New York City is a daunting place at first glance. With thousands of restaurants, hundreds of tourist attractions, and miles of subway, it can seem daunting. But if you follow these tips from my good friend (a native New Yorker), you’ll have a wonderful trip to the Big Apple.
1) Use the Subway: A lot of tourists get a little afraid of the New York City subway system, but it is being constantly updated every year to be even easier to take. There are maps everywhere, signs pointing you to any transfers you need, and most New Yorkers will take a minute or two to tell you where to go, if you need help. It’s quite an awesome experience and it will save you a lot of money in the long run if you avoid expensive taxi cabs.
2) There’s more to Manhattan than Time Square: Time Square is great to experience; the flashing lights, the big stores and the entertainment in the area are all great. But it all has a bit of a touristy sheen to it. If you want to experience true New York, check out Chinatown, SoHo or the West Village. You’ll be hanging out in areas locals spend time in and get a very different vibe of the city.
3) Make a List of Must-See Attractions: It is important that you make a small list of attractions that you absolutely don’t want to miss. Whether it’s exploring Central Park or going to the top of the Empire State Building, sit down and decide what has to be done and what you can live without if you don’t have time. There’s simply too much to do in one trip, so focus on what matters most to you.
4) Use Yelp for Restaurant Recommendations: This is a thing even locals do, because New Yorkers are very vocal and love to write reviews on venues and restaurants. Yelp is the one place you can get really honest reviews and maybe even discover a restaurant you didn’t even think of eating in.
5) Museums are Full Day Experiences: Don’t think you can visit the Museum of Natural History in just a couple of hours, or the MET for just a morning. They definitely take hours to explore, so give these places ample time, because it is worth seeing everything you can.
6) Check for Seasonal Events: Visiting in the summer? You’ll find a lot of free outdoor movies being shown in major Manhattan parks and outer-boroughs. Coming for Christmas? Check out 5th avenue’s window displays. Maybe you’ll be in town for Halloween? There’s the huge Halloween parade down in the West Village. There’s always something going on, depending on holidays and season, so do your research before you go.
7) Don’t Be Afraid to Travel Outside of Manhattan: There are some great experiences to be had in the other boroughs of New York City.The Bronx has the Bronx Zoo and also Yankee Stadium. Brooklyn has Williamsburg, an awesome neighborhood for bars, food and live music. In Queens, you can visit the Hall of Science and Citifield stadium. Don’t limit yourself to the confines of Manhattan; explore a little!
8) Expect Things to be Expensive: Have an idea of general prices so you aren’t sticker-shocked when you get here. You will likely find higher prices at very popular restaurants; a cocktail in a bar can go from $10-$13, on average. Even the movies are about $14 a ticket. Do some research so you can budget accordingly.
9) Use TKTS: TKTS are discount booths in the city that let you buy day-of tickets to Broadway shows and more. You’ll have to line up early, but often can get great prices for shows you might have skipped out on, budget wise. There’s a booth in Times Square as well as one in Downtown Brooklyn (the Southstreet Seaport booth is currently closed due to Hurricane Sandy damage).
10) Beware of Scams: In general, that means expect most vendors on the street to be selling fake Gucci bags and the like. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t ever buy tickets to an event from someone selling them on the corner, they might be counterfeit. Use your intuition to decide whether you feel like something is genuine or not.