New York for First-timers

Forget the Empire State Building; Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is a best vantage point to view New York City in its entirety.

Where to Stay

Return visitors tend to stay in the hip enclaves of Downtown Manhattan; however, central to all of the city’s happenings, Midtown is the perfect locale for first timers. 

Only a few steps away from Times Square, at the heart of Midtown, the Royalton is a well-appointed base. Part of the trendsetting Morgans Hotel Group, the boutique hotel is charismatic in design and spirited in vision, has a lobby bar that bustles with the city’s movers and shakers, and offers tranquil and inviting lodgings ideal for escaping New York’s famous round-the-clock energy.

Stay at the Royalton Hotel with a great deal from Agoda.

What to See and Do

Central Park

Covering 3.41 square kilometres of prime Manhattan real estate with green meadows, colourful gardens, impressive water features and unique monuments, Central Park is a visual masterpiece and New York City icon. Standout attractions include Strawberry Fields, Loeb Boathouse, the Alice in Wonderland statue, the Great Lawn, and Belvedere Castle. 

Times Square

Nicknamed ‘The Crossroads of the World’, Times Square is a tourist magnet. A blinking neon hub in Midtown, the Square attracts tens of millions of visitors a year with flashing lights, Broadway shows, megastores, and over-the-top spectacles. A hive of activity day and night Times Square epitomises New York’s moniker of ‘The City that Never Sleeps’. 

Broadway

Selling more than one billion dollars’ worth of tickets every year, Broadway is one of the world’s most popular cultural destinations. The Theater District is home to 40 large professional theatres that host a constantly evolving variety of productions. Current popular productions include Wicked, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, and the highest grossing Broadway play of all time, Phantom of the Opera. 

Statue of Liberty 

A gift from France to the United States in 1886, the Statue of Liberty is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. Standing in the middle of New York Harbour, Lady Liberty was once a beacon of hope for those who immigrated to the US through Ellis Island. Today, she invokes an overwhelming sense of majesty as the steward of Manhattan. 

Brooklyn Bridge 

Connecting lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River with Neo-Gothic arches, offering a scenic passage to millions of commuters and tourists. The most enjoyable way to transverse the Bridge is to start on the Brooklyn side and walk towards the impressive view of Manhattan. Stop midway for great photo opportunities and to observe all of the activity of the city and river. 

Top of the Rock 

Forget the Empire State Building; Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is a best vantage point to view New York City in its entirety. Soaring 70 floors into the air, Top of the Rock offers three viewing decks that enjoy 360 degree views of Manhattan and beyond.  And the best bit… you get the iconic Empire State as a backdrop to your photos. 

The Highline

The Highline epitomises the re-generation of the Meatpacking District. Elevated above the streets of Chelsea, The Highline has gentrified a derelict freight rail line into an extraordinary public park, which enjoys lush green spaces, rotating public art installations, markets and great outlooks of the New York City and New Jersey. 

Museums

Steeped in history and rich with culture, New York is home to some of the world’s most impressive museums. While the city boasts hundreds of museums, three standout as must-sees. Explore a world-famous collection of dinosaur fossils at The American Museum of Natural History. Peruse The Met’s two million-piece art collection. Or marvel at the unique exterior and masterpieces of the Guggenheim. 

Sports

New York City is sports mad. The metropolis boasts 10 professional sporting league teams, the most famous of which are Yankees and Mets (baseball), Giants and Jets (gridiron), Knicks and Nets (basketball), Rangers (ice hockey). Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium offer rite-of-passage type experiences for any sports aficionado visiting New York City. 

Where to Eat and Drink

Home-Grown Hero

A fixture since 1888, Katz's Delicatessen is part of New York City’s DNA.  The Lower East Side landmark famously serves around 1000 pastrami sandwiches a day, amid a sprawling and visually chaotic room, decorated with vintage neon signs, old photographs and memorabilia. 

Cultural Enclave

Downtown officially hosts Little Italy, however most Italian-American New Yorkers believe that the city’s real Little Italy can be found on Arthur Avenue in Belmont, The Bronx. A go-to for bread, pasta, meat, pastries, and espresso, the enclave proudly exudes classic and authentic Italian charm. 

Celebrity Hotspot

Owned by celebrity chef Keith McNally, Balthazar is one New York’s most touted restaurants. Located on trendy Spring Street in SoHo, the French brasserie serves around 1500 Francophiles a day and is one of the city’s premier spots for celebrity-watching. Don’t just arrive unexpected, make a reservation to avoid disappointment. 

Drinks with a View 

Opened in 2012 on Williamsburg’s waterfront, The Ides has quickly garnered a reputation as New York’s hottest rooftop bar. Situated atop factory-turned-four-star hotel, the Wythe Hotel, the bar serves cocktails to quintessential Brooklyn hipsters against a breathtaking backdrop of twinkling Manhattan. 

Just Dessert 

Housed in a setting that resembles a Mad Hatter’s tea party, Serendipity 3 is marvellously shambolic New York desert institution. Wildly famous for its Frozen Hot Chocolate and towering sundaes, the Upper East Side hotspot is a favourite among locals, celebrities and tourists alike. 

Where to Shop

Big Spender

Home to the world’s most expensive retail real estate, Madison Avenue, (between 57th and 79th streets), boasts an awe-inspiring collection of high-end luxury boutiques and upscale retailers. Cartier, Jimmy Choo, Vera Wang and Barneys New York are all represented, housed among some of the city’s grandest architecture.  

Shopper’s Paradise 

The city’s retail heart lies in Midtown’s Fifth Avenue – one of the world’s most famous shopping streets. The upper 40s through to 57th Street are pockmarked with flagship boutiques, sports-apparel wonderlands, high-street giants, and department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, and Saks Fifth Avenue. 

Fashion Forward

SoHo is regarded as New York’s centre for the uber-fashionable. Greenwich Village proudly boasts the bohemian Bleecker Street. Chelsea is home to the Fashion Institute of Technology, vintage boutiques and antiques emporiums. While the Garment District hosts the majority of the city’s fashion showrooms, and is a must-visit for great sample sales. 

Hipster Hub

Brooklyn neighbourhood, Williamsburg attracts cool-hunters from all over the city with its well-curated vintage boutiques, artisan furniture workspaces, treasure-trove music stores, and on-trend surf shops. Adding to its trendsetting nature, the suburb hosts flea markets every Sunday. 

Bargain Hunter 

The legendary New York City outlet, Century 21 (C21) offers top designer merchandise for reduced low prices. C21 has five stores across New York, including Long Island and Rego Park in Queens, Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, and Downtown and Lincoln Square in Manhattan.

How to Get There

  • Together with partner airlines, Virgin America and Delta Air Lines, Virgin Australia operates flights to New York, via LA, from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Words by Alice Nash - Published 4 November 2013
Quick Facts 
Population Approx. 8.3 million
Time Zone UTC -5
Languages English (official), Spanish, Native American
Currency American Dollar ($USD)
Electricity 110v - 60Hz
Share this article 
facebook Twitter Pinterest Google
Related Articles 
How To Spend 5 Unforgettable Days In New York City
On your marks, get set and go. Five days in the bustling metropolis of eight million people will be busy, exciting and packed with temptations.
NYC: EAT
Get a taste of New York City’s food culture with our bite of the Big Apple.
The Best of Halloween in the USA
Modern Halloween conjures thoughts of family-friendly holiday events, outrageous costume parties, encounters with the paranormal and bucket loads of candy, and nowhere does it better than the United....