Information & Facts
New York has a humid continental climate, with cold winters and hot, moist summers. The city's coastal location ensures that winters are not as cold as inland cities on the same latitude, and daytime temperatures generally stay above freezing point. Snow is common in winter, but the amount varies, and winter rain is common. Spring in New York is pleasantly warm, and the weather heats up to temperatures of around 80°F to 90°F (25-30°C) by mid-May. Summers are generally swelteringly hot and humid. The best time to travel to New York is in autumn, when temperatures are mild, days are sunny and humidity not too high.
New York City is famous for its roadside vendors selling all American wholesome goodness such as hotdogs, corndogs, bagels and donuts, but it is an international affair when dining out. Every kind of cuisine is on offer and it would take a lifetime to sample them all. With more than eight thousand restaurants to choose from, it is difficult to know where to begin.
Head on down to Chinatown for a myriad of options including restaurants serving Cantonese, Sichuan, and Shanghai cuisine. There are also a few Chinese restaurants where dim sum is available throughout the day. Times Square is a popular destination, but the area is plagued with mediocre chain restaurants. There are however wonderful eateries to be found beyond the tourist traps. New York's steakhouses offer a variety of delicious steak options from porterhouse steak to New York strip steak.
Everything is big in the United States and the pizzas and pizza pies are no different. With plenty of fantastic pizza and Italian restaurants around the city, it's a pizza lover's paradise. Many small pizzerias sell the iconic New York-style pizza at only $1 for a gigantic slice. Ukrainian, Indian and Japanese cuisine can be found in the East Village, while Harlem is synonymous with African and Soul food. Queens offers the most variety with Greek, Irish, Latin American, Russian, Indian and Kosher fare to tantalise the taste buds.
New York's public transport system is relatively good and cheap, including buses and the subway. There are also the ever-present, although more expensive, yellow cabs. Unlicensed gypsy cabs should be avoided. It is possible to get around the city using a combination of these, or simply on foot.
Walking is often the best way to experience the city, and during rush hours, when buses and taxis are caught up in the gridlock and the subway is overcrowded or delayed, it can also be the fastest way to get around. Generally though, the most efficient way to get around is the 24-hour underground system with most of Manhattan's sights near subway stations, although it can be confusing at first.
Much simpler but slower, is the bus system, which is a good option for shorter distances or for travelling across town. The subway and bus fare are standard ($2); note that buses require the exact change in coins, not dollar bills. MetroCards allow free transfer between buses and the subway within two hours.
Driving in New York is not recommended as traffic is heavy, drivers aggressive and parking exorbitant.
The bustling city of New York is a great place for children on vacation. Boasting some of the world's most well-known and recognisable attractions, the kids will be well entertained. Take the kids out to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty, or take them up to the Empire State Building's observation deck where they can marvel at the panoramic views of this metropolis.
For active children, a stroll through Central Park will give them plenty of space to stretch their legs and in winter months don't miss ice skating at the Trump Wollman Rink or Rockefeller Plaza.
On rainy days why not take the kids to some of the amazing shops around New York City, such as Toys 'R Us in Times Square, NIKETOWN, or the wonderfully decadent Dylan's Candy Bar where kids will go wild at the amount of sugary candies and chocolates available. The Brooklyn Children's Museum is also worth a visit, as are the New York Aquarium and Central Park Zoo, both of which are perfect to visit on rainy days. For warm summer nights, nothing beats a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, complete with hot dogs and popcorn.
With so much to see and more, children visiting New York City will be sure to have a memorable and unforgettable experience and hopefully, for parents, get tired out from all the sightseeing in this 'city that never sleeps'.
English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
The nightlife in New York City is second to none. Encompassing jazz bars, nightclubs, lounges, comedy clubs and live shows, there's literally something happening around every corner. The Village, Broadway, Bowery and Madison Square Garden are just a few of the best destinations for evening entertainment in New York.
As the hub of the jazz world, New York is home to venues such as 55 Bar and Arthur's Tavern. Jazz tours from the Village to Harlem are also an option, with a stop at the legendary Apollo Theatre. As the launching pad of comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, New York has many comedy shows; catch these at the New York Comedy Club or the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. There are always Broadway shows to be seen, try the Palace or O'Neill theatres for the latest.
Broadways shows are expensive - up to $150 per ticket for blockbusters. Hence the popularity of the TKTS discount ticket booth at Times Square. It opens every day at 11am, but the queue forms well before this. You can pick up last minute tickets for under 50% of the regular price, depending on what's available. For the super-flexible theatre goer, visit the booth around 5pm when there is seldom a queue and last minute prices have dropped even further.
Nightclubs come and go quickly in New York City, as the fickle population becomes enamoured with the newest venue, but you can always be assured that whatever you want, New York will have plenty of it. 13 Bar/Lounge is a lounge and nightclub offering live music and poetry readings, Aria dance club features Latin, rock and hip hop, and the Bowery Ballroom is an Art Deco-style venue with alternative and indie rock. The Oak Room offers superb cabaret and the People's Voice Café features live folk music. World-class performance venues are a dime a dozen in a city that boasts Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Centre and Carnegie Hall, and you can take your pick of ballet, opera, symphony orchestras, or chamber music.
For up-to-date events information for New York City, pick up a copy of the Village Voice or Time Out New York.
Visitors to the Big Apple will be blown away by the amount and calibre of stores in this city. Offering some of the best and most expensive shopping in the world, 5th Avenue is synonymous with classy high-end department stores such as Bergdorf's and Saks. Madison Avenue is known as 'the trendy road' and this haute strip boasts 15 blocks of celebrity designer shops such as Chanel, Jimmy Choo and Prada, to name a few. Soho is one of New York's poshest outdoor malls where cobblestone streets and loft-like spaces make the Soho a prettier location for a spot of shopping than the average mall.
As cosmopolitan as New York may be, visitors on a tighter budget can still find plenty of bargains at the city's flea markets, which offer some top quality goods with stores touting designer knockoffs, antiques, jewellery, curios, thrift wear, home furnishings and cosmetics. Farmer's Markets are a must for foodies where they can sample vegetables, meat, dairy, poultry and fish as well as baked goods, honey, maple syrup, jam and wine.
Chinatown is a shopper's paradise with cheap knockoffs on offer, and where haggling is common practice. Century 21 is considered 'New York's best kept secret' with over 15 departments of quality and designer merchandise at 25 to 75 percent off retail prices. Whether shopping in upscale Madison Avenue or the bargain-friendly Lower East Side, New York has something to offer everyone.
Popular New York City souvenirs run to tacky tourist merchendise, you'll be inundated with miniature Statues of Liberty and the ubiquitous 'I (Heart) NY' gear. Other popular buys include New York Yankees merchendise and theatrical posters from Broadway.
With New York's countless attractions, it would take days to see and do everything this vibrant city has to offer. From iconic structures such as the Statue of Liberty and Rockefeller Center, New York is brimming with sights to see. The question is: where to start?
Anyone who has ever watched a movie set in New York will feel at home with the recognisable sights, whether looking out over the New York skyline from the Empire State Building, reading billboards in Times Square, or strolling through Central Park. Visit the boroughs, watch a show on Broadway, admire the animals in the Central Park Zoo, look out for celebrities waving from the windows of TRL in Times Square, or simply watch the city go by on the Staten Island Ferry. There is no end of things to see and do in New York City.
For culture-vultures there are wonderful museums to explore, such as the American Museum of Natural History or the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visitors to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum can make a video of themselves as Superman flying through New York City and keep the CD as a souvenir. An easy way to see the sights is to take a ride on one of New York's topless tour buses. It may not be as exciting as exploring the city on foot, but it's a great way to learn and see a lot quickly.