If the hustle and bustle of New York has gotten a bit too much, then why not visit the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island and learn a bit about the history of some of the people who have made New York what it is today.
Ellis Island is very easily accessible by boat from Manhattan. You can catch a ferry regularly from Battery Park, just south of the financial district and Wall Street.
From there, the ferry goes to Liberty Island first (which is well worth a visit if you have the time) and then straight on to Ellis Island which takes around 20 minutes. The ferries get pretty packed so I suggest getting right to one of the edges if you plan to take photos on approach to the islands. Then you arrive at the beautiful and historic Ellis Island – you can read a lot about the history of the place at its website.
Once you are on the island, then the Immigration Museum looms right in front of you, in what used to be the building that received immigrants entering America for the first time. I had thought, perhaps naively that the museum would be about mostly Italian immigrants to the country but actually it was largely the Irish who were first to enter America through the Gateway – Ellis Island. A lot of the parts of the museum are free, which is great, and I recommend spending a good few hours there reading all the history and seeing the different rooms etc. There is also a movie theatre where you can watch a programme telling you the history of the place and featuring stories from real people who traveled through here back in the day. You can also trace your history here and see if any of your ancestors passed through Ellis Island – if they did, they can be added to the wall of honor in the grounds of the museum.
Obviously given its great location, you get a great view of both the New York and New Jersey skylines from here as well.