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The borough of Manhattan is New York City’s beating heart and most densely populated area. Each neighborhood represents a different persona from the theatrical Times Square to the buttoned-up Financial District, and historic Chinatown to artsy TriBeCa. The city has its own adventure map, whether you’re taking an elevated walk along the High Line, spiraling through The Vessel sculpture, or exploring the lakes and lawns of Central Park. The island, which is about 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide (at its widest), is also one of the most navigable, with streets running east to west, avenues going north to south, and Broadway cutting across the island diagonally. The best way to experience New York City is to simply dive right into the Manhattan bustle.
Flight options into New York City are plentiful: LaGuardia Airport (LGA) or John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in Queens, and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), across the Hudson River. All three airports offer connections to public transit systems that can get you into Manhattan. How you get to the city from these terminals depends on your time, budget, and comfort level navigating train and subway stations. During busy commute times, note that traveling by rail or subway could help you avoid being stalled in rush hour traffic.
Once in the city, true New Yorkers and visitors alike zip around on the subway, so it’s no surprise that the top 10 busiest stations in the city are all in this borough (Times Square-42 Street scores top honors). Buses, taxis, and rideshares are numerous, but can be unpredictable with the city’s often-gridlocked traffic. The extensive bike share system is an alternative if you’re willing to brave the busy streets.
In Manhattan, every season is the best time to be here. Springtime, while sometimes chilly and rainy, ushers in the blooming of flowers all over town and longtime traditions of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival. Summer may be hot — and often sticky — but it’s also prime time for outdoor fun, with street fairs and festivities such as the NYC Pride March and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Arts take over the parks with summer concerts and the free performances of Shakespeare in the Park. As crisper weather moves in, so does another magical time: fall in New York. The cozy atmosphere is accompanied by West Village’s Halloween Parade, the African American Day Parade, and the TCS NYC Marathon, which finishes in Central Park. The storybook spirit of the holidays kicks off the winter, anchored by the world-famous New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square.
There’s a reason this 843-acre greenspace in the middle of Manhattan is such a favorite, with some essential sights — Bethesda Fountain, Belvedere Castle, and the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields. Immerse yourself with the locals, whether it’s running around the reservoir, experiencing the roller discos at Skate Circle, or simply sitting and people watching.
All of Manhattan might as well double as a museum district. While there are classics —such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (don’t miss the rooftop deck), the Guggenheim, and the American Museum of Natural History — others such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New Museum grab headlines with their rotating exhibits. Museums without such boldface names also delight, such as The Frick Collection, The Morgan Library and Museum, and the quirky Mmuseumm. But perhaps the most essential to the history of the city is the emotional 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Manhattan has long been known for its skyscraper viewpoints — from the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock to One World Observatory. But newcomer the Edge takes the cake as the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere, with a dramatically shaped platform jutting from the edge of the building that contains glass panels giving you a vertical view 100 floors down.