Walk the walk . . . talk the talk
The must-sees and dos . . . Rachel Murphy on the Manhattan tourist attractions even the locals enjoy
New Yorkers never tire of taking the Staten Island ferry, and its free
Asking a New Yorker to take you to Times Square is like asking a Dub to show you the Molly Malone statue on a busy Saturday. The Dub will oblige, but between the crowds, the buskers (that creepy leprechaun who takes off his head to have a cigarette) and the swarm of tourists, you’ll end up dipping into Avoca for a coffee to brush off the chaos. Here are some Big Apple tourist attractions that your ex-pat friends won’t begrudge you a visit.
Top of the Rock
Thanks to big-screen cameos in cult classics like When Harry Met Sally and King Kong , the Empire State Building usually gets the tourist treatment. But with an iron railing obscuring the view and a conveyor belt of camera-clutching tourists, the experience can be more snap-and-go than Hollywood would have you believe. For an untainted panoramic view of the skyline, go to the glass observation deck at Top of The Rock at Rockefeller centre. Book a 5pm slot and watch as the city lights up.
Sleep No More
Like the name suggests, this mind-bending experience might leave you a little wired. The theatre company Punchdrunk interprets Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a hedonistic alternative to the flashing lights and jazz hands of Broadway. Set in the once condemned McKettrick Hotel, this immersive walk-through dance performance melds a haunted house experience with jazz-age seduction. With nudity and violence, it’s not a show for everyone. If you do decide to plunge down the rabbit hole, venture upstairs to the Gallow Green rooftop bar afterwards. The fresh air and a stiff drink should help to take the edge off.
Central Park is the obvious choice when it comes to romantic walks in New York. But strolling the Highline is a more subdued alternative to the horse and carriage touting tourist trap. The historic rail line has been transformed into a leafy, mile-long park stretching from Gansevoort Street up to West 34th Street. With an elevated view of the Hudson River and an array of delicious food spots like Pastis and Chelsea Market nearby, the setting makes for a more peaceful sojourn.
Scott's Pizza Tour
Like yellow cabs and Yankee games, pizza is a New York institution. You can’t go more than a few feet without the smell of oily cheese wafting from a dollar pizzeria, but finding the best spots can take years. For a cheat sheet on the New York-style slice, take Scott’s Pizza Tour ($38/€28). Nobody knows more about the city’s dietary staple than Scott Weiner who has just published Viva la Pizza! The Art of The Pizza Box . His encyclopedic knowledge and the diverse tasting will leave you perfectly sated.
The Staten Island Ferry
Brooklyn has Jay-Z, the Bronx has Yankee Stadium and half of Ireland’s diaspora live in Queens. Unless you’re a big Wu-Tang Clan fan, there isn’t a whole lot of anything to entice you to New York’s forgotten borough, Staten Island. However, taking the 25-minute ferry ride is the cheapest tourist attraction in the city – it’s free. Boats cross the river every 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the time of day. Sit back, relax and take in the best views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the suspensions bridges that surround lower Manhattan.