New York City Highlights Tour: Top Manhattan Attractions by Bus or Foot and Subway
A 3-6 hour tour, which can include the following sites, depending on length of tour: Central Park & Strawberry Fields, The Dakota Apartments, Lincoln Center, the American Museum of Natural History, Uptown & Harlem, The Apollo Theater, Museum Mile, posh stores of Fifth Avenue, The Plaza Hotel, Trump Tower & Tiffany’s, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick’s Cathedral, Times Square, the Empire State Building, Madison Square Park, the famous Flatiron Building, quaint Greenwich Village, SoHo’s shopping mecca, bargains on Canal Street, Chinatown & Little Italy, TriBeCa, Foley Square’s Courthouses, City Hall, the majestic Brooklyn Bridge, St Paul’s Chapel (the 9/11 “Little Chapel that Stood,”) Trinity Church, Wall St and the Charging Bull sculpture, Battery Park, the 9/11 Memorial & the World Trade Center Site, over the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn and Fulton Ferry Landing with stunning views of the NYC skyline.
Where to Start?
A lot of visitors come to New York and are simply agog at the tall buildings and fast-paced hustle and bustle. That’s why we often start with a step back into a place that was built primarily to give citizens relief from the mean city streets. Central Park: An oasis in the heart of the metropolis. A bucolic respite from the mile-a-minute bustle of Gotham’s sprawl, complete with winding paths, rolling hills, fountains, lakes, ponds, athletic fields, even an open-air theater; Central Park truly is the urban miracle that brought a gruff business town like New York into the stature of a world-class city.
Saks Fifth Avenue: Just your average seven-story luxury department store
OK, you’ve had enough fresh air and maybe your ready to ditch those chirping birds for honking horns. It’s time to turn this stroll in the park into a strut down 5th Avenue. Known as the shopping mecca of the world, 5th Avenue has some of the most famous stores in the world. The Apple Store here is the only one on the planet that runs 24/7 and when it opened it was the 3rd most photographed location in the city. It was up there with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island! Continue down to glimpse into the window displays of Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany’s and Abercrombie and Fitch—but watch out ladies, the display at that last one is interactive: shirtless male models greet you at the door!
The next stop is at Rockefeller Center, known for Radio City Music Hall, NBC Studios and Top of the Rock, an observation deck that rivals the Empire State Building. John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in history, worth $3 trillion if he was alive today! But this complex wasn’t his idea: the Metropolitan Opera House came to him with a plan to surround their new home with offices, shops and restaurants and he basically said “Why not?” But that was 1929…when the stock market crashed the Met went bankrupt. They backed out of their $300,000 a year lease and what was John to do? He built it anyway: he hired 80,000 Americans from caost to coast—from the steel workers in the heartland to the Montauk Indians climbing 70 stories above the ground laying those steel beams! And when it was done he had the world’s largest privately owned shopping center.
Times Square: Friendlier than ever!
Time to step up into the Crossroads of the World: Times Square! This is where the ball drops every year on New Years Eve, but the first celebration that took place in 1904 had a fireworks display instead. The city put on a beautiful, exciting, explosive celebration, but when they realized that they were in danger of burning down the whole city, they thought to do something a little safer: move a lead ball really slowly down a pole. Today, the Times Square ball is made of Swarovski crystals, and the district contains the most dazzling advertising displays and attractions like the M&M Store, a Toys R Us with a Ferris wheel inside and the home of Good Morning America at ABC Studios.
A quick drive or a single subway stop away is Grand Central Terminal. Step inside the busiest train station in the world and gaze up at the astronomical mural on the ceiling where artists painstakingly painted the constellations—backwards! See, when the Vanderbilt family commissioned a blueprint for this mural, the artist completed it thinking that the architects would hold it up above their heads. Instead they got to work by placing it down on a drafting table! But some say that it simply makes us feel like gods looking down on Earth from such a heavenly palace.
No wonder the architecture in this area went up in a movement called “City Beautiful”
It’s only a hop, skip and a jump down to Madison Square Park to view some of the most beautiful skyscrapers in existence. Feast your eyes on the Flatiron Building, one of the first skyscrapers in the world. Turn-of-the-century New Yorkers were terrified that strong gusts of wind would knock down this unusually shaped building. Right across the park is the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower and the New York Life Building, which was once the site of Madison Square Garden. The first MSG is was the site of the “Crime of the Century”—philandering architect Stanford White was shot in head while sitting at his rooftop garden table by jealous husband and eccentric railroad scion Harry K. Thaw!
Moving on downtown to Greenwich Village you’ll get the feel like maybe you’re no longer in a massive maddening city but a calmer quainter part of town. The Village has always had a different feel to it, with shorter buildings, streets cutting in at 45-degree angles and cute little triangular parks. This neighborhood has been home to a lot of quirky characters like Edgar Allen Poe, Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan. It’s also home to New York University, the largest private university in the country with 50,000 students and a stunning campus to match.
It wouldn’t be a visit to New York without peeking at some ethnic neighborhoods: Chinatown and Little Italy give a glimpse of a different kind of life with exotic foods, foreign languages and fascinating cultures. Stop in at Columbus Park for some Mah-Jong, Chinese opera and tasty dumplings or walk down Mulberry Street for fine Italian cuisine and inexpensive souvenir shopping!
Hope you’ve got time to see the view from Brooklyn!
Finally we have Lower Manhattan, which is perhaps the densest area for sightseeing in New York City. City Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Woolworth Building, Wall Street, the World Trade Center Site, Battery Park, and the Statue of Liberty are all a short walk or drive away from each other in perhaps the most culturally and historically exciting place in the world! But don’t forget a quick trip over the Manhattan Bridge to see it all from Brooklyn—a truly unforgettable vantage point. With so much to see and do, what are you waiting for? Book your Levys’ Unique New York Tour now!!!
NYC Tour guides Gideon and Matt Levy in NYC
New York Tour guide Matt Apter talking about 9/11 at the World Trade Center Site
Tour the Brooklyn Bridge with Levy's Unique NY
Mark at the World Trade Center Site
Tour Guides with Gary, the Mayor of Strawberry Fields
Jonah at the Federal Hall Nat'l Monument, Lower Manhattan