By Kemba Banton
New York is a city of glitz and action, story, soul, and a magic all its own. The “best city in the world” is at the forefront in everything –arts and culture, business and finance, ground-breaking thought, innovation, and global diplomacy. It’s the perfect place to feed your ideas, engage your vision and stimulate
Accommodations & Dining
The city that never sleeps offers hundreds of accommodations to do just that, from the humble hostel to the luxurious penthouse suite. There are budget friendly but chic hotels, like The Pod, which features a clean design, with giant, fun murals. Established chains like the Hilton or Grand Hyatt abound and plenty of uniquely designed boutique options exist. Consider traveling sustainably by booking a green hotel, like the Japanese-designed Yotel, with its futuristic concept and commitment to eco-friendly choices. As for dining – New York’s culinary distinction is unparalleled. The city is the most linguistically diverse city in the world with about 800 languages spoken. The offered cuisine reflects this conglomeration of culture, so there are endless choices, whether western, Asian, tropical or sub-Saharan. And of course we can’t forget the ever dependable, New York slice.
New York City is kaleidoscopic in every sense of the word. There is so much to see and do, so many facets and colors that glitter in the sun. The giant-sized attractions are mostly located on the island of Manhattan, like the 102-story Empire State Building, which was at one time the tallest building in the world – climb to the observation decks for breathtaking views of the city below. Then there’s the legendary Times Square which, with its bright lights and giant monitors, is iconic of the city’s role in entertainment and media and is also a throughway to the Broadway theater district. Perhaps the most iconic attraction of all, however, is the copper, iron and steel Statue of Liberty, standing tall in her green robes on Liberty Island, holding her torch over 300 feet high above the New York Harbor. She is a salient symbol for the millions of immigrants who sailed by her at the turn of the 19th century, as they contemplated the new lives waiting for them on American soil.
Arts & Culture
Bright yellow taxis dash through the streets of Manhattan. Delis with colorful blooms and bustling internet cafés are staples of the city blocks. The hot, roaring subways offer frequent delights –musical performers that draw crowds and bring the grinding commute to life. New York is always in motion, a place of evolving intellect, artistic possibility and profound culture.
It’s the home of the world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, with its provocative, contemporary works that stimulate dialogue. The Museum of the Moving Image, in Queens, is the only one in the country that comprehensively focuses on the art and evolution of film. In the immortalized Harlem, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has a renowned library and frequently features one-of a- kind exhibitions from Senegalese contemporary art to the life and accomplishments of a Nobel Laureate. To imagine a history of New York that is rarely unearthed, go to the African Burial Ground which commemorates the graves of African slaves discovered in Lower Manhattan in 1991 and 1992.
Science buffs will want to wander the great halls of the American Museum of Natural History or its truly cosmic Rose Center for Earth and Space. New York is also home to the United Nations headquarters; visitors will learn about the UN’s role on international issues like climate change, and human rights. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is another palpable site, located where the Twin Towers once stood. Stroll through the museum, and at the memorial’s giant pools, slide your hands along the names on the bronze plates.
The City’s Pulse
Planned tours through NYC’s neighborhoods will allow you to experience the people who make it throb. Stroll among Brooklyn’s gorgeous brownstones and hip cafés or visit the artsy, gutsy Greenwich Village. Marvel at the bustling wonder of Chinatown and the small-town charms of Bronx’s Little Italy. Festivals and farmer’s markets are also great ways of co-mingling with New Yorkers while feasting on fabulous food, music, and art.
Come nighttime, the lights go up and another kind of rhythm swells through the city – the sounds of dramatic monologues, saxophones, and soaring sopranos. The Apollo Theatre in Harlem is the place to be for pumping jazz orchestras, and diverse performances of national and international acclaim. On Broadway, you can see timeless classics or witness the genius of runs like the Wizard of Oz-inspired, Wicked. Head up to Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House or catch a Shakespeare play at the Theatre for a New Audience. Treat yourself to a show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, presenting the most evocative, and courageous of visual and performing arts. Feel the power of spoken word at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe or be moved by the youth at the Truthworker Theatre Company, as they highlight the nuances of race, politics and social justice. Put your fingers on the pulse of the city. Hear its song, hear its stories.
The city that never rests, but always toils, agitates and creates can get overwhelming – there is so much happening. But there are many ways to slow your stride. The well-known Central Park is like a giant oasis of forest at the center of Manhattan. Take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage, or visit the meditative John Lennon memorial, Strawberry Fields. The New York Botanical Garden offers strolls through plant exhibits and flower shows throughout the year. For an even deeper adventure, venture out of the city limits. NYC is just a tiny area on the giant map of New York State. Just a couple of hours out of the city are pine-covered mountains, teeming lakes and many options for a wildlife excursion or camping trip.
The Inner Flower
There’s another way to find the peace that blossoms inwardly. New York’s best spas combine the latest in wellness innovations and ancient practices. Cornelia Spa at the Surrey is a prime example. Its neutral tones and flowing white curtains usher a sense of perfect calm and quiet. A library of lifestyle literature promises to illuminate your mind and hand-blended teas and a botanical tasting bar complement intuitive treatments that attend to your unique needs. Surrender to the calm of hot stones, or a massage especially for mothers. Rest in a body masque of sea plants and soak in a warm bath of ginger, marjoram and dandelion. Fall asleep to candlelight, the scent of musk and sandalwood, then wake to a cup of French-pressed coffee. Your New York experience, like your spa, will awaken your senses, paint your world in fresh colors and inspire you to create the life you want to live. Get more info