NYC is my favorite city in the world. I’ve travelled and/or lived in cities like Shanghai, Moscow, Singapore, Seattle, and more. No place continues to delight and surprise me like NYC every time I visit. Finally, after two years of staying home during the pandemic, we were able to begin our adventures again, starting in NYC with a week-long trip to visit both old and new places. Here are some tips, advice and best practices when visiting the Big Apple!
Stay to the right on the sidewalks. Only on really broad sidewalks do you walk side-by-side. Otherwise, single file and stay in your lane-no sudden changes or you’ll get run over. Be aware of bikes, scooters, roller blades, etc. Even on one way streets, look both ways. Everyone jaywalks. Don’t follow others. Check yourself before entering crosswalk. You could die.
Travel to/from airports via flying: We’ve flown into all the major NYC airports (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark). Unfortunately, there is no direct public transportation from the airports to Manhattan so you will need a car service. While you can do a taxi or Uber, at these large airports it will be chaotic and take time. If you fly in to arrive not at rush hour, it’s best. The taxi line can be long, the Uber lot can be packed and hard to connect with your driver. I would recommend booking a car service online in advance. When you arrive and get your luggage, you call the # provided by them after you book online and they pull right up to the arrivals curb. Easy peasy and not much more than a cab or Uber would cost you. You’re looking at $92 plus tip. An Uber or taxi would probably run around $80. We used JFK Car Service and Airport Car Services – JFK, Newark & LaGuardia | By Dial7. I would highly recommend.
Uber in the city:
We walked 8+ miles a day in the city, which is our preferred mode of transportation. You soak up the culture when you walk the streets of New York. When your legs just won’t go any further, however, find a business like a hotel or restaurant to get an address to summon an Uber. Everywhere we went within Manhattan, it was $20+ per ride and, if it’s raining, it will cost more and good luck finding a ride. Then, you go to the subway. Watch out for pickpockets and rats-both can be found on the subway.
Subway and trains:
Very convenient and fast to get around, especially if its raining, use the New York Subway System: Maps, Schedules and NYC Travel Information (nysubway.com) to plan your trip and tap your ApplePay or GooglePay at the turnstyle to enter. Watch for your stop (name on the wall at every stop) because the sign lights in the train often aren’t working and there aren’t any announcements…definitely not the same experience that you may be used to from other big cities with better infrastructure.
For the trains Home | MTA (if you are going to the suburbs like Long Island) you go to the window at the station and get a ticket and then look for the readerboards around to find the track you go to for your train. You won’t find the track assigned until very close to the time you board so be on the lookout and then walk quickly to get to your train.
PLACES TO STAY:
We usually stay at an ARBNB/VRBO when we travel but, for NYC, I would recommend a hotel. If you arrive prior to check-in time (usually around 4 pm) you’ll need a place to check your bags and that’s easier to do with a hotel. When I travelled for business, I stayed exclusively at Marriotts Discover Marriott Bonvoy | Join The Best Hotel Rewards Program and am still loyal to the brand which includes Westin, Residence Inn, etc. Earn points when you travel and eventually your travel will be free!
Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Midtown East at 148 East 48th Street New York, New York 10017 worked really well for us. This is a business area which means it’s quiet and safe but also walkable to anywhere in Manhattan with restaurants on the block and there are deli’s just blocks away to get room snacks. Room 1419 if you can get it! Why? Here’s what we had:
Hotel amenities: laundry room, large breakfast with hot options, good safety protocol requiring hotel key to enter lobby and elevator
Room amenitites: refrigerator, dishwasher, hot plate, plates, wine glasses, 2 rooms both with TV’s, pull out bed in living room, big shower with awesome water pressure and hot water
Big department stores are grand, especially at the holidays: Saks, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s Herald Square, Nordstrom’s (new and amazing). We love the small shops in SoHo and Greenwich Village.
PLACES TO GO:
Statue of Liberty Because you really just need to get on the boat and experience this iconic site up close and personal. Statue of Liberty Tickets: E-Tickets for Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island – StatueOfLibertyTickets.com
Central Park Central Park: NYC Parks (nycgovparks.org) – you could spend days here but at least set aside time to pick up picnic food at the Whole Foods on Columbus Circle and stroll along and see the highlights including Belvedere Castle. If you don’t want to do the picnic thing, then make reservations for the Boathouse which is a lovely respite in the middle of the park. Eat on the patio and then rent a boat to row around the lake (bring cash $20/hour). You can also rent bikes or scooters to get around. Try it!
The Met Home – The Metropolitan Museum of Art (metmuseum.org) is my favorite by far with the Temple of Dendur and rooms upon rooms of impressionist paintings like Monet. Take the elevator from the lobby to the fifth floor for a free awesome view of NYC from the rooftop. Enjoy a beverage and rest in between walking the galleries. Book timed entry tickets in advance to avoid lines. The cafe on the balcony is a wonderful lunch stop. Check for music and events on their site. I got $10 off discount for the gift shops in my email confirming my online tickets which I used. Love their gift stores!
The Museum of Natural History American Museum of Natural History | New York City (amnh.org) is awesome especially for kids. They have a Night at the Museum audio tour on their site if you are so inclined. https://www.amnh.org/plan-your-visit/self-guided-tours/night-at-the-museum. Buy timed tickets online in advance to avoid crowds. Also, book a Hayden Planetarium show if you can. Truly amazing.
Other museums if you have time:
Times Square: Don’t touch the characters that are everywhere. Seriously, if you take their picture, they will want money and aren’t the cleanest. Watch your stuff. These are all tourists, so it is a target rich environment for thieves. Do not ask a stranger to take your picture if you want to keep your phone. Looks can be deceiving. Trust no one.
Bryant Park-behind the NYC library and full of fun stuff. Free concerts on the lawn in the summer. Bryant Park – Home
NYC Library-take the free tour! Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Tours | The New York Public Library (nypl.org)
Rockefeller Center-iconic and in the winters you can ice skate and in summer roller skate on the rink Rockefeller Center | NYC’s Famous Cultural Landmark & Observation Deck
St. Patrick’s Cathedral-open and free to visitors and beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral | New York, NY (saintpatrickscathedral.org)
FLATIRON/MADISON SQUARE PARK:
Walk around Madison Square Park (seems like there is always a movie or commercial being filmed here) and the Flatiron building. We lived near here so we love this neighborhood.
Eataly-eat and shop Eataly New York Flatiron: restaurants, market and classes
Strand bookstore, 8th and Broadway Strand Book Store
Fishs Eddy, 19th and Broadway Fishs Eddy: We do dishes!
Allbirds 17th and 5th Sustainable Shoes & Clothing | The Most Comfortable Shoes in The World | Allbirds (my favorite shoes for travelling-you need for all the NYC walking! This is one of the few physical stores Allbirds has-mostly online sales)
Shake Shack-well known outdoor eating in Madison Square Park Madison Square Park | Shake Shack
Old Town Bar-featured in movies this is an iconic old time bar with great food Best Old Bar (oldtownbar.com)
DOWNTOWN: (all very close together)
Little Island https://littleisland.org/ is a new park built on the Hudson River. If you go before noon, you don’t need timed entry tickets. Great views!
Chelsea Market-eat and shop CHELSEA MARKET
Whitney Museum Whitney Museum of American Art
Greenwich Village To find a wealth of diverse food experiences, walk through Greenwich Village and eat at one of many cozy outside patios. More like Paris life here with cafe culture. Lots of small retail shops to explore but only during the day. Grab an Italian pasty and coffee at Home – Pasticceria Rocco.
CHINATOWN AND LITTLE ITALY-great for walking around, shopping and eating
Never pay full price for Broadway tickets! Get the TKTS app TKTS Ticket Booths – The Half Price Ticket Stands in NYC (nytix.com) and track what shows are usually offering tickets the day of performance for 30-50% off. You have to cue up starting at 3 pm on show day to buy tickets.
Go online and get todaytix app TodayTix | Theater Tickets to Musicals, Plays, Broadway, More for slightly less off but you don’t have to stand in line. Tradeoff. I usually pay around $100 per ticket for good seats with the discount. Most theaters are small so really no bad seats. They will tell you if there is obstructed view which usually means you can’t see one corner of the stage but usually still a good experience.
If you really want a bargain, go to theater the morning of performance and ask about “rush” tickets that sometime are available for great value $35 or so many times these are single seats so if you don’t mind splitting up from your friends, go for it.
HAVE FUN IN NYC AND SOAK UP THE ENERGY OF THIS SPECIAL PLACE!