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Things to Do in New York City

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National Museum of the American Indian–New York
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Located in the heart of lower Manhattan near the Staten Island Ferry and Wall Street, The National Museum of the American Indian is home to one of the largest collections of Native American art and artifacts in the world. Travelers who venture to this destination will find more than 800,000 unique items on display, which detail the history, culture and traditions of America’s native people. And while a majority—close to 70 percent—of the museum’s collection is from the U.S., visitors will find plenty of items from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.

Travelers can wander the galleries, which are jam-packed with pieces that detail the unique experiences of a variety of tribes, wander past photography displays, or settle in for one of the occasional movies or audio tours that’s on offer at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York.

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Ground Zero Museum Workshop
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Ground Zero is the 16-acre site on Lower Manhattan that, until the tragic events of September 11, 2001, was home to the twin towers of the World Trade Center. America's most sacred ground is now a construction site, as the frames of the Libeskind Memory Foundation take shape.

The planned redevelopment includes several World Center tower buildings, a memorial museum, and landscaped plaza. The original footprints of the two former World Trade Center towers will be preserved as reflecting pools.

Whether you take a walking tour, drop into the nearby Ground Zero Museum Workshop or view the tributes on nearby Church Street, a visit to Ground Zero is an emotional, numbing experience that's not soon forgotten. It's a site for reflection and respect rather than snapping photographs.

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Hudson River Park
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This 550-acre parks is the second largest in New York City and home to a scenic walking, biking and running path where thousands of New Yorkers can run, ride and stroll without having to wait at crosswalks or navigate busy city streets. Epic stretches of greenway meet up with the scenic Hudson River, where travelers can picnic on uninterrupted strips of lush grass or quiet tables nestled onto well-developed piers.

In addition to places designed to rest and relax, Hudson River Park boasts plenty of recreational sites as well. The Waterside Park near 11th Avenue and 24th Street houses a massive sports activity center with a playground for kids and basketball courts for adults. Famed Chelsea Piers, with its indoor ice skating rink, soccer fields and driving range is also located off of Hudson River Park.

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Fraunces Tavern Museum
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Fraunces Tavern is a national historic landmark, museum, and restaurant in New York City, famous for being the place where George Washington bid farewell to his troops at the end of the American Revolution. Since 1904, the building has been owned by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York Inc., who claim it is Manhattan’s oldest surviving building. It is part of the New York Freedom Trail and the American Whiskey Trail. The museum’s mission is to create appreciation for New York City history as it relates to Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, and the Early Republic.

Through the varied exhibitions of art and artifacts relating to the museum’s historic site, the museum aims to create this appreciation through educating the public. Different exhibits include the ‘Long Room,’ the site of General George Washington’s farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolution. The room is a recreation of an 18th century public dining room.

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General Grant National Memorial
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Paying tribute to Civil War hero and former president General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia, the General Grant Memorial is the largest tomb in North America. General Grant is commended for his role in ending the bloodiest war in American history, with his words “let us have peace” immortalized in the structure.

The large granite and marble mausoleum is surrounded by seventeen intricate, Gaudi-inspired benches designed by Chilean artist Pedro Silva. The structure itself takes after classical inspiration with Doric columns and an Ionic colonnade. It bears resemblance to some of the ancient monuments of Rome. The interior, however, was inspired by the Tomb of Napoleon at Les Invalides in Paris.

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East Village
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One of Manhattan’s most vibrant neighborhoods, the East Village has a storied history of New York’s counterculture, art and literature movements, and social and political acts including riots and protests. It was here that punk rock, experimental theater, and even Andy Warhol shows took root in New York City. As such, the area is considered a large contributor the arts and culture of the United States. Museums, libraries, festivals, and theaters can still be found in great number. It is also known for its thriving bar and budget restaurant scene.

The East Village was first developed as an artistic community in the 1950s with its affordable housing costs attracting many students, musicians, and alternative lifestyles. It is known still for its artistic attitude, nightlife, and diversity, though some would argue that the gentrification of the city is changing its culture.

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New York City Garment District
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Also known as the Fashion District, New York’s Garment District is located in Manhattan between Fifth and Ninth Avenues and 34th and 42nd Streets. It gets its name due to the high concentration of show rooms, fashion brands, wholesale outlets and production spaces. Along with being a mecca for fabric and apparel, the Garment District is also worthwhile as shoppers can find everything from designer pieces to budget buys and sample sales.

Start your tour of the area at the Garment District Kiosk at 39th and Seventh Avenue to pick up maps, brochures and coupons that will help you navigate the many fashionable spaces. If you can only go to one shop in the area, make it Mood Fabrics which encompasses three floors of designer textiles. Visitors also enjoy walking the Fashion Hall of Fame from 38th to 40th along Seventh Avenue.

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More Things to Do in New York City

Cafe Wha?

Cafe Wha?

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Located at 115 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village, Cafe Wha? is a historic bar known for being the career birthplace of many well-known musicians and comedians. Open since the 1950s, some artists who consider Cafe Wha? a home include Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Bill Crosby and Peter, Paul & Mary, to name a few. Although it’s gone through many changes over the years, you can expect high energy music in an informal atmosphere every night of the week. In 1987, the Cafe Wha? House Band was employed, and are now known throughout the world and regularly feature celebrity guest performers. You can hear them live Wednesday through Sunday, playing everything from Motown to Reggae to Alternative Rock and more. On Monday nights you’ll hear Brazooka, a Brazilian dance band incorporating elements of Jazz and Samba, while Tuesdays are a mix of soul, R&B and Funk with Disfunktion.
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Tenement Museum

Tenement Museum

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Located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side at 103 Orchard Street, the Tenement Museum provides insight on immigrant history and personal experiences of these people in the neighborhood. Visitors can tour a tenement building at 97 Orchard for a first-hand glimpse at what life was like for these people including the living conditions, challenges and hardships. These dwellings usually had no running water or electricity, and often housed whole families and sometimes business offices in just 375 square feet. There are an array of tours to choose from, some of which include “Shop Life,” “Sweatshop Workers” and “Irish Outsiders.” Which apartment you explore and family you learn about will depend on the tour you choose.

In the visitor center, a film is shown to give background knowledge before exploring further. Note: To visit these tenements you must take a tour. Be aware there is much stair climbing involved.

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New World Stages

New World Stages

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Set in the heart of New York’s theater district, New World Stages is a premier performing arts complex that has hosted some of the world’s most iconic shows. Its five stages extend to include a public lounge and art gallery as well as event spaces and an underground bar.

Built on the former site of Madison Square Garden and open since 2004, it is one of the city’s newer theatrical venues. It is currently home to five shows on its five stages, including the popular Avenue Q, as well as readings and concerts. Many of its play and musicals are known for their quirky and lively nature, many having historically shown on Broadway. The theaters are intimate in size, housing only 199 to 499 guests each. With quality performances and small venue size, it is considered be a central spot in the Off-Broadway theater scene.

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Museum of Jewish Heritage

Museum of Jewish Heritage

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Located at 36 Battery Place in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is a living memorial to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Opened in 1997, the mission of the museum is “to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries—before, during, and after the Holocaust.” In their collection, the Museum of Jewish Heritage showcases over 25,000 items that are used to tell the story of Jewish history. The permanent Core Exhibition features multiple perspectives on Jewish history, life and culture through artifacts, audio testimonials, photographs and films that are separated into three sections: “Jewish Life A Century Ago,” “The War Against the Jews” and “Jewish Renewal.” Not only is the exhibition itself impressive, but also the six-sided building it resides in, which is symbolic of the Star of David as well as the six million Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust.

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Morris-Jumel Mansion

Morris-Jumel Mansion

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This iconic whitewashed house in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood was built in 1765 and is officially the oldest home in the borough. Now a museum dedicated to the city—and the nation’ —colorful past, the Morris-Jumel Mansion once served as the headquarters for the American Revolution. In addition to exploring the galleries, which are filled with historic artifacts and photographs, travelers can enjoy the expansive gardens, which are tended by local volunteers, and even relax during warmer months with live music performances in the stunning outdoor setting.

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Broadway Theatre

Broadway Theatre

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Spyscape

Spyscape

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New York Penn Station

New York Penn Station

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New York City is no stranger to the everyday hustle and bustle, and Penn Station, the city’s largest intercity train station, is no exception. Constructed in the early 20th century, it was designed in a Beaux-Arts style inspired by the Gare d’Orsay in Paris. It was once considered one of the most important architectural sites in New York. Unfortunately due to low utilization it was demolished in the 1950s. It was restored and reconstructed to its current station in 1969.

Today it is operated by Amtrak and serves more than 600,000 passengers daily — that’s more than any other transit station in North America. It brings in daily commuters from the surrounding areas of Long Island and New Jersey and is well-connected with the New York City Subway system. Often crowded, the multi-level underground station is one of the busiest spots in Manhattan.

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Orpheum Theatre

Orpheum Theatre

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The Ride

The Ride

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New York City Riverside Park

New York City Riverside Park

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A four-mile strip of elegant public green space between the Hudson River and Riverside Drive on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, this designated scenic landmark was first proposed in 1865, laid out in 1910 (using designs by Frederick Law Olmstead), re-designed in the 1930s by Robert Moses (who incorporated an underground train tunnel still in use by Amtrak), and enlarged by Donald Trump in the 1990s.

In addition to purely scenic paths landscaped with trees, flowers, terraces and bridges, the park includes a wide variety of recreational options, like baseball diamonds, basketball, tennis and handball courts, skate ramps, kayak and canoe launch sites, playgrounds, and fitness paths. As part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, the park contains car-free bike routes, and its 110-slip public marina at 79th Street is part of New York State’s Water Trail. There are several graceful monuments within the park, including Grant’s Tomb, at West 122nd Street.

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The Met Cloisters

The Met Cloisters

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A branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), The Cloisters is a museum and gardens dedicated to medieval art. The name of the attraction, which opened to the public in 1938, comes from five medieval cloisters, all of which are woven into the museum’s design. Along with strolling through the gardens, visitors can take in paintings, tapestries, chapels, carvings and halls designed for different periods. For example, while The Late Gothic Hall showcases 15th century limestone windows and altarpieces from Germany, Italy and Spain, The Romanesque Hall features stone portals from 12th and 13th-century French churches. For those who want a more in-depth experience, opt for an audio guide and listen to interviews with educators, curators and conservators, as well as some Medieval music for an immersive experience.

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