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New York holidays: the best of the Big Apple!

It’s the Big Apple, home to nine million people from 180 nations and the city that famously never sleeps. Visitors have long been captivated with things to do in New York for its cosmopolitanism, culture, high energy and to sample cuisines from across the world. 

Manhattan Island is just one of five boroughs making up the most thrilling city on earth. Its vast, iconic skyline, one of the most recognisable in the world, is dominated by the Empire State Building. 

A long, thin island nestled in a natural harbour between the Hudson and East Rivers, Manhattan is the city’s beating heart. And, if you’re visiting New York, most of the sights you’ll want to see are packed into this collection of eclectic neighbourhoods, incorporating places like SoHo and Greenwich Village. 

And the place will be so familiar from TV and movies that it’ll be like wandering round a permanent film set! Of course, some sights are must-sees, especially for the first-time visitor. These include the majestic Empire State Building, ferry rides to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis and Staten Islands, a stroll through Central Park, and the bright lights and 24-hour glitz of Times Square. 

Take in a Broadway show, call in at Radio City Music Hall, marvel at the Brooklyn Bridge, and get a crick in your neck as you gaze up at skyscrapers like the Rockefeller Center or the Chrysler Building. Make time for the vaulted architecture of Grand Central Station, and the imposing New York Public Library. 

You could easily spend a whole day in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum, and these are just two of the city’s most important galleries. Try to make time for at least a couple of hours in each. 

You could also venture out into some of the city’s outlying boroughs, like Queens or Brooklyn, which are just as packed with things to see and do as Manhattan. 

New York is also a great place to do tours giving you a fresh perspective on the place, from a literary-themed stroll round Greenwich Village to a spin around sites from Sex and the City, like the Magnolia Bakery and Carrie’s apartment in the Meatpacking District. There are autumn foliage, Christmas lights and shopping routes to choose from, as well as guided trips round the main sights. 

But you’ll also find it easy to get around on your own, thanks to the grid arrangement of streets and avenues running east to west and north to south respectively, with Fifth Avenue as Manhattan’s backbone. 

If your feet get weary, take the subway or hail one of the famous yellow cabs. New Yorkers take pride in knowing the best way to get everywhere, and will gladly give you directions and advise on subway lines or the best station to get out at. 

And it goes without saying that, from department stores like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s to designer outlets like Prada, to out-of-town malls, New York really is heaven on earth for anyone who loves shopping. 

While summer brings al fresco entertainment and July 4 celebrations, and New Yorkers head out of town at weekends, making the place feel less crowded, Christmas is magical, January and February are good times to get Broadway show tickets, and spring and autumn are also great times to experience the city. 

As you’d expect, there’s no end of visitor accommodation in New York. At the luxury end, the Gramercy Park Hotel on Lexington Avenue has a rich history going back to the 1920s, and it’s where Humphrey Bogart married first wife Helen Menken. 

There’s more world-famous luxury and history on offer at the 47-storey Waldorf Astoria, which has been on Park Avenue for over 80 years, and even has its own railway platform. It was also the first hotel to introduce room service. 

Built more recently but nearly as tall at 46 floors, the Crown Plaza Hotel has nearly 800 rooms and is the company’s flagship hotel, with extensive facilities and a superb midtown location in the Times Square area on Broadway between 48th and 49th streets. It’s perfect for getting back to after seeing a show. 

Another fabulously located base is the Hotel Metro, a stone’s throw from the Empire State and Macy’s. The Metro offers a daily complimentary continental breakfast, and you’ll love its rooftop terrace bar, art deco chic and great value. 

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