If you travel all the way to New York City but don’t see __________, you’ll never live it down. We could fill in that blank with any number of iconic, must-see landmarks; this historic yet modern city is full of them.
Standing proudly at her perch over New York Harbor, Lady Liberty is a sight to behold. A ride on Circle Line’s 75-minute Liberty Cruise gives you the best photo ops from the water, while Statue Cruises’ ferries from Battery Park or Liberty State Park in New Jersey take you straight to the island, where you can actually go inside the statue. (Reservations are required to enter the Statue of Liberty and a limited number of people are allowed in each day. Book in advance if you’ve got your heart set on getting under Lady Liberty’s skirts).
Located next to Liberty Island in New York Harbor is the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, one of the most popular monuments in the country. Once the nation’s busiest immigration inspection station, Ellis Island now serves as a monument to America’s history of immigration, and a resource for people researching their own family trees. Statue Cruises also provides ferry service to Ellis Island.
New York’s skyline would be nothing without the city’s impressive skyscrapers. One of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the Empire State Building is the tallest building in New York City and a beautiful sight when it’s lit up at night (in different colors to commemorate various occasions). Take the elevator to the 86th-floor observation deck, for stunning views of the city. Pay a little extra for the Express Pass, and skip the lines — which are also world-class.
Two other Art Deco-era masterpieces that you don’t want to miss are the Chrysler Building, located on 42nd Street at Lexington, and Rockefeller Center, a sprawling complex in the heart of Midtown Manhattan that features some of the finest examples of Modern American art. While you’ll have to enjoy the amazing exterior of the Chrysler Building (it’s not open to the public), there are several ways to see Rockefeller Center up close. Book a tour with one of their expert guides to learn more about the frescoes and friezes that decorate the historic buildings. Or go straight to the Top of the Rock, for bird’s eye views of Midtown Manhattan and Central Park.
Just steps from Rockefeller Center are a number of other sights you won’t want to miss. The awe-inspiring St. Patrick’s Cathedral may make a believer out of you (at least in the beauty of neo-Gothic architecture), while Radio City Music Hall, home to the world-famous Rockettes, is another of the city’s great examples of Art Deco design. Book the Stage Door Tour to learn the secrets of the stage that brings the Christmas Spectacular to life every holiday season.
There are a number of bridges that connect the island of Manhattan to the other boroughs (and New Jersey), but without argument, the most iconic would have to be the Brooklyn Bridge. You can walk it (starting out near City Hall in Lower Manhattan), bike it (Bike and Roll offers rentals in nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park), or drive it. Both the Brooklyn TV & Movie Sites Tour and Gray Line’s 72-hour, All-loops Tour take you across the Brooklyn Bridge.
If your feet are already tired just reading this, remember all these sights can also be seen from the top of one of Citysights NY’s double-decker tour buses. Gray Line also offers an Uptown Loop (where you’ll see the Guggenheim, the Apollo Theater, Central Park and Lincoln Center), a Downtown Loop (to see Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, and the World Trade Center Site, Chinatown and Little Italy).
Whether you see these iconic landmarks on foot, from the water, or up high, just make sure you have plenty of room on your memory card; you won’t want to forget ________.