Things to Do in New York City
Arguably the most luxurious department store in the city, Saks Fifth Avenue is the result of a partnership between two powerful New York City department store families: the Saks’ and Gimbel Brothers. In September 1924, Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel opened this famous chain’s flagship store in Midtown Manhattan, next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and across the street from the site that would become, in 1939, Rockefeller Center.
Saks’ flagship building occupies an entire city block and is decorated in the Art Deco style, inspired by the 1925 Paris Exposition. The store’s layout is divided into a series of high-end specialty shops, each highlighting individual designers of clothing, accessories and home wares. The 8th floor shoe department, 10022-SHOE, is a fantasy-inducing collection of the world’s greatest luxury shoe designers, and is named with the zip code of the surrounding neighborhood.
For the best free cruise in town, hop aboard the Staten Island passenger ferry. The free round-trip cruise takes you past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, with terrific views back to Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The trip takes 25 minutes each way, and ferries run 24 hours round the clock. Around 60,000 passengers use the ferries daily.
You have to disembark at Staten Island by law, so while you’re there why not take a walk around the Snug Harbor Cultural Center museums and Botanical Gardens.
Also known as the Fashion District, New York’s Garment District is located in Manhattan between Fifth and Ninth Avenues and 34th and 42nd Streets. It gets its name due to the high concentration of show rooms, fashion brands, wholesale outlets and production spaces. Along with being a mecca for fabric and apparel, the Garment District is also worthwhile as shoppers can find everything from designer pieces to budget buys and sample sales.
Start your tour of the area at the Garment District Kiosk at 39th and Seventh Avenue to pick up maps, brochures and coupons that will help you navigate the many fashionable spaces. If you can only go to one shop in the area, make it Mood Fabrics which encompasses three floors of designer textiles. Visitors also enjoy walking the Fashion Hall of Fame from 38th to 40th along Seventh Avenue.
It’s no surprise that one of the most iconic restaurants on earth also calls one of the most iconic city blocks its home. Hard Rock Café Times Square exists in the heart of New York City, where sky-high buildings, flashing lights and crowded streets meet. This kinetic destination welcomes visitors from around the globe to experience the energy and excitement of the big apple.
Visitors can tuck into heaping plates of American fare—like burgers, fries and frosty milkshakes—surrounded by an impressive collection of music memorabilia. The famed white suit of Led Zeppelin, the glossy white bass used by The Who and handwritten lyrics from Jimi Hendrix make this popular restaurant feel more like a museum than mealtime (though travelers say the vibe is way more fun).
Housed in a former New York City deli, the 9/11 Tribute Center has been paying homage to the lost lives of September 11 victims through photography and artifact displays, as well as the art of storytelling since 2006. Visitors can explore the halls of this memorial founded by The September 11th Families’ Association, and learn about one of the most notorious days in the city’s history. Travelers can take a five-point tour with one of 200 trained guides who will share their sobering stories, experiences and memories of this tragic day. Audio tours featuring a more in-depth look at the narratives of more than 20 guides are also available to help tourist navigate the galleries filled with iconic images, family photos and other items from the World Trade Center attacks. A unique oral history collection of more than 400 unique retellings of the day is one of the major highlights of this unique memorial center that is not to be missed.
Set in the heart of New York’s theater district, New World Stages is a premier performing arts complex that has hosted some of the world’s most iconic shows. Its five stages extend to include a public lounge and art gallery as well as event spaces and an underground bar.
Built on the former site of Madison Square Garden and open since 2004, it is one of the city’s newer theatrical venues. It is currently home to five shows on its five stages, including the popular Avenue Q, as well as readings and concerts. Many of its play and musicals are known for their quirky and lively nature, many having historically shown on Broadway. The theaters are intimate in size, housing only 199 to 499 guests each. With quality performances and small venue size, it is considered be a central spot in the Off-Broadway theater scene.
More Things to Do in New York City
Located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at 103 Orchard Street, the Tenement Museum provides insight on immigrant history and personal experiences of these people in the neighborhood. Visitors can tour a tenement building at 97 Orchard for a first-hand glimpse at what life was like for these people including the living conditions, challenges and hardships. These dwellings usually had no running water or electricity, and often housed whole families and sometimes business offices in just 375 square feet. There are an array of tours to choose from, some of which include “Shop Life,” “Sweatshop Workers” and “Irish Outsiders.” Which apartment you explore and family you learn about will depend on the tour you choose.
In the visitor center, a film is shown to give background knowledge before exploring further. Note: To visit these tenements you must take a tour. Be aware there is much stair climbing involved.
New York City is no stranger to the everyday hustle and bustle, and Penn Station, the city’s largest intercity train station, is no exception. Constructed in the early 20th century, it was designed in a Beaux-Arts style inspired by the Gare d’Orsay in Paris. It was once considered one of the most important architectural sites in New York. Unfortunately due to low utilization it was demolished in the 1950s. It was restored and reconstructed to its current station in 1969.
Today it is operated by Amtrak and serves more than 600,000 passengers daily — that’s more than any other transit station in North America. It brings in daily commuters from the surrounding areas of Long Island and New Jersey and is well-connected with the New York City Subway system. Often crowded, the multi-level underground station is one of the busiest spots in Manhattan.
Located at 36 Battery Place in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is a living memorial to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Opened in 1997, the mission of the museum is “to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries—before, during, and after the Holocaust.” In their collection, the Museum of Jewish Heritage showcases over 25,000 items that are used to tell the story of Jewish history. The permanent Core Exhibition features multiple perspectives on Jewish history, life and culture through artifacts, audio testimonials, photographs and films that are separated into three sections: “Jewish Life A Century Ago,” “The War Against the Jews” and “Jewish Renewal.” Not only is the exhibition itself impressive, but also the six-sided building it resides in, which is symbolic of the Star of David as well as the six million Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust.
A branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), The Cloisters is a museum and gardens dedicated to medieval art. The name of the attraction, which opened to the public in 1938, comes from five medieval cloisters, all of which are woven into the museum’s design. Along with strolling through the gardens, visitors can take in paintings, tapestries, chapels, carvings and halls designed for different periods. For example, while The Late Gothic Hall showcases 15th century limestone windows and altarpieces from Germany, Italy and Spain, The Romanesque Hall features stone portals from 12th and 13th-century French churches. For those who want a more in-depth experience, opt for an audio guide and listen to interviews with educators, curators and conservators, as well as some Medieval music for an immersive experience.
Short for “North of Little Italy,” the name Nolita was coined in a 1996 article in The New York Times that aimed to label this then-newly trendy little area. Bordered by Houston Street (pronounced house-tun), the Bowery, Broome Street, and Lafayette Street, this Lower East Side neighborhood includes the famous Puck Building (at the corner of Houston and Lafayette) and the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral (at the triangular intersection of Mulberry, Mott and Prince Streets).
One of the smallest retail districts in the city, Nolita is light on green space and elbow room, but is nonetheless home to some of New York’s hippest restaurants and cafes, like Nolita House and Bowery Coffee, and shops, such as fashion boutiques Duncan Quinn and Creatures of Comfort, as well as independent bookseller McNally Jackson.
A four-mile strip of elegant public green space between the Hudson River and Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, this designated scenic landmark was first proposed in 1865, laid out in 1910 (using designs by Frederick Law Olmstead), re-designed in the 1930s by Robert Moses (who incorporated an underground train tunnel still in use by Amtrak), and enlarged by Donald Trump in the 1990s.
In addition to purely scenic paths landscaped with trees, flowers, terraces and bridges, the park includes a wide variety of recreational options, like baseball diamonds, basketball, tennis and handball courts, skate ramps, kayak and canoe launch sites, playgrounds, and fitness paths. As part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, the park contains car-free bike routes, and its 110-slip public marina at 79th Street is part of New York State’s Water Trail. There are several graceful monuments within the park, including Grant’s Tomb, at West 122nd Street.
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