With New York City gearing up to celebrate its 400th anniversary next year, Clare Vooght picks the best areas to visit
Amid those tall, quintessentially New York skyscrapers, bathed in the glow of Times Square, Midtown is home to many of the city’s most famous sights. It would be easy to spend a whole week here, working through everything from the Empire State Building to Radio City, stopping for dollar-slice pizza (a must when in NYC) and people-watching on these heaving streets.
What to do
Marvel at the ornate Beaux-Arts Grand Central Terminal, the world’s largest train station, with stars and stripes draped under an impressive celestial ceiling painting in the Main Concourse. Try out the Whispering Gallery near the Oyster Bar & Restaurant on the lower level.
Clients can’t visit New York without seeing a Broadway show, or going shopping at iconic department stores such as Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. When they’re all shopped out, also on Fifth Avenue is the striking neo-gothic St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York’s most famous church, seen on screen in The Godfather Part III and Absolutely Fabulous.
For an altogether different perspective on the city, clients can choose from a slew of viewing platforms, from Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Centre to the art deco Empire State Building, which also offers a glimpse at life in the city in the 1920s through a series of exhibits on the building’s construction. Alternatively, Summit One Vanderbilt offers a mind-bending art-installation-meets-viewing-platform in one of the city’s newest skyscrapers.
Mirrored floors, walls and ceilings multiply the view, while Yayoi Kusama sculptures and floating silver orbs, which you can walk through, pick up and throw around, are the cherry on the cake. Visit just before sunset to watch the sky change and the city light up at night.
While arts district Chelsea’s character is shaped by its world-famous and smaller-scale galleries, quirky flea markets, trendy restaurants and old warehouses, the leafy High Line offers a bird’s-eye view. New additions on its fringes such as Hudson Yards offer a slick modern feel.
What to do
For marvellous Manhattan views take a thrilling walk on the 1,100ft-high Edge observation deck at Hudson Yards, before following the High Line down to Chelsea Market for everything from locally made homewares to foodie souvenirs, such as hot sauce, and lunch at the seafood bar. Take a breather at Little Island, an artificial island park on the Hudson, or art lovers can explore the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Rubin.
Upper East Side
On the eastern side of Central Park, the Upper East Side is a mix of classic brownstone homes, new high-rises and high-end department stores (such as Bloomingdale’s). The area’s Museum Mile is also home to some of the city’s best cultural institutions.
What to do
Visit Central Park Zoo, go boating on the lake or simply wander the park’s tree-lined paths. Culture-oriented clients can scratch the surface of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s two-million-strong permanent collection; explore the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Unesco World Heritage Solomon R Guggenheim Museum; head to El Museo del Barrio, which champions Latino art and culture; or see the Museum of the City of New York for a deep-dive into urban life through everything from film and photography to clothing and maps.
Famous for that shot of the Manhattan Bridge, flanked by renovated red-brick warehouses, rising up from the cobblestone streets – Dumbo is filled with upscale apartments, shops, petite galleries and street art.
What to do
Visit the Time Out Market for craft beer on the terrace or global eats and US classics such as bagels and barbecued food from a selection of New York restaurants. Fuel up here for a walk across Brooklyn Bridge for stunning Manhattan views over the East River, or stroll in Brooklyn Bridge Park for an equally breathtaking perspective and a quirky 1920s merry-go-round.
Lower East Side
While these days the Lower East Side is best known for its bars and nightlife, the former garment district was previously a hub for jobs and opportunities for immigrants fresh off the boat from Europe in the mid-19th and early 20th century.
What to do
Get under the surface of this area’s history in the Tenement Museum, which explores what life was like for immigrant families arriving in New York 100 years ago. Order a pastrami sandwich at Jewish deli Katz’s (made famous in the film When Harry Met Sally), visit Barrio Chino for rustic Mexican fare and an array of different margaritas (from hibiscus to jalapeño lime), or get a taste of NYC’s speakeasy cocktail scene at Banzabar.
Bohemian Greenwich Village was the birthplace of both the Beat Generation and the gay rights movement in the 1960s. Cafes and restaurants whose tables spill out onto the street, as well as jazz bars like Blue Note, all add to the atmosphere, while the brownstone buildings give even more character to a neighbourhood that’s already bursting with charm.
What to do
Soak up the vibes at Washington Square Park, with its arch honouring George Washington. The historic park has served as a military parade ground and even a public execution site; these days it’s used for marches and protests, while also being a popular hangout spot for locals on sunny days. Make time for photo ops outside Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment and the building made famous in Friends, then end the day with some stand-up at one of the Village’s many comedy clubs on and around MacDougal Street.
Where to stay
The Moxy Lower East Side offers compact, affordable rooms with a modern design, with the added bonus of buzzy shared spaces including a Japanese restaurant and rooftop bar. Rooms from $179 per night.
At Hard Rock Hotel New York, lavish gold and marble bathrooms, and guitars available to order to your room, add up to create a stay that’s fit for a rock star – with views over Times Square. Rooms from $399 per night.
Aman New York brings the brand’s signature retreat feel to midtown Manhattan, with an East-meets-West design and one of the biggest spas in the city, set across three floors. Rooms from $2,248 per night.
How to sell
Inclusions: Highlight any excursions, activities and entry fees included in a package. Gold Medal, for example, is now including tickets to Summit One Vanderbilt in all its New York packages.
City pass: Encourage clients to purchase a city pass, which gives them free or discounted entry to top sights across the city. Agents can earn commission on the Go City Pass, sold by Attraction World. Clients get 50% off bus and bike tours, museum entry and top attractions including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Ferry, and New York Yankees baseball game tickets. Prices start at $79.
For US training, toolkits and itineraries head to traveltrade.visittheusa.co.uk
Gold Medal offers four nights at the four-star Kixby Hotel New York, in Midtown, from £869. Price includes direct return flights from Heathrow, departing on February 15, 2024, plus tickets to Summit One Vanderbilt.
Kuoni offers three nights at the three-star New Yorker Hotel, in Midtown, from £732. Price includes direct flights from Heathrow, departing on January 28, 2024.
Virgin Atlantic flies direct between Heathrow and New York JFK with return fares from £422, based on an April 16, 2024, departure.
PICTURES: Shutterstock/Brian Logan Photography, Leonard Zhukovsky, Javen, f11photo, Stefan Ugljevarevic, Luciano Mortula – LGM, Francois Roux; Chris Sanders; Robert Rieger