Ah, the Big Apple. It dares visitors to take a bite and see the most populated city the United States has to offer. And with a reputation of being the city that never sleeps, New York City offers visitors much to see and do, at all hours of the night and day.
Truly, there is no place in the world quite like New York City. As one of the world’s largest cities, it is also a global power metropolis, exerting significant influence on commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. As home of the United Nations Headquarters, New York is also a center for international diplomacy, and with its many famous museums and theaters, as well as the Broadway theater district, it has been described as the cultural center of the world.
New York City consists of five boroughs, each of which is also a county. The five boroughs, namely The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, were consolidated into a single city in 1898, each offering its own unique flavor and feel and providing tourist attractions all its own. With a 2012 population of over eight million distributed over just 303 square miles, New York is the most densely populated major city in the United States. It is also one of the country’s most international cities, with as many as 800 languages spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world, and the most culturally diverse, with ethnic enclave neighborhoods such as Little Italy and Chinatown providing a unique mix of sights, sounds, and tastes just waiting to be explored. And as far as these tastes go, one can find an endless variety of ethnic and non-ethnic cuisine to suit any palate or price.
Many districts and landmarks in New York City have become well known to its roughly 50 million annual visitors. These include Times Square, with its larger than life billboards, LEDs, and neon signs; it is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway theater district, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world’s entertainment industry. As such, it is not to be missed. While there, be sure to check out the revolving Broadway Lounge at the Marriott Marquis for 360-degree views of the city. Then, of course, there is the famed New York City skyline, with its renowned bridges, skyscrapers, and parks. Popular destinations include tours of the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the pedestrian walkway above the Brooklyn Bridge, where New York natives and visitors alike regularly walk, jog, bike, or saunter with their pets. The Staten Island Ferry, a free transportation ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan, is a popular tourist attraction of itself, as it provides unrivaled views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and lower Manhattan. Wall Street, which anchors New York City’s financial district, has been called the world’s leading financial center, and is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the world’s largest stock exchange, making it another popular draw. Other popular attractions include Broadway and off-Broadway theater productions; art museums such as the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the American Museum of Natural History; Central Park and Washington Square Park; Rockefeller Center; and yearly events such as the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and the Tribeca Film Festival.
Shoppers will be happy to hear that New York is a shopping mecca, with the 34th street area from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue catering to almost all budgets, from high-end luxury merchandise to discount stores.
Tourist destinations outside Manhattan include the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island, and the New York Botanical Garden. And the best part of all, thanks to New York City’s spectacularly efficient public transportation system, all of these attractions are just a short bus, cab, or subway ride away.