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Diverse and energetic, New York serves as one of the most popular national and international tourist destinations. With so much culture and history to take in, this city has enough entertainment for a lifetime. But never fear if you’re only here with one week to spare – we’ve got you covered! From world-class museums to landmark buildings, lush parks, and cutting-edge exhibition spaces, we start at the top and make our way through the city in our guide to the seven-day essentials here in NYC.
The Bronx might not be on everyone’s immediate itinerary, but a visit to the New York Botanical Garden is a must. Stunning nature trails, Victorian glasshouses, and a locally unparalleled botanical collection make for a gorgeous day in clement weather. When you’ve had enough flora for one day, head next door to the Bronx Zoo – a delight for all ages. Finally, indulge in some of the city’s best and most authentic Italian food on Arthur Avenue, dubbed the Little Italy of the Bronx.
The NYC guidebooks may keep you busy around Manhattan’s mid and southern-most neighborhoods, but Upper Manhattan is rich in must-see points of interest. Fort Tryon Park offers a stretch of picturesque greenery amid meandering paths, with stunning views of the Hudson River and the Palisades – a line of steep cliffs that run along the water. Gorgeous at any time of year, this park is the perfect spot for that necessary Manhattan photo-op.
Located within Fort Tryon Park is the Cloisters – a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This one-of-a-kind museum specializes in medieval European history, art, and artifacts, and is housed in an authentic French cloisters complete with herb gardens and a peaceful café.
Finally, wander downtown along the tree-lined West Side Highway for a perfect sunset over the Hudson. Hungry? Make your way to the Ellington in the Park, located near 106th street in Riverside Park, or head further south to the 79th Street Boat Basin Café for a beer and a burger overlooking some pretty impressive yachts (weather permitting).
The Cloisters, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, New York, NY, USA +1 212 923 3700
No trip to New York City is even remotely complete without a long stroll down the Museum Mile, located on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. Eight world-class museums lie along the Museum Mile, right across from Central Park and dotted with stunning Upper East Side mansions and townhouses. Explore the latest design technology at the Cooper Hewitt, indulge in history’s most famous modern art at the Guggenheim, and time travel thousands of years in the past at the Met.
Every New Yorker’s worst nightmare, we will admit that you really can’t go home without paying a visit to some of Manhattan’s most famous Midtown sights. On the East Side, explore the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the New York Public Library, and the city’s most expensive shops and boutiques on 5th and Madison Avenues. On the West Side, head to Top of the Rock – an observatory deck at the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. With plenty of photo ops and incredible panoramic views of New York City, this is an undeniably popular tourist destination, but for good reason. Also home to NBC, you can take a fascinating tour of the studios in the same building.
Next, make your way downtown to 42nd Street, as you should pay at least a momentary visit to Times Square. Located in the center of Manhattan, Times Square is one of the most iconic points of interest in the city. It serves as a literal beacon of light, showcasing some of the world’s largest digital billboards, not to mention its unparalleled theatre culture. Snap a photo, catch a Broadway performance, and gawk at all the chaos.
Exhausted? You should be! Relax with a coffee in picturesque Bryant Park, located between 5th and 6th Avenues and 42nd Street.
Manhattan’s West Side is absolutely jam-packed with cultural attractions. Chelsea is New York City’s ‘Gallery District’, home to some of the city’s finest exhibition spaces and trendiest restaurants. After a morning of gallery hopping, you can either head east to the Flatiron District, or continue west (and a little bit north) to the High Line, which runs 20 blocks down from 34th Street. Elevated above the city streets with stunning views of the Hudson River, the High Line showcases some of the city’s finest design. Walk the High Line downtown to the Meatpacking District, one of New York’s chicest neighborhoods, dotted with incredible bars, restaurants, clubs, and high-end boutiques.
The Meatpacking District turns into the West Village and Greenwich Village, teeming with incredible bars and restaurants and a young, energetic vibe. Visit Washington Square Park and stop for a drink, and then head south to the very trendy neighborhoods of SoHo and Tribeca, which sport some of the city’s chicest eateries and stunning architecture. To experience the grittier part of the city’s history, the East Village and Lower East Side are ideal for a night out.
The further downtown you go, the most historic the city gets. Located in Lower Manhattan, Wall Street serves as the center of the city’s famed Financial District. Cobblestone streets and gorgeous municipal buildings characterize this old-world neighborhood, complete with shops, museums, and restaurants. Pay a special visit to Stone Street, the oldest paved street in Manhattan, and stop by Stone Street Tavern for a refresher.
Adjacent to the Financial District is South Street Seaport, a historic and picturesque portion of Lower Manhattan that overlooks the East River. Here, pedestrians have access to a shopping area as well as quaint bars, restaurants, and cafés. Pay a visit to the famous Ambrose Lightship, built in 1907 and dubbed the ‘floating lighthouse.’ It’s now docked at the South Street Seaport permanently for tourists to explore.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a must-see whilst you’re downtown. It’s a site so powerful and moving that it cannot be missed. Tour the outdoor pavilion, which features two infinity pools in the exact site of the former Twin Towers. Next, make your way to the indoor museum – an experience that falls short of words but that will leave a lasting impression. Finally, look out over Manhattan from the observatory deck of One World Trade Center, otherwise known as the Freedom Tower.
Now Manhattan’s formidable opponent, Brooklyn is an unmissable part of your New York City stay. Start by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, which is a must-see landmark in and of itself, and take in some incredible views of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Promenade. Get your cultural fill at the Brooklyn Museum, and embrace highly-curated nature at Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, located just a short walk away. If you’re looking for a local’s perspective of New York, neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Greenpoint offer some of the borough’s best independent bars and restaurants.
One of Brooklyn’s most historic points of interest, Coney Island has been a local escape since the 19th century. Stroll the boardwalk and take in the amusement park sites, to include the famous Cyclone roller coaster. Coney Island is a must-see in the warmer months, with additional points of interest nearby, such as the New York Aquarium – the oldest-running aquarium in the country.
A short train ride from Midtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, Long Island City has put the borough of Queens back on the culture vulture’s map. Boasting a number of incredible museums and exhibition spaces, from MoMA PS1 to the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City is a great neighborhood in which to spend an artsy afternoon. Due to the subsequent rise in tourism, LIC is now home to a whole slew of trendy bars and restaurants.