Summerstage. This is a series of free concerts held throughout the summer months at the Rumsey Playfield in the centre of the park. In all, there are 1,100 free concerts scheduled to take place, not just in Central Park but also city-wide in public spaces throughout New York. Show stoppers include Cassandra Wilson, Joss Stone, Arrested Development and Rufus Wainwright.

Don’t forget to visit the Strawberry Fields three-acre landscaped area of Central Park that has been dedicated to the memory of John Lennon who used to live across the street in the Dakota building. His wife, Yoko Ono, still lives there.

Empire State Building

First timers to New York should go directly to the lime-stone art-deco dazzler – the Empire State Building. The shimmering gold lobby is enough to make the trip worthwhile but it is the views of Manhattan that you are after.

The vista from the observatory on the 86th and 102nd floors is superb. Be sure to download the free app Empire State Building Observatory Experience App from the Apple Store or Google Play.

The queues can be tiresome but getting there really early or very late helps. Or to avoid them altogether, buy your tickets online.

For a magical moment, get there in time for sunset and watch the play of light as the sun sets over the city. Incidentally the Empire State Building soars 1,454 feet above Midtown Manhattan.

Statue of Liberty

This imposing statue of a woman wearing a stola, a radiant crown and sandals trampling a broken chain whilst carrying a torch in her raised hand, was designed by sculptor Frederic-August Bartholdi Standing tall in the middle of Liberty Island.

It is  known as the “Liberty Enlightening the World’ and was a gift from France to celebrate the American Centennial in 1885. It was unveiled on October 28th 1886 and is the ultimate symbol of the American Dream. It is whispered that the stern face of the statue was modeled on Bartholdi’s mother due to the uncanny resemblance, though this has never been confirmed or denied by the sculpture.

At 305 feet (93 meters) tall it remains America’s finest visual and spiritual landmarks and the first thing you see when you sail into New York’s harbour.

You can enter the pedestal and the monument’s crown but buy your tickets well in advance. The Statue of Liberty exhibit is located on the second floor of the pedestal of the statue and offers a complete history of her symbolism and you can see a full size replica of her face and feet.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island, reached via ferry from New York, was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1954. All were in search of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and prosperity.

Since 1990 it has reopened to the public as a museum and is one of New York’s most moving attractions. The musuem depicts the story of immigrants to America through their eyes, has a wall that commemorates more than 500,000 immigrants and their families. There are also interactive exhibits and if you are trying to trace your ancestors this could be a good place to start.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

This amazing museum, located in midtown Manhattan, is New York’s most prestigious and has the largest collection of artwork created between 1880 to date. To give you some perspective, MoMA‘s library and archives hold over 300,000 books, artist books, and periodicals, as well as individual files on more than 70,000 artists, so allow at least a couple of hours for your visit. If you get hungry while you are there, dine at its award winning restaurant called The Modern.

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