Greenwich Village is one of the most charming residential locales in New York City. The quarter’s reputation for the bohemian persists, but these days only the affluent can afford to live in these sought-after leafy streets.
In the west side of Lower Manhattan, the Village is a tree-lined area of low-rise townhouses, cafes and narrow angled streets far removed from New York’s ordered grid plan. New York University has a dominating presence here.
For visitors, this is walking territory par excellence, and you’ll find some great Italian cafes and restaurants tucked away in the narrow streets. If you’re pining for a stretch of green, the welcome lawns, statues, street entertainers, and dog-walking areas of Washington Square Park run off W 4th Street.
Drop into a coffee at beatnik-era Le Figaro, browse the vinyl at Bleecker Bob’s Records, or watch the local kids play basketball at the outdoor courts on 4th Street.
SoHo, or “South of Houston,” is located in lower Manhattan and is renowned for its stylish boutiques, art galleries and trendy restaurants. The neighborhood is more relaxed than Times Square but can still get crowded due to its popularity with shoppers. Stroll down the cobblestone streets browsing stores like AvaMaria for shoes and accessories, Onassis for American menswear with a Japanese flare and Legacy for vintage pieces and antique jewelry.
You can admire the work of talented artists in galleries like Agora Gallery, American Primitive Gallery and the Brooke Alexander Gallery. Make sure to also walk down Broadway to take in the cast-iron buildings, as SoHo showcases the largest collection of this type of architecture in the world. For a drink, Jimmy at The James Hotel is a sleek rooftop bar with 360 degree views of Manhattan, 508 Restaurant & Bar is a gastrobrewery where you can pair craft brews with gourmet plates and The Room is a sultry wine and beer bar.
Travelers looking to experience life on the top of the world need look no further than the spire of One World Observatory. The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, this lower Manhattan skyscraper has a high-speed elevator that shoots visitors straight to the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds. Impressive time-lapse technology showcases the transformation of the city from the 1500s to modern day as guests make their ascent.
The major attraction, known as the Discovery Level, is located on the 100th floor of One World Observatory. Visitors say the 360-degree views highlight the best of Manhattan and offer impressive looks at surrounding waterways and iconic city skyline. Several high-tech installations provide travelers with the unique experience of zeroing in on specific neighborhoods or checking out real-time footage of streets far below.
Transporting more than 100 million vehicles annually, the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River connects northeastern New Jersey to Manhattan. With its steel beams and cables, the double-decker suspension bridge is one of the most recognizable in the world. Informally known as “GW” or “The George,” the bridge also allows for pedestrians and bikers to cross, allowing for sweeping views of the New York City skyline. Its lower level (affectionately referred to as “The Martha,” after Washington’s wife) was added after initial construction to allow for greater capacity.
Considered a marvel of modern engineering, the bridge has been recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. At the time it was built it was twice as long as any existing suspension bridge, and remains a favorite New York City landmark. It is the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world, and os home to the world’s largest free-flying American flag.
Before Ellis Island there was Castle Clinton. This historic Lower Manhattan destination once served as the first immigration stop for foreigners moving to the U.S., with some 8 million people passing through its doors between 1855 and 1890. And while the iconic brick building has had many lives—as a beer garden, theater and even an aquarium—today it serves as a national monument and museum.
Visitors tend to agree that while Castle Clinton holds a historic place in the story of New York City and is certainly worth checking out, the interior offers only a couple of displays that showcases stories of the Big Apple. Travelers heading to the Statue of Liberty can purchase tickets inside and make Castle Clinton part of the Battery Park experience.
Located in lower Manhattan, TriBeCa, or “Triangle Below Canal,” is known for its cobblestone streets, low crime rate, trendy restaurants and high-quality boutiques. Enjoy sashimi tacos, lobster ceviche and tuna tataki at Nobu, an upscale Japanese restaurant, or for something more budget-friendly, Tamarind Tribeca, which offers delicious chicken tikka masala, punjabi mutton and lobster masala. If you’re sightseeing, visit the Hudson River Park, featuring 550 acres of green along the Hudson River, or the Skyscaper Museum, which offers a look into the history of New York City skyscrapers and introduces visitors to important industry people. If you’re visiting in the spring, check out the Tribeca Film Festival to see inspiring independent and family-friendly films.
One of New York's most iconic buildings, the United Nations' official headquarters takes up several blocks of real estate by the East River in Midtown Manhattan. The complex is made up of several buildings, including the domed General Assembly Hall, visitors center and the very 1950s, high-rise Secretariat building. Landscaped gardens decorated with outdoor sculptures surround the complex and flapping flags fly in the breeze.
The best way to get a feel for the international goings on is to take a guided tour. Running throughout the day, the 45-minute tours provide valuable insights into human rights history, the UN and its missions, and the UN complex.
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.
An Episcopal Church located in Lower Manhattan at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, Trinity Church is one of the oldest churches in the United States. In 1696, a small group of Anglicans were granted approval from Governor Benjamin Fletcher to purchase land for a new church. The next year, Trinity Church received a charter from King William III of England. Today, the Trinity Church you see is the third building in the same location, built in 1846 in a Neo-Gothic style. Until 1890 when the New York World Building was completed, its 281-foot spire and cross was the highest point in the city. Along with the building’s impressive architecture -- including intricate stained-glass windows, sandstone facade, Gothic spires, dramatic pointed arches and heavy bronze doors depicting bible scenes -- Trinity is known for its vibrant music program and dedication to outreach.
The world's premier modern art gallery, MoMA provides visitors with a master class in modernist and contemporary art. The collection numbers more than 150,000 works of art, along with a sizable film and photography collection. Familiar standouts include Monet's water lilies and works by van Gogh, Rousseau, Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Pollock, Andrew Wyeth, and Frida Kahlo.
Exhibitions are held from time to time, along with performance art and exhibits of architecture, prints, and illustrated books. The building was recently renovated to vastly expand the museum's exhibition space.
Located at 209 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, St. Paul’s Chapel is Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use. Moreover, it is the only surviving church from the Revolutionary Era, and holds much history from this period. Opened in 1766, it is part of the Episcopal Parish of Trinity Church and has been a place of worship and refuge for many over the years, including George Washington and Revolutionary War British Generals Cornwallis and Howe, who would go there to pray and 9/11 recovery workers who were cared for inside the chapel. If you’re interested in seeing where George Washington himself sat inside the church, there is an oil painting of the Great Seal of the United State over his pew. The interior of the church is less grand and more cozy yet elegant with glass chandeliers and an ornamental design above the alter created by a French veteran of the revolution, Pierre L’Enfant.
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 Cathedral of St. John the Divine is one of the oldest buildings in Morningside Heights (a neighborhood in Manhattan’s Upper West Side) and is the home of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The historic cathedral is not only one of the oldest buildings in the area – it’s one of the most secretive. A tour through the cathedral yields the perceptive visitor many visual treasures, from a rare gold triptych by Keith Haring (his last work before his death) to an unusual sculpture of the Archangel Michael, the decapitated head of Satan, and nine giraffes (!).
The cathedral is home the largest rose window in the United States (the fifth-largest in the world), constructed from 10,000 stained-glass pieces. Other stained-glass windows depict historic, religious, and modern scenes. The cathedral is also one of the few buildings in Manhattan that allows visitors to access its roof, which provides a fantastic view of the New York City skyline.
Columbia University is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York, and the fifth oldest in the USA. Fans of history and of architecture will be interested in the university’s historic buildings, which have been highlighted in many feature films. Most notable is Low Memorial Library, which appears in the New York City Register of Historic Places. Built in the Roman classical style, the former library now contains the university’s visitor center and its administration offices.
Just below the library is a large plaza – a popular gathering place for students. Past a promenade (called College Walk) is the south campus where Butler Library, Columbia’s main library, stands. South campus also contains the student center, student residences, classroom buildings, and the Graduate School of Journalism. North of Low Library is Pupin Hall, a national historic landmark due to the atomic research done there by Columbia's scientists.
Manhattan's truly wonderful Grand Central Station (meticulously restored in the 1990s) is a train terminal in the grand tradition from the glory days of the nation's railroads.
Built for the New York Central Railroad between 1903 and 1913, Grand Central is the world's largest train station and a vital New York attraction (even if catching a train is the last thing on your mind).
The main features of the lofty, opulent Main Concourse are its huge arched windows, ticket booths, the famous four-faced clock, grand staircases, chandeliers and, up above, the cerulean blue ceiling gilded with astronomical details. Statues and a Tiffany glass clock dominate the Beaux Arts exterior.
Join a public or private tour of the terminal's highlights, drop into the famous Oyster Bar while you're here, grab a snack at any number of food outlets, or join the 125,000 commuters who pick up a train or subway from Grand Central every day.
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.