Big Apple offers food, arts, culture
New York City is one of the most visited destinations for travellers globally, constantly ranking high in top destination lists. Its John F. Kennedy International Airport welcomes more international passengers than any other airport in North America, with visitor numbers increasing each year.
For Hong Kong travellers, the numerous airlines providing daily direct flights ensures its popularity when choosing to visit the United States.
Autumn is the best time to visit. The swelter of summer has passed, but it is still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors, and it is visually stunning with the leaves of trees turning intense shades of orange and red, best demonstrated at Central Park.
A good way to get to know the city, or to know it better (for returning visitors) is to walk around with a local guide, which is possible with Free Tours by Foot (www.freetoursbyfoot.com). The company offers pay-what-you-wish walking tours of Manhattan and Brooklyn, from soul food in Harlem to street art in Brooklyn, or a shopping tour of the city's best kept secrets to the iconic architecture of Midtown. There are more than 30 walking tours all led by enthusiastic and informative guides.
Midtown (Manhattan), the commercial, entertainment and media centre, and a growing financial centre, is, for many, quintessential New York. It is the heart of the city, home to the majority of the city's most famous buildings, such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, plus Broadway and Times Square, and high-end shopping and art.
There is always something new in Midtown to attract return visitors as there is classic to woo first-timers. At present, the buzz is around food, with the opening in mid-September of UrbanSpace Vanderbilt - a 12,000 sq ft space, which has drawn instant praise from the media and restaurant critics for its 20-plus, chef-driven, street-esq vendors and their stellar fare. It is the first permanent indoor venue for pop-up market gurus UrbanSpace (urbanspacenyc.com).
It is also the location to experience a Nitro cold brew iced coffee, which is a growing coffee trend in the city. Try the nitrogen-infused Stumptown Cold Brew iced coffee at Measure lounge (www.measurenyc.com) located in Langham Place New York, the only hotel in New York to serve coffee from famed roasters Stumptown (www.stumptowncoffee.com).
The coffee is served from a tap like beer, complete with foamy head, and Measure serves nitro, regular and innovative coffee cocktails.
The urbane lounge is also noted for its contemporary American cuisine, including a monthly-changing, three-course lunch (only US$29).
Another draw of Midtown is its central location, which means that it is within walking distance (or short train ride) of many other noted neighbourhoods and sights of interest.
Culturally, autumn is a time of openings, from new seasons on Broadway, to performance openings, and the start of new exhibitions in galleries.
One anticipated opening is St Ann's Warehouse (stannswarehouse.org), opening on October 17 in its new 25,000 sq ft performing arts space, which includes a mixed-use artists' studio and open-air garden, located in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
One of the first major performances it will host is an all-female interpretation of Shakespeare's Henry IV from November 6.
The hot ticket at the Museum of Modern Art (moma.org) is Picasso Sculptures, which opened last month, showcasing more than 100 sculptures from Pablo Picasso. It is the first time such a collection has been shown in the US in more than 50 years.
The annual Village Halloween Parade (October 31, www.halloween-nyc.com) attracts more than 50,000 costumed participants, giant puppets and musicians.
Watch from the pavement or join the parade itself (if in costume).
Make a trip to famous neighbouring states
New York City (NYC) is a good departure point for exploring the neighbouring states of New Jersey and Connecticut.
New Jersey begins across the river (Hudson) from NYC, and is home to Newark Airport (18km away). It is known for the seaside resorts of Atlantic City (approximately 203km from NYC) and the Jersey Shore. It has the third-largest state park system and is noted for its natural attractions, such as The Palisades (by the Hudson River), famous for stunning views of NYC, the near vertical cliffs rise as high as 152 metres.
The New Jersey Pinelands is a biosphere reserve measuring over one million acres. Depending on the destination, getting there may involve ferry, train, bus, or a flight.
Connecticut is home to New Haven (Yale University, museums and a vibrant dining scene), the capital Hartford, (Mark Twain's house and art galleries), the popular seaport destination Mystic, and fossilised dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur State Park (Rocky Hill). It is also becoming known as a wine-producing region, with 25 wineries forming the Connecticut Wine Trail.
New Haven is 95km from NYC and it is about 188km to Hartford, so the best transport option from NYC depends on the destination.