New York Travel Guide
By Ross Williams, Contributing Editor
New York is one of the greatest cities in the world, boasting some spectacular architecture, a diverse mix of cultures, and a wonderfully vibrant buzz. Affectionately known as the “Big Apple”, New York certainly has plenty to whet the appetite. Wandering around this large city you will encounter a wide range of restaurants offering all manner of cuisines from around the world, some of the finest museums in the world, as well of plenty of glitz and glamour.
There are many different sides to New York and if you have not visited this city before you would be forgiven for thinking that it is all skyscrapers and yellow taxis. In fact this enormous city is made up of five boroughs, each with their own unique character.
• Manhattan is one of the more popular boroughs in New York. Situated between the Hudson and East Rivers, Manhattan is home to the Empire State Building, Wall Street, Times Square, and the world famous Central Park.
• The Bronx has developed quite a negative reputation over the years as one of the major crime spots in New York. Lots of work has been done over the years to clean up this otherwise beautiful borough however and it is home to the city’s beloved baseball team, the New York Yankees as well as the Botanical Gardens and the Bronx Zoo.
• Queens, the largest and most ethnically diverse borough in the city with more than 170 different languages spoken here. New York’s two major airports, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia, are located within this borough along with the second largest China town in New York.
• Brooklyn was originally a city all on its own and still retains much of its own unique identity. Music and art runs through the core of the borough, but Coney Island and several beautiful beaches are also a big attraction.
• Staten Island is the place to go if it all gets too much in the main parts of the city. The distinct suburban character sets it apart from the rest of the city.
Getting to New York
New York is a world class city and as such can be accessed from practically anywhere in the world. The city is connected via three large airports as well as a number of smaller ones, which mainly serve domestic and short haul flights. The largest and busiest of the international airports is the John F. Kennedy International (JFK) with 8 terminals. Hundreds of flights serve this airport including Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, and Air China.
As you would expect from such a major airport there are plenty of transfer options to take you to various parts of the city. Your options include public transport, shared van services, and of course taxi. The cheapest option is of course public transport (bus/PATH trains/subway), but traveling this way can be quite time consuming and inconvenient. The SuperShuttle blue van service is a good option for $25. This service will take you from the airport directly to any hotel that you have booked nearby Manhattan. The next best option is to take a taxi, which will cost somewhere in the region of $45 for a trip to Manhattan.
Getting around the city
New York City is generally all go and while the transport system is quite efficient, if you are not prepared for it you could quickly get quite confused, particularly in the more popular Manhattan borough. One of the best ways to explore the city is to on foot and the streets are well set out to accommodate pedestrians with wide, yet still often overcrowded, sidewalks.
At some point you will probably have to utilize the bus or subway service to go and explore other parts of New York. For this you should get yourself a MetroCard, which can be purchased online or at vending machines and station booths at subway stations. A MetroCard is required when travelling on the subway, but you can get away without one on a bus if you have the exact fare.
There are various fare options on the MetroCard including single fares at $2.50, pay-per-ride, which means loading your card up with cash (from $10 to $80) and then having $2.25 deducted from that amount from each trip, and Unlimited Ride Cards, which can be bought in seven day and thirty day options. The seven day option cost $29 and the thirty day card cost $104, which are good options if you plan to use public transport frequently, which you are very likely to do.
What to see and do in New York
There is a long list of things to see and do in New York and there truly is something for everyone here. More than one trip to the city will be needed in order to really get to see all that it has to offer, but for a first trip there are a few things that should be at the top of your itinerary.
• The Statue of Liberty – Perhaps one of the most iconic features of New York City, the Statue of Liberty continues to garner plenty of attention. It is certainly worth heading down there while in Manhattan although you should expect long queues.
• Central Park – The Park was created back in the 1860s and as a space for leisure for all residence of New York. This immense Park features beautiful flowering gardens, tranquil bodies of water, wooded paths, and cool forests. It is a wonderful getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
• Brooklyn Bridge – Another iconic feature of New York City, the Brooklyn Bridge is the place to take in some fantastic views across the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines. The bridge itself is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world.
• Times Square – This is the center of the tourist attractions with large video screens and LED lights on a display all the time. This spot is also good for seeing a spot of picnicking, or catching a concert if there are any scheduled.
Those are just some of the top attractions in the city, but a whole host of others such as the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a number of theatres, cinemas and parades, are certain to keep your itinerary filled to the brim.
Accommodation in New York
There is no shortage of accommodation in the large city of New York, but accommodation here is known to be among the most expensive in the world. A bed in a hostel could typically set you back around $50 per night, while a room in a mid-range hotel will probably cost upwards of $125. The prices you ultimately pay for your accommodation will be dependent on the level of comfort you want to have, where in the city you want to stay, and the time of year you travel to New York. January to February is typically cheaper than other months, but the weather is cold and not usually very appealing during these months.
If you really need to watch what you spend then you may want to avoid looking in Midtown as you may get more for your money in other areas. The Franklin Hotel in Upper East Side is a relatively cost effective and comfortable option. 3-star rated hotels in New York are usually very nice and well worth taking into consideration. THE END
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