The top highlights of New York City

The New York city (alternatively known as the Big Apple or NYC or only the city) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Besides London, New York city is the only city to be recognized as the world city. The city is enriched with world class museums, monuments, shopping districts, restaurants, impressive skylines; the list is endless. Therefore, it will take years to know and appreciate all the things New York has to offer. Since I am living in this vibrant city for almost 6 months, I have the opportunity to take a slow pace to wander around. Here I am highlighting the top spots of my stay along with insider tips.

Statue of Liberty

The statue of Liberty is the most iconic monument of USA which is placed on the Liberty Island in New York harbour.

statue of liberty

If you want to plan your visit to this monument, this can help in terms of planning your visit.

The architecture of New York

New York is famous for its impressive cityscape. There are five boroughs in the city- Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island; each borough has its distinctive features. The skyline of Manhattan is particularly famous for the skyscrapers. In order to capture the best outline of Manhattan, consider taking the free ferry ride to Staten Island or go to the top of Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center. In addition, there are famous buildings that can be admired in the midtown Manhattan neighbourhood like Flatiron building, 9/11 tower or Chrysler building. Tired of iron and steel architecture? Head towards the Grand Central Station to admire its grandeur and efficiency. On top of that, the bridges connecting the boroughs are also quite eye catching.

The 22-story Flatiron building
The 22-story Flatiron building

 

The grand concourse in Grand Central Station
The grand concourse in Grand Central Station

 

The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge

 

Don't forget the Oculus near One World Trade Center
Don’t forget the Oculus near One World Trade Center

 

Rockefeller Center, a hub for sightseeing
Rockefeller Center, a hub for sightseeing

 

Empire State Building

The history and significance of Empire State Building (ESB) deserves a separate heading. This is a 102-story (381m) skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. At the time of completion in  1931, it was the tallest building on earth, until the original World Trade Center out-topped it in 1970. It is still one of the tallest buildings (35th tallest in world, 5th tallest in US to be exact). Nevertheless, no visit to NYC is complete without a top view from ESB.

Entrance to the Empire State Building
Entrance to the Empire State Building

 

View from the 86th floor deck
View from the 86th floor deck
Insider tips
  • There is a security check before the entrance to ESB. So prepare accordingly. If possible, avoid large backpacks.
  • There are two observation points in ESB- 86th floor and 102nd floor. The ticket price varies on which point you want to reach finally. The lifts first stop at 80th floor, where you can know a little bit about the history of the building and the depiction of the building in various arts (guess what? Kingkong was also on the top of Empire State Building). If the lift from 80th to 86th floor is too crowded, you can also take the stairs; it’s just 6-story.
  • For the photo-frenzy travellers- it is possible to buy AM-PM ticket, which allows two visits in different time in the same day. You can take a sun-soaked photo in day time and city night light at night time.
  • There is free wifi from the 80th floor and onwards, you can let the world know where you are!!
  • Since the building is open till 2 AM, it is possible to visit all the museums  before 6 PM and then visit ESB afterwards at night.

 

Museums of New York

New York is the home to some of the most famous museums in the world. It will take months just to have a glimpse on all of them. There are 7 famous museums concentrated at the east side of Central park at the Fifth avenue, which is often referred as Museum Mile. Visitors usually don’t miss these three museums- the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or the MET), Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the American Museum of Natural History.

The MET is itself a whole world. There are galleries or at least rooms representing all the major civilizations around the planet including but not limited to Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Islamic world, Polynesian, Pre-Columbian American civilization. You can spend weeks in the museum. I was quite taken with the Temple of Dendur and the way it was presented in the museum.

MoMA or Museum of Modern Art exhibits modern and contemporary arts from all over the world. Highlights from the collection include Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warholl, the Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh, Three Musician by Pablo Picasso, Waterlilies by Claude Monet, Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, One: Number 31 by Jackson Pollock, An Intimate Self-portrait by Frida Kahlo. The walls are filled with master-pieces and this museum is an art-lover’s dream.

Starry Night
Starry Night at MoMA

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world. It is also a great learning place for children and young peoples. The dioramas of different halls depicting animals and human usually leaves everyone in an awe. Perhaps the most famous icon of this museum is the 122-foot long Titanosaur. The dinosaur collection is huge and very well loved by the children.

Giant Titanosaur
Giant Titanosaur at the Natural History Museum

There is another museum I would like to particularly mention- the Immigration Museum in Ellis Island. If you buy the ticket for Liberty Island, you will also get free rides to the Ellis Island, which has served as the gateway to US from 1892 to 1957. If you are a white American, then there is 40% chance that one of your ancestors entered US using this port. This museum exhibits a comprehensive history of immigration overall and then focuses on US. If you are a first generation immigrant like me, you can relate to a lot of stories. Nonetheless, visiting this museum was an mesmerizing experience for me.

How Manhattan was made
How Manhattan was made

Insider tips

  • Admission to the MET is free. But it is recommended that you give a donation of 25 USD. Nonetheless, if you want to contribute less, that is okay too.
  • Many of the museums are free on certain days. For example, the MoMA is free on Fridays. If you have the flexibility, plan accordingly.
  • Many banks offer free tickets to many museums on certain days. I got free ticket to the American Museum of Natural History using Museum on us plan from Bank of America. You can ask for similar programs to your bank.
  • If you are staying in NYC for couple of months, consider making NYCID. It will give you free access to most of the major museums and other attractions in NYC.

 

New York for nature lovers

Despite being a huge metropolis, the city has plenty to offer for nature lovers. The most noteworthy place is the famous Central Park, which is also one of the most filmed locations in New York. This is a huge park at the heart of Manhattan. Besides just an evening stroll, there are plenty of opportunities for other activities like jogging, ice skating, swimming, fishing and boat ride.

One of my favourite places in New York is the Botanical Garden in Bronx. I had the pleasure to visit the garden in Spring. It was a wonderful time with the cherry blossom and millions of daffodils. But don’t let the weather get you. There are beautiful flowers for each season. Additionally, the garden shop sells miniature plants with pots which could be an excellent addition to your succulent indoor plant collection.

New York Botanical Garden
New York Botanical Garden (NYBG)

 

New York for the game and concert lovers

As you all might already know, New York is a hub for games and conserts. If you are an Yankee or Met fan, keep an eye on their schedule. Numerous games are held in the Yankee Stadium in Bronx. For concert lovers, the Madison Square Garden is the heaven. Most of the top performers around the world try to make it at least once in their lifetime to this venue. The famous “Concert for Bangladesh” was held here by George Harrison to support the freedom war for Bangladesh in 1971. Other than concerts, many games are also held here.

 

Neighbourhoods in New York

More than 800 languages are spoken in NY. In my opinion, the best thing in New York is the diversity of the city. You can feel like home immediately after you arrive here. There are numerous small neighbours for different ethnicity all around the five boroughs in NY. For example, the Chinatown in Manhattan is the largest Chinese enclave outside China. Next to it lies Little Italy and there is Spanish Harlem, Little Bangladesh in Jackson Height. To me, homeland is not a country, its more like a feeling. Eating roshmalai and biriyani in Jackson Heights is the closest homely feeling that I can get 13000 km away from home. You can same kind of excitement irrespective to your nationality and ethnicity in NY.

 

Beaches

Need vitamin Sea for a quick getaway from the largest city in America? Head towards Conney Island in Brooklyn or Rockaway beach in Queens. You can also go to the Long Island, which is within a commutable distance from New York City.

 

…and lastly

Never complete your NYC trip without an spending and evening in Times Square. To appreciate the light, go in the nighttime. Its a great place for people watching and dining.

Time Square: Flashing lights and huge billboards
Time Square: Flashing lights and huge billboards

Photos are taken with the most amazing compact camera- Canon G7x.

 

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