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New York City has its own brand of beauty. I've heard a lot of people visiting the city comment that it doesn't really look the way it does in the movies, and there's something to that. Films have certain advantages that can make New York look different, and mostly, cleaner. They clear sidewalks for shoots, film scenes far from the scaffolding that constantly engulfs a quarter of the city's sidewalks, and use endless editing capabilities to make things look how they want. On the other hand, New York in person can often feel cluttered and somewhat dirty. But that doesn't mean it isn't beautiful in its own way. The towering skyscrapers and famous landmarks alone cause a certain sense of wonder, and sometimes the sheer intensity of it all can evoke a unique, atmospheric charm.
As someone who lives in New York, I want to note some specific locations and attractions that stand out as some of the city's most beautiful little pockets of things to discover when visiting the city.
My personal favorite since this one is located in the upper Manhattan neighborhood I grew up in! The Cloisters is a garden / museum hybrid, and despite its fame, it's often left in the shadow of more popular museums like the Met, MoMA, and the Guggenheim. Perhaps that's for the best, because like Paley Park, The Cloisters maintains an air of seclusion within Fort Tryon Park, despite being well known. Technically, the museum is a part of the Met, but it holds up as its own attraction. Built like a European monastery of old, it's one of the most peaceful and beautiful spots in the city.
Top Of The Rock
This famous attraction is the observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Plaza (70 stories above the city), so it's a pretty busy tourist attraction. As was stated at a British Airways page on visiting New York, "the vista is simply breathtaking" and visitors get a great look at some of New York's most famous landmarks like the Chrysler and Empire State buildings from here. Top of the Rock offers a viewing advantage better than that of the Empire State Building, which can almost be too high to really let you see the city it overlooks, whereas Top Of The Rock gives you a beautiful perspective of everything that's around you.
Paley Park has become something of a tourist attraction, and was singled out by Gothamist in a rundown of beautiful pocket parks throughout the city. Even though it's not as much of a secret as it looks like it would be, this tiny little courtyard remains one of the most enchanting places in New York. It even feels secluded! Located just off of bustling, famous, glitzy and glamorous 5th Avenue (on 53rd Street), it's basically a little stone alcove adorned with trees and shrubs. It's also artfully insulated from the city by the sight and sound of a curtain-like waterfall.
Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel was pointed out by NewYork.com on a list of rooftop restaurants with "awe-inspiring views," and I'd take things a step further. Gallow Green is not just one of the coolest rooftop restaurants in the city, it's one of the prettiest places in all of New York. The views of the surrounding Chelsea area are a lot of fun, as lots of New York rooftop views are, but really it's the restaurant itself‚ organized like a garden, somehow rustic and edgy at the same time‚ that makes this place special. Oh, and the food and drink options aren't bad either!
Finally, I have to point out Belvedere Castle, because I think it's one of the coolest and most beautiful attractions, not just in New York City but pretty much anywhere. What is it, exactly? Well, it's quite literally a castle, and it's hidden in plain sight in the middle of Central Park! It was built in 1869 and has been kept in wonderful condition. You can tour the castle, and there are also events there (weddings, private parties, etc.). The real appeal, though, is just strolling by it, or sitting in the lawns it overlooks. There's just something magical about stumbling on a legitimate castle in the middle of an endless city park.
I encourage visitors to New York to get out and enjoy these sights and attractions. While this city offers its own brand of beauty that you can learn to appreciate in time, these places offer a more traditionally pleasant atmosphere than you might have expected in this city.
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