New York City Guide

By: Christiane Bird
New York City, mid town Manhattan, New York, USA.
New York City, mid town Manhattan, New York, USA.
Grant Faint/The Image Bank/Getty Images
©2006 NYC & Company The Manhattan skyline, a sight that's familiar throughout the world, features historic buildings that have many different architectural styles.

New York City, The Big Apple, Gotham: No matter what you call it, there's no place quite like it. Everything about the metropolis seems to demand the superlative: it's the biggest, the boldest, the hippest, the richest, the most expensive, the quirkiest, and the most diverse. There's a reason why the city has been attracting everyone from aspiring artists to financiers to immigrants for generations. New York is, simply put, where it's at.

Everyone has a home in New York City, whether it's for a lifetime or only for a few days. The city is so large and multifaceted that it can satisfy every interest, every taste. New York's most famous attractions draw hordes of tourists every year, but the tourist side of New York is not the heart of New York.


That lies elsewhere -- in the neighborhood hangouts, ethnic restaurants, offbeat museums, Off-Off-Broadway theaters, underground nightspots, and much more. A visit to New York doesn't have to take in the obvious. You can tailor-make your trip, and turn the city into your own.

The Best of New York

In the last decade, New York has evolved from a great city into an even greater one. Crime is way down -- New York is now the safest major city in the United States -- and development is way up. Once-deserted neighborhoods now pulse with trendy restaurants and nightspots; a plethora of new small museums have opened up; a large waterfront park is growing along the West Side; and new businesses dot virtually every street corner. The September 11, 2001, tragedy still remains fresh in the locals' thoughts, especially since the Ground Zero site has yet to be rebuilt. That hasn't stopped natives and tourists alike from visiting the location. But New Yorkers also have squared their shoulders and gone on. Life in the "greatest city in the world" goes on.

Different visitors come to New York for different purposes. For some, arts and culture is the biggest draw -- and for good reason. New York has the most museums, art galleries, theaters, music clubs, book stores, and film venues of any city in the U.S. A true culture buff could spend months here and still not run out of things to do.

Others come to New York for its glamour and glitz. Midtown is home to some of the ritziest hotels in the world. And even if you can't afford to stay overnight in the Pierre, Plaza, or Ritz-Carlton, you can always stop into one of their posh bars for a cocktail, espresso, or after-theater drink. Fifth Avenue beckons with upscale shops, SoHo with pricey boutiques, and the Gansevoort Meat Packing District with posh nightclubs that keep going until near-dawn.

Still others come to New York for its architecture, its food and restaurants, its shopping, its late-night vibe, its special events, or simply its great people-watching. Whatever you're looking for--if you can't find it in the Big Apple, it doesn't exist.

©2006 Tom Giebel The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York's Upper East Side, is the granddaddy of the many fine art museums in New York.

Fast Facts & Information

Safety: New York is the largest city in the United States, and also is distinguished as having the lowest crime rate among the 25 largest American cities, according to the FBI Crime Report. Still, as in all big cities, visitors should stay alert and use common sense wherever they go. Avoid unpopulated and unlit stretches, especially after dark. Don't carry large quantities of cash. Ignore anyone with an elaborate sob story. Avoid the parks at night, and be extra careful around transportation centers, where pickpockets are often at work. Stick to the major streets in Harlem and the Far East Village.

When traveling the subways, common sense also applies-- don't wear flashy, expensive jewelry and avoid empty cars. During off hours, wait for your train in the well-lit waiting areas near the token booths. When your train comes, sit in the center car, which has a conductor. If you experience an emergency, dial 911 on your phone. To find the nearest police precinct, dial (646) 610-5000.

General orientation: New York City is made up of five boroughs -- Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Only the Bronx sits on the mainland; the rest of the city is spread out over a group of islands in New York Bay.

Manhattan is the epicenter of New York City. Most of the city's skyscrapers, museums, theaters, hotels, restaurants, businesses, and famous sites are crowded on this small island, which is just 12 miles long by three miles wide.

Most of Manhattan is laid out in a grid pattern, meaning that it's easy to find your way around. Avenues run north-south and streets are east-west. Fifth Avenue separates the East and West sides, with street numbers increasing as you head away from Fifth. Broadway cuts through the city on a diagonal.

Those neighborhoods not laid out in the grid pattern -- essentially everything south of 14th Street -- are considerably more difficult to navigate, and it helps to have a good map. The same applies to the other boroughs.

In Manhattan, "Downtown" generally refers to anything south of 14th Street, "Midtown" to addresses between 34th and 59th Streets, and "Uptown" to areas above 59th Street. "Downtown" is also used as a kind of shorthand for the hip and avant-garde. "Midtown" is shorthand for corporate professionals, and "Uptown" or "Harlem" is shorthand for the wealthy and sophisticated, depending on who's talking.

Geography and Neighborhoods: For all its cosmopolitan appeal, New York is a city of neighborhoods. Here's a rundown:

  • Financial District: Oldest among them is what's now known as the Financial District or Lower Manhattan, at the southernmost tip of the island. This is where Peter Minuit "bought" Manhattan from the Algonquins for $24 and where the New York Stock Exchange was born, beneath a buttonwood tree. This is also where the surviving World Trade Center buildings and Ground Zero are located. Though often overlooked by tourists and New Yorkers alike, Lower Manhattan is a fascinating place, filled with historic buildings, cobblestone streets, glistening corporate towers, and the whispers of earlier times. Its Battery Park Promenade offers great views of New York Bay.
  • Chinatown: Just north of the Financial District is Chinatown, a neighborhood of low-slung brick buildings housing an astonishing number of restaurants. This is a great neighborhood for exploring since its streets are filled with exotic markets, quick-moving crowds, and prosperous shops selling everything from fresh fruits to mounds of fresh fish to colorful toys and knickknacks. Mott Street, below Canal Street, is the heart of Chinatown and offers an especially large number of restaurants to choose from. Mott is especially fun to explore, as is Canal Street itself. Pell Street is known for its barber and beauty shops as well as its Buddhist Temple (4 Pell St).
  • Little Italy: North of Canal Street is Little Italy, a fast-disappearing neighborhood being gobbled up by the area's exploding Chinese community. Today, less than 10 percent of the neighborhood's residents are of Italian ancestry and the heart of the district has shrunk to just three short blocks along Mulberry Street. Here, Italian restaurants and cafes line the street, with tables and striped umbrellas set out in warm weather. It's all very touristy -- this is not the place to find the best Italian food in the city -- but it's also a lot of fun. New Yorkers often stop for dessert in Little Italy after eating in Chinatown.
  • SoHo: SoHo, short for "South of Houston" (a major cross street that's pronounced How-ston, not Huse-ton), begins north of Chinatown, while TriBeCa, short for "Triangle Below Canal," lies west of Chinatown. Both neighborhoods were once commercial warehouse districts and are filled with unusual cast-iron architecture -- i.e., buildings with cast-iron facades. SoHo was discovered by artists in the 1970s but soon became too expensive for "starving artist" creative types, and now houses pricey boutiques, restaurants, and bars. It's a compact, splashy neighborhood perfect for wandering around. West Broadway and Broadway are its main thoroughfares, while Prince and Spring Streets hold an especially large number of shops.
  • TriBeCa: TriBeCa, short for Triangle Below Canal, is a former industrial district encompassing about 40 blocks between Canal, Chambers, Broadway, and West streets. TriBeCa has some of the same attractions as SoHo, but is much more residential. Broadway and West Broadway also are its main thoroughfares, though some of its finest cast-iron buildings are located along the side streets, especially White Street. Lining Greenwich Street is an especially large number of restaurants. Redefining the neighborhood in recent years is the Mobil Three-Star Tribeca Grand Hotel on Sixth Avenue. The first hotel to open in the neighborhood, the Tribeca Grand is a trendy, luxurious spot whose stylish bar is always bustling and busy.
  • NoHo and NoLiTa: In recent years, the names "NoHo," short for "North of Houston," and NoLiTa, short for "North of Little Italy," are often bandied about. These small areas were deserted no-man's lands a decade ago and their names have become current, largely thanks to real estate agents eager to spin trendy addresses out of the then-near-deserted streets. NoHo, nestled between the West and East Villages, of which it was once considered a part, houses some important historic buildings and arts centers, including the Public Theater and the Angelika Film Center. NoLiTa, just south of NoHo, houses the boutiques of young fashion designers and jewelry makers. Most of their shops are located along Mulberry, Mott, and Elizabeth Streets between Houston and Broome Streets.
  • East Village: Farther north lies the East Village, for decades a scruffy haven filled with recent immigrants and young artistic types. But ever since the late 1980s, when Manhattan real estate prices began to escalate, and then escalate some more, much gentrification has set in. The East Village still has its artistic component, but plenty of better-heeled types have also moved in. Still, the East Village remains packed with economical ethnic restaurants, coffeehouses, and bars -- along with many trendier and more expensive establishments. The easternmost part of the East Village, where the avenues take on lettered names (A, B, C, and D), is known as "Alphabet City." As little as six or seven years ago, this was a marginal area visited only by the adventurous, but now it, too, has been gentrified.
  • Greenwich Village: Greenwich Village has suffered a fate similar to that of the East Village, but more extreme. Once an internationally known bohemian capital, home to everyone from Edna St. Vincent Millay to Bob Dylan, Greenwich Village today is largely overrun with tourists. Only the well-to-do can afford to live here now. Wonderful blocks rich with atmosphere remain, however, especially to the west of Seventh Avenue, and the neighborhood is still known for its jazz haunts. In northwest corner of Greenwich Village lies the Gansevoort Meat Packing District, currently the city's trendiest area. Just five years ago, this neighborhood of cobblestone streets and low-slung meatpacking warehouses was infamous for a handful of hip, underground clubs. Since then, however -- and seemingly overnight -- the Meat Packing District has been "discovered." Today, it teems with dozens of upscale restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and two brand-new hotels.
  • Chelsea: North of the Meat Packing District is Chelsea, filled with many lovely residential blocks, and yet more trendy restaurants and shops. The westernmost part of Chelsea, in the 20s between Tenth and Twelfth Avenues, thrives as the new center of New York's art scene. Dozens of the city's most famous art galleries relocated here after SoHo became too expensive. ©2006 NYC & Company Midtown is where you'll find most of New York's skyscrapers, along with many of the things you'll want to see while visiting the city.
  • Midtown: Most of Manhattan's skyscrapers are found in Midtown, along with most of its major hotels, theaters, department stores, and famous tourist attractions. The Upper East Side is a hushed and elegant neighborhood that's home to some of New York's wealthiest residents, along with dozens of major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Upper West Side holds a wealth of stunning historic apartment buildings and Lincoln Center.
  • Harlem: Harlem begins above 110th Street. Like the rest of the city, it has undergone much development in recent years, especially along 125th Street. An architectural treasure trove, Harlem holds some of the city's most beautiful churches and brownstones.

Population: The largest and most densely populated city in the United States, New York has more than 8.1 million inhabitants.

Climate/weather: Visitors can find much to do in New York in any kind of weather, but the spring, early summer, and fall are the best seasons to visit. Temperatures are moderate during those times of year, making it easy and delightful to explore the city on foot. Autumn is often an especially wonderful time to come, as it marks the beginning of the city's new cultural season and the air is often crisp and clear. Winters, on the other hand, can be bitterly cold, with temperatures in the 20s and sharp, icy winds. Summers are usually stifling hot, with temperatures averaging in the 90s with high humidity.

With three major airports, ferries, an extensive public transportation system, and a multitude of taxis, you'll find that you have lots of options when it comes to getting around in New York. Keep reading to learn more about finding your way around the city.


Getting In, Getting Around New York

New York might be a big city, but it's easily accessible for sightseeing visitors. There are many ways to get into and around New York, including on foot, by public transportation, and in one of the ubiquitous taxis. Here's a primer on New York transportation:

From the Airport

New York is serviced by three airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens is 15 miles southeast of Manhattan, La Guardia Airport in Queens is 8 miles northeast of Manhattan, and Newark Liberty Airport is 16 miles southwest of Manhattan, across the Hudson River, in New Jersey. JFK Airport is generally the most congested of the three, and Newark is the least.


Car rental: Rental car options are available at all three airports. Each terminal's arrival level (near the baggage carousel) has either a rental car counter or courtesy phone for the major car companies available. Courtesy transportation is available from each terminal to the rental car lots. Most New York visitors, however, don't have to choose this option unless they're planning extensive travel outside the major metropolitan area. Parking is expensive and difficult to find. Avoid any unnecessary headaches, and save money, by using mass transit or taxis. If, however, you must drive, it's best to rent a car at the airport, where rates are lower than they are in the city.

Public transportation: Public transportation to and from all three airports is excellent. New York Airport Service offers frequent bus service to and from La Guardia and JFK. Olympia Trails of Coach USA offers frequent bus service to and from Newark. SuperShuttle offers door-to-door pick-up van service from homes and hotels to any of the three airports. The AirTrain JFK runs from Pennsylvania Station in Midtown to JFK.

Taxi: A taxi ride into Manhattan from La Guardia takes 20 to 30 minutes and costs about $25. The ride from JFK to Manhattan takes 30 to 45 minutes and costs a flat fare of $45, plus tolls (when going the opposite direction, from Manhattan to JFK, the trip is metered, but usually costs about the same). The 45-minute ride from Newark costs about $80. Cabs leave from well-marked stands staffed by dispatchers outside the flight arrival areas.

©2006 NYC & Company New York City taxis are plentiful and can take you wherever you need to go.

Driving In

Rush hour: Driving into and around in New York City is not for the faint of heart. Highways and streets are often very congested, street parking is limited, garage rates are exorbitant, and it's easy to make a wrong turn that will take you far out of your way. New York's excellent public transportation system also makes having a car in the city unnecessary. Most New Yorkers don't own cars and many native New Yorkers don't even know how to drive. To avoid the worst of rush hour traffic, don't drive into the city between 7 am and 9 am or out of the city between 4 pm and 6 pm.

Public transportation/fares: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority includes subways and buses. The subways are the easier and quickest way to get around town. Service is frequent -- at least in Manhattan -- and the trains run all night.

To ride the subways, you'll need a MetroCard, an electronic fare card that can be purchased in any station. The basic fare is $2 and the $20 card gets you two free rides. For most visitors, however, the best bargain is the unlimited-ride card, which allows for lots of stops in a short period of time: the one-day pass costs $7, the 7-day pass costs $24, and the 30-day pass costs $76.

Buses are slower than subways, but also run all night and are the best way to get cross-town, since most subway lines run north-south. East-west cross-town service can be found along 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 65th/66th, 79th, 86th and 96th Streets. The fare is $2, payable with exact change or the MetroCard. Transfers are available between cross-town buses and uptown-downtown buses, meaning that you can go far for a $2 ride.


Taxis, all painted bright yellow with lighted signs on their roofs, can be hailed from anywhere in Manhattan. Fares begin at $2.50 for the first quarter mile, surcharges are added between 4 pm and 6 am, and a 15 to 20 percent tip is the norm.

Walking is by far the best way to see the Big Apple. You'll need about a minute to walk a north-south block and two minutes to walk an east-west block. Neighborhoods especially conducive to walking include the Financial District, Chinatown, SoHo, and the West Village.

As if the year-round attractions in New York aren't enough to keep you busy, the city has countless special events that are worth experiencing. Keep reading to learn about New York's special events and attractions.


New York Special Events & Attractions

As if there wasn't already enough to do, New York is a city of parades, festivals, and special events. On almost every weekend, and often during the week as well, something unusual is going on somewhere. Every large ethnic group has its own parade, most of which march down Fifth Avenue, and there are plenty of unique annual events like antique shows, dog shows, food festivals, film festivals -- each of which has its dedicated fans.

During the summer, especially, the array of New York's special events is mind-boggling. Free concerts ranging from Mozart to rap, and free theater ranging from Shakespeare to performance art, take place in parks all over the city. The JVC Jazz Festival comes to town in June and U.S. Open Tennis Tournament arrives in August. The Mets play Shea Stadium, the Yankees play Yankee Stadium, and horseplayers head to the races at Belmont Park.


Many of Gotham's special attractions are known around the world: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Central Park. All of these are must-see stops if you've never been to New York before, but with a little bit of planning, you can see them as New Yorkers see them and avoid the tourist traps along the way.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Special Events & Attractions in New York

Before arriving, check to see what special events will be taking place at the time of your visit and plan accordingly. NYC&Company, New York's official visitor and convention bureau, lists special events on its Web site.

©2006 NYC & Company No visit to New York is complete without a visit to the Statue of Liberty.

Those visitors who come to New York in the late winter or early spring are in luck: the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus makes its home in Madison Square Garden for two months beginning in March. On the night before the shows begins, the animals parade into town through the Queens Midtown tunnel around midnight. It's an amazing scene well worth going out of your way to catch.

In June, the city's enormous smorgasbord of free and outdoors summer festivals begins. There's something for everything, from Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic performances on Central Park's Great Lawn uptown to salsa and modern dance in Battery Park and City Hall Park downtown.

One especially enjoyable series is " Shakespeare in the Park," held beneath the stars in the Delacorte Theater, Central Park. Two plays featuring name actors are each presented for about three weeks and the free tickets, limited to two per person, are handed out only on the day of the show. Do as New Yorkers do and get in line mid-afternoon with picnic basket and bottle of wine in hand.

Don't have the time or inclination to wait in line? Another excellent Central Park festival is hosted by SummerStage , which presents a mixed line-up of dozens of mostly free music, movies, dance, and spoken word events at the Central Park bandstand throughout the summer.

Lincoln Center hosts a plethora of wonderful warm weather events as well, some free, some not. Classical music fans swear by the Center's indoors "Mostly Mozart Festival," held in August, while populists flock to "Lincoln Center Out of Doors," which showcases top dancers and musicians, also in August. But perhaps the Center's most unusual summer festival is Midsummer Night Swing, held on the plaza near the famous fountain in late June through July. Live bands play everything from samba to salsa beneath the stars, attracting some of the best dancers in the city. Beginners are welcome, and instructors are on hand early in the evening.

Spring, summer, and early fall are great times to be a sports fan in the Big Apple. From April through October, take the No. 7 subway out to Shea Stadium in Queens to see a Mets game or the No. 4 train out to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to see a Yankees game. Tickets are usually available at the box offices and it's easy to find the stadiums -- just follow the crowds. The U.S. Open is held in late August and early September; tickets go on sale May 31st and sell out quickly.

If baseball bores you and you don't like to buy tickets for events far ahead, spend a day at the races instead. The attractive horse track at Belmont Park, planted with lots of red and white geraniums, operates May through July and September through mid-October. To get there, take the Long Island Railroad from Pennsylvania Station to Belmont, Queens. A second horse track, Aqueduct, operates in the winter, but this is a much smaller affair.

With the end of the year come some of New York's most famous special events -- the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center. Both attract hordes of tourists, but are worth attending at least once in a lifetime.

New York is home to countless cultural institutions, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the New York Philharmonic. On the next page, read more about New York's arts and culture.


New York Arts & Culture

For the culture buff, it doesn't get any better than this. New and often internationally acclaimed exhibits and plays open every week in New York; first-rate concerts and performances can be heard every night.

Art museums ranging in size from the monumental to the miniscule are one of the city's biggest attractions. Many of the most famous are located along Upper Fifth Avenue. Here, you'll find the granddaddy of them all, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with the famed Frick and Guggenheim, and such lesser-known gems as the Museum of the City of New York and El Museo del Barrio.


Many Midtown museums are clustered on or near 53rd Street, anchored by the soaring, newly renovated Museum of Modern of Art (MoMA). Satellites here include the Museum of Television and Radio and the American Folk Art Museum, two more of the city's fascinating lesser-known gems.

©2006 NYC & Company The Guggenheim Museum on Upper Fifth Avenue, with its striking and unusual architecture, showcases modern art.

New York's most exciting galleries line the long blocks of westernmost Chelsea, in the 20s between Tenth and Twelfth Avenues. Many of the top names in the gallery world are here, along with the Dia Center for the Arts, a longtime bastion for non-traditional art. P.S. 1, New York's biggest center for art on the cutting edge, is in Queens.

The city's foremost performing arts center is Lincoln Center, home to the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet. In 2004, the center opened up its first new venue in decades -- Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick Rose Hall. Perched atop the gleaming 21st-century Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, the $128 million Rose Hall complex is the first large facility in the world designed specifically for jazz.

To hear jazz in a more intimate setting, head downtown to Greenwich Village. One must stop is the Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Ave South), which has been presenting world-class musicians for some 70 years.

Times Square is the heart of New York's theater world. In its neon-splashed center presides the Times Square Ticket Center (TKTS) booth, where same-day theater tickets are sold for half price. On the square's side streets are the famous Broadway theaters -- the Shubert, the Belasco, and the like. Most smaller and more experimental Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theaters are located downtown, where you'll also find modern dance and art-house movie theaters.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Arts & Culture in New York

On weekends if you possibly can, avoid the Met, Museum of Modern of Art (MoMA), and highly touted exhibits at other major institutions. They are often unbearably crowded then, which can detract greatly from your enjoyment of the show. If you must go on the weekend, try in the morning to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Many major museums, and some smaller ones, are open late one or two evenings a week. The museums often charge no admission during these hours, an enticement that also can draw large crowds, but the crush is usually bearable. The late nights at the Met are especially delightful, as live jazz or classical music quartets play in the Balcony Bar that surrounds the Great Hall. Relax in the company of Rembrandt and Van Gogh while listening to Bach or Monk over drinks, coffee, and light snacks.

When visiting the city's art galleries, remember that most are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and that many don't open until 11 am or noon on other days. Blocks with an especially large number of well-known galleries include 22nd, 25th, 26th and 29th Streets between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in Chelsea. Publications such as Time Out New York and the New York Press have major gallery listings, but for a more complete list, pick up a copy of the Art Now Gallery Guide, available in galleries, museums, and bookstores.

In the last decade, several brand-new, first-rate, and still relatively unknown art museums have joined the New York scene. All are exquisite jewels. The Neue Gallerie (1048 Fifth Ave, at 86th St) is devoted solely to the fine and decorative arts of early-20th-century Germany and Austria; the Dahesh Museum of Art (580 Madison Ave, between 56th and 57th Sts) focuses on 19th and early 20th-century European academic art; the Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St, near Seventh Ave) is the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of the Himalayas.

In addition to these new institutions, don't forget the city's many other off-the-beaten-track museums, all of which can often provide a welcome respite from the roar of the city. How about The Museum of Sex, New York City Police Museum, or New York City Fire Museum, anyone? The Museum of Sex (233 Fifth Ave) is tamer than it sounds, but does showcase interesting history and photography exhibits. The New York City Police Museum (100 Old Slip, between South and Water Sts) is a fascinating place filled with contraband weapons, some centuries old. The New York Fire Museum (278 Spring St, between Varick and Hudson Sts) is operated by retired firemen and packed with historic firefighting equipment.

The Times Square Ticket Center (TKTS) booth sells same-day, half-price tickets to both Broadway and Off-Broadway (but not Off-Off Broadway) shows. The Times Square booth opens at 3 pm for evening performances and although the line is often long, it moves quickly. Most of the tickets sold are for orchestra seats (full price $65 to $110), so even at half price, they can cost a pretty penny. A large array of plays is usually offered, and a smaller TKTS booth operates downtown at the South Street Seaport.

Among the best of the Off-Broadway theaters are the Public Theater (425 Lafayette St), best known for its Shakespeare productions and serious drama, and La MaMa E.T.C. (74 A East 4th St), a sprawling, three-theater complex devoted to the avant-garde. The Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce St) is a small appealing venue founded by Edna St. Vincent Millay; P.S. 122 (150 1st Ave) is a mecca for performance art; and the Performing Garage (33 Wooster St) is home to the Wooster Group, one of the country's oldest experimental theater groups.

For independent and foreign films, and retrospectives, the best places in town are the Downtown Film Forum (209 W Hudson St) and Uptown Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater (70 Lincoln Center Plaza). For modern dance troupes, the Joyce Theater (175 8th Ave, Chelsea) is the place to go.

New York is brimming with architectural landmarks, including the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. On the next page, learn about New York's architecture and landmarks.


New York Architecture & Landmarks

The skyscraper is New York City's trademark. In Midtown, and again in the Financial District, tower dozens of shimmering, glass-sheathed buildings that create shadow-filled canyons filled with scurrying human forms far below. Quintessential among the edifices is the Empire State Building, once the world's tallest building -- a record that was surpassed by other skyscrapers long ago.

Huge stone mansions dot the Upper East Side; some of the largest fill entire city blocks and have been converted into museums. The Upper West Side is known for its elaborate, castle-like apartment buildings, many centered on spacious courtyards. Central Park, an 843-acre oasis, is completely manmade, with every bush, tree, and rock planned. Harlem is home to magnificent brownstones and churches.


With the exception of the Financial District, downtown architecture tends to be low-slung, with many buildings only five or six stories tall. Exquisite brownstones can be found in Gramercy Park, Murray Hill, and Greenwich Village. Most of the East Village, Lower East Side, and Chinatown are composed of what were once regarded as tenement buildings.

The bridges connecting Manhattan with the boroughs are architectural feats. Most handsome among them is the pedestrian-friendly Brooklyn Bridge, which can be accessed via a ramp near City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan.

©2006 NYC & Company The Brooklyn Bridge, a pedestrian-friendly bridge that connects Manhattan with Brooklyn, is an architectural icon.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in New York

Before doing anything, check the tour schedule of the Municipal Art Society, which gives the best and most frequent architectural walking tours in the city. The Society also runs the Urban Center (457 Madison Ave, at 50th St), housing an excellent bookstore and exhibition halls devoted to Big Apple architecture and history. Serious architecture buffs will want to pick up a copy of the AIA Guide to New York City, edited by Noval White and Elliot Willensky. An entertaining 1,000-page urban classic, it's organized as a series of architectural walking tours, with more than 2,000 photos and maps.

Touristy though it is, the Empire State Building (350 Fifth Ave, at 34th St) is a must stop. One of the world's most famous buildings, it was erected during the Depression in an astonishing 14 months, at the rate of 4 1/2 stories a week. An especially good time to visit the Empire State is at night, when there are fewer tourists and the whole city lies lit at your feet, but be aware that it's only open until midnight.

Other world-famous architectural sites in Midtown include Rockefeller Center, the Mobil Three-Star Plaza Hotel, and Trump Tower, but if you're looking for something less commercial, head across East 42nd Street, lined with one architectural gem after another. Begin at the lavish, beaux arts 1911 New York Public Library (at Fifth Ave), designed by Carrere & Hastings. Free tours are given every day at midday when the library is open and many fine book-oriented exhibits are displayed in Gottesman Hall. Further east is the 1913 Grand Central Terminal (between Vanderbilt and Lexington Aves), built around a vast 125-foot-high concourse with a vaulted, star-studded ceiling. The Municipal Art Society gives tours of the station every Wednesday at midday.

Other architectural attractions on East 42nd Street include the stunning, art deco Chrysler Building (at Lexington Avenue) and the old Daily News Building (220 E. 42nd St), designed by Raymond Hood, with a revolving globe in its lobby. The Ford Foundation (320 E. 42nd St) houses a lush three-story indoor garden. Tudor City (near First Ave) is a romantic, self-contained residential community.

The most charming part of the city, architecturally speaking, is the western reaches of Greenwich Village, more accurately known as the West Village. Blocks especially worth exploring are Barrow Street, Bedford Street, and Commerce Streets between Seventh Avenue and Hudson Street. Also, take a gander at the 1876 Jefferson Market Library (Sixth Ave and 10th St), a red-and-white Gothic extravaganza, and Washington Square (between MacDougal Street and Washington Place, 4th St and Waverly Place), where a marble arch designed by architect Stanford White marks the north entrance.

SoHo and TriBeCa are known for their cast-iron architecture. Originally envisioned as a cheap way to imitate elaborate stone buildings, the cast-iron facades were prefabricated in a variety of styles and bolted onto iron-frame structures.

The soaring 1883 Brooklyn Bridge, the world's first suspension bridge, is not to be missed. The best time to stroll across it is at sunset, when the rays of the sun reflect off the steel cables. Before or after, take a look at the Woolworth Building (233 Broadway, between Barclay and Park Place), a wedding-cake extravaganza designed by Cass Gilbert, on the edge of City Hall Park.

Many of the Upper West Side's most stunning apartment buildings stand along Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) between 62nd and 75h Streets. Most famous among them is the 1884 Dakota (at 72nd St), built in a European-chateau style by Henry Hardenburgh, who also designed the Plaza Hotel. Among the many famous people who once lived at the Dakota was John Lennon; he was assassinated outside the building in 1980.

Also on Central Park West is the American Museum of Natural History (at 79th Street), housed in an enormous, castle-like building. One of the city's most famous museums, it is best known for its breathtaking dioramas. Adjoining it is the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which is a gleaming, glass-sheathed tower with a huge globe at its center.

At the southern end of Harlem, reigns the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (Amsterdam Ave at 112th St). The world's largest Gothic cathedral, it's still under construction. Farther north, along Malcolm X Boulevard/Lenox Avenue (known by both names, an extension of Sixth Avenue), you'll find the very fine Mt. Olivet Baptist Church (W. 120th St), once a synagogue, and St. Martin's Church (at 122nd St), known for its stained-glass windows. Striver's Row (between 138th and 139th Sts, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Blvds) is a prosperous residential block lined with 158 four-story homes. The most impressive were designed by McKim, Mead, & White.

New York's architecture is indeed legendary -- and so is the city's shopping. Go to the next page to find out about everything from the ritzy Fifth Avenue establishments to the quirky shops that are off the beaten path.


New York Shopping

Everywhere you go in New York, you'll run into shops, shops, and more shops. No wonder people come here from all over the world to stock up on everything from the latest fashions to vintage clothes, books to electronics, jewelry to musical instruments. Some of the most expensive and unusual stores in the world are here, but discount stores and chain shops also abound. As with most everything else, New York has it all.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Shopping in New York

©2006 Mark Chang The Strand, New York's largest secondhand bookstore, claims to stock more than 2 million books.

Different areas of town are known for different types of shops. Fifth Avenue between 42nd and 59th Streets has traditionally been home to some of the city's most famous stores, such as Gucci's and Bergdorf Goodman's. In more recent years, however, tourist magnets such as the Warner Brothers Studio Store also have set up shop here.


One of the classiest but also friendliest shops along Fifth Avenue is Tiffany's, located on the ground floor of Trump Tower (at 56th St), a glittering rose-and-gilt edifice packed with boutiques. One of the trendiest but also cheapest stores along Fifth Avenue is H&M (at 51st St), a branch of the hip Swedish department store. Fun for both shopping and browsing are posh Saks Fifth Avenue (at 49th St) and vast, imaginative F.A.O. Schwartz (at 58th St).

Bloomingdale's (1000 Third Ave, at 60th St) is one of the city's trendiest and most glamorous department stores. The Manhattan Art & Antiques Center (1050 Second Ave, near 57th St) houses about 100 small antique shops. World-famous musical-instrument stores line West 48th Street east of Broadway.

Herald Square, at 34th Street and Sixth Avenue, is home to Macy's, the king of department stores, covering an entire city block. Smaller chain stores such as The Gap are also here. Lower Fifth Avenue between 23rd and 14th Streets holds branches of the Banana Republic, Club Monaco, Anthropologie, and other stylish clothing shops.

SoHo is known for its trendy, expensive boutiques, many located along Broadway, West Broadway, Prince, and Spring Streets. Also in SoHo, and in the East Village, you'll find thriving vintage clothing shops. One of the largest is What Comes Around Goes Around (351 W. Broadway, near Broome). In NoLiTa, you'll find the small boutiques of hip young fashion designers, while Orchard Street on the Lower East Side remains known for its old-fashioned bargain clothing shops.

Speaking of bargains, one of the city's oldest discount department stores is Century 21 (22 Cortlandt St, near Broadway), directly across the street from Ground Zero. Another famed discount clothing institution is Loehmann's (101 Seventh Ave, at 16th St).

Among Gotham's best independent bookstores are Three Lives & Co. (154 W. 10th St, near Sixth Ave) and Shakespeare & Co. (716 Broadway). The Mysterious Book Shop (129 W. 56th St, near Sixth Ave) sells mysteries only. The Strand (828 Broadway, at 12th St) is a New York institution. By far the city's largest secondhand bookstore, it claims to stock more than 2 million books.

Looking for a unique gift? Try Kiehl's (109 Third Ave, near 13th St), where you'll find old-fashioned chemists selling natural beauty products, or Star Magic (1256 Lexington Ave, near 85th St), selling science kits, mobiles, and other space-age gifts. Kate's Paperie (561 Broadway, at Prince) sells handmade paper products. B&H Photo-Video (420 Ninth Ave, at 34th St) is the best camera shop in town.

All this is just the tip of New York's shopping iceberg. To find out far, far more, pick up a copy of Gerry Franks's Where to Find It, Buy It, Eat It in New York, a self-published book that has enjoyed phenomenal success for many years. The current edition is nearly 600 pages.

If you're looking for a hopping after-hours scene, New York is the perfect city for you. Read on to learn more about nightlife and entertainment in New York.


New York Nightlife & Entertainment

When in New York, do as the natives do and keep going day and night. It's true what they say: the city never sleeps. As the sun sets and the magical twilight hour begins, thousands of workers stream out of office buildings to congregate in corner bars for after-work drinks.

As the stars begin to shine, big city lights beckon from a myriad of restaurants, lounges, clubs, and theaters. And as one day turns into another, and some places call it a night, others just begin to pick up. Last call in some bars and clubs is 2 am, while last call in others is 4 am.


Nightlife can be found all over New York, but some neighborhoods have much more to offer than others. Most of the city's music clubs, hippest bars and restaurants, lounges, and dance clubs are Downtown. For small rock and new-music venues, go to the East Village and Lower East Side. For jazz clubs, head to Greenwich Village.

For the trendiest bars, restaurants, and clubs, check out the Gansevoort Meat Packing District. Midtown has its share of hot spots and classic bars, too, and the Upper West Side and Harlem beckon with some excellent jazz spots.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Nightlife & Entertainment in New York

Restaurants aren't just for eating in New York, they're places to see and be seen -- in some places, the later the better. This is especially true Downtown, where the latest trend is the super-sized restaurant, meaning 15,000 square feet or more, seating 300 or more. If you'd like to check one out, try Buddakan (75 Ninth Ave, at 16th), a dark, decadent, two-story Chinese mansion serving gourmet Asian cuisine.

Not far away is the Mobil Two-Star Spice Market (403 W 13th St, at Ninth Ave), at the forefront of the mega trend, and still a warm, sexy hotspot. When looking over its "Asian street food" menu, consider trying the ginger margaritas and the mushroom egg rolls.

Gotham is the jazz capital of the world, and dozens of first-rate musicians can be heard in dozens of first-rate clubs every night of the week. Even if you're not much of a jazz fan, you should try to take in at least one jazz show. It's another quintessential New York experience.

The Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Ave South, at 11th St) is the oldest and arguably best jazz club in the city. All the greats, from Miles Davis to Wynton Marsalis, have played and continue to play in this dark, wedge-shaped basement room.

©2006 Joline Anthea Jammer The Lenox Lounge in Harlem, an Art Deco venue, is a great place to hear jazz.

If you prefer a more luxe setting, and would like to eat while you listen, you can always visit the Blue Note (131 W. 3rd St, near Sixth Ave), the city's premier jazz supper club. But if you'd like a less touristy environment, stop into the classy Jazz Standard (116 E. 27th St), located below the Mobil Two-Star Blue Smoke, an upscale barbeque joint. To get an idea of what listening to jazz was like back in the 1940s and 1950s, take the No. 2 or No. 3 train to the Lenox Lounge (88 Lenox Ave/Malcolm X Blvd, between 124th and 125th Sts) in Harlem, a vintage Art Deco spot.

Despite all its gentrification, the East Village still has its share of hole-in-the-wall rock clubs. Oldest among them, despite almost being forced out of business last year by rising rents, is CBGBs (315 Bowery, at Bleecker St), where everyone from the Talking Heads to Patti Smith once played. The club presents a half-dozen fledgling bands every night, so it's easy to stop in for a set or two and then move on. (Unless you're in your 20s or know someone in the band, the music is not so much the point here anymore, as is the punked-out atmosphere.)

The Bowery Ballroom (Delancey St, between Bowery and Chrystie St), built just before the 1929 Stock Market Crash, and Irving Plaza (17 Irving Pl, at 15th St), once a fancy Polish dance hall, are atmospheric mid-size clubs that present a mix of rock, new-music, reggae, blues, rap, and world music. Sultry S.O.B.'s (204 Varick St, at Houston), short for "Sounds of Brazil," presents African, Caribbean, reggae, Latin, and world music. This multi-ethnic club books mainly dance-oriented bands and its small dance floor is always packed.

In the Meat Packing District, the hard-to-find APT (419 W 13th St, between Ninth Ave and Washington St) spins funk, Hip Hop, and soul, courtesy of rotating disc jockeys. Cielo (18 Little W. 12th St, between Ninth Ave and Washington St) is a cozy, gorgeous dance spot, but at times it can be difficult to make your way past the velvet rope. If you'd rather not try, head to the more democratic and considerably cheaper Gas Light (400 W 14th St), which is a bar that's both friendly and hot.

Other bars of all shapes and sizes, atmospheres and clienteles, abound in the Big Apple. One of the oldest is the 1854 McSorley's Old Ale House (15 E. 7th St, between Second and Third Aves). Ale is the only beverage served and it comes in two glasses at a time, light or dark. At night, the customers can become extremely rowdy. A better time to come is midday, when a ploughman's lunch of bread and cheese is served.

Classic bars in Greenwich Village include Chumley's (86 Bedford St, near Barrow), an old speakeasy that has no sign but is easy to find. Mobil Two-Star Fanneli's (94 Prince St, at Mercer) in SoHo is an 1876 pub with beveled glass doors and tile floors. In Midtown, P.J. Clarke's (915 Third Ave, at 55th St), featured in the 1945 film "The Lost Weekend," is still going strong. Tucked away in Grand Central Station is the Campbell Apartment, an exquisite place, designed to resemble a 13th-century Florentine palazzo. Sports fans swear by the ESPN Zone (1472 Broadway).

Gotham's glitziest comedy club, booking big-name acts on a regular basis, is Caroline's (1626 Broadway, at 49th St). If you'd prefer something more offbeat, check out the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (307 W 26th St, near Eighth Ave), where less-traditional comedians are on seven nights a week.

The city's best entertainment listings can be found in Time Out New York, the Village Voice, and the New York Press.

With all the hustle and bustle in New York, you might think it's hard to kick back and relax while visiting the city. Fear not. With Central Park, the Bronx Zoo, and Coney Island -- just to name a few spots -- you'll find plenty of great places to take it easy while taking it all in.


Relaxing & Unwinding in New York

New York City may be the most densely populated city in the United States, but it also has a surprising amount of green space and recreational attractions. New Yorkers need to take a break from their hectic lifestyles now and again, too, you know.

Most famous among the city's parks is vast, glorious Central Park, stretching between Fifth and Eighth Avenues, 59th and 110th Streets. But The Central Park, as it was once known, is just the beginning. Smaller parks can be found all over Manhattan, while the other boroughs offer several even larger parks and such unusual recreational areas as Coney Island/Brighton Beach in Brooklyn and the Bronx Zoo in the Bronx.


The Staten Island Ferry, which travels between the southern tip of Manhattan and the borough, is a relaxing and completely free way to enjoy the great views of New York Harbor. Along the West Side is the still-developing Hudson River Park, which when finished, will stretch all the way from Battery Place to 59th Street. Currently lined with a promenade for walking and biking as far north as 28th Street, the park is the largest open space development in Manhattan in 150 years.

©2006 NYC & Company A horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park is a great way to take a little vacation from your New York vacation.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in New York

Central Park is a "must stop" in the Big Apple. More than just a park, it offers some of the best people-watching in the city, along with a myriad of attractions. At its southern end are a first-rate pocket zoo, skating and roller rink, and classic carousel. Near its center is peaceful The Lake, where rowboats can be rented; ornate Bethesda Terrace, surrounded by tiered steps where you can sit and listen to musicians; and the Conservatory Water, better known as the model-boat pond. Farther north is the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir, surrounded by a popular jogging track, and the lovely, formal Conservatory Garden.

You can easily spend an entire day in Central Park relaxing, sunbathing, meandering, exercising, picnicking, and snacking on vendor fare -- and many New Yorkers do exactly that. Central Park is mobbed on warm weather weekends, which only adds to its appeal. The park's famous horse-drawn carriages can be rented along Central Park South (59th Street).

Other great places for people-watching in the city include Fifth Avenue in Midtown, SoHo, and the East Village Downtown, and Coney Island in Brooklyn. Coney Island may no longer be the amusement center that it was in its heyday, but it's still a one-of-a-kind spot that must be seen. Now in the midst of a small renaissance, it centers on a magnificent boardwalk lined by a beach that gets very crowded in summer. Just off the Boardwalk is Astroland Amusement Park (1000 Surf Ave, near W 10th St), where you can ride the Cyclone, a classic wooden roller coaster, or the nearby Wonder Wheel, a 1920s Ferris wheel.

At Sideshows by the Seashore (1208 Surf Ave, at W 12th St), live the Snake Ladies, the Fire Eater, the Elastic Lady, and the Torture King. Run by actors, the place is a kind of shrine to the way Coney Island used to be. A few blocks away is the New York Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation (Surf Ave at W 8th St), a first-rate place housing everything from walruses to electric eels. In summer, dolphin and sea lion shows are featured daily.

Adjoining Coney Island is Brighton Beach, home to a large Russian community. Lining the main drag, Brighton Beach Avenue, are dozens of Russian shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. Stop into the bright, modern M&I International Food Shop (249 Brighton Ave) to stock up on caviar and borscht.

The Bronx Zoo (Fordham Rd and Bronx River Pkwy) is another excellent get-away from the madness of Manhattan. One of the world's largest and most important zoos, it holds about 4,000 animals. Be sure to ride the Wild Asia Express, a monorail that travels above a savanna inhabited by elephants, tigers, rhinos, and the like.

There's so much to see in New York that you may want to take a guided tour to ensure that you don't miss anything. Keep reading for our guide to organized tours in New York.


New York Organized Tours Overview

No matter where your interests lie -- in architecture, ethnic foods, social history, or just plain background information -- chances are good you'll find a tour in New York City tailor-made for you. Many offer fascinating glimpses into parts of the city and its history, all but unknown even to native New Yorkers.

One of the most enjoyable ways to get an overview of the Big Apple, as well as catch a breeze on a hot summer's day, is to board one of the Circle Line Cruises around Manhattan Island. The evening cruises, when the rays of the setting sun reflect off the city's glass canyons, are especially delightful.


©2006 NYC & Company Grand Central Station is the heart of New York's transportation system, and it's a great place to start when touring the city.

Walking tours abound, with each more imaginative than the next. Some of the most innovative and fun tours are offered by Big Onion Walking Tours, a company founded 15 years ago by Columbia University graduate students working their way through school. You'll be able to see the places where such films as "Gangs of New York" or "Immigrant New York" were made.

Equally fascinating and enjoyable tours are offered by the Municipal Art Society, which specializes in architecture and history tours on such unusual topics as "Jewish Harlem" or Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal. The Society also offers a superb tour of Grand Central Station every Wednesday at midday.

Good weekly tour listings can be found in Time Out New York, The New Yorker, and other local publications.

Not sure where to stay while visiting New York? The city has a mind-boggling number of hotels to choose from. Go to the next page for our guide to hotels and lodgings in New York.


New York Hotels Guide

When it comes to luxury hotels in New York, you have an extensive choice. Uptown, find the Mobil Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel New York, the tallest, sleekest hotel in the city, designed by I.M. Pei; and the Mobil Five-Star St. Regis New York, an exquisite Old World hostelry built in a Beaux Arts style.

©2006 St. Regis Hotel The Mobil Five-Star St. Regis New York is a beautiful Beaux Arts-style hotel.

Downtown, find the Mobil Four-Star Mercer Hotel, a boutique hotel in the heart of SoHo, and the Mobil Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, offering stunning views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Plenty of more moderately priced One- and Two-Star Hotels also are scattered throughout the city, many of them historic properties.


Keep in mind that in addition to the room rate, you'll have to pay a hefty 13.25 percent room tax. The highest rates are charged during the spring, fall, and Christmas holiday season, when rooms should be booked well in advance, and the lowest, in January, February and August. Many business and luxury hotels offer substantial discounts on the weekends.

Dining is at its finest in New York, with countless great restaurants (and pizza joints and hotdog stands) to tempt your tastebuds.


New York Restaurants Guide

New York is said to hold some 18,000 eating establishments and after you've been here for awhile, you'll come to see how that could be true. Every block seems to house at least one restaurant. New Yorkers live in tiny apartments; they have miniscule kitchens; hardly anyone hosts dinner parties; everyone eats out.

New York restaurants run the gamut, from the astronomically expensive to the inexpensive, from the enormous to the pocket-sized, from the snooty to the happy-to-serve, from haute cuisine to take-out food. Almost every cuisine in the world is well represented -- from Afghan to Ethiopian to Vietnamese to Polish -- as is almost every cooking style.

The better known, more expensive, and more popular restaurants require reservations, especially on the weekends. At the hottest spots, reservations need to be made months in advance. Plenty of lesser-known and often equally good eateries don't even take reservations, however. There's never a problem getting a superb meal in New York, where many kitchens are open until 11 pm or midnight, and some until 2 am or all night.

©2006 Per Se Resort New York's per se Restaurant serves up some of the priciest and most sought-after dinners in town -- the tasting menu for two costs $500.

Times Square, Ninth Avenue, SoHo, the East Village, Greenwich Village, and the Upper West Side are especially known for their restaurants. Midtown has plenty of places to offer as well but they cater to the business crowd and usually shut down on weekends and late at night. Ditto for the Financial District, where the restaurant business has been struggling ever since 9/11.

If you have a taste for the best pizza around, try the thin crust pepperoni with fresh, flavorful cheese at Mobil One-Star John's (278 Bleecker St, between Sixth Ave and Seventh Ave South). For the best burger, check out the Mobil One-Star Corner Bistro (331 W Fourth St, at Jane St), and order any flame-broiled half-pound burger. You won't be disappointed if you opt for a jaw-stretching grilled chicken sandwich instead. You can't mention a good burger without a hot dog too.

Nathan's Famous (1310 Surf Ave, between 15th and Stillwell Ave) is known for a wide variety of tasty hotdogs. Another option is Gray's Papaya (2090 Broadway at 72nd St, 539 Eighth Ave at 37th St, and 439 Sixth Ave at 8th St), known for selling two juicy hotdogs wrapped in crispy buns with a fruit drink for less than $3.

For more upscale dining, seafood lovers can satisfy their taste buds at the Mobil Three-Star Aquagrill (210 Spring St, at Sixth Ave), where you can try falafel-crusted salmon served on hummus with tomatoes and cucumbers or roasted Dungeness crab cake Napolean. If you can eat another bite, you can savor a plate of homemade chocolates.

Meatlovers can savor porterhouse steak that can be cut with a butterknife at the no-frill's Mobil Three-Star Peter Luger Steak House in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (178 Broadway, at Driggs Ave). Make sure to order the New York Cheesecake, which comes with a giant bowl of whipped cream to pile on top.

A first-rate French restaurant is the Mobil Three-Star Chanterelle (2 Harrison St, at Hudson St). Try the chicken with black truffles or striped bass in red wine and fresh sage. Possibly the best dessert to top any meal is the frozen peanut butter and toffee pyramid with chocolate caramel sauce.

Those interested in experiencing the finest ethnic foods won't be disappointed with the multitude of choices. Any pasta dish, especially the rigatoni with tomatoes and sausage, followed by the coconut sorbet is a must-try Italian treat at the Mobil Three-Star Da Silvano (260 Sixth Ave, near Bleecker St).

A top spot for upscale Chinese fare is the Mobil Three-Star Shun Lee Palace (155 E. 55th St, between Lexington and Third Aves). Menu must-haves should include chunks of lobster with baked ginger, scallions, and black beans simmered in soy sauce and red wine. Those who enjoy exotic rare finds will be interested in the ostrich steak with spicy Hunan sauce.

Some of the newest, priciest, and most sought after dinners in town are served at the lavish Mobil Five-Star per se Restaurant in the new Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle, at Broadway), where the tasting menu for two costs $500. A must-have dish, and popular item, is oysters served in creamy tapioca sauce with caviar (known as Oysters and Pearls). The salmon-creme fraiche cones also are popular.

And the list of excellent New York restaurants could go on and on and on. No matter where you decide to eat, remember that it's customary to tip 20 percent of the bill. Gratuities are seldom automatically included.

Trying to fit all of your New York sightseeing into a short visit might seem like a daunting task. On the next page, you'll find suggested itineraries that will help you hit all the hotspots while visiting New York.

Suggested Itineraries for Visiting New York

There are so many things to do in New York that fitting them all in -- or even some of them in -- is a difficult task. We've come up with some suggested itineraries to help you see the hotspots in your areas of interest -- including special events and attractions, arts and culture, architecture and landmarks, shopping, nightlife and entertainment, and relaxing and unwinding.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Special Events & Attractions in New York

There are too many must-see attractions in New York for one visit -- but if you plan well, you can be sure to at least hit on the best of the best. Here are some suggested itineraries for New York's special events and attractions:

©2006 Angelo Mercado The recently renovated Museum of Modern Art centers on a soaring 110-foot atrium with bustling promenades and sky-lit galleries.

1 day: If you've never been to New York before, spend your first morning taking a sightseeing cruise aboard the Circle Line, which circumnavigates Manhattan. Sure, it's touristy, but the views of the skyline are terrific and there's no better way to get an overview of the city. The cruises depart from Pier 83 at West 42nd Street. Afterward, stroll across 42nd Street and take a gander at boisterous Times Square. Have lunch in one of the gourmet sandwich shops along 42nd Street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues or grab the same from a kiosk in Bryant Park (also on 42nd St between Sixth and Fifth Aves, behind the New York Public Library).

Head north on Fifth Avenue, past some of the city's most famous sights: the Diamond District (47th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves), Saks Fifth Avenue (at 49th St), Rockefeller Center (between 48th and 51st Sts, Fifth and Sixth Aves), Saint Patrick's Cathedral (at 50th St), the Museum of Modern Art (11 W 53rd St), Tiffany's (at 56th St), Trump Tower (at 56th St), the F.A.O. Schwartz toy store (at 58th S.), and the Plaza Hotel (at 59th St; closed for renovation until Oct of 2007). Central Park begins at 59th Street and near this entrance is a lovely pocket zoo that's as much fun for adults as it is for kids.

If you have the energy, zip back downtown to 34th Street on the Fifth Avenue bus to tour the Empire State Building. It's open until midnight daily. Have dinner at Mobil Two-Star Brasserie Les Halles (411 Park Ave South, between 28th and 29th Sts), a bustling, informal French bistro run by well-known chef and author Anthony Bourdain. Les Halles specializes in meat -- carnivores swear by its rib-eye steak -- but also offers an interesting selection of fish and chicken dishes.

2 days: See another side of New York by exploring downtown. Start with a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, both of which can be reached only by ferry. To avoid the crowds, get to Castle Clinton, where the ferry tickets are sold, as early as you can; the office opens at 8:30 am. Post-9/ll, the only way to see the Statue of Liberty's insides is by guided tour, for which advance reservations are a must.

Touring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island takes the better part of the day. Afterward, walk north, past Battery Park City and the sad empty acres of Ground Zero, where simple plaques honoring those who died in the attacks hang along the fences of Church and Liberty Streets. Have dinner at the chic, art deco Odeon (145 W Broadway, at Thomas) in TriBeCa, which has been serving consistently good food since the 1980s. The steamed mussels, served with crisp fries, are especially delicious.

©2006 NYC & Company You can watch the New York Yankees play at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

3 days: Devote your third day in the city to a sporting event. From the spring through the fall, the Mets at Shea Stadium in Queens and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx often play day games on the weekends, while the horses run all afternoon at Belmont Park Tuesdays through Sundays. In winter, do as athletic-minded New Yorkers do and go ice skating. Avoid the tourist-heavy rink at Rockefeller Center and head to Wollman Rink in Central Park instead. From the rink, you'll have great views of the stunning skyscrapers and apartment buildings that stand along the park's south and west sides. Afterward, take a ride in one of the famous horse carriages that clip-clop through the park year-round. The rides are pricey, but worth doing at least once.

In the evening, take in a concert or other special event at Lincoln Center or Carnegie Hall (Seventh Ave and 57th St). There's always something going on at Lincoln Center almost every night of the week throughout the year, while Carnegie Hall usually offers three or four events a week from fall through spring. Before or after the event, enjoy dinner at Nino's Tuscany (117 W 58th St, near Sixth Ave), where you can listen to piano music while dining on the restaurant's trademark wild game dishes.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Arts & Culture in New York

In a city with the number of art museums and cultural institutions that New York has, you'll be hard-pressed to see them all. These itineraries will help you narrow down the choices.

1 day: No trip to New York is complete without a stop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Ave. at 82nd St), one of the world's greatest museums. Start with a look at the Met's stunning permanent collection of European paintings, where one room is filled with Rembrandts alone. Afterward, zero in on a temporary show or head to the Egyptian collection, American wing, Rockefeller wing (art from Africa and the Pacific), or sculpture garden roof. There's far too much at the Met to see in a day, so you'll have to pick and choose. Since the Met's cafeteria is often mobbed, try to eat lunch early or late. Or, grab a bagel, hot dog, and other tasty fare from the vendors near the front steps.

From the Met, stroll down Fifth Avenue or abutting Central Park if the weather is fair. In the late afternoon, head to the TKTS booth and buy tickets to a Broadway show. Do as New Yorkers do and dine in one of Times Square's many restaurants after the show, when reservations are seldom necessary. Ninth Avenue between 42nd and 57th Streets is lined with one restaurant after another, most quite reasonably priced. One of the many good spots is Rachel's, An American Bistro (608 Ninth Ave, between 43rd and 44th Sts). Try the tasty honey mustard chicken or creamy pot pie.

2 days: Devote your second day to the diverse cultures of New York. Take the subway to the Financial District and make a stop at the superb National Museum of the American Indian (1 Bowling Green, near Broadway), a branch of the Smithsonian. Afterward, walk to nearby Chinatown and visit the tiny but fascinating Museum of the Chinese in the Americas (70 Mulberry St, at Bayard), where you'll find exhibits on such subjects as the Chinese laundry. Have lunch in a Chinatown restaurant; one longtime favorite eatery is Joe's Shanghai (9 Pell St, between Bowery and Mott Street), known for its "soup dumplings" -- a mouthful of soup inside the dough. Save room for pastry or gelato in Little Italy. Flashy Ferrara's (195 Grand St, near Mulberry) is a popular spot.

Work off lunch by walking north to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (97 Orchard St, between Delancey and Broome), which recreates life in 19th century immigrant New York. It's best to reserve tickets to the small museum in advance, however, and if you haven't done so and can't get in, continue north to the brand-new, surprisingly large Ukrainian Museum (222 E. 6th St, between Second and Third Aves) in the East Village, where exhibits range from modern art to folk art. Have a snack or light dinner in one of the neighborhood's many ethnic restaurants. Veselka (144 Second Ave, at 10th St) is the classic spot for borscht, pierogi, and scrumptious poppy-seed cake. Afterward, head to Greenwich Village to hear some jazz at the Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Ave South), the oldest jazz club in the city.

3 days: Spend the morning at the recently renovated Museum of Modern Art (11 W. 53rd St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves), centered on a soaring 110-foot atrium with bustling promenades and sky-lit galleries. Take a look at the museum's permanent collection of paintings, holding many modern masterpieces, before taking in its excellent permanent photography exhibit or a temporary show. The museum's cafeteria, serving many light gourmet treats, is a good place for lunch.

Spend the afternoon gallery-hopping in Chelsea. Then stroll downtown along Eighth Avenue, stopping to eat dinner in one of the many restaurants between 23rd and 14th Streets. The Rocking Horse Mexican Cafe (182 Eighth Ave, near 19th St) serves tasty gourmet Mexican fare; try the jumbo shrimps with mangos and black beans. Take in a foreign or documentary film at the Film Forum (209 W Houston St, near Sixth Ave).

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Architecture & Landmarks in New York

New York's skyscrapers run the gamut of architectural styles, as do the city's beautiful churches, bridges, and historic neighborhoods. Follow these suggestions and you'll see the very best that New York has to offer.

1 day: Spend the day exploring the architectural treasures of Midtown. Start with the many gems along East 42nd Street. Have lunch at Grand Central Station's famed Mobil Two-Star Oyster Bar (open Mondays through Fridays only). The main restaurant serves delicious full meals, but it's more fun (and much less expensive) to grab a bowl of tasty clam chowder at the old-fashioned counter.

Afterward, head north on Fifth Avenue, past Rockefeller Center (between 48th and 51st Sts), St. Patrick's Cathedral (at 50st St), Trump Tower (at 56th St), and the Mobil Three-Star Plaza Hotel (at 59th St). At 49th Street, take a detour to Madison Avenue to visit the Municipal Art Society's Urban Center, housed in one of the Villard Houses, a group of six Italianate brownstones built in 1886 by McKim, Mead, & White.

Have dinner at the Mobil Two-Star Le Colonial (149 E 57th St, near Third Ave), serving French-Vietnamese fare in an atmospheric pre-war-Saigon setting. Try the goi bun so, grilled sea scallops served over noodles and greens. Then travel downtown for a nighttime visit to the Empire State Building.

2 days: Begin your day by exploring the charming streets and squares of Greenwich Village. Sample the best pizza in NYC at the Mobil One-Star John's (278 Bleecker St, near Seventh Ave; sold by the whole pie only). Head south through SoHo to see its cast-iron facades, the finest examples of which line Broadway. Continue south on Broadway to City Hall Park and the Woolworth Building. Stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. Have dinner in the South Street Seaport, a redeveloped historic area lined with cobblestone streets. The Bridge Cafe (279 Water St, near Dover) serves excellent seafood. Try the soft-shell crabs if they're in season -- they're a house specialty.

3 days: Take a look at the grand apartment buildings of Central Park West and take in the Barney Greengrass (541 Amsterdam Ave, near 80th St), known for its bagels and lox.

Continue north to explore the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (on Amsterdam Ave and 112th St). Don't miss the workshop out back, where stonemasons are often at work. Walk north to 125th Street and then walk east along the lively thoroughfare. At Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard, take a short detour south, to take in more stunning churches. Head north to Striver's Row, if you have the energy. Have dinner at Sylvia's (348 Lenox Ave/Malcolm X Blvd, between 126th and 127th Sts), a popular soul-food restaurant. The catfish is especially fine.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Shopping in New York

Shopping doesn't get any better than what you'll find on New York's Fifth Avenue -- but the city has many other shopping hotspots to explore. Here are some suggested itineraries for planning your shopping excursions:

1 day: Spend the day exploring the shops of Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's. Have lunch in Mangia (16 E 48th St and 50 W. 57th St), offering a huge gourmet salad bar. For dinner, continue north of Bloomingdale's to Persepolis (1423 Second Ave, near 74th St), one of the city's best Persian restaurants. Try a succulent lamb kabob, served with sour cherry rice.

2 days: Do some clothes shopping along Lower Fifth Avenue, and then head to the East Village to browse in The Strand. Have an overstuffed pastrami sandwich at the Second Avenue Deli (156 Second Ave, at 10th St) or partake of the city's best vegetarian and vegan fare at Angelika Kitchen (300 E 12th St, between First and Second Aves). If you need to revive your aching feet, make a stop at the traditional Tenth Street Russian and Turkish Baths (268 E 10th St, between First Ave and Avenue A), where you'll find saunas, steam rooms, and massage rooms.

Some days are men or women only, so make sure to call ahead. Or, head to NoLiTa to see what the city's youngest designers are up to. Have dinner at Five Points (31 Great Jones St, between the Bowery and Lafayette), an upscale spot where the menu, prepared with the freshest of ingredients, changes nightly.

3 days: Spend the morning browsing for bargains at Loehmann's (101 Seventh Ave, at 16th St). Have lunch at nearby Mobil Two-Star Cafeteria (119 Seventh Ave, at 17th St), a 24-hour upscale diner that doubles as a hip hangout at night. The Cobb salad makes a great lunch. Afterward, head to SoHo, where you can spend hours browsing the shops and examining the wares of the area's many street artists and vendors. A good spot for dinner is trendy Ideya (349 W Broadway, between Broome and Grand), which specializes in Caribbean fare, served to a Brazilian beat. Make sure to try the sofrito marinated roasted chicken breast with cilantro whipped yucca and chorizo hash, followed by a passionfruit cheesecake on a graham cracker crust with passionfruit syrup.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in New York

With chic bars, ritzy restaurants, and hot jazz clubs, New York's nightlife scene has something for everyone. Check out these suggested itineraries for nightlife and entertainment:

1 day: After a leisurely morning at your hotel, eat a ploughman's lunch at McSorley's Old Ale House (15 E. 7th St, between Second and Third Aves). Take in a matinee at the Angelica Film Center (18 W Houston St, at Mercer), the hippest movie theater in town, screening a mix of foreign films and independent first-run features. The Angelica also offers an extensive gourmet coffee, cake, and sandwich bar. Stroll the streets of SoHo, where the people-watching alone is pure entertainment.

Eat at the Mobil Three-Star Balthazar (80 Spring St, between Crosby and Broadway), a sumptuous French brasserie with a long, glittering bar. Try the steak frites, served with the crispiest of French fries in town. Hop on the subway and catch a jazz set at the Jazz Standard (116 E. 27th St) or the Lenox Lounge (88 Lenox Ave/Malcolm X Blvd, between 124th and 125th Sts) in Harlem.

©2006 NYC & Company Radio City Music Hall is a popular New York destination, especially during the holiday season.

2 days: Watch an afternoon game at the ESPN Zone (1472 Broadway), sign up for one of the city's many entertaining walking tours, or take in a (Wednesday or Sunday) matinee in a Broadway or Off-Broadway theater. Early in the evening, catch an offbeat comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Walk down Ninth Avenue to the Meat Packing District.

Eat at Buddakan or the Mobil Two-Star Spice Market if you've made reservations. If not, try Pastis (9 Ninth Ave, at Little 12th St), an ultra-hip bistro, or the Mobil One-Star Florent (69 Gansevoort St, between Greenwich and Washington), an upscale 24-hour diner that pioneered the district two decades ago. Neither place takes reservations, but both often have long lines.

Try your luck at getting into Cielo (18 Little W. 12th St, between Ninth Ave and Washington St) or check out the Gas Light (400 W 14th St). Have your last drink of the evening/early morning at the open-air (weather permitting) rooftop bar of the sleek, new boutique Hotel Gansevoort (18 Ninth Ave, at 13th St).

3 days: Have brunch or lunch in one of Midtown's swank hotels; the Mobil Five-Star St. Regis is an especially luxe experience. Take a tour of the NBC Studios (30 Rockefeller Plaza) or Radio City Music Hall (50th St and Sixth Ave). Reservations at NBC are essential and at Radio City, recommended. Stroll the always entertaining Fifth Avenue and have a drink at Dorothy Parker's old haunt, the deliciously old-fashioned Mobil Two-Star Algonquin (59 W 44th St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves).

Hop the subway down to Union Square and have dinner at the Mobil Two-Star Blue Water Grill (31 Union Square West, at 16th St). Try the steamed dumpling appetizer and the grilled tuna entree, and eat on the terrace if the weather is fine. Stop into CBGBs (315 Bowery, at Bleecker St) for a set or two and/or catch a rock or new music act at Irving Plaza (17 Irving Pl, at 15th St) or the Bowery Ballroom (Delancey St, between Bowery and Chrystie St).

©2006 Jim In Times Square You can tour NBC Studios on Rockefeller Plaza, but be sure you make reservations.

1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in New York

In a city that's home to Central Park, Coney Island, and the Bronx Zoo, you'll have no trouble finding laidback spots to relax and wind. These suggested itineraries will guide you to the ideal retreats.

1 day: Spend the day in Central Park. Start with brunch at festive Mobil Two-Star Tavern on the Green (near Central Park West and 67th St), adorned with glass, mirrors, and chandeliers. New Yorkers often come here to celebrate special events and although it's pricey, it's an unforgettable New York experience. Afterward, read the paper or take a snooze in nearby Sheep Meadow if weather permits and then explore the rest of the park.

Visit the zoo, meander past the model-boat pond, rent bikes, or rowboats at the Loeb Boathouse, and visit the Conservatory Garden. At night, go bowling at the Leisure Time Bowling and Recreational Centre at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (Eighth Ave and 42nd St), a classic, well-kept place that's one of the last bowling alleys left in Manhattan.

2 days: Take the D, F, or Q train to Coney Island. Spend the morning on the beach. For lunch, buy hotdogs and lemonade from Nathan's Famous (Surf and Stillwell Aves). This is the place where the hotdog was supposedly "invented" by Nathan Handwerker in 1916; he simply placed a wiener inside a bun. In the afternoon, ride the Cyclone (a wooden roller coaster) and Wonder Wheel (a 1920s Ferris wheel) at Astroland Amusement Park (1000 Surf Ave, near W 10th St), then explore the shops of Brighton Beach.

At night, eat dinner and watch the show at an over-the-top Russian nightclub. The oldest and best-known is The National (273 Brighton Beach Ave, at 2nd St; reservations essential). Try the Russian blintzes with seafood stuff or pancakes with Salmon roe. When you are done, the restaurant staff will call you a car to get back to Manhattan.

©2006 NYC & Company The Bronx Zoo holds about 4,000 animals.

3 days: Take the subway, bus, or train to the Bronx Zoo (for exact directions, visit their Web site). Spend the day among the beasts, and in the late afternoon, take a cab to nearby Belmont, a traditional Italian community chock-a-block with restaurants, pastry shops, and food markets, most located along Arthur Avenue or 187th Street. Sample one of the tasty pasta dishes at Dominick's (2335 Arthur Ave, at 187th St) and complete your meal with homemade gelato at DeLillo's Pastry Shop (606 187th St).

When visiting New York, you can focus on whimsical spots like Coney Island, historical landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, or the emotionally charged Ground Zero. The choices are endless in this truly great city.

© Publications International, Ltd.


Christiane Bird is a former travel writer for The New York Daily News and the author of The New York State Handbook (Avalon Books), now in its fourth edition. She also has written several books on the Middle East, including Neither East Nor West: One Woman's Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran. She lives in New York City.