|by JD Rinne||Landmarks and Monuments, New York City||0|
When visiting the Big Apple, definitely put downtown and the harbor on your sightseeing list. The narrow, winding streets of the Financial District are ripe with history, and the waterfront, with the Statue of Liberty as its crown jewel, always makes for a good photo op. Here are three new ways to experience this fascinating part of Manhattan, whether by land or by sea.
This summer marks the first time you can have a dinner date with the one-and-only Statue of Liberty. Statue Cruises has debuted evening cruises that include dinner in the ticket price. The tours depart from Battery Park at 6 p.m. and land on Ellis Island. Guests are free to explore at leisure while munching on barbecue or other specialty dinners (menu depends on departure date). Park rangers are on-hand to give impromptu tours or answer questions. Most folks wander the grounds and then plunk down on a picnic blanket, waiting for the sun to set behind the Statue. About 1,200 tickets are available for each cruise, so our advice is to book online in advance; statue cruises are notorious for selling out. And full disclosure: On this cruise, admission to the museum and into the statue is not permitted—but the nighttime views of New York City should be enough to keep your camera clicking. June 10, July 8, 15, 22, Aug. 5, 12, 19. Tickets are $35 for adults, $28 for seniors, $15 for kids, including dinner. Book in advance at statuecruises.com or 877/523-9849.
Downtown, The New York Freedom Trail is a new tour led by the National Park Service. Starting at Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated, the 90-minute tour passes Bowling Green (where colonists tore down King George's statue), Trinity Church, and St. Paul's Chapel, winding north to the World Trade Center site. Federal Hall is just a few blocks from the waterfront, so this is an easy tour to tack on to your downtown explorations. Space is limited; this is another one to reserve in advance. $12 per person. Saturdays through Sept. 4; tours depart at 11 a.m. Buy tickets at nyharborparks.org.
Why not splurge a little and take a lunchtime luxury cruise of the harbor—on a yacht, no less? Circle Line cruises has just partnered with World Yacht to offer two-hour narrated tours from Pier 81 through the harbor, right past the Statue of Liberty. The ticket price of $47 per person (which, let's be honest, is about what a nice dinner costs in this city—minus the boat ride) includes a gourmet buffet lunch on the Duchess. Thursdays-Saturdays, June 17-Oct. 30. Cruises begin boarding at 11:30 a.m. Book in advance at 212/630-8100 or at circleline42.com. Kids under 12 cost $25.