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Things to Do in New York

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Statue of Liberty
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The Statue of Liberty is one of New York City's (and the USA's) most iconic attractions. The monument was a gift from France in 1886, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The statue is 151 feet (46m) tall and stands, fittingly, on Liberty Island at the mouth of New York Harbor. Lady Liberty welcomes visitors and immigrants with the famous words, "Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
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Cave of the Winds
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For those who want to experience Niagara Falls up close, a tour of Cave of the Winds is a must. In fact, the excursion takes you as close to the falls as you can possibly get. Sporting a souvenir poncho, you’ll descend 175 feet (53 meters) via elevator into Niagara Gorge, where you’ll follow the Niagara River to the Hurricane Deck. Here you’ll learn where the platform gets its name, as Bridal Veil Falls creates conditions similar to a tropical storm, with winds reaching up to 68 mph (109 kph). Feel the torrents of water from the cascading falls wash over you from only 20 feet (6 meters) away as you truly experience the power of Niagara Falls. Many people even liken the experience to being inside of a hurricane. It’s safe to say you will get wet when experiencing the Cave of the Winds.
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Bridal Veil Falls
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One common misconception about Niagara Falls is that it is one large waterfall. The truth is, it is made up of three waterfalls: Bridal Veil Falls on the U.S. side, Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, and American Falls on the U.S. side. Bridal Veil Falls is named for its appearance, as its gushing cascades appear similar to a bride’s white veil. During peak season from June through August, the falls experience the highest volume of water at 150,000 gallons (567,811 liters) per second.

Bridal Veil Falls -- situated between Luna Island and Goat Island -- features a vertical fall of 78 feet (24 meters) and a crest that’s 56 feet (17 m) wide. While this is impressive, it’s actually the smallest of the three waterfalls. That being said, it gets a lot of exposure as visitors can get very close to it due to a number of attractions. First of all, the Maid of the Mist takes you past Bridal Veil Falls for a unique view of its beauty.

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Brooklyn Bridge
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New York's most famous bridge crosses the East River from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Taking a walk across this historic suspension bridge is a must-do NYC activity, with fabulous views on every side.

Built in the 1870s and '80s, the Brooklyn Bridge was one of the first suspension bridges to be constructed in the USA. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The soaring Gothic towers at either end are particularly dramatic when floodlit at night, their tall elongated arches an iconic New York sight.

Check out the observation points under the support towers, with panoramic illustrations depicting the history of New York's waterfront, then stay on to watch as the city lights of Manhattan and Brooklyn switch on at dusk.

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Empire State Building
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When it comes to buildings, New York's Empire State Building is top of the heap. The 102-story iconic skyscraper, completed in 1931, is not only an architectural wonder but it offers wondrous 360-degree views of Gotham from its two observation decks. Glass-enclosed high-speed elevators shuttle visitors to both decks, where high-powered binoculars allow for zeroing in on favorite New York attractions from above. The art deco skyscraper stands at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and W. 34th St.
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Maid of the Mist Steamboat
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A ride on the Maid of the Mist steamboat is a must-do on a visit to Niagara Falls, especially for first timers. These brave little boats have been ploughing headlong into the Falls' misty veil since 1846. It's loud and wet and lots of fun. Before you begin your ride on the Maid of the Mist, you’ll be given a large blue rain poncho, which is essential as you will get wet from the spray. Everyone heads for the boat's upper deck, but views from either end of the lower deck are just as good. Once leaving the dock, the boat slowly approaches Horseshoe Falls. Her starboard side comes closest to the falls, so the best views are on that side. The Maid of the Mist then veers left and heads back to the dock. On its way back, she gives her passengers a sweeping panoramic view of the American Falls. You’ll want to stay on deck for the whole trip; if you go below deck, you’ll miss the action.
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Manhattan Skyline
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The skyline of New York City has starred in hundreds of movies, making it one of the most iconic man-made landscapes in the world. And while the former World Trade Center once stood as the defining image of this electric city, today’s landscape has shifted slightly—though it remains just as memorable.

Travelers who wander the Big Apple’s crowded streets will find themselves at the foot of dozens of architectural landmarks—from the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building to the sky-high spire of Freedom Tower. It’s easy to marvel from the pavement, but visitors who want to experience the skyline in all its wonder need explore beyond the sidewalks.

Travelers looking to go all out can fly high above the city in one of the popular and grand helicopter tours. But there are still plenty of options for those on a budget.

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Ellis Island
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NOTE: ELLIS ISLAND WAS DAMAGED BY HURRICANE SANDY IN OCTOBER 2012. IT WILL PARTIALLY REOPEN TO THE PUBLIC AS OF 10/28/2013 WHILE THEY CONTINUE REPAIRS.

The USA is largely a nation of immigrants, and no site underscores the fact more profoundly than Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954 the island hosted the main immigration station for entry to America, processing more than 12 million third-class arrivals. Almost 50% of Americans have an ancestor who arrived here, having traveled on an often perilous journey across the sea. Today the island is part of the adjacent Statue of Liberty National Monument. The Immigration Museum is housed in an iconic red-brick building built in French Renaissance style, which replaced the original wooden building that burnt down in 1897. The museum brings the immigrant experience to life with a fascinating self-guided tour. Exhibits include photos, films, archive material, recordings, and the American Family Immigration History Center.

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New York Harbor
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New York Harbor, located at the mouth of the Hudson River, is home to stunning views of the Big Apple and Lady Liberty. Ranked among the largest natural harbors in the world, this gateway to Manhattan is also one of the most scenic, offering travelers incredible photo ops along urban walking paths, bridges and piers. Visitors can Jet Ski, kayak and boat in the New York Harbor waters, where popular dinner cruises and sunset sails take place daily. This epic waterway also services major cruise liners as they enter and depart Manhattan. But even travelers who arrived in New York via land or air can experience the thrill and the beauty of the waterway on a Staten Island Ferry ride or one of the other public boats that transports both locals and visitors in and around the city.

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More Things to Do in New York

Central Park

Central Park

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Central Park, a huge rectangular slice of oxygenating greenness, is New York City's lungs and soul. Taking up a mammoth 843 acres (341 hectares) in Uptown Manhattan, Central Park is laced with walkways, jogging paths, and woodlands.

Not just a place for relaxation, Central Park is also home to a zoo, skating rink, theater, reservoir, boating lake, fountains, bridle paths, and a carousel. If you’re feeling peckish after all that activity, drop into the Loeb Boathouse for a buffet brunch or dinner.

Popular photo stops in Central Park include the Alice in Wonderland and Balto the Malamute statues, the Belvedere Castle atop Vista Rock and the John Lennon memorial gardens at Strawberry Fields, opposite Lennon’s former home in the Dakota apartment building.

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Whirlpool State Park

Whirlpool State Park

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Wall Street

Wall Street

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Wall Street is synonymous with New York's Financial District and the New York Stock Exchange. The history of early New York, of New World capitalism and American commerce all come together in Wall Street, named for the protective barrier that once marked the northern boundary of the tiny Dutch settlement known as New Amsterdam.

There are some grand examples of architecture on Wall Street, including the classic pediments and pillars of the New York Stock Exchange and the 18th-century Federal Hall, commemorating the site where the first US Congress convened and Washington was sworn in as president.

On Broadway at Wall Street, historic Trinity Church hosts choral concerts and has an interesting museum and cemetery.

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National September 11 Memorial & Museum

National September 11 Memorial & Museum

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It is a rare greenscape in lower Manhattan, shaded by rustling white oaks that were chosen for their muted yellow hue come autumn. Two enormous fountains, designed by architects Michael Arad and Peter Walker, mark the footprints of the fallen towers with plunging waterfalls. These are surrounded by bronze parapets, engraved with the names of those lost. Personal tributes are welcome, and may be incorporated into the Memorial Museum, due to open in 2012.  
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Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex

Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex

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History, recreation and leisure come together at Chelsea Piers, a group of four historic piers on the Hudson River. Some of the most famous ocean-going liners tied up at these docks, including the Lusitania; but these days Chelsea Piers is making waves as an entertainment and sports activities precinct.

You can have a go at more than 30 different sports at Chelsea Piers. Tee off with a round of golf at the Golf Club, work out in the Sports Center health club, go ice skating at the Sky Rink, play football or basketball in the Field House, or join in a game of ten-pin bowling at 300 New York. You’ll also find an indoor rock-climbing range, gymnastics facilities, a day spa, dance studios, and a training facility for elite athletes.

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Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

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The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a unique journey through all things military and maritime, with spectacular interactive exhibits. Located at Pier 86, the complex boasts authentically restored vessels, the most impressive being the World War II aircraft carrier the USS Intrepid and the submarine USS Growler.

You’ll also spy a British Airways Concorde, as well as Sikorsky, Skyhawk, and Vietnam-era Iroquois Huey helicopters. As for space memorabilia, the new Space Shuttle Pavilion is now open and showcases Enterprise, the first space shuttle. You can also visit a replica of an Aurora capsule and try out the virtual flight zone, which simulates the exhilaration of flying in a supersonic jet.

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Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

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For a memorable dose of Art Deco design in all its glory, immerse yourself in the 1930s Rockefeller Center. A complex of 19 buildings and gardens, the Rockefeller Center is where you'll find the famous ice rink and Christmas tree, Radio City Music Hall, the NBC Studios, and the Top of the Rock observation deck atop the soaring Art Deco GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. (Fans of the television show '30 Rock' will also recognize this as the TGS studio offices.)

For shopping and dining there are more than 100 stores, 40 eateries, and an underground shopping concourse.

Go behind the scenes on an NBC Studios tour, stopping off to have your photo taken at the news desk or give an impromptu weather report. Rockefeller Center tours highlight the rich assortment of Art Deco statues, sculptures, and murals on display, including the famous gilt statue of Prometheus in the Lower Plaza and Atlas on Fifth Avenue.

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Governors Island

Governors Island

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Although a completely separate island that needs to be reached by way of ferry, Governors Island is technically part of the borough of Manhattan. To reach the destination -- which is open from late May through the end of September and is less than a half mile away from Lower Manhattan -- you can take a free ferry from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street. Originally a military outpost, Governors Island began allowing warm-weather visitors in 2006. The island features 172 acres of history and tranquility through heritage sites, biking, picnicking, art and culture. Two remaining 19th-century forts, Fort Jay and Castle Williams, take visitors back to when the island was used for inner harbor defense. Additionally, because there are no cars or motorized vehicles allowed on the island, visitors enjoy renting bikes and cycling along the island’s 2.2-mile Great Promenade or to Picnic Point for some lunch and a direct view of the Statue of Liberty.

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Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

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The Chrysler Building is an outstanding example of flamboyant Art Deco architecture, in all its glory. A riot of shiny automobile-inspired curves and radiator-cap gargoyles, the 77-story skyscraper was built from 1928 to 1930. Its most striking feature is its pointed, zigzag-detailed crown and spire.

You can enter the lobby to gaze at the Art Deco splendor of its murals, but with no observation deck, that’s as far as it goes for visitors. Perhaps the best view of the Chrysler Building is from its arch rival, the Empire State Building.

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George Washington Bridge

George Washington Bridge

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Transporting more than 100 million vehicles annually, the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River connects northeastern New Jersey to Manhattan. With its steel beams and cables, the double-decker suspension bridge is one of the most recognizable in the world. Informally known as “GW” or “The George,” the bridge also allows for pedestrians and bikers to cross, allowing for sweeping views of the New York City skyline. Its lower level (affectionately referred to as “The Martha,” after Washington’s wife) was added after initial construction to allow for greater capacity.

Considered a marvel of modern engineering, the bridge has been recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. At the time it was built it was twice as long as any existing suspension bridge, and remains a favorite New York City landmark. It is the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world, and os home to the world’s largest free-flying American flag.

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Times Square

Times Square

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Times Square is a legendary NYC landmark, synonymous with all the glam and glitz of the Big Apple. It’s New York’s hub for flashing neon advertisements, Broadway’s famous theaters, rubbernecking tourists, and the ball drop on New Year’s Eve.

Of course, Times Square isn’t a square at all, but the triangular intersection of several main thoroughfares. Thankfully, Broadway is pedestrianised as it passes through Times Square, from 42nd to 47th Streets, with plaza seating allowing visitors to actually stop, look, and relax.

A visit to Times Square is an essential part of the New York experience, whether you come here to shop, dine, drink, see a show, or just gawp at the flurry of different architectural styles, spectacular neon signs, and bustling New Yorkers.

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St. Paul's Chapel

St. Paul's Chapel

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Located at 209 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, St. Paul’s Chapel is Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use. Moreover, it is the only surviving church from the Revolutionary Era, and holds much history from this period. Opened in 1766, it is part of the Episcopal Parish of Trinity Church and has been a place of worship and refuge for many over the years, including George Washington and Revolutionary War British Generals Cornwallis and Howe, who would go there to pray and 9/11 recovery workers who were cared for inside the chapel. If you’re interested in seeing where George Washington himself sat inside the church, there is an oil painting of the Great Seal of the United State over his pew. The interior of the church is less grand and more cozy yet elegant with glass chandeliers and an ornamental design above the alter created by a French veteran of the revolution, Pierre L’Enfant.

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Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

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The Met is one of the world's most prestigious cultural hubs, up there with the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Vatican for sheer pulling power.

Around five million visitors a year flock here to drink in the rarefied air, rest their legs in the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, admire the Tiffany glass, and view Old Masters.

If time allows, you'll also find Roman statues, musical instruments, modern artworks and Egyptian artifacts. The Met is a fine place to immerse yourself in American art. A highlight is the series of period rooms, and paintings by Whistler and Sargent.

Take a tour of the highlights, dine on the Great Hall Balcony or have a drink in the rooftop martini bar.

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One World Observatory

One World Observatory

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Travelers looking to experience life on the top of the world need look no further than the spire of One World Observatory. The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, this lower Manhattan skyscraper has a high-speed elevator that shoots visitors straight to the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds. Impressive time-lapse technology showcases the transformation of the city from the 1500s to modern day as guests make their ascent.

The major attraction, known as the Discovery Level, is located on the 100th floor of One World Observatory. Visitors say the 360-degree views highlight the best of Manhattan and offer impressive looks at surrounding waterways and iconic city skyline. Several high-tech installations provide travelers with the unique experience of zeroing in on specific neighborhoods or checking out real-time footage of streets far below.

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