New York Holidays & City Breaks

New York Holidays & City Breaks

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New York holidays are full of bucket list adventures, from its panoramic skyscraper views to its Fifth Avenue shopping sprees and horse drawn carriage rides in Central Park. Split into five boroughs, there’s plenty to explore in the ‘City that Never Sleeps’. First up is Manhattan, which you probably recognise from big-screen hits, Elf and Spider-Man. It’s also home to unmissable attractions such as Times Square, the American Museum of Natural History and the Empire State Building. Over in the Bronx, you can catch the legendary Yankees in full swing before heading over to Coney Island in Brooklyn for fairground fun. But that’s not all this hotspot is renowned for. A taste of its famous deep-pan pizza will have you running back for more. 

Speaking of food, Queens boasts some of the finest Asian and Greek restaurants in the Big Apple. For dessert, grab a Cronut (a glazed pastry filled with cream and rolled in sugar) and take a stroll around the innovative art at Socrates Sculpture Park. Lastly, while on your way to greet Lady Liberty, make a pit stop at Staten Island. Here you can visit the historic Richmond Town before indulging in a picnic at one of its picturesque parks. Some of New York’s diners are open 24/7 - ideal if you’re a bit jet lagged and want a 5am breakfast or 3pm dinner.

Weekend breaks to New York

Wondering how to cram in all of the city’s biggest allures with a weekend break to New York? It’s easy! Whether you’re travelling for three to four or even five nights, you can tick off world-famous sights such as the Top of the Rock, the Metropolitan Art Museum, and a Broadway show all in one go, thanks to their close proximity. 

After all, it only takes 45 minutes to walk from the Empire State Building to Lower Manhattan. Along the way, you’ll discover SoHo’s designer boutiques, including Alexandra Wang and French fashion house Chloé. That’s when you’re not taking in the scenic vistas of the Hudson River, of course.

And New York city breaks aren’t complete without Instagram-worthy snaps of its skyline. Make your way up to the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center for unforgettable panoramic views. Top tip: Head here on a Friday or Saturday evening when the observation deck is open until 9pm to witness the city light up under the stars. 

Things to do

As America’s largest city, the Big Apple has plenty going on (hence its nickname, the City that Never Sleeps). Food fanatics, in particular, will appreciate Time Out Market. Here, you can make your way through street food-style stalls sampling culinary treats from the area’s greatest chefs and biggest restaurants. But if corndogs and cotton candy are more your cup of tea, Coney Island is a must. And don’t forget to ride its jaw-dropping Cyclone rollercoaster (maybe not after filling your face at Time Out Market)! 

Superman fans can marvel at movie hotspot Grand Central Station and its awe-inspiring architecture. But for rare artefacts, paintings and books dating back 4,000 BC, The Morgan Library and Museum is a time capsule of historical relics. When evening falls, it’s all singing and dancing over at Broadway with all-time favourites Phantom of the Opera and Beetlejuice hitting the stage. Or, you can catch a Knicks’ game at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.   

Great sights

The first time you visit NYC it almost feels like you’ve been there before due to its cinema screen fame. From the Statue of Liberty in the Day After Tomorrow to the Chrysler Building in Men in Black and Central Park Zoo in Madagascar, New York city breaks are packed with familiar sights. And if you want a sneak peek of where these blockbuster hits were filmed, a movie tour is the answer. 

Famous culture

Whether you’re tucking into a hearty stack of American pancakes, downloading the latest hip-hop, jazz and soul tunes to your Spotify playlist or building your knowledge on Harlem’s Renaissance movement, New York holidays are rich in culture. And the best place to soak up its heritage is through lectures at the New York Public Library. Or at events such as its iconic St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Year-round destination

For those of you who’ve watched Home Alone: Lost in New York or a Miracle on 34th Street, you’ll know how magical the Big Apple can be over winter as it gears up for the festive season. From Macy’s Thanksgiving street processions to the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony and Christmas shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue. But summer is just as impressive as you swap ice-skating in Central Park for picnics by the Green Lawn duck pond and rooftop cocktails on soaring skyscrapers.

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Map of New York

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31 ℃

The best time to visit New York is between April and June or November to December.

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7 hours 40 minutes

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is located in Queens, 26km southeast of central Manhattan. Newark International Airport (EWR), in New Jersey, is also 26km from midtown Manhattan.

New York is best for...

Shopaholics: Fifth Avenue, AKA Millionaire’s Row, is one of the most famous streets in Manhattan, New York. Hop from Gucci to Victoria's Secret, Zara to Tiffany & Co and everything in between. You’ll also get your designer fix over in SoHo. Head here during the Christmas period to take care of your gift-giving. 

Christmas magic: You only need to watch Serendipity, Elf and When Harry Met Sally to catch a glimpse of the festive season in New York. With 10 markets dotted around the city, ice-skating at Winter Village, Bryant Park and an impressive New Year’s Eve ball drop, it’s the ultimate Christmas getaway. 

Theatre fans: Similar to London’s WestEnd, Broadway is your gateway to musical madness. Think Moulin Rouge, Chicago and The Lion King. And the kids will love Aladdin and Harry Potter.

Fast facts for New York

Language: The language spoken in New York City is English.

Currency: The currency used in New York City is the US Dollar ($).

Local time: New York City is usually 5 hours behind UK time. However, the USA put their clocks forward before the UK in the spring and put their clocks back later, so for a few weeks of the year New York is only 4 hours behind UK time.

Fly to: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) is located in Queens, 19 miles southeast of central Manhattan. Newark International Airport (EWR), in New Jersey, is 18 miles from midtown Manhattan.

Flight time from the UK: Up to 8 hours. As flights towards the USA fly against the jet stream they can take around 1 hour longer than flights from the USA.

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at the official website for tourism in New York

Visa / Health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Minimum booking age:

For many hotels in the USA, including New York, you need to be at least 21 years old to reserve a room. If you’re aged 18-20 and don’t wish to travel with someone aged 21 or over, you will find some hotels willing to accommodate you, but the choice may be limited.

Getting around New York

By foot: Thankfully, all Manhattan landmarks are easily accessible by foot, including the Empire State Building, Times Square and the National September 11 Memorial Museum. While strolling its avenues, you’ll stumble across Chinatown and Little Italy as well as uncover other off-the-beaten-track hotspots. 

By tourist bus: If you don’t want to miss any major attractions, a hop-on, hop-off bus is a great way to take in the sights. Depending on your tour, you’ll stop at Brooklyn Bridge, Battery Park and Wall Street, to name a few. 

By subway: Much like the London Underground, the Subway is one of the quickest and most convenient ways to get around the boroughs. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as little as $2.75 per ride.

By bicycle: Thanks to the city’s bicycle-sharing scheme (Citibike), thousands of bikes at hundreds of docking stations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn are available to rent. You’ll find dedicated paths along the Hudson and East River, perfect for scenic rides. 

By taxi: Famous for its yellow cabs, New York taxis are available 24/7. Those with illuminated numbers are on duty and can be hailed from any street. The minimum fare is $2.50, which increases 50 cents for every fifth of a mile. Cab drivers accept cash or debit/credit cards. But be aware that a 10-15% tip is expected.

Events in New York

Independence Day: If you fancy watching the sky illuminate with light, then July 4th is the time to visit. Crowds line the waterfront for one of the largest displays in the city, which includes fireworks launched from the barges of the Hudson and East Rivers. 

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop: Countdown to midnight over in Times Square as you prepare for the world-famous ball drop. Bring in the New Year with live performances from big-name acts, while hitting the nearest clubs and bars. 

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: On the fourth Thursday of November, New Yorkers begin Thanksgiving Day celebrations with a parade of marching bands and huge balloon floats that ends at Macy’s department store.

New York safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to New York, please visit the FCDO website.

New York weather

Temperature:

Average highs of 29-31°C in summer, 1-4°C in winter

When it comes to weather in New York, the seasons are the same as back home. Winters are usually cold but festive, with snow expected between December to February and overnight lows of -10ºC being the norm, not the exception. So winter woollies are a necessity if you’re heading on a Christmas city break. With the cold winters it may be surprising to learn that New York is located further south than Rome and Madrid, so in July and August the average daytime high is almost 30ºC, with the record daytime high temperature being above 40ºC. So if you’re travelling in summer you’ll want to pack high SPF suncream and breathable clothing, especially when you’re traipsing through Manhattan.

If you don’t want it too hot or cold, then May, June, September and October are perfect for cool strolls through Central Park, with average highs.being in the mid teens to the low 20s.

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