Holidays and holidaymakers have long been one of the mainstays of New York City’s economy, alongside Wall Street and its status as a shopaholic’s paradise. However, the city government now wants to make tourism even more important to the Big Apple over the next few years, with the city fathers determined to see holidays bring in $70 billion of revenue by 2015, attracting some 55 million visitors over this three-year period.
Surely this ambitious-sounding target shouldn’t be too hard to achieve, since New York holidays have been increasingly popular for many years. Visitors from the UK and Europe love to touch down in the metropolis and experience for themselves the iconic sights and sounds that they have seen over and over again on the big and small screens.
Of course we can point to the well-worn tourist attractions of NYC – spectacles such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Times Square are rightly famous and continue to pull in millions of visitors every year. But one of the truly wonderful things about New York, like London, is its sheer scale and diversity. Not only do you have the central perks of Manhattan, but the different characters of the other four boroughs – Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. These contain many quirky little attractions, as does Manhattan itself, that are well worth a look when visiting the city – especially the free ones! Here are a few to whet the appetite…
The Sopranos Sites tour, Manhattan-New Jersey
Fans of the iconic 90s TV show will love this funny and fascinating guided coach tour, which whisks visitors out the city to the neighbouring state of New Jersey, to visit key locations from the show – including the Bada Bing! Hosted by a wisecracking bit-part actor from the show itself, you are treated to a Cannoli pastry and the chance to meet a mystery star from the “family” Fahgeddaboudit!
The Louis Armstrong House Museum, Queens
Hop on the Subway to the borough of Queens and pay a visit to the jazz legend’s former home, now a museum/shrine maintained with care by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Queens College. Marvel at Armstrong’s music room and many souvenirs of a life on the road, and discover some things you may not have known about him – such as his obsession with laxatives!
Staten Island Ferry, Lower Manhattan-Staten Island
New Yorkers may view this ferry as a routine part of commuter transport, but to the visitor it is a great way to grab a grandstand view of both New York’s working waterfront and the Statue of Liberty. Best of all, it’s absolutely free, helping visitors make the most of their cheap holidays in the city. The ferry leaves every half an hour or so and the journey takes another half hour. Hop off and explore Staten Island, or simply relax and return to Manhattan, it’s up to you.
Coney Island, Brooklyn
Until restoration efforts began in the mid-1980s, the Coney Island beachfront was a symbol of decay in New York, with its eerie boarded-up fairground stalls and dilapidated rollercoaster. Nowadays it is a thriving summer attraction, with 10,000 or more visitors every day. Try some of the boardwalk’s thrill rides, such as the aforementioned Cyclone rollercoaster or the double-ring Wonder Wheel.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Manhattan
If you don’t fancy the massive queues at the Empire State Building, but still want to gaze upon New York’s skyline from on high, this six-level observatory atop the Art Deco skyscraper at 30 Rockefeller Plaza is perfect, with the upper decks some 850 feet above street level. From the decks you can see landmarks such as the Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge and a commanding view of Central Park.