For an island that’s only 13 miles long and 2 miles wide, Manhattan can sure be an exhausting little bugger to sightsee around. While it’s easy enough to hail a cab or jump on a subway to give those tired feet a reprieve, these are a few less conventional ways to see the city that will be experiences in and of themselves:
The Roosevelt Island Tram
Praised by the New York Times as “the most exciting view in New York City”, this is a ride both tourists and locals alike won’t want to miss. Located at 59th Street and Second Avenue, the 5 minute tram ride from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island will give you a bird’s eye view of the Manhattan and Queens skyline from 3,100 feet above the East River. Stand by the window for plenty of picture taking opportunities, as the tram can squeeze in up to 125 people. Once at Roosevelt Island, stay a while and enjoy one of the spacious parks and a slice of New York’s finest.
The Staten Island Ferry
While there are no shortage of boat rides you can take around Manhattan…some offering dinner and dancing, others a 3 hour historic tour that lasts about 2.5 hours too long…I’m a huge fan of the SI Ferry. Departing from Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan with service to St. George on Staten Island, this 20 minute ferry ride is quick, cheap, offers $3 beers, and gives the same amazing views the more expensive boating options offer. You’ll still be able to snap photos of the Statue of Liberty, as well as visit one of New York’s other boroughs, all for the price of a Metrocard swipe. It’s almost good enough to make you want to move to Staten Island. Almost.
These three wheel bike and rickshaw carriage contraptions are often found around Central Park and the Times Square area being pedaled by energetic young Eastern Europeans with calves of steel. I’ve taken a ride on one occasion since moving to NY because it was raining and I’m certainly not one to battle over a taxi. Although you’ll end up paying more than the taxi would cost, there’s nothing quite like coasting down 5th Avenue, weaving in and out of traffic, hair flying about and arriving at your destination long before those other people that stole your cab.
I know what you’re thinking…the ultimate tourist trap. But before you completely disregard, let me just get on my soap box and rave about how much I love these double deckers. On my last trip to England I jumped on one at the suggestion of the local Tourism Board, and although skeptical at first, ended up pleased as punch. Not only did we snap photos of the entire city (parts we definitely wouldn’t have seen otherwise), we also learned so much from the local tour-guide that our guide books failed to mention. And if you’re visiting from another non-English speaking country, they have the tours pre-translated for you. If tours aren’t your cup of tea, you can still use the bus for its hop on, hop off service that will take you to all the big spots you’re likely to want to see anyway.
New York is a city best seen from above. If you’re celebrating a special occasion (or if being in NYC is special enough!), book a helicopter ride and take in the ariel vantage point. With prices starting at $150 per person, you can rest assured that this is a guaranteed memory maker right here. For the rest of your life, you can fondly look back on the experience and say, “Remember that time we gave up cabs for a month and spent that money on a helicopter ride instead?”
If you’re traveling to the Big Apple via plane, we would suggest checking out airfares to New York with the fine folks at Flight Centre.
By: Jessica Tiare Bowen