Suggestion 1 – Financial district, beginnings and the skyline!
Head for battery Park/ Bowling Green. If using the subway, you want the 4-5 trains, shown in green on the maps.
National Museum of the American Indian (1 hr)
Emerge from the subway and in front of you is the National Museum of the American Indian. Enter via the steps into the front door – this takes you through into the history of the Customs House – which is the building that the museum is housed in. Then there are 2 main sections – the history of the Indians (fascinating and right up to current times) and a changing art exhibit where the artists have American Indian heritage.
Battery Park (20 mins)
From here, have a walk through Battery Park. You’ll see a sculpture removed from the World Trade Centre site which now serves as a memorial to the terrorist attack. Also look for the Castle Clinton National Monument. Originally built to keep the British out, it then served as the first immigration centre before Ellis Island. It now houses the ticket office for Ellis island tours – British now welcome….with credit cards!
St Pauls Chapel (1hr including walk)
Head out of Battery Park one block to Lower Broadway in Bowling Green Park to see the Charging Bull sculpture which is the unofficial symbol of Wall Street. From here head towards Ground Zero – the site of the World Trade Centre. There are various memorials around this site as well as a museum that tells the story, but head to St Paul’s Chapel. George Washington worshipped here on the day he was sworn in as president. In September 2001, when the twin towers collapsed, the church survived with no damage and became a place of rest and refuge for the rescue workers for the next 8 months. You can read the story of how hundereds of volunteers came and supported the rescue workers both practically and emotionally.This is a very active church, so services and the normal work will be continuing as the tourists visit.
Seaport Historic District (30 mins)
From the Chapel, walk along Fulton Street, which will lead you to South Street Seaport. This is a harbourside development of shops and restaurants, but includes a museum (which has a cost) and some rigged ships. Good place to sit down, people watch and have a coffee.
Staten Island Ferry (1 -2 hrs)
From the Seaport, it’s quite a walk to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal – a little longer than the walk from St Pauls to the seaport. If you do walk – just follow FDR Drive.
Ferries move between Lower Manhatten and Staten Island 24 hrs a day. During the day, they run about every half hour and the crossing lasts half an hour. You’ll see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Brooklyn Bridge and the skyline. Grab a seat on one of the benches at the side and change sides on the way back. Busiest during the rush hours and weekends. Take a cardi – always a bit chilly out there!
On your return – you are close to Battery Park and the Bowling Green Station. Take the 4 or 5 train straight to Grand Central Station – which puts you back in the middle of Manhatten!
Suggestion 2 – Shops & Sites! Also Free!
Grand Central Station
When you’ve wondered at the lovely main hall of the station, head towards the Oyster Bar. Outside here is the Whispering Gallery – stand in diagonally opposite corners and whisper to your partner – by some amazing architectural magnificence – they’ll hear you loud and clear!
Public Library (1-2hrs)
Exit the station on 42nd St – with your back to the station you should find the Chysler Building to your left (you can get into the lobby), but if you walk to your right, you’ll find the New York Public Library. Free tours at 11am and 2pm, but you can also have a look on your own – talk to the ladies on the information desk – very enthusiastic about talking about the library – and complete anglophiles the days that we visited!
5th Ave & SAKs
With the library behind you, straight ahead is 5th Avenue. Stroll down and enjoy!
Go into SAKs and have your face done – it’s a huge cosmetics department and they are desperate to give you a mini facial and make over – often get about 25 mins.
St Patricks Cathedral
On 5th Avenue, next to SAKs is this wonderful, opulent cathedral. A good place to sit and think for a while.
When you emerge form the cathedral, continue down 5th Avenue and just before you reach Central Park, you find FAO Schwartz – home of the giant piano that you can dance on like Tom Hanks in Big!
If you get there at the start of the day (10am) or close of business (7pm) you’ll be part of the opening/closing ritual where Bobby the Toy Soldier and the staff welcome you in, or wave goodbye.
From the toy shop, you can nip into the Apple Shop to check your emails (open 24/7 all year round) and then head into Central Park (via the Plaza to look at the lobby and find toilets!)
There are lots of maps of the park – it is huge! But worth a look – just take notice of where you are – it’s easy to get lost!