They don’t call it the "city that never sleeps" for nothing. New York City is so packed with culture, dining, history, and attractions that it is possible to spend a lifetime exploring it and not see everything. This Manhattan Travel Guide will try and make the task of exploring the Big Apple a little more manageable. To take your trip to new heights, choose vacation rentals and live like a local during your trip to Manhattan.
Explore Different Neighborhoods
There is so much more to Manhattan than midtown. This fact alone is a great reason to choose a vacation rental — it will put you in a local neighborhood instead of an impersonal, midtown hotel. Of course check out the Broadway theaters, museums, and Times Square while in midtown, but then make it a goal to venture to other areas of the island as well.
Every New York City travel guide will have suggestions for different neighborhoods. In one day it is possible to browse art galleries in Chelsea, follow in the footsteps of your favorite writers in the West Village, sample authentic Chinese cuisine in Chinatown, and go shopping in SoHo.
See the Major Sites
If this is one of your first trips to Manhattan, there are a few activities that should be at the top of your list. The Empire State Building is the highest point on the New York City skyline and gazing down at the city below hasn’t lost an ounce of its appeal. From the top, you can see the Statue of Liberty. This is another must-see attraction. Spend a day learning about emigrants to America by visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
No Manhattan travel guide would be complete without suggesting a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. Take the subway to the High Street stop in Brooklyn and stroll across the bridge back towards Manhattan. If you want even more gorgeous views, hop onboard the Circle Line boat tour to see Manhattan from all angles.
Family Fun in Manhattan
Not a single New York City travel guide would suggest leaving your kids at home for a trip to the Big Apple. This city is full of family friendly activities. Take a horse and buggy tour around Central Park, go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, or see the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History. New York is a great place to combine education and fun in a trip for your kids.
No family trip to New York would be complete without attending the theater. Get tickets for the latest musical and watch your kids’ faces light up. Other options for entertainment include tickets to sports events, the ballet, or IMAX movies.
Museum Mile and More Museums
No New York City travel guide would be complete without mentioning the incredible museums this city has to offer. As one of the culture centers of the world, it should come as no surprise that some of the best and most rare art is on display throughout Manhattan. Art fans won’t know where to begin: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, or the Guggenheim Museum.
Beyond art there are many other museums in New York as well. There’s the Museum of Sex, the only museum of its kind in the country. History buffs might want to check out the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. The Museum of Natural History has more than just the dinosaurs; there are also excellent exhibits on evolution and the solar system.
New York City Landmarks
New York rivals any other city in the country for its historical landmarks. One of the most striking is Grand Central Station, the historic train station with an impressive domed roof. Nearby is the New York Public Library and Bryant Park, an ideal place for an impromptu picnic.
Some New York City landmarks are parks or green spaces. Right next to the Flatiron Building is Madison Square Park where you can get a famous burger from Shake Shack. Central Park is home to Strawberry Fields and the Central Park Zoo. The High Line Park is a former elevated train track transformed into a public park with excellent views of the Hudson.
Shop Until You Drop in Manhattan
This city is the absolute pinnacle of shopping, whether you love a good bargain or the latest designer fashions. Even if you aren’t in the market to buy, a stroll along 5th avenue is worthwhile. Jewelry fanatics have been depending on Tiffany’s for decades while fashionistas have a hard time choosing a favorite department store between Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and Barneys.
These options are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to shopping in New York. Head downtown into SoHo to find unique boutiques next door to Emporio Armani and sample sales next to Theory. Discount shoppers won’t miss out on the chance to browse the racks of Century 21 or Loehmann’s.
Every Flavor of the World in Manhattan
The only thing more difficult than choosing from the incredible range of vacation rentals in Manhattan is choosing a restaurant. Some Manhattan travel guides are devoted solely to the many restaurants that can be found here. This city has earned and maintained a reputation of culinary excellence over the last several decades. The best of the best is here, from coal-oven pizza at Grimaldi’s to pastrami sandwiches at Katz’s Deli. A trip to Manhattan is also a chance to travel around the world. You can sample Korean barbecue in Little Korea, Italian pastries in Little Italy, and Brazilian cuisine in Little Brasil.
A quality Manhattan travel guide will highlight the benefits of visiting in every season. The cool days of the fall are ideal for exploring on foot and watching the leaves change colors in Central Park. Once winter arrives, so do the classic Christmas activities such as visiting the tree at Rockefeller Center or enjoying some ice skating.
Spring is the favorite season for many locals who are excited to get back outdoors after a few snowy, winter months. Rooftop bars open again, and it is possible to enjoy the green spaces of Manhattan from Washington Square Park to Union Square. While parts of summer can be hot, this is also a favorite season to visit New York.
Services are at their peak in Manhattan. Everything here is open 24 hours and available anytime you want it. Visitors will never be stuck for transportation, food, drinks, or ATMs. The subway operates 24 hours in Manhattan, with slower service on nights and weekends. Few places can guarantee the ability to meet your every whim, but whether it is Indian food at 2 a.m. or a comedy show at midnight, you can find it in Manhattan.
To fully prepare you for a visit, a New York City travel guide should include some insider tips. Before you arrive, spend some time looking at the subway map to familiarize yourself with the different routes and subway lines. As a result of traffic, subways can be often be easier and quicker than taking a taxi.
There is a wide range of annual events that many visitors don’t know about until they return home. No matter what time of year you’re visiting, check out annual events. From performances of Shakespeare in the Park or outdoor concerts in Central Park in the summer to food festivals, film festivals, and fashion shows every weekend, New York is packed with activities.
Just like Manhattan itself, your packing list can be varied. The first item should definitely be a comfortable pair of walking shoes. If your feet are sore you definitely won’t be able to explore as much as you would like. A bag with a strap that crosses the body will help you to feel safe. Beyond these practical items, New York is all about fun. Pack along a fancy outfit to wear to the opera, some athletic clothes for renting bikes in Central Park, and plenty of options for a night on the town at restaurants, bars, and clubs. If you’re traveling with kids, pack along a water bottle and be sure everyone has sunglasses.
Travel to New York is simple. Manhattan is served by three airports: JFK, La Guardia, and Newark. All airports are connected to Manhattan by trains, buses, or taxis. These airports receive hundreds of flights every day and reasonable fares can often be found. Rental cars are not recommended in New York; public transportation is excellent here and parking is a nightmare.
If you want to experience a local side of Manhattan, vacation rentals are the clear choice. Hotels are impersonal, lacking character, and are often in neighborhoods filled with offices. Get to know a more intimate side of Manhattan by reserving your own home away from home in the Big Apple.