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New York
When visiting New York City, it's just not enough to see what's right in front of you. Look up at the magnificent skyscrapers, serving as cavernous monoliths holding all that pulsating energy within. Wander over to Times Square and be mesmerized by the blinking, flashing, glittering billboards as they...
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1 to 3 Day Plan
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Nightlife and other things to do
 
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Introduction
When visiting New York City, it's just not enough to see what's right in front of you. Look up at the magnificent skyscrapers, serving as cavernous monoliths holding all that pulsating energy within. Wander over to Times Square and be mesmerized by the blinking, flashing, glittering billboards as they command your eyes upward to take notice.

Look down from the heights of the Empire State Building to gain a true sense of how the Big Apple's slices meld together—gaze toward Lower Manhattan, home of colorful Little Italy, bustling Chinatown and funky SoHo; turn around and glance toward Upper Manhattan, where Harlem's 1920s musical renaissance electrified the country; and in the center of it all, glimpse the rectangular forest of Central Park, playground for all cultures.


Look at the city from the outside in by taking a sightseeing boat tour. Observe New Yorkers at labor and leisure milling about Chelsea Pier and South Street Seaport, and experience from afar the quiet majesty of Wall Street's stone-and-steel towers. Surround yourself with a panorama like no other as you cruise slowly past Ellis Island, with the glimmering Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, to receive the ultimate reward: an awesome, up-close encounter with Liberty Island's graceful statue of the Lady herself.

In Depth
Prepare to be deliciously overwhelmed as you're launched full force into Gotham, a high-energy land of extremes. From the Empire State Building's jaw-dropping views, to the magical oasis of Central Park, to electrifying Times Square—you simply cannot do the city justice without resorting to superlatives.

New Yorkers are resilient people. Indeed, it takes moxie just to be able to navigate the crowded sea of humanity in the endeavor to get to work every morning. They are enthusiastic advocates of their city, with a passion for all things New York, whether it's their beloved Mets or Yankees, favorite department store sale or cherished pizza joint. New Yorkers expressed courage and dignity in the face of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as they came together to help their neighbors with the spirit that will be represented by One World Trade Center, due to be completed in early 2014.


The city's early history laid the foundation for that “New York state of mind”—a powerfully independent, rambunctious outlook on life. Both the Dutch and English spent years battling over possession of Manhattan after its official discovery in 1609 by Englishman Henry Hudson (the Hudson River's namesake). Fifteen years later, financial powerhouse Wall Street received its name when the Dutch finagled the purchase of Manhattan from local Indians—for an astounding $24—and erected a wall denoting the new colony's northern boundary. After much tug-of-war, New York changed hands for the last time in 1674 with final bragging rights going to the British. While the city originally consisted of Manhattan, sandwiched between the East and Hudson rivers, it eventually incorporated the surrounding boroughs of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.

Today Ellis Island stands as a moving tribute to the millions of immigrants who landed on these shores 1892-1954 in search of the American Dream. Trace your ancestry at the Immigration Museum and try to imagine how your relatives must have felt upon arriving in this strange land, sometimes forced to abandon their scant belongings, yet persevering to create some of the Big Apple's most intriguing neighborhoods. Savor authentic Italian fare in colorful Little Italy, purchase paper lanterns, silk slippers or exotic herbs in vibrant Chinatown, or experience Jewish culture in the Lower East Side, with such landmarks as Katz's Deli and the Tenement Museum.

It's not only architectural landmarks like the Flatiron Building, Grand Central Terminal and the Empire State Building that impress, but also what thrives within—Gotham is a cultural mecca. Stroll along the Museum Mile, a section of Fifth Avenue touting such revered institutions as the enormous Metropolitan Museum of Art, captivating art lovers the world over, and the Guggenheim, Frank Lloyd Wright's modern circular wonder. Worship today's musical elite at Carnegie Hall, where George Gershwin played piano and Leonard Bernstein conducted, or at Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts—Mikhail Baryshnikov danced and Luciano Pavarotti sang in these hallowed halls. Catch a Broadway musical with an ingénue belting out tunes, or perhaps a drama starring your favorite Hollywood personality.


Entertainment offerings are off the hook, and just about anyone can find their niche. Visitors seek out talent ranging from snazzy jazz bands and big-name comedians to rambunctious rock bands or the dance club DJ du jour. Tourists also love being part of a television show audience—it's possible to secure tickets and be amused by the latest and greatest hosts, including Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman and Jon Stewart. Those more interested in knowing what goes on behind the scenes satisfy their curiosity at NBC Studio Tours, where they might get an inside peek at the “Saturday Night Live” or “Today” show sets.

Some folks come to the Big Apple for fashion; others come for the food. New York is the fashion capital of the United States, with the Garment District being the epicenter of design and manufacturing that ultimately supplies haute couture showrooms, department stores and funky boutiques. Restaurant choices are virtually endless—establishments tout celebrity chefs, four- and five-diamond elegance, ethnic fare, innovative design, the perfect burger, classic corned beef on rye or just plain good eats.


 
City Population
8,175,133

Elevation
54 ft.

Sales Tax
The sales tax in New York City is 8.875 percent. The tax on hotel rooms is 14.75 percent plus $2 per room, per day occupancy fee. Car rental tax is 19.875 percent.

Emergency
911

Police (non-emergency)
Use local precinct phone number.

Hospitals
Beth Israel Medical Center, in Brooklyn, (718) 252-3000; Elmhurst Hospital Center, in Flushing, (718) 334-4000; Mount Sinai Medical Center, (212) 241-6500; New York-Presbyterian Hospital, (212) 746-5454; New York University Langone Medical Center, (212) 263-7300.

Newspapers
New York City has numerous English and foreign language newspapers. The most widely distributed English language papers are Newsday, New York Daily News, New York Post, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Radio
New York radio stations WCBS (880 AM) and WINS (1010 AM) are all news/weather stations; WNYC (93.9 FM or 820 AM) is a member of National Public Radio.

Visitor Information

NYC & Company Visitor Information Center:

810 Seventh Ave. NEW YORK, NY 10019. Phone:(212)484-1200 or (800)692-8474


Air Travel
The New York City area has three airports. John F. Kennedy (JFK) and LaGuardia (LGA), two of the world's busiest airports, are in Queens; Newark Liberty International (EWR) is in New Jersey.

Rental Cars
Hertz, 310 E. 48th St., offers discounts to AAA members; phone (800) 654-3080. All major car rental agencies have offices in New York City and at each airport.

Rail Service
Grand Central Terminal supports Metro-North commuter trains. Penn Station supports Amtrak, Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit and PATH trains.

Buses
The Port Authority Bus Terminal, Eighth to Ninth avenues between W. 40th and 42nd streets, is the main terminal for the city; phone (212) 564-8484.

Taxis
Yellow medallion taxis are the only vehicles authorized to pick up street hails. Taxi fares begin at $2.50, then increase 50c each additional fifth of a mile, or 50c for each 60 seconds waiting in traffic. Surcharges apply during certain hours. See Getting Around, Taxis.

Public Transportation
A $2.75 subway fare buys you an unlimited-mileage ride as long as you do not get off. Bus fare is $2.75; exact change (no bills) is required. See Getting Around, Public Transportation.

 
AAA Travel Editors
Our editors collectively cover more than 6,000 North American destinations. Their work is published in millions of member-only TourBook® guides distributed annually by AAA/CAA clubs; online in Travel Guides at AAA.com/maps; and via handheld and other electronic devices. Practically anywhere you want to go, the AAA network has been. That's why for generations AAA has been the most trusted name in travel publishing.

Amber McSpadden
AAA travel writer Amber McSpadden is a native Floridian who regularly researches and visits her favorite destinations: Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Outer Banks, Charleston, Savannah, the Golden Isles, St. Augustine and other Southeastern gems. When she's not cultivating her expertise in North America's hottest attractions, restaurants, shopping and nightlife, Amber is out living the glorified life of a family, fresh-air, fitness, fashion and food fanatic. Topping her list of loves are beach trips with the hubby and their spoiled-rotten Sheltie/German Shepherd mix, long bike rides, short workout videos, designer duds, sushi and crème brûlée.

Eli Ellison
AAA travel writer Eli Ellison's center of operations often is a hotel room, as the California resident gets paid to seek out North America's hottest attractions, restaurants and nightlife. When not at his computer typing up vivid descriptions of destinations like Las Vegas and San Diego, Eli can be found asleep on the beach, rooting for the Los Angeles Dodgers or experiencing pastrami-on-rye nirvana at L.A.'s legendary Langer's Deli. His favorite travel destinations include Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and remote corners of the American Southwest, where he's never surprised to see a camera-toting European tourist pop out from behind a rock.

Frank Swanson
AAA travel writer Frank Swanson packs a knapsack and hiking shoes for backcountry expeditions to national parks ranging from Acadia to Zion and including Bryce Canyon, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Redwood and the Everglades, as well as Banff and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. In such urban locales as Chicago, Memphis and Miami, he seeks out historic, innovative and just plain unusual architecture. Since 1995, painstaking research and firsthand experience have kept this active author up-to-date about North America's best attractions, restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Other destinations he's written about extensively: Austin, Texas; Asheville, North Carolina; Niagara Falls; and Wisconsin Dells.

Greg Weekes
AAA travel writer Greg Weekes has more than 20 years of experience chronicling destinations across North America, from tropical getaways like Cancún to the myriad attractions of the nation's capital, from Atlanta, St. Louis and Branson to Santa Fe and Taos, British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, Washington's Olympic National Park and—at the top of his travel list—Left Coast gems Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. This accomplished word slinger always manages to work in references to his twin passions: food (taquería burritos are a fave) and music (Beatles, Stones, Hendrix and the Jefferson Airplane, to name just a few).

Katie Broome
A native Floridian, AAA travel writer Katie Broome first discovered her passion for travel in college while road-tripping across the country to compete in rowing regattas. Since then, she's channeled that passion into writing about fun, unexpected and photo-worthy things to see and do in places like Orlando, Oklahoma City and Winnipeg, Manitoba, especially when there are food trucks or artsy coffee shops involved. Some of her favorite travel memories include boating on North Carolina's Lake Glenville, camping at Disney's Fort Wilderness with her family, and having a run-in with the supernatural on the cobblestone streets of St. Augustine, Fl.

Maria White
Maria White regularly jets from her Orlando home base to various high-profile destinations, including Boston (her birth city), Austin, Texas, and Montréal. The sight of approaching dim sum carts make this consummate eater weak in the knees, as do tuna-carving sushi chefs and dough-spinning pizza makers. Aside from food, she also loves footwear (attempts to catalog the massive collection have been unsuccessful), blockbusters (from “Star Wars” to “It Happened One Night”), Jack Benny and The Muppets. A AAA travel writer since 2006, Maria enjoys cultivating her knowledge of places like Cape Cod, Minneapolis-St. Paul and, in sunny Florida, the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area.

Patricia Miller
AAA travel writer Patricia Miller originally hails from Long Island, N.Y., but now calls central Florida home. She enjoys swing dancing, midcentury modern decor, fashion, music, her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and her cats. Though painstaking research is key, Patricia's firsthand experiences help cultivate her expertise about North America's hottest attractions, restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Her growing list of been-there, done-that destinations includes Columbus, Ohio; The Florida Keys; Kansas City, Mo.; New Orleans; Tampa; and Montréal. She also has traveled to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City.

Sherry Mims
An editor with a background in print and online media, Sherry Mims admitted defeat in curing wanderlust after chronicling trips through Atlanta; Charlotte; Jacksonville; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Savannah; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. A monthlong backpacking adventure with her best friend through Ireland and the United Kingdom was one of her most memorable stops. Now she's married a pilot and works for AAA—clearly there is no cure. While traveling, she favors the absurd, such as touching a Dublin mummy's hand for luck, white-water rafting in West Virginia, couch surfing in Stratford-upon-Avon and getting drenched on the Mount of Olives.

Suzanne Lemon
AAA travel writer Suzanne Lemon gets paid to travel and write, two things she loves nearly as much as a good Pinot Noir. Cultivating her knowledge of North America's hottest attractions, restaurants, shopping and nightlife through firsthand experience, her adventures have led her to California Wine Country, Monterey Peninsula, Cape Cod, Charleston and the South Carolina Low Country, New York City, and Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain national parks. In addition to creating glowing descriptions of cities like Denver, Jackson Hole and Philadelphia, she has a passion for traveling abroad to such far-flung destinations as Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany.

 
Visitor Information

NYC & Company Visitor Information Center:

810 Seventh Ave. NEW YORK, NY 10019. Phone:(212)484-1200 or (800)692-8474


 
Getting There


By Car
Entering the city from the north, the New York Thruway (I-87) connects with the Major Deegan Expressway, following the east side of the Harlem River through the Bronx and connecting with the Bruckner Expressway (I-278) at the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge. This route allows easy access to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and other points on Long Island.

Also from the north, the New England Thruway (I-95) leads through the eastern part of the Bronx to either the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge or to the Throgs Neck Bridge, again bypassing Manhattan and allowing easy access to Long Island. Both routes also connect with various points in Manhattan, including the Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95), heading east-west, which leads to the Henry Hudson Parkway (SR 9A), running north-south along the Hudson River.

I-80 from the west in New Jersey runs congruently with I-95 as it approaches the George Washington Bridge. Once across the bridge it continues east to connect with roads leading to Long Island or swings south on Henry Hudson Parkway or Harlem River Drive to Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive (East River Drive) and downtown Manhattan.

The New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) is the major southern access road to the city. Motorists traveling to Brooklyn and points east should take New Jersey Turnpike exit 10 to SR 440E (the West Shore Expressway on Staten Island) to I-278E, which crosses Staten Island. Then use the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn and Long Island.

Lower Manhattan is best approached from the New Jersey Turnpike via the Holland Tunnel. Motorists heading for mid-Manhattan should continue on the turnpike to exit 16E and the Lincoln Tunnel approach.

Air Travel
John F. Kennedy Airport, the area's largest, is located in Queens off the Van Wyck Expressway (I-678) about 15 miles east of Manhattan.

From JFK to Manhattan, take the Van Wyck Expressway to Grand Central Parkway, then head west on the Long Island Expressway. To reach Lower Manhattan, take the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and access either the Brooklyn, Manhattan or Williamsburg bridges leading into the city. To reach Midtown Manhattan, stay on the Long Island Expressway, which feeds directly into the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Drive time is about 1 hour.

Or take the subway: Take the A train directly from the Howard Beach JFK Airport station. The Q10 bus also connects JFK airport to Union Turnpike (E or F train), 121st Street (J or Z train) and Lefferts Boulevard (A train) stations; phone 511 or (718) 330-1234 for schedules.

AirTrain, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's airport rail system, ushers airline passengers from the airport to the Howard Beach terminal for subway connections to Manhattan or to Jamaica Station to catch a subway or the Long Island Rail Road. For AirTrain schedules and information about connections and transfers, phone (877) 535-2478.

Just 8 miles east of Midtown in northwest Queens, LaGuardia Airport handles many domestic flights. The airport was named after the city's former mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia (1934-45), who is credited with helping develop the metropolitan area's accessibility for the aviation age.

Upon leaving LaGuardia Airport, take Grand Central Parkway west to the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge, then to Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. Going north on FDR Drive takes you into Harlem; traveling south on FDR Drive takes you to Midtown Manhattan. Drive time is about 40 minutes.

New York Airport Service provides bus service from LaGuardia and JFK airports to Manhattan. The bus stops in Manhattan at Park Avenue and 41st Street and at most Midtown hotels. Fares are: from LaGuardia to Manhattan $21; from JFK to Manhattan $25. Buses run frequently; for schedules and other information phone New York Airport Service at (718) 560-3915.

SuperShuttle departs from all LaGuardia terminals and drops off passengers at Manhattan hotels. Fares range $17-$25 and the schedule varies according to passenger demand; phone (212) 315-3006 for information or (212) 258-3826 to make reservations. SuperShuttle also offers shuttle service from all three airports in vans designed to handle wheelchairs; reservations are required. Fares are $19-$25 from Kennedy or Newark.

Go Airlink provides transportation via 10-passenger share-ride vans between JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports and Manhattan hotels, offices and residences. One-way fares range $20-$30; phone (212) 812-9000 or (877) 599-8200 for reservations.

The Q48 bus provides service from LaGuardia to the 111th Street or Main Street stations (both via the 7 train). On the subway, take the Q33 bus from LaGuardia to Roosevelt Avenue station (via the E, F, M or R train) or the 74th Street/Broadway station (via the 7 train). For additional information, phone MTA, 511 or (718) 330-1234.

New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport handles domestic and transatlantic flights. Located on Newark Bay about 16 miles southwest of Manhattan, Newark is an ideal fly-in point for those proceeding to Lower Manhattan or points along the borough's western side. Take the New Jersey Turnpike to the Holland Tunnel for access to Lower Manhattan, and follow the signs to the Lincoln Tunnel if you are headed for Midtown Manhattan. It will take you about 40 minutes to reach the city.

Express buses from Newark Liberty stop at the Port Authority Bus Terminal at W. 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, Bryant Park on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, and Grand Central Station; Coach USA/Olympia Trails Bus Service buses depart every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to midnight and every 30 minutes from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. and midnight to 1 a.m. One-way fare is $15; phone (908) 354-3330.

New Jersey Transit bus #62 runs between Newark Liberty and selected points in Newark, including Newark's Penn Station, where PATH subways depart for Broadway at 33rd Street. Buses run daily 24 hours and the fare is $1.50-$3.80. PATH trains operate daily 24 hours and the fare is $2.25.

AirTrain's rail system links Newark Liberty International Airport with Newark Liberty International Airport Station, where passengers can transfer to Amtrak or New Jersey Transit trains to continue on to New York City; phone (888) 397-4636.

Taxis are plentiful at all airports. A taxi ride from Kennedy to Midtown Manhattan costs $52 plus tolls and tip; from LaGuardia to Midtown Manhattan costs $25-$37 plus tolls and tip; and from Newark Liberty to Midtown Manhattan costs $55-$60 plus tolls and tip.

Rail Service
If you enter the city by rail, you will arrive at either Grand Central Terminal or Pennsylvania Station, both in the heart of Manhattan. Built in 1913, Grand Central, at Park Avenue and E. 42nd to 44th streets, is an architectural delight. It supports Metro-North commuter trains, including the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson lines traveling to the northern suburbs and suburban Connecticut. This commuter railroad serves Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess counties in New York as well as Fairfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut. For information phone (212) 532-4900.

Amtrak departs from Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street. Penn Station supports Long Island Railroad trains and New Jersey Transit trains. For schedules, fares and reservations phone (800) 872-7245.

PATH trains, also originating from Penn Station, run 24 hours a day to stops in Lower and Midtown Manhattan. The fare is $2.25. For more information phone (800) 234-7284.

The Staten Island Railway limits its service to Staten Island, from the St. George terminal to the Tottenville terminal. The fare is $2.25; a SingleRide ticket is $2.50. Phone 511 or 718-330-1234 for information or schedules.

 
Getting Around


Street System
Manhattan streets were laid out in an easy-to-follow grid pattern back in the early 1800s. Unfortunately, maneuvering within the city is not as simple nowadays. For those unfamiliar with Manhattan traffic, the best driving advice is: DON'T. If you absolutely must drive, timing doesn't really mean much. Although rush hours are 7-9:30 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m., city streets are always busy.

Be alert at all times. The traffic density of streets in Manhattan is probably the highest in the country. A good street map is helpful. When driving in the other boroughs a street index and map are necessities. Note: Drivers should keep car doors locked at all times.

In Manhattan consecutively numbered streets run east/west, and avenues cross north/south. Fifth Avenue is the dividing line between east and west streets. Most avenues are one-way and are alternately northbound and southbound. In general, even-numbered streets are eastbound and odd-numbered streets are westbound. Most downtown streets are one-way. Exceptions are Canal, Houston, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th and 125th streets, which run both east and west.

As you make your way into Lower Manhattan, the city's efficient grid pattern system falls apart in the Greenwich Village and SoHo areas. From Houston Street south, both the numbered streets and Fifth Avenue come to an abrupt end.

Crosstown traffic usually moves faster on 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets, because these streets are wide. Northbound and southbound traffic moves faster, at least during non-rush hours, on one-way avenues: These northbound avenues are First, Third, Madison, Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) and Eighth, while the southbound avenues include Second, Lexington, Fifth, Seventh and Ninth. Gridlock is a particular hazard of driving in the city; it is illegal to stand or stop in the middle of an intersection or to make left turns, except where otherwise indicated.

For those who do not wish to use surface streets to travel, Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive and West Side Highway provide controlled-access roads around the city. Note: Avoid the parkways and expressways during rush hours.

The speed limit on downtown streets is 30 mph, or as posted. No one under 17 is allowed to drive in New York City, even with a valid driver's license from another state.

Parking
Finding a parking space may be the most difficult aspect of your visit to New York City. Parking is prohibited on most downtown Manhattan streets and is next to impossible in entertainment districts. If you do find a space, read the curbside signs to avoid having the car towed and paying a $185 towing fee plus a fine and storage fee.

Very few accommodations have free parking, and Midtown Manhattan parking lots and garages average about $18 an hour. Guests staying at a hotel with parking facilities often find it is easiest to leave the car in the lot or garage and use public transportation or taxis.

Commuters and visitors from New Jersey have the option to park at NY Waterway's Weehawken, Hoboken and Jersey City terminals and ride a ferry to Lower or Midtown Manhattan. Connecting bus transportation from the Manhattan ferry terminals into the city is available. For schedules, fares and parking fees phone (800) 533-3779. The New York Water Taxi also operates ferries from Downtown and Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. For schedules and fares phone (212) 742-1969.

Public Transportation
Compared to some cities, public transportation in New York is a good bargain. In Manhattan subways traverse the length of Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue), Broadway, Seventh and Eighth avenues and several portions of both Lexington and Park avenues.

Crosstown subways operate on 14th, 42nd, 53rd and 60th streets. In addition there is a shuttle train from Grand Central Terminal to Times Square (intersection of Seventh Avenue and Broadway from 42nd to 43rd streets), where passengers can transfer free of charge to other lines.

Subways also are fast. The New York City subway system accommodates some 1.6 billion riders annually because it is fast, efficient and one of the cheapest ways of getting around. Although New York City subways can be intimidating, directional signs and maps are posted at each station.

Using them is a snap if you heed these four pearls of wisdom: Avoid using the system during weekday rush hours (usually 8-9:30 a.m. and 5-6:30 p.m.) and late at night; ride in the conductor's car if possible (located in the middle of the train); try to avoid using the subway restrooms; and avoid the express and take the local trains (although not as fast as the express, the local trains stop at each station, so missing the correct stop is less likely).

MetroCard, a thin plastic fare card, is used for subway admission. You can purchase individual cards at subway station vending machines, neighborhood merchants and tourist information centers; base fare is $2.50 per trip. A single-ride ticket is $2.75; if you purchase a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard for at least $5, you will receive a 5 percent bonus, and the cards are available for $4.50-$80. Unlimited ride cards for 7 or 30 days range from $30-$112. The card can be used on all local New York City buses and at all subway stations.

Maps for both subway and bus routes are available at the Grand Central, Pennsylvania and Columbus Circle stations and the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Note: In the Attractions section attraction listings will often include the nearest subway station. Consult a subway map to determine which train line is nearest and most direct; not every train runs from each station.

Riding the aboveground rails is another option. The Metro North Railroad serves Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. For schedules phone (212) 532-4900. The Long Island Rail Road serves Nassau and Suffolk counties; for schedule information phone (718) 217-5477.

More than 200 bus routes serve New York City. Buses run uptown on Tenth, Eighth, Sixth, Madison, Third and First avenues and downtown on Ninth, Seventh, Fifth and Second avenues. Some of the major east-west crosstown bus routes are 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 65th and 79th streets. Upon boarding, ask the bus driver for a free transfer from an uptown or downtown bus to a crosstown bus, or vice versa.

Most bus stops have Guide-A-Ride signs, showing bus stops and transfer points along that route. For information concerning the subway and city-operated buses phone the New York Transit Authority at 511 or (718) 330-1234.


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Essentials
• Ride the elevator to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building for a birds-eye view of the city. From the observation tower, you can see about 50 miles on a clear day. After you have fun identifying landmarks from your lofty perch, check out the visitor center's interactive sustainability exhibit to learn how the building is taking steps toward energy efficiency.

• Visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to pay tribute to the lives lost during the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and February 1993. Memorial Plaza, a space designed to inspire contemplation, has twin reflecting pools bordered by bronze panels inscribed with the names of the individuals who perished.


• Take in a show at the Broadway Theater District. If you're flexible, visit the Times Square TKTS booth at Broadway and 47th Street (adjacent to the red steps) Monday through Saturday between 3-8 p.m. to save up to 50 percent on same-day evening performances—get there early as lines will form.

• Do the museum hop. With all the world-class choices— American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to name a few—the city is bound to have a collection that suits your fancy. A good place to start is the section of Fifth Avenue running from 82nd to 104th streets and bordering Central Park, known as Museum Mile.

• Treat yourself to dim sum in Chinatown. These small portions of food—shrimp dumplings, pot stickers, spring rolls and the like—are usually wheeled past your table on carts so that you can pick and choose the most appetizing morsels. Walk off your feast afterward by strolling through the narrow streets chock full of colorful shops displaying everything from Chinese lanterns and jade carvings to herbal remedies and tasty baked goods.

• Stroll along Fifth Avenue between 49th and 58th streets to experience a true shopping mecca with the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, Tiffany's and FAO Schwarz. Even if you're not a shopper, the window displays are delightful and in winter you can always take a spin around the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center.

• Explore the trendy boutiques and elegant Greek Revival townhouses tucked along tree-lined streets in Greenwich Village. Wander over to Washington Square, where performers frequently entertain in the area near Washington Arch.

• Do as New Yorkers do, and spend some quality daylight time in Central Park. Circle the lake on winding paths, explore Shakespeare Garden's craggy hillside or climb the stairs to the top of Belvedere Castle for a scenic overlook. Kids delight in the antics of frolicking sea lions at the Central Park Zoo, especially during feeding times—the polar bear exhibit is a hit, too.

• Indulge in an Italian feast or sip a cappuccino at an outdoor café in Little Italy. Marvel at the assortment of cheeses, olives and fresh breads offered in neighborhood groceries. In September, the neighborhood comes alive during the Feast of San Gennaro, a street party featuring parades, music, delectable ethnic foods and a cannoli-eating contest. For designer fashion finds, head to Nolita (“north of little Italy”).

• Travel via ferry from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. Lady Liberty graciously welcomes visitors to Liberty Island, while the same ferry ticket covers a stop at Ellis Island, site of the Immigration Museum.



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Restaurants
Our favorites include some of this destination's best restaurants—from fine dining to simple fare.

By Inspector 42

as told to Suzanne Lemon

Known for wealthy neighborhoods and world-class museums, you also can expect great dining options in Upper Manhattan. Folks say that the food at Barney Greengrass, an Upper West Side delicatessen, is one of the greatest gifts Jewish culture has brought to humanity since the Ten Commandments. There have never been truer words spoken. Since 1908, Barney Greengrass, aka the sturgeon king, has been supplying New Yorkers with the finest smoked fish, the best bagels and quintessential deli fare, all of which is available to purchase at the retail store. Gothamites line up around the block to get a table in the adjacent dining room, where patrons kvell over scrambled eggs and lox, bountiful blintzes, a stellar matzoh ball soup and hearty sandwiches piled high with corned beef, pastrami or some of the city's best chopped liver. The décor (untouched since the Wilson administration) won't win any awards, but the laurels rest on the sturgeon king.


Some come to the Neue Galerie New York for German and Austrian art from Klimt and Klee to Loos and the Bauhaus, but foodies in the know give the masterpieces a cursory glance, then slip into the Upper East Side's Cafe Sabarsky, the museum's homage to turn-of-the-20th-century Viennese cafes. Apple strudel, opera cake and brioche are works of art in their own right and the hot chocolate, served unsweetened on a silver tray, is a very grown-up indulgence, as is the elderflower soda. In addition to the sweets, there is a savory menu: highlights include a top-notch plate of Viennese sausage paired with an anything-but-pedestrian potato salad; smoked trout crepes with horseradish crème fraiche; and spicy eggs with cornichons and paprika.

If you're in the mood for an informal snack, Tom's Restaurant on the Upper West Side fits the bill. Their delicious burgers and fries tantalize the taste buds, but it's really the television series “Seinfeld” that made this inexpensive coffee shop famous.

Chef, owner and founder of New American cuisine Charlie Palmer continues to orchestrate a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Aureole. The food is delectable, and the presentations are unmatched for their distinctive style. Executed with impeccable precision, service does not take a back seat.

Carmine's is all about wonderful Southern Italian food served in abundant, family-style portions; it's about celebrating family and friends; it's about what makes New York great: the crowds, the hustle, the bustle and the lights of the Great White Way. Everyone needs to experience Carmine's at least once, but some just can't get enough—enough of the lush pasta ragù, a tomato-based sauce loaded with pork braciole, beef chuck roast, meatballs and sausage; of the linguine with clam sauce; or the chicken Marsala, often listed as a top favorite. The portions overwhelm even gavones: salads and appetizer plates heaped with meats, veggies and cheeses; platters of mushrooms stuffed with sausage (to die for); and the gooey, positively dreamy eggplant Parmesan. Although the breadbasket, with an assortment of varieties, may tempt, don't give in (too much), or you'll regret it when the tiramisu comes.

On the fringes of Midtown's theater district, the legendary Carnegie Delicatessen & Restaurant has been a Manhattan landmark since 1937 and is a must-see for anyone visiting or living in the city. Patrons can expect tight, bustling quarters and lots of New York attitude. They cure, pickle and smoke their own meats and many say the pastrami and corned beef are the world's best. Just the sight of the piled-high sandwiches will make your taste buds come alive—consider sharing one, because you shouldn't miss their cheesecake.

Two words sum up the dining experience at Midtown's Rosa Mexicano: great guac! To the uninitiated, that's guacamole, and it's prepared tableside, and it is f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s. The restaurant's Lincoln Center locale makes it a favorite among concert-goers, in no small part because of its smooth and competent service—even pre-theater diners will not feel rushed. Bright colors, a beautiful wall fountain and lots of light emanating from the floor to ceiling windows lend a cozy air to the bustling dining room. In addition to the much-lauded guacamole, you'll want to try the corn empanadas stuffed with lump crab and served with peach pico de gallo; tender chunks of pork slow-cooked in banana leaves; and grilled beef short ribs with tomatillo chipotle sauce. The pomegranate margarita, the house signature cocktail, is a revelation.

Patrons of the traditional American tavern room never had it so good as at Gramercy Tavern, a rustic, yet first-class dining event sandwiched between Union Square and Gramercy Park. Wooden floors, copper enhancements, fresh flowers and trellised vines, coupled with the finest ingredients, linens and tableware, evoke the atmosphere of old New England with the best of New World refinement. This New York City favorite bestows true hospitality as an accent to its flawless pioneering approach to food.

If you'd like to indulge in some gourmet fare at bargain prices—for New York that is—then L’Ecole, the Restaurant of the French Culinary Institute, fits the bill. Graduates of the renowned school run the kitchen during the first dinner seating, while student chefs create dishes for patrons attending the second seating. Elegantly appointed tables at this SoHo standout set the stage for upscale four- and five-course prix fixe dinners, prepared with seasonal ingredients—try the wine pairing for special selections to complement your dining choices.

Those who are easily intimidated should think twice about paying a visit to Chelsea's Grand Sichuan International. First, there's the menu. While the usual suspects are available, those with more adventurous palates would be wise to try the doughy and delicious soup dumplings, the five-spice beef or any of the dishes included under the heading “General Mao's Homecooking,” especially the positively beguiling vinegared potatoes, the spicy and sour sea cucumber, the preserved Sichuan-style turnip, and the chicken and loofah soup. The second hurdle to cross is the service, or lack of it. Servers are notorious for clearing the dishes of patrons while they're still eating. So, be forewarned: put on your thickest skin and prepare to deal with a gruff staff that won't offer to help decipher the menu and then will rush you out the door.

Since 1888, Katz's Deli has been serving up classic Jewish-style fare in its gritty Lower East Side digs. During World War II, the deli gained fame with their catchy slogan, “Send a salami to your boy in the army.” OK, poets they're not, but they do know a thing or two about matzoh balls, so light and airy that if the soup wasn't anchoring them in the bowl, they'd up and float away. Katz's was the site of the “When Harry Met Sally” film scene where Meg Ryan, uh, causes a scene. Let's just say that she must have reeaalllyy liked the kugel, but if you'd rather not noodle, try the belly-busting three-meat platter, loaded with mounds of hand-sliced salami, brisket and corned beef.

The Odeon, the legendary TriBeCa landmark of 1980s downtown glamour and greed immortalized by Jay McInerney in his smash novel “Bright Lights, Big City,” not only survives among all the Johnny-come-lately's, but still shines bright. Famous, infamous and regular folk stop in all hours of the night and day for classic French-American bistro fare, including a knockout frisee salad with lardons, Roquefort and truffled poached egg; steak au poivre; homemade cavatelli with roasted vegetables; and pan-roasted salmon with lemon risotto cake, fava beans and sorrel. If it's available, don't pass up the passion fruit crème brûlée. Not only is it an indulgent treat, but it also will give you reason to linger in the Art Deco-inspired dining room and watch the world go by.

Folks line up outside Pearl Oyster Bar waiting for the doors to open at noon and then file into the simple storefront, brimming with anticipation, for the sea-shack fare that New Yorkers in the know have come to love. Lobster rolls, overstuffed and oozing with great meaty chunks, are the entrée of choice at this Greenwich Village institution, but frankly, you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Try the divine steamed mussels, out-of-this-world fried oysters or the smoky, New England-style clam chowder. Check out the blackboard specials, too. Now that the restaurant has expanded (at one time it just offered counter seating and a single table), waiting patrons no longer need to give diners the evil eye to hurry things along, making for a much more pleasant experience. Service is super casual, but quite hospitable.

If you plan to dine in NoLita, everyone, it seems, has something to say about Peasant, particularly that the Italian language menu is a little annoying, even pretentious, forcing patrons who aren't fluent to wait for a server to translate. Some also have quipped that you'll feel like a peasant after you've paid the bill, but on the upside, you will have dined like a king. Echoing the peasantry of former times, the focus at this cozy trattoria is on the hearth and open-fire Tuscan cooking. Pastas, such as the zuppa di pesce and the bucatini with langoustines, are amazing, as is the rabbit with fava beans and the bistecca alla Fio. A young, chic crowd gives this Peasant a hip sophistication and keeps it among the city's favorite Italian restaurants.

Union Square Cafe, Danny Meyer's first venture, is still as fresh and vibrant as it was the day its doors opened back in the mid-1980s, when the Union Square area was a desolate place known only for its drug dens and street crime. Now the neighborhood is one of the most enviable addresses in the city, due, in no small part, to the success of the ever-popular and much-beloved restaurant. USC is highly regarded for its award-winning wine list, its cordial and accommodating staff and its sophisticated yet accessible menu. Featured dishes include crispy lemon-pepper duck with pear-apple chutney, faro and Swiss chard; the classic roasted organic chicken with mustard-cognac sauce and roasted root vegetables; and the tremendously gratifying lobster shepherd pie. One can only hope that the celebrated banana tart with honey vanilla ice cream and macadamia nut brittle is always on the menu.

The best pizza in town is actually outside of town in Brooklyn. At Grimaldi's Pizzeria, nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge, you'll have to wait on a long line for a long time before being ushered into the hallowed, albeit cramped space. Like childbirth, you'll soon forget the pain inflicted by the wait as you spy the spectacular pies making their way out of the kitchen. Of course, the mozzarella is fresh, the peppers roast daily in coal-fired ovens and the jukebox plays plenty of Sinatra.

It's easy to sum up Peter Luger Steak House, another Brooklyn standout, with just a few short phrases: dingy digs, gruff service, and, most importantly, steaks to die for. If you're looking for quintessential New York, it's right here. Highlights of a meal include the aforementioned unflappable staff, most of who have been there forever. They move from kitchen to table with uber-efficiency, delivering Luger's famous tomato and onion salad, sinfully rich creamed spinach and the best home fries money can buy. And the steaks? You'll be hard-pressed to find more desirable: magnificently aged marbleized hunks broiled to perfection and served sizzling on the platter. It doesn't get better than this.

See all the AAA Diamond-rated restaurants for this destination.



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Attractions
In a city with dozens of attractions, you may have trouble deciding where to spend your time. Here are the highlights for this destination, as chosen by AAA editors. GEMs are “Great Experiences for Members.”

By Suzanne Lemon

To orient yourself to New York City, a metropolis of dueling skyscrapers, it's best to go vertical—take an uplifting trip to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. Kids love the thrill of riding the elevators to the Art Deco building's observation tower, where the 360-degree panorama of Manhattan and beyond never fails to impress. Frolicking penguins capture a child's imagination at the zoo in Central Park, an urban oasis that delights all ages. Wollman Skating Rink, the Egyptian obelisk, Belvedere Castle, Shakespeare Garden and the carousel are other landmarks that frequently show up on “to-do” lists. If you're too tired to trudge across the expansive parklands on foot, you can see it all by buggy ride or horse-drawn cab. The ferry ride to Statue of Liberty National Monument also entices children, as does the awe-inspiring sight of Lady Liberty, the tallest statue of modern times. Poke around the grounds and pedestal, then hop back on the boat and travel to Ellis Island, where millions of hopeful immigrants entered the country to begin a new life.


Part of the fun in visiting the Big Apple is to experience all the slices of ethnic and cultural diversity. Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of exotic Chinatown, with its dazzling assortment of shops stocked with everything Oriental—brocade fabrics, beadwork, carved ivory, herbs and teas, colorful paper parasols and all sorts of wonderful bric-a-brac. Stop in at one of the many restaurants for mouth-watering Asian delicacies. While you're in Lower Manhattan, set time aside for a leisurely stroll through Greenwich Village, New York's Bohemia. Streets twist past stylish boutiques, funky art galleries and handsome brownstones. Indulge in some ice cream or join a chess game in Washington Square and be amused by jovial street performers and the antics of NYU students. Bleecker Street, the West Village's main drag, is a great place to shop or grab some lunch.

SoHo (south of Houston Street) is another alluring neighborhood, home to all that is trendy and fashionable. Intriguing shops beckon passersby on the hunt for eclectic conversation pieces, while a tempting selection of coffeehouses and outdoor cafes serves as culinary havens for people-watchers. Where the Upper West Side and Harlem meet, the Gothic tower of Riverside Church serves as a welcoming beacon to all races and religions. You can join a guided tour on Sunday, or meander about the impressive house of worship on your own—assassinated Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. made his impassioned anti-Vietnam War sermon from Riverside's pulpit.

New York City also sets the stage as a world-class performing arts venue. The 1891 Italian Renaissance-style Carnegie Hall, celebrated for its perfect acoustics and elegant architecture and décor, plays host to prominent orchestras and leading musicians; visit the onsite Rose Museum for a historical overview. While productions at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts are unrivaled and classic, they also are innovative—imagine upside-down musicians and massive quantities of water dumped on opera singers. In these hallowed halls, Leonard Bernstein conducted, Mikhail Baryshnikov danced and Luciano Pavarotti sang. If you're unable to attend a ballet, opera or symphony, catch a guided tour from the center concourse. Media hounds and the star struck head to Rockefeller Center, a city within a city and broadcasting base of the “Today” show and other programs. For an insider's perspective, take a tour of NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall, home to the Rockettes and site of theatrical events and live concerts.

Museum aficionados grow giddy at the seemingly endless choices the city offers. If you visit only one museum, make it The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Consider embarking on a guided or audio tour to navigate the collection of more than 2 million works with everything from Chinese porcelains to 20th-century haute couture. If time is a factor, do see the Egyptian galleries, where you can venture though an authentic tomb or discover how women of the time created their exquisite make-up. Art lovers in need of solitude head to The Cloisters, a branch of the Met known for medieval art and its peaceful setting on a hill overlooking the Hudson. Five French cloisters—vaulted arcades serving as passageways—are set amid tranquil gardens, illuminated manuscripts and stained glass. There's a nice café in the covered walkway surrounding Trie, a quaint cloister whose plant arrangement is themed around the museum's Unicorn Tapestries.

Contemporary art fans flock to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to view its sweeping exhibition of 20th-century works. You'll have more than 100,000 pieces to peruse at MoMa, but try not to miss the Andy Warhol collection, including his classic “Gold Maryland Monroe.” Frank Lloyd Wright's daring circular design for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a perfect complement for the modern art residing within, albeit a striking contrast to the more conservative structures nearby. It's kinder on the legs to ride the elevator upstairs and mosey along the spiraled walkway from the top down—the sloping walls accommodate creations from such artists as Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso.

Housed in the 1913 Henry Clay Frick mansion, the Frick Collection highlights the gilded treasure trove owned by the industrialist and philanthropist. The house alone is worth a visit. There are some extraordinary works by Dutch Masters, along with such tasteful tidbits as Limoges enamels, portraits by Goya and Whistler, Oriental rugs and French porcelains. Find an alternative activity for kids under 10, who can't gain entry since articles are unshielded by glass or other protective barriers.

If your idea of museum hopping includes experiencing the sounds and smells of a rainforest or learning about the marvels of the human body, plan a stop at the American Museum of Natural History. A freestanding dinosaur menacingly greets visitors in the rotunda; his relatives and various fossil displays are the subject matter here. Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust resides in a six-sided building symbolizing the Star of David's points and the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust. Artifacts, photographs and videotaped personal narratives chronicle the 20th-century Jewish experience.

Those who seek international intrigue can take the hour-long tour at the United Nations Headquarters, where the world's countries meet to discuss global problems. Colorful flags of member nations mark this complex tucked aside the East River, stunning in its simplistic modern design. Our fledgling nation protested “taxation without representation” at Federal Hall National Memorial, which marks the site of the first U.S. Capitol and where George Washington took the oath of office in 1789. Exhibits focus on the inauguration, the Bill of Rights and old Federal Hall.

If you have extra time for sightseeing, consider visiting AAA attractions in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

See all the AAA recommended attractions for this destination.



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New York City in 3 Days
Three days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these activities to make the most of your time in New York City.

By Suzanne Lemon

Day 1: Morning
No visit to the Big Apple is complete without seeing Central Park, so Day 1 takes in this urban oasis along with the world-renowned museums bordering it. Get a jump-start on the crowds and arrive early at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the park's east side at Fifth Avenue. (Pressed for time? You may not be able to explore the entire park, but at the very least, indulge yourself by visiting this stellar art museum.) Trying to navigate the Met's collection of more than 2 million works can be a little overwhelming, so take a guided or audio tour to make sure you hit the highlights. At any rate, be sure to experience the American Wing's enticing Charles Engelhard Court, the mystique of the Egyptian galleries and the European masterpieces created by Monet, Rembrandt, Renoir, van Gogh, Vermeer and others.

It may be a little aggressive to do two museums in one morning, but keep in mind that with so much to do in close proximity you can mix and match as you like, either choosing to spend hours in one museum or hopping from one location to the next. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, its striking circular design a stark contrast to the other stately museum facades, also is on the park's east side opposite the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Ride the elevator upstairs, then meander down the spiral ramp past creations from such masters as Cezanne, Klee and Picasso. When you're at the base, look up to see the museum's stunning dome.


Day 1: Afternoon
Cross to the west side of Central Park. It's lovely to stroll through this peaceful green space, where you'll encounter such points of interest as Shakespeare Garden, Belvedere Castle and the John Lennon-inspired Strawberry Fields. You can cover a lot of ground in the 843-acre park, so if you get tired, hail a cab—or better yet—a horse-drawn carriage to usher you about the premises.

Walk about a half-mile north along Central Park West to arrive at the American Museum of Natural History. A fearsome dinosaur holds court in the rotunda, inspiring you to learn more about him and his relatives. If cosmic evolution captivates you, opt to spend the afternoon next door at the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space, where you can take a virtual trip through the Milky Way.

Day 1: Evening
At Cafe Sabarsky, in the Neue Galerie New York bordering the park's east side, you can feast on such Viennese delights as goulash, spaetzle and to-die-for apple strudel; on Friday the museum is open until 9 p.m. so you can catch dinner and see the collection. Dozens of restaurants border the park's south end, so choices are plentiful and varied. If you're heading to an event at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, try Rosa Mexicano, known for legendary guacamole and innovative margaritas. While New Yorkers celebrate Carnegie Hall for the perfect acoustics, they worship Carnegie Delicatessen & Restaurant for its stellar corned beef on rye—but bring a friend, because it usually takes two to conquer this mammoth sandwich.

Day 2: Morning
Whether or not you arrive in the Midtown area via Grand Central Terminal, it's worth a trip just to see this architectural gem. In addition to serving thousands of commuters, the station boasts such design elements as gleaming marble floors, arched windows, the chandeliered Vanderbilt Hall and an astrological mural in addition to shops and restaurants (the counter at the Grand Central Oyster Bar is a great casual lunch spot).

From this point on, you can walk, hop on the subway or take a cab between the various points of interest described here.

For an unsurpassed birds-eye view of New York, head to the Art Deco Empire State Building at the intersection of 5th Avenue and E. 34th Street. Do your best to arrive when the doors open at 8 a.m., as lines are long. (Hint: Save time by buying tickets in advance online at www.esbny.com.) After riding the elevators to the 102nd floor, you'll discover that the wait was worth it—on a clear day you can see nearly 50 miles in all directions. Have fun gaining a perspective of how Manhattan is laid out and plotting your route from above.

Afterward, travel about eight blocks northwest to the triangle of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street. This is Times Square, a real slice of New York life and home to Broadway theaters, MTV Studios, comedy clubs, street performers and souvenir shops galore. You'll be mesmerized by the energy and dazzled by blinking lights and flashing billboards—it's easy to see why this is the site of the annual Times Square New Year's Eve Celebration and Ball Drop. Prime people-watching opportunities abound.

Day 2: Afternoon
For lunch, stop at one of the pizza or sub shops bordering the square. Virgil's Real Barbecue, just off the square, has down-home favorites like cheese grits, pulled pork, tender brisket and sweet potato pie.

Now that you've refueled, venture east and take a left onto Fifth Avenue, where you can fuss over the window displays of tony retailers. The power shopping truly begins on the leg of Fifth near your next stop, Rockefeller Center, with the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Saks and Tiffany's. You'll recognize the center (between 48th and 51st streets) by the giant golden statue of Prometheus—you can take the Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour, the NBC Studio Tours or the Rockefeller Center Tour, which ushers you past the spot where “Today” show fans congregate during broadcasts. If you feel like gazing rather than touring, the Top of the Rock offers awesome city views.

At 5th Avenue and 50th Street, the Gothic-Revival style St. Patrick's Cathedral, with its graceful spires, stands in harmony with Midtown's concrete-and-steel skyscrapers. Wander inside the stoically beautiful structure to get a better look at the stained-glass rose window and to view the pipe organ and marble sculptures.

Day 2: Evening
For a laid-back experience that delivers good food and fun, you can't go wrong at Carmine's. Waiters serve Southern Italian favorites family-style on heaping platters, yet the restaurant does not sacrifice quality for quantity.

For the ultimate New York experience, try to catch a show in the Broadway Theater District. (You can visit the TKTS booth in Times Square to get discounts on same-day performances.) If you're attending a play, you will probably want to dine beforehand. Restaurants lining the streets of the district offer prix-fixe pre-theater dinners and are equipped to get you out in time to make the 8 p.m. curtain. Good choices are Becco for regional Italian in cozy quarters and Sardi's for a taste of nostalgia and potential celebrity sightings (both in-person and in the form of caricatures lining the walls).

Day 3: Morning
Start your day by catching an early ferry from Battery Park to Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. Ferries run from Battery Park on a frequent basis (about every 25 minutes), starting at 8:30 or 9:30 a.m. depending on the season. There also are frequent departures between Liberty and Ellis islands and back to Battery Park, giving you the freedom to spend as much time as you like in either spot. Expect long lines and plenty of waiting during debarkation and boarding processes.

Your first stop will be Liberty Island, where you can take either a 45-minute ranger-guided tour or a self-guiding audio tour. If you opt to go solo, head to the 2nd floor inside the statue's pedestal to view museum exhibits and the original torch, then ride the elevator to the 10th floor observatory for an up-close encounter with Lady Liberty and a panorama of New York harbor.

Next, board the ferry to Ellis Island and visit the Immigration Museum; pick up a self-guiding tour brochure that allows you to navigate the exhibits at your leisure. See the documentary “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” and trace your ancestry or search ship manifests at the American Family Immigration History Center.

Day 3: Afternoon
Ride the ferry back to Battery Park, and take a cab or public transportation to explore the Chinatown section of Lower Manhattan—Canal Street will put you in the thick of things. You'll have a grand time just wandering about and taking in all the sights and sounds this slice of the Orient has to offer. You'll get caught up in the hustle and bustle, as you shop for souvenirs and gape at store windows with exotic offerings running the gamut from colorful silks and medicinal herbs to this evening's dinner.

You won't have a problem grabbing a late lunch in Chinatown; Great NY Noodle Town and Peking Duck House are open all day, as are many eateries. For dessert, try one of the little bakeries lining the streets—the Chinese almond cookies are a joy.

Depending on your energy level, you can either take public transportation or walk to SoHo. Spring and Prince streets are good launching points from which to branch out into the area's twisting lanes. After a busy day of sightseeing, this is the place to wind down and soak up the ambience. Linger over a glass of wine or an espresso in one of the outdoor cafés as you engage in first-rate people watching. Wander about and pop into hip art galleries or boutiques touting chic fashions and every imaginable accessory.

Day 3: Evening
Stay put, as SoHo's bistros and cafes present a full range of dinner options, from casual to elegant. If you're in the mood for French, try Balthazar, reminiscent of a Parisian brasserie (you also can grab lunch or a post-dinner pastry at their delightful bakery). If it's Italian fare you crave, walking east on Spring Street will place you in NoLita (north of Little Italy). For a casual pizza and beer sort of night, Lombardi's Coal Oven Pizzeria on Spring Street fits the bill. For a high-end experience that promises to impress, mosey over to rustic Peasant on Elizabeth Street for specialties cooked over an open fire—you can practice your Italian, as the menu isn't in English.



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New York City in 3 Days
Three days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these activities to make the most of your time in New York City.

By Suzanne Lemon

Day 1: Morning
No visit to the Big Apple is complete without seeing Central Park, so Day 1 takes in this urban oasis along with the world-renowned museums bordering it. Get a jump-start on the crowds and arrive early at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the park's east side at Fifth Avenue. (Pressed for time? You may not be able to explore the entire park, but at the very least, indulge yourself by visiting this stellar art museum.) Trying to navigate the Met's collection of more than 2 million works can be a little overwhelming, so take a guided or audio tour to make sure you hit the highlights. At any rate, be sure to experience the American Wing's enticing Charles Engelhard Court, the mystique of the Egyptian galleries and the European masterpieces created by Monet, Rembrandt, Renoir, van Gogh, Vermeer and others.

It may be a little aggressive to do two museums in one morning, but keep in mind that with so much to do in close proximity you can mix and match as you like, either choosing to spend hours in one museum or hopping from one location to the next. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, its striking circular design a stark contrast to the other stately museum facades, also is on the park's east side opposite the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Ride the elevator upstairs, then meander down the spiral ramp past creations from such masters as Cezanne, Klee and Picasso. When you're at the base, look up to see the museum's stunning dome.


Day 1: Afternoon
Cross to the west side of Central Park. It's lovely to stroll through this peaceful green space, where you'll encounter such points of interest as Shakespeare Garden, Belvedere Castle and the John Lennon-inspired Strawberry Fields. You can cover a lot of ground in the 843-acre park, so if you get tired, hail a cab—or better yet—a horse-drawn carriage to usher you about the premises.

Walk about a half-mile north along Central Park West to arrive at the American Museum of Natural History. A fearsome dinosaur holds court in the rotunda, inspiring you to learn more about him and his relatives. If cosmic evolution captivates you, opt to spend the afternoon next door at the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space, where you can take a virtual trip through the Milky Way.

Day 1: Evening
At Cafe Sabarsky, in the Neue Galerie New York bordering the park's east side, you can feast on such Viennese delights as goulash, spaetzle and to-die-for apple strudel; on Friday the museum is open until 9 p.m. so you can catch dinner and see the collection. Dozens of restaurants border the park's south end, so choices are plentiful and varied. If you're heading to an event at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, try Rosa Mexicano, known for legendary guacamole and innovative margaritas. While New Yorkers celebrate Carnegie Hall for the perfect acoustics, they worship Carnegie Delicatessen & Restaurant for its stellar corned beef on rye—but bring a friend, because it usually takes two to conquer this mammoth sandwich.

Day 2: Morning
Whether or not you arrive in the Midtown area via Grand Central Terminal, it's worth a trip just to see this architectural gem. In addition to serving thousands of commuters, the station boasts such design elements as gleaming marble floors, arched windows, the chandeliered Vanderbilt Hall and an astrological mural in addition to shops and restaurants (the counter at the Grand Central Oyster Bar is a great casual lunch spot).

From this point on, you can walk, hop on the subway or take a cab between the various points of interest described here.

For an unsurpassed birds-eye view of New York, head to the Art Deco Empire State Building at the intersection of 5th Avenue and E. 34th Street. Do your best to arrive when the doors open at 8 a.m., as lines are long. (Hint: Save time by buying tickets in advance online at www.esbny.com.) After riding the elevators to the 102nd floor, you'll discover that the wait was worth it—on a clear day you can see nearly 50 miles in all directions. Have fun gaining a perspective of how Manhattan is laid out and plotting your route from above.

Afterward, travel about eight blocks northwest to the triangle of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street. This is Times Square, a real slice of New York life and home to Broadway theaters, MTV Studios, comedy clubs, street performers and souvenir shops galore. You'll be mesmerized by the energy and dazzled by blinking lights and flashing billboards—it's easy to see why this is the site of the annual Times Square New Year's Eve Celebration and Ball Drop. Prime people-watching opportunities abound.

Day 2: Afternoon
For lunch, stop at one of the pizza or sub shops bordering the square. Virgil's Real Barbecue, just off the square, has down-home favorites like cheese grits, pulled pork, tender brisket and sweet potato pie.

Now that you've refueled, venture east and take a left onto Fifth Avenue, where you can fuss over the window displays of tony retailers. The power shopping truly begins on the leg of Fifth near your next stop, Rockefeller Center, with the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Saks and Tiffany's. You'll recognize the center (between 48th and 51st streets) by the giant golden statue of Prometheus—you can take the Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour, the NBC Studio Tours or the Rockefeller Center Tour, which ushers you past the spot where “Today” show fans congregate during broadcasts. If you feel like gazing rather than touring, the Top of the Rock offers awesome city views.

At 5th Avenue and 50th Street, the Gothic-Revival style St. Patrick's Cathedral, with its graceful spires, stands in harmony with Midtown's concrete-and-steel skyscrapers. Wander inside the stoically beautiful structure to get a better look at the stained-glass rose window and to view the pipe organ and marble sculptures.

Day 2: Evening
For a laid-back experience that delivers good food and fun, you can't go wrong at Carmine's. Waiters serve Southern Italian favorites family-style on heaping platters, yet the restaurant does not sacrifice quality for quantity.

For the ultimate New York experience, try to catch a show in the Broadway Theater District. (You can visit the TKTS booth in Times Square to get discounts on same-day performances.) If you're attending a play, you will probably want to dine beforehand. Restaurants lining the streets of the district offer prix-fixe pre-theater dinners and are equipped to get you out in time to make the 8 p.m. curtain. Good choices are Becco for regional Italian in cozy quarters and Sardi's for a taste of nostalgia and potential celebrity sightings (both in-person and in the form of caricatures lining the walls).

Day 3: Morning
Start your day by catching an early ferry from Battery Park to Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. Ferries run from Battery Park on a frequent basis (about every 25 minutes), starting at 8:30 or 9:30 a.m. depending on the season. There also are frequent departures between Liberty and Ellis islands and back to Battery Park, giving you the freedom to spend as much time as you like in either spot. Expect long lines and plenty of waiting during debarkation and boarding processes.

Your first stop will be Liberty Island, where you can take either a 45-minute ranger-guided tour or a self-guiding audio tour. If you opt to go solo, head to the 2nd floor inside the statue's pedestal to view museum exhibits and the original torch, then ride the elevator to the 10th floor observatory for an up-close encounter with Lady Liberty and a panorama of New York harbor.

Next, board the ferry to Ellis Island and visit the Immigration Museum; pick up a self-guiding tour brochure that allows you to navigate the exhibits at your leisure. See the documentary “Island of Hope, Island of Tears” and trace your ancestry or search ship manifests at the American Family Immigration History Center.

Day 3: Afternoon
Ride the ferry back to Battery Park, and take a cab or public transportation to explore the Chinatown section of Lower Manhattan—Canal Street will put you in the thick of things. You'll have a grand time just wandering about and taking in all the sights and sounds this slice of the Orient has to offer. You'll get caught up in the hustle and bustle, as you shop for souvenirs and gape at store windows with exotic offerings running the gamut from colorful silks and medicinal herbs to this evening's dinner.

You won't have a problem grabbing a late lunch in Chinatown; Great NY Noodle Town and Peking Duck House are open all day, as are many eateries. For dessert, try one of the little bakeries lining the streets—the Chinese almond cookies are a joy.

Depending on your energy level, you can either take public transportation or walk to SoHo. Spring and Prince streets are good launching points from which to branch out into the area's twisting lanes. After a busy day of sightseeing, this is the place to wind down and soak up the ambience. Linger over a glass of wine or an espresso in one of the outdoor cafés as you engage in first-rate people watching. Wander about and pop into hip art galleries or boutiques touting chic fashions and every imaginable accessory.

Day 3: Evening
Stay put, as SoHo's bistros and cafes present a full range of dinner options, from casual to elegant. If you're in the mood for French, try Balthazar, reminiscent of a Parisian brasserie (you also can grab lunch or a post-dinner pastry at their delightful bakery). If it's Italian fare you crave, walking east on Spring Street will place you in NoLita (north of Little Italy). For a casual pizza and beer sort of night, Lombardi's Coal Oven Pizzeria on Spring Street fits the bill. For a high-end experience that promises to impress, mosey over to rustic Peasant on Elizabeth Street for specialties cooked over an open fire—you can practice your Italian, as the menu isn't in English.



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Events
In addition to its many cultural and historic landmarks, this destination hosts a number of outstanding festivals and events that may coincide with your visit. GEMs are “Great Experiences for Members.”

By Suzanne Lemon

With a festival of colossal color, Chinese New Year shakes New Yorkers out of their winter doldrums. Due to the lunar calendar, the event doesn't fall on the same dates every year, though it always occurs throughout the month of January or February. Asian-Americans sing traditional melodies, firecracker ceremonies ward off evil spirits, and dragon, unicorn and lion dance troupes sashay through Chinatown. A parade features elaborate floats, acrobats, bands and magicians along with the thousands of people who choose to promenade.


Everyone loves a parade, and the city has one for just about every occasion. One not to miss is the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. Everything turns green along Fifth Avenue—even the bagels and beer. Spectators adorned with green face paint, hair, hats and flashy costumes line up to watch soldiers, politicians, bagpipers and high school bands march to a rousing beat during this glorious display of Irish pageantry. The Empire State Building's green lighting scheme pays further tribute to Ireland's patron saint. Folks get the opportunity to participate in a march of enlightenment during the Museum Mile Festival in early June, when Fifth Avenue turns into a pedestrian block party from 82nd to 104th streets. Participants can walk the mile-long route to visit nine of the city's finest cultural institutions and enjoy entertainment offerings along the way. “Art-in-the-street” activities like chalk drawing and sawdust murals entice passersby, while the museums present musical performances. Take advantage of free museum admission from 6-9 p.m.

Fall ushers in the Feast of San Gennaro Festival, an 11-day celebration in mid-September honoring the patron saint of Naples. More than 3 million people venture to Little Italy at Mulberry and Canal streets to sample mouth-watering Italian specialties. The joyous gathering also offers a parade featuring a statue of San Gennaro and an amusing assortment of street entertainment—not the least of which is a cannoli-eating contest. Brisk autumn air and the first weekend of November signify that it's time for the New York City Marathon. At least 2 million spectators cheer their moral support as some 35,000 runners strive to make their way through five boroughs and over five bridges to cross the finish line in Central Park.

Balloon Inflation Eve kicks off the holiday season the day before Thanksgiving at the American Museum of Natural History grounds, as attendants fill gargantuan flying critters with helium and prep them for their downtown stroll. Examine these amazing creations up close before their much-anticipated debut at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade the following morning. Bands, clowns, celebrity-laden floats, the Rockettes and Santa himself keep pace with the huge balloons—representing everyone's favorite comic book and cartoon characters—as they float along a route starting at Central Park West and 78th Street and finishing at 7th Avenue.

Holiday fun continues with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting in early December, a custom dating back to 1931. Thousands are on hand to witness the illumination of the enormous Christmas tree, decorated with enough bulbs to span 5 miles. Giant tin soldiers flank the plaza's ice skating rink, where skaters happily glide during the festivities. Popular performers entertain the crowd at this gleeful affair—arrive early to grab a good spot. As the year draws to a close in the Big Apple, the most renowned event of all occurs: the Times Square New Year's Eve Celebration and Ball Drop. The New Year is welcomed (officially and enthusiastically) with the time-honored tradition of the midnight ball-drop. Hordes of merrymakers descend upon the square to yell, blow horns, throw confetti, wave banners—you name it—at one of the world's largest outdoor parties. If you plan to attend, arrive early, dress warmly and bring your own food.

See all the AAA recommended events for this destination.



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Sightseeing


Boat Tours
One of the best sightseeing bargains in the city is a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. Leaving South Ferry in Battery Park every day at least once an hour, the free ride provides views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Avoid the ferry during peak commuter hours, Mon.-Fri. 8-10 and 4-6; phone (718) 390-5253. Automobiles are not permitted on the ferry.

The 1885 schooner Pioneer offers 2-hour excursions of New York Harbor Tues.-Sun., May-Oct. Tickets are sold at the Pier 16 ticket booth; phone (212) 748-8786.

The Beast

Circle Line Cruises

New York Water Taxi & Circle Line Downtown Tours

Spirit Cruises

World Yacht

Bus Tours
To see the most in the least amount of time, take a bus tour. There are numerous bus tours that cover all parts of the city; information is available either from your local AAA club or by phoning the bus lines directly.

Gray Line New York offers a variety of sightseeing tours in double-deck buses. The All Loops Tour includes the Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn and Night Loop/Holiday Lights Tour. A motor coach tour of Manhattan includes lunch. Tickets can be purchased at the Gray Line Visitors Center, 777 Eighth Ave. (between 47th and 48th streets); phone (212) 445-0848 or (800) 669-0051.

On Location Tours allows you to relive TV and movie memories through themed excursions to various film locations in the Big Apple, including sites that have appeared in “Gossip Girl,” “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.” Six different tours are offered, including a walking tour of Central Park film and television sites; phone (212) 209-3370.

Double-deck bus tours operated by CitySights NY, 234 W. 42nd St., visit historic sites and popular points of interest throughout Manhattan; phone (212) 812-2700.

Helicopter Tours
Liberty Helicopter Tours

Guided Walking Tours
The Municipal Art Society, 111 W. 57th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenues), offers various guided walking tours. Of interest is an in-depth look at Grand Central Terminal; phone (212) 935-3960.

Theme tours of Harlem, including gospel, jazz, nightclub, soul food and art galleries, are available from Harlem, Your Way! Tours; phone (800) 382-9363. New York City Cultural Walking Tours, (212) 979-2388, offers guided tours that emphasize Manhattan's architecture and history.

Big Onion Walking Tours take visitors to many of the city's myriad ethnic neighborhoods and historic districts. Tours explore Central Park, Chinatown, the East Village, the Financial District, Greenwich Village, SoHo and Times Square. Themed walks take in Irish New York, the Bowery and the splendid brownstones of Park Slope. Tours meet at various locations; most depart at 11 or 1. For additional details phone (212) 439-1090, or write Big Onion Walking Tours, 476 13th St., Brooklyn, NY 11215.

The Times Square Alliance offers tours highlighting landmarks, hotels and famous theaters in Times Square . Tours depart from the Times Square Visitors Center on 7th Avenue (between 46th and 47th streets) Fridays at noon; phone (212) 768-1560 or (212) 869-1890.

Guided walking and shopping tours by Shop Gotham include the 2.5-hour SoHo and NoLita Shopping Tour and the 3-hour Garment Center Insider Shopping Tour. Tours depart from various locations; phone (212) 209-3370.

Self-guiding Tours
An inexpensive way to see the city is by self-guiding walking tours. Various ethnic neighborhoods offer intriguing shops, restaurants and sidewalk fairs best sampled on foot.

Some of the best known communities include Little Italy, centering on Mulberry Street; the Jewish sector, on Essex and Orchard streets; the Middle Eastern enclave, along Atlantic Avenue; and the East Indian neighborhood, on Lexington Avenue. Check with a local AAA club for more information about what other areas would lend themselves to walking tours.

AAA Walking Tours


Greenwich Village
The tour takes 3-5 hours, depending on your pace and the number of listed sites you visit along the way.

Although just a short subway ride from the scurrying throngs and imposing skyscrapers of Midtown, Greenwich Village seems a world apart. Characterized by quiet side streets, secluded courtyards, tree-shaded parks and brick townhouses, the Village is about as pedestrian-friendly a place as you are likely to find in a huge city like New York. A stroll along its relatively peaceful sidewalks offers a break from the frenetic bustle that characterizes much of Manhattan. Walking also happens to be the best way to experience the funky ambience of this famously unconventional neighborhood.

Not only do Village residents have a long history of defying convention, the streets themselves defy the ordered grid that makes navigation so easy in other areas of Manhattan. Fortunately there are plenty of street signs, and contrary to popular stereotype, New Yorkers are often very willing to assist with directions.

The walking tour begins and ends in Greenwich Village's leafy heart: Washington Square, at the southern end of Fifth Avenue. To get there, take the A, B, C, D, E, F or M train to the West 4th Street Subway Station; the park is a block east. You might be disappointed to learn that New York City's subway tokens have gone the way of the pterodactyl, but the fare cards (called MetroCards) that have replaced those distinctive little coins are easy to use, easy to obtain and much lighter in your pocket.

Originally a marsh, the area that is now Washington Square Park was used as a cemetery in the late 1700s. Excavations a century later uncovered numerous skeletons and headstones, much to the dismay of the well-heeled residents who lived along the park's borders at the time. Today you would have a hard time envisioning Washington Square's funereal past, particularly on summer weekends when the park fills with children, chess players, joggers, skaters, couples with baby strollers, people walking their dogs, food vendors, street entertainers, musicians rehearsing and tourists sitting on benches and resting their weary feet. Adding a youthful air to this already vibrant environment are the students of New York University. One of America's largest private universities, N.Y.U. owns many of the buildings surrounding the park, making Washington Square a de facto part of the school campus.

Presiding over this crazy quilt of humanity is the square's majestic Washington Memorial Arch. Dedicated in 1895, the 77-foot-high, white-marble monument at the end of Fifth Avenue was designed by Stamford White to commemorate the centennial of George Washington's inauguration. It replaced an earlier wooden arch temporarily constructed less than a block north on Fifth Avenue. “Washington in War,” a statue of the first president wearing military attire, was added to one side of the arch in 1916 and a second, called appropriately enough “Washington in Peace,” was installed in 1918. Other park monuments include a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, known as the Father of Modern Italy, and a bust of Alexander Lyman Holley, who perfected the Bessemer process of manufacturing steel, giving rise to the U.S. steel industry.

Walk over to the park's central fountain and proceed from there to Washington Square South. The bell tower to your right is part of Italian Renaissance-style Judson Memorial Church, built in 1892. The church is noted for its stained-glass windows, which were designed at the turn of the 20th century by eminent artist John La Farge.

Turn left and head over to Washington Square East. The massive red stone building to your right with fluted walls is N.Y.U.'s Elmer Bobst Library. Set on a pedestal adjacent to the library is a piece of ornate stonework from the university's original Gothic building, which was demolished in the late 1800s. Founded in 1831, N.Y.U. occupies buildings throughout the Village. You'll recognize them by the large violet banners emblazoned with the school's symbol: a flaming torch.

Turn left again and follow Washington Square East to Washington Square North. The building at the corner of Washington Square East and Waverly Place is the university's Silver Center, which stands on the site of the original Gothic structure mentioned earlier. Famous occupants of that first building include painter Winslow Homer, poet Walt Whitman, author Henry James and electric telegraph developer Samuel Morse, who, interestingly enough, taught painting and sculpture and is credited with establishing America's first academic fine arts department. Within the current Silver Center is the Grey Art Gallery, where you can see an array of visual arts on display.

Now walk west along Washington Square North. The Greek Revival townhouses here were built in 1833 for wealthy New Yorkers, but most now belong to the university. Henry James grew up around the corner, and his grandmother lived in a townhouse on this very block. James drew heavily on his aristocratic upbringing in Greenwich Village when he wrote his novel, “Washington Square.”

Proceed north on Fifth Avenue to Washington Mews, a peaceful pedestrian-only alley on your right. You'll notice a towering Art Deco building, built in 1926, on the other side of the mews. Stables once lined this narrow brick-paved street, but they were replaced by desirable apartments long ago. As you exit onto University Place, the buildings on your right and left are the French and German departments of N.Y.U.

Walk 4 blocks north on University Place to East 11th Street and turn left. Half way down the block on the north side is a small 19th-century building tucked in between two larger buildings and hidden behind trees. This is the Conservative Synagogue of Fifth Avenue, which, like the residences along Washington Mews, was originally used as a stable. Across the street, a plaque to the left of the door at 20 East 11th St. indicates that Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the Village's many famous residents, kept an apartment here in the 1930s and '40s.

Continue west and turn right at Fifth Avenue to the broad stairway of the Salmagundi Club, an artist's organization founded in 1871 as the New York Sketch Club. Members have included Childe Hassam, Louis Comfort Tiffany and N.C. Wyeth. The club took its current name from “The Salmagundi Papers,” Washington Irving's satirical take on social life in early 19th-century New York. Incidentally, it is within “The Salmagundi Papers” that Irving first referred to New York as Gotham, which has been a nickname for the city ever since. The club has occupied the 1853 Italianate mansion—the last of its kind remaining on this stretch of Fifth Avenue—since 1917.

Across Fifth Avenue from the club is the Gothic Revival-style First Presbyterian Church. Completed in 1846, the church was modeled after the Church of St. Saviour in Bath, England. Just a bit farther south on Fifth Avenue, at the corner of 10th Street, looms another example of Gothic Revival architecture: the 1841 Church of the Ascension.

North of the First Presbyterian Church, between 12th and 13th, you'll find The Forbes Magazine Galleries. Inside, countless toy soldiers of every description are displayed marching or engaged in battle. Toy boats, historical documents, collectible trophies and Monopoly board games round out this eclectic hodgepodge amassed by the late Malcolm Forbes.

Return to 11th Street and head west. A wall and wrought iron fence on the south side of 11th near Sixth Avenue protects a small corner of a once-larger cemetery. The Second Cemetery of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue dates back to 1805. Take a peek through the bars into the dim, well-tended space beyond, which is filled with tombstones of various shapes and sizes beneath sheltering evergreen trees.

Continue to Sixth Avenue, turn left and turn left again on West 10th Street. On the south side of 10th is a row of Anglo-Italianate townhouses connected by a single shallow terrace with an ornate iron railing. These residences were built in the 1850s and designed by James Renwick, Jr., who also designed historic Grace Church at 802 Broadway; St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st streets; and the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C.

Retrace your steps back to Sixth Avenue and cross the street. The building with the pyramid-topped clock tower to your left is Jefferson Market Courthouse, completed in 1887. In the hearts of Villagers this Victorian Gothic landmark ranks second only to the Washington Memorial Arch, although in the early 1960s “Old Jeff” came perilously close to demolition. Angered Villagers came to the rescue, and after a 1967 restoration, it reopened as a branch of the New York Public Library. Behind the courthouse, where a women's prison once stood, is a volunteer-maintained viewing garden.

Across West 10th Street from the courthouse you'll find Patchin Place, a quiet, dead-end street lined with three-story residences. These were built in 1848 as boardinghouses for waiters at a nearby hotel, but in the 20th century Patchin Place counted several renowned writers among its residents, including poets e.e. cummings and John Masefield, authors Theodore Dreiser and John Reed and playwright Eugene O'Neill. Just around the corner on Sixth Avenue is Milligan Place, another picturesque courtyard lined with former boardinghouses, these built in 1852.

Proceed west on 10th Street to Seventh Avenue and turn left. The intersection ahead where seven streets come together is Sheridan Square, roughly the geographical center of Greenwich Village. With so many streets meeting in one spot, the square has earned a reputation for disorienting visitors. Just try to remember your position relative to Seventh Avenue, the main thoroughfare.

A statue of Civil War general Philip Henry Sheridan, for whom the square was named, stands in Christopher Park, which is the triangular park to your left created by the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Christopher and Grove streets. For such a small area, Christopher Park seems crowded with statues. Opposite the general is a grouping of four whitewashed bronze figures known as the Gay Liberation Monument, evidence of the Village's tolerant live-and-let-live ethos. Nearby, a second triangular park created by the intersection of Washington Place, 4th Street and Barrow Street features a viewing garden.

Go back to Seventh Avenue and continue south to where Seventh intersects with Bleecker and Barrow streets. Turn right on Barrow and follow it for one block to Bedford. Another right will bring you to 86 Bedford St., better known as Chumley's, a restaurant opened in 1922 that served as a speakeasy during Prohibition. A veritable Who's Who list of literary greats have frequented Chumley's over the years, including James Agee, e.e. cummings, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lillian Hellman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair and John Steinbeck. Note: Chumley's is scheduled to reopen in 2013.

Return to Bedford and Barrow, turn right and then make a left on Commerce Street. Where the street curves to the left stands the Cherry Lane Theater, founded by Edna St. Vincent Millay in 1924. One of the city's first off-Broadway venues, the theater has showcased challenging, experimental plays by the likes of Eugene Ionesco, David Mamet, Harold Pinter and Sam Shepard for more than 75 years.

Follow the bend in Commerce Street until you're back on Bedford, then make a right, after which you will immediately be confronted by two Greenwich Village superlatives. On the corner at 77 Bedford St. is the Isaacs-Hendricks House, which was built in 1799 and is recognized as the oldest in the Village. By comparison, the house next door at 751/2 Bedford, built in 1873, is a relative newcomer. With just one glance, however, you can guess what its claim to fame is. At under 10 feet wide, 751/2 Bedford has earned the reputation as the narrowest house in the Village. Edna St. Vincent Millay lived there briefly during the 1920s.

Walk south on Bedford to Seventh Avenue and turn right. Turn right again on Leroy Street, which for a short stretch is known as St. Luke's Place. The impressive row of Italianate townhouses along the street's north side was constructed in the 1850s for New York's mercantile elite. Ornate facades, grand entryways, tall windows, shade trees and a park across the street make these some of the most sought after addresses in the Village. Number 6 was the home of Jimmy Walker, mayor of the city 1926-32. Two lamps, which traditionally identify the mayor's house in New York, still frame the entrance.

Retrace your steps back to Seventh Avenue and cross it, following Leroy Street east to Bleecker. Make a right onto Bleecker in front of Our Lady of Pompeii, a large Roman Catholic Church built in 1928 for the Italian immigrant community. Continue on Bleecker, but when you reach Sixth Avenue be careful: Four streets intersect here making it somewhat tricky to find where Bleecker resumes. Follow Bleecker to MacDougal Street and stop. If your energy levels are beginning to dip, you're in luck. With a café at every turn, this intersection is known as café corner, a perfect spot to sit, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee.

After you've revived, proceed east on Bleecker to LaGuardia Place. This area of the Village is thick with second-hand clothing and record stores, cafés and intimate nightspots offering live jazz and rock music. The Bitter End at the corner of Bleecker and LaGuardia features live entertainment and even sports a plaque honoring the establishment for its “contribution to the artistic life of New York.”

Turn left on LaGuardia. Halfway up the block on the east side of the street you'll spy a bronze statue of Fiorello LaGuardia, New York City mayor 1934-45. The statue shows the diminutive 5'2" LaGuardia, known as ”the little flower,” stepping forward, mouth open and hands poised as if clapping. While far from the dignified posture one might expect of an honored statesman, the statue captures the enthusiasm and energy of one of the city's most popular mayors, who served three consecutive terms during a difficult period in the city's history and is remembered for his sweeping reforms and efforts to curb corruption.

Continue north on LaGuardia to West 3rd Street and turn left. On your left will be a bright red Victorian building housing the Number 2 Fire Engine Co. Notice the painted carving of a woman's face over the arched main door. From 3rd Street turn right onto MacDougal, which is one block after Sullivan. The historic Provincetown Playhouse, which opened in 1916, is on the left side of the street. The theater has played a pivotal role in fostering the early careers of many playwrights including Edna St. Vincent Millay and Eugene O'Neill as well as numerous actors, directors and set designers, and it continues to produce innovative plays to this day.

Just a few steps north and you're back at Washington Square Park. Before you finish your tour, however, walk farther north, crossing West 4th Street and Washington Place. The building at the corner of Waverly Place with the elaborate marquee was the home of Eleanor Roosevelt 1942-49. A plaque to the left of the entrance pays tribute to the first lady. To return to the West 4th Street Subway Station, backtrack to West 4th Street and turn right. The station is one block ahead of you.

Sports & Rec
No one takes sports quite as seriously as New Yorkers. Eight professional sports teams dominate the sports scene, including two football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey teams. Being a fan here involves unfeigned loyalty: Just ask Yankees and Mets fans what happens when they share a baseball stadium, or how Dodgers fans felt when their team moved to Los Angeles.

When the hustle and bustle of the city streets is too much to handle, shift into a slower gear. New York's parks and beaches offer peaceful respite. The lush lawns, trees, shrubs and meadows as well as lakes, fountains, sculptures and bridges make Central Park a favorite spot with visitors and New Yorkers alike.

Baseball
New Yorkers are especially passionate about the national pastime. The New York Yankees, who produced such legendary “Bronx Bombers” as Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth, play at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. This American League club won the World Series in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009, and has won a total of 27 World Series since its inception. The season runs from April to October; phone (718) 293-4300.

The Mets, New York City's National League team, stole the World Series from the Boston Red Sox in 1986. They play at Citi Field in Queens. The season runs from April to October; phone (718) 507-6387 or (718) 507-8499.

The majors have several Minor League baseball counterparts. The Staten Island Yankees kick off the season in June at Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George. For ticket information phone (718) 720-9265. The Mets-affiliated Brooklyn Cyclones play at MCU Park on Surf Avenue in Coney Island; phone (718) 449-8497. Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip is where the Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks swing into action; phone (888) 332-5600.

Basketball
When the New York Knicks hit the court at Madison Square Garden, fans are assured of an exciting game. The season runs from November to June; phone (212) 465-5867 for Knicks information, or (212) 465-6741 for the Garden. Beginning with the 2012-2013 season, the Brooklyn Nets (formerly the New Jersey Nets), play in Barclays Center, which opened in September 2012; phone 718-933-3000.

New York loves its college hoopsters, too. The beloved St. John's University Red Storm occasionally play at Madison Square Garden; phone (718) 990-6211 for ticket information. The Long Island University Blackbirds and St. Francis College Terriers both hoop it up in Brooklyn; phone (718) 488-1030 for the Blackbirds and (718) 489-5490 for the Terriers. The Fordham University Rams, (718) 817-4300, play in the Bronx, while the Wagner College Seahawks take to the court at Spiro Sports Center in Staten Island; phone (718) 420-4039.

Football
From September to December, Super Bowl III winners the New York Jets play in the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.; phone (800) 469-5387. Four-time Super Bowl champions the New York Giants also scramble on the gridiron at MetLife Stadium; phone (201) 935-8222. Tickets are scarce, so unless you know someone with a season pass, your plans may be sidelined.

Hockey
After a 54-year dry spell the New York Rangers brought home the coveted Stanley Cup in 1994 to the cheers of die-hard fans at Madison Square Garden; phone (212) 465-6741. The New York Islanders, Stanley Cup winners 1980-83, play out of Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. The season runs from November to April; phone (800) 882-4753.

Horse Racing
If you enjoy the ponies, try Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, (718) 641-4700; Belmont Park Race Track on Long Island, (718) 641-4700 or (516) 488-6000; and the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., (201) 935-3900. Harness racing can be seen at Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers; phone (914) 968-4200.

Note: Policies on admitting children to pari-mutuel facilities vary. Phone for specific information.

Bicycling
Roadways in Central Park are closed to motorized traffic Fri. 7 p.m.-Mon. 7 a.m.; Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; and 7 p.m.-7 a.m. year-round. However, the transverse roads are always open to traffic. Access to three bicycle routes—6.1 miles, 5.2 miles or 1.7 miles in length—is possible by following the park drives, which encircle the park. Another option is to enter at 72nd Street and Central Park West Drive and pedal south to 59th Street, east to East Drive, then north on East Drive to 72nd Street. Exit at Fifth Avenue, or continue north along East Drive until your legs are tired.

For a scenic ride along the Hudson River, pedal around Riverside Park, off Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side. Rent a bicycle or take a guided tour with Bike and Roll NYC along the Hudson River Park Greenway and see sights such as Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and South Street Seaport; phone (212) 260-0400 for rates and more information.

Golf
Obviously you will not find a golf course in Manhattan, but the Department of Parks does operate 12 18-hole public courses in the other boroughs. On weekends golfers might have to wait as long as 8 hours before they are able to tee off; to learn of the waiting times, try the weekend news broadcasts over WNYC (93.9 FM or 820 AM).

Most fees are Mon.-Fri. $39, $31 after noon, $21 for twilight golf; Sat.-Sun. and holidays $47, $24 for twilight golf. There is an additional $8 fee for nonresidents. Cart fees are $37, and those under 18 must have a golf permit.

Courses listed under each borough are open all year. Phone the individual courses or (718) 225-4653 for citywide reservations. The following courses accept reservations, but not for same-day playing: Clearview, Douglaston, Dyker Beach, Flushing Meadows, Forest Park, Kissena, La Tourette, Marine Park, Silver Lake, South Shore, Split Rock and Van Cortlandt Park.

The Bronx: Mosholu Golf Course, 3545 Jerome Avenue and Bainbridge Avenue, (718) 655-9164; Pelham and Split Rock courses, 870 Shore Rd., Pelham Bay Park, (718) 885-1258; and Van Cortlandt, Van Cortlandt Park South and Bailey Avenue, (718) 543-4595.

Brooklyn: Dyker Beach, Seventh Avenue and 86th Street, (718) 836-9722; and Marine Park, Flatbush Avenue between Avenue U and the Belt Parkway, (718) 252-4625.

Queens: Clearview, 23rd Avenue and Willets Point Boulevard, (718) 229-2570; Douglaston Park, Commonwealth Boulevard and Marathon Parkway, (718) 224-6566; Forest Park, Forest Park Drive and Jackie Robinson, (718) 296-0999; and Kissena, 164-15 Booth Memorial Rd., (718) 939-4594.

Staten Island: La Tourette, 1001 Richmond Hill Rd., (718) 351-1889; Silver Lake, 915 Victory Blvd., (718) 442-4653; and South Shore, Hugenot Avenue and Arthur Kill Road, (718) 984-0101.

Jogging and Walking
These are the sports of necessity in New York City, particularly if you want to get from here to there in reasonable time. For those with only the sport in mind, the hottest spot is in Central Park on the 2-mile path surrounding the Reservoir. There also are designated jogger's lanes throughout the park.

Picturesque Riverside Park, between the Hudson River and Riverside Drive, also is a popular spot. Upper Manhattan's Riverbank State Park attracts joggers. Other patches of greenery include Battery Park, at the tip of Lower Manhattan; and Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

Tennis
Nine Manhattan locations have courts: Central Park, 93rd Street and West Drive; East River Park, at Houston Street; Fort Washington Park, at 170th Street; Fred Johnson Park, at W. 151st Street east of Seventh Avenue; Inwood Hill Park, 207th Street and Seaman Avenue; Riverside Park (two sections), at 96th and at 119th streets; and Washington Market Park, at Chambers and West streets. Both indoor and outdoor courts are available at Randalls Island Park. The Department of Parks issues permits; phone (212) 360-8131.

Several courts are open to the public at the site of the U.S. Open, the U.S.T.A. National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Your best bet is to phone (718) 760-6200 2 days in advance to make a reservation; the center is busy on weekends.

Water Sports
Since New York City is surrounded by water, a great way to escape the summertime heat is to visit one of its many beaches. Jones Beach State Park is your best bet: With 6.5 miles of beaches, a boardwalk and a theater playing host to outdoor concerts, you'll forget all about hot blacktop. Beaches listed below can be reached by either bus or subway.

Head to Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk in Brooklyn to ride the wooden roller coaster or Ferris wheel; don't pass up a famous Nathan's hotdog for lunch. Manhattan Beach, Oriental Boulevard from Ocean Avenue to Mackenzie Street, also is in Brooklyn.

Pelham Bay Park and Orchard Beach are in the Bronx. Jacob Riis Park and Jamaica Bay, Beach 149th to Beach 169th streets, and Rockaway Beach, Beach 9th to Beach 149th streets, are in Queens.

The following beaches are in Richmond (Staten Island): Great Kills Park, Hylan Boulevard, Great Kills; South Beach and Boardwalk, Fort Wadsworth to Miller Field, Midland Beach; and Wolfe's Pond Park, Holten and Cornelia avenues, Prince's Bay.

Few people would believe you if you claimed to have gone boating in the middle of Manhattan, but it is possible. Rowboats are for rent in Central Park at Loeb Boathouse, 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue, for $12 an hour and a $20 deposit; phone (212) 517-2233 , ext. 3. As for swimming, only a few municipal pools are still open: Lasker Pool on the north end of Central Park is one. Phone the New York City Parks and Recreation Swimming Information hotline at (718) 760-6969 for the latest on pool locations and openings.

Looking for one-stop recreation? Visit Chelsea Piers, a 30-acre sports village along the Hudson River between 17th and 23rd streets. Highlights of the four renovated shipping piers include heated hitting stalls for golfers, a 25-yard swimming pool, an indoor running track, a hockey rink open to ice skaters and a bowling alley. Sailing, kayaking and speedboat tours of the harbor also are offered. Various shops and eateries call the historic piers home; phone (212) 336-6666.

Winter Sports
When there is a chill in the air, New Yorkers head to the nearest ice skating rink to participate in a living portrait by Currier and Ives. The rink at Rockefeller Center has more glitz, especially when the giant Christmas tree is lit in December. Every year nearly 100,000 skaters are enticed to take a turn on the ice beneath a fabulous golden sculpture of Prometheus.

Fast becoming another winter tradition for New Yorkers is The Pond at Bryant Park (S: 42nd Street/Times Square), the city's only free ice-skating rink. Located between 40th and 42nd streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues, it's within walking distance of both Times Square and Grand Central Terminal. Skate rentals are available. The pond is open Sun.-Thurs. 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 8 a.m.-midnight, late October through early March; hours are extended during the holiday season. For more information phone (212) 661-6640.

In 1986 real-estate tycoon Donald Trump paid to have Wollman Memorial Rink in Central Park refurbished, to the delight of fellow New Yorkers. Skating is from October to March. Lasker Rink is a smaller venue on the north end of Central Park. The World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadows Corona Park is open all year and has rentals. Brooklynites enjoy skating at Coney Island's Abe Stark Rink; by January 2013, Lakeside Center in Prospect Park is scheduled to open with indoor and outdoor rinks. In Staten Island, Clove Lakes Park is home to the Staten Island War Memorial Ice Skating Rink.

Shopping
Given space considerations, the typical suburban shopping mall doesn’t exist in Manhattan. Massive vertical monoliths jutting skyward are the norm and often include restaurants, offices and residences. The Shops at Columbus Circle, in Time Warner Center, presents an intriguing blend of luxury and specialty retailers enhanced with upscale dining options. At The Market at Citigroup Center, you can peruse international selections, have a leisurely snack at the indoor garden café or enjoy daily entertainment. Situated in the midst of the Fifth Avenue shopping mecca, Rockefeller Center sports a sophisticated collection of shops dotting its plazas and concourses, while high-end boutiques surround an atrium adorned by pink marble and waterfalls at Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Ave.

The Fifth Avenue sashay, especially between 49th and 58th streets, offers shoppers understated elegance with such retail delights as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. Looking for what’s red-hot and vogue? Head to Henri Bendel. Searching for top-dollar trinkets? Don’t miss Cartier and Tiffany’s. Traveling with children? The toys and games at FAO Schwarz captivate kids and amaze adults. Madison Avenue, from 57th to 79th streets, is another shopping haven that oozes opulence. Even if you don’t want to break the bank with a purchase at Polo Ralph Lauren, 867 Madison Ave., do stop by to appreciate the handsomely elegant flagship store. Barneys, 660 Madison Ave., sets the standard with the hippest of fashions—the stylish window displays alone are worth a trip. At Fifth and 49th Street, patient young girls can be rewarded with a spree in American Girl Place, offering personalized dolls and a doll hair salon and photo studio.

A Big Apple shopping spree wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Macy's at Herald Square, known as the world’s largest department store. The cellar is a culinary haven, with treasures for the taste buds as well as every kitchen gadget imaginable. Bloomingdale's, at Lexington Avenue and E. 59th Street, reliably keeps up with the latest and greatest trends—“Bloomie’s” T-shirts and tote bags make popular souvenirs. Lord & Taylor, at Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th streets, is a showcase for classic American designs—holiday sales can be lucrative.

Several New York neighborhoods are happy hunting grounds for savvy shoppers. Stop by Chelsea’s mega food mall, Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave.), for all that is divine and delicious—this former Nabisco factory yielded the very first Oreo cookie. For farmed and baked products in the heart of Manhattan, head to the outdoor Union Square Greenmarket on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday—fresh produce, tasty preserves and cut flowers are included in the seasonal bounty. In Lower Manhattan, trend-setting Greenwich Village (sandwiched between Broadway, W. 14th and W. Houston) tantalizes with jewelry, handicrafts and current fads in boutiques tucked amid cafes, record stores, jazz clubs and regal brownstones. Avant-garde galleries, loft-type shops and eateries line the twisting lanes of SoHo (south of Houston), between West Broadway, Houston, Lafayette and Canal. Outside, vendors set up tables brimming with colorful baubles (bargaining is expected).

New York City serves as a showplace for up-and-coming fashionistas to introduce original clothing and accessories. NoLita, an acronym for the area “North of Little Italy” downtown on Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth streets is one place where you can find some deals, since rents are less pricey than those in neighboring SoHo. Rows of small stores lure passersby with enticing sidewalk displays of shoes, suits, linens and all forms of bric-a-brac on Orchard Street, on the Lower East Side between Delancey and E. Houston-some shopkeepers will gladly negotiate. Another haven for the budding innovator is the Meatpacking District. On weekends, aspiring designers sell their latest creations and hope to be discovered at The Market featuring the work of local emerging designers, W. 14th St. between 8th and 9th avenues.

Antique hounds can indulge their whims at shops along Madison Avenue; on Second and Third avenues from the upper 40s to the 80s; on E. 55th Street; and on 57th Street. Manhattan Art and Antiques Center, 1050 Second Ave. in Midtown, has nearly 100 shops with furniture, glassware, jewelry, pottery and other period pieces sold by a number of vendors. If only the best will do, head to the tony shops of NoHo (north of Houston), an upscale enclave in the southwest portion of the East Village. A hodgepodge of funky boutiques and upscale fashion shops is also tucked in the East Village near St. Marks Place. Sprinkled along East 9th Street between First and Second avenues, this independently owned mix of retailers offers clothing finds varying from consignment to vintage to high-end designer pieces. Stores touting antiques and other eclectic items also beg to be explored.

For those seeking something a bit more down to earth, flea markets set up shop almost every weekend. You may very well uncover buried treasure at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, 39th Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues, or the SoHo Antiques Fair, Collectibles and Crafts, Broadway and Grand streets.

In Midtown, millions of wholesale dollars change hands daily at the Diamond District, on W. 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The glittering (and closely guarded) showrooms are open to the public for browsing. On Madison Avenue between 58th and 63rd streets, the Crystal District features the luxury boutiques of Baccarat, Daum, Lalique, Steuben and Swarovski and their sparkling collections of jewelry, figurines, vases and other artistic works.

For those with a thinner wallet, Midtown's Times Square might be more appealing. The area is known for having more than its fair share of restaurants and theaters, and less known as a shopping destination, but family-pleasing retailers, including Disney Store, Forever 21, Levi's and Sephora, have taken up residence here. Dine and shop at Hard Rock Cafe, 1501 Broadway; pick up a Hard Rock New York T-shirt or collectible pin at their Rock Shop.

Some Manhattan stores are just as much works of art as the coveted goods they house. Situated in a 1920s post office, the Apple Store SoHo is a study in contrasts, with a sleek, new-age interior accented by a stunning glass staircase, bridge and skylight. At Prada, 575 Broadway, a curving zebrawood half-pipe connects the flagship store’s two levels and serves as a stage for trend-setting fashions. Admire the ornate Beaux Arts architecture while browsing the shops at Grand Central Terminal, 42nd Street at Park Avenue.

For bargains on big-ticket logos, make a beeline for Century 21 at 22 Cortlandt St. to save up to 70 percent. While this excursion may be financially rewarding, it’s not the most relaxing, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and dig in along with the locals. Those on the prowl for cute yet kitschy knickknacks make the trek to Chinatown and haggle with vendors along West Broadway near Canal Street. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed and have a penchant for off-the beaten-path discoveries, consider signing up for a shopping tour. Shop Gotham, The Elegant Tightwad and other tour companies conduct excursions including exclusive store discounts tailored to the Garment District’s showrooms or the trendy boutiques of SoHo and NoLita.

No matter what you fancy, you can find it in New York City—whether it’s gourmet food at Zabar and Dean & Deluca, fine wines at Sherry-Lehmann or Big Apple mementos in Times Square souvenir shops.

Nightlife
Diverse nightlife options in the Big Apple satisfy just about any whim. The below offerings are just a sampling of the refreshingly endless possibilities, so you’ll want to refer to such publications as The New York Times, Time Out New York and the Village Voice for more exhaustive coverage.

Clubs providing entertainment usually charge a cover fee and may require drink or food minimums. To avoid surprises, phone ahead and confirm prices, opening hours, scheduled acts and dress codes.

If the thought of Liza Minnelli belting out “Life is a Cabaret” sends shivers down your spine, rest assured that New York delivers top-notch talent in this genre. Café Carlyle (Upper East Side/(212) 744-1600) and Feinstein’s at Loews Regency (Upper East Side/(212) 339-4095) offer sophisticated song and dance performances in stylish settings that appeal to a well-heeled clientele. Be warned that costs are steep for these venues—tickets are generally pricey, with dinner required for most shows. A less expensive alternative is standing room only admission at the Carlyle, which is first-come, first-served.

A singing waitstaff adds to the fun at Don’t Tell Mama (Midtown West/(212) 757-0788), an informal cabaret where enthusiastic audience participation results in a jolly good time for all—open mike nights are a hoot. Serving up Italian fare along with bookings ranging from jazz to solos from Broadway elite, Joe’s Pub (E. Village/(212) 539-8778) soothes with its classy yet cozy vibe. Gothamites are talking about The Metropolitan Room (Flatiron/(212) 206-0440), which presents insightful talent in a chic, intimate lounge. The newest offering is 54 Below (Midtown West/(646) 476-3551)—advertised as a “home away from home for Broadway professionals and their audience”—downstairs from iconic Studio 54.

If you’re into hanging out, nursing a drink and people watching, New York’s lounges accommodate all tastes. The Bourgeois Pig (E. Village/(212) 475-2246) offers an assortment of French wines—with half-price bottles during happy hour—in a Parisian bistro setting complete with knock-off Louis XIV furniture and red velvet settees. Campbell Apartment (Midtown East/(212) 953-0409) in Grand Central Terminal exudes the luxury and wealth of a bygone era as moneyed patrons sip cocktails and unwind amid elaborate Italian decor. At Employee’s Only (W. Village/(212) 242-3021), a lively spot reminiscent of a speakeasy, old-school bartenders painstakingly prepare lip-smacking libations for the carefree crowd (the daiquiris are legendary). Artful mixologists design enticing concoctions—with fresh-squeezed juices, of course—at the sleek Pegu Club (SoHo/(212) 473-7348).

Those with a short attention span should check out The View Lounge atop the Marriott Marquis in the heart of Times Square. On the 48th floor, the city’s only revolving restaurant turns 360 degrees every hour; phone (212) 704-8900. Simply called Upstairs, the Kimberly Hotel's rooftop bar in bustling Midtown features retractable glass ceilings and walls, ambient heated floors and a main room that is as elegant in the winter months as it is sunny in the summer season; phone (212) 702-1600.

Those who prefer bubbles in their brew delight in choosing from some 300 champagnes and sparkling wines in refined surroundings at The Bubble Lounge (TriBeCa/(212) 431-3433). A departure from the typically chic watering holes in its neighborhood, Ear Inn (SoHo/(212) 431-9750) is a tried and true 1870s pub where you can relax and appreciate a nice cool Guinness. Professionals eager for a draft to top off a hectic workday gather around the handsome bar at the Ginger Man (Murray Hill/(212) 532-3740) to indulge in the unsurpassed brewski selection. Lovers of fine Belgian beer won't mind the bare bones ambience at Vol de Nuit (W. Village/(212) 979-2616), a dimly lit local haunt mostly occupied by Village hipsters.

Both novice comedians and masters of the profession frequent Big Apple comedy clubs—contact the establishment to see who’s on next. If you’re seeking an evening of laughter and outrageous antics, excellent choices include Carolines (Times Square/(212) 757-4100), Comedy Cellar (W. Village/(212) 254-3480), Gotham Comedy Club (Chelsea/(212) 367-9000) and Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (Chelsea/(212) 366-9176). For a dose of improv, head to National Comedy Theatre (Garment District/(212) 629-5202), where interactive comedians base scenes on suggestions from the audience.

Gotham’s dance clubs don’t start hopping until after 11 p.m. Dylan, Hendrix, Springsteen and other rock sensations began their rise to fame at Café Wha? (W. Village/(212) 254-3706). Locals say it can get a tad touristy, but word has it that the rocking house bands more than compensate. On the sunken dance floor at Cielo (Meatpacking/(212) 645-5700), 20-somethings grind to the beat of innovative tunes cherry picked by cutting-edge DJs—beware the velvet rope.

Hipsters on the hunt for the exotic frequent mega club Pacha (Midtown West/(212) 209-7500), a chic pleasure palace with such diversions as scantily clad go-go girls gyrating in showers, coveted DJs and a thriving singles scene. The crowd changes nightly at S.O.B.’s, or Sounds of Brazil (SoHo/(212) 243-4940). With a wide range of soulful sounds—African, Latin Alternative, Urban, Reggae and Salsa to name a few—just about anyone can get a groove on at this high-energy funfest.

On the jazzier side of things, Blue Note (W. Village/(212) 475-8592) is a popular club known for softer jazz sounds and up-close views of big-name performers—however, you’ll pay for the proximity with sky-high prices. You can sit at the granite bar to catch live acts at the sleek yet intimate Garage Restaurant & Café (W. Village/(212) 645-0600), with accents like exposed brick, a flagstone fireplace and globe lights. At Iridium (Midtown West/(212) 582-2121) some of the greatest jazz artists in the world command the stage for weeklong engagements. Jazz Standard (Gramercy/(212) 576-2232) never disappoints, as performers deliver mainstream tunes with superb acoustics just a stone’s throw away from a sophisticated audience—succulent ribs and other menu items provided by adjacent Blue Smoke Barbecue only enhance the delicious experience.

Although Smoke (Upper West Side/(212) 864-6662) is actually a thing of the past here due to non-smoking laws, you can still enjoy good-value jazz in casual, cozy digs complete with comfy couches—talent ranges from newly emerging to top name. The mecca of serious jazz connoisseurs, Village Vanguard (W. Village/(212) 255-4037) has been a fixture in the New York jazz scene since 1935. Industry legends like John Coltrane and Miles Davis made their mark here, so excuse the cramped seating and savor sublime improvisations from accomplished acts or solid local talent. Arrive early to nab a table with good visibility. The legendary Vanguard Jazz Orchestra plays most Mondays.

New York rock clubs are magnets for record company scouts seeking new blood. Don't be put off by the dive bar ambience at Arlene’s Grocery (Lower East Side/(212) 358-1633), a haven for indie bands. A civilized, laid-back crowd hangs out at Mercury Lounge (Lower East Side/(212) 260-4700), highly regarded for first-rate entertainment delivered by a remarkable sound system. Pianos (Lower East Side/(212) 505-3733) lures a mixed bag of clientele—punkers, hipsters and suburbanites bounce between the upstairs, where a DJ holds court, and the back room commanded by garage rock bands.

Performing Arts
The soul of New York City—its unique vibrance and urban beat—bears witness to a love of the arts and a willingness to share this fascination with everyone. The choices are endless—theater, music, opera, dance, film; traditional or experimental; indoors or outdoors; free or ticketed. There is no escaping the delightful barrage of offerings.

Most types of performances take place at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at Broadway and 65th Street. Its plaza includes Alice Tully Hall, (212) 875-5050, the only public concert hall of orchestral size to be constructed in the city since 1891; Avery Fisher Hall, (212) 875-5030; the David H. Koch Theater, (212) 870-5570; Juilliard School of Music, (212) 769-7406; Metropolitan Opera House, (212) 362-6000; Vivian Beaumont and Mitzi E. Newhouse theaters, (212) 239-6200; and the Walter Reade Theater, (212) 875-5600.

Dance
As the nation's cultural mecca, New York City invests a great deal of time and money into its expressive nature, including dance. The greats have all danced here, and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines and Rudolf Nureyev even embraced the city as their home turf.

In a class by itself, the New York City Ballet garners rave reviews for its performances of contemporary works under the guidance of well-respected, inventive choreographers. The troupe performs September through February at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. The American Ballet Theatre presents the classics and some newer ballets to a global audience at the nearby Metropolitan Opera House from April through July.

Modern dance enthusiasts flock to several distinguished venues, such as the Joyce Theater in Chelsea. This dance emporium caters to all forms, from its ballet company in residence, the Ballet Tech to more contemporary, avant-garde works.

In seasons past, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater troupe has performed at Midtown Manhattan's City Center, the city's largest concert hall. The venue is on 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues; phone (212) 581-1212.

Film
Moviegoing is an event in New York City. You can see the latest blockbusters, an oldie but goodie and everything in between. Foreign and domestic art films are abundant, with both small and large houses catering to those in the mood for an offbeat documentary or underground film.

The Walter Reade Theater at the Lincoln Center schedules repertory showings, sometimes by genre or director. It's an ideal setting for studying film. The Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St., Midtown Manhattan, also shows films; phone (212) 355-6160.

Several museums and art societies hold their own film revivals. In Queens, head to the Museum of the Moving Image for an American film series. In Midtown Manhattan Asia Society Museum, The Museum of Modern Art (rare classics) and Paley Center for Media have showings.

Foreign and independent films are shown throughout the city. Try the Angelika Film Center, 18 W. Houston St., (212) 995-2570; Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St., (212) 727-8110; or Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 E. Houston St., (212) 330-8182.

Music
The illustrious New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the oldest symphony in the United States, is conducted by musical director Alan Gilbert at Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts September through June. In July and August the Philharmonic performs free concerts under the stars in various city parks. The innovative American Symphony Orchestra performs at Carnegie Hall and the Peter Norton Symphony Space.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs in Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center from September through May, often in conjunction with visiting ensembles and famous soloists. Don't forget to check out the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), 30 Lafayette Ave., which boasts an active opera performance schedule; phone (718) 636-4100. The Brooklyn Philharmonic plays at various locations throughout Brooklyn; phone (718) 488-5700.

The famed Carnegie Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, plays host to celebrated orchestras, noted conductors and a variety of performers. Town Hall, noted for its fine acoustics and excellent seating layout, is between Sixth and Seventh avenues on 43rd Street; phone (212) 840-2824.

There are dozens of classical music locales throughout the city and plenty of performances to choose from, even concerts for children put on by the Little Orchestra Society; phone (212) 971-9500 for current offerings. The group normally appears at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 695 Park Ave.; and Lincoln Center.

Opera
The late, great tenor Luciano Pavarotti brought the house down every time he performed with the Metropolitan Opera Company in the elegant surroundings of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. The Met's season runs from September to May and normally includes crowd pleasers like “La Bohème,” “Rigoletto” and “Figaro.” Founded in the late 1880s, the Met continues to captivate audiences. The New York City Opera, which performs September to April, assembles at various theaters throughout the city. This younger company also is known for fine performances, including “Carmen” and “Madame Butterfly.”

Theater
New York is the theater capital of the world. Whether on Broadway, off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway, the glitzy bright lights of New York's theater district beckon showgoers from around the world. Simply put, theater flourishes in New York City.

Centered on the Times Square area between 41st and 54th streets from Eighth to Sixth avenues are the theaters that have perpetuated the magic of Broadway—only two of these theaters are actually on Broadway. Glittering marquees announce the latest productions.

The categories of Broadway and off-Broadway indicate the size of the theater—all off-Broadway houses have fewer than 465 seats. This size distinction allows apparent contradictions in that some of the theaters in the Times Square area are classified as off-Broadway; other houses almost next door are described as Broadway theaters.

While the Broadway shows stick to the formula of name stars, writers and directors, the off-Broadway productions are noted for their experimental presentations and revivals. These sometimes equal or surpass the artistry of Broadway and are usually the offerings of young hopefuls, although it is not uncommon for a Broadway “name” to appear in them.

Some Broadway theaters have become as well-known as the mainstream blockbuster plays they have supported, like “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Majestic. The Minskoff Theatre, Broadway and 45th Street, has been running “The Lion King” since 1997; phone (212) 869-0550.

Off-Broadway has its share of fine productions and performers, many along W. 42nd Street in places like the Playwrights Horizons.

Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce in Greenwich Village, is where many young actors got their start.

Queens Theatre in the Park, in Queens Theatre at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, presents a year-round schedule of plays, children's theater and dance; phone (718) 760-0064.

Off-off-Broadway is a free-for-all of experimental performances, usually by unknowns with something to say. Performances are staged at smaller venues and in out-of-the-way cafes.

Current theater listings appear in New York and The New Yorker magazines, in the newspapers and in Variety, a weekly newspaper devoted to the entertainment world, including off-Broadway theaters in Greenwich Village.

Tickets to Broadway shows are hard to come by but not impossible. Advance planning is the key to obtaining the best tickets for the best prices. Seats to Broadway shows are on sale anywhere from 3 months to 1 year in advance. Otherwise, TKTS booths at Times Square in Midtown Manhattan, near the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan and in the MetroTech Center in downtown Brooklyn sell discounted tickets on the day of the performance (see Theater Ticket Bargains). Seating varies and there is a service charge, but the effort may be well worth your while. In addition, tickets generally are available at theater box offices a few hours before show time (usually 8 p.m.).

Hit Show Club offers discounts of up to 50 percent off Broadway theater tickets. For a complete listing of services phone (800) 222-7469.

Or contact a ticket agency. Agencies charge a fee in addition to the price printed on the ticket; they also may charge a service fee for delivery of tickets to the hotel or box office.