New York is a place that comes loaded with preconceptions, and unreasonably high expectations. The remarkable thing is how easily it lives up to them. From the first moment you set eyes on that jagged skyline, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight into one of the countless movies that have made this city more myth than metropolis. So, aside from the romance and the general buzz, what makes the Big Apple worth feasting on?
Well, there’s the cultural scene for one thing. NYC is, along with London and Paris, one of the great epicentres of art, whether you’re seeking out the coolest new galleries in Brooklyn, or heading for a grand old museum in Manhattan. One serious standout is the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. This is the best of both worlds: a vast realm where you can admire bluechip masterpieces by the likes of Jackson Pollock and Salvador Dali, and also catch edgier, more obscure work in the temporary exhibitions. Many flock here just to see Van Gogh’s swirling, ravishing Starry Night, and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon – the painting that almost single-handedly changed the course of modern art.
Another bastion of art is the Guggenheim Museum, whose very building – a vast white spiral designed by Frank Lloyd Wright – is as impressive as anything inside. But if you fancy checking out a lesser known enclave of art, try the Frick Collection. Set within the opulent, Gilded Age mansion of an old New York industrialist, it’s filled with lavish oil paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Goya and Whistler.
Of course, New York’s museums cover far more than the visual arts. A major landmark, and a must when you’re here with kids, is the American Museum of Natural History, a celebration of the Earth and the universe. Until May 2018, one of the highlights will be the delightful Butterfly Conservatory, while there are always immersive dioramas, exhibitions of dinosaur fossils – including an eerie dinosaur mummy – and the sparkling Hall of Meteorites.
New York is one of those cities whose identity is so strong that just walking the streets is an experience as memorable as visiting any museum. Take a turn around Times Square, with its razzle-dazzle collage of billboards and illuminations, and you’ll see why it’s often been dubbed the “centre of the universe”. Close by, there are all the venues of the Broadway theatre district, where you can always catch the world’s biggest blockbuster musicals.
And then there’s the vast oasis that is Central Park, arguably the most famous and romantic city park on Earth. If a movie or TV show is set in New York City, chances are it’ll have at least one scene shot here, showing characters strolling the gardens or going ice skating, and you’ll be following in their footsteps as you explore its various individual attractions. These include Belvedere Castle, a fairy tale-like folly, and the Imagine mosaic, a celebration of John Lennon. Be sure as well to take a wander across the impeccable Bow Bridge while you’re in the park.
Speaking of bridges, you’ll probably want to pencil in an epic selfie against the backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge, whose hulking immensity is always something to behold. As far as photo opportunities go, though, few places in the Big Apple can compare to the top of the Empire State Building. Piercing the sky in the heart of Manhattan, this fabled structure is, along with the Statue of Liberty, a quintessential symbol of NYC. It has two observatories to choose from, and both boast panoramic views across the forest of skyscrapers.
Sports fans have a lot to seek out in New York, and Yankee Stadium is always an exciting experience. Even if you’re not that familiar with baseball, the sheer scale and importance of the place to New York makes it a memorable place to visit. Go on a tour behind the scenes to soak up the atmosphere of the home of the New York Yankees, and check out the famous “ball wall”, which features baseballs signed by icons from across the generations, including the iconic Babe Ruth.
As you might expect, this city is also a paradise for food fanatics. Grabbing a classic New York hot dog is a rite of passage, as is seeking out the famous steakhouses. Peter Luger is one of the most renowned, while – if you’re after the kind of old-school “red sauce” Italian joint you might imagine the Sopranos dining in – then head to Bamonte’s, a restaurant that’s been keeping diners happy since the year 1900. Brooklyn, meanwhile, is famed for its hip, cutting-edge eateries, while if you’re really looking to push the boat out, then book your table at Per Se – the 3 Michelin-starred gastronomic temple overseen by legendary chef Thomas Keller.
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