Whether you’re an out-of-towner visiting New York for the first time, or a home-grown native, it’s never too late to brush up on some world affairs knowledge and take the New York United Nations tour. The summer months offer an ideal time to go: there’s more free time, beautiful views of the East River, and good reason to escape the heat. The Visitor Centre is located at 1st Avenue at 46th Street, midtown Manhattan. 212-963-8687. http://visit.un.org/wcm/content/site/visitors/lang/en/home/tours_ticket
Here are some tips to get the best out of your experience.
Expect a Wait
Know that it will take some time for the tour to actually begin. After going through the UN's airport-esque security, there’s a considerable line to buy tickets. Once the tickets are bought, guests can wait up to an hour until their tours begin.
The tour costs $16 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, and $9 for children 5-12 years of age (children under 5 aren’t allowed). An ATM, along with the gift and coffee shops, can be found on the lower level.
Check out the Exhibits
Visitors can use their long wait times as an opportunity to check out the free exhibits in the lobby. They change every few months and highlight current world issues. Through August 28, the Main Gallery features “World Press Photos 2011.” This exhibit contains the winners of the World Press Photo Contest , 177 powerful photographs that relate to news events worldwide. Also current, through October 15, visitors can see a gripping exhibition of images of some of the 12 million stateless people worldwide. “The World’s Stateless” gives a human face to this global issue and brings to light the forgotten and vulnerable people of the world.
Buy Postage Stamps
UN stamps are collectables because of the UN’s unique disposition. The UN is neither a country nor a government and is the only organization like this in the world that has the authority to issue stamps. Remember, though, they can only be used from UN offices in New York, Vienna, and Geneva.
Take the Tour
The tour covers information such as the history and current structure of the UN in addition to other UN issues and goals. The tour, at times, is a little reminiscent of a college lecture, but there’s nothing quite like the General Assembly Hall. Truly the high point of the tour. the General Assembly Hall and its visual grandeur have has everyone’s cameras clicking non-stop.
Tours are conducted Monday through Friday from 9:45 am to 4:45 pm, and last approximately 45 minutes.
Delegates Dining Room
After the tour, you can enjoy lunch and a view of the East River at the UN Delegates Dining Room. It’s open Monday through Friday, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, and reservations are required. Call (212) 963-7625 or (212) 963-7626, at least 24 hours in advance. Business attire is required. Chef Daryl Schembeck does a marvelous job putting together a buffet with cuisines from all over the world.