New York Summer: Suggested Sights

The summer months are a perfect time to discover New York City's colorful neighborhoods and one-of-a-kind attractions. The following is a sampling of suggested sights and activities for the summer visitor to the Big Apple:

  • Chinatown: At first, it may seem like an unfathomable web of tangled streets, but travelers who start at Canal Street -- the area's main thoroughfare -- and wind their way south will be rewarded by myriad sights and sounds, including dozens of ethnic eateries serving delicious, and usually bargain-priced, meals. They'll also find herbal medicine and curio shops, food stores and Chinese temples.
  • Little Italy: Chinatown's neighbor is also an unbeatable place for an immersion into Old World atmosphere. In summer, the restaurants on Mulberry Street offer al fresco dining, reminiscent of an evening in Rome or Naples. The area is also a great place to buy authentic Italian cheeses, sausages and bread for a picnic lunch, or to while away an hour enjoying a cappuccino and dolci at a sidewalk cafe.
  • Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island: Ferries depart regularly to the "Lady in the Harbor," America's most celebrated symbol of freedom, and Ellis Island in New Jersey, the principal entry point for generations of new Americans from 1892 to 1954. The island houses a museum that pays tribute to these courageous individuals through displays of memorabilia and treasures from home they brought with them to the New World.
  • Historic Orchard Street Shopping District: In the heart of the Lower East Side, this bustling street has for decades been the favorite haunt of savvy New York shoppers. Deeply discounted designer clothing, handbags, shoes, fabrics, household items and food products fill the shops and makeshift outdoor stalls. Most fun day to visit: Sunday.
  • Greenwich Village: Long the focal point of New York's artistic and literary life, the Village continues to be a popular visitor attraction, thanks to its charming, tree-lined streets dotted with handsome brownstones, laid-back neighborhood restaurants and coffee bars, friendly shopkeepers and the lively street life in and around historic Washington Square.
  • SoHo: It stands for "south of Houston (pronounced Howston) Street" and is best known for its cornucopia of cast-iron architectural masterpieces. Nowadays, many of these buildings house trendy shops, art galleries and restaurants and night spots frequented by Generation X celebrity idols.
  • Harlem: This historic district, which runs from above 97th to about 168th Street, has been home to legendary nightclubs and theaters. Currently in the midst of a revival, Harlem is also home to world-class museums, such as the Studio Museum and Museo del Barrio, and landmarks, such as the Morris-Jumel Mansion, built in 1765.
  • Central Park: This sprawling natural sanctuary in the heart of Manhattan's steel canyons runs from 59th Street to 110th Street and from Fifth Avenue to Central Park West. New Yorkers' favorite playground and picnic grounds, Central Park also houses a zoo, lakes, a boathouse, sports facilities and entertainment venues where such events as the summer Shakespeare in the Park series are staged.
  • Bryant Park: In the early 1990s, the park, situated behind the main branch of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, underwent a complete redevelopment and image metamorphosis. Nowadays, it boasts attractive outdoor and indoor restaurants and cafes that lure locals and visitors.
  • Chelsea Piers: This 30-plus-acre sports complex houses an expansive golf driving range for city golfers, ice- and roller-skating rinks, a bowling alley, batting cages, play facilities for kids, a large health club with an Olympic-size pool, shops and several restaurants with tables that overlook the Hudson.
  • Observatories: Summer is a marvelous time to soak up New York's incomparable skyline from the observatories of such famous landmarks as the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. The Empire State Building's newest attraction, "New York Skyline," features a big-screen simulated tour of the city. Noontime, weekday concerts and other outdoor summer entertainment is offered on the Plaza at the World Trade Center.
  • Beyond Manhattan

    Summer offers exciting activities and attractions beyond Manhattan.

    In the Bronx, sights include the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden with the recently restored Enid A. Haupt Conservatory; the Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Park, America's biggest urban zoo; Wave Hill, beautiful public gardens overlooking the Hudson, and of course, the summertime-action at Yankee Stadium.

    Brooklyn's highlights include the glorious parks and gardens of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (next door to the Brooklyn Museum of Art); Coney Island, and the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, a 50-block area filled with historic buildings that's perfect for a walking tour.

    Queens is not only the home of Shea Stadium, bailiwick of the New York Mets, but also boasts the Aqueduct and Belmont race tracks; the Bowne House, a 17th-century building where Quakers mounted a struggle for religious freedom, and the 2,860-acre Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

    Now that the ferry is free, there's even more incentive to visit Staten Island -- also called Richmond, one of the oldest areas of New York. Attractions include Historic Richmondtown, a village/museum complex with a centuries' old schoolhouse, shops, prison and other buildings; the Conference House, which dates from 1675; The Greenbelt, a woodland area with more than 2,500 acres, and the Gateway National Recreation Area, with guided nature programs, biking and a beach.

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