Stepping out in New York is like stepping onto your very own film set. And it’s the Statue of Liberty that takes the starring role. An iconic emblem of the United States, the famous mint green statue holding a torch with glistening gold flames dominates Upper New York Bay. You can even stand at the very foot of the statue after taking the scenic boat ride to Liberty Island.
Although when you wander the glitzy streets of Manhattan you’ll soon recognise that everything in New York is played out on a grand scale. Look up and admire the Art Deco styling of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, both created with clean, straight lines, marble adorned interiors and perfectly symmetrical patterns. From below, the Empire State Building’s rows of glistening black windows seem endless, but from above, you’ll see the endless tiered towers of the city in all its 3D depth.
In fact, New York seems to specialise in great views, as you’ll note at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at the Rockefeller Centre. It stretches right the way round its 70th floor, giving you a unique 360° panoramic – a sight that’s especially alluring at night when the skyscraper windows shimmer like stars in the darkness.
But even if you haven’t got a head for heights, sights like the Brooklyn Bridge give you plenty of picture perfect scenes. You can choose to walk or drive across this great suspension bridge that has featured in films as diverse as Godzilla, I Am Legend and of course, Gangs of New York! However, we’d really recommend walking so you can really get up close to the web-like criss-crossed cables that make up the bridge’s suspension.
Your sense of wonder also continues indoors at the city’s many galleries and museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a simply staggering 2 million works, spanning from ancient Egyptian figurines to the paint splatters of Jackson Pollock.
After endless exciting scenes in New York, you should make sure you visit Central Park before the credits roll. This 850-acre park is the evergreen heart of the city amidst the glass and metal of Manhattan. Peaceful pathway strolls here take in bottle-green lakes, storybook castles and the famous gleaming bronze Alice in Wonderland sculpture. It’s a beautiful end to your own story of the city too.
New York really is the city that never sleeps, something that you’ll instantly notice at the neon-soaked intersection of the iconic Times Square. Known as ‘The Crossroads of the World’, huge glittering banners and adverts make this an attraction best experienced at night. Fun comes in the form of street entertainers, quirky museums and themed restaurants. It’s a celebration of all that’s bold and brash in America!
And if you’re really up for partying, visiting a concert in Madison Square Garden will make an even more memorable night out in New York. The most famous names in music have all played here, from the Rolling Stones to Britney Spears and Sir Elton John. Plus, as the home of the NHL’s New York Rangers and the NBA’s New York Knicks, you may even catch some classic American sporting action here too.
Following on from the Garden, you’ll find yourself wandering along Madison Avenue. This is the shopaholic’s street of choice, thanks to the flurry of international brands that have a presence here. Even window-shopping here is a blast, as the elaborately attired mannequins and vibrant tableaux that stare out at you through shiny glass grab your attention. Some of the sky-scraping business buildings here may seem oddly familiar too, as the street is one of the main settings for the famous Mad Men series.
Shopping gets even more serious at Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. All three of them are huge department stores with a rich history dating back to the 19th century. Stocking everything from fashion to food and electronics, they’re so big you could lose yourself for an entire day inside!
But then you’d run the risk of missing out on all the glitz and glamour of a Sex and the City Tour. If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love seeing the exact locations of where Charlotte worked, the bars that the girls used to drink at and the shop where Carrie bought all her shoes!
Despite being a big city destination, New York has a real focus on family fun. One of the best attractions to take the children along to is Coney Island, easily accessed by foot or car over the Brooklyn Bridge. Popular as a holiday spot for New Yorkers since the 1840s, the amusement park on the island has an authentic retro style, with big wheels, wooden rollercoasters and hot dog stands lining the boardwalk. There's also a glistening stretch of golden coastline here, transforming family city breaks into action-packed beach holidays.
Back in the centre of New York, close to Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History is a site of endless wonder for adults and children alike. There's an amazing 32 million specimens in the museum, with some of the best including a 31-ton meteorite, a full-scale Blue Whale model, and a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil skeleton. The dramatic dioramas that stage model animals in displays representing their natural habitats are also very exciting.
However, if you and your family would prefer to see live animals, the place to head is the Bronx Zoo. As the world's largest metropolitan zoo, you'll get up close to an incredible array of exotic wildlife, such as mountain gorillas, tigers, elephants and rhinos.
There's vibrant family fun to be found at the city's main shopping streets, 5th Avenue and Times Square too. Despite being the home of ultra-exclusive boutiques, 5th Avenue also manages to fit in FAO Schwarz, a huge toy shop where just walking around is as captivating as playing with the toys inside! Although you must make sure you jump on the giant keyboard made famous by Big, the 1980s Tom Hanks film. The international waxworks museum Madame Tussauds makes an appearance on Times Square, and alongside getting your photograph with over 200 famous figures, you can take a ride in its interactive 4D cinema. It puts you right in the middle of your own movie scene, just as family breaks to New York will.
One of the most enduring romantic images in New York is at that classic place for lover's goodbyes – the train station. The city's Grand Central Station is like no other in the world. Rather than dour industrial designs dominated by departure boards, the Grand Central Station transforms itself into an attraction with an open, airy concourse lit up in golden light. Stand hand in hand and gaze upwards at the majestic deep green ceiling with gilded astronomic figures, or marvel at the opalescent four-faced clock.
Although for a traditionally romantic scene, perhaps you'll prefer to cosy up on an elegant horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park. Decorated in an ornate old-world style, the carriage is a beautiful way to admire the park's leafy green oak trees, delicate fountains and the Victorian Belvedere Castle - fit for a fairytale romance.
With its tree-lined pathways and sepia-toned buildings, the 5th Avenue offers you one of the most heart-warming strolls in New York City. And of course you could always treat the loved one in your life at the designer boutiques that give the street its chic sense of style.
As the evening draws near, the dining delights of New York are laid out in front of you. Reflecting the city's distinctive diversity, you and your partner will find cuisines of every kind spread across the five boroughs. For authenticity, nothing beats sampling sweet char siu pork in Chinatown or a rich spaghetti and meatballs in Little Italy. But your holiday romance will be even more idyllic in Greenwich Village, a cluster of neat town houses and leafy streets that create the perfect setting for candlelit dinners for two.
Walk off your meal by wandering to the bright lights of Broadway. A street that's now synonymous with the world's best theatre, you'll enjoy shows ranging from kitsch musicals to artistic drama and comedy performances, all just moments from Greenwich Village to the west.
The New York City Subway is a surprisingly cheap and quick way to travel across the city's five bustling boroughs. The main attractions in Manhattan and Central Park are all well-served by routes A, B, C and D. Plus, you'll get a real taste of Big Apple, watching the native New Yorkers go about their daily business.
The Subway is a far faster way to get around than using the famous yellow taxicabs, but you should hop in one at least once just for the experience! Although in many instances, the most convenient way of travelling is to explore Manhattan on foot, plus you'll get to see how big those skyscrapers really are too.
The NHL season runs from October to April, so you'll have the chance to watch a New York Rangers ice-hockey game in November and December. All the action is played out in the Madison Square Garden, making the experience even more memorable.
Shopping in New York is a major attraction in itself, with many of the department stores stealing the limelight, especially when they launch their Christmas windows. Some of the best (and biggest) department stores to look out for include Barney's, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and Saks Fifth Avenue. But beyond the stores, the designer boutiques of Fifth Avenue and the international brands on Madison Avenue and Times Square give proof to New York's famous fashion reputation.
Food & Drink
One of the best places for fine dining is at the affluent, yet Bohemian, Greenwich Village area. But don't be afraid to buy cheap eats from the many food stands dotted along New York's streets. They often offer delicious treats like waffles, falafel, hot dogs and tacos for fantastic food on the go at low prices. Meanwhile, the bars in New York range from Latin salsa clubs to cosy Irish pubs and cosmopolitan cocktail bars, reflecting the city's huge diversity.