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Things to Do in New York City - page 4

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Lower East Side
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23 Tours and Activities

What was once a destination for immigrants arriving in America and later, the hub of gritty New York City, is today one of Manhattan’s trendiest neighborhoods. Visitors will find unique boutiques, small galleries and plenty of character in this part of New York that’s bordered by East Houston, Essex, Canal Street and the Bowery. Travelers venturing into Chinatown, NoLita, SoHo and the East Village should be sure to add a stroll through the Lower East Side to their itinerary.

Known by locals as Loisaida because of its large Spanish-speaking population, this neighborhood is home to plenty of Latin-influenced cuisine. But travelers will find plenty of diverse flavors, including the iconic Katz’s Delicatessen, made famous in When Harry Met Sally. Travelers who want to take a look at Manhattan’s earliest inhabitants can check out the Tenement Museum, which showcases the life of the city’s earliest immigrants.

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Meatpacking District
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New York City’s famous Meatpacking District is a 24-hour destination known for its fashion, culture, design and food. This neighborhood, located on the west side of Manhattan, spans approximately 20 square blocks and is popular for its nightlife and even its historical side. The market-filled industrial center was once solely home to meatpacking plants, lumber yards and scores of open-air meat markets, and after an unseemly period during the 1980s when the area was a hotbed for scandal, a new transformation began. In the late 1990s, high-end boutiques and restaurants began opening, and the completion of the High Line Park in 2009 really set the Meatpacking District apart. And in May 2015, one of New York’s most well-respected art institutes, the Whitney Museum, opens its doors in the neighborhood. Although the Meatpacking District has changed significantly over time, its historical past is still evident today.

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The Vessel
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If an M.C. Escher drawing leapt off the page, it might become the Vessel. This interactive, public art work from Thomas Heatherwick is composed of intertwined stairways and landings that visitors can climb. Head up the 154 flights to enjoy fantastic views of the NYC skyline and the Hudson River.
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Hayden Planetarium
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This leading planetarium shows impressive visuals of space as viewed from Earth, using high-resolution full-dome video projection in its Star Theater. The video is based on visualization of the most advanced astrophysical scientific data available. Visitors can witness galaxies, planets, and star clusters in realistic, sharp resolution. “Star shows” display the latest in cosmic discovery, in collaboration with top scientists from around the world. Glancing up at the wide screen, it is near impossible not to imagine life beyond our planet.

The sphere measures 87 feet in diameter and appears to float inside a glass cube. In the bottom half of the sphere, visitors can witness the birth of the universe in the Big Bang Theater. After viewing the four minute programs, visitors can walk the Heilbrun Cosmic Pathway, which illustrates the history of the universe from the Big Bang to present day and connects the two sections of the sphere.

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Macy's® Herald Square
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Located at 151 West 34th Street, Macy’s Herald Square is the department brand’s flagship store. Since its opening in 1902 the flagship store in particular is advertised as the world’s largest department store, although according to the “Guinness Book of World Records” the title now belongs to Shinsegae’s store in South Korea’s Centum City, which is 5,487,595 square feet and over twice the size of Macy’s Herald Square. Even so, it is almost impossible not to find what you’re looking for in the department store, which showcases over 1 million square feet of merchandise over 10-and-a-half levels. Browse everything from cosmetics to apparel to housewares and beyond. In fact, the space is so expansive they have a Visitor Center on the 34th Street Balcony Level and restaurant located throughout.

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One World Trade Center
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One World Trade Center is among the newest buildings in Lower Manhattan and with its easily recognizable spire, it’s quickly becoming an icon of the city skyline. Rising some 1,776 feet into the air, this towering silver mirrored skyscraper is now the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Its close proximity to Ground Zero, the Financial District, New York Stock Exchange and 9/11 Memorial Museum make it a perfect place to admire a truly manmade wonder while on a tour of downtown sites.

Beginning in 2015, travelers are able to take one of the building’s 70 elevators to three incredible observation decks, which are expected to attract close to four million tourists annually. Visitors can look out over the city skyline and into the Brooklyn borough from floors 100, 101 and 102.

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Friends Building
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Any fan of the iconic TV show ‘Friends’ will recognize the building at the corner of Grove and Bedford streets in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Although the show was filmed on a studio set, the sextet’s apartment building appeared in the opening credits of every episode and in many scenes of the show as well. There aren’t many tourist attractions around the building, but die hard ‘Friends’ fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to take a picture in front of the building and grab a bite to eat at the ‘Tiny Owl,’ the restaurant on the building’s ground floor that was known in the show as the cafe ‘Central Perk.’ From across the street (and with the help of a little imagination), you can almost hear Phoebe strumming her guitar and singing ‘Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you? Smelly cat, smelly cat, it’s not your fault.’

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General Grant National Memorial
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Paying tribute to Civil War hero and former president General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia, the General Grant Memorial is the largest tomb in North America. General Grant is commended for his role in ending the bloodiest war in American history, with his words “let us have peace” immortalized in the structure.

The large granite and marble mausoleum is surrounded by seventeen intricate, Gaudi-inspired benches designed by Chilean artist Pedro Silva. The structure itself takes after classical inspiration with Doric columns and an Ionic colonnade. It bears resemblance to some of the ancient monuments of Rome. The interior, however, was inspired by the Tomb of Napoleon at Les Invalides in Paris.

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More Things to Do in New York City

Union Square

Union Square

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A welcome patch of green in Downtown Manhattan, Union Square is one of New Yorkers’ favorite city squares. It’s the place for public gatherings, yoga and exercise classes, and for people from all walks of life to take a break and catch some sunshine, eat lunch, or read a book.

Stock up on fresh produce at the wonderful Greenmarket held here Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturdays, and if you’re here in November/December you can pick up gifts at the holiday market. Some striking architecture surrounds the square, and you’ll find statues of famous figures dotted throughout, including Washington, Lincoln, Lafayette, and Mahatma Gandhi. Big-name stores and fine restaurants are nearby, and Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and the Flatiron District are just a stroll away.

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Fraunces Tavern Museum

Fraunces Tavern Museum

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Fraunces Tavern is a national historic landmark, museum, and restaurant in New York City, famous for being the place where George Washington bid farewell to his troops at the end of the American Revolution. Since 1904, the building has been owned by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York Inc., who claim it is Manhattan’s oldest surviving building. It is part of the New York Freedom Trail and the American Whiskey Trail. The museum’s mission is to create appreciation for New York City history as it relates to Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, and the Early Republic.

Through the varied exhibitions of art and artifacts relating to the museum’s historic site, the museum aims to create this appreciation through educating the public. Different exhibits include the ‘Long Room,’ the site of General George Washington’s farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolution. The room is a recreation of an 18th century public dining room.

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Williamsburg Bridge

Williamsburg Bridge

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Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall

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Located at 881 Seventh Avenue in Midtown West, Carnegie Hall is a prestigious concert venue known for being an important cultural institution as well as a space where many notable musicians were able to break out. Opened in 1891, it is the place where Judy Garland made an album that won five Grammys in 1961, Benny Goodman elevated the status of swing music and produced one of history’s greatest-selling jazz albums in 1938, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his last major public address of all time in 1968. Today, Carnegie Hall puts on about 250 high-quality classical and popular music performances each season. The architecture is another draw to the attraction, as it is one of the city’s last large buildings built entirely of masonry without a steel frame. Moreover, its Italian Renaissance design, eclectic international accents, intricate carvings, brick-insulated walls and high-ceilings allow for an elegant space with first-rate acoustics.
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Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building

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Saks Fifth Avenue Flagship

Saks Fifth Avenue Flagship

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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.

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Hudson River Park

Hudson River Park

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This 550-acre parks is the second largest in New York City and home to a scenic walking, biking and running path where thousands of New Yorkers can run, ride and stroll without having to wait at crosswalks or navigate busy city streets. Epic stretches of greenway meet up with the scenic Hudson River, where travelers can picnic on uninterrupted strips of lush grass or quiet tables nestled onto well-developed piers.

In addition to places designed to rest and relax, Hudson River Park boasts plenty of recreational sites as well. The Waterside Park near 11th Avenue and 24th Street houses a massive sports activity center with a playground for kids and basketball courts for adults. Famed Chelsea Piers, with its indoor ice skating rink, soccer fields and driving range is also located off of Hudson River Park.

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Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square

Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square

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More than 500 weird and wild artifacts, plenty of interactive exhibits and 20 themed galleries make a visit to this one-of-a-kind museum a real New York experience. From a two-headed calf to a pickled tourist head and an albino giraffe, a visit to Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square is guaranteed to shock and amaze.

In addition to exploring the galleries filled with everything strange, grotesque and truly unique, travelers can also catch sword swallowers and cheese carvers in regularly scheduled (and incredibly wacky) sideshow performances at this quirky museum.

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9/11 Tribute Museum

9/11 Tribute Museum

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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.

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Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

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This bank in the heart of Lower Manhattan is one of 12 Federal Reserves in America. Visitors can go behind the scenes of trading rooms, museum and the famous vault—which holds some 900 tons of gold—on a guided small group tour of this iconic finance destination. Informative guides share stories about the banking system, American currency, global trade and importance of gold to the national economy.

Although tours are free, space is limited and most visitors will need to book at least 30 days in advance. Tours of this high-security landmark are ideal for families and visitors receive packets of shredded out-of-circulation cash as they leave the premise. It’s unlikely non-ticketed travelers will be able to enter the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, but the building’s exterior is impressive and still worth wandering past while in Lower Manhattan.

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National Museum of the American Indian–New York

National Museum of the American Indian–New York

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Located in the heart of lower Manhattan near the Staten Island Ferry and Wall Street, The National Museum of the American Indian is home to one of the largest collections of Native American art and artifacts in the world. Travelers who venture to this destination will find more than 800,000 unique items on display, which detail the history, culture and traditions of America’s native people. And while a majority—close to 70 percent—of the museum’s collection is from the U.S., visitors will find plenty of items from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.

Travelers can wander the galleries, which are jam-packed with pieces that detail the unique experiences of a variety of tribes, wander past photography displays, or settle in for one of the occasional movies or audio tours that’s on offer at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

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Upper West Side

Upper West Side

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Located between Central Park and the Hudson River and West 59th Street and West 110th Street, the Upper West Side is known for being one of Manhattan’s more upscale residential neighborhoods, with beautiful brownstones and a generally safe atmosphere. For those looking to experience some of New York’s best cultural sites, the Upper West Side has plenty. For example, Lincoln Center is an important cultural institution in the neighborhood, as the center puts on an array of topnotch music, dance and theater performances. In fact, it is home to some of the world’s most elite performing arts groups like The Juilliard School, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and the New York Philharmonic.

There is also the American Museum of Natural History, American Folk Art Museum, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens, The Children’s Museum, Museum of Arts & Design, Nicholas Roerich Museum and New York’s oldest museum founded in 1804, the New-York Historical Society.

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