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5 Things to Know Before Visiting NYC

Tehnaz Dastoor

1. Purchase all your Broadway tickets in advance prior to leaving for your vacation. I know you may be tempted to go to TKTS on Times Square and get discounted tickets, however, if you are going during peak season, the chances of getting decent seats is next to impossible if you haven’t booked months in advance. Further, space out the different kinds of performances – Catch a musical, then a play, a comedy club performance, the NY City Ballet, visit a jazz club or enjoy a basketball/baseball/football/hockey game – just so that you experience something new each evening. 2. There are a number of free walking tours of the city usually about 2 hours in duration and give you an excellent and in-depth history of the particular area. I would recommend the Brooklyn Bridge and the Harlem Tours. Again, book prior to leaving the country to be assured of a spot on the tour. 3. A must is the guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial and the 9/11 Museum. There are in fact, 2 tours here – one is a history of the 9/11 memorial. A 90-minute guided tour of Ground Zero, led by New Yorkers with personal connections to the events of 9/11. The tour begins at a visit to the St. Paul's Chapel, Firefighter's 9/11 Memorial Wall, and the 9/11 Memorial, including the rebuilding of the subway system. This is a very emotional and moving lesson on how New Yorkers came together and helped the First Responders, and eventually rebuilt lower Manhattan after that fateful day in history. The second tour is of the 9/11 Museum which explores the momentous day of 9/11, takes you through the history of the area prior to 9/11 and following 9/11. It depicts in detail of the event which occurred on 9/11, including the events at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the story of Flight 93. The exhibition explores the background leading up to the events and examines their aftermath and continuing implications. My suggestion would be to do only one of the above tours on a single occasion as you will come out with a deep sense of sadness and anguish about the events and yet your faith in humankind will be rejuvenated as you realize how New Yorkers came together to help each other out, after the months which followed 9/11. The third which is an add-on to the above is an extraordinary view of the city from the Freedom Tower which features the highest panoramic views in the city. 4. Since 2009, the High Line (also known as High Line Park), a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, was created on a former disused New York Central Railroad on the west side of the City. The park's attractions include naturalized plantings, inspired by plants which grew on the disused tracks, and views of the city and the Hudson River. The High Line also has cultural attractions as part of a long-term plan for the park to host temporary installations and performances. 5. New York has some superb restaurants in global cuisines and you can try Thai (at Jaya Thai), Malaysian (Nyonya), Pho (Bep Ga), Ethiopian (Injera or Abyssinnia), Mexican (Cosme and Fonda), Japanese (Nobu), Chinese (Mission Chinese Food), Russian (Russian Tea Room), and Indian food at (Tamarind Tribeca). But there are some typically NY specialties which are a must if you are visiting the city – such as trying the pastrami sandwiches, steaks, pizza, bagels, burgers, etc. Perennial favorites in the city are the following: Katz’s Deli for slow-cured pastrami and beef sandwiches; Peter Luger’s steakhouse for the porter house special; Motorino Pizza in the East Village, and Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn which does some excellent wood-fired pizzas. For the best bagels the city has to offer a must-visit is Russ & Daughters, a great Jewish shop which has timeless combos such as sesame bagels, schmear, and smoked salmon. Absolute Bagels and Murray’s Bagels are also great choices for iconic NYC bagels. You can get a wide variety of burgers in the city from the Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern or you can visit the The Spotted Pig with its delicious burgers and shoestring fries. Umami Burger has an excellent Truffle Burger and the Shake Shack – a NYC icon, is a must for all tourists. The barbecue in NYC is truly mind-blowing! Try the Mighty Quinn’s in the East Village and Hometown Bar-B-Que. Delaney Barbecue, if you happen to be in Brooklyn with a hankering for brisket, this is your place. Finally, the NY cheese cake is to die for and the best places to try some are: Junior's, S&S Cheesecake and Eileen's Special Cheesecake.