Manhattan in a weekend
Things you need to know about NYC.
Get a small map book of Manhattan (not New York, which could be the state) with a decent scale (1cm = 1km sort of thing.) It must show the subway system, Downtown, West Side
and East Side, Midtown and Central Park.
New York City is made of 4 boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island.
Manhattan is what people refer to and mean when they say NYC. The Hudson River on the West and the East River on
the East surround the island. Trains/tunnels/cable cars cross these rivers to join Manhattan to mainland USA. North and South are uptown and downtown. East and West describe the location almost everything relative to Park Avenue.
All Avenues run lengthways. Numbered streets run cross-town from west to east and are often two directional.
1st street is in Greenwich Village. 240 something street is near the northern tip of Manhattan just south of the Bronx on the mainland.
Avenues run from 11th Ave to 1st Ave and are numbered/named from East to West. Park Ave, 5th Ave and Lexington Ave are famous avenues. Park Ave is the midpoint between West and East. Only Park Ave has two directions of traffic flow. All others are either uptown or downtown one-way streets.
You know where you are going/leaving based on the street number, then E or W tells you which side of the park (Central park) or Park avenue it´s on. Every Manhattan-ite (New Yorker) and all cab drivers know the neighbourhoods according to these x-references. W72 and Third ('Toid' to some) is West side of the park near the Dakota and Strawberry Fields. E63 and Third is Midtown offices near 3rd Ave, etc.
When hailing a cab uptown you give the street number and E/W - if you are going downtown then you just name
the street, rather than a building/house number. This can be revealed once in the cab (even numbers on the South side of the street, odd on the North).
A short block uptown or downtown (between numbered streets) is about a 2 min walk. A long block east or west between the avenues is about an 8 min walk. Most New Yorkers use these to approximate times to get to venues. Up to 10 minutes late for an appointment is almost acceptable. More than that and you're toast.
A highway rings Manhattan. The Henry Hudson Parkway goes uptown on the
West side to New York State and the FDR drive goes up the East side to Queens and Long Island.
The same terminology applies to subways. They all go uptown or downtown.
Useful subways are:
1, 9 red line on West side.
6, green line on the East side.
The blue A and C train on the west side and the L train which goes cross town at about 42nd street.
The Shuttle goes between west and east side - Times Square to Grand Central Station.
Express trains skip stations so are faster. But still use the core direction of the particular service.
New York Metro Card works on both subways and busses.
Subway â€“ is almost always the fastest way to get anywhere, except late at night when taxis can fly through the city streets.
Busses are really handy for going up and down the Avenues. Hop on, slide your metro card and enjoy the view.
Metro Card Prices
Single ride is $2.50 - tickets are sold at vending machines
7 day Metro Card will cost you $29.00. One can charge (top up) the card or buy the card in a variety of denominations. One card can be used by multiple people as a flat $2.50 is deducted each time you swipe the card. Except
the 7 day cards can only be used by one person during the dates specified. It's easier for each person to have their own card as it makes going through the entry barriers simpler without having to slide the card and hand it to the next
person which holds up the line of people trying to enter!
Please note: MTA (subway) Tickets are not sold online & are not part of the New York Pass.
To use the Metro card:
New Yorkers are known for their impatience. On your first time, use the system when it's not rush hour. Decide your route before entering the station. Follow signs to make sure you're on the right side of the tracks. (Otherwise you have to travel to the next station to double back!)
Swipe your Metro Card through a reader and then wait for the display to say, "go" Walk through the
Avoid carrying heavy bags or having straps that might catch the turnstiles. Be aware of everyone around you and don't get separated from your group.
At your stop hop off easily and don't let your bags get caught in the closing doors!
New York City residents live on tips. Most cab drivers and waiter etc will expect to get 15-20% for their service. A handy way to calculate the tip in a restaurant or bar is Double the tax = the tip. If you have lousy service, expect
to be asked why you didn't tip and equally have no qualms explaining why not. In a cab you would always round the
fare up to the nearest $5 or $10. A cabbie who makes you feel unsafe shouldn't get a tip.
Get taxi from LGA or JFK to hotel. Ask driver to take you via Brooklyn Bridge to hostel. Not Midtown tunnel.(No view of anything) It'll cost a bit more but worth every cent (and it'll remove one thing off the list of what to do over next few days.
"A drive-through cathedral" is a great description of the Brooklyn Bridge,
one of New York's noblest and most recognized landmarks. It was designed and built by a father and son team. Completed in 1883 it marks the dawn of modern New York. During its construction many workers (often Irish immigrants) were crippled by caisson disease (the bends)caused by ascent from deep under water pressure chambers used to sink the bridges supports. This was the world's first steel and wire bridge.The gothic-like towers are linked by cables over 15inches thick. It's 532 yards between massive stone archways. The bridge stretches over the East River, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. A walk across its promenade - a boardwalk elevated above the roadway, shared by pedestrians, in-line skaters, and cyclists - takes about 40 minutes and delivers exhilarating views. Take the subway to the Brooklyn side and walk back towards Manhattan).
If the taxi won't do it or you're tired, you can miss the night view and just do the walk across the bridge the next day.
Decide uptown or downtown for the next day. Can't do both.
First Morning. (I've assumed Downtown.)
Not sure where you're staying so . . . look for a street deli to buy bagels and filling of choice for breakfast. Alternative is Subway for a breakfast roll. Eat in deli and make way to closest Red line subway station.
Go on the RED 1/9 service. DOWNTOWN to Christopher Street stop.
Walk East on West 4th Street (street numbers go down) through Greenwich Village to Washington Square Park. This is South side of Washington Square Park.
I'm sure there will be a Starbucks or similar to get something to eat here if you couldn't find something before getting on the subway.
WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK
A square with a famous Roman inspired triumphal arch, statues, a fountain, dog runs, and stone chess boards. Up to
1960's a road ran thru the arch. Today it's a gathering place for NYU students, street musicians, skateboarders,
jugglers, chess players, and those just watching. It's the heart of Greenwich Village. The 9Â¾ acre park began as a cemetery, principally for yellow-fever victims â€” an estimated 10,000â€“22,000 bodies lie below (a headstone was actually unearthed in 2009). In the early 1800s the park was a parade ground and the site of public executions; bodies dangled from a conspicuous Hanging Elm that still stands at the northwest corner of the square. Today everyone hangs around the fountain. It's the focal point for the Outdoor Arts Festival in May, June and September.
The Washington Memorial Arch marks the start of 5th Avenue. The original was erected in 1889 to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of George Washington's presidential inauguration.
If your cab wouldn't do Brooklyn Bridge at night, now's the time to do it. Otherwise just go to Washington Square and then the 9/11 memorial and Staten Island Ferry etc.
To do Brooklyn Bridge.
Get a subway across the bridge to Brooklyn and walk back to Manhattan. See the structure in daylight. Nice views. About 60 minutes.
Two options â€“ not sure which is better.
From Washington Square go to Blue subway line at West 4th Street Station (which has blue and orange subway routes!) Go downtown to High Street, Brooklyn Bridge station in Brooklyn on the Blue line. (Check you pass Broadway
Nassau Street which is the last stop in Manhattan).
From Washington Square ... walk west on Warren or Murray streets towards City Hall. Cross Broadway to get to City Hall and the Court Houses. On the East side of City Hall is where the Brooklyn Bridge comes into Manhattan.vOnce on the east side find Brooklyn Bridge City Hall station on the Green line. Take downtown and across the bridge into Brooklyn and get out at Borough Hall station.
Once there find Adams street which requires you to walk East on JoralemonbStreet (from Green line
station) or east on red Cross Place towards Adams Street (from the High St Brooklyn Bridge station on the Blue line)
Adams Street contains the Brooklyn Bridge Central Cycle and Walkway. Follow the signs to Manhattan.
Once back in Manhattan find something easy to eat. (Au Bon pain, Subway, nearby Deli) Eat and walk.
Walk thru City Hall gardens or south on Park Row to get to Broadway (West Broadway is a block or two towards the West. You want to get across Vesey St on Broadway and get to Fulton Street. Look for Red line subway Cortlandt Street station. You are now at the World Trade Center site.
If you wish to skip Washington Square and Brooklyn Bridge then . . . after you leave in the morning get onto the C train on the AC Blue line downtown to World Trade Center stop.
Finished just in time for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the sombre Memorial, was designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker. Central to the memorial and museum are recessed, 30-foot waterfalls that sit on the footprint where the
Twin Towers once stood. Every minute, some 60,000 gallons of water cascade down the sides and then down into smaller square holes in the center of the pools. The pools are each nearly an acre in size, and they are said to be the largest man-made waterfalls in North America.
Edging the Memorial pools at the plaza level are bronze panels inscribed with the names of the 2,983 people who were killed in all three terror attacks and the six people who died in the 1993 bombing. Because the names are arranged by affiliation rather than alphabetically, it can be difficult to locate particular names â€” visit the memorial's website or use the on-site kiosks to find out where to find a particular name. At night, the names are illuminated by lights shining up from underneath the panels. Visitors are allowed to place tribute items in front of the Memorial pools as well as on the name panels. In the plaza are more than 400 swamp white-oak trees harvested from within a 500-mile radius of the site, as well as from Pennsylvania and near Washington, D.C. There's also a single Callery pear tree known as the "survivor tree," which was revived and replanted here after being damaged during the 9/11 attacks.
There is airport-like security at the memorial and no large bags are allowed. There is no bag storage and there are no bathrooms. Allow about an hour to visit the memorial.
The official address is 180 Greenwich St. Entrance is free and it's open from 7.30am to 9pm
Afterwards (My maps are old... Find Cortland Street 1/9 Red line station and take the >Red 1/9 line downtown to South Ferry.(Alternative is about 30min walk down Broadway ... past Liberty, Cedar, Pine, wall, Exchange, Morris, Battery Place, and staying with State Street to pass Bridge, Paarl to Battery Park. At any stage enter Battery Park and head south towards the Coastguard building and South Ferry 1/9 red station.)
You are now at the southern tip of Manhattan.
Battery Park is to your West. Nice place to grab a drink or ice cream before your ferry trip.
Look for the Ferry to Staten Island.
Take it to Staten Island and back to Manhattan. It's a 25min journey each way and gives you the best view of the Statue of Liberty and of the Manhattan downtown skyline. Make sure you get seats/can stand near the windows stern of the boat. The statue will be on your right going to Staten Island and the skyline will be beautifully visible as you return to Manhattan.
STATEN ISLAND FERRY
Every day, some 70,000 people ride the free ferry to Staten Island, one of the city's outer boroughs, and you should be one of them. Without paying a cent, you get phenomenal views of the Lower Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island during the 25-minute boat ride across New York Harbour. You also pass tugboats, freighters, and cruise ships -- a reminder that this is very much still a working harbour. The boat embarks every 15 to 30 minutes from the Whitehall Terminal at Whitehall and South streets, near the east end of Battery Park. You must disembark once you reach the opposite terminal, but you can just get back in line to board again if you
don't plan to stay.
Based on that view decide if the weather looks good enough to spend the next morning visiting Ellis Island and the statue itself.If the views were sufficient I'd go to dinner and Times Square afterwards before collapsing in a heap to sleep.
For completion sake, here are Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty details. Personally I think the Staten Island Ferry is the best value around. The climb inside the statue is long and hot. The view is so-so. If you like the skyline I'd go for one of the really tall view vantage points.
STATUE OF LIBERTY
For millions of immigrants, the first glimpse of America was the Statue of Liberty, growing from a vaguely defined figure on the horizon into a towering, stately colossus. Visitors approaching Liberty Island on the ferry from Battery Park may experience a similar sense of wonder.
Liberty Enlightening the World, as the statue is officially named, was presented to the United States in 1886 as a gift from France. The 152-foot-tall figure was sculpted by Frederic-Auguste nBartholdi and erected around an iron skeleton engineered by Gustave Eiffel. It stands atop an 89-foot pedestal designed by Richard Morris Hunt, with Emma Lazarus's sonnet "The New Colossus" ("Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses") inscribed on a bronze plaque at the base. Over the course of time the statue has become precisely what its creators dreamed it would be: the single-most powerful symbol of American ideals and, as such, one of the world's great monumental sculptures.
Inside the statue's pedestal is a museum that's everything it should be: informative, entertaining, and quickly viewed. Highlights include the original flame (which was replaced because of water damage), full-scale replicas of Lady Liberty's face and one of her feet, Bartholdi's alternate designs for the statue, and a model of Eiffel's intricate framework. You're allowed access to the museum only as part of one of the free tours of the promenade (which surrounds the base of the pedestal) or the observatory (at the pedestal's top).
There is no admission fee for either the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, but the ferry ride (which goes round-trip from Battery Park to Liberty Island to Ellis Island) costs $18.
Ferries leave from Battery Park every 30 to 40 minutes depending on the time of year (buy your tickets online at
www.statuecruises.com. There are often long lines, so arrive early, especially if you have a reserved-time ticket. There is a pleasant indoor/outdoor café on Liberty Island.
The tours are limited to 3,000 participants a day. The only way to guarantee entry to the pedestal (which includes the museum) is with an advance purchase of a Reserve Ticket with Monument or Pedestal Pass, which should be purchased at least a few days and ideally longer before your visit (they can be reserved up to 180 days in advance by phone or online).
No tickets are sold on the island; however, tickets are sold daily at Castle Clinton Monument in Battery Park.
Visitors who are unable to acquire a Reserve Ticket with Monument Pass can still be issued a No Monument Access Pass, allowing them to walk around the island on the ground level without access to the monument. Approximately 240 people are allowed to visit the crown each day via a set of narrow, double-helix stairs. Tickets are available online, but are usually sold out up to three or four months ahead of the visit, so book early. If you can't get tickets to the crown, you can get a good look at the statue's inner structure on the observatory tour. From the observatory itself there are fine views of the harbour and an up-close view of Lady Liberty. If you're on one of the tours, you'll go through a security check more thorough than any airport screening, and you'll have to deposit any bags in a locker. (Personally I don't think it's worth the effort after doing Staten Island Ferry. The crown is definitely an anticlimax and not worth the hot climb.
If you just fancy getting closer you could always pay $18 a ticket and do the ferry there and look about at the museums etc. About 2 hours to get there and back.
By 8 or 9pm you should be back in Manhattan and look for a place to eat. There are restaurants everywhere. I'd try for Mexican.
Find Bowling Green Station. Green line. Get on the 6 train uptown to 28th Street station (for Dos Caminos). Or just before it at 23rd Street station for Dos Toros. Or 33rd Street station for Chipotle.
Each of these require a block or two (up or downtown) short blocks walk to reach the particular restaurant.
Great place used to be on Park Ave South and E 27th Street.
Dos Caminos< (small chain with easy food to try and share and not expensive if you hold the alcohol down.) Great guacamole and fish and Quesadea's.
££ Mexican restaurant
Address: 373 Park Ave S, at E27th St
Phone +1 212-294-1000
Hours 11:30am - 11pm
Chipotle Mexican Grill (more a fast food joint).
£ · Mexican restaurant
Address: 464 Park Ave S (between 31st and 32nd Streets)
Phone: +1 212-689-0305
Hours: 11am - 10pm
£ · Mexican restaurant · Flatiron District
Address: 295 Park Ave S, (at 23rd Street)
Phone: +1 347-946-6225
Hours: 11am - 10pm
Around 10 or 11pm it's worth a cab ride from Park
Ave S uptown to Times Square.
Alternative is back onto a green line 6 train to 42nd Street Grand Central station.
There you will need to get out of the station and go to the other side to get the Shuttle to Times Square. Before that you are going into Grand Central station itself and its amazing central hall.
If you'd prefer not to eat Mexican or to find something else to eat, I'd head for Union Square. Take the green 6 train uptown to 14th Street station.
One of the busiest inter changes with 3 lines intersecting. At Union Square you'll definitely find lots to eat and do.
Union Squarecafé is cool (check details on line) and I'm sure there are more newer places.
For reference I've included a blurb here on Union Square. You could return here if you like the area during another day. However as a quick few hours long visit, it's a good option instead of the Park Ave S Mexican restaurants.
Apply the same timeline to get from 14th Street to Grand Central and Times Square as if you had chosen Mexican. Its marginally a few minutes longer from Union Square or 21st or 28th Street or 32nd Street stations up to 42nd
street/Grand Central station.
At any given moment, a visitor to Union Square might encounter street vendors selling homemade tchotchkes, protesters rallying behind giant signs painted on bed sheets; busking musicians; Krishna followers chanting songs of devotion; and break-dancers - and that's to say nothing of the visitors and residents milling through the park, unleashing their pooches in the dog run and stocking up on produce at the expansive greenmarket. The park captures much of the City's diversity and has an energy all its own - in some way, this is downtown's Times Square. The National Historic Landmark certainly has a long tradition as a gathering place (as its name might suggest): in 1861, the square hosted what was, at the time, the largest public assembly in the nation's history.
The park remains as vital as ever - and the area that immediately surrounds it, also known as Union Square, is a prime place to grab a quick meal, see your favorite band, find a rare book and take in art for free. Union Square Park stretches from 14th Street to 17th Street, and from Union Square East (Fourth Avenue/Park Avenue South) to University Place. The surrounding neighbourhoods include Gramercy, the Flatiron District, the East Village and
Greenwich Village. The area's most prominent work of public art is the Metronome and Countdown Clock that looks out over 14th Street. Installed in 1999 by artists Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel, the massive clock - officially named The Passage - can be a bit confusing at first sight, so here's how to read it. The LED numbers display time in a 24-hour format - the seven leftmost digits tell time from left to right, as hours, minutes, seconds and tenths of a second (in military time). The seven rightmost numbers display the amount of time remaining in a 24-hour day, but are meant to be read from right to left (though not, strictly speaking, backward). Less practical (but no less notable) public art displays in the park include Henry Kirke Brown's larger-than-life-size sculptures of George
Washington and Abraham Lincoln; and a statue of Mohandas Gandhi in the southwest corner of the park, created by Indian artist Kantilal Patel and dedicated in 1986.
Union Square is close to two known music venues. The three-floor Webster Hall hosts regular club nights and every kind of touring rock, pop, dance and rap act imaginable, from smaller independent outfits to big names like Wizn Khalifa and Capital Cities. The 150-year-old-plus building that holds Irving Plaza has served as a union meeting house and a community center for veterans of the Polish Army - but the site achieved its greatest fame after being converted into a rock music venue in 1978. Such acts as the Talking Heads, the Dave Matthews Band and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have played on its stage, and fans love the space's intimate setup.
In many ways, Union Square is defined by its busy, long-running farmers' market, aka the Union Square Greenmarket. Taking place Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, it lines the northern and western edges of the park and brings together vendors from all over the state (and states nearby), who sell apples, flowers, fresh fish, wild game, sheep's milk cheese and microgreens etc.etc.
Outside the park, the most distinctive shopping landmark may be the Strand Book Store, which proudly touts its "18 miles of books." That translates to more than 2 million new and used tomes, including rare editions, discounted new copies and-findable if you're willing to dig-dirt-cheap pre-read relics. The area's Barnes & Noble
outpost has the honour of being Manhattan's largest bookstore. Its four floors feature a massive children's section, and the bookseller frequently hosts signings with notable authors. Forbidden Planet serves up comics, graphic
novels, manga, anime and all manner of related merchandise.
Use the same timeline to get from 14th Street to Grand Central and Times Square as if you had chosen Mexican.
GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL
Grand Central is the world's largest (76 acres) railway station - nearly 700,000 commuters and subway riders use it daily. It is one of the world's most magnificent public spaces. Past the glimmering chandeliers of the waiting room is the jaw-dropping main concourse, 200 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 120 feet (roughly 12 stories) high, modelled
after an ancient Roman public bath. In spite of it being completely cavernous, Grand Central manages to evoke a certain sense of warmth rarely found in buildings its size. Overhead, a twinkling fiber-optic map of the constellations covers the robin's egg-blue ceiling. This is one of my favourite places in NYC.
See the ceiling in the main hall and the large clock. The rest is a bonus if you have time. Be in Times
Square by 11pm. Most trains run all night but some stop at midnight.
If you've additional time . . . To escape the crowds, head up one of the sweeping staircases at either end, where
three upscale restaurants occupy the balcony space. Any would make an enjoyable perch from which to survey the concourse. If the budget stretches grab a dessert or a coffee!!
Located around and below the main concourse are fantastic shops and eateries-home to the eponymous Grand Central Oyster Bar (expensive but a drink is nice here!) This is one of the best, if somewhat labyrinthine, "malls" in the city.
To best admire Grand Central's exquisite Beaux-Arts architecture, start with its ornate south face on East 42nd Street, modelled after a Roman triumphal arch. Crowning the facade's Corinthian columns and 75-foot-high arched windows, a graceful clock keeps time for hurried commuters. In the central window stands an 1869 bronze statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built the station to house his railroad empire. Also noteworthy is the 1½ ton, cast-iron bald eagle displaying its 13-foot wingspan atop a ball near the corner of 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.
Grand Central still functions primarily as a railroad station, and might resemble its artless crosstown counterpart, Penn Station, were it not for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's 1975 public information campaign to save it as a landmark. More than 60 integrated railroad tracks are underground and carry trains upstate and to Connecticut via Metro-North Rail. The subway connects here as well.
The Municipal Art Society (212/935â€“3960; www.mas.org/tours) leads an official daily walking tour to explore the 100-year-old terminal's architecture, history, and hidden secrets. Tours begin in the main concourse at 12:30 and last 75 minutes. Tickets ($20) can be purchased in advance online (www.docentour.com/gct) or from the ticket booth in the main concourse.
I'd rather do Guggenheim or Metropolitan Museum next day near Central Park.
You can top up your metro cards here. Follow the signs for The Shuttle or Times Square.
Take the train on its one stop journey to Times Square.
Hands down, this is the most frenetic part of New York City, a cacophony of flashing lights and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. Originally named after the New York Times (whose headquarters have since relocated nearby), the area has seen many changes since the first subway line, opened in 1904. It's a vibrant,
family-friendly destination, with a newly resurfaced pedestrianised stretch of Broadway with granite benches, and stadium seating behind discount theatre ticket seller TKTS, all under the glare of brand names like MTV and M&Ms.
If you like sensory overload, the chaotic mix of huge underwear billboards, flashing digital displays, on-location television broadcasts, naked cowboys, and Elmo clones will give you your fix. The focus of the entertainment may have
shifted over the years, but show time is still the heart of New York's theatre scene, and there are forty Broadway theatres nearby. There is a walking tour which costs $30 each and leaves every 90 odd minutes. I wouldn't find it very interesting!! You can find more on-line.
The shop your mum saw was Sephora on the right hand East side of the square. Almost everything is open 24 hours
in Times Square. All the stores are obliged to have neon lights and signs.
If you're into a night view of NYC, this is the place to be. Even the police station has neon signs.
Get any relevant downtown subway back to your hostel. I
assume 1/9 or A/C trains will go to around 32nd street which should be near your hostel.
Central Park, the Guggenheim, Public Library, Chrysler Building and St Patricks Catholic Cathedral.
Additional options are Top of the Rock.
If you are a shopaholic, start by going to Macy's for breakfast in one of their café's at 9am. If not make your way to the AC Blue line station and go to 72nd Street station.
Alternative is any Pancake House or Sara Beths (check exact address on web). Breakfast is a treat at either. Just cheaper at Pancake Houses.
General plan of your walk through Central park.
Use a map for references and to allow you to follow the pathways without getting confused by the curves and turns. Many people find themselves going in circles or back where they started.
Download the park's free app in advance of your visit for a GPS-enabled map to help you navigate the park. The app - Central Park App - also includes an audio guide, self-guided tours, and current events in the park.
Once at 72nd Street station, walk East towards CENTRAL PARK WEST. Cross the avenue and enter Central Park at Strawberry Fields. John Lennon was shot in 1980 on 72nd street just outside the Dakota Building. Yoko Ono still lives here. See the inlaid mosaic and offerings in the small grove. Keep walking East following the curving meandering paths. Notice the silence from car traffic noise. Ultimately you are going to Tavern on the Green, Bethesda Fountain, south down The Mall (with its statues) and Central Park Zoo before doing a U turn up the East Green towards Pilgrim Hill and East Drive. Along the way you will pass the model boats and the Boat House café. The rustic Ramble makes a change from the lawns and grass as you head up to Cedar Hill and the Metropolitan Museum of Modern art. Walk past the Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis Reservoir and exit the park at 90th Street.
Background on Central Park and a few sites.
It was designed as a place where city dwellers can go to forget the city. Even though New York eventually grew far taller than the trees planted to hide it, this goal never falters. A combination escape hatch and exercise yard, Central Park is an urbanized Eden that gives residents and visitors alike a bite of the apple. Indeed, without the Central Park's 843 acres of meandering paths, tranquil lakes, ponds, and open meadows, New Yorkers might be a lot less sane.
The busy southern section of Central Park, from 59th to 72nd Street, is where most visitors get their first impression. Playgrounds, lawns, jogging and biking paths, and striking buildings populate the midsection of the park, from 72nd Street to the Reservoir. You can soak up the sun, have a picnic, have your photo taken at Bethesda Fountain, visit the penguins at the Central Park Zoo, or join the runners huffing counter clockwise on the dirt track that surrounds the reservoir.
North of the reservoir and up to 110th Street, Central Park is less crowded and feels more rugged. Not many people know that there's a swimming pool in the northeast corner of the park, which becomes a skating rink in winter, but I haven't covered this part.
To find out about park events and a variety of walking tours, visit the website of the Central Park Conservancy.
Some logistical info. Roads.
There are many paved pedestrian entrances into the park, from 5th Avenue, Central Park North (110th St.), Central Park West, and Central Park South (59th St.) Four roads, or transverses, cut through the park from east to west - 66th, 79th, 86th, and 96th streets. The East and West drives are both along the northâ€“south axis; Center Drive enters the south edge of the park at 6th Avenue and connects with East Drive around 66th Street.
Find where you are: Along the main loop, lampposts are marked with location codes of a letter - always "E" (for east) or "W" (for west) followed by numbers, the first two of which tell you the nearest cross street. For example, E7803 means you're near 78th Street; above 99, the initial "1" is omitted, so W0401 is near West 104th Street.
You can usually find food carts selling pretzels and ice cream sandwiches, but there are often more interesting, specialty food carts around, (mostly in the southern half of the park) so keep your eyes open and on the lookout. Other reliable options include the cafÃ© next to the Boathouse Restaurant (midpark at 74th Street), or the park's branch of Le Pain Quotidien(mid-park at 69th Street). Both serve sandwiches, soup, pastries, etc (and Le Pain also has free Wi-Fi). More iconic is brunch, lunch, or dinner at the Tavern on the Green.Â I suggest a coffee only here as their prices are also iconic!!
The Dairy (mid-park at 65th Street),
Belvedere Castle (mid-park at 79th Street),
The Chess & Checkers House (mid-park at 64thSt.),
All have directions, park maps, event calendars, and volunteers who can give you guidance.
Tel: +1 212/310â€“6600 Central Park Conservancy; 212/794â€“6564
Dairy Visitor Center. www.centralparknyc.org.
This memorial to John Lennon, who penned the classic 1967 song "Strawberry Fields Forever," is sometimes called the "international garden of peace." The curving paths, shrubs, trees, and flower beds create a deliberately informal landscape reminiscent of English parks. Every year on December 8, Beatles fans mark the anniversary of Lennon's death by gathering around the star-shape, black-and-white "Imagine" mosaic set into the pavement.
This 14-acre oval has endured millions of footsteps, thousands of ball games, hundreds of downpours, dozens of concerts, and even the crush of one papal Mass. Yet it's the stuff of a suburbanite's dreamâ€”perfectly tended turf (a mix of rye and Kentucky bluegrass), state-of-the-art drainage systems, automatic sprinklers, and careful horticultural monitoring. The area hums with action on weekends and most summer evenings, when its softball fields and picnicking grounds provide a much-needed outlet for city folk (and city dogs) of all ages.
Mid-park between 81st and 85th Sts., Central Park.
A delightful menagerie of more than 130 species takes about an hour (unless, of course, you fall under the spell of the zoo's adorable snow-leopard cub, Malala, born here in mid 2014). There's no space for large animals like zebras etc to roam, and the biggest specimens are 2 grizzly's, Betty and Veronica who joined the zoo in late 2014. Sea lion feedings are possibly the zoo's most popular attractions, daily at 11:30, 2, and 4.
Clustered around the central Sea Lion Pool are separate exhibits for each of the Earth's major environments: penguins and polar bears live at Polar Circle; the highlights of the open-air Temperate Territory are the chattering monkeys; and the Rain Forest contains the flora and fauna of the tropics. The Tisch Children's Zoo (no additional ticket required) gives kids the opportunity to feed sheep, goats, cows, and pigs. There is a 4D theatre but the shows are really for 3-10 year olds. And cost $7 for 15 minutes! Children under 12 not admitted without an adult.
Few New York views are more romantic than the one from the top of the magnificent stone staircase that leads down to the ornate, three-tiered Bethesda Fountain. The fountain was built to celebrate the opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which brought clean drinking water to New York City. The name Bethesda was taken from the biblical pool in Jerusalem that was supposedly given healing powers by an angel, which explains the statue The Angel of the Waters rising from the center. (The statue was designed by Emma Stebbins, the first woman to be commissioned for a major work of art in New York City, in 1868.)
Beyond the terrace stretches the lake, filled with swans, gondolas, and amateur rowboat captains. At its western end is the Boathouse, home of an outdoor café for on-the-go snacks, and a pricier option.
Mid-park at 72nd St.
METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
It would be possible to roam the labyrinthine corridors of the colossal Metropolitan Museum of Art for days. The Met has more than 2 million works of art representing 5,000 years of history, so it¸s a good idea to plan ahead.
Check the museum's floor plan, available at all entrances, for location of the major wings and collections. Pick up the "Today's Events" flier at the desk where you get your ticket.
If you're hungry, there are several options inside the museum for a meal or snack: The Roof Garden (£), open May - October, has fabulous views. There is also a caféteria (£) on the ground floor.
The Petrie Court Café and Winebar (££) at the back of the first-floor European Sculpture Court, has waiter service. The Great Hall Balcony Bar (££) is on the second floor balcony overlooking the Great Hall - on Friday and Saturday, 4pm to 8:30 pm, waiters serve appetizers and cocktails accompanied by live classical music.
In late 2014, the Met concluded its two-year, $60 million renovation of the museum's plaza. The new European-style plaza includes additional public seating, two fountains (with jets that can be programmed for varying displays), new lighting, landscaping, a row of large parasols for shade, and improved museum access. After the Met you are at 82nd Street. Walk to the Reservoir and exit the Park at 90th street.
Once on Fifth Ave, turn right and face downtown. Walk to 89th Street and the Guggenheim museum.
This is more impressive and more of a must-see than the Met. Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark nautilus-like museum building is renowned as much for its famous architecture as for its superlative collection of art and well-curated shows. Opened in 1959, shortly after Wright's death, the Guggenheim is acclaimed as one of the greatest buildings of the 20th century. Inside, under a 96-foot-high glass dome, a ramp spirals down, past the artworks of the current exhibits (the ramp is just over a quarter mile long). The museum has strong holdings of Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Robert Mapplethorpe.
Wright's design was criticized by some who believed that the distinctive building detracted from the art within, but the interior nautilus design allows artworks to be viewed from several different angles and distances. Be sure to notice not only what's in front of you but also what's across the spiral from you. Even if you aren't planning to eat, stop at the museum's modern American restaurant, the Wright (at 88th Street), for its stunning design by Andre Kikoski. If planning to eat, note that hours are limited and prices high.
On permanent display, the museum's Thannhauser Collection is made up primarily of works by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne, Renoir, and Manet. Perhaps more than any other 20th-century painter, Wassily Kandinsky, one of the first "pure" abstract artists, has been closely linked to the museum's history: beginning with the acquisition of his masterpiece Composition 8 (1923) in 1930, the collection has grown to encompass more than 150 works.
The museum's free app is worth downloading. Features include detailed floor maps, multimedia guides to exhibits, interviews with artists, and access to the permanent collection.
Escape the crowded lobby by taking the elevator to the top and working your way down the spiral.
The museum is pay-what-you-wish on Saturday from 5:45 to 7:45. Lines can be long, so arrive early. The last tickets are handed out at 7:15.
Eat before you visit; restaurants on Lexington Avenue have more affordable options than the museum's elegant Wright restaurant, and more varied fare than the small Cafê 3 espresso and snack bar
on the third floor.
Once you leave you need to get off 5th Ave to get a subway. The closest green line is on Lexington Ave. (three long blocks east of 5th Avenue and the park.)
However the bus is a pleasant trip allowing you to see the houses on this famous avenue. Take the bus to at least 42nd Street so you can get back to Grand Central and the beautiful Public Library and the "silver" Chrysler Building. The library is directly across W42nd Street and 5th Ave. Enjoy a peaceful rest in the garden as you watch New Yorkers dashing around.
Get off the bus and walk East towards Grand Central. Just past grand Central between Lexington and 3rd Ave is the magnificent art deco Chrysler building. You may not go up it anymore and it is no longer one of the tallest NYC buildings. It's a 1930's stainless steel spire and marks one of the first uses of metal over a large structural surface. It's a tribute to American car excellence with abstract vehicles in a decorative band at the 26th floor, enormous winged gargoyles are reminiscent of car radiator caps and the Art Deco lobby has one of the city's most famous elevators. The lobby ceiling is also painted with an auto theme. The spire was illuminated in 1981.
If you have time get off the bus at 51st Street to see St Patricks Cathedral. This is the largest Roman Catholic Church in USA. It is the seat of the New York archdiocese. It was begun in 1859 before the Civil War and took 29 years to complete. The white marble is in modified French Gothic style. No flying buttresses, twin 330ft towers richly carved bronze doors. The 108ft nave saw the marriage of F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1928 and funeral of JFK in 1968.
Either get another bus at the next stop going down to 42nd street or walk the 10 short blocks (20 min) to 42nd Street and the library.
Day 3 or late on Day 2:
If you fancy a skyline view of NYC for $32 check out the top of Rockefeller Center "Top of the Rock" Observation Deck for views of New York City and beyond. See the dazzling Swarovski crystal chandelier and multi-media exhibit full of the rich history, art and architecture of Rockefeller Center on the ground floor and mezzanine. A glass ceiling sky shuttle takes you to the Top, where you will find three stories of views, including an open air, 360-degree view from the 70th Floor outdoor deck.
Open daily from 8am to 12 midnight (last elevator up at 11pm)
30 Rockefeller Plaza with entrance on 50th Street, between 5th & 6th Aves.
Art enthusiasts and novices alike are often awestruck by the masterpieces they find at the MoMA, including Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Van Gogh's Starry Night. Plans for an expansion into the space next door (which, controversially, meant tearing down the American Folk Art Museum) include additional gallery space, a retractable glass wall, an expanded lobby, and the opening of its entire first floor, including the sculpture garden, as a free public space. Construction is already underway with an expected completion date in 2019.
In addition to the artwork, one of the main draws of MoMA is the building itself. A maze of glass walkways permits art viewing from many angles.
The 110-foot atrium entrance (accessed from the museum's lobby on either 53rd or 54th Street) leads to movie theaters and the main-floor restaurant, Modern, with Alsatian-inspired cuisine.
A favorite resting spot is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Designed by Philip Johnson, it features Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk (1962-69). The glass wall lets visitors look directly into the surrounding galleries from the garden, where there's also a reflecting pool and trees.
Contemporary art (1970 to the present) from the museum's seven curatorial departments shares the second floor of the six-story building, and the skylighted top floor showcases an impressive lineup of changing exhibits.
MoMA's Audio+ app allows visitors to listen to audio commentaries and access, share, and save additional content. Audio+ iPods can be rented at the museum, or the app can be downloaded from MoMA's website.
Tickets are available online (www.moma.org) at a
reduced price. Entrance between 4 and 8 pm on Friday is free, but expect long lines. Free Wi-Fi service within the museum allows you to listen to audio tours (log on to www.moma.org/wifi with your smartphone)
Film passes to the day's screenings are included with the price of admission. Tickets to MoMA also include free admission to its affiliate PS1 in Queens; save your ticket and you can go in for free any time within 30 days of your original purchase.
Grab a quick bite at one of MoMA's two cafés - Café 2 and Terrace 5, or dine leisurely at the upscale Modern. In summer there is gelato in the Sculpture Garden.