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It’s hard to know where to start when planning your trip to New York City as there’s so much to see and do. Shopaholics flit between famous department stores, such as Macy’s, and designer boutiques on Fifth Avenue and browse for vintage goods at Brooklyn Flea. Culture vultures spend hours exploring the numerous museums and galleries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMa and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. For first-timers, the city’s iconic landmarks are a must, including the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal, the 9/11 Memorial and Brooklyn Bridge.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

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Possibly the first landmark that enters everyone’s minds when thinking about New York is the Statue of Liberty. Get a good view of it from Battery Park or take the Staten Island Ferry to Liberty Island to get up close to this iconic symbol of freedom. Book in advance to walk up to the crown and enjoy the panoramic view across New York Harbor. Or simply walk around Lady Liberty’s base and go inside the pedestal. While you’re there, take the time to stop at Ellis Island and visit the Immigration Museum to learn about the experiences the immigrants went through when they arrived at the immigration station to be processed so they could enter the United States.

Central Park

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No matter what time of year you visit NYC, make sure you visit Central Park in Manhattan. Wander through its pathways, have a picnic on the grass, take a boat ride on the lake and even go ice skating on Wollman Rink in the winter. The park spans 843 acres and is home to many attractions. Tour the park in a horse-and-carriage ride or learn about the park’s history and architecture when you embark on a guided walking tour. Enjoy bird-watching in spring and special events, such as Shakespeare in the Park, in summer. Pay homage to the Beatles at Strawberry Fields, which is a memorial to John Lennon, who was assassinated in the street across from this area. Take in the panoramic views offered at Belvedere Castle, which include views of the Ramble, the Turtle Pond and the Delacorte Theater. Field packs to help you explore the park are available at Belvedere Castle, and you can also look at natural history artifacts inside the building. Gaze at the many famous sculptures within the park, such as Balto the sled dog and Alice in Wonderland. Staying in a vacation rental home near Central Park means you’re in close proximity to many of the best attractions in the city. The American Museum of Natural History, as an example, is just off Central Park West.

Empire State Building

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Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building is a must for seeing panoramic views across the Big Apple. Travel up to the 86th floor of the Art Deco building in a high-speed elevator to stand on the open-air observation deck. At an elevation of 1,050 feet, it’s the highest of its type in the city. It features four promenades — one on each side — and a glass-covered section for protection against the summer heat or the wintry chill. The second observatory is even higher up. The enclosed Top Deck is located on the 102nd floor, which is at an elevation of 1,250 feet.

Times Square

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In the heart of Manhattan, you’ll find Times Square. Teeming with throngs of crowds, the area has plenty of activities to offer, including shopping, restaurants and attractions. See a waxwork replica of your favorite celebrity in Madame Tussauds New York, encounter creatures from the deep at the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey and immerse yourself in the NFL Experience. At night, the bright lights of the many digital billboards and displays are hard to miss. When you’re in Times Square, don’t forget to take in a show at one of the surrounding Broadway theaters. If you haven’t already purchased tickets to a show in advance, simply go to Times Square’s TKTS booth and get discounted same-day tickets.

Brooklyn Bridge

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When vacationing in New York City, take time to visit one of the country’s oldest suspension bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge. It connects Manhattan to Brooklyn and crosses the East River. Walk across it in half an hour using the pedestrian lane or hire a bike to cycle in the bicycle walkway. Opened in 1883, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge at that time. The historic bridge is famed for its suspension cables and Gothic towers and arches. Stop at the viewing platform for views of the East River, Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. There’s plenty to do in Brooklyn, and it’s worth considering booking your vacation home rental there if you’re not so keen to stay on the other side of the bridge. Brooklyn Botanic Garden spans 52 acres and one of its highlights is the Japanese-style garden, which features cherry blossoms, Japanese maples, wooden bridges and ponds. For families with young kids, one of the best places to visit in NYC is Brooklyn’s famous amusement site, Coney Island. It comprises numerous amusement parks, a museum, eateries, bars and the New York Aquarium.