I was called upon by my lovely home-state friends, the Central Ohio Fiction Writers, to put on my tour-guide hat (I used to work as a NYC tour guide) and write up a list of tips for their newsletter as there shall be thousands descending upon New York City next week for the Romance Writers of America annual conference. I thought it might be a good idea if I were to post it here too.
So, dear visitors, here are a few thoughts from a now native New Yorker. Leanna's top ten affordable musts in NYC:
(In no particular order - note how very few of these adventures cost money)
1. Leanna votes Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center over Empire State Building. -- What's the most impressive building on the whole skyline? The Empire State Building. You can't SEE it if you are IN it. Besides there are a lot of unnecessary distractions with the Empire State ticket. Top of the Rock is simple and efficient, tickets are timed entry for crowd control, it's glass versus the steel cage of Empire, Top of the Rock is all around a better view and experience.
2. A trip to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty. You don't have to go to Liberty Island to appreciate Lady Liberty on the waterfront, Battery Park is a lovely park with nice views, places to stroll and street vendors. If you're short on time, avoid the lines and just wave to Lady Liberty from shore.
3. Ethnic food. Whatever your pleasure, NYC has it, and then some. Don't get stuck eating at chains that you can find everywhere, whether its Little Italy or Little India, there's something unique for everyone. everywhere in the city. If you are stuck in the Times Square area; GET OUT OF TIMES SQUARE. For the Love of God don't eat at Olive Garden, you can do that anywhere! Just head 2 Avenues west, to 9th Avenue for myriad affordable and yummy cuisine!
4. Grand Central Station, 42nd and Lexington Avenue. Just go and take in the interior vista. The Information kiosk alone sports a priceless opal-faced clock. Just walk through, you won't regret it. It's one of the most grand and impressive buildings in the city. Enjoy the beautiful astrological ceiling and incredible arches. Wonderful restaurants there too.
5. Central Park - it's safe, it's beautiful, it's the most important and beloved asset to the city. It's 843 acres of pure man-made natural magic. There's tons of stuff to do inside. The Central Park zoo is adorable and fun, the Conservatory Gardens are gorgeous, be sure to stroll the Bethesda Terrace, perhaps rent a rowboat over the boat pond! You can eat at The Boathouse, it has two restaurants, a pricy nice side and a cheaper other side, perfect options for every mood and budget.
6. The TKTS booth. Want to see a Broadway show? The TKTS booth right in the heart of Times Square is the way to do it for the best seats if you've time to wait in line, BUT, also be sure to check in in person with the theatre box offices of shows you're interested in directly to see if they've rush ticket or ticket lottery options. Each theatre runs this a little differently. There are more ticket options directly through the theatre box offices, in person, than there are solely at TKTS.
7. Downtown stroll: A walk around City Hall Park. NYC's City Hall is a gorgeous building from the early 1800s, and City Hall park is a gas-lit charming space. Gorgeous architecture surrounds City Hall Park, see the unparallelled Woolworth Building (A Gothic styled skyscraper that was the tallest building in the world in 1913) and please visit St. Paul's Chapel, which was the makeshift HQ for rescue workers during 9/11, it has an amazing memorial there and as the chapel is one of the oldest buildings still standing in the city, it has amazing, spectacular history. George Washington prayed there after his inauguration in the city as our first president.
8. South Street Seaport. A fun area of history, museums, shops, cobblestone streets, restaurants with a lovely view of the East River. While you're in the area go up into the financial district just a little bit and try Stone Street for a little downtown glimpse of historic NYC (great bars and restaurants).
9. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. This iconic bridge, the most beautiful in all of New York, (and I think the world) will provide you a stunning, breathtaking view of the Manhattan Skyline as you interact with one of the world's great wonders of engineering, completed in 1883 this massive suspension bridge was the tallest man-made structure in the world when it was completed.
10. Saint Patrick's Cathedral and Saint John the Divine Cathedral. Whether you're in midtown (St. Patrick's) or up by Columbia University campus (St. John) you must at least visit one of these stone wonders of Gothic architecture, they are truly breathtaking buildings and also integral to the history of NYC.
I've been having a blast diving in to New York City's amazing history as I continue research for my new series of Gothic Victorian Paranormal tales, set in the city that never sleeps, in 1880 (didn't sleep much then either). DARKER STILL: a Novel of Magic Most Foul, releases 11/11 from Sourcebooks Fire. The characters spend a great deal of time within the first edition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - another place I highly recommend you visit. (It's suggested donation, so pay whatever suits you.)
In closing: New York City is the safest big city in the country. Be alert, but don't be scared. It's a city to be utterly treasured. See you in my adopted hometown I love so much!