New York City, NY Destination Guide
Planning a New York vacation doesn't get much easier than with the help of New York Travel Experts! With a skyline that's recognizable worldwide and more than 8 million people who call it home, New York City is a one-of-a-kind destination that we love sending travelers to. There are few other cities in the world that evoke as much loyalty and equal exasperation from its residents, or elicit so much excitement and consternation from its visitors. We'll hep you choose the best places to visit in New York, best hotels to stay at in New York, and we'll help you arrange your transportation there!
Each of the five boroughs has its own distinctive flavor, while individual neighborhoods, streets and even single blocks maintain identities all their own. Whether it's your first visit or your tenth, there's always something new to see and do. From world-class dining and shopping to nightlife and culture, New York City has so much to offer, which is why it attracts more than 50 million visitors annually.
Not sure where to start? Ask our travel agents specializing in New York Vacations!
Our Top Favorite New York Highlights
- Central Park
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Empire State Building
- Statue of Liberty
- Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
- Greenwich Village
- Coney Island
- Times Square
- Solomon R Guggenheim Museum
- Eastcoast and Fall Foliage Cruises - Departing/Arriving in NYC
Featured New York City Vacations, Including Canada/New England Cruises!
Things to Do on a New York City Vacation
Get Oriented: It's a tiny island, by geographical standards, but enormous on a human scale. New York can be as daunting as it is thrilling, so a tour of the highlights guided by a native New Yorker is a great way to develop a sense of direction and neighborhood. Even a highlight tour can be too much if you try to see it all at once, so tour a section at a time on separate outings.
Cruise the Hudson Bay: It's amazing how many different faces the city has, and one of its best is seen from its shores. Cruises take you through the New York Harbor below the imposing skyline, and out around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, while a narrator tells the tales of the city's past and its evolution into modern times. There are dinner and party cruises, as well.
Empire State Building: It isn't the world's tallest anymore, but it is still one of the most recognized buildings in the world and its view is easily the city's best. High in the sky, you are dead center atop the sprawling metropolis and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Yankee Stadium in The Bronx far beyond Central Park. On any day you can see well beyond the city's eastern, western, and southern shores, and trust us when we say there is no other view (except from your airplane) that gives you such a clear idea of just how huge this city is.
Statue of Liberty: Here's the thing. Lady Liberty is the very emblem of New York. You feel compelled to visit, and well you should. However…if you want to do more than cruise by, or stand beneath her and take a severely angled photo, you are going to have to wait a long time to take the elevator 10 flights up - to her feet. Then, if you want to hang out of her crown and wave to Gotham, you have to be willing and able to climb 12 stories up a narrow and decidedly claustrophobic little staircase to the top of her head. That said, it's a really neat thing to do, if you're up to it.
Ellis Island: They loved America before they ever laid eyes on it, and millions of them came to live the dream. Ellis Island was the first stop in this new life and, after falling into abandoned decay for decades, this extraordinary slice of American history has been restored and its cavernous halls are filled with relics donated by immigrants' descendants. There are also recorded accounts by surviving Ellis Islanders and dramatic costumed recitals of those memories that bring to vivid life the often harrowing experiences of the tired, huddled masses.
Central Park: To describe its features is easy. In 1856, two brilliant landscape architects transformed 843 acres of city land into a beloved refuge for all sorts of animals, from bird to human. It is bordered by Central Park West (aka 8th Avenue) to the west, 5th Avenue to the east, 59th Street to the south, and 110th Street to the north. It has grassy meadows, wooded groves, formal gardens, footpaths, horse trails, all manner of playing fields, a small zoo, an ice-skating rink, a carousel, an outdoor theater, and numerous fountains and sculptures. But that doesn't really tell you anything about what it's like to spend time in Central Park, which is something of a never-ending "festival" of life. In a single afternoon, a roller-blading daredevil whizzes by you performing stunts you wouldn't try with support wires and a safety net. A stand-up comedian cracks you up as you walk past his fountain-side gig. A shirtless, sweating, long-haired teenager chasing his errant frisbee excuses himself as he crosses into a group of tidy, white-clad senior citizens playing croquet. Brazilian martial artists practice elegant maneuvers on a plaza. A Shakespearean tragedy unfolds at the outdoor theater. A little boy catches his first fish in the pond. A policeman on horseback helps you find Strawberry Fields, Yoko Ono's "Imagine" memorial to John Lennon. A group of avid bird-watchers track their feathered friends through the groves. And in the middle of it all, in summers not so long gone by, JFK, Jr played touch football with his friends.
Times Square: These are the words that instantly pop into your mind when you hear the mention of New York. The elongated intersection has spent centuries working its way into the American psyche as an icon with a life and personality of its own. It reinvents it self as often as Madonna, and the latest makeover is the welcome one of a massive clean-up, both physical and cultural. Thanks to a major campaign by Mayor Giuliani and massive corporate investment, the seamy element is gone and a vibrant, welcoming scene hasmoved in. Some native New Yorkers lament this gentrification as a loss of authenticity, but overall it's a worthwhile trade-off. It's fun anytime of day but puts on its best face at night, when the lights come up on Broadway, the giant TV pours out glittering images of the world, theater goers stream to and fro, and everyone is in the mood for a party. Trendy restaurants are everywhere and fashionable and whimsical shops abound.
Grand Central Station: Did you ever see the movie, The Fisher King? It has a stunning surreal scene where hundreds of commuters simultaneously stop their bustling and sweep into a waltz through the train station's great hall. Of course, that would never happen - unless it was New Year's Eve. Occasionally, the Grand Central hosts ballroom dancing to ring in the New Year, and then it doesn't seem strange at all. This magnificent Beaux Arts station is a great setting for an elegant affair, with a high vaulted ceiling displaying a fresco of the winter constellations, immense arched windows reflecting thousands of lights from the spherical chandeliers, and marble that gleams from every direction. A recent renovation has restored its original luster, and there are many restaurants, bakeries, shops, and a transit museum well worth visiting. Arriving in Manhattan through Grand Central Station is by far the best way to start!
St Patrick's Cathedral: This Gothic marble and stone cathedral is the seat of the Catholic Church in New York and one of the most striking houses of worship in the country. All the elements you would expect come together, from the colored sunlight streaming in through the stained glass windows to the masssive columns separating the aisles. A small chapel within the cathedral makes a lovely setting for small personal occasions like baptisms. Named after the patron Saint of the Irish, who have long been one of the city's principal ethnic groups, its privileged location was chosen by the Irish congregation in 1859. The grand steps leading to the entrance are a favorite rendevous and snapshot spot.
New York Public Library: Enter this masterpiece of Beaux Arts design through the 5th Avenue entrance, where two marble lions guard the flagstone plaza. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia once said that he visited this world-class research institution to "read between the lions" and dubbed them Patience and Fortitude. Over 6 million books, 12 million manuscripts, and 2.8 million pictures make up the reference collection, but you don't have to check the stacks to have a fulfilling visit here. The opulence of the building awes you with Romanesque frescos on the ceilings, marble floors, sensational exhibits like The Poet's Hand which displayed hand-written drafts and notes by immortals like Lord Byron and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Free tours add heaps of inside information to your visit.
Rockefeller Center: Twenty-two acres of prime midtown Manhattan real estate are consumed by this massive complex lying between 5th and 7th Avenues, and 47th and 52nd Streets. This is where the Christmas Tree is lighted, where businessmen in suits ice skate alongside children, where the Rockettes kick in unison, where Rosie lobs snacks at her audience, and tourists wave through the windows of the Today Show. A fine restaurant overlooks the rink, which turns into an outdoor café in summer, a network store sells souvenirs from all your favorite NBC shows, and the world's first mall fills the underground.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: At the eastern edge of Central Park on 5th Avenue sits the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere. A walk through its halls is a walk through time and a cultural enlightenment. Mounted medieval knights bear down on you in full battle armor. A Roman temple beckons you within its sacred walls. Egyptian mummies return your mystified gaze. Whistler's Nocturne's cast their shadows over you. Gauguin's Polynesian beauties flirt with you. Formal suits of the French court gleam with their threads of gold. Everywhere you turn, priceless treasures engulf your senses, overwhelming you with a mixed sense of humility before their splendor and pride as part of the human community that created such beauty.
The Cloisters: Stone by stone, this medieval cloister was pieced together atop a cliff from the ruins of countless abbeys and monasteries of France. This august structure is surrounded not by skyscrapers and freeways, but with woods and the river flowing far below. A modern reconstruction of an ancient way of life, this branch of the Met is a fully hands on experience. Unlike most museums, its treasures are not roped off or protected in glass cases, with a few exceptions like the illuminated manuscripts and other portable religious artifacts. Every floor you walk on, every wall you touch, every doorway you pass through, every fountain you sip from is itself a treasure of the Middle Ages and its fervor of faith. A Crusading Knight lies in effigy in one room while the famed unicorn tapestries - the only surviving set of its kind - adorn another. Often overlooked due to its location, a visit to this museum will surely be one of your most memorable experiences and more than worth the little extra effort to get there.
Museum of Natural History: It's hard to believe that a collection of this size could be contained in one building, but there are more than 36 million artifacts and specimens in what is widely regarded as the most important museum and research institute of natural history in the world. Forty-two exhibit halls feature striking displays of full dinosaur skeletons, priceless gems, geological formations, what seems like the entire spectrum of the animal kingdom's bio-diversity, Native American culture, the 4.5 billion year-old, largest meteorite ever retrieved from the Earth's surface, and so much more. Seasonal exhibits, fascinating seminars, and an IMAX theater keep the museum fresh and ever-new. A favorite yearly exhibit is the live tropical butterfly exhibit, where you walk through a small jungle habitat with free-flying butterflies flitting around you!
United Nations: Established on October 24, 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security, today nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN with membership totaling 189 countries. Every day, the UN works to promote human rights, protect the environment, fight disease, foster development, reduce poverty, combat drug trafficking and terrorism, and much more. A visit this seat of international peace and brotherhood on the midtown banks of the East River is an inspiring experience.
Brooklyn Bridge: "All that trouble just to get to Brooklyn!" quipped vaudevillians. Six hundred men took 16 years to build the most famous of New York City's many bridges which, at its completion in 1883, was the world's largest suspension bridge and the first to be made of steel. Its twin Gothic arches present a grand gateway to the city, and Brooklyn's annexation is due in large part to the bridge itself. For a peak experience, take the A or C train to the Brooklyn side, then walk back across the bridge into Manhattan.
Southstreet Seaport: The importance of New York City as a seaport isn't what it once was, but in its heyday, it was king. The South Street Seaport is the best place to see this merchant port heritage, with an excellent maritime museum that anchors the reclaimed buildings converted into shops and nightlife spots on the East River's Pier 17. The subsequent piers are packed with antique vessels, and the original cobble-stoned streets are filled with street performers, outdoor concerts, gourmet food, and oyster stalls. It's a great place to spend an entertaining afternoon and catch up on your people-watching.
Forgotten New York: The past is all around you, on the buildings high above, in the subways deep below, and along the busy streets. Lampposts, advertisements, bridges, cobblestones, buildings, signs, and more bear silent witness to the city that once was. Want to see New York of yesteryear? Just keep your eyes peeled. There's an Indian cave right in Manhattan; advertisements elegantly painted onto brick walls offer horse carriages "to let" (rent), stables sit empty; the White Star Lines arch still waits in eerie silence for the Titanic; unmarked speakeasies with multiple quick exits serve up drinks, no longer fearing Elliott Ness. There are endless examples of the life that has passed the city by, most of them preserved by happy chance, since the often historically-challenged city leaders can't possibly keep track of every little item they would otherwise "renovate." Whatever you see, take a picture, because it may not be there the next time you visit.
Weather in New York City, NY
Spring and autumn are the most inviting times to be in New York, when the temperatures are mild and refreshing. Ole Blue Eyes sang, "I like New York in June, how about you?" It certainly is ideal for sightseeing in the "concrete jungle." Each season transforms the city in a whole new image; in spring the solitary Manhattan trees (Brooklyn isn't the only place in the city where a tree grows) blossoming to pastel life along sidewalks - or en masse in Central Park and the many tiny city parks - are matched in beauty by their autumn burst of red, gold, and orange against the somber buildings. Summer brings plenty of sunshine, but it can get quite hot and humid between August and September. Winters are very cold, and the long stretches of skyscrapers can turn into biting wind tunnels.
Spring average 70°
Summer average 88°
Fall average 73°
Winter average 40°
Airport Information for New York City, NY
New York has several major airports including La Guardia, JFK, and Newark.
Approximate Air Travel Time
Miami 3 hrs
Philadelphia 1 hr
Boston 1.25 hrs
Los Angeles 5.75 hrs
Chicago 2.25 hrs
Dallas-Fort Worth 3.75 hrs
San Francisco 6 hrs