Make sure to contact Big Apple Greeter!
What made this second visit to New York City so incredibly special was that we got the chance to spend 2 days with Mr. Chafin Eliott, our amazing Big Apple Greeter. Big Apple Greeter is an organization that helps visitors discover New York City by intoducing them to a local volunteer greeter. No two visits are the same - ours was supposed to last 2-4 hours, but our dedicated guide took us on a much longer tour of Brooklyn and Harlem, the two neighborhoods we had expressed an interest in. Chafin is not a professional tour guide, but after having spent over 10 years volunteering with BAG, he definitely knows how to entertain visitors. He showed us several sites we would never have found on our own, and by sharing many stories with us (he grew up in Harlem and eventually moved to Brooklyn with his wife Ethel), he truly helped us understand what it was like to live in the New York City area. He made us feel much more comfortable about getting around the city on our own and going beyond popular Manhattan spots. New York City will never be the same for me thanks to this one-of-a-kind experience.
Big Apple Greeter being an organization that relies solely on volunteers, there is no guarantee that someone will be available to take you on a tour. However, it's well worth sending a request to http://www.bigapplegreeter.org. All you need to do is fill out the online form, indicate which areas you're interested in visiting (or leave it up to the greeter's choice), and your general interests and expectations. Your Big Apple Greeter will try as much as possible to tailor the tour to suit your personal needs and schedule.
A Gem of Tranquility in a Mad City
Thanks to the poet William Cullen Byrant who persauded the city to buy the land & build the park.
It took 3,000 workers 20 years to complete - well worth the effort.
Spend time in this lovely park you will be well rewarded.
visit the Statue of Liberty!...
visit the Statue of Liberty! It's been hundreds of time you see it on tv, it's time for you to get up close and 'personal' with the famous Statue of Liberty!! All the coolest stores- Nike's 5-storeys store, Warner Bro.s, etc.!!!
Take a bus tour of the city. ...
Take a bus tour of the city. You'll get a great view if you sit top deck and take in most of the sights in relative comfort.
I strongly recommend buying a 'Lonely Planet' guide for every destination though. If you're limited by time you can pick out the places of interest and head straight for them. My fondest memory of New York was meeting one of the locals in Bloomingdales. It was a lady promoting a brand of perfume who upon hearing my accent, chatted to me for a good 45 mins! She was interested in England and asked for my point of view on various topics.
I found the people to be friendly and open and for me, it's the people that make a place.
86th floor look at NYC from the Empire State Bldg.
Dominating the skyline of Manhattan, the Empire State Building rises to a height of 1454 feet. The 86th floor observatory offers incredible views of NYC and the adjacent areas. High speed elevators take you quickly (once you've managed to procure a ticket...see my tip concering buying your tickets online) to the 86th floor, where there are glass-enclosed viewing areas AND outdoor promenades. (Sadly, I read where a few days ago, some fellow chose to do a high dive from the 86th floor, which came to an abrupt, and I suppose messy, end on the 6th floor)
On a clear day, you can see up to 60 miles in almost any direction. I'm told the nighttime view is quite spectacular as well, if you get a clear evening.
The cost of a trip to the 86th floor observatory is $11 for adults and $6 for children. Seniors are $10. If you get a Smartmap, you'll receive a discount of 20% on two admissions to the observatory. (See my Smartmap tip)
The Empire State Building observatory is open 7 days a week, with some variation around public holidays, from 9:30 am until midnight. The last admission to the observatory occurs at 11:20 pm each evening.
There is a gift shop on the observatory floor, and it's full of what you'd expect. Nothing, in my opinion, that one couldn't live without. : )
For more information, or for online tickets, visit the Empire State Building website at
www.esbnyc.com It actually took us a little less time to get to the 86th floor observatory that I'd thought. AND, I didn't expect to get a nice fresh-air outdoor peek from the top.
The feeling of being above it all is surreal, and it's often easy to forget that you're in a man-made structure that is nearly 70 years old. Truly an engineering marvel.
WARNING...all during your time in line at the Empire State Building, you are harassed by some outfit calling itself Tony's Audio Tours. You are constantly haranged about buying this joker's taped commentary of the view from the Empire State Building, and it is inferred that you'll be wasting your time without Tony's input. Baloney. We had little difficulty finding all sorts of landmarks as we peered over the Big Apple. If listening to audio tape tours makes you happy, buy one. You'll have plenty of opportunities, believe me. But, do not be chided into purchasing this business believing that your experience will somehow be substandard without it. A classic HARD sell, folks. In some ways, the dogmatic pounding you get while in line from Tony and his goons is kind of comical. We had a good time making fun of them, actually.