When it comes to city breaks, few metropolises are on as many bucket lists or attract as much attention and as many starry-eyed travelers as New York City. It’s the biggest city in the country, the most populous, and the most diverse in both its people and its experience. No-one can cover every single thing you can or should do in NYC, so we’re not going to try. Instead, we’re going to give a list of tips to make sure you get the most out of your journey, whatever your tastes may be.
Get smart at the accommodation game
Your trip begins with deciding where exactly to go. As you might expect of such a big city, there’s a huge range of accommodation on offer, from little, classy boutiques like the Crowne Plaza HY36, and Park South Hotel to lavish suites like the Archer. Apartment rental has always been an easy option for those who want to visit on the cheap, and Airbnb has made it easier to browse a larger list of potential spots to stay. You can save a lot on hotels, however, by signing up to their online mailing lists. The majority of hotels will have coupons and deals specifically for subscribers, so once you know you’re heading to NYC, spend a few weeks subscribed to a few hotels in the area you want to visit. In all likelihood, you will get an offer coming your way at some point.
The real start of your journey
New York City has three airports, which can offer a little more choice when it comes to finding the right deal. The city isn’t hard to find your way around, not with metro connecting all the airports. Still, it’s wiser to choose those closest to where you want to stay. For instance, if you’re staying somewhere near Times Square, you want to arrive at LaGuardia.
Making your way around town
If you rent a cab to pick you up from the airport, you are soon going to realize just how New York’s roads are. There is rarely a time where you can smoothly get from one part of the city to another. The city is relatively easy to navigate, based on a highly-understandable grid as it is, but if you rely on walking everywhere, you are going to find yourself tuckered out pretty soon. The public transport system, particularly the Metro, is where it’s at. It can be a little crowded (that might be an understatement), but it is one of the most efficient and effective ways of getting around the city. Tourists can easily pick up a one-week MetroCard for only $31. From Metro stops to wherever you want to go, you are never more than a short walk away.
What to see
The landmarks and sights of New York are numerous, and there are certainly too many to see on but one trip. You have to be careful as to how much time they tend to take up, too. The Statue of Liberty is easy enough to see, but getting up close to Ellis Island can demand a lot more time. If you want to explore Times Square, prepare for crowds that can have you moving a slow as molasses, especially during the holidays. Central Park, on the other hand, is relatively easy to access with plenty of room for all and has seasonal activities, regular shows, and one of the best skyline views of New York.
What to do
When it comes to deciding how to fill your days, it is never hard to find things to do in New York City. Spoiled for choice is the term you will be looking for. You could stay a week, pack a full itinerary and still be left having seen only a sliver of what the city has to offer. If you’re into your history, a stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard can be a great opportunity to see one of the most important military and cultural spots in the city, now lined with commercial stops from end to end. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Square and Conference Park House make for two of the more fascinating museums amongst the city’s many. No trip is complete without a stop at the Central Park Zoo, either. There are plenty of sites that show some of the top attractions and where exactly you can find them, as well as letting you build an itinerary, so while there is a lot to do, there are resources to make planning your trip much easier.
Where to eat
Similarly, those planning sites will also provide an easy way to pick out restaurants that aren’t too far from the route that your day’s journeying takes you. New York’s cuisine is as diverse as it gets. Foods from all cultures are served in all settings, from convenient street vendors to cream-of-the-crops restaurants. The Hit List is one of the best sources of info for the latest and greatest, and it’s worth checking out some of the newer ones, as they tend to have promotional deals that can make eating out a lot less expensive.
New York City is relatively safe to explore, having been rated the safest big city in the US by sources as prestigious as the FBI. However, as big as it is, tourists have to remain smart, stay safe and on their toes. Be careful when using the subway in the early morning or late night. Certain areas, like Harlem and Central Park, are best kept to the daytime, as well. There are plenty of scams and thieves to avoid, too. Invest in wallet protectors that keep pickpockets at bay by clipping to your belt or pants, for instance. Beware fake goods on the streets, too, and people who ask for money to help them “get home”, as both are very common scams.
Know your costs
There is no denying that New York can be one of the most expensive places in the world to visit. There are cheaper options for dining, accommodation, activities, and much more. However, if you want to experience some of the best that the city has to offer, you can still mind your costs. Visiting during the holidays, for instance, is going to make just about everything more expensive. It’s a good idea to plan the major items on your itinerary before you get there, as you can figure out the costs in advance and figure out what kind of budget you are going to need.
Make the best of the fashion capital of the US
The shops of NYC are world-famous and are certainly going to attract the more fashion conscious amongst you. They can be one of the most expensive things in the city, by far, but the savvy shopper can snag huge savings on souvenirs by finding the right little boutiques. Two of the stores well worth visiting are Ina and Housing Works Thrift Store. The first is a consignment store and the latter a thrift store. But the resold goods they stock are nothing compared to those you would find in other cities, often only accepting items of the highest quality. There is always a thrift store just around the corner from a luxurious retail strip, offering many of the same options for a fraction of the price. A few other must visit stores include Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Barney’s, and the huuuge H&M in Times Square!
Enjoy a show on the cheap
Broadway attracts thousands upon thousands of audience members every year. Famous as it is, there is no denying that without winning the Broadway lottery, most people can’t justify the kind of ticket prices on offer. Online ticket stores can help you save money by booking way in advance and the TKTS booth in Duffy Square regularly has tickets to most of the shows on that can be discounted as high as 50% off. It’s worth stopping by the theaters as soon as they open, as most of them will have rush tickets that be but a quarter of their usual price. You have to be quick, however, as these rush tickets get snapped up pretty quickly.
New Yorker’s and their bad rap
The people of New York have an unfortunate reputation for being rude. If you spend any time getting to know locals at a bar or event, you might see that’s not entirely fair but there’s no denying they have their own city code that newcomers can be pretty oblivious too. Study up on a few etiquette tips before you go. Making random requests of people who are clearly commuting somewhere, whether its to ask directions or take a photo of you and your companions, is a no-no. If you do have a request with someone who seems to have more time on their hands, be polite and direct about it.
Hopefully, the tips above help you plan a successful trip the Big Apple. Should you have the kind of experience that most visitors do, you will soon realize that one trip just isn’t enough for New York City. It’s simply full of too much to do, so let’s see whether or not you become one of the many from whom a pilgrimage to the Big Apple becomes an ongoing love affair.
See you next time!