New York is one of the world’s most popular destinations for people taking city breaks and with its combination of sights, shops and shows, it is easy to understand why. But book a longer holiday and spend some time exploring all five boroughs, and you’ll discover there is even more to the Big Apple than you imagined.
Most people taking a New York holiday spend much of their time in Manhattan, which is home to many of the city’s best known attractions. If you want to get off the tourist trail and discover some more unusual sights, you are sure to find that spending time in The Bronx, Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn is worthwhile.
You may not associate holidays to New York with wildlife, but a trip to The Bronx Zoo will almost certainly change that view. The largest metropolitan zoo in the USA, it has 260 acres of parkland and natural habitats where you can see species native to the area and some more exotic creatures – the African Plains area is famed for its lions, giraffes, gazelles and zebras.
A day spent exploring The Bronx will also allow you to see Poe Cottage, the former home of literary great Edgar Allan Poe, and take a tour of some important locations in the history of hip-hop. You may also want to take in a game at the new Yankee Stadium, home of the New York Yankees baseball team.
Staten Island is perhaps the least well known of the New York boroughs, but it is home to one of the most interesting history-related attractions you can visit during a holiday to America – Historic Richmond Town. This open-air living museum details 350 years of life in the area and has some perfectly-preserved 17th and 18th century buildings, together with an organic farm and one of the oldest homes in the country.
The highlight of any trip to the borough of Queens is a visit to the vast Flushing Meadow Park. Here you will find tranquil gardens, a selection of museums and outdoor sculptures, including the Unisphere – a spectacular 12-storey steel representation of the earth. If you love sport, you are sure to know that the park also contains the venue for the US Open tennis tournament and the home of the New York Mets.
Queens is also renowned as New York’s artistic hub, so whether you want to enjoy some open-air theatre, take in a jazz performance or visit a gallery or sculpture park, you will find lots of opportunities to do it.
Brooklyn is the largest of the city’s boroughs, with a population of more than 2.5 million, but it is not the urban jungle you might imagine. It has a number of beautiful public parks to visit, including the idyllic Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and the vast Prospect Park, where you will find the memorials of Grand Army Plaza.
And you can’t visit Brooklyn without heading to the coast to see the historic Coney Island amusement parks. If you are feeling brave enough, you could try the Cyclone or the Wonder Wheel – two of the oldest fairground rides in the world.
Perhaps the best known of the borough’s landmarks is the one that will take you back to Manhattan – Brooklyn Bridge. Opened in 1883, it is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world and the views from it mean a stroll over the East River is one of the great ways to spend your time during your holiday in New York.
Once in Manhattan you’ll probably spend a lot of time looking up at spectacular skyscrapers, such as the Chrysler and Flatiron buildings. If you want to know what the view is like from the top floors, head to the Empire State Building and enjoy the sights from 102 storeys up on the open-air observation deck.
You can also spend an evening at a Broadway show or watching a Rangers or Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, perhaps after giving your credit cards a workout at Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. And to round off a perfect touristy day, head to a microbrewery or one of the excellent restaurants in Little Italy or Chinatown.
If you are travelling to America, the Big Apple is a must-visit destination, but so are several other cities and to make the most of your trip, you may want to book a multi-centre break. A holiday to New York and Las Vegas is a great option if you want to see two of the USA’s most vibrant cities, but you could just as easily include Hawaii, San Francisco or New Orleans on your itinerary.