The city that never sleeps is one of the most dynamic cities in the world. It's not the kind of place you can easily check off your bucket list in one trip, because New York features a cache of diverse and ever-evolving attractions, from cutting-edge restaurants and shops to trendy galleries and museums. While there are always new and noteworthy activities sprouting across the NYC's eclectic and unique neighborhoods that are worth exploring, here's your guide to 10 can't-miss city experiences you couldn't do in Gotham before 2010.
Hiking Along the High Line
So you've explored Central Park, but what about New York City's must-see elevated park? The High Line first opened in 2009, with the third installment completed in 2014. Today, this former elevated rail line receives only foot traffic – to the tune of 5 million visitors a year. The 1.5-mile long greenway from Gansevoort to 34th Street is a popular place year-round and park programming that includes art exhibitions, live performances and dance parties.
People-Watching in Pedestrian Plazas
In 2009, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg temporarily closed one of Broadway's busiest sections to car traffic. His experiment led to a $55 million project to make Times Square more pedestrian-friendly. Finished in December, the six plazas span five blocks and more than 100,000 square feet. They feature food kiosks and plenty of public seating so visitors can sit back and soak in the city's exciting sights and sounds.
Visiting the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
One of the most moving experiences an American can have is standing at Ground Zero. Ten years after the September 11 attacks, the long-awaited National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened its doors. Exhibits include "Before 9/11," "the Day of 9/11" and "After 9/11." There's also a time-lapse video of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. What's more, visitors can also attend weekly talks hosted by survivors. And the Memorial's striking twin reflecting pools pay tribute to the victims of the 1993 and 2011 attacks. Adult admission to the museum costs $24.
Riding to the Top of One World Observatory
Big Apple visitors once bragged about riding the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. But since 2015, the most sought-after lift in town belongs to One World Trade Center. Also known as the Freedom Tower, the 104-story structure is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. If you're not afraid of heights, pay $34 to travel to the observatory.
Sightseeing From the NYC Ferry
For the first time in 100 years, New York's five boroughs will be connected by ferry service. For $2.75, passengers can travel from Astoria, Queens, down to Brooklyn and even the Rockaways, among other destinations. By the end of 2018, the NYC Ferry system will have 20 boats along six routes that will service 21 landings throughout the city. Outside seating offers a unique perspective for skyline and picturesque bridge photo ops. Indoors, passengers can connect to free Wi-Fi and purchase refreshments.
Shopping at Brookfield Place
Historically speaking, lower Manhattan hasn't been known as a shopping capital. That changed when Brookfield Place opened in Battery Park City in 2015. The indoor mall's 30 shops include designer outposts from Burberry, DVF, Gucci and Hermes – all selling the same goods available on Fifth Avenue. There are also more than 20 eateries specializing in everything from sushi to tapas to cupcakes. During the winter, Brookfield Place offers ice skating at its outdoor rink, and in the summer, sailing at the adjacent North Cove Marina.
Enjoying Connectivity Before You Check Into Your Accommodations
Even before guests arrive at The Bernic Hotel, they can communicate with the concierge via its app. This four-star boutique hotel opened in September 2016 and boasts 96 rooms appointed with Apple TVs, so guests can stream their favorite shows from home, and the entire 22-story building is outfitted with high-speed wireless internet. Summer rates start at around $160 per night.
Staying in a Smart Hotel
The hotel chain Yotel bills itself as a new breed of accommodations. At its 42nd Street location on 10th Avenue, guests are greeted by six full-service kiosks offering automated check-in. The process can be further expedited by downloading the hotel's associated app, and simply scanning a QR code. And in the lobby, it's impossible to miss the hotel's luggage-storing robot. Guests can enter their details via touch screen and watch from behind a glass wall as the robot moves their luggage to their assigned locker. The property opened in 2011 and boasts the largest hotel terrace in New York City. Nightly rates start at around $120.
Cruising Around on a Citi Bike
Before 2013, most bikes in Manhattan belonged to couriers and pedicab drivers. Today, New York City boasts the largest bike-share fleet in the country. In 2016, riders used New York's Citi Bikes on more than 14 million trips. By the end of 2017, Citi Bike hopes to have 12,000 bikes available at more than 700 stations throughout the city. To make up for the influx of riders, the city is dedicating more bike lanes and widening existing lanes such as the path over the Brooklyn Bridge. Citi Bike day passes cost $12.
Touring the Woolworth Building
In 2014, the New York Times credited the world-famous Woolworth Building with having the city's "most sumptuous office lobby." But Cass Gilbert's Gothic-inspired lobby, whose crown jewel is a stunning mosaic ceiling, was closed to the public in 2000. Fast-forward 13 years later, on the building's centennial, and Gilbert's great-grandchildren received permission to begin sharing their great grandfather's grand arcade with tourists curious to see inside what was once the tallest building in the world. Tickets for 60-minute guided tours of the building cost $30.
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