5 Tips for Your First Trip to NYC
New York City is the Mecca of city-lovers around the world and has been for many years. It is a beacon of fashion, drama, nightlife, fame, and fortune, and it can be a bit overwhelming for the newcomer. But, it is a must-see for those who enjoy a bit of the hustle-bustle of city life. Not only is it incredibly varied and interesting, but it is also full of history and stunning architecture. But, the point of this article is to teach you how to enter New York City with confidence and strength, just like a local. You’ll need it.
Cities are filled with a different kind of people. It’s those who walk with determination and purpose. They moved to the city for a reason, and so they move and live with that kind of an energy. They don’t have time to wander about; they don’t have time to help people find their way around. And, they don’t take any crap from anybody. New York is no exception. This city is like the stern mother who wants her kids to grow up and think for themselves. So, keep these tips in mind when planning your New York trip and blend right in. Look just like you’re a born-and-bred New Yorker, but also get the most out of the city.
Tip 1: New York, New York! Start with NYC’s Hot Spot!
Becoming a New York tourist is like a tourist’s best dream. It is one of the largest and most recognized cities in the world. It’s certainly top of the list for people to travel to. New York tourism can be tricky though. As mentioned above, it’s a bit overwhelming. There is so much to do and to see, but it’s important as a New York City tourist, to know where to begin. Times Square is the place to start. Once you arrive in the city, via train or plane or car, head to this point. This is the hub of the city, but it’s only necessary to stay for all of 10 minutes. It’s inspiring, it’s incredible, but it’s busy as heck, and if you’re not one for crowds, then take your pictures, feel the vibe, and get out of there.
Feel the energy at Times Square in the heart of NYC
After Times Square, head out of the center of town and go towards West Village. West Village is a must for New York City tourists. It has a long and varied history in the area of music and literature. Lots of artistic greats came out of this section of the city. There are very popular restaurants, bars, and other hangouts. There are also wonderful bookstores and NYC hot spots where famous people dined, drank, or entertained. It may not always be the obvious point, but it’s certainly one of the richest and most interesting parts of the city. Be prepared–it can get a bit expensive there.
You could also perhaps begin in another world famous spot in New York City: The Empire State Building. Head to the top of this iconic New York City structure. Admission is cheap, and you get 360 degree views of this beautiful city.
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Catch the view from atop the Empire State Building
Tip 2: Learn How to Get Around with Hectic NYC Transportation
Public transportation is the lifeblood of a lot of cities around the world, and New York is the same. No one can watch a movie featuring the Big Apple without seeing a slew of yellow taxi cabs meandering in and out of the city’s complicated streets.
Hail a cab like a pro in the busy streets of New York
If you want to wave down a New York cab, you’ve got to be confident. If it’s raining, it will be a bit tougher, but you really need to make yourself seen in order to get a taxi. Good thing for tourists that taxi cabs are plentiful in this city! Drivers won’t know addresses, but they will definitely know cross streets. So, figure out where you want to go and that location’s cross streets, and you’ll be on your way! (For example, you want to go to 50th and Broadway).
But, Uber is also a great option, and a great way to get around a new city without much effort. And experiencing the New York Subway system will be an adventure in and of itself. This is where you’ll see the heart of the working class, hurrying to and fro, speeding to be on their way. There is a NYC transit app on the app store. Download that before your trip, and it will provide you with real time updates of subway trains and bus lines. And, you can get group deals on the Subway tickets if you’re heading into the city with a few friends. This could be a cheaper option albeit a bit more complicated to sort out.
When traveling, especially if you’re new to the US, be cautious about where you go and what places you spend time in. Large cities like New York always have their dangerous spots, so that’s why it might be smart to stick with cabs and Uber because they’ll only take you where you want to go. But, if you use a normal yellow cab, be sure to tip about 10% of the total bill! Your driver will appreciate it.
Tip 3: Go Only to the Best Coffee Shops in New York (and Bars)
New York Coffee Culture
Coffee runs through New York City‘s veins, and when you go for a visit, you want to taste only the best. Goodbye Starbucks; hello, locally known, deep, dark, delicious, coffee. Why not hit two birds with one stone? Coffee is a daily need, and alcohol is a vacation must, so after West Village, head over to Union Square which is approximately in the area of 14th street and 5th (taxi drivers will know). There is a large park there with a lovely little spot called The Coffee Shop. There you can eat, have great coffee, and even have a few beers or whiskeys while watching the passersby.
New York Nightlife
If you happen to be there for a few days, then don’t forget to check out a bit of NYC nightlife! New York at night is a thing to marvel at and worth however long the journey takes to get there. That skyline is almost movie-like. But, you want to catch the vibe of fun New York bars, so here are a few options to check out. The Meatpacking District is near the Hudson River and around 14th street. This is a great “24-hour” area of restaurants and bars, and it is a very popular New York spot with locals. Stone Street is also a hot spot for bars and nightlife and is also quite quaint! It’s an area near Wall Street (85th Street), and it has cobblestone streets. It has a great vibe and perfect for that New York night out. For specific bars, you can check out The Tippler. It is a speakeasy type place, and it’s located near the Meatpacking District.
Another similar place is a bar called Bathtub Gin, close to The Tippler. The Tippler is a bit more tavern-like, and Bathtub Gin is for a classier, flashier night out. Lastly, check out The Standard Biergarten, pictured below, which is also not too far from the other two bars above. It’s more casual but nice. All of these bars are in an area of the city called Chelsea. This is the place to be for a good and buzzing vibe for meals or drinks.
Check out all the best bars and cafes in the city!
Tip 4: Get Yourself Some New York Pizza
Ok, so now we know that taxis, coffee, and good nightlife are all part of the New York City personality, but let’s not forget the pizza. People always talk about Ray’s Pizza, which has numerous chains in the city, and it’s been said, that all of them or at least many of them fight for position as the number one pizza spot. Why not take advice from a true blue New Yorker? For great pizza and just downright good Italian food, go to:
Obica Mozzarella Bar which is a real deal Italian restaurant.
Or for another option, you can go to ABC kitchen, which can be a bit expensive, but it has an elegant vibe and serves great pizza and other food made with organic ingredients.
*Side note: In the US, it is obligatory to tip, and it is good manners to tip well. A 15-20% tip for the waiter or waitress is acceptable.
Don’t forget to try some of the best Italian food in NYC, especially the pizza!
Tip 5: Why Not Take Just a Few NYC Tours?
General New York City Tour Options
Ok, so we’ve talked all about acting like a New Yorker and getting the authentic New York experience while seeing only the best spots, but at the end of the day, we’re just tourists dropping by to get the most out of a city. So, why not take just a few New York city tours? These ones are extra special and will give you a perspective of the city that you won’t want to miss.
For one, relax and enjoy a high-class helicopter tour of the city! You have the chance to see of all the good stuff (including the famous Statue of Liberty), without the hassle of crowds, dirty streets, and public transportation. (Plus, there’s the added bonus of not having to bump into any cranky New Yorkers).
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With this tour, you get a luxurious and unique view of the New York City hot spots: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. You can choose between lengths of 12 to 20 to 30 minutes. This is the classier way to tour NYC, and you could place it at the beginning of your New York City trip or end it.
Another excellent option for the “down and dirty” tourists is to just get a New York City Explorer Pass. This is an incredibly priced pass card to the city. It will include discounts on NYC hotspots such as admission into the Empire State Building and Yankee Stadium. A Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour with a guide will also be a part of this great tour deal! The pass lasts for 30 days, so if you’re staying a little bit longer, you can continue to use it! This could be your key to NYC, and you can book one beforehand!
Book Your New York City Explorer Pass
See the best sights of the city on a guided tour
And lastly, this is a place a tourist simply must see: the MET, or Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is one of the most popular New York sites, and it’s a cheap way to experience famous beautiful artwork from around the world and from a range of time periods. Spend a lovely afternoon enjoying the museum. Book your tickets ahead of time to avoid any busy days.
Marvel at the works of art in the world famous MET
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New York City has a fascinating past, an exhilarating present, and a bright future. It is the home to all kinds of people: the working class, the rich and famous, the poets, the musicians, and the authors. It is known worldwide for its Times Square, Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn Bridge. You almost can’t go anywhere without someone saying, “I wish I could go to New York City.” So, take pride, tourist, that you had the opportunity to go to this bright and shiny city. Enjoy it, experience it, and go home with just a little bit of that NYC buzz inside of you.