New York City is a place of urban legend, cast in celluloid and immortalised in prose. It is the centre of high fashion and shady deals, of bright lights and big smoke. The city that never sleeps can be daunting for the first time visitor. Don't let the lights, energy, and siren calls of New York City overwhelm you. Dive into the frenetic pace of the city, along with the eight million locals living in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.
Some say that a mere lifetime in New York City is insufficient to discover all her secrets. Forty eight hours? "Impossible," they scoff. Sadly, the critics are right; however with the right amount of planning, a little bit of luck, and the willingness to throw yourself into the melee, you can cover the greatest hits of the greatest city on earth in a weekend.
First, choose a good base. This means Manhattan, the beating heart of New York City. Uptown is expensive, downtown bohemian and midtown a good mix of the two. All those stories you've heard about lodging costs in New York City? All true, so budget an appropriate amount of your travel expenses to cover accommodation. Choose an establishment that is close to a subway station as this will cut down on your transit time between attractions. The area around Union Square is strategic, midway between uptown and down, with access to eight subway lines from 14th Street station.
Next, book yourself a ticket online to see the Statue of Liberty, the great copper coloured lady on Liberty Island. Ferries to the island depart from Battery Park. To visit the museum and the observation decks, reserve a monument pass, which is included in the cost of the ferry ticket. Due to security reasons only a limited amount of tickets are available daily, so buy these well in advance. Arrive at least thirty minutes before your time slot to catch the ferry. You will need the extra time to clear security. Don't bring any weapons, backpacks, large suitcases or strollers. The best time to visit is just as the ferry service starts, at nine in the morning, before the crowds arrive.
Back on Manhattan, descend into the subway and get hold of an Unlimited Ride Metro card. Valid for daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly durations, these allow unlimited use on subways and buses. Head to 5th Avenue, from 79th to 91st Street, a stretch known as Museum Mile. Here is the huge Metropolitan Museum, affectionately known as the Met; the Guggenheim at 89th Street, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; the Museum of the City of New York, and the Jewish Museum at 92nd Street.
In the evening, enjoy a walk in Central Park, the green lung of New York City. Stretching to fifty blocks, the park is enormous, with grass, woodland, lakes and gardens. In winter there are ice-rinks open to the public, or you might fancy a horse-drawn carriage ride. For families, Central Park Zoo is a wonderful distraction for little ones bored of dusty museums. Later, walk down past the glossy shop fronts of 5th Avenue, and indulge in a little retail therapy.
See that long queue snaking around the corner of 34th Street? That's the line for the Empire State Building. Luckily you've booked advance online tickets. Waltz past the queue and enter one of the six banks of elevators waiting to whisk you up the tallest building in New York City. If you want the Empire State Building in your view, and not under your feet, then book a timeslot ticket to Top of the Rock, the roof of the Rockefeller Center, instead. Regardless of where you take in the view, New York City's skyline at night is guaranteed to impress.
The next day, catch the subway to Fulton Street and head down to Pier 17 at South Street Seaport. This is the historical centre of maritime New York. Pause to admire the view of the Brooklyn Bridge, and then walk up towards Bowling Green Park, where the bronze sculpture of the Charging Bull resides. You are now in the heart of New York City's famed Financial District. A short walk up Trinity Place leads you to Ground Zero, where the World Trade Centre used to stand. The Freedom Tower is being rebuilt on this site. A free tour is available nearby at the Tribute World Trade Center, 120 Liberty Street.
In the evening, jump on the subway to incessantly busy Times Square, filled with a vibe and energy that is uniquely New York. Celebrate the culmination of your marathon weekend with a treat : a show on Broadway. Many of the world's most famous play started on the stages of theatres here. TKTS, The Theatre Development Fund offers discounted tickets online to a number of Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
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