London has Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.
Hong Kong has the Peak and the Star Ferry.
And Paris has the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
We're talking the iconic tourist must-dos; the things that every guidebook wielding foreigner has on their checklist.
New York's got a myriad of these not-to-be-missed tourist magnets and on our recent trip we tried our very best to get through the entire list. Although Middle Mouse and I had been to New York before, we'd only been for a couple of long weekends which were generally pretty skewed towards Fifth Avenue and boutique hopping along Bleecker Street pretending to be Carrie Bradshaw. This time around we made sure our Carrie moments were sandwiched between as much touristy exploring as humanly possible. So here's our top eight not to be missed New York experiences - they may be touristy but there's a reason for that...
Top of the Rock
The Empire State Building seems like the obvious high point to scale but isn't it better to have the Empire State as part of that swoon-worthy swooping skyline? Of course it is! Which means that the observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Center is the much better spot for getting your bird's eye view of the city.
We zipped up just before sunset so that we got New York in all her daytime glory - cue a flurry of obligatory tourist snaps...
And then, as the sun slunk below the horizon and New York got her dazzle on, we got to take a whole host of twinkly dusk shots...
Absolute tourist gold!
Top of the Rock
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Walk the Highline
The Highline is a 1 mile stretch of elevated garden running along the lower west side of Manhattan. Its built along a former railway line which was under threat of demolition until a group of conservationists saved it, regenerated it and planted the park. I've heard that it really comes into its own in the summer but even on a wintery, snowy day it was a really lovely amble punctuated with art and fantastic views back across the city and even out to the Statue of Liberty (more about that lovely lady a little later...).
I started at the Gansevoort Street end and finished up in the Meatpacking district just in time for a quick browse around the shops (don't miss Intermix and Warby Parker) followed by a lunchtime nibble around Chelsea Market.
New York Public Library
Feeling all shopped out and in need of a little peace and quiet? Put down your credit card, step away from Sak's Fifth Avenue and zip a few blocks South to the New York Public Library. Scoot up the staircase flanked by Patience and Fortitude (the library's mascots - a pair of marble lions) and prepare to be dazzled. The third largest public library in the world houses over 20 million books perched upon 125 miles of shelving and welcomes almost one million visitors a year.
In case you need a further excuse to visit, Sex & the City fans - this was the backdrop against which Carrie was jilted by Mr Big...
New York Public Library
5th Avenue at 42nd Street
When you're surrounded by skyscrapers and honking yellow taxis, it's sometimes quite hard to conceive that just around the corner is a great big green expanse of grass and trees dotted with duck ponds, lakes and flowers.
And harder yet when the entire city is under a thick white blanket of snow.
But what's more fairytale New York than snow laden branches overhanging a frozen lake full of skaters?
After a busy, busy afternoon buzzing around Manhattan, my pre-sunset walk around snowy Central Park was the perfect change of pace and a completely magical end to the day.
A Guide to all things park-related!
The Statue of Liberty
I'd be willing to put pretty hefty sums of cash on the Statue of Liberty being deemed the most famous landmark in the entire world. And although a month ago I could give you a detailed description of Lady Liberty, I'd never actually seen her in the flesh.
So a pilgrimage out to Liberty Island ranked pretty high on my must-do list while I was in New York.
One beautiful but bitterly cold day I headed out to Battery Park ferry terminal, hopped aboard a sightseeing boat and cruised away from the shores of Manhattan towards the 225 tonnes of copper, cast iron and stainless steel that make up the Statue of Liberty.
As I was a little short of time and far too disorganised to have booked tickets in advance to visit the top of the crown (which you must book at least a couple of months before your visit - there are currently no tickets available until 9 June 2014...), I decided to stay on the boat while every tourist and his wife poured off to get a closer look. Braving the arctic temperatures, I stood out on the front deck as we cruised by Liberty Island and was rewarded with the most spectacular views.
The trip back to Manhattan was just as dazzling - truly breathtaking stuff...
Statue of Liberty
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
After my morning jaunt out to Liberty Island and lunch with a lovely friend, I decided to round off my tourist-tastic day with what I'd been assured was the very best of the best of New York experiences - a sunset walk along the Brooklyn Bridge.
And what an understatement of the Millennium that turned out to be.
Despite the eye-wateringly freezing, bone-chilling wind which whipped up from the Hudson, this was my quite possibly my favourite hour of the entire trip.
I decided to start the mile long walk from the Brooklyn side so jumped on the Subway to High Street and had a little wander around DUMBO (including a fortifying hot chocolate from Jacques Torres) before heading back to the start of the bridge just as the sky started to turn amber.
For the second time that day I got fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty, this time off in the distance, in silhouette form, as the sun headed to bed.
On my other side, the horizon was studded with an army of cloud-scraping tower blocks amoungst them the Empire State Building and the elegant, art deco, Chrysler Building.
As the sun disappeared leaving a sky smudged with jewel tones, I decided that if I moved to New York I would want to live in Brooklyn for no other reason than to have the most beautiful commute in all the world.
First thing's first, it's proper name since 1913 (according to the fountain of all knowledge, Wikipedia) is actually Grand Central Terminal, but I and a million other ill-informed people still call this beautiful 101 year old train station Grand Central Station.
Every year, approximately 21.5 million travellers scuttle around the four-faced gold acorn topped clock and under the turquoise ceiling painted with a stunning astrological mural. I made my way down at rush hour to sit and watch the world go by.
All that commuter spotting is pretty thirsty work, so I decamped to the Campbell Apartment, a cocktail lounge hidden away in the corner of the station for a couple of Flapper's Delights (a scrumptious concoction of Champagne, papaya juice and Amaretto).
If you're getting a distinct feeling of de ja vu, you're probably a Gossip Girl fan, the bar was the setting for Serena and Nate's ahem 'encounter' in the series premier...
Grand Central Station
89 East 42nd Street
The Campbell Apartment
15 Vanderbilt Ave
And last, but definitely, definitely not least, the Museum of Modern Art.
If you're even vaguely interested in Contemporary Art, an afternoon at the MoMA is obligatory. Walking around the museum is a bit like stepping into the pages of an art book - all the most famous paintings of the last 150 years seem to be hanging within finger-grazing distance.
There are Litchensteins...
And so many, many more...
I stayed, gazing open-mouthed at all this amazingness until I was asked to leave. Three times.
Oh and ps., the shop's great too!
11 W 53rd Street