New York is a city made up of countless layers just waiting to be unraveled. No two streets are the same, and even its people are a boiling pot of personalities from all around the world. There’s so much more to the city than just sprawling skyscrapers and blinding neon lights, and you’ll constantly find yourself on your toes due to there being so much to do and explore. To really appreciate NYC, you have to navigate with care while opening yourself up to the big and small wonders of the Big Apple.
Keep these Exploring New York City tips in mind to make the most of your stay.
Choose which season to visit in
Many people say that Christmas in New York is unparalleled. But in truth, it all depends on which side of the city you want to witness it because each season is definitely a different experience. If you’re not big on snow, spring is just as magical. On the other hand, if you’re looking to save money and aren’t too keen on tourist crowds, consider visiting during the quieter months of January to early March.
Understand how to get to and from the airport
The two main airports are LaGuardia and JFK International Airport. But be warned: they can be chaotic. It’s best to plan your travel to and from the airport in advance. Peak hours can cost you an additional 30-45 minutes because of the traffic, and the last thing you want is to miss your flight. The cheapest way is still public transportation, but if you’re looking for maximum convenience, consider hotels that are close by, such as the Radisson Hotel JFK Airport.
Learn how to get around
In NYC, it can be overwhelming to be surrounded by towering structures and hordes of people making their way around. But getting around the city isn’t as hard as you think since it is set up like a grid. All horizontal streets are numbered, with the first numbers starting at the bottom of Manhattan. Besides the obvious Google Maps, NYC Go suggests arming yourself with apps like Bus Bus NYC and Exit Strategy to aid you in your journey.
Don’t block the sidewalk
The city is fast-paced by nature, so don’t disrupt its flow by stopping suddenly in the middle of the sidewalk. If you’re figuring out directions, step to the side so you don’t cause a blockage. The same etiquette applies to escalators and stairs, so make sure you keep yourself in check: right side for taking it slow and left for the fast lane.
Be mindful of subway etiquette
Taxis are very expensive and the traffic will only slow you down. The locals’ main mode of transportation is the subway, but the fastest way to annoy New Yorkers is blocking the entrances or turnstiles. You’ll notice how everyone seems to be in a rush — and they are. So keep to yourself and always have your Metrocard ready to swipe instead of fumbling at the gates.
Explore alternative hot spots
There’s more to New York than what you see on postcards and TV. The Brooklyn Bridge, for example, tends to be extremely crammed with people to the point where you can hardly move. Though not as glamorous, the nearby Pulaski Bridge offers a skyline view that’s just as great and is worth visiting. Do your research and you’ll find that there are many more alternative options like these.
Moreover, it’s important that you understand that each neighborhood offers its own distinct charm. If you’re looking for a taste of upscale metropolitan life, Manhattan is your best bet. Here, you can find the famed Central Park and bask in the posh architecture. To get an idea of how plush it is, Yoreevo estimates that the average price for a home here is $2,000,000. Indeed, it’s New York living at its finest. But if you’re looking for something with a more artistic rugged appeal, then you’ll enjoy Brooklyn for its innovative galleries, boutique shops, and artisan cafés. For a bit more heritage, the Financial District downtown will give you historic sites like the 9/11 Memorial and Statue of Liberty. It all depends on what you want to see and do.
Look for cheap Broadway tickets
Of course, what’s New York without seeing a Broadway show? Unfortunately, it’s easy to get turned off by the expensive ticket prices, but there’s a way to skirt around it. According to a guide on the NY Times, discounted tickets are everywhere, and the internet can help you find the best deals. Just be careful not to get ripped off.