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A Comprehensive Manhattan, New York Travel Guide
New York City is often seen as the center of the universe in popular culture. A visit to Manhattan can certainly make you feel that way. It has something for everyone including a plethora of many different attractions, incredible restaurant scenes, and a variety of art and entertainment. In Manhattan, you will be surrounded by gourmet restaurants, skyscrapers, and cultures from all over the world.
Manhattan is an island that is bound by the Hudson, Harlem, and East Rivers. Just as the rest of the 5 New York burrows, it is located in the state of New York with the Newark City, New Jersey lying just across the river to the west. New York has a rather varied climate, and it can be quite humid due to its proximity to the ocean. Winters are mostly cold but not brutally cold. Freezing temperatures are common but are not a constant threat at most times.
Summers can be quite uncomfortable due to high levels of humidity, with temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius. However, summers are officially the tourist season, although there is a good reason New York is often referred to as “the city that never sleeps”. The city is buzzing with activities most parts of the year, but if you want to have the best balance of crowds, weather, and things to do, it is best that you go during late spring (May to June) or September (early autumn).
How To Get There
NYC is primarily served by three commercial airports complemented by a cadre of several other smaller ones. These include the John F. Kennedy International Airport, La Guardia, as well as the Newark International Airport.
JFK is usually served by several airlines including the major American and European carriers. It is a sleek airport located close to the Atlantic Ocean east of Brooklyn and south of Queens. Using the AirTrain service can get you into the city in 45 minutes. Alternatively you can have a cab take you directly to your hotel, or ride in a town car to your destination.
Newark is a bit closer to the city, and it is also served by a variety of airlines. Located in New Jersey, Newark’s AirTrain service will get you into the town in about 40 minutes and is relatively an easier connection. Cab rides and town cars are also available of course at a fee. LaGuardia is the closest one to Manhattan, but this isn’t necessarily an advantage. It is located on the extensive rail and subway network of the city, but this will take a bit longer.
Getting Around Manhattan
Don’t even think about renting a car in Manhattan, after all, you are on a vacation. New York has some of the most advanced and extensive subway networks in the world make use of these. Do some simple mapping to plan and identify your routes and connections. You can use the various map applications like Google Maps or even the New York’s MTA website. When this fails, ask a local New Yorker, they are very friendly, and they will be happy to show off their subway system.
Where To Stay
There are countless hotel rooms in Manhattan; you just have to get the right one. In general, you will get what you pay for, with rates changing depending on the season, day of a week, and other factors. If you have flexibility in your budget, be sure to check out Chelsea or the Greenwich Village. Some modestly priced New York Hotels include Hotel Edison, The Time Hotel, and The Belvedere. All these are located a block or two from the Times Square.
There are few hotel options available if hostelling is your thing. Be sure to check out the Chelsea Highline Youth Hostel. Regardless of the place you stay, the neighborhoods are incredible for walking, morning jogs, splendid architecture, and trendy shopping centers and restaurants.
Eating In Manhattan
There are many restaurants in New York, each offering different foods and cuisines. In this case, if you visit Manhattan with dining in mind, you probably have listed some of the must-visit restaurants. For us, New York cuisine could range from pizza too, believe it or not, street vendor hot dogs.
New York’s pizza is cheesy, big, hot, and not doughy. If you would rather have the bread and thick-crusted pizza, you may quickly be put on a bus to Chicago! Pizza is available by the slice or pie, in almost every place you look in the city. Also, food vendors are quite easy to spot in the city. Due to the recent explosion of food trucks and street vendors in the city, you can easily get any food from sushi to Turkish doner, but hot dogs are a must-try!
Hot dog carts can even be located via Yelp, which has over 100 pages of results. These usually come with directions like “ cart on the corner of street X on the Y Avenue”. There are also review from the previous customers of the various vehicles, be sure to check them out. These hot dog carts have many fanatic customers that come on a regular basis. Just keep it simple; nothing can beat a great red link with mustard, mayonnaise, onions, and relish, (except a second one, of course).
What To Do In Manhattan
New Yorkers are reputable when it comes to nightlife. Regardless of your evening entertainment preferences – jazz clubs, dance clubs, smoking clubs, comedy clubs, etc. – you will find them in plenty all over the city. Almost all clubs will remain open until the wee hours of the night. However, if you are on a tight budget, go early during the happy hour. For smokers, get your smokes from outside before you go in since a smoking ban has regulated the use of tobacco to a few cigar and smoking bars.
Every area of the city has its different flavor of nightlife. However, we like the area around the Time Square, as this is the place where Broadway actors will often hang out after shows. The lower east side is also a great place, which you will probably end up if you follow the daytime activities we’ll discuss below. If you love dancing, the Meatpacking District (no pun intended) is your best bet. Here, there is no need to go early as nobody dance up until around 12 is. Bring a lot of cash and dress sharp for both the drinks and the cover charges.
Let’s start off at Central Park working out our way south. The Park itself is an amazing sight, although it may not be the largest in the U.S, it is full of high art, and vistas that combine land and cityscapes. People who love parks are going to like parks; you are going to enjoy Central Park. If you want to have some time, consider taking organized tours.
On the west side of the park is the American Museum of Natural History, which has been made quite popular in the popular culture from the Movie “Night at The Museum” and the Hayden Planetarium. These are the New York’s prime museums that will offer you an unforgettable experience. The planetarium has fascinating programs on various topics in cosmology, and will change from time to time. Get through both of these will take about half a day, especially if you are a science fan.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located on the east side of the park, known as “The Met” to the locals. It is an expansive world-class museum that stands toe-to-toe with large museums in Europe such as the Vatican Museum, the Louvre, the Prado, and the British Museum. Plan for at least 2 hours although, art lovers could probably spend an entire day there.
Heading south to the Time Square, this is an intersection of the Broadway and the 7th Avenue, and not a square or plaza by European standards. It gets its name from the former 25-storey Times Building, which was the headquarters for The New York Times newspaper. Spend about 15 to 100 minutes snapping photos while keeping an eye out for a naked cowboy.
Theatre lovers will be impressed by the blocks surrounding the Times Square. These have a variety of offerings from musicals to drama. You may get some last minute ticket deals around the theatres, but make sure you go to a show you want to see, and buy them in advance online. If you don’t have a particular show in mind, consider classics such as Wicked, Chicago, Jersey Boys, and Phantom of The Opera.
From Times Square, go up to the top of a skyscraper such as the Empire State Building. It is one of the most recognized sites in NYC. Alternatively, go to the Top of the Rock observation deck at the Rockefeller Center. The views are just as good as the Empire State Building. As you return to Manhattan, you will spot the East River to the right side of Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most spectacular New York’s icons.