Planning to travel to New York? Here are 10 Insider tips that not everyone might tell you before visiting the Big Apple.
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Whenever anyone asks me what they should see in New York, I’m almost always stumped for an answer. I mean besides telling the obvious things, how can I sum up my answer? There are so many things that you can do in New York City that if I start talking, I wouldn’t know when to stop.
There are a million things that you can do in the city. After all, it’s the city that never sleeps. But there are also a few things that you should absolutely know before visiting New York.
Here are a few things that not everyone might tell you before you visit the city –
1. Nothing beats Free
You can do a ton of activities for Free in the City. Here are just a few things that you can do without spending a dime –
Catch a Free Ferry to Watch Lady Liberty
The Staten Island Ferry is a Free commuter ferry that travels back and forth from the Whitehall Terminal at the tip of Manhattan to the St. George Terminal on Staten Island. You can catch a stunning view of the city as well as the Statue of Liberty while on the Ferry.
This is a great alternative especially if you do not wish to buy tickets and go to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty.
You can go to Museums for Free on certain days
Here is a list of museums where you can pay what you wish for or that are free on certain days.
Apart from this, popular places like Central Park, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, taking a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge & the Highline are all free activities.
2. Buy Tickets Online
If you’re planning to go up the Rockefeller center, Empire State Building, catch a Broadway show or pose with your favorite stars in Madame Tussauds, you will need to get tickets. The most practical approach is to buy your tickets online as the crowds can be overwhelming and you can save time by not having to stand in line every time.
3. You don’t need a car to roam around the City
Like most big cities, New York also has a lot of traffic and taking a car to get to different locations will only slow you down (& can also frustrate you)
True story – I’ve been in situations when a distance that should actually take you just 5-7 minutes to go, has taken 20-25 minutes just because of the insane traffic! Which brings me to my next point –
4. Public Transit is King
When you think of New York, you might vision yourself hailing a yellow cab. After all, that’s what we have seen in many movies. But New York traffic can really leave you exhausted; not to mention the cab fare can add up and get expensive in the long run.
Subway is your best bet and the 7 Day Metro Pass card will give you the best bang for your buck. And sometimes, Uber and Lyft are better options since most of the time, they are cheaper than regular cabs.
5. Subway can be confusing
Speaking of traveling by Subway, be prepared to spend a little time figuring out which train goes where. Although I have traveled by Subway several times, it can still be confusing for me.
Figuring out local and express trains, downtown and uptown can take some time.
Carrying a Map or downloading the NY Subway app on your phone can be really helpful.
6. Parking can be tricky
If you absolutely need to rent a car, keep in mind that parking can be tricky. New York is pretty strict with its laws.
Once we parked in a parking zone for a mere 15 minutes, not realizing that they had a Work in Progress sign somewhere on the road. When we got back, we saw a ticket for a whopping $180! Of course, this has happened only once with us (Thank God) but what I’m trying to say is, check parking signs carefully.
Tip: There are many free apps that can tell you where you can get the nearest parking garage and the cost associated with it. Parking Panda is one of my favorite ones. You can even reserve a parking spot with it.
If you are going out for a significant amount of time, Parking Garages is a safe choice. It’s worth the money and will save you from a potential headache.
7. The City View from Brooklyn Bridge is something that you should not miss
Many people who are on a tight schedule do not go to Brooklyn and only roam in Manhattan (rookie mistake). Not only does Brooklyn have a ton of amazing food options, you can also catch a splendid view of the City while you take a stroll on the bridge.
It’s true that the view from atop the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Center is beautiful but it does come with a cost. So why miss this when it’s completely free?
8. If you’re on a Budget, consider staying outside Manhattan.
New York is definitely not cheap; and travel, accommodation, food and other things can make your trip quite expensive.
If you’re on a tight budget and do not want to shell out money on expensive hotels, consider staying in cities like Hoboken, Jersey City or Union City. Especially if you are traveling from Newark Airport.
These cities although in New Jersey, are a mere 15-20 minutes away from New York City (the Path Train or the NJTransit Bus has amazing frequency) Plus you’ll get to see the breathtaking NYC Skyline from New Jersey as well.
9. You will have to Walk. A LOT.
Trust me when I say this – wear your most comfortable shoes while doing sightseeing. Touring different places can tire your feet out and while you won’t realize it when you are actually on your feet, you will definitely feel it by the end of the day.
Also if you are traveling with kids or with elders, take regular breaks so that they don’t get exhausted.
10. You will get to experience Diverse Cultures
One of the best parts about New York City is that it’s a melting pot of cultures. You will come across people from all over the world in the city in a very short span of time and by the end of your trip leave you wanting for more.
So tell me, what are your tips to visiting New York City?
More Resources that you might enjoy –
- What Not to Pack for Your Next Vacation
- 7 Tips for Traveling on a Budget
- How To Travel Like a Pro with GPSmyCity App