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The Big Five, New York City style

24th January 2024

While we know and love Manhattan, New York City has so much more to offer when you go beyond this thriving heart into the city’s other boroughs – Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. 


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Brooklyn, New York
Coney Island, Brooklyn


Go local in Brooklyn

Fast emerging from out of Manhattan’s literal shadow, Brooklyn is just a stone’s throw away just over the East River and is known for its bridges and Coney Island. It is a wonderful choice as the place to base yourself on your New York adventures, with a treasure trove of excellent boutique hotels including 1 Hotel Brooklyn and Ace Hotel Brooklyn. Brooklyn is best known for the Brooklyn Bridge, which visitors love to walk across, cycle over, or just admire from multiple viewing spots in this burgeoning borough.

A great way to explore New York is to see it with a local through Big Apple Greeter. This wonderful organisation pairs knowledgeable ‘greeters’ with visitors who want to delve deeper into New York’s neighbourhoods. And it is a free service. We learned so much about Brooklyn with our guide, including that the Brooklyn Bridge was once crossed by 21 of P.T. Barnum’s elephants to prove to nervous locals that the newly-built suspension bridge was safe. We viewed amazing street art, saw some famous movie locations including the famous subway scene from Crocodile Dundee, and discovered a very trendy speakeasy.

Stroll along the newly imagined waterfront along Brooklyn Bridge Park and Brooklyn River Promenade, ride the iconic Jane’s Carousel and feast on a lobster roll at Luke’s Lobster. There are many great places to eat along the river, in Atlantic Avenue Cobble Hill, around Williamsburg, or Bushwick.



Queens is a smash

Now that Brooklyn has truly emerged, Queens is the next big thing. Best known as home to the US Open Tennis Championships – to be held this year in Flushing from 26 August to 8 September – Queens also hosts the New York Mets baseball team at Citi Field. Queens is where you’ll find the legendary Rockaway Beach, which has featured in a host of TV shows and movies, has several major museums and arts venues, including the Museum of the Moving Image, Socrates Sculpture Park, the Noguchi Museum and MoMA PS1, and offers a thriving food scene in places like Jackson Heights, Astoria and Flushing, with authentic cuisine from cultures around the world. Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world, with at least 138 languages spoken. It has 91 neighbourhoods, more than any other borough, and is the largest of the five boroughs. Head to Long Island City’s leafy Gantry Plaza State Park for head-turning views of Manhattan.


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Staten Island
South Beach, Staten Island


Staten Island

There is more to this island than the free ferry service that takes you past the Statue of Liberty. It has an intriguing blend of history, culture and nature, with 4,046 hectares of parks and green spaces, as well as beaches and boardwalks. A huge amount of the island’s green space is linked together to create the Staten Island Greenbelt, including forests, wetlands, lakes, ponds and hiking trails. Take to two wheels to explore the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk that runs from Fort Wadsworth to Miller Field, passing two popular beaches – South Beach and Midland Beach.

A famous local is Frederick Law Olmsted, the man who designed Central Park. He honed his skills on Tosomock Farm in the Eltingville neighbourhood, running a farm and a nursery. You can still see some of the trees he planted nearly 175 years ago. A must to visit is the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden. Built in the 1800s as a home for retired sailors, it has been adapted and now features 23 historical buildings, nine botanical gardens and large wetlands, and is home to the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the Noble Maritime Collection, Staten Island Children's Museum, the arts school Art Lab and the Staten Island Museum.


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The Bronx
Yankee Stadium, The Bronx


The Bronx: Home of the Yankees

The number one activity in the edgiest borough – The Bronx – is to take in a baseball game at world-famous Yankee Stadium. There are games at the Stadium from April to September and while you’re there, visit Monument Park and The Yankees Museum to find out more about this legendary team’s history, with so many champion players, names like Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. You can also do a tour of the Stadium.

The Bronx is rich in history. George Washington stayed here in the 18th century, poet Edgar Allan Poe lived here in the 19th century and hip-hop music was born in The Bronx over 50 years ago. Stroll down the Grand Concourse which was inspired by the Champs-Élysées in Paris and is known for its art deco buildings, and along River Avenue, admire the murals and take your pick of restaurants.

This surprising borough is also where you will find the largest urban botanical garden in the USA – The New York Botanical Garden. It is a National Historic Landmark and has a million plants and 50 specialty gardens.


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Manhattan, New York
Central Park, Manhattan


Be neighbourly in Manhattan

Manhattan is such a vibrant, happening place. The bright lights of Times Square, the range of things to do in Central Park, the showstoppers of Broadway, the hidden gem that is Little Island, and the massive array of museums, rooftop views, delis, diners and more. Stay in luxury hotels, dine at Michelin-star restaurants or neighbourhood gems, shop on 5th Avenue or at edgy designer hubs, and just soak up being in New York.

Explore other neighbourhoods like Harlem, where you can experience Africa American culture and history with the legendary Apollo Theatre and gospel services sure to lift your spirits. In Washington Heights, known for its creative flair, try Dominican food and check out the Met Cloisters famous unicorn tapestries.


In 2024, it is expected that 64.5 million people will visit New York City. You should be one of them.

Speak with your local Travel Advisor to plan your New York holiday »