NYC: Best of the Boroughs
Try All 5 Slices of the Big Apple
New York City, the Big Apple, is sliced into 5 boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Manhattan has the biggest bite of tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels, while the 4 outer boroughs get to the core of what makes New York the melting pot of the world with pockets of ethnic neighborhoods, as well as some of the City’s most popular attractions.
Settled in 1639, the Bronx has 60 historic landmarks, including the celebrated Yankee Stadium (the original stadium opened in 1923; the current one opened in 2009). Other compelling reasons to schlep to the Bronx are Wave Hill[wavehill.org], a sprawling garden with Hudson River views; the Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Park, the largest urban zoo in the country; and the New York Botanical Gardens[nybg.org]. In fact while many think that the Bronx is a concrete jungle, it actually has more parkland than the other boroughs.
Poetry lovers can visit Edgar Allan Poe's cottage where he lived in the late 1800s, and golfers take the subway to tee off at the Van Cortlandt Golf Course, which was built in 1895, making it the country’s oldest public course.
Queens was put on the map in 1939 when it hosted the World’s Fair. Today, it’s more ethnically diverse than ever. You want good Indian, Chinese or Korean food? You go to Queens.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park packs a lot of punch with the Queens Museum of Science and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Lesser-known Queens attractions include Socrates Sculpture Park, an outdoor sculpture museum, trumpet great Louis Armstrong's home, the Queens Botanical Gardens and The American Museum of Moving Image.
Once upon a time, people who worked in Manhattan lived in Brooklyn, thanks to cheaper rents, but the borough is now a trendy and pricey place to live.
Head to Brooklyn by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. You’ll spy views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan’s stunning skyline. Home to one of the City’s most progressive arts communities, as well as hip restaurants, is DUMBO, a neighborhood whose name is not an homage to a flying elephant, but an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is proof that a tree really does grown in Brooklyn; stroll the Celebrity Path studded with names of famous Brooklynites like Barbara Streisand.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music rivals the best of Manhattan’s performance spots, and the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the country's oldest children’s museum, keeps kids smiling.
The sea-lion show at New York Aquarium at Coney Island is worth the price of admission alone. Coney Island[coneyisland.com] also has rides, a beach and a boardwalk. And the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ minor league baseball team slugs at Keyspan Park with the Coney Island Ferris wheel a home run hit away.
Staten Island is a bedroom community for commuters who ride the SI ferry to lower Manhattan. You can take the ferry (it’s free!) for mouth-gaping views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Also hop the ferry to see the minor league baseball team, the Staten Island Yankees.
The Chinese Scholar Garden at the Staten Island Botanical Garden on the grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center are lovely.
Established in 1624, Manhattan was known as New Amsterdam. Today, Manhattan is home to world-class museums like the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art[metmuseum.org], and icons like the Empire State Building, Wall Street and Central Park. Manhattan is also NYC's nightlife capital; Pacha[pachanyc.com] is one of the hottest dance clubs at the moment. And some of the world's finest restaurants are in Manhattan. Del Posto and Daniel are pricey 4-star palate pleasers, but there are restaurants for every budget and every ethnic cuisine.
Each of the 5 boroughs boasts the greatest in restaurants and diversions. Which ones you visit will depend on how much time you have. Manhattan has the most to offer, including hotels to stay at, but ideally you will have time to jump on one of the most accessible and efficient subway systems in the world to explore all the boroughs.
Laurie Bain Wilson writes often about New York City and is the author of several travel guidebooks, including New York City Made Easy and New York City with Kids.