Touring New York: The Why and the How

With tens of millions of tourists visiting New York City every year, asking “Why to visit New York?” might seem a bit like asking “Why to breathe oxygen?” or “Why eat chocolate cake?”

But at the risk of stating the obvious, and with an assumption that the “aura” of New York City is sometimes more pervasive than even its specific top attractions, here are 5 of the top reasons people tour NYC:

“The Why” of Seeing New York City

1. Times Square: More Than Just the Lights

The flashing, sometimes towering, lights and billboards of Times Square are legendary – reason enough in themselves to make this iconic stop. But Times Square is also a huge shopping and entertainment hub, with Toys R Us, American Girl Place, Lazer Park, Hard Rock Cafe, and a sea-air-space and wax museum ranking among the most popular draws.

2. Central Park: the “Green Island”

In the heart of Manhattan, surrounded by urban sprawl and imposing skyscrapers, is the 843-acre Central Park. Almost everyone in the US has seen it more than once on the silver screen, but in real life, it’s zoo, ponds, rock formations, Strawberry Field, rental bikes and boats, and museums are a thrill beyond compare.

3. Broadway Theater

Broadway musicals are deeply ingrained in NYC and American history as apple pie or firecrackers on the 4th of July. There are 39 theatrical centers still operating today along Broadway, most of them crammed in the vicinity of “Great White Way.” Discounted tickets are frequently to be had, and you find the full gamut of styles all in one iconic locale.

4. A Shopper’s Paradise

From Macy’s Department Store to Bloomingdale’s to Saks Fifth Avenue, the NYC scene is a shopping fan’s dream come true. Don’t forget the malls, like Manhattan Mall, Staten Island Mall, and The Shops at Columbus Circle. Even Grand Central Station has a lot to offer, and shoppers have plenty to keep them going all day with New York style pizza parlors, China Town and Little Italy, and unbeatable coffee shops and delicatessens.

5. Liberty & Ellis Islands

The Statue of Liberty, from a distance, up close, and looking out across the harbor out of its crown, is the number one symbol of New York. Also now included in the monument’s bounds is the famed immigrant station and museum located on nearby Ellis Island. Both can be seen by ferry on the Liberty Tour.

“The How” of Seeing New York City

There are many ways to tour New York, but the most comprehensive in a short span of time is the New York tours by the double-decker bus. This is also a very affordable touring method and one that lets you stay safe in a group. Plus, you can easily book ahead online or pick up a ticket on the spot, normally, with little to no wait.

Taxis are another good way to get around, when you’re just going from point A to B, not touring about as with the bus tour. But during rush hour, or if you’re going a long distance to just one or two sites, the subway is quicker and cheaper.

In fact, it’s quicker to walk in Manhattan during rush hour than to drive. The sidewalks will be crowded (and don’t block them or face irate, hurry-hurry New Yorkers!), but for just a few blocks, walking works great. This is especially true in most of Manhattan, where the grid is so predictably squarish.

Biking is a good way to get around too. You can rent bikes almost anywhere in the city, and you will find plenty of bike paths/lanes to accommodate you. Biking along the shore gives you some panoramic views over the bay, and biking through Central Park is easier on the legs (it’s a big park).