What to Do in New York City

Rockefeller Center

“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How steadfast are your branches!” Indeed, we can depend on the Christmas tree at NYC’s Rockefeller Center to beguile us with its size and glittering ornamentation year after year. 2013's 76-foot, festooned Norway spruce soars to the sky, capped with a 9-1/2-foot-wide Swarovski crystal star. Throngs have gathered beneath such a tree at Rockefeller Center since 1933 to celebrate the holiday season. This year, once dismantled, the tree will be milled and donated to Habitat for Humanity.

The High Line

If you had to choose the hippest, narrowest, outdoor park in America, Manhattan’s High Line would win, hands down. Formerly an elevated track for a railroad, the downtown High Line was reimagined as an urban park with views. Pedestrians get bird’s-eye views of apartment buildings, the Hudson River and streets of the Meatpacking District below. Straddling the High Line is the dramatic, 18-story Standard Hotel -- you’ll find it in the dictionary under “urban hip.” It’s the perfect headquarters for exploring lower Manhattan and that very cool park.

Ellis Island

Bob Hope, Cary Grant and the Trapp Family Singers all passed through the gates of Ellis Island, the immigration inspection station in Upper New York Bay that welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892 to 1954. In fact, they say almost half of the people in the United States today are descendents of Ellis Island immigrants, and the Immigration Museum erected at the site was the place that told their stories. But in October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the island; the museum was flooded and the island remains closed to visitors until repairs are made. In the meantime, interested visitors can help by contributing to the Ellis Island Foundation.

National September 11 Memorial

Two square fountains now lie at the base of where the twin towers stood before they were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001. Surrounding them, on bronze parapets, are the names of the victims who died on that horrific day. The 9/11 Memorial Museum has a vast collection of 39,000 objects, as well as oral histories and personal artifacts donated by family members who wish to memorialize the ones they lost. Together, these memorials are a tribute to the past and a place of hope for the future.

Belvedere Castle

Italian for “beautiful view,” Central Park’s Belvedere Castle delivers on its name, big time. Originally built as a “Victorian folly” -- a structure created to provide a beautiful backdrop, but without a real purpose -- the castle found its calling when the National Weather Service began putting its measurement tools on the turrets. Whether it’s raining or sunny, the castle’s 2 balconies are the perfect place to take in the Big Apple’s views.

Liberty Island

On the day none of us can forget, she stood as a reminder of a nation's ideals. Take a journey across New York Harbor to Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty greeted generations of immigrants on their way to Ellis Island. Ten years after Sept. 11, what does Lady Liberty symbolize for you?

Gansevoort Meatpacking

You can’t beat the view from this rooftop pool atop the Gansevoort Hotel in New York’s sleek Meatpacking District. The heated 45-foot stretch of water is open year-round, so even January guests can enjoy the underwater music and small plates and cocktails at Plunge Rooftop Bar + Lounge. After laps, robe up and head back to one of 186 guestrooms, many of which have bay windows, Juliet balconies and overlooks toward the Hudson River or New York skyline.

Central Park Lake

Central Park is magical year-round, but in spring it has an added vibrancy as its 80 acres of woodlands and many of its thousands of species of flowers come into bloom. Stroll meandering, bench-lined pathways. Rent a rowboat to view migratory birdlife around the park’s 22-acre lake. Fish in the Harlem Meer. Or make like a New Yorker and spread a blanket on the sprawling Sheep Meadow to bask in the warm and welcome sun. Spring has indeed sprung.

World Trade Center Memorial

This Patriot Day, the reflecting pools and waterfalls of the National September 11 Memorial continue to move the millions of visitors who pay their respects at the footprints of the original Twin Towers. The largest manmade waterfalls in North America, these waters represent a spirit of renewal, offering a welcome respite from the bustling city streets and a place where passersby can peacefully admire this new American landmark.

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