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In a city of superlatives with so many wonderful things to see, listing "must do's is an impossible task and a matter of personal preference. There are, however, classic venues, integral to the New York experience. Get your bearings and hop on one of the different New York tours. Gray Line New York Sightseeing is the oldest and offers the most types of tours and options.
See the city from the Empire State Building. Get a panoramic view of this remarkable city from the 86 th floor of the iconic Art Deco landmark, the world's most famous skyscraper. Pick a beautiful day to maximize the view from the glass-enclosed observatory. Tickets can be purchased in the main lobby of the building, but be prepared for lines. Consider purchasing them online, in advance.
Discover the multitude of things to do in Rockefeller Center. Start out early, on the sidewalk across from the Today show, for a chance to be beamed back home; walk through lovely gardens; take in the major public art; ice-skate October - March in the rink that transforms in the summer into the Sunken Garden, an al fresco cafe. Shop in the underground "catacombs," dine, visit the NBC studios, where you can go on a backstage tour (buy tickets ahead online or by calling), take a behind the scenes tour of the grand Radio City Music Hall, see the spectacular city from the Top of the Rock.
Get up close to the Statue of Liberty. Catch the ferry to Liberty Island from Battery Park. You'll be amazed how big this globally recognized symbol of freedom really is. Or, see her how her assured presence dominates the harbor from one of many harbor tours, or by walking along the promenade at Battery City Park.
Walk through Ellis Island, the moving symbol of the American immigrant. Relive the personal experiences of the 12 million immigrants who first stepped onto American soil on this small island. Exhibits and oral histories in the Immigration Museum movingly express the hardship of the voyage, the anxiety of walking into the Great Hall for processing, the feeling of being displaced, the missing of those left behind, and the anxiety of facing the unknown. While there, find personal family entry information through multimedia technology in the American Family Immigration History Center. Get there on the same ferry from Battery Park that goes to the Statue of Liberty.
Get caught up in a Broadway show. It's the best theater in the world. You'll find yourself singing after a musical, chuckling after a comedy, contemplative after a serious play. Purchase tickets in advance, by phone, online, or it may be difficult, expensive or impossible to get them. On the day of the show, try the TKTS booth at Times Square or at South Street Seaport. You'll wait in line, and shows you want may not be available, but what they do have is at discounted prices. In a move of desperation to get into sold out shows, go to the theater ticket booths about 6pm before the 8pm curtain, to see if they have unclaimed seats available.
Shop 'till you drop along Fifth Avenue , where there is no end to dazzling stores - Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Tiffany's, Henri Bendel, the boutiques in Trump Tower, and countless boutiques and shops in between. For a change of pace along New York's " Main Street," enter into the calm of two of America's grandest architectural structures: the majestic New York Public Library, whose glorious, gilded Main Reading Rooms are masterpieces themselves, and the awesomely beautiful and serene St. Patrick's Cathedral. Stop for lunch at any restaurant you pass that appeals to you or, for a really special treat, end your walk with afternoon tea in the elegant Astor Court in the St. Regis Hotel or stop for a classy cocktail in the hotel's luxurious King Cole Bar.
Spend a day in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere, whose collections span cultures of the entire globe. While on Museum Mile, visit other stellar museums along the way. For great modern art, see the world's most comprehensive collection in the Museum of Modern Art.
Take a trip through space in the Hayden Planetarium in the impressive American Museum of Natural History, itself a day's visit. The Planetarium, part of the Rose Center for Earth and Space is a dramatic, state-of-the-art, multimedia, multi-sensory experience housed in a 3-story 87 foot wide sphere. It's an awesome "big bang."
Attend at least one performance at Lincoln Center, City Center, or Carnegie Hall. Dance, music, and opera run the gamut from classic to cutting-edge and the abundant selections are dazzling. You'll be moved to your feet by the quality of the performances.
Kick back in Central Park, particularly in March through November. See it on a horse-drawn carriage ride, on a gondola ride in Central Park Lake, at a performance at Shakespeare in the Park, from the Boathouse Cafe. See it creatively on specialized tours: Central Park Movie Sites Tour takes movie buffs to over 40 Central Park locations where scenes were shot for well-known movies; the Central Park 4 Hour Photo Tour places you in the center of the scene inphotos take at well-known park sites.
See the city by water. Marvel at the formidable buildings seemingly balancing on a sliver of land. On the New York Water Taxi's Hop-on/Hop-Off Tour see the city from the water and hop off at any stop along the way to see sights on foot. The venerable Circle Cruise Line offers the Semi-Circle Cruise, a 2-hour city highlights tour. Enjoy a harbor tour, along with brunch or dinner, on the sophisticated Bateaux New York Cruise, the high energy Spirit Cruise or the elegant World Yacht Cruise. Get up and personal with your favorite celebrity or historical figure at Madame Tussauds New York. Fun for the whole family and a great indoor activity during the Summer heat or Winter cold.
Have a drink in a venue with a view: the Rise Bar at Ritz-Carleton Battery Park Hotel, the Top of the Tower on the roof of the Beekman Tower Hotel, the rooftop terrace of the Metropolitan Museum, the revolving View Lounge in the Marriot Marquis at Times Square, 230 Fifth, near the Empire State Building, the Pen-Top Bar in the Peninsula Hotel, the Stone Rose Lounge and Cafe Gray in Time Warner Center.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge - the view is astounding. The most fascinating of Manhattan's five major bridges, it spans the East River. The elevated pedestrian walkway above the traffic, which begins on Park Row, just across from City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan, makes the 30 minute walk possible. Once on the Brooklyn side, before turning around to go back, lunch at the River Cafe at the foot of the bridge, or to enjoy homemade ice-cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.