Destination New York City
New York City is more than just a city, it’s an experience! People travel to the “Big Apple” from all over the world to take in the sights and sounds that are as American as, well, apple pie. From memorials to museums, from parks to plazas, NYC has it all, and with over 47 million visitors a year, the world comes to see it. Let us be your guide to some of the best known sites in the city and convince you to stay a few more days to enjoy some of the lesser known, as we take you throughout New York City and beyond.
All journeys need a starting point and it is hard to think of a better starting point in New York than Grand Central Terminal. Since 1871 Grand Central serves commuters traveling in and out of New York City and makes a perfect starting point for all of your adventures as it is a hub for public transportation. Besides being totally functional, Grand Central Terminal, also known as Grand Central Station, is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most visited tourist locations in the world with over 21.6 million visitors annually. From the station, the surrounding area—including nearby states and boroughs--are all accessible via affordable public transportation.
No visit to New York City could be complete without a stroll through Central Park. With 843 acres to explore, there are plenty of places you can feel like you are miles away, all in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world. Visitors can enjoy a carriage horse ride, a visit to the Central Park Zoo, summertime free concerts and wintertime ice skating, not to mention relaxing strolls through the park admiring the flora, fauna, and the world class art found throughout the park. Visit historic Belvedere Castle, a focal point in the park’s landscape as well as New York City’s official NOAA National Weather Service location. Stop inside to see the touch screen weather kiosk, and historic photos and videos highlighting the work of NOAA in the New York City area. If art is your thing, make sure to stop by the Metropolitan Museum of Art which can be found on the east side of the park, across from the American Museum of Natural History.
Everyone knows Wall Street as the capital of the financial world, but not everyone knows the history behind that title. The Museum of American Finance was founded in 1988 to educate visitors about the history, technology, personalities and policies that made Wall Street more than just a street. The museum is the nation’s only independent public museum that focuses on the subject and is a Smithsonian Institution affiliate.
The Capital Building located in Washington, DC is one of America’s most recognized buildings, however, the Capital was not the first capital building in the United States. Federal Hall was built in 1700 to be New York’s City Hall, but post-revolutionary war it actually became the first capital building and would be the site of George Washington’s inauguration. The original building was demolished in 1812 but was rebuilt on the same site in 1842; that building still stands today and is a designated National Memorial.
One of the most iconic symbols of the United States, the Statue of Liberty, still watches over the New York Bay after 127 years. In an average year, over three million people visit her, but that number pales in comparison to the countless immigrants whose first view of their new home was the 151-foot tall statue. The statue sits on Liberty Island just south of Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States and the busiest immigration station from 1892 until 1954. Ferries to both islands leave from Liberty State Park in New Jersey and Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. To learn more about life as a New York City immigrant at the turn of the century, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site at 97 Orchard St. is a bit off the beaten path but easy to reach via public transportation.
The General Grant National Memorial in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, overlooks the Hudson River in tranquil Riverside Park and finally answers the age old question, “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” The Memorial is the final resting place of the 18th US President and Civil War General, Ulysses S. Grant.
Spanning 718 acres along the Bronx River, the Bronx Park is full of playgrounds, bike paths, sporting fields and countless hiking trails. In the 250 acres of the Bronx Park that the New York Botanical Garden occupies, one can find some of the world’s leading plant laboratories, 50 different gardens and plant collections and seasonal exhibitions. The Bronx Park is also home to lions, tigers and elephants… Well, at least the Bronx Zoo located within the park, is home to that menagerie. As one of the world’s largest metropolitan zoos, the Bronx Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals representing approximately 650 species.
For a postcard view of Manhattan, one of the best places to go is Brooklyn, more specifically, the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Enjoy a walk along the river with its beautiful gardens and walking paths, all while taking in one of the most recognizable skylines.
Brooklyn is also home to the Jamaica Bay portion of Gateway National Recreation Area. The boating program makes the water one of the best ways to see the park and allows for plenty of beach based recreation including swimming, birding and fishing. Even if you are not a beach person, Jamaica Bay offers up everything from horseback riding to golfing even model airplane flying.
Also home to a unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area, the Staten Island Unit contains the historic site of Fort Wadsworth, which is a collection of fortifications whose oldest buildings date back to 1663. Just down from Fort Wadsworth is Miller Field. Once an airfield, Miller Field now serves as an open space with picnic areas and sporting fields. If being on the water is your thing, the Staten Island Unit will not disappoint with Great Kills Park. From this park, visitors can enjoy the water, relax on the beach, or boat from the marina and maybe even catch a glimpse of an osprey or other waterfowl.
What was once a home for aged sailors, Snug Harbor Cultural Center is now one of Staten Island’s most prized locations. It is home to the Staten Island Botanical Garden, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, The Staten Island Museum and several other institutions and museums. Besides the institutions that inhabit them, the collection of structures will intrigue any building buff with examples of Greek revival, Beaux Arts, Italianate and Victorian style architecture.
Just east from the hustle and bustle of the big city is charming and quaint Oyster Bay. Take a leisurely walk along Main Street or choose among the Town of Oyster Bay’s many places to go and things to do and understand why many of the Gilded Age rich and famous built country estates along Long Island’s Gold Coast. Visit Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and see the “Summer White House" of President Theodore Roosevelt (due to a rehabilitation project, visitors may not currently tour inside the home), tour the Roosevelt Museum at Old Orchard or walk the Sagamore Hill Nature Trail, an easy walk through an oak and tulip-tree forest and to the waterfront over the Eel Creek boardwalk (newly repaired and reopened after damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012).
The park's coastline falls within the boundaries of the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the largest of four unique refuges within the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex where you are likely to see herons, belted kingfishers and osprey or view horseshoe crabs and daggerblade grass shrimp and many other types of wildlife. Public access to the refuge is also available from via the Town of Oyster Bay's Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park which offers a swimming beach, picnic areas, playgrounds, scenic walking paths and boat launches and a marina (fees may apply Memorial Day through Labor Day).
Whether you're looking to sail, surf, swim, go camping or see the sights, you can do it all at Fire Island National Seashore. Visit the Fire Island Lighthouse, tour the William Floyd estate or reserve a permit to camp under the stars in the only federally designated wilderness area in New York State—the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. There is something for everyone at Fire Island so check the schedule of events before you go. There are several ways of Getting to Fire Island—none of them more than an hour or two from the city.
Harried New Yorkers know they’ll find a kinder, more serene world in the Hudson River Valley. Tour historical sites, boat or canoe on the Hudson, enjoy meals prepared by student chefs at one of the Culinary Institute of America restaurants, or just relax! There is so much to see and do in historic Hyde Park that you should plan to spend at least a full day.
Metro North trains will take you from will take you from Manhattan to Poughkeepsie, just a few miles from Hyde Park, or to the Appalachian Trail Station near Pawling, where hikers will find where the trail crosses the track just south of the station.
Visit Springwood, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the first of the Presidential Libraries. Be sure to see Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-kill Cottage or download a podcast and hike to Top Cottage FDR’s private retreat where he hosted foreign leaders during World War II. If you’re traveling by train, from May to October the National Park Service offers the "Roosevelt Ride,” a free shuttle from the Poughkeepsie train station.
About one half mile north of Hyde Park and encompassing about 5,000 acres of tidal wetlands and uplands, the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve is an excellent destination for the outdoor enthusiast, offering hiking, fishing, boating and wildlife viewing. The Reserve's headquarters is located at Norrie Point Environmental Center within Mills-Norrie State Park in Staatsburgh.
Sagamore Hill was the home of Theodore Roosevelt from 1885 until his death in 1919. The inside of the home is currently closed for renovation, but you can catch a glimpse of the outside of the house and enjoy the grounds. Spend some time at the Old Orchard, formerly the home of Roosevelt’s oldest son that now houses the Roosevelt Museum. View exhibits and movies that tell the story of President Roosevelt's early and public life. The museum includes items from the home, guns from Roosevelt's extensive collection and the uniform he wore on his ride up San Juan Hill.
Even New Jersey gets a piece of Gateway National Recreation Area to call their own! The Sandy Hook unit is located in Monmouth Country, New Jersey, and is a barrier peninsula, offering great fishing and recreational opportunities. The historic Fort Hancock reminds visitors that Sandy Hook played a big role in the harbor’s coastal defense system from the late 1800’s all the way up to 1975 and today has over 100 historic buildings and forts.Great Swamp NWR is located in Morris County, New Jersey, about 26 miles west of Manhattan's Times Square. The refuge was established by an Act of Congress on November 3, 1960. It consists of 7,768 acres of varied habitats and over the years, the refuge has become a resting and feeding area for more than 244 species of birds. Fox, deer, muskrat, turtles, fish, frogs and a wide variety of wildflowers and plants also call the refuge "home".
Sitting on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania on the Delaware River about 75 miles from New York City, the Delaware Water Gap is a fascinating geological feature where the river has cut though the mountain ridge. This unique feature is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream – with 70,000 acres playing host to everything from world-class paddling, to fishing and hiking.