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Holiday Guides for North America - United States

New York Holiday

The city that never sleeps is the perfect place to spend a few days of shopping and sightseeing.

Spread over five boroughs, New York City is the capital of New York State and offers several different holiday experiences for the keen traveller.

From the bright lights of Manhattan to the exotic cuisine of Queens to the hip hop history of the Bronx, a New York holiday is an experience unlike any other.

History, Tradition And Culture

The area has been occupied by Native Americans for more than 10,000 years and was discovered by the west in 1524, developing into a key trading post after English explorer Henry Hudson claimed the place for the Dutch East India Company in 1609. Initially called New Amsterdam, it became the British colony of New York in the 1670s and George Washington was sworn in as president of the new republic on Wall Street in 1789.

New York boomed throughout the 1800s and 1900s and its population grew fast as a result of immigration, with grand houses and skyscrapers built and poorer boroughs developing. The city suffered a terrible shock in September 2001 when the iconic World Trade Centre was destroyed, but has since rallied and recovered its energy and spirit.

Art is a major part of New York's past – and present – with famous residents including Andy Warhol, WH Auden and John Lennon.

Each of the five boroughs has its own unique feel – largely due to different demographics in each area. This makes for an interesting mix of cultures and cuisines.

From the Harlem Renaissance to the birth of hip hop through to the Ramones and Blondie – New York also has its own tradition of breeding innovative musicians.

Recommended In New York

The vast metropolis, nicknamed the Big Apple, has some of the best hotels, museums, shops and buildings in the world and it is important to take time to explore and wander around the city, with incredible architecture at every turn.

There are countless famous attractions across the island of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs and the huge and exciting city has weeks worth of sightseeing to offer. Some of the most important museums and galleries include the incredible Metropolitan Museum, with its enormous collection of artefacts and antiquities, the stunning Museum of Modern Art, the impressive American Museum of Natural History and the Jewish Museum.

A trip to the Empire State Building is a must; the views from the top floor are breathtaking and only add to the quintessential New York holiday experience.

Other must-dos include a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, or across to Staten Island, as well a ride or two on the Subway.

Sports fans are well advised to take in a New York Nicks basketball game at Madison Square Gardens game or a baseball game at the Yankee Stadium.

No trip to New York is complete without a visit to Central Park, an oasis of greenness and tranquillity away from the madness of the city.

The various ethnic areas each have their own unique identities, much like a collection of small towns, with Chinatown, SoHo, TriBeCa, and the East and West Villages all popular places to spend a day or two.

New Yorkers tend to be loud and direct and it can be a bit overwhelming when first arriving. However, the noise and the fearsome spirit of the locals is part of its charm and few people fail to get caught up in New York's energy and intensity.

Food in New York is available in every form, flavour and at any time of the day and night. Eateries cater to every palette and wallet, from local delis and diners to beautiful, opulent restaurants. Similarly, the city is full of bars and nightclubs and it is as easy to find somewhere quiet to sit with a beer as a glamorous party crowd and excellent cocktails.

For those seeking culture, New York offers an extensive programme of classical music, world class jazz, Broadway theatre, musicals and dance shows. Brooklyn's Coney Island over the bridge is home to its own unique amusements and freak shows and shopping in New York is almost a religion, from Macy's department store, which sprawls across a whole block of Manhattan, to upscale Fifth Avenue, home to Saks and Tiffany's.

New York is a great city to visit in spring and summer, when the weather is mild and pleasant. In summer, temperatures soar and many people flee the stifling city for the surrounding area, while winter is bitter but romantic, with snow, shopping and skating. Flights to New York have come sharply down in price in recent years and accommodation is plentiful.

Weather In New York

New York is very much a city of four seasons. The winters are cold and bring plenty of snow, the summers are hot and humid, while in the autumn trees are golden and winds are brisk. Spring is a pleasant time, especially for a trip to Central Park.

Destination Checklist For New York

  • Unsurprisingly, the official language in New York is English, though visitors can hear anything from Spanish to Cantonese spoken in some areas.
  • The US Dollar is the official currency.
  • The city operates on Eastern Time, which is five hours behind GMT.
  • The international dialling code is +1.
  • Some 8.5 million people live in the 5 city boroughs.

Further Reading