New York City is my favorite city in the world. I can’t get enough of it and I always find new places I didn’t know about before – this city never gets old!
New York offers you many interesting activities and interesting things to see and do, as well as delicious and special food and desserts!
I actually have a post up on my blog about the 13 attractions you must visit in Manhattan, Check it out here! And, if you are visiting New York soon, I also have a completed guide on how to celebrate Halloween in the city!
Now, there are many things not all tourists know before their visit in this beautiful city, and find out only after visiting. So, I’m here to clean the mess, and tell you all the things you need to know before visiting New York City.
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1. When Should You Visit New York?
Honestly, New York is pretty all year around. But, winter time in the city that never sleep, can get very cold and snowy.
If you want great sunny weather, New York during the summer is perfect (May-August).
But, if you are dreaming of an American holidays vibes vacation, these are the best times to visit the city:
1. Halloween – Mid-end of October. Celebrate fall, and Halloween of course in the big apple! Check here a full guide to Halloween in New York.
2. Black Friday – This includes Thanksgiving as well. Visiting New York in the end of November is perfect if you want to have a full Thanksgiving celebration + Black Friday extreme experience! I have a completed guide to shopping in the US here!
3. Christmas – I don’t think there is a prettier city in the world during Christmas. New York is fully decorated, in the prettiest way possible! walking around the city during Christmas is an attraction by itself. So, definitely visit New York during December, even though it is VERY COLD (totally worth freezing).
2. Best Areas To Stay At In New York
If you want the full vibes and experience of “living” in New York, I highly recommend staying at Manhattan. There are amazing hotels in the city, and not all of them costs as much as selling your house to stay one night in a hotel.
I recommend staying in the mid-town area, it’s right in the middle, and I feel like it’s the best way to feel the “New Yorkers life”. If it isn’t your first time in the city, try spicing things up and maybe consider staying in Brooklyn.
3. The New York City Pass
You all probably know how I love saving money while traveling when ever and where I can. An attraction pass is one of the biggest money savers you can get in your trip, and especially if you are visiting New York.
New York City is a pretty expensive place. And let’s not start talking about the attractions/sightseeing places prices – too expensive!
But, the New York City Pass makes the whole thing much affordable and cheaper. And if that’s not enough, it’s also a huge TIME SAVER.
What is an attraction pass?
An attraction pass is a card for which you pay a certain amount of money, and you get access to a variety of attractions in the city of your choice. The best part is that the price you paid for the ticket is much cheaper than buying an entrance ticket for each attraction separately. This card is such a money saver during the trip and I really recommend buying one for your next trip.
What is the New York Pass?
This is a prepaid sightseeing card that saves you SO MUCH TIME and SO MUCH MONEY. This pass can save you up to 70%, when buying this pass instead of tickets to each attraction.
I highly recommend buying the pass online, to save extra money off the retail price. Also, buying the pass in advance is a great time saver. Click here to purchase your attractions pass!
What The New York Pass Includes:
❤️ You’ll save up to 70% when buying the pass instead of buying tickets to each attraction.
❤️ 100 New York’s attractions to choose from
❤️ Unlimited amount of attractions to visit everyday!
The pass is valid for up to 10 days
How Does It Work ?
1. Choose which pass duration you would like to purchasw (1,2,3,5,7 or 10 days). Click here to purchase youe New York Pass for a discount price!
2. Download your mobile pass using the New York Pass App. Or, you can opt for delivery (they have an international delivery system) or collect it when arriving at New York.
* You can activate your pass at anytime within 12 month from the date of purchase.
4. Using The Subway
New York’s Subway can get pretty tricky if you live in a place that dosen’t have a subway system (like me) or if you just don’t tend to use it and are affraid of getting lost.
First of all, I’ll say that getting lost (but not completely lost, with a cellphone and WiFi) in a new place is one of the best things that can happen to you (more on that later).
Now, I live in Israel, and according to 2019, we don’t have a subway/metro system. So when I visit New York, everytime it takes me a few days to remember how it works and how not to get lost 😉
Don’t be affraid to use the subway, it is the cheapest way to get around the city, and it is the best way to explore the city like a local.
5. Don’t Rent A Car In New York City!
The number one rule to visiting Manhattan is NO CARS. The traffic in the city is so bad! and let’s not start talking about the parking situation in the city!
So, do yourself a favor, and keep your car at home/don’t rent a car in New York.
6. Go Shopping In New Jersey!
Usually when I tell this to people they are suprised, so I guess that not everyone thinks about it, but New York is sooooo expensive! taxes are so high, and it sucks going on a big shopping trip in the city.
So, my number #1 tip to you, is to go shopping in New York’s neighbor – New Jersey!
New Jersey has many great malls, with low taxes and great prices.
My two favorite malls, that I 100% love and will keep loving forever:
7. Explore Manhattan During The Dark
You can’t visit New York without exploring it by night. This is the city of lights!
The first place you must visit in dark is TIMES SQUARE. The most lighted place in the city, one of the prettiest squares in the world, and if you can’t visit New York without exploring it by night, you definitely can’t visit New York without seeing Times Square at night!
8. Don’t Skip Brooklyn!
Even though Manhattan is so beautiful, and there is so much to see and do in it, you can’t skip Brooklyn. Besides the beautiful view of Manhattan you can see from the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn is pretty and interesting as well.
9. Visit The Empire State Building At Night
Wow, the view of the city in night, seeing it from above, is prettier than words can explane.
The Empire State Building opening hours: 8:00-2:00 a.m.!
10. Ordering Sightseeing Entery Tickets In Advance
New York is an expensive busy city. Besides the expensive costs of sightseeing enterys, you don’t want to waste your time in the city and wait in long lines for each attraction.
So, that’s why I always recommend purchasing entery tickets in advance, and online.
11. Watch A Broadway Show!
You can’t visit New York without watching a Broadway show! this is one of the things you can’t leave New York without doing.
Get discount tickets here:
12. New York’s Free Museums/Pay What You Wish
There are some great museums in New York City. But, what you probably (maybe) didn’t know, that a lot of them offers free enterys on specific days, or pay as you wish tickets, some museums are always free even.
So, I wrote this mini book, that contains a list of 18 free/pay as you wish museums in NYC!
13. Don’t Try To See Everything In One Trip
This tip depends on the amount of days that you are staying in the city.
But before I’ll explane I’ll jump to the end – you always find new things to do and see in New York City, this city never gets old. Even after staying in New York for 2 weeks, 5 times for every vacation, I still find new things in the city that I didn’t know about.
So, the point is, don’t try to see everything in one trip, try to make the most out of your trip, but you should know from the beginning of the trip that you won’t be able to see EVERYTHING in the city.
And that’s totally find, New York isn’t going anywhere 😉
14. Seperate Your Visit To The Metropolitan Museum
The Metropolitan Museum is one of the best museums in the world. It has so many artworks, from all over the world!
If you are an art lover, you have to visit this museum.
But, besides this museum being amazing and the fact that you have to visit it – you should also plan your visit, and if it is important to you to see EVERYTHING in this museum, I recommend seperating your visit to the museum, because you can’t see everything in one day.
From what I know, your museum’s tickets are valid for 2 days, so you can seperate your visit into 2 days and see everything (if you wish so).
More To Read:
15. Enjoy The Subway
We’ve talked earlier about the subway, but there is one more thing I would like to say about the Subway.
I’ve heard from some people that they are scared to use the Subway. If it’s about saftey reasons, all of the people that are using the Subway as well, or even the fear of getting lost in the city with the Subway.
So, honestly, I love the Subway. I’ve never had a bad experience in it! I love seeing all the people, living their lives, rushing home or late to work. There are also great performers in the train or in the Subway area I like to watch.
Using the Subway just gives you a local’s point of view, feeling the real city, the locals.
So, don’t be afraid! there are guides and workers at the Subway stations, and you just need to be careful for your own good. Also, getting lost with the Subway dosen’t need to be scary, look at it as an adventure.
16. Don’t Miss New York’s Rooftops!
If you are 21 or older, you can’t miss New York’s rooftops!
Besides the goot vibes, the drinks, the people and the music – usually there are amazing views of the city from these rooftops!
17. Avoid Tourists Traps
When I talk about tourists traps, I mostly talk about the people standing in the streets and offering you multiple deals to many attractions/places around the city.
You can find better deals online, these people are just offering you expensive tickets, or convincing you to buy stuff you don’t really need.
18. Prepare Your Self For A Lot Of Walking
I always say that the best way to explore a new destination is by walking A LOT. It might not be the easiest, but it is definitely worth it.
But, in New York City it is very hard to walk all of it. It’s even impossible! but, I still highly recommend trying to walk around how much you can.
It is the best way to explore the city, and is also the cheapest way.
19. Don’t Use Taxis/Uber In Manhattan
Taxis or Ubers are a waste of time and money in New York City.
The traffic in the city is so bad, that you would just find yourself stuck in traffic and paying too much for the drive.
Also, taxis aren’t the cheapest in New York, so save your money and use the Subway/walk/take a tour bus – just choose 😉
20. Don’t Miss A Break In Central Park
Central park is one of New York’s biggest highlights. I love this place!
I don’t think there is a person on this planet that dosen’t know this, but central park is located right in the middle of Manhattan. And with it being located in the middle of Manhattan, it is such a quiet, relaxing place to take a break from the noise of the city.
Also, there are many attractions to do in Central Park:
1. Bike tour – You can’t visit Central Park without going on a guided/self-guided bike tour around the park. Rent yourself a bike and bike around the park! Also, you can join a group guided bike tour.
When renting the bike you also recieve a helmet, a map, a lock and a little basket. You could rent the bike from multiple spots around Manhattan, or in Central Park at the columbus circle and streets 57-59, you’ll see their a bunch of bike renting companies – just pick one 😉
Great tip – buy your bike rental tickets online. It saves you all of the running around looking for different renting companies, comparing the prices between them and all of that annoying stuff. Buy your online tickets here for cheaper !
The group guided bike tours offers you three different roads:
– A general road that reaches the most beautiful and photoganic spots at the park. This way you could be sure to reach all of the prettiest spots in the park and also you will hear interesting facts and stories at every stop.
– A road that explores all of the different architecture sites, bridges, classic building and the history behind them. If you are a architecture, arts and history lover – this road is definitely for you !
– A road following TV shows and movies that were filmed at Central Park (Spiderman, When Harry Met Sally, Sex In The City, etc). If you are film lover, you can’t miss it !
2. Have a picnic – Having a picnic at the park, or just relaxing and taking a break from the big and busy city, is a great idea that you will 100% enjoy !
It is so magical and relaxing taking a break from the city and sitting and enjoying yourself in such a peaceful and quite park that is literally located in the middle of the city, and you can’t even feel it !
You could buy some fruits, or buy a milkshake or some coffee and just sit down, eat what you want, drink, and just enjoy yourself at this beautiful park.
3. Rent a boat or a gondola – if you are looking for something romantic to do with your partner, or even if you are looking for an attraction that is not so usual with your mom or friend, renting a boat at Central Park is a great idea !
At the Loeb Boathouse Central Park you could rent a boat for 15$ an hour ! you could paddle to the middle of the lake, stop the boat and just relax and enjoy the clear water, the weather, the nature around you and the the view of the buildings of this busy city above the trees. It is a beautiful view, trust me.
Also, you could rent a gondola, just like in Venice, Italy, but in the middle of Manhattan ! the gondola is 45$ for an hour.
21. There is a park you can legally have a drink in
So apparently you are allowed to have a drink in. It’s called Bryant Park, and I mostly like and recommend it during the holidays season.
Like you can see in the picture below, there is a big Christmas market during November-December.
The market has some nice offers, delicious food, great music, amazing vibes and even an ice skating area (and let’s not forget about the huge Christmas tree).
But, beyond the holidays, it is a lovely regular park during the rest of the year. And, like I’ve said, apparently you can have a drink in it (if you are 21 or older obviously).
So, take a break from the busy city and enjoy yourself!
22. Don’t Visit Little Italy
Little Italy is near China Town. Well, even though I had higher expectations to China Town, Little Italy just honestly sucked.
Little Italy is no longer what it used to be. There is only a few restaurants, and a few men standing outside these restaurants and talking Italian. That is the biggest Italian vibes you’ll get from New York’s “Little Italy”.
So, the point is, that unless you are in the area and hungry, don’t waste your time and go all the way especially to see Little Italy, because honestly, there isn’t much Italy to see 🙂
23. Give Respect At The 9/11 Memorial
The 9/11 Memorial is one of America’s most sensetive places. It is heartbreaking what happend back then.
So, while you are visiting the 9/11 Memorial, give all the respect this memorial diserves (which is 100%). Don’t take stupid selfies, or act like an exciting tourist, because this isn’t an exciting place.
The 9/11 Memorial is one of the prettiest, peaceful places in New York. I highly recommend visiting.
24. Get Lost In The City!
Here is a little story: my aunt moved to New York two years ago. Since then, I’ve been visiting her once a year. So, let’s do the math – I’ve visited her twice in the past two years.
In these two visits, I got lost in the city twice 🙂 The first time I got lost in the 5th avenue area, and that was amazing! I saw the Rock Feller Center fully decorated for Christmas, walked my way in the 5th avenue and explored it’s lovely stores.
The second time (last year), I got lost in the Subway! and that my friends, was also a cool experience!
Because I lost my way and got confused with the Subway’s directions, I explored the Bronx, the Harlem, and some parts of Manhattan I didn’t know.
Well, these were great adventures! so, I love getting lost in a city (when I have a cellphone and internet on my phone. So, do yourself a favor and get lost in New York City!
25. Don’t Stop Walking When Walking In A Busy Area
Like I’ve said earlier, New York is a busy city. And even though 40% of the people you see outside are tourists, the other 60% of the people you see are busy people that are living in the city and are late for work.
And if there is something New Yorker’s hate, are tourists stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures and making the i’m-late-to-work walk harder.
So, don’t annoy the locals, and just keep walking! 😉
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