Welcome to the Big Apple, New York City! Just upon arriving, one can feel the intense energy when one walks the city streets. From the vibrant lights of Times Square, the towering heights of buildings in Midtown and Lower Manhattan, to the wonderful smells produced by the city’s excellent restaurants and trendy food trucks – New York City is sure to put you in a state of sensual bliss and overload.
It’s also an amazing place for people watching, while sitting in one of Manhattan’s corner parks, the Highline, or marvelous Central Park. With a population of over 8 million people at its core and 19 million people living in the greater metropolitan area, you have just arrived in the United States’ biggest city, a buzzing and vibrant melting pot of the world. It also is the United States’ most densely populated city at over 70,000 people per square mile.
Let us show you our favorite sights, landmarks, and activities in New York City, to help you make the most of your holiday. Over the following pages, we’ll introduce you to New York’s most popular tourist sites and attractions, our self-guided walking tours of the Big Apple, and everything you need to have an amazing vacation in Manhattan!
At the heart of New York City is the borough of Manhattan, which many visitors generally think of as New York. But in reality, it is only one of the five boroughs that make up New York City. This island, stretching 10 miles from north to south, is surrounded by the East River to the east, the Hudson River to the west, and New York’s Harbor to the south. Adjacent to Manhattan are New York City’s other four boroughs, namely Queens and the Bronx to the northeast, Brooklyn to the east, Staten Island to the south, and the shoreline of the State of New Jersey to its west.
Originally founded in 1624 by Dutch settlers, today’s Manhattan offers an eclectic mix of historic and modern architecture, which particularly becomes evident at the Southern tip of Manhattan, site of the original settlement. This is New York’s financial district, home of the New York Stock Exchange along Wall Street as well as the rebuilt World Trade Center and 911 Memorial. It’s also the disembarkation spot for trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, once entry point to the United States for millions of mostly European immigrants.
Times Square, located along Broadway in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, excites visitors from around the world with its bright lights and colorful billboards. This colorful side of Manhattan is also reflected in the entertainment offered in this part of town, the Broadway Musicals and many performances that entertain millions of visitors and locals alike every year. Standing in the center of Times Square and being surrounded by the lights and sounds of the city, particularly at night when all of the billboards and video screens are brightly illuminated with flashy colors, is nothing less than spectacular. That alone makes a trip to New York well worth it!
What many first-time visitors to New York don’t realize is that New York isn’t just about skyscrapers and flashy lights. It actually houses many residential “villages” full of charming, tree-lined side streets with historic buildings on Manhattan Island and in its boroughs. This includes such popular neighborhoods with trendy bars and lots of nightlife like Tribeca, the East Village, Chelsea, the Meat Packing District, Greenwich Village, and Soho, each with their own character. Just south of Midtown and north of Lower Manhattan, one can find a great variety of such villages pocketed to the east and west of Broadway, which cuts through square grid of Manhattan diagonally unlike the other city streets.
Broadway, unlike the rest of Manhattan’s city streets, cuts diagonally eastwards through the block-shaped grid of Manhattan streets starting at the southern end of Central Park. Around Times Square, New York’s government blocked off Broadway to vehicular traffic to make way for Manhattan’s most prominent pedestrian area. To the north of Times Square, Broadway functions as one of the main arteries for traffic going north to south in the Upper West Side, an increasingly popular and vibrant residential neighborhood. Just across to the east of Central Park is the chic Upper East Side offering residential living.
To wrap it all up, Manhattan is an island of contrasts, diversity and superlatives. It will challenge and heighten your senses, and just waits for you to explore its cityscape of skyscraper canyons and fascinating neighborhoods.