Anyone can board a double-decker bus and get shuffled around New York City. But why stick with something so pedestrian when you can see the Big Apple in an exceptional way? Whether you want to explore by water, foot, air, car or other creative ways, these five tips will make your next expedition to the city something to remember.
You’ll see a whole other side to NYC by boat. Forget the touristy bi-level numbers you see cruising around the Hudson, though. With Manhattan By Sail‘s Shearwater tours, you’ll take to the water in a vintage 82-foot schooner. Ride the Sunset Sail for a beautiful view of the lit-up cityscape, or hop aboard the 90-minute Daytime Statue Sail for another lovely way to relish the Manhattan skyline. All excursions include a cash bar, but if you really want to indulge, book the Sunday, open-bar Champagne Brunch Sail and enjoy the city while elegantly sipping.
There are many ways to see the city on four wheels: You could go the typical rental car route, use your Zipcar account to pick up a vehicle or hire a limo service to chauffeur you around. But if you want a unique experience, make a move to join Manhattan’s Classic Car Club. Ever wanted to drive a 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage à la James Bond? Or maybe you wish you could get behind the wheel of hot little 2014 Porsche 911 GT3. The club provides those horsepowered wonders and dozens of other high-end dream cars that members — there are three tiers of membership — can take for a day, a weekend or longer, depending on the reservations schedule.
Sure, you see a little bit of the landscape as you fly into LaGuardia, but for a more focused visage, book a tour with New York Helicopter. It’s the only legal way to soar closely to Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium and the city’s other iconic landmarks, plus the ride arguably presents the coolest angles imaginable for Empire State Building snaps, too. Each trip (15 to 25 minutes) takes off from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport at Pier 6, but where to go from there is up to you.
Funny enough, you can see a lot of NYC just by wandering the halls of the Museum of the City of New York. Founded in 1923 by Scottish-born writer Henry Collins Brown, this private institution highlights parts of the city often overlooked and forgotten (19th-century maritime art, for example), and brings them to life again through invigorating exhibits. Check out paintings and drawings of city life from 1830s to the beginning of World War I throughout the halls. See how the wealthy once lived in the new Tiffany & Co. Foundation Gallery’s “Gilded New York” showing. And from October 15 through February 2015, marvel at “Assembled Realities: Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’s New York,” hyper-realistic large-scale photos of all five boroughs by the Taiwanese artist.
Simply taking a stroll around key areas such as Central Park, along the High Line and West Village can offer amazing outlooks on the city that most people hurrying with their heads buried in their iPhones miss. But for those looking for a more detailed take on the city, schedule a special tour with Levys’ Unique New York. This family-run group has a plethora of fun and uncommon public and private jaunts. Learn about the area’s Irish roots (pints, poetry and pugilism), get a dose of rich military history, explore architecture and delve into a bit of food culture — all on foot. If you prefer a slightly more adventurous trek, peddle your way around with a bike tour that focuses on green spaces around town.