Nearly 40 million tourists from around the world visit New York City every year. What they find is a bustling metropolis, dense with museums, parks, theaters, shops, famous buildings, and inhabitants as diverse as themselves.
Far from its sometimes mythical image, New York is one of the safest large cities for tourists anywhere on the globe. It has the lowest crime rate of any major American city. For a city with over 8 million inhabitants and a population density of over 26,000 per square mile (Manhattan is nearly 67,000 per square mile), that’s remarkable.
Divided, more or less by geographical boundaries, the city is composed of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Each has its distinct identity and is chock full of things to see and do.
Weather year-round ranges from envigorating to mildly uncomfortable. Winters can be cold, but there’s rarely snow. Spring and Fall bring pleasant temperatures and moderate rain, but the rainfall rarely lasts more than a couple of hours at a time. Summers are typically humid and can reach the high 80s or more. (Fahrenheit, high 20s Celsius.)
The Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens generally contain fewer attractions for tourists, though there are exceptions.
Staten Island is primarily suburban, but the Ferry ride to and from Manhattan is a treat for those who like the Atlantic Ocean breezes. Both baseball and tennis can be found in spring and summer in Queens.
Brooklyn is home to several justly world-famous parks and museums and is only an hour away via the modest-cost, easy-to-navigate subway. The art museum alone is worth the trip and don’t forget to visit historical, but still popular, Coney Island.
Most of the major attractions are in Manhattan, a cigar-shaped island about three miles wide by 22 miles long. Easy to navigate even for the newcomer, almost all the streets run either North-South or East-West.
From the East River (FDR Drive) there’s 1st Avenue, through Fifth along the mid-section to 12th Avenue running North-South along the Hudson River. From about 12th Street (not 12th Avenue!), the streets increase in number as you travel north.
So, if you’re at 42nd Street, walk 17 short blocks north and you’ll hit Columbus Circle at 59th Street. A little farther and you’ll find Lincoln Center, a large center for music and theater and dance performances. Easy!
Travel prices, as they are with most destinations, tend to be higher in the prime season of mid-spring to early fall, but the great thing about New York is it’s terrific year-round.
Skiing trips in winter are available by traveling a few hours upstate by train, and late Fall is still mild enough to enjoy the leaves in Central Park as you stroll through the Zoo.
There are far more things to do and see than anyone could in just one trip, so plan several visits. Just be ready to move fast, because New York is one big beehive of fun!