New York is alive with non-stop action year-round. In this pulsating city of cabbies, world-class theater, chic trends, and super stars, it can be hard to find peace and quiet. But that's not why Manhattan is famous. Travelers scurry from around the globe to feast their senses on this one-of-a-kind, razzle-dazzle city with heart and soul.
Trend-setting styles. Culinary delights. World-renowned shopping (both bargains and luxury goods). Theater and shows for any audience. Classic and contemporary art. Musical genius. Financial power. The rich and famous. Architectural juxtapositions. It's no wonder visitors return again and again to soak in a city with so much life.
For the holidays, the Big Apple puts on the ritz with over-the-top decorations (think buildings wrapped in glittery red bows), activities that people wait the whole year for (ice-skating), and a certain buzz in the middle of snowflake season that you can't find anywhere else.
- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade's giant hot air floats
- Holiday events at The Metropolitan Museum
- Christmastide at the Cloisters - traditional medieval decorations at the Met
- Shopping for holiday gifts at any of Manhattan's chic shops, department stores, or neighborhood boutiques
- Window shopping along Fifth Avenue to view some of the world's most elaborate window displays
- Rockefeller Center's outdoor ice-skating rink and over 60-foot tall Christmas tree
- Empire State Building beaming green and red for the holiday season
- Rockettes in Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall
- Horse and carriage ride around Central Park
- New York Road Runner costume contest and 4-mile run in Central Park on New Year's Eve
- New Year's Eve Celebration and Ball Drop at Times Square
The Great White Way boasts musicals for an assortment of audiences. Which ones appeal to your group? Here are suggestions to get you started:
- Rent or Avenue Q for trips with friends
- Phantom of the Opera (which recently became the longest running show on Broadway in history) for an extended family trip or family reunion or trip with grandparents
- The Lion King for family trips with kiddies
- Wicked or Chicago for girls getaways
- Monty Python's Spamalot for guys getaways
- Mamma Mia or The Wedding Singer for bachelorette or bachelor parties - apropros for either
Activities & Attractions
Famous attractions have appeared in movies for decades and draw visitors daily for different reasons. Here's why first-time metro-loving groups visit the Big Apple and a few reasons why urban hipsters keep coming back for more.
- ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN headquarters
- Bronx Zoo
- Central Park
- Chrysler Building
- Empire State Building
- Ellis Island Immigration Museum
- Fifth Avenue
- Ground Zero
- Hudson River
- Rockefeller Center
- Statue of Liberty
- Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange
- Shops and boutiques in Greenwich Village, Soho, Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and elsewhere
Arts & Current Culture
New York City offers some of the world's finest art collections at museums and galleries and is a hotbed of artistic and architectural innovation. It's also home to contemporary cultural icons like major league baseball stadiums and TV tours.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art: discover ancient relics and brush strokes of genius
- Museum of Modern Art: pay a visit to Van Gogh's Starry Night
- Soho (in lower Manhattan) is an artistic haven itself with galleries and funky architecture to give its cobblestone streets even more character.
- Sex and the City tour
- Sopranos TV sites tour
- Sports fans can go to Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium, home of the Mets.
- Nightlife: New York spoils its guests with a happening nightlife comprised of hip clubs, famous chefs satisfying restaurant patrons with succulent meals, dancing 'til the sun comes up, eclectic off-Broadway shows, live performances ranging from funk bands to soothing piano lounge acts, and so much more. Find your groove at the various bars, restaurants, and clubs around town.
While Manhattan is New York City's most famous and visited borough, there are four others that draw visitors for distinct reasons. Quick highlights:
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, a famous suspension bridge connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan, and walk along New York City's first historic (and still swanky) district, Brooklyn Heights. Then stroll through the Brooklyn Botanical Garden with more cherry trees than Washington, D.C., and visit the Brooklyn Museum of Art that showcases one of the world's largest Egyptian collections. And of course, the kids will love Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
The Bronx has a surprising history (previously home to John F. Kennedy, Anne Bancroft, Tony Curtis, Edgar Allen Poe) and amount of attractions for visitors. The Bronx Zoo is the largest urban zoo in the U.S. Yankee Stadium, home to New York's Yankees, is an American icon, so plan ahead and book baseball tickets and stadium tours early. The Bronx also has a greater percentage of green space than any other borough and any other urban area in the country (24% of its 42 acres are parks). Van Cortlandt Golf Course is the first American public course and is part of Van Cortlandt Parks' two square miles of riding trails and other parkland areas.
With the bird lovers 9,000-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, New York Mets' Shea Stadium, and the U.S. Open Tennis Championship USTA National Tennis Center, Queens is a cultural center it is own right. It's also home to two major east coast airports (JFK and LaGuardia), and boasts the Museum of Moving Images with the largest collection of moving image artifacts in the world. Plus, two film studios reside in Queens, so look sharp in case you're "discovered."
Explore the 2.5 mile boardwalk at South Beach, take the free (yes, free) Staten Island Ferry ride from lower Manhattan past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island through New York Harbor to arrive at the northern shore of Staten Island, visit the largest collection of Tibetan art outside of Tibet at the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. And there are plenty of nature reserves, historical and cultural museums and sites, as well as national recreation areas on this island.
Best of the Web for New York City
- Walking tours of the "Big Onion"
- Broadway shows and news
- New York Times New York City travel guide
- Gospel, jazz, and other Harlem tours, including Harlem group tours
- NYC Visit: official guide to New York City with posh hotels, hip eateries, chic shops, and trendy ways to play
- Radio City Music Hall concerts
- Statue of Liberty National Monument