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New York Weekender

13 Mar 2007  Long weekend in New York
4.0 of 5 bubbles based on 13 votes

What to see and where to go in New York

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: New York City
  • Category: Perfect weekend
  • Traveler type: Sightseeing, Never been before
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Empire State Building
    Empire State Building, New York City, New York

    On everybody's list of things to do the Empire State Building is looking a little tired - and whilst they are obviously updating things, they still have a way to go. The sign outside showed 20 minutes - didn't sound too long to wait. Cost $18 per adult. Entered and seemed to go from one pen of queues to the next. Has security with metal detectors etc but this didn't really add to the delays. There wasn't any obvious reason for the slow ascent - so I would really hate to see it when its busy! Eventually got to a lift where, packed like sardines, we shot upwards. Opened up into an area with the 'compulsive' photo shoot - there was no slipping past even if you don't want the photo taken. Out onto the observatory viewing area there are signs which advise what you are looking at, but unless you get a spot by the railings your photo's will be spoilt by the criss/cross railings - if you're close enough your lens will fit through the gaps. Amazing views, but it was quite crowded. Observatory opens at 8am until midnight. It's not the best view of New York but at least you can say you've done it! If you're short of time, do the 'Rock' centre instead.

  • 2. World Trade Center
    The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, New York City, New York

    The site where the twin towers stood is now a mass of redevelopment as they build the new freedom tower. There are pictures from that terrible day and memorials listing the names of those who lost their lives. There are some very annoying folk trying to sell sickening photo's of the day. The official visitor centre which is on Liberty St warns against purchasing from the street vendors. The WTC Visitor Center is a tasteful tribute and memory of 9/11 and is operated by the Sept 11th Families Association. Five galleries reveal the events of 9/11 including video, audio and personal photos, items etc. Gallery 4 pays tribute to the victims where two huge walls are covered with photos of the individuals who lost their lives - so profound is the effect of this gallery that they even provide tissues! In gallery 5 there is the opportunity to write a message and read how others have turned grief into inspirational experiences. You can also take a daily guided walking tour. The center is open from 10am until 6pm. There is a voluntary donation for entryof $10.

  • 3. Central Park
    Central Park, New York City, New York

    When we approached Central Park there were two obvious modes of transport (other than our feet) - Bicycle Rickshaw or Horse & Carriage. The Rickshaw chap approached and tried the hard sell - advising that for $50 per rickshaw (need 2 for 4 adults) he would take us right around the park, whereas the Horse would only cover a quarter of the distance - so we were looking at $100 - we decided to speak to the Horseman. for $75 he would take us the same full distance through the park!!! You need to ask - don't accept what you're being told as we were obviously about to be scammed by the bike chap!! The Horseman pointed out the various areas of the park and stopped by the fountain from 'Friends' and Dakota building for a photo opportunity - he was very obliging and also provided a lovely warm rug for our knees which was very welcome on a cold March morning. A nice sedate way to see the park without adding to your blisters! Classic city park, full of joggers and cyclists - not the prettiest in March - but probably lovely in Summer and Autumn.

  • 4. Boat Trip around New York

    Having wandered to the Hudson River we discovered NY Waterway Tours (white & Blue boats). We opted for the 90 minute Harbour Cruise which was $22 per adult and left from Pier 78 on w 39th street. Boat was fairly quiet so no problem finding a seat - there are rows which face directly out over the sides of the boat and a couple of rows with tables in the middle. The tour guide points out all the relevant sites and gives quite a few insider tips on what to do and see in New York. Great for photo opportunities of the Manhattan skyline. The boat travelled down and stopped at Pier A at Battery Park - suddenly the boat became very crowded and the ignorant folk who insist in standing right in front of somebody didn't help the photos! The boat carried on its journey passing under the Brooklyn , Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. We travelled up the East River to a level with approx 42nd st and then turned around. The return journey took us beyond Battery Park out past Ellis Island and close to Lberty Island where there were plenty of opportunities to take photos of the Statue of Liberty - the boat doesn't stop at the island. The Boat headed back to Battery Park, where the crowds departed again and we continued our leisurely journey back up the hudson to pier 78. Obviously alot of people use this as an alternative method of getting close up to Liberty. There are refreshments available on board and if you get nice weather it is a fantastic way to see NY - we all felt that this trip was one of the highlights of our weekend and excellent value for money. There are a number of tours and also work in conjunction with the hop on/off gray line buses and also Liberty Helicopters - 5 minutes walk away.

  • 5. Helicopter Tour over New York

    We took this trip with Liberty Helicopter Tours based at Westside Heliport (12th Ave & w 30th) It is wise to try and pre-book. We turned up on spec. We were ushered inside where we booked a flight (minimum notice of 1 & half hours). There were 3 flights on offer - Taste of New York (approx $80), The Big Apple ($120) and New York, New York (approx $180). We opted for the Big Apple. We were told that we needed to be back in 1 hour. We were back within 50 minutes and entered the cabin. Very hot and very crowded. We asked what the system was and were told that we'd already been called?? Our tip would be to ignore the instruction to come back in an hour and not to bother going anywhere! We had to hand our names in again and join the waiting throng of people. The helicopters take 6 passengers each run. The process seems to be that they mix & match waiting passengers to get the 6 - didn't seem obviously linked to flight time. When names are called, passengers move through a metal detector into another room where there are 5 lines (each containing 6 people). Whilst in line you are shown the safety video and a life jacket fastened around your waist. You feel you are almost there, but even this seems to take quite a while. When you are eventually called for your flight you are escorted to the helicopter where your party are then placed beside the helicopter for a photo (available for purchase on your return). You are seated based on weight (heaviest in the back). We took off and headed down the Hudson river. The pilot gives a running commentary of the sites and landmarks. The flight goes as far as Liberty does a few swoops around it and heads back (takes 10-12 minutes) The more expensive trip lasts approx 20 mins. The flight itself is an excellent way of seeing NY - the downside seemed to be all the hanging around beforehand. If you have friends/relatives with you who do not want to fly it is recommended that they go and do something else. Our friends were waiting for more than an hour (for our 10 minute flight)! The area could do with a nearby cafe. A good trip, but pre-book, don't take non-flying friends - oh yes... remember your camera!!!

  • 6. Times Square
    Times Square, New York City, New York

    Times Square seems to be the vibrant heart of the city. Most tourists seem to walk around with their faces pointed upwards looking at the array of skyscrapers and multi-coloured flashing adverts - which come in all shapes and sizes! Excellent area for finding restaurants. We ate in Bubba Gumps (remember the film Forrest Gump?) The shrimps here are fantastic - but other alternatives are available on the menu, such as burgers, chicken etc. A really friendly restaurant and the staff add to the atmosphere. Lots of bits & pieces from the film. Also Maxies further up the square which is a great steakhouse. Toys r Us has a large store in the square - which has its own Ferris wheel inside plus an animatronics T-Rex Dinosour - nobody seems to mind tourists going in to take photos. Virgin Megastore is also a good spot for all things musical and dvd - some excellent bargain (especially if you're travelling from rip-off Britain). The M&M Store is amazing - ;you think M&M sweets - they have every variety you can imagine plus a huge range of M&M merchandise - 3 floors worth! Just Nearby is the Hershey Store. If you continue towards Central Park you will come across a number of theatres if you fancy taking in a show. If you head south down Broadway there are a variety of stores and eventually (when you're near to the Empire State Building you will find Macy's). Macy's is huge - about 8 floors and you can seriously do some damage to your credit card! Personally we preferred Macys to Bloomingdales. At night the place is alive. Lots of tourists and felt a really safe place to walk around. No problems hailing cabs - lots of em!! If you want the folks back home to see you, then there are some web cams dotted around. The best one is outside TGI Fridays. You can view it on camera 4 at www.earthcam. com/usa/newyork/ timessquare. Very funny watching all the people waving to the camera (often showing the folks back home the goodies that have been purchased for them!!)