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Things to Do in New York City - page 2

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Columbia University
19 Tours and Activities

Columbia University is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York, and the fifth oldest in the USA. Fans of history and of architecture will be interested in the university’s historic buildings, which have been highlighted in many feature films. Most notable is Low Memorial Library, which appears in the New York City Register of Historic Places. Built in the Roman classical style, the former library now contains the university’s visitor center and its administration offices.

Just below the library is a large plaza – a popular gathering place for students. Past a promenade (called College Walk) is the south campus where Butler Library, Columbia’s main library, stands. South campus also contains the student center, student residences, classroom buildings, and the Graduate School of Journalism. North of Low Library is Pupin Hall, a national historic landmark due to the atomic research done there by Columbia's scientists.

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Madison Square Garden
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23 Tours and Activities

Madison Square Garden is one of the world’s most famous sports and entertainment stadiums. Dubbed the Garden, the 1960s-era indoor arena stands on the site of the much-lamented Beaux Arts Pennsylvania Station.

The Garden hosts around 320 events a year, and is the home of the New York Rangers hockey, New York Knicks basketball, and New York Liberty women’s basketball teams. You can also catch circus acts, athletics meets, dog shows, conventions, lacrosse, wrestling, boxing, or a rock concert.

There are several other venues within the complex, including the WaMu Theater, an expo center, restaurants, and retail outlets.

All-access daily tours go behind the scenes, and a series of plaques commemorate the achievements of athletes and performers on the Walk of Fame.

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Columbus Circle
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Columbus Circle, New York City’s only traffic circle, is indeed named for Christopher Columbus. The monument was erected on the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in America. His statue rises tall on a column at the center of the busy street circle. It is the place which all official distances in New York City are measured from.

Aside from its key role in directing New York’s traffic, it stands at the base of Time Warner Center. The glass skyscraper is home to the Time Warner corporation’s headquarters and is one of the city’s best shopping centers. It also contains the Jazz at Lincoln Center and New York’s CNN offices. Central Park is only footsteps away — in fact, the circle was initially designed as a grand entrance to the famous park. Grass, plants, trees, benches, and fountains were added to the circle in 2005, giving it a more park-like appearance itself.

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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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Seaport District NYC
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17 Tours and Activities

Located next to the Financial District where Fulton Street meets the East River, South Street Seaport is a historic neighborhood known for its attractions, shopping, restaurants, nightlife and harbor views. In the summer, locals flock to the area to have beers and frozen margaritas on the pier as well as catch the water taxis and ferries to sites like the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Governors Island from Pier 16. Browse the many shops like Victoria’s Secret, Britches of New York, The Body Shop and Filmline Gallery. You can also get to know the area’s rich sea commerce history through the Seaport Museum, as well as ships docked at Pier 17 that act as living museums. For dinner and drinks, simply hop along the many venues on Pier 17 or head to Beekman Beer Garden, which offers a full menu, refreshing beers and close-up views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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St. Paul's Chapel
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Located at 209 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, St. Paul’s Chapel is Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use. Moreover, it is the only surviving church from the Revolutionary Era, and holds much history from this period. Opened in 1766, it is part of the Episcopal Parish of Trinity Church and has been a place of worship and refuge for many over the years, including George Washington and Revolutionary War British Generals Cornwallis and Howe, who would go there to pray and 9/11 recovery workers who were cared for inside the chapel. If you’re interested in seeing where George Washington himself sat inside the church, there is an oil painting of the Great Seal of the United State over his pew. The interior of the church is less grand and more cozy yet elegant with glass chandeliers and an ornamental design above the alter created by a French veteran of the revolution, Pierre L’Enfant.

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
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16 Tours and Activities

The world's premier modern art gallery, MoMA provides visitors with a master class in modernist and contemporary art. The collection numbers more than 150,000 works of art, along with a sizable film and photography collection. Familiar standouts include Monet's water lilies and works by van Gogh, Rousseau, Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Pollock, Andrew Wyeth, and Frida Kahlo.

Exhibitions are held from time to time, along with performance art and exhibits of architecture, prints, and illustrated books. The building was recently renovated to vastly expand the museum's exhibition space.

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Bethesda Fountain
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Located in Central Park on the lower level of Bethesda Terrace, Bethesda Fountain, or “Angel of the Waters,” features a neoclassical eight-foot-bronze angel holding a lily on top of a tiered fountain. Bethesda Fountain is considered not only one of the most beautiful fountains in New York, but also in the world. It is one of the city’s largest fountains, at twenty-six feet high by ninety-six feet wide. The angel, designed by Emma Stebbins, was the only sculpture commissioned as park of Central Park’s original design. During the initial stages of Central Park’s planning, the idea was to create a welcoming “open-air hall of reception” where visitors could enjoy views from a terrace overlooking the lake. They also wanted something that blended in with the surrounding nature, which was to be the focus of the park. Bethesda Fountain was a fitting choice then, and still is today. Additionally, when the Croton Aqueduct was opened in 1842 to bring fresh water to New York City.
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Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
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87 Tours and Activities

The Met is one of the world's most prestigious cultural hubs, up there with the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Vatican for sheer pulling power.

Around five million visitors a year flock here to drink in the rarefied air, rest their legs in the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, admire the Tiffany glass, and view Old Masters.

If time allows, you'll also find Roman statues, musical instruments, modern artworks and Egyptian artifacts. The Met is a fine place to immerse yourself in American art. A highlight is the series of period rooms, and paintings by Whistler and Sargent.

Take a tour of the highlights, dine on the Great Hall Balcony or have a drink in the rooftop martini bar.

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More Things to Do in New York City

Castle Clinton National Monument

Castle Clinton National Monument

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Before Ellis Island there was Castle Clinton. This historic Lower Manhattan destination once served as the first immigration stop for foreigners moving to the U.S., with some 8 million people passing through its doors between 1855 and 1890. And while the iconic brick building has had many lives—as a beer garden, theater and even an aquarium—today it serves as a national monument and museum.

Visitors tend to agree that while Castle Clinton holds a historic place in the story of New York City and is certainly worth checking out, the interior offers only a couple of displays that showcases stories of the Big Apple. Travelers heading to the Statue of Liberty can purchase tickets inside and make Castle Clinton part of the Battery Park experience.

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TriBeCa

TriBeCa

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Located in lower Manhattan, TriBeCa, or “Triangle Below Canal,” is known for its cobblestone streets, low crime rate, trendy restaurants and high-quality boutiques. Enjoy sashimi tacos, lobster ceviche and tuna tataki at Nobu, an upscale Japanese restaurant, or for something more budget-friendly, Tamarind Tribeca, which offers delicious chicken tikka masala, punjabi mutton and lobster masala. If you’re sightseeing, visit the Hudson River Park, featuring 550 acres of green along the Hudson River, or the Skyscaper Museum, which offers a look into the history of New York City skyscrapers and introduces visitors to important industry people. If you’re visiting in the spring, check out the Tribeca Film Festival to see inspiring independent and family-friendly films.

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SoHo

SoHo

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SoHo, or “South of Houston,” is located in lower Manhattan and is renowned for its stylish boutiques, art galleries and trendy restaurants. The neighborhood is more relaxed than Times Square but can still get crowded due to its popularity with shoppers. Stroll down the cobblestone streets browsing stores like AvaMaria for shoes and accessories, Onassis for American menswear with a Japanese flare and Legacy for vintage pieces and antique jewelry.

You can admire the work of talented artists in galleries like Agora Gallery, American Primitive Gallery and the Brooke Alexander Gallery. Make sure to also walk down Broadway to take in the cast-iron buildings, as SoHo showcases the largest collection of this type of architecture in the world. For a drink, Jimmy at The James Hotel is a sleek rooftop bar with 360 degree views of Manhattan, 508 Restaurant & Bar is a gastrobrewery where you can pair craft brews with gourmet plates and The Room is a sultry wine and beer bar.

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New York City Little Italy

New York City Little Italy

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70 Tours and Activities

Like its neighbor Chinatown, Little Italy is a vibrant remnant of Manhattan’s legendary multicultural makeup. A great area for city walks, the focus is Mulberry Street and Old St Patrick’s Cathedral.

It’s a historic neighborhood of cobblestone streets, tenements, pizza bars, and Italian restaurants. The most authentic remnant of Little Italy is the section of Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal streets.

In September Mulberry Street hosts the 11-day San Gennaro street festival, with parades, street vendors, and outdoor food stalls.

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United Nations Headquarters

United Nations Headquarters

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One of New York's most iconic buildings, the United Nations' official headquarters takes up several blocks of real estate by the East River in Midtown Manhattan. The complex is made up of several buildings, including the domed General Assembly Hall, visitors center and the very 1950s, high-rise Secretariat building. Landscaped gardens decorated with outdoor sculptures surround the complex and flapping flags fly in the breeze.

The best way to get a feel for the international goings on is to take a guided tour. Running throughout the day, the 45-minute tours provide valuable insights into human rights history, the UN and its missions, and the UN complex.

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Madame Tussauds New York

Madame Tussauds New York

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New York City is home to some of the biggest celebrities and most famous faces—but a walk through Midtown doesn’t always result in getting star struck. Luckily the quirky Madame Tussauds—an iconic wax museum in the heart of Times Square—offers travelers the chance to check getting up close and personal with big names in music, movies and television off their list.

From world leaders to Hollywood stars, the halls of Madame Tussauds are filled to the brim with faces recognized across the globe. Travelers can saddle up for photo ops that will have friends back home believing that lunch with Leonardo DiCaprio really did happen on a visit to the Big Apple.

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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

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The 20th-century artwork displayed on the gently inclining white walls of the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum often take second place to the building's landmark Frank Lloyd Wright design.

The great architect's last work is an uplifting sight, from both outside and within, and a thorough restoration program was completed in 2008. Unwinding like a coil of white ribbon, the exhibition space spirals upwards around a central skylight.

As well as hosting changing exhibitions of photographs and paintings, the Guggenheim's permanent collection includes works by Gauguin, Picasso, van Gogh, Monet, and other early Modern masters.

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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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Battery Park

Battery Park

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Located on the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park is a 25-acre public park sitting right on the New York Harbor. The attraction is named after the artillery batteries that were once positioned there for protection. When visiting, it’s enjoyable to explore the many gardens, as well as admire the views of the Statue of Liberty and relax on a bench and listen to the water. While Battery Park gives visitors a chance to enjoy the outdoors, it also provides a glimpse into the past. For example, in 1855 the park’s Castle Garden became the world’s first immigrant depot. Additionally, the park also served as the gateway for European newcomers long before Ellis Island existed. Littered around the grounds you’ll also find memorials like the East Coast Memorial that honors the U.S. 4,601 missing servicemen who died during combat in the Atlantic Ocean during WWII and the New York Korean War Veterans Memorial, commemorating military personal who served during the Korean Conflict.

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Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

94 Tours and Activities

Manhattan's truly wonderful Grand Central Station (meticulously restored in the 1990s) is a train terminal in the grand tradition from the glory days of the nation's railroads.

Built for the New York Central Railroad between 1903 and 1913, Grand Central is the world's largest train station and a vital New York attraction (even if catching a train is the last thing on your mind).

The main features of the lofty, opulent Main Concourse are its huge arched windows, ticket booths, the famous four-faced clock, grand staircases, chandeliers and, up above, the cerulean blue ceiling gilded with astronomical details. Statues and a Tiffany glass clock dominate the Beaux Arts exterior.

Join a public or private tour of the terminal's highlights, drop into the famous Oyster Bar while you're here, grab a snack at any number of food outlets, or join the 125,000 commuters who pick up a train or subway from Grand Central every day.

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Hayden Planetarium

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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Lower East Side

Lower East Side

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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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Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building

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Trinity Church Wall Street

Trinity Church Wall Street

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An Episcopal Church located in Lower Manhattan at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, Trinity Church is one of the oldest churches in the United States. In 1696, a small group of Anglicans were granted approval from Governor Benjamin Fletcher to purchase land for a new church. The next year, Trinity Church received a charter from King William III of England. Today, the Trinity Church you see is the third building in the same location, built in 1846 in a Neo-Gothic style. Until 1890 when the New York World Building was completed, its 281-foot spire and cross was the highest point in the city. Along with the building’s impressive architecture -- including intricate stained-glass windows, sandstone facade, Gothic spires, dramatic pointed arches and heavy bronze doors depicting bible scenes -- Trinity is known for its vibrant music program and dedication to outreach.

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