TRAVEL GUIDE: Exploring the sights and nightlife of New York City

Reporter:

Matt Jones

WITH so much to see and do in New York deciding how best to spend that holiday of a lifetime - and making sure you have the best selfies and stories to wow your friends – can be a stressful task.

Once your flights and accommodation are booked and your bank balance has started to recover, it’s time to plan what type of New York experience you want.

Most people want to see the world-renowned sights such as the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the sky-scrapper lined streets of Midtown, the dazzling Times Square or a show at one of the legendary theatres of Broadway.

Others may prefer to experience the wealth of nightlife on offer, sample some of the 200 craft breweries or indulge in mouth-watering cuisine, which includes every type of food you can imagine.

On a recent trip I was lucky enough to stay with a friend who worked and lived in New York and with my own personal tour guide (plus a free place to stay!) I decided to have the best of both worlds.

When it came to sightseeing, I used the City Pass which gives access to a host of attractions for one reduced price.

While the savings might not work out unless you see all the attractions in the pass, which can be difficult on a trip of seven days and under, the ability to cut lines, especially at museums and art galleries is a bonus for those short on time.

It saved me from queuing in the rain at both the Natural History Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Both are well worth a visit, but a day is nowhere near long enough to get through even a quarter of what’s on offer.

I would recommend some research beforehand to make sure you see the highlights, or at least your own personal must-sees in each.

Also included in the City Pass, and indeed a must for any visitor to New York, a sightseeing cruise, on the Circle Line tour.

With a number of different tours available, including a speedboat ride, I embarked on a cruise past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, under the Brooklyn Bridge and back again, all the time surrounded by spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline.

Although New Yorkers will tell you can take a free ride on the Staten Island ferry, which passes some of these sights, I would highly recommend the cruise due to the addition of a of a tour guide.

Both informative and interesting, it is best to go early in your trip to give yourself an idea of the recent history and the current trends of New York which gave me plenty of ideas of what to do next.

The Empire State Building is a must see while in New York, the city’s most iconic building has a view that must be seen to be believed, although if you ask the locals, they will tell you to try the Top of the Rock at the famous Rockefeller Centre, itself worth a look, has better views, and it has the added bonus that you can see the Empire State Building from it.

Sightseeing in New York need not be confined to the major attractions, there are hundreds of things to see and do – and take photographs of - like the Chelsea Hotel, the one-time residence of singers, poets and artists like Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, to places like Washington Square or maybe you’d like to visit locales from famous TV shows and movies – including Friends, Glee or filming sites for Spiderman and Miracle on 34th Street.

The night is always young in New York.

Evenings centre around food as well as drinking.

Many bars and restaurants can be almost indistinguishable, both serving a range of drinks and food and also having space for diners or for those looking for just a drink.

The atmosphere can range from relaxed to bustling depending on your venue and in terms of dress, smart-casual will suffice for all but the most exclusive spots.

With such a wide-range of food and drink on offer, you can chose venues that suit you.

I found that the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, the East Village, Soho and Tribeca all to be much more lively neighbourhoods than Uptown or Midtown Manhattan which are dominated by skycrapers.

In most neighbourhoods, bars and restaurants are dotted around rather than housed together in one specific area.

In that respect I found having locals on hand to guide me especially useful.

I would recommend doing some research and find a few specific places to try, especially for food, but also not being afraid to have a walk in whichever direction suits you.

In New York, you are never far from somewhere to stop off in, and with so much on offer, exploring can be a lot of fun.

Prices can vary, you can pay upwards of ten dollars a drink - plus the obligatory one-dollar tip per drink - but I found beers as cheap as four dollars in some areas.

Overall New York is an expensive city, so be prepared, but if you do some research, and try and save money where you can, such as by eating cheaper meals during the day and walking rather than taking cabs the city that never sleeps will welcome you in and allow you to enjoy everything on offer.

For more information on what to do and see while you are in New York visit www.nycgo.com the website of NYC & Company, the city's official marketing, tourism and partnership organization.

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