Your Trip to NYC: The Complete Guide

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New York City is a fun city and it's a great place for a vacation. Whether you want to spend a week or just a couple of days, planning your trip is important. Let's explore the best the city has to offer, learn a few travel tips, and find out how to make the most of your visit.

This is a big city and it can be a little overwhelming, but a few travel tips will make sure you have a fun and safe trip. 

First of all, let's begin with the things you should not do while in the city. New Yorkers have a set of unspoken rules and customs that everyone goes by and if you learn these, you're one step ahead of other tourists.

Do yourself a favor and brush up on tipping etiquette. This is a service industry city and you want to make sure to keep everyone happy (without overtipping).

Then, you'll want to get a good travel guide and a map that is actually useful. It's easy to get lost on the busy streets and it's a good idea to be more familiar with the area than what your phone's GPS has to offer. Along with that, there are some important phone numbers that you'll want to have in your phone in case they're needed.

Is New York City safe? It's a question visitors ask all the time and, in general, it is a safe city. However, swindlers and thieves can spot "out of towners" so a little common sense is required. At the same time, you'll find it good to know about alcohol laws in the city so you stay out of trouble.

When to Visit NYC

Not sure when the best time is to visit? New York City is a great destination year round, but each season has its own perks (and disadvantages).

Winter is great for visitors who want to experience the wonders of the holiday season in New York City and don't mind the cold weather. If you can wait, January sees the crowds dwindle. It's a great time to get discounts on travel and other things as well as pick up tickets for Broadway shows that are normally sold out.

Spring is a good choice if you want to enjoy New York City outdoors without the heat of summer, but are willing to pack an umbrella. The city comes alive in spring and it's perfect for walking tours. Events start to get into full swing as well. For example, April is the time for the Tribeca Film Festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival, and opening day for both the Mets and Yankees.

Summer is great if you want to take advantage of free events in New York City, despite the heat. Naturally, it is the busiest season because everyone's out of school and on vacation, but that just means there's more going on. Free summer concerts are one of the highlights and they can really help you stick to your travel budget.

Fall is a favorite time of year in New York City for many people, but deals can be hard to find. September and October are the best because the summer rush is over, but the holidays have not yet begun. It's perfect for walking tours, getting into places quickly, and simply enjoying a venue when it's not at full capacity.

How to Get There

Flying

For international travelers and visitors making short trips from far away, flying into New York City is a great option. We've gathered all the information you need to fly into New York, from helping you to get the best airfare to navigating your way from the airport to Manhattan, regardless of where you start, be it: LGAJFK, or EWR.

Taking the Train

Trains to New York City can be an efficient, stress-free, and affordable way to visit and are available from throughout the United States and Canada. 

Taking the Bus

Buses offer travelers an affordable way to visit New York City. Buses to New York City are particularly convenient for visitors from Washington, DC, Boston, and Philadelphia, as well as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Driving to New York City

Since you probably won't need a car when you get to New York City, parking is quite expensive, and driving can be confusing for the uninitiated, We highly recommend taking one of the commuter trains from Connecticut, New York or New Jersey rather than driving into New York City. If you decide to drive, pay close attention to parking signs, because getting your car out of the pound can be expensive and time-consuming.

Where to Stay

Hotels are easy to find in New York City, finding the right room for you is a different story. Where you stay is going to depend on which borough you prefer and how much you want to spend.

Manhattan is the more popular destination because it's where most of the tourist attractions are. It is also one of the more expensive areas, but there are some good budget-friendly hotels available. Maybe the price isn't an issue, but the location is. If you want to stay somewhere with a view of Central Park, you'll find great hotels to choose from there as well.

You do have other options. Some visitors find that short-term apartment rentals are the best value. This is particularly true if you're staying for three nights or more and may want to cook instead of eating out. For the truly frugal traveler, a hostel is a wise decision and there are quite a few available in the hottest parts of the city.

Getting Around

Public transportation makes getting around New York City easy, fast, and affordable. Sometimes though, it's more convenient or appropriate to take a taxi or car service.

Quite often, you'll find yourself taking a bus or the subway. Before you do, familiarize yourself with the routes by looking at maps and schedules. This will save you time and keep you from getting lost or taking the wrong train. Also, fares can add up, so if you'll be using them a lot, consider getting an MTA MetroCard for a week of unlimited rides.

A taxi is a good option for a group and can actually save money in the long run. The New York City taxi system can be confusing for visitors, so a few tips will help you hail a cab and know what to expect during the ride.

What to Do

New York City offers visitors endless options of things to do, from visiting museums and landmarks to taking guided tours and exploring on your own. There really is no chance to get bored during your stay.

There are some things that you just can't miss on your trip. The Staten Island Ferry, MoMA, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and Times Square are essential for any visitor. Yet, you may want to toss in a few things that the locals prefer. For instance, Top of the Rock's observation deck offers a view that rivals the Empire State Building.

You will also find quite a few free places to visit. Many of the top attractions like Central Park are included in that, but there are some hidden gems you can stop by as well. Plus, be sure to check in with the museums to see when they offer free or "Pay-What-You-Wish" days.

Remember that New York City is surrounded by water and it's not a bad idea to get off the land and see the sights from a boat. A number of companies offer boat tours and cruises around the city and they're a great way to spend an afternoon. 

Because this is the city that has something for everyone, there are a few fun activities available that you probably didn't think of. Want to fly on a trapeze or learn to surf? What about making wine or ride a horse? New York City has it. You can even ​sit in the audience for popular TV shows and the tickets are free (you just have to be patient and determined).

Where to Eat

New York City is filled with fantastic places to eat that will fit into any budget. Whether you want to enjoy outstanding steaks or seafood on an expense account or are looking for the best cheap eats that New York City has to offer, we have a few ideas.

You'll want to begin your busy day with a good breakfast. Whether it's Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side or Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho, there are plenty of tasty options. You can eat lunch at a top restaurant by taking advantage of prix fixe specials. Of course, you can go all-out and enjoy dinner at the most expensive restaurants in the city.

Yet, you really can't leave New York without partaking in the local specialties. That includes finding a good bagel joint, munching a signature New York-style pizza, and enjoying the charm of an authentic deli.

Tea rooms are also popular in the city and you'll find quite a few to relax at in the afternoon. Chinatown is always a hit and while you're there, be sure to stop by one of its great restaurants. When in Times Square, you can be easily lured in by one of the chains, but you can get that at home. Instead, try out one of the great eateries in the area.

If you're a romantic getaway, there are many restaurants for you to choose from. There are even some​ restaurants that are more kid-friendly than others which are perfect for the family vacation.