Cooperstown is a picture perfect small town in upstate New York. A world away from Manhattan but only a couple of hours by car. Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame - you don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy the displays. The main street is like something from a Norman Rockwell painting, especially in the fall (autumn) with the leaves turning orange, red and gold and pumpkins in front of the clapboard houses. Other nearby attractions include Glimmerlgass, with its summer music festival, and the Fenimore Art Museum, for American folk and decorative art.
There's not really anything glamorous about Staten Island. It's NYC's bastard borough. But the Staten Island ferry that ushers 60,000 people to and from Manhattan every day offers a beautiful view of the city. And it's free! The ride starts at Whitehall Terminal in downtown Manhattan (take the R, W, or 1 train to Whitehall Street-South Ferry) and then drops you off at St. George Terminal in Staten Island. I'm not recommending you hang out in Staten Island. It's residential and can be hard to navigate on foot. Get off the ferry and board the next one to Manhattan. You can take in the views and even sip wine or beer while you do it. Just don't end up overboard.
1 Bay Street, Staten Island, New York, United States
Google map: bit.ly/pK9ZFp
Amanda is our Been there local for New York. You can check out her page here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/new-york-local-amanda-green.jsp and her own NYC blog here: www.noisiestpassenger.com/
The High Line, an elevated park made from an old freight railway, has been a popular place for sunbathing and people watching since it opened in June 2009. Section 2 of the park opened last week, expanding the park by 10 blocks. The park runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 30th Street, with stair or elevator entrances every two or three blocks. The High Line's open from 7-11 throughout the summer. I'd suggest arriving early with a camera, a blanket, and sunscreen. Leave your bike, rollerblades, or skateboard behind, as they're prohibited.
Birdland Jazz Club in Midtown New York has been described as 'close to perfection' by the NY Times, and is a hallowed venue for all serious fans of jazz. Named in honour of Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker himself, Birdland has showcased all the greats since the original club opened in 1949. The intimate, timeless ambience oozes New York cool, and you don't need to be a jazz aficionado to enjoy the experience. You can book online before you go - and I would recommend the centre seating. There are small lamplit tables close to the stage and tiered tables further back, or you can choose to sit at the bar. If you want dinner, there is an extensive American menu with a Cajun twist.
Coney Island at the southernmost part of Brooklyn was once a happening place for vacationers or any New Yorker who wanted to ditch the concrete and head for the beach. The neighborhood's steadily decayed since World War II. Many people now know the area as the setting of the film Requiem for a Dream. (I promise not everyone in Coney Island has a drug addiction.) The famous Astroland amusement park was shuttered in 2008 and re-opened last year as Luna Park. Now the landmark rides - including The Cyclone, one of the oldest wooden roller coasters still operating in the U.S. - are back in business. The crowds come in June and July, but if you go now, you'll have all those game machines, mechanized thrills, and carnies to yourself.
The CityPass is a booklet of vouchers you can buy in advance of your trip to NYC which gets you into a number of tourist hot-spots for a discounted price.
To make it worth its money, you do need to try and use most of the vouchers and I would say that you need at least four days in NYC to allow yourself enough time to do so.
The vouchers get you entry to:
The top of the Rock or the Guggenheim
Empire State Building
Statue of Liberty or Cruise around NYC.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Natural History Museum
The Museum of Modern Art
I really enjoyed all the things apart from the cruise - it was utterly tedious after the first 15 minutes. I'd strongly advise anyone to go for the Statue of Liberty option instead.
The absolute best thing about the pass was that it constantly allowed us to jump the often very long queues of people and get priority access. This was absolutely fantastic and saved us so much time.
Small museum that for a suggested 99 cents donation displays and contextualises wonderful remnants of Coney Island's colourful past including vintage bumper cars, funhouse mirrors and photos of the sideshow folk who once worked there. Also houses temporary exhibitions. Highly recommended to those with a taste for oddball Americana. Note that it's only open at weekends.
New York's oldest building that is still in continuous use dating from 1766. Amazing when you think it is right in middle of the financial district, surrounded by skyscrapers.
Since it was only across the road from the Twin Towers, this chapel was used by the rescue workers as a place of respite. A lot of displays relate to the 9/11 period and are moving reminders of what happened that day. This was the church on whose railings people pinned photos of loved ones missing in the days following the terrorist attack.
While Grand Central station is a must see in itself there is quite a quirky feature that people should experience.
The archway outside the Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant creates a neat trick with sound. Simply stand in one corner of arch and whisper something into the wall. A friend who is standing diagonally across from you in the other corner will hear you as if you were standing next to them.
Largest Catholic church in the US.
Perfect to get away from the hustle and bustle of 5th Avenue. Seen famous funerals in past such as Robert Kennedy's.
We walked from the north side of Central Park up Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem to the Lenox Lounge. It's a famous Harlem jazz bar and club where the likes of Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and John Coltrane plied their trade.
Malcolm X worked here before he found religion.
More recently this place has featured in movies such as Malcolm X (obviously) and American Gangster.
288 Malcolm X Boulevard (between 124th and 125th streets)
New York, NY 10027-4921, United States
The museum's name speaks for itself I think. Basically it's guided small tours around re-created tenement rooms. Really worth a visit. If you've been to the Dennis Severs house in London you'll get the idea.
The Greenporter is an old-style US motel, just two hours from central Manhattan. The difference with this motel is that the central parking lot has been replaced by a beautiful swimming pool and hot tub (complimentary towels and loungers) and this motel has fine dining in the shape of La Cuvee Bar and Bistro, which offers locally-sourced food and a selection from the local Long Island vineyards (wine tours available).
Greenport, a historic seaport on the North Fork of Long Island, provides an excellent contrast to the hustle and bustle of NYC. You can drive (or better, hire a bike from Bike Stop on Front Street) and take the short ferry to Shelter Island, home to deer and secluded bays, then another short ferry to Sag Harbor on the South Fork, with its artsy shops and eateries.
Two minutes walk from the station or the bus station (the 'Hampton Jitney' takes you from Penn Station in air-conditioned comfort, with charming hostesses who provide complimentary drinks and snacks). Ample parking by the motel too.
326 Front Street
Greenport, NY 11944
phone: (631) 477-0066
fax: (631) 477-2317
Head to Russ & Daughters (179 E. Houston St) for a true taste of New York. This historical deli, which specialises in bagels, cream cheese, caviar, smoked salmon and pickled herring, was opened on the Lower East Side by Jewish immigrants 95 years ago and it’s been in the Russ family ever since. It’s a downtown institution with the feel of a friendly, family-run, neighbourhood deli.
Be sure to try the Schmear (a made on site bagel with a choice of cream cheeses – I recommend the chive), for around $2.50, or the Classic (smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel – voted the best bagel in NYC by New York Magazine, and deservedly so), which is around $8-$9 and wash them down with deli favourites – a cup of cwawffee, a New York egg cream or a Dr Brown’s soda.
179 East Houston Street, New York, NY 10002
T (212) 475.4880
The Rockefeller Centre is an extraordinary and wonderful place to visit. Built in the mid-1930's it is a pure example of Art Deco architecture, both inside and out, right down to the smallest details of its interior, such as light fittings and switches.
Go early (or book online) and go to The Top of the Rock, the viewing area on the roof of the building, which is reached by high-speed but not frightening lifts. At the top you'll have a panoramic view of all of New York and as far as the Atlantic Ocean in clear weather.
It's not quite as high as the Empire State Building but that's included in the view from the Rock, so no problem. There is a charge for entry but it's well worth it.
This is the place where Dylan Thomas claimed to have had 18 straight whiskies before passing out and being taken to nearby St Vincent's Hospital where he died.
The tavern is pleasingly modest and practical in appearance, the staff are friendly, there is a wide range of drinks and the legend of the gifted but wayward Thomas is not rammed down your throat.
567 Hudson Street at 11th Street, Greenwich Village. Subway to Washington Square and walk from there.
New York's Greenwich Village has an international reputation as the city location where many artists and writers lived and worked from the middle of the Nineteenth century onward, through to modern times. Yet, paradoxically, while the United States celebrates many of its historical sites, parts of the Village remain shabby and run-down in appearance.
The traffic races through its main thoroughfares, while the quiet back streets are disfigured with garbage bins or heaps of building materials. The romance and associations of the place struggle against this neglect. It is still well worth a visit, however, and it may be that in time discreet improvements will be made by the city authorities: improvements which retain the battered elegance of the place but recognise its significance in the history of American art and literature.
Subway to West 4th Street, Washington Square
I checked out a baseball match at Shea Stadium (Queens/Flushing). Home of the Mets, the stadium is due for demolition next year when they move to the Citi field being built next door. It was a good occasion although I know next to nothing about baseball!
The tickets we brought were $39, and it wasn’t a bad view. There are $25 tickets much further back in the stands.
Only a short 30 minute train ride from Grand Central station, Wave Hill is the best place to unwind from the hectic pace of Manhattan. A beautiful historic landscaped garden, with unparalleled views of the George Washington bridge and the Palisades by the Hudson River - the magic of these gardens will whisk away any stress you may have.
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