Head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art just before it closes and go straight up to the rooftop; when we went there was a bar on the rooftop and we had a glass of wine and watched the sun go down over the city - the views are amazing.
Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park
A hip New York restaurant serving delicious Asian-Latin fusion food. The dishes are made for sharing, which allows you to try a few things. The staff are brilliant and are happy to make suggestions that will suit your dietary requirements, etc. Finally, the decor is great and the atmosphere electric.
Morgan's Hotel, 237 Madison Avenue, New York; chinagrillmanagement.com/adecNY/index.htm
For the real American experience, I highly recommend going to watch a basketball game at Madison Square Garden. To feel like a New Yorker, go to a college game where there are typical Americans all around. I got the full atmosphere by eating a super American hot dog, tasty pretzel and a small (which to us is large!) coke! This really is the place to be and I really had a feel for the American lifestyle, free from tourists and full of life.
Madison Square Garden, 4 Penn Plaza, above 34th Street/Penn station. Tel: 212/465-6741
Visit this museum after Ellis Island and continue in the steps of the immigrants after finally making it onto American soil. The museum is an unrestored tenement building with authentic furnishings and the guided tour gives a fascinating glimpse of the life and hardships faced by the first immigrants. A real treasure of a place.
97 Orchard Street (Delancy Street) www.tenement.org/
If you want to do something totally free and absolutely amazing, take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. You walk on a special walkway above the traffic, which is speeding by underneath you, you have brilliant views of New York and it's all for free.
A cluster of parking lots in downtown NYC are transformed on a Sunday to a giant outdoor antiques market, full of trash and treasure and people-watching opportunities.
I got an amazing silver necklace for $25 a few years ago, and there's always a few oddments that are good for people back home who hate tacky souvenirs but expect a gift.
Look for the tourist leaflets - the markets are clustered around 20-something street.
Ignore the statue of liberty with massive queues in summer and go straight to ellis island. Wait for the free guided tour by uniformed park rangers. Apart from the moving stories of poor emigrants from all over the world, it provides a fascinating insight into 19th century immigration practices in USA.
The orgasm scene from "When Harry Met Sally" put this place on the map, but a feature spot in a movie with one of the best punch lines in years is not a prerequisite to this deli's fame. Katz's Deli has the goods! An army of staff slice cold cuts - the sandwiches are best described as "filling with a little bread", so jam-packed are they with one's chosen meat. The cheesecake is justifiably renowned. Once refreshments have been taken, the walls beckon. Photos of Clinton, Depp, Ed Harris, Stephanopoulos, to mention but a few, hang as proof of famous clientele, the proprietor in every one like a real-life Wally from "Where's Wally?" fame. If you want to sit where Meg Ryan ahhh'ed and table-slapped her way through her famous fake "buzz", it's marked with an arrow! (Francesca, Crete)
205 E Houston Street, (at Ludlow Street), New York City, NY 10002-1017
However cheap these may appear at the prevailing exchange rate, you should be aware that UK Customs will be expecting you to declare the item on arrival: if you do so, the additional tax and duty will most likely cancel out your "bargain". On the other hand, if you try to smuggle one in, not only will you will have to pay the tax and duty but a stiff fine as well (and you won't be getting out of Arrivals any time soon, either !).
Enjoy feeling part of the New York scene, especially early evening on a weekday, overlooking the beautifully elegant concourse of Grand Central Station and watching the world go by. Ideal for people watchers!
Grand Central Station - on the balcony. Not sure of the name - Metrazour??
A minibus service with a desk in the airport to and from central points in Manhattan and also right to your hotel as long as it is reasonably central. You pay a very reasonable fixed price and share your transport with others of course - also an interesting way of getting a little tour of the city as you drop off fellow passengers. As a lone female unaccustomed to independant travel in the US and worried about dealing with a yellow cab driver, this was a godsend for me! Ideal for individuals, but obviously not for anybody who is in a hurry!
JFK Airport Arrivals
Fantastic restaurant, where we had our best, and possibly priciest, meal ever. The highlight was the Sea Urchin Mille Feuille. Lovely, comfortable rooms with attentive but not intrusive staff. We booked by e-mail from the UK.
42 East 20th Street www.gramercytavern.com (212)477-0777
I'm here to represent the proverbial little guy among the world-renowned parks and buildings of Manhattan. A 20-block walk from Grand Central is the Gershwin Hotel, a building that whip-lashes the eye on first alight. There's nothing pedestrian about this place, so prepare for an image-overload fest of artwork and photographic portraits, harking back to Studio 54 days. With its funky front - killer red with iluminated fibre-glass and metal protrusions - it's difficult to miss. Warhol is a bit of a deity here, and his work is definitely "home" within its walls. I stayed in a 6-bunk room with shared bathroom which set me back 30 happily-spent dollars for clean, basic accommodation and genuinely-friendly service. The price range does jump considerably for private and suite accommodation, but that's what makes the place even more unique to my mind. For couples on a budget, unisex bunks are also on offer.
East 27th/7th, off 5th Avenue
Make sure you're really hungry before descending on this notable deli. Although the menu is like any other in NYC, the pastrami on rye is the thing to have, but be prepared for what looks like an Empire State Building of delectable beef arriving at your table. Sensible option is to share one, but veggies will need to look elsewhere, I'm afraid. Leo Steiner perfected the pastrami which is still made to the same recipe. Forget those measly strips you buy in UK supermarkets! If you still have room try the cheesecake.
It's a 24-hour hot dog and fruit juice joint that is something of a legend. It's cheap - the special is one juicy hot dog with a fruit drink for $1.45, or a single frank for 75 cents - and fast making it the ideal fuel during a pit stop while touring the nearby bars.
2090 Broadway at 71st Street
Watch the world go by and, if you have the courage, challenge for a game of chess. It is a chilled out park and people watching is the best pastime here. New Yorkers in a nutshell. After spending hours being nosey head down to John's Pizza on Bleeker Street (five minutes away).
When I went to NY I was visiting my partner and all his colleagues said this was the best pizza to be had. I enjoyed it (held to Sicily making the best pizzas but hey-ho) but definitely was part of the NY experience. Gets very busy so be prepared.
MacDougal Street and then a walk down Bleeker Street for dinner.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com