This is a Guest Post by Katherine Harper.
Skyscrapers, traffic, noise, and confusion. New York City is not your typical island. But people don’t go to New York for the fruity drinks and beach umbrellas. New York is for getting lost in a sea of strange faces and then finding yourself perfectly at home in a small bookstore or cozy café. It’s multiculturalism at its best: foreign fashions, international cuisine, and curious customs all renting space side-by-side. Manhattan, being an island, offers a terrific concentration of culture within its borders. There are hundreds of tour offerings, attesting to how very much there is to see.
The Hudson River forms Manhattan’s western border just as the East River does on the opposite side of town. Henry Hudson of the Dutch East India Company initially mapped present-day New York City, and the megalopolis as we know it grew north from its first settlement at the southern tip of the island.
Manhattan sits among several neighboring islands (Ellis Island, Liberty Island, Randall’s Island, Roosevelt Island) and has direct access to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge provides a fantastic (and free!) way to both view the city from a distance and also be a part of its awe-inspiring presence.
Seen from the water, Manhattan is breathtaking. Some choose the Circle Line or Staten Island Ferry while others with more flexible budgets choose to charter a yacht to take in the cityscape from a distance. The experience is memorable regardless of one’s choice of water craft.
Addresses in Manhattan are generally grouped as being Downtown, Midtown, or Uptown. 5th Avenue runs up the middle, dividing the island between east and west. The center of New York City is home to Central Park, which affords some respite from the buildings with over 800 acres of greenery. Central Park contains lakes and playgrounds, a zoo and conservatory, two skating rinks, and pedestrian friendly paths for walking, jogging, or biking. Speaking of pedestrian friendly, consider hoofin’ it. It’s the best way to see the city’s nooks and crannies and there are free guided walking tours available.
There are many distinct neighborhoods in Manhattan with quirks all their own. The muddled streets of Greenwich Village, trendy hangouts in TriBeCa, revitalized tenements of the Lower East Side, and notorious past of Hell’s Kitchen all help keep New York City diversified. One such area, Chelsea, is known for its art scene, and the Chelsea Piers also serve as a reminder that you are on a working waterfront.
The Chelsea Pier complex overlooks the Hudson and hosts a golf range, fitness center, spa, bowling alley, and microbrewery. The High Line (raised pedestrian walkway) runs through Chelsea, and you can make a quick stop in the Chelsea Market if you work up an appetite. As you might guess, you will also see boats docked here as New York City Boat Charter operates out of Chelsea Pier.
What is your favorite mode of transportation? Would you rather drive your car through Lincoln Tunnel or take a private helicopter directly onto a city rooftop? My personal preference is to sail into New York just as the sun is coming up. The view is spectacular, and you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in style. North Cove Marina in the Financial District and Marina Rinaldi on the eastside both accommodate private boats.
The commercial aspects of New York City are synonymous with its fast pace, but you can definitely find ways to take it slowly and enjoy quiet moments. Step inside the public library or one of the many museums if you need a break from the cacophony. Otherwise, step right up, buy your ticket, and get ready to be thoroughly entertained!
[Katherine Harper is a guest blogger and frequent traveler, visiting New York City often as so much changes in the city that never sleeps. And when in Manhattan, neither does she.]