Sailing to the Statue of Liberty
If you have time to do only one thing on your visit to New York, this is what it should be. No monument so embodies the nations, and the worlds, notion of political freedom and economic potential more than Lady Liberty. As silly as this may sound, the view never loses its power - and neither do the skyline views of Manhattan, which are breathtaking from this perspective. The ferry that takes you out to Liberty Island also stops at the historic federal immigration station on Ellis Island, gateway to America for nearly half of the nations forefathers. The museums exhibits illustrate, with moving simplicity, what coming to the promised land was all about. If you want the view but prefer to skip the tourist crowds, consider catching the free Staten Island ferry, a city icon unto itself, instead.
Visiting the Museums
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim - museum hopping just doesnt get any better than this.
The number of masterworks housed in this city is mind-boggling. But dont just stick to the biggies; New York boasts a wealth of smaller, lower-profile museums that speak to specific interests - from folk art to photography to financial history - and house some phenomenal treasures.
Strolling the Neighborhoods
One of the greatest things about New York is the distinct character of each of its neighborhoods. Rather than trying to quick-scan them all, I highly recommend picking one and really getting to know it. Wend your way through the historic streets of Greenwich Village, saunter the cast-iron canyons of SoHo, or explore the lovely, trendy Flatiron District. All you really need is a map and a sense of adventure. If you prefer a little structure, consider taking one of the many excellent walking tours that are available - theres no better way to get to know a neighborhood than with an expert at the helm.
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
A marvel of civic engineering when it first connected Brooklyn to Manhattan in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is still able to inspire awe even in jaded New Yorkers. I never tire of admiring its Gothic-inspired stone pylons and intricate steel-cable webs. Get an up-close look, and some marvelous views of Manhattan, by taking the easy stroll from end to end. Start at the Brooklyn end for best effect, and consider preceding your walk with a stroll through historic Brooklyn Heights for a leafy, lovely afternoon.
Being on Top of the World
Go to the top. Straight to the top - higher than youve ever been before. New York is made to be seen from above, in the full light of day or in the full glitter of night - its your choice. Better yet, get both perspectives. If youd rather avoid the tourist crowds, book a table at Windows on the World or enjoy a cocktail at the Greatest Bar on Earth, which boast the same incredible views. And dont forget about the Empire State Building - not quite as high up, but doubly romantic.
Star Gazing at Grand Central Terminal. Always a beaux arts gem, this majestic 1913 railroad station has gotten a remarkable facelift that has made it a must-see. Every surface glitters with renewed optimism - but none more than the masterful ceiling, once again brilliant with 24-karat gold zodiac constellations against a gorgeous blue-green sky. Walk in, throw your head back, and watch the stars gleam. For a longer view, consider dining at Michael Jordans - The Steak House, the mezzanine-level restaurant that opens onto the stellar view.
Ogling the Citys Art Deco MarvelsNothing embodies the citys historic sense of optimism more than its streamline masterpieces. And nowhere is the art deco style more passionately realized than at Rockefeller Center, the business-and-entertainment center at the heart of midtown. The most romantic of the citys skyscrapers, the chrome-topped Chrysler Building, is another art deco gem; look for the gargoyles, looking suspiciously like streamline-Gothic hood ornaments, jutting out from the upper floors. And when you visit the marvelous Empire State Building, dont miss the streamline mural in the lobby in your rush to get to the top.
Wandering Central Park
This beautiful accident of civic planning makes the otherwise uninterrupted urban jungle tolerable for workaday New Yorkers. Without this great green park, I couldnt imagine life in the city. Be sure to seek out Strawberry Fields, the living memorial to John Lennon, which exhorts us all to imagine. Book a table at Park View at the Boathouse for the most magical alfresco dining in the city.
Watching Your Favorite Talk Show Being TapedIf you have the forethought (to send away months in advance) or the patience (to wait in the standby line), you can watch Dave, Conan, Rosie, Jon Stewart, the ladies of The View, or even Regis and Kathie Lee work their TV magic. If sketch comedy or sitcoms are more your speed, think Spin City, Cosby, or--the holy grail of TV audience wannabes--Saturday Night Live.
New York is the world capital of great eating. This city boasts some of the finest fine dining in the entire world. Consider splurging on a meal at Chanterelle, Le Cirque, Gramercy Tavern, Nobu, or one of the citys other top-flight restaurants, a surprising number of which are capable of creating lifelong culinary memories. But the true beauty of New Yorks restaurant scene is that you dont have to spend a fortune to eat well. Youll find cheap but dazzling Chinese in Chinatown, pastrami to die for at any number of Jewish delis, pasta that even your Italian grandmother could love . . . the list goes on and on.
Shopping til You Drop
Theres no more glorious shoppers paradise in the country - maybe even the world - than New York City. You want it? New Yorks got it.
Watching the Curtain Rise on a Play
Theres nothing like the immediacy and excitement of a stage production in action. Movie and TV stars know it, which is why more and more are strutting their stuff on the New York stages. Make it a priority to catch a live theater production while youre in town. If musicals are your thing, stick to the Great White Way; if you prefer cutting-edge drama, try Off Broadway.
Catching a Ball Game
Theres no better place to experience the trademark "Noo Yawk" attitude than in the grandstand. New York fans have a love/hate relationship with their sports teams - theyre saints when they win, bums when they lose. Theres never a dull moment: Everybody has an opinion, and its all part of the show. Check out the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, the Mets at Shea, and, if you can score tickets, the Knicks or the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Bar Hopping Nightclubbing
It doesnt matter whether youre the Stoli martini or the draft beer type, whether cabaret or stand-up comedy or electronica is your thing: New York has the after-dark hangout for you. They dont call this "The City That Never Sleeps" for nothing.