Manhattan is a city within a city, unfolding an endless variety of sights and sounds along its sidewalks and streets. But by taking small bites, you can experience some of the most iconic elements of Big Apple life.
Don't miss the Empire State Building for impressive views of the city. Join the 42nd St. rush to Grand Central Terminal, stop by the Chrysler Building—an art deco triumph—and continue to the United Nations on the East River. Heading west across 49th St., you'll find Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Set aside a full day to take a guided tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and get to the ferry on Manhattan's south end early to beat the crowds. Take a walk on Wall Street to visit the mid-19th-century Trinity Church and colonial Fraunces Tavern, one of the city's oldest dining venues. Many visitors now consider a trip to New York incomplete without a pilgrimage to Ground Zero, and while you're Downtown, it's worth the walk to visit the gilded lobby of the neo-Gothic Woolworth Building and City Hall.
Art lovers must see the Metropolitan Museum of Art (closed on Mondays). Behind the museum is Central Park, where you will find the Shakespeare Garden, Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Fountain and Wildlife Center (a/k/a Central Park Zoo). Romantics can hail a hansom cab at the park's south end. In addition, through May 8, the Museum of Modern Art is presenting the exhibit "Edvard Munch: The Modern Life of the Soul." It's the first retrospective devoted to the Norwegian artist in an American museum in nearly 30 years. Resources
For intimate art spaces, head south to SoHo and check out the area's exhibition galleries such as Deitch Projects and Spencer Brownstone. Families should try to visit the Children's Museum of the Arts and its interactive exhibits.
Visit the dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, a number one must-see. Afterward, you can stop by John Lennon's final home, the Dakota apartment building on Central Park West at 72nd Street.
For spectacular vistas, try the Top of the Rock, the observation deck at Rockefeller Center, which opened last year with 360-degree views of the city. The 55,000-square-foot complex also has reserved-time tickets, multi-media exhibits and an indoor viewing section.
For information on history-themed tours and activities, visit the NYC Heritage Tourism Center, which opened last summer in City Park Hall in partnership with the History Channel and the City of New York. It replaces the tourism information kiosk in lower Manhattan.
Time To Eat
Look for Iron Chefs Mario Batali and Masaharu Morimoto's new restaurants on 10th Avenue in the Meatpacking District. Batali's Del Posto has a high-end classic Italian menu and behemoth dining room. Morimoto's Morimoto restaurant is in a 12,000-square-foot space designed by Tadao Ando. Enjoy Japanese fusion at Ninja New York on Hudson Street. The new $3.5 million restaurant was designed to replicate a mountain village.
Two dining institutions are back in town. Le Cirque, formerly Le Cirque 2000, will open soon in its new location on 58th Street, and the Waldorf=Astoria's Peacock Alley reopened Nov. 1, 2005, after a $5.5 million renovation.
For a more eclectic food experience, visit Chinatown for a dim sum breakfast and try a Vietnamese sandwich at Pho Bang for lunch. Do some bargain shopping on Orchard Street, and for dinner, head to Little Italy's Cha Cha's In Bocca Al Lupo. Cha Cha's was once a butcher shop but has been converted into the only outdoor garden cafe in Little Italy. (Try the pizza. You won't be sorry.)
After dinner, take in a show (be sure to buy tickets well in advance). Hot on the Broadway scene are "The Odd Couple" (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 212-307-4100)—staring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick—and "Monty Python's Spamalot" (Shubert Theatre, 212-239-6200), a giddy musical send-up of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.