What city boasts cutting edge cuisine, iconic art and architecture, and the latest shopping and cultural experiences that will delight even the most worldly traveler? Chances are, it’s a city near you. Diverse, lively and forward-thinking, many of America’s urban centers offer attractions and hotspots to rival any international capital—minus the need for a passport or exchange rate.
Sure, the city’s ever-changing landscape means you’ll find more chain stores—and less grit—than you once would have, but the Big Apple’s romantic appeal never fades. Lit-up skyscrapers will always take your breath away; a Central Park stroll will always inspire the holding of hands; and the deck of a Liberty Island ferry, with lower Manhattan as a backdrop, will always be the perfect place to snap a photo. Along with all the classic sights, there are lots of new goings-on too.
"New York: Concrete jungle where dreams are made, there's nothing you can't do!" (Photo Credit: Magda Biernat).
BY DAY: If you’re a NYC newbie, don’t miss the greatest hits. Take in sweeping Manhattan views from Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center’s three-level indoor-outdoor observatory. Stroll through Central Park and put your partnership skills to the test with a paddleboat ride on the lake by the Loeb Boathouse. Ferries to the Statue of Liberty and the immigration museum on Ellis Island depart from Battery Park. The Staten Island Ferry is free and offers fantastic Statue of Liberty views; it runs 24 hours a day and can also be picked up nearby. And for repeat visitors (and even locals), experiences like walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, checking out a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or strolling the just-expanded, riverside High Line elevated park never pale.
WHERE TO EAT: As befits a city full of foodies, NYC offers both high-end cuisine from celebrity chefs and plenty of quality, affordable options, including a dazzling array of ethnic eats. Try an authentic Hong Kong-style dim sum banquet at Golden Unicorn or Jing Fong, both in Chinatown. Or check out more refined versions of global street food—from gourmet meats to white pizza “stacks”—at FoodParc at Kimpton’s Eventi hotel. The regional flavors of India can be savored at one of the casual eateries that line Lexington Avenue in the East Twenties, or at Junoon, known for its elegant dishes. After sampling top Italian food products at the buzzing Eataly marketplace, splurge on a meal at Chef Michael White’s Ai Fiori at The Setai Fifth Avenue hotel, featuring haute-Riviera cuisine.
AT NIGHT: Hotel bars are all the rage in the city that never sleeps. The street-level Bar on 5th, also at the Setai, is attracting regulars with its live jazz, light bites menu and signature cocktails. Gourmet, hand-crafted cocktails are the specialty at Jimmy, the rooftop bar at Soho’s The James Hotel, which also serves up panoramic city views. A few blocks east, the new Mondrian Soho’s Mister H bar is inspired by 1930s-era watering holes and the neon-lit style of nearby Chinatown.
Drink in the hip scene at Jimmy, a hotel bar at James Hotel in New York. (Photo Courtesy of The James Hotels).
WHERE TO STAY: Old-world New York glamour gets a modern spin at The Chatwal, a Times Square-area boutique hotel that mixes Art Deco design, retro touches (like in-room backgammon sets) and butler service, with 42-inch HD TVs, free WiFi and custommade bedding (room rates start at $695 a night; thechatwalny.com).
A peek inside the Chatwal in Times Square.
A spacious guest room at the newly opened Chatwal Hotel in New York City.
The Chatwal's whirpool area is a welcome refuge from the frenetic pace of New York. (Photos Courtesy of The Chatwal New York).
At the Gansevoort Park Avenue, you’ll find sleek rooms (some with balconies) and a happening late-night scene at the rooftop bar and swimming pool (room rates start at $495 a night; gansevoortpark. com). On the quiet Upper East Side, just off Fifth Avenue, The Surrey offers bright, elegant rooms, couple’s spa suites and lovely romantic extras like picnics in the park and in-room mixology lessons (room rates start at $429 a night; thesurrey.com).
A sleek room - NYC's Gansevoort Park (Photo Credit: Magda Biernat).