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The World Trade Center’s twin 110-story towers once dominated the Manhattan skyline but were destroyed by suicide-piloted jetliners on September 11, 2001, with a tragic loss of life. Where the two towers of the World Trade Center once stood, now stand two square reflecting pools, each one acre in size. Known as the National September 11 Memorial, the area is a moving tribute to the almost 3,000 people killed as a result of attacks on September 11, 2001 and also the six people killed in the earlier World Trade Center bombing in February, 1993.
Surrounded by trees and grass, the pools are recessed, with water cascading over the sides and flowing into a seemingly bottomless square. These are the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. Around the pools are bronze panels with the names of all those who were killed in the attacks.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located in an awesome, curving glass building, between the two pools. It features displays that include artifacts, photos, and videos, presenting the story of 9/11, as well as the aftermath and impacts. The building is constructed around the remnants of the World Trade Center and incorporates the old structures within the extraordinary new museum building.
Attending a Broadway show is one of the top things to do in New York City. Considered the pinnacle of American theater, this is the place to see the latest shows and the long-running classics. Broadway usually refers simply to Broadway theater, which encompasses a large number of theater venues in the Theater District and along the street of Broadway. For the most popular shows, tickets should be purchased well in advance.
Shubert Alley is a famous pedestrian-only alley in the Theater District and home to two well-known playhouses: the Shubert on 221 West 44th Street and the Booth at 22 West 45th Street. Historically, aspiring actors would frequent Shubert Alley looking for opportunities to perform in a play sponsored by theater baron, Sam S. Shubert.
A Chorus Line played at The Shubert for a record 6,137 shows. The musical Oklahoma debuted in 1941 at the St. James playhouse just down the street. Other legendary places include Sardi’s restaurant, where many famous actors met, and the Music Box Theater, where Irving Berlin staged The Music Box Revue in 1921.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met, as it is commonly known, was founded in 1870, and is one of the most famous museums in the United States. The permanent collection of The Met contains more than two million works of art, spanning a period of 5,000 years.
Although the museum has three sites, the centerpiece is The Met Fifth Avenue. Highlights of the collection include American decorative arts, arms and armor, costumes, Egyptian art, musical instruments, photographs, and much more. Exhibitions bring some of the world’s most famous works to the public. If you are serious about your visit to the Met, consider a VIP: Empty Met Tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and see this incredible museum with just 25 people before it opens to the general public in the morning.
The Met Cloisters, located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan, is another extremely popular New York museum. This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, housed in an outstanding structure, built around medieval cloisters, chapels, and halls, focuses on the medieval art and architecture of Europe.
When it comes to New York attractions, Rockefeller Center is on almost all tourist’s itineraries. This vast entertainment and shopping complex in the middle of Manhattan is home to NBC-TV and other media, but the centerpiece is the 70-story 30 Rockefeller Plaza, an Art Deco skyscraper that offers awesome views over Manhattan from the famous Top of the Rock Observation Deck.
The “deck,” as it’s known, includes three floors, located on the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors. Indoor and outdoor viewing spaces offer spectacular views by day or night. You can buy a Top of the Rock Observation Deck Ticket in advance. These tickets come with a flexible voucher redemption policy, so you can change the date if your plans change or the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Skating on the outdoor skating rink at the base of the tower is one of the most popular things to do in winter in New York City and a fun activity for families and couples. The rink is typically open from October to April.
After Thanksgiving, a huge Christmas tree is erected in front of the skating rink, lighting up the complex for the holiday season. Many people visit New York in December just to see this site.
A walk, peddle, or carriage ride through the crisscrossing pathways of Central Park is a must-do on anyone’s New York City itinerary. In winter, you can even lace up your skates and glide across Wollman Rink. This huge park in the city center, a half-mile wide and 2.5 miles long, is one of the things that makes New York such a beautiful and livable city.
Besides being a great place to experience a little nature, Central Park has many attractions within its borders, and most of them are free, making it one of the few cheap things to do in NYC. Some of the most popular places to visit include the Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, the Central Park Zoo, and the Lake. If you are exploring the park on your own, start by picking up a map at one of the visitor centers and plot your routing.
The Statue of Liberty was France’s gift to America. Built in 1886, it remains a famous world symbol of freedom and one of the greatest American icons. It is one of the world’s largest statues, standing just under 152 feet tall from the base to the torch, and weighing approximately 450,000 pounds.
You can see the statue from land, with particularly good views from Battery Park, on the southern tip of Manhattan. However, to truly appreciate the Statue of Liberty, the best thing to do is to take a short boat trip to Liberty Island and see it up close. You can walk around the base, enter the pedestal, or, with advance reservations, go right up to the crown.
On a tour to the Statue of Liberty, you have the option to stop at Ellis Island and explore the Immigration Museum. This fantastic museum is located in the historic immigration station complex, where thousands of immigrants were processed before entering the United States. Displays focus on the process, the experiences, and the stories of the people who came through here on their journey to the United States. You can even search the on-site computer database to see a record of immigrants who came through here.
Tickets to go inside the statue sell out. Pre-purchasing tickets is a must during the high season and a good idea at any time of year. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided Tour is a four-hour trip that takes you to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This tour allows early reserve line access to board the ferry, and includes access to the Pedestal Museum and the Museum at Ellis Island.
Note: Buying tickets at the ferry can be tricky, with hawkers claiming to be “official representatives” trying to sell you more expensive tickets before you can find the ticket booth.