New York is a city of hectic and exciting extremes: wind tunnel avenues and skyscrapers are cosied up to Sunday afternoon-type bars and cafés. The metropolis is a must-see for those who love culture, history, food and nightlife – and it’s a delight for architectural devotees who simply enjoy pounding the miles of pavement in a grid-like structure that ensures getting lost isn’t an option.
And with Norwegian (norwegian.com) offering flights to New York from three UK airports from as little as £69 one way, there’s even less excuse not to hope across the pond for a visit.
What to do
Walk the streets
One of the most enjoyable things to do is simply take a stroll and absorb the eclectic buildings as you go. Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of ground to cover, from the oldest buildings in the city near the Wall Street financial district to Chinatown, Little Italy, Tribeca and the West Village – all are worth exploring.
Be sure to walk up Fifth Avenue, from the Washington Square Arch at the bottom to the Plaza Hotel at the top. You’ll see Central Park along the way; it’s especially beautiful in spring and autumn.
Hit the river
Indulge in a boat trip to the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The pick-up point is Battery Park, and you can hop on and off the islands as you wish. Tickets (statuecruises.com) start at $18.50 (£13) per adult.
Make for the museums
The American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org) is worth visiting for the dinosaur skeletons alone. It asks for a donation, rather than an entry fee. Open daily, 10am-5.45pm.
For a more bite-sized cultural trips, the Museum of the City of New York (mcny.org) is on the opposite side of Central Park and offers fascinating insights into the city’s history. Open daily, 10am-6pm; $18.
The Tenement Museum (tenement.org) houses a derelict but carefully preserved building where hundreds of immigrants lived together in crammed quarters in the 20th century, and many of the inhabitants’ stories have been carefully documented. Buy a tour online at the Tenement Museum for $25.
Find your muse
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org) is one of the finest galleries in the world, and the largest in the US. As well as the permanent collection, there are numerous temporary exhibitions; current highlights include Rodin, David Hockney and Michelangelo. Open 10am-5.30pm Mondays to Thursdays, 10am-9pm Fridays and Saturdays; entry is free but suggested donation is $25.
Meanwhile the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA (moma.org), contains an evolving collection of almost 200,000 works of contemporary and modern art from artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Rothko, plus photography, film, design, and performance. Open 10.30am-5.30pm Mondays to Sundays and until 8pm on Fridays; entry $25.
The Whitney (whitney.org), which recently moved to an impressive modern building in the meatpacking district, focuses on 20th- and 21st-century American art. Open Wednesday to Monday 10.30am-6pm; closed Tuesdays.
The smaller Neue Galerie (neuegalerie.org) houses the original Woman In Gold painting by Gustav Klimt, and Café Sabarsky, a wonderfully old European-style café. Open 11am-6pm Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, closed Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; entry $20.
The New York Public Library (nypl.org) on Fifth Avenue is sublime, boasting the famous Rose Main Reading Room. Sneak a look at Charles Dickens’ desk upstairs before it is moved back to London later this year. Open daily from 10am or 11am, except Sundays.
Where to stay
New York is infamously expensive, but there are a range of hotels to suit every budget if you know where to look.
Millennial-favourite The Pod Hotel has funky colours, iPads in the communal room and roof decks. There are four locations around the city and Brooklyn. Doubles from $85, room only.
The lobby is spectacular at The Row, although the rooms are fairly basic. Situated on Times Square, it’s a stone’s throw from Broadway and most of the theatres. Doubles from $67, room only.
If you fancy splashing out, The Bowery is a chic option situated in the trendy Lower East Side. Rooms have large windows and stylish communal lounges. Doubles from $335, room only.
Where to eat
The Cornelia Street Café (corneliastreetcafe.com) in the heart of the West Village is perfect for brunch, lunch or dinner, offering delicious side dishes such as hummus drizzled with fruity balsamic vinegar. For $10, you can head down to the basement after your meal for a night of jazz.
La Esquina (esquinanyc.com) has trendy décor, tasty Mexican food and friendly service. The setting at its flagship restaurant in Soho is also cool – you have to walk through a quiet diner and go downstairs before being hit by the great music and an upbeat atmosphere.
New York demands you splash out on at least one meal. Buddakan (buddakannyc.com) – recognisable to Sex and the City fans as the place where Big and Carrie hold their engagement dinner in the film – serves mouth-watering Asian dishes and cocktails.
Where to drink
Enjoy a white Russian or an espresso martini 22 floors up at Westlight (thewilliamvale.com/dining/westlight), the rooftop bar at the William Vale hotel, which offers one of the best views of the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn. Open daily, 4pm-12am.
The midtown gem that is Monkey Bar (monkeybarnewyork.com) is an institution for jazz and beer. Enjoy the music, the artwork on the walls and the old New York-style lamps as you brush shoulders with the cool, Saturday-evening crowd. Open daily, 11.30am-1am.
For a more laidback and cheaper vibe, head to Old Town Bar (oldtownbar.com) a stone’s throw from Union Square. It has all the classics – a long bar, marble floor and cosy wooden booths. It serves excellent fries, too. No need to book but get there before the local, after-work crowd arrives. Open daily, 11.30am-1am.
Where to shop
Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan and check out the up-and-coming industrial chic architecture of Dumbo and the famous Brooklyn Flea market (brooklynflea.com) on Sundays (April through October).
Then jump on a water taxi two stops north to Williamsburg. The small but lovely Artists & Fleas market (artistsandfleas.com), open 10am-7pm on weekends, is near the water on North 7th Street. While in the neighbourhood, check out the boutiques and shops on Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue.
For vintage clothes shops, head to the East Village. At Nomad Vintage (nomadvintage.com) East 6th Street there are tribal frocks aplenty, while No Relation Vintage (norelationvintage.com) on 204 1st Avenue has a strong selection of shirts and denims.
Fifth Avenue (visit5thavenue.com) is crammed with designer shops and the flagship Tiffany jewellery store, but a more compact and affordable shopping experience can be found at the new Westfield mall (westfield.com/westfieldworldtradecenter) under what used to be the World Trade Centre. Open daily, 10am-9pm.
If you’re a fan of Edith Wharton or Henry James, head to East 4th Street. The 19th-century Merchant’s House Museum (merchantshouse.org) is the oldest, fully preserved townhouse in the city; it used to be owned by a prestigious New York family called the Tredwells. Open 12-5pm Friday to Monday, 12-8pm Thursday; entry $15.
New York Nuts and bolts
Cheapest time to fly
What currency do I need?
New York uses US dollars.
Should I tip?
For eating, drinking, taxis and tour guides, tip between 15 and 20 per cent.
What’s the time difference?
New York is five hours behind and runs on East Coast Time (ET).
A bus or subway ride costs $2.75 with a travel card. Water ferries are the same price for a one-way ticket.
What’s the flight time from the UK?
Most flights take around eight hours there and six hours back.
For the best view of the 1930s Empire State Building, head to the Rockefeller Centre (topoftherocknyc.com) – at night, surrounded by the Hudson and the East River, it is even more spectacular. Tickets cost $34.
Many art galleries and museums offer extended late hours and free entry on the first Friday of every month.
Source Link New York guide: Where to eat, drink and stay in Manhattan