Top Apps for Exploring New York City

Times Square at sunset
Brigitte Blättler / Getty Images

There is no shortage of things to do in New York City, such as visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art or strolling through the crowds under the neon lights of Times Square. But to feel like an insider while visiting the Big Apple, you'll want to check out new restaurants and bars and know how to navigate the subway stations.

The following list of smartphone apps ​includes many that have come recommended by residents of the city or those who work there.

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Getting Around

Queensboro Plaza, New York

Artem Vorobiev / Getty Images

Locals will tell you that getting around New York City is easy because it is a grid. While that is true, it can still be hard to orient yourself. For general walking around, the Google Maps app works fine, just make sure to change the route from driving to a pedestrian if you're walking. It's also very reliable for finding the quickest public transportation options to get from place to place. 

Some apps offer very detailed information about the public transportation system in New YorkKickmap makes a 24-7 subway map, with details about morning and evening train routes, nearest subway stops, train times, and transit alerts.

Another local favorite is Exit Strategy, which provides the same features as Kickmap. But it also informs users which side the train doors will open, which can be helpful if you've never been to a particular subway stop before. It also works underground without an Internet connection, a frequent problem when using smartphone apps in New York City subways. 

If you need to catch a cab, there is Cabsense, which helps pinpoint the best locations for hailing a taxi. Uber and Lyft are also extremely popular in New York.

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Eleven Madison Park Dining Room

 Eleven Madison Park

When it comes to food and drinks, New York City offers everything a traveler could want. There are Michelin-starred restaurants as well as world-famous pizza joints.

The best food-finding apps, such as Zomato and Yelp, are put to good use in New York. Open Table is useful for securing reservations, and NoWait tells you how long the wait will be at various restaurants (a must for those who hate long lines).

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The Flatiron district in the evening

Artem Vorobiev / Getty Images

There's a lot more to shopping in New York than the famous 5th Avenue. There are discount shopping apps and social buying sites geared towards New York City.

In addition to these apps, consider downloading Gilt City and setting your home city to New York City for details on upcoming sales and mobile-only deals on shopping in New York City.

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Aerial view of New York City with Statue of Liberty at sunset
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Culture Now, which is now available for 70 U.S. cities, was developed initially for New York City as a way to explore public art, and architecture via detailed itineraries, podcasts, and maps.

Many of New York City's top attractions have their own apps, too. Some good ones to download include the Central Park app, the MoMA app, and the Explorer app for the American Museum of Natural History.

For self-guided tours of the city, download the Urban Wonderer app.

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Labor Day Parade in NYC

IBEW Local 3

Time Out New York has long been a go-to for events listings. The New Yorker's Goings On app, available on iPhone and Android, is best for travelers looking for cultural events with context.

If Broadway shows are your thing, the TKTS app from the Theatre Development Fund, has real-time information on all Broadway and Off-Broadway productions.