Ask just about any American, and they’ll tell you: New York is the most exciting city in the world.
Whether we’re from Orlando or Omaha, NYC has been part of our lives, from watching King Kong share a poignant moment with his true love on top of the Empire State Building to celebrating New Year’s Eve along with thousands of revelers in Times Square.
And from that city, we have been riveted by events that have changed our lives forever.
Though groups have typically enjoyed the familiar sights and iconic venues of the Big Apple time and time again, today, NYC and Company, New York’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, is making it possible for visitors to explore beyond those traditional tourist locations.
“Through the campaign launched in 2013, Neighborhood x Neighborhood, tourism is promoted in all the boroughs of New York City,” said spokesperson Caroline Peck. “Both first-time and repeat visitors love the idea of this experiential travel.”
For those who have never ventured outside of famed Manhattan, a quick geography lesson might be handy: New York comprises five boroughs. Manhattan and Staten Island are islands, Brooklyn and Queens are geographically part of Long Island, and the Bronx is attached to the U.S. mainland. The islands are linked by bridges, tunnels and ferries.
Neighborhood x Neighborhood encourages tourism in neighborhoods within those five boroughs that feature great restaurants, shops and cultural institutions.
Exploring New York’s Little Italy along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is a tasty example of a neighborhood tour. The neighborhood was settled by Italian immigrants during and after the building of the Bronx Zoo. Today, shopkeepers welcome wanderers in to sample their wares.
“At Casa Della Mozzarella, the folks who supply cheese to Yankee Stadium, fresh mozzarella to die for is made before your eyes,” said Peck. “At Madonia Brothers Bakery, a carb-lover’s paradise — biscotti, cannoli and incredible flaky pastries are on hand.”
In Little Italy, animated merchants offer fresh-shucked oysters, hand-rolled cigars, Italian wines and specialty coffees. Peck suggests having a meal at Roberto’s restaurant.
“This charming eatery, opened in the 1980s, offers southern Italian food — the real deal. This is a great neighborhood to walk in,” she said.
While in the area, groups can enjoy millions of plants over 250 acres at the New York Botanical Garden and gawk at more than 6,000 animals at the Bronx Zoo.
“If you are here over the holidays, do not miss their Holiday Train Show where they re-create New York landmarks with plants,” said Peck.
Hot Dogs Here
Perusing Coney Island in Brooklyn is a tour for travelers who love amusement rides, hot dogs and the seaside.
“Luna Park is home to the Thunderbolt, a custom-built steel roller coaster, and also the legendary Cyclone roller coaster, opened in 1927 and today a National Historic Landmark,” said Peck. “The B and B Carousel features 50 hand-carved horses. And, of course, you have to have a Nathan’s Famous hot dog, as this is the place where the famous Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest is held every year.”
A beach and a boardwalk are part of the Coney Island experience, and Peck suggests also spending time at the New York Aquarium, the nation’s oldest continually operating aquarium, where a new shark exhibit will open in 2016.
Queens is touted as New York City’s most international borough, and a ride on the 7 train, a subway line also known as the International Express, just might feel like a journey around the globe.
“With people from China, India, Greece, Peru, Ecuador and more, you can have an ethnic cuisine tour that you could never have without traveling the world,” said Peck.