Things to Do in New York City - page 3
Come learn about the history, the evolution, and the cultural significance of human sexuality. The Museum of Sex (MoSex) collects and preserves art and artifacts, and has had more than 25 exhibitions and 6 virtual installations since it first opened in 2002. The museum’s mission is to advocate open discourse around sexuality while presenting top-notch current scholarship in an unhindered and uncensored way. The museum showcases material and artifacts from many different cultures, continents, and time periods in many different media. The permanent collection has more than 15,000 objects including art, photography, clothing, technology, and historical artifacts (think Japanese Shunga prints and vintage condoms). The research library maintains a collection of works that ranges from the historically significant to current art to fiction.
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.
Located in Central Park, Strawberry Fields encompasses 2.5 acres dedicated to Beatles band member John Lennon. Opened in 1985, five years after Lennon was murdered outside his home at The Dakota apartments, the memorial is named after The Beatles’ hit “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The focus of the memorial is a stone mosaic with inlaid tiles spelling out the word “Imagine,” named after another famous Beatles’ song. This is where you’ll catch impromptu jam sessions by fans, especially on the anniversary dates of John Lennon’s birthday on October 9 and death on December 8. It’s also a place for vigils, such as after the September 11th attacks, as well as memorials for other beloved musicians. While the entire memorial is a place of peace, the Garden of Peace is particularly special, filled with plant life and rocks donated by 150 different countries for contemplative meditation.
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.’
Central Park is a must-see for any visitor to New York City, and the small zoo within it is no exception. The daily feedings of the sea lions and the penguins always draw a crowd (the sea lions do tricks for their snacks), and the paths through the zoo’s five acres lead through a variety of habitats designed to recreate the animals’ natural environments. Around the sea lions’ pool (which has glass sides to better see the sleek animals under water) is a perennial garden with plenty of bench seating.
The Tisch Children's Zoo lets children get up close and personal with domestic animals like sheep, goats, cows, and even a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. Little ones can pop a quarter in an animal-feed dispenser and let the animals eat from their hands, and they can touch small bronze sculptures of the animals next to each pen that emit the sounds of the animals they represent.
The New York Stock Exchange is an icon of commerce and capitalism. Synonymous with Wall Street, it’s the world’s largest stock exchange.
It’s been closed to visitors since 9/11, but the impressive building’s Roman temple design makes an impressive photo stop, complete with soaring columns, carved pediment, lofty proportions, and fluttering US flags.
The Whitney (as it’s locally known) was established in 1931 by sculptor and arts patron Getrude Vanderbilt Whitney when the Metropolitan Museum of Art rejected her personal collection of 600 avant-garde works of art. Originally arranged amongst a trio of Greenwich Village townhouses, the present Upper East Side incarnation of the Whitney is a granite cube with upside-down windows, designed by famed Modernist architect Marcel Breuer. The museum houses over 19,000 unique, modern and sometimes controversial works from the 20th and 21st centuries, many by still-living artists.
Especially renowned for its Whitney Biennial exhibition, which highlights the work of young and emerging artists, the museum is devoted to connecting under-the-radar artists with New York’s wealthiest and most influential art collectors. Held every two years in the spring, the Biennial often features huge sculpture displays that are mounted in nearby Central Park.
Radio City Music Hall is one of New York's leading music and entertainment venues - in fact, its vertical neon sign is a New York icon. Radio City Music Hall is also the largest indoor theater in the world, with the world's biggest stage curtains to match.
Part of the 1930s Rockefeller Center, the legendary 6,000-seat theater hosts the annual Christmas Spectacular as well as a stunning line-up of singers, bands, comedians and performers throughout the year. Take a Stage Door tour to learn about the Radio City Rockettes, explore the glorious Art Deco interior and see the Great Stage.
Connecting western Brooklyn with southeastern Manhattan, the Manhattan Bridge spans an impressive 6,855 feet across the East River. The suspension bridge allows for passage by vehicle, train, pedestrian, and bike. Construction on the historic bridge began at the turn of the century in 1901. Now it carries more than 450,00 people back and forth each day (the majority on public transport.) It remains an icon of New York City, shown in numerous depictions of the city on film and television.
Its design was revolutionary at the time, and served as a model for many of the long-span suspension bridges built after it. In 2009 the American Society of Civil Engineers named it a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. An arch and colonnade built to mark the bridge’s entrance from Manhattan still stands as a city landmark. With its four-columned towers and long cables, it is particularly beautiful to behold as the sun is setting.
More Things to Do in New York City
The Apollo Theater in the heart of Harlem is one of the world’s most famous live music venues. Some of the biggest names in contemporary music have played the Apollo, including Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and the master of soul, James Brown.
Hear jazz, blues or R&B, or come along on a Wednesday evening for the long-running Amateur Night. Stars who first flexed their talents as amateurs on the Apollo’s legendary stage include Michael Jackson and Lauryn Hill.
Informative and entertaining daily tours highlight the history of the Apollo and the performers who've played there.
Spanning from just north of Washington Square to 142nd Street in Harlem, Fifth Avenue is often touted as one of the world’s most expensive shopping streets. This is particularly true when walking between 49th and 60th, where stores like Armani, Tiffany & Co., Bergdorf Goodman and the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue. Fifth Avenue is also home to many of New York’s essential attractions and museums, including the Museum Mile which runs from 82nd to 105th and features 10 museums, some of which include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum and the Museum for African Art. Rockefeller Center, a famous shopping, restaurant and office complex that is also home to NBC Studios, as well as the Flatiron Building, Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and The Empire State Building are also attractions found on Fifth Avenue. And for a bird’s-eye-view of the city, grab a cocktail at one of the avenue’s rooftop bars like 230 Fifth and Eataly’s La Birreria.
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.
The New York Public Library is actually comprised of four major research libraries and about 100 branches spread throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, but the Beaux Arts-style Stephen A. Schwarzman Building generally takes the title for itself. Home to a non-circulating collection of volumes on the humanities and social sciences, as well as a circulating children’s collection, this landmark library is renowned both for its signature stone lions out front, and for its free access to some of the most fascinating research materials in the world.
These materials include an archive of New Yorkers’ oral histories; firsthand accounts of Shackleton’s explorations in the South pole; a vast array of historical photos and maps from around the world; some of Shakespeare’s earliest work, from 1623; ancient Japanese scrolls; vintage baseball cards; and famous comic books.
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.
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.
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.
New York's Chinatown is a heady blend of cafes, sidewalk food stalls, street vendors, and traditional herbal medicine shops. There's more than 150 years of history to explore in this fascinating ethnic enclave, including the Museum of Chinese in America and a Mahayana Buddhist temple.
Bargain for not-quite-right perfumes and handbags, dine on dim sum at an authentic Chinese tea house, shop for exotic Chinese antiques, and find unusual ingredients in the Asian food markets to cook up a Chinese storm.
For the best free cruise in town, hop aboard the Staten Island passenger ferry. The free round-trip cruise takes you past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, with terrific views back to Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The trip takes 25 minutes each way, and ferries run 24 hours round the clock. Around 60,000 passengers use the ferries daily.
You have to disembark at Staten Island by law, so while you’re there why not take a walk around the Snug Harbor Cultural Center museums and Botanical Gardens.
Located in Manhattan at 175 Fifth Avenue and Broadway, the Flatiron Building is a groundbreaking skyscraper. Built in 1902, it encompasses 22 stories and 307 feet. While not the tallest skyscaper in New York, it’s dramatic Beaux-Arts facade makes it a popular attraction, especially with photographers. What also makes it unusual is, unlike other early skyscrapers in New York that looked like rising towers, the Flatiron building showcases a concept from the Chicago school that divides the facade into a base, shaft and capital, which makes sense as it was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. The name of building stems from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothing iron. Interestingly, back then the building’s unique shape was thought to create intense updrafts that would lift women’s skirts passing on 23rd Street. If a man tried to sneak a peak, police should shout “Hey! 23 skidoo!” This is thought to be where the phrase comes from.
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.
Located between 40th and 42nd Street and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Bryant Park encompasses 9.6 acres of public green space and recreation. For those looking for a respite from the bustling city, Bryant Park provides a relaxed atmosphere with historical monuments, colorful flower beds, London plane trees, the 300-foot lawn and the Southwest Porch lounge where you can relax on rockers and swings and enjoy free wireless. Play games like chess, backgammon and ping pong or get a free petanque lesson Monday through Friday from 11am to 6pm. For something whimsical, Bryant Park also features a timeless carousel. In the winter, the park is full of festive cheer with an ice skating rink as well as a makeshift village of “streets” lined with artisanal holiday shops. And no matter what time of year it is, visitors can enjoy quality food and drinks in the park. While Bryant Park Grill features American cuisine and a rooftop for aerial city views, Bryant Park Cafe is an informal outdoor cafe.
Things to do near New York City
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