Here is The Complete New York City Travel Guide: The Big Apple, The City So Nice They Named It Twice, or The City That Never Sleeps. Call it what you will; NYC is my all-time favorite city globally.
No surprise, it’s my favorite. I grew up in a big city and like the hustle and bustle. Hence, I love New Yorkers. Most of my favorite people hail from here. They are as direct as any Brit, just as sarcastic, trendy, progressive, and well-traveled. In addition to the people, the food is spectacular. You can eat 24/7, drink till four almost anywhere, and never even have to drive.
You can buy pseudo anything; instead, you can buy whatever your heart desires in NYC. Shop on the streets, indulge in street food, lose yourself in markets – there is just too much to enjoy. Add to this that Brian is a die-hard Yankee Fan and boom, how could you not love this city?
Before writing this New York City Travel Guide, I pondered what I would tell you that you have not already heard about. Having given it some thought, I think some people probably don’t know about NYC, and some are worth sharing tips. There is more to see and do than I am sharing. Feel free to leave your additions in the comments section.
For our week in July, we flew into JFK on JetBlue and took a cab downtown. Our flights were free using points. I have the JetBlue credit card, which is my favorite travel card. This being said, you have hundreds of options for getting into NYC.
You can fly to John Kennedy, La Guardia, New Jersey, or Long Island. There are various ways to connect to Manhattan from all. Train, Uber, Lyft, shuttle, cab, or a private car. I’ve flown into all these airports and used all methods to expect the train because I don’t want to drag luggage up and down and all around!
We’ve stayed at many Hilton‘s downtowns and uptown, Club Quarters, and a couple of boutique hotels. Last year we stayed at the Stewart Hotel opposite Madison Square Garden. A prime location! The hotel was great; we had a large room with a kitchenette and, get this – a bathtub!!! I scored a killer deal on TravelZoo and paid no “resort fees.” Very happy with this place. My only criticism of the Stewart is that they should have either gone with central AC or installed new units when they re-did the place. Ours broke twice; however, it was fixed in a New York minute!
This year we are going to New York at Christmas! Finally, we wanted to experience New York at Christmas. We are staying in mid-town in a Hampton Inn. Our flights were again free on JetBlue, and the hotel is free using Chase points!
New York City Travel Guide Pro Tips
If you are going to visit NYC, be calm and super cool. The city gets 58 million tourists annually, and a local can spot you a mile away. Yes, the typical tourist stands out like a mother trucker. Hold your head up high, walk like you own the place, don’t stare, and don’t take any shit. Blend in, folks, and go with the flow! NYC might be a bit too much for you if you are not up for this. Don’t take this out of context; the city is suitable for tourists. But like anywhere that is bustling, if you stand on a corner glaring over a map, you attract attention to yourself.
NYC is pricey, up there with Sydney and Dubai, but it’s double. Assuming you are not planning to eat at the latest and greatest restaurants daily, it is affordable but not cheap.
Nothing is free! Even a photo opportunity in NYC with a character or a semi-celeb is not free. Be prepared to pay via the tip. If you have kids and do the Times Square characters, know they will harass you for more money than your tip. For example, if you tip them $5, they will say it’s $5 more. They will imply you owe them and persist. It’s simple – walk away! PS, there are cops everywhere where these guys are, so don’t fret!
Similarly, there are panhandlers (beggars) everywhere, and some are feisty. Just ignore them and continue.
You will not score discount tickets for the “hot” show on Broadway; there is no such thing. And by hot, I’m talking about the equivalent of getting a discounted ticket to Hamlet. There is a lottery system for hot shows, but your odds are not good, making them cheaper. Once a show is not “hot,” you can get discounted tickets the day of. Here is a site to use that gives you various methods to score a last-minute ticket or enroll in the lottery – Time Out New York.
Getting Around New York City
If you are traveling, the subway gets your route straight first. Otherwise, you will look like a total twat, and you’ll stand out even more.
Not all subway stations are handicap accessible. Be sure to research this before you go.
Do not jump on a rental bike. You would have to be off your rocker even to consider this in NYC. You will have enough on your hands crossing the roads, much less riding a bike on them.
Taxis are often cheaper than Uber and Lyft. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. It’s a $52 fixed fare from JFK to Midtown Manhattan. Add in tolls and tips; you will be at about $70-$80. Uber was more! Therefore, taxis were the cheapest and quickest option in all cases except for one ride.
Factor traffic into everything you do unless you are going via the subway. For example, going from mid-town to the upper east side between 3 pm and 7 pm will take at least 30 minutes!
Go all the way to the top; getting the natural feel for the height is worth it. Plus, the views are spectacular.
This is a must! Sure, it’s the tourist mecca, but it’s fun. If you want to get the vibe of a bustling NYC – hit Times Square. While in Times Square, check out The Original Naked Cowboy. Tip him what you think is fair. He’s not going to ask for more. Ladies, touch that wonderful derrière – a chiseled work of art. Fella’s, there are Naked Cowgirls too!
Another iconic symbol. No New York City Travel Guide would be complete without Central Park. Perhaps not what you imagine. It’s not just a lake and greenery running through Manhattan. There is plenty to do in Central Park. Row a boat, walk, climb, feed the ducks, or visit the zoo. View the sculptures and fountains. Try yoga or take a horse-drawn carriage ride. Check out a play such as Shakespeare or the Orchestra. Many events are held in Central Park, and they are often free!
Statue of Liberty
This might be the number one attraction for most visiting NYC. Everyone wants to see or photograph Lady Liberty, and millions want to climb inside her. Here’s the deal. Have you ever been to Disney and stood in line for three hours with thousands of people? Well, that’s what you can expect if you plan to land on Liberty Island. Planning to go up, prepare a year in advance as only 240 people are allowed up daily. This is my worst nightmare, and I can’t stand lines! Add to this; that the security process is the same as the airport screening.
Unless you have your heart set on landing on Liberty Island, take the free ferry to Staten Island. It leaves from the St. George Terminal – 1 Bay Street Staten Island, NY 10301. You will see crowds in line for Liberty Island’s trip when you arrive in this area. Pass all the masses and walk south to the St. George Terminal to board the boat. You will get amazing photos and a great view of Manhattan. Ride back for free and take in the scenery again.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
We all know what happened. Therefore it may be morbid for some to visit a memorial of this scale. However, this is modern history, and the monument is beautiful. Pay your respects to those that lost their lives and read about their stories keeping their memories alive. The museum contains information and artifacts from the original trade towers, such as The Survivors’ Staircase.
Oculus Train Station
This is an odd one. Located between the two 9/11 memorials, I had no clue what this was until we googled it. I mean, once inside, it’s obvious what it is. It’s a shopping plaza combined with the train station. On the outside – what the heck?
Furthermore, I think it’s bizarre and ugly, not out-of-place. It is the most expensive train station globally and, unfortunately, one of the ghastliest. They say it resembles a bird; I think they missed the mark. Although they certainly created something you can’t avoid seeing.
Few New York City Travel Guides have this one on their list! This tour surprised me. In my head, I thought it would be typical here is where scene X was shot, but it was much more. First, who knew that all the scenes except apartment scenes were filmed in actual locations in NYC? The tour starts with a hysterical host setting the tone for a fun afternoon out. Our host was Melissa Stokowski, a super funny gal that had us all in stitches! The tour takes about four hours and includes four get-off stops. Clips of the show are played as you navigate through the different districts of Manhattan. Finish with Cosmo’s at Steve’s bar. I honestly have to say this tour was fantastic, way better than I imagined.
Canal Street (A Pro classic for all New York City Travel Guides)
At the junction of Little Italy and China Town, here is your chance to score a pseudo-Prada – not a Prada! It’s shady for sure but tame. People run out from the corners with flyers for what they have to offer. It’s thrilling. You know, like doing something you know you should not, but you will anyway! If you shop Canal Street for knock-offs, be ready to haggle to about half of what’s being asked. China Town and Little Italy need no explanation; they are precise, as you would imagine. Areas that are authentic to their origins with authentic food!
What trip to NYC would be complete without taking in an icon game at Yankee Stadium? The historical factor should get you even if you are not a fan. I’ve been to loads of stadiums across the states, and none compare to the Yankee’s, old or new. It’s an electric vibe that’s contagious. Sure, it’s packed with feisty Hobokeners, the stuffy-nosed accent of those from the Bronx dropping their R’s, but that’s what makes it unique. Regardless of what seat you buy, all share their love for the Yankees equally and participate.
Many people don’t make it to the Bronx Zoo, but it’s worth checking out, especially if you have time. It is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States and among the largest in the world. It sits on a whopping 265 acres, and you will need at least half a day. This is a full day out if you visit with kids and want to see it all.
This is off the beaten track for anyone wanting city life. It’s the home of the famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Competition and all things cheesy! There is an amusement park here, a boardwalk, and several restaurants. I like visiting Coney Island for a few reasons. 1. The train ride takes you over the Brooklyn Bridge. 2. You ride through several boroughs, offering a glimpse of life outside of Manhattan. Lastly, it’s nostalgic! You don’t need a day for this one, half a day at the most, unless you plan to ride a ton!
Show On or Off-Broadway
There are some Off-Broadway gems to be seen…!
Hop-on-Hop-Off (A classic for all New York City Travel Guides)
Another great option is to catch city highlights.
Even More, New York City Travel Guide Things to Do
Hudson River Cruise: Day or night, with or without dinner, there are unlimited options.
Rockefeller Center: A must if you visit at Christmas because this is where the massive Christmas tree is, along with Ice skating.
Themed Tours: Another option for shows and movies such as Seinfeld, Friends, Godfather, and many others.
5th Avenue Shopping: Need an authentic Prada? Hit the high-end shops here.
Brooklyn Bridge: First, everyone’s heard of or seen pictures of the bridge. Everyone should walk across it or go to the Financial District and get the shot.
Museums: There are several, and the most notable is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Radio City Music Hall: An entertainment venue located at the Rockefeller Center.
Grand Central Station is perhaps the most beautiful of all stations and worth checking out.
The High Line: A 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on Manhattan’s west side. Instead, think of this as the modern-day high-walking park.
Wall Street: Check out the Federal Reserve Building because attractions include the gold vault beneath the Federal Reserve and staring down at the trading floor.
Harlem: Once upon a time, this might not have been on anyone’s list, but this is a rejuvenated neighborhood with tons of shopping! It’s completely safe and rich in history; even more, there are galore brownstones.
Korea Town: Eat your heart out here, 24/7! The food here is spectacular; you can go for Sushi, Korean BBQ, and even Chinese. A must for late-night eating. You can also score some decent purses in this area.
Madison Square Garden: Check out a basketball game or a concert.
Trump Tower: If you must, have at it. After all, the man has built some impressive buildings! It’s at 721 5th Avenue between 56th and 57th Street. It is open to the public from 8 am until 10 pm.
New York City Travel Guide Closing Thoughts:
Everyone should experience NYC at least once. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a cultural slice of America that is as exciting and wonderful as necessary. Above all, it’s the financial hub of America, the city that does not sleep, and it’s the original immigration point that our country’s foundation is built upon. Finally, everyone needs a Prada, authentic or not so real!
Hopefully, this New York City Travel Guide will help you maximize your time in the most vibrant city in the world.
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job without breaking the bank. Nikki is always in search of off-the-beaten-track experiences and unique stays. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles annually and has visited 74 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com or follow along on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.