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A Beginners Guide to New York

July 14th 2008 05:19
I love New York City, the melting pot of different cultures makes it one of the most lively and diverse cities in the world. There is so much history to be discovered, and sights to be visited it is hard to know where to start. Here some ideas for first time visitors.

A great place to start is in the heart of Manhattan with a visit to Times Square. In Times Square, you will find many hotels, and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. You can shop for anything from clothes, to electronics, to toys. It is also a great place to pick up a tour to other parts of the city. There are many entertainment venues where you can see anything from a stand up comedy to a Broadway Musical.

Times Square New York
Times Square New York

The Empire State Building, located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street is a must see for first timers to the city. Since its completion in 1931, it has attracted nearly four million tourists a year. The observatory deck on the 86th floor offers panoramic views of New York City and beyond. The building, which is open day and night from 8.30am until midnight, 365 days a year, has been made famous as a backdrop for many movies such as, King Kong, Sleepless in Seattle and An Affair to Remember.

Empire State Building
Empire State Building

From here, make your way to Battery Park to catch a ferry to one of New Yorks most famous icons the Statue of Liberty. The Statue, which was a gift from France to celebrate America’s independence from Britain, stands 151ft high in New Yorks Harbour. The Liberty ferry takes you to the statues feet. From there you can ascend the 354 narrow stairs to the top. If you are not fussed on the climb, you can catch the Staten Island ferry, which is free and takes you past statue providing great views and photo opportunities.

The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty

For a taste of American history, you cannot go past Ellis Island. Up until 1954, all potential new immigrants to the United States passed through Ellis Island to undergo a series of mental, and physical health checks, to assess their suitability for citizenship. The Ellis Island Immigration museum provides an opportunity to see what life was like for new immigrants to the US. It is thought that a quarter of all Americans can trace their ancestry back to someone who passed through the Island. The Ellis Island Ferry leaves from Battery Park every half an hour between 8.30am – 4pm. One round trip includes both Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

New York is easy and cheap to get around; with an easy to use public transport system, that includes trains and ferries for more info.

Central Park is one of the best things about New York. The park spans 350ha between 59th street and 110th Street Manhattan.

Originally, Central Park was designed to provide an oasis for New Yorkers to escape the noisy city. The park is now popular among locals and tourists alike, and it is easy to see why. Once in the park I was surprised at how peaceful it was. I could no longer hear the constant tooting of car horns and shouting that is so common in Manhattan.

I have visited the park in both the spring and the middle of winter. In spring, the atmosphere in the park was amazing, the lawns were lush and green and the gardens were in full flower. I could hear excited chatter and laughter all around me. In the winter, it is bitterly cold and I mean bitter, any part of my face that was not covered hurt. Still it does not deter the locals from walking or jogging around the park.

Within the park, there are a number of trails and pathways to explore, as well as lakes, ice skating rinks (in the winter), baseball diamonds, playgrounds, and even a zoo.

We spent a whole day there in the summer. We entered the park near 59th street and walked as far up as 101st Street. We stopped at the entrance near 72nd Street to admire Strawberry Fields. The area, which was dedicated to John Lennon in 1985, was named after the John Lennon Song Strawberry Fields Forever. In the garden is a mosaic with the word Imagine written in the middle of it.

New York Strawberry fields
Imagine at Strawberry Fields

Then we checked out the zoo, which is small but good. We had lunch on the lawn and watched people soaking up the sun. After that, we chilled out by the Lake and watched the rowers.

Central Park runs at a slower pace to the rest of New York it is a fantastic oasis of calm in the middle of this busy city.

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