The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip
The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Getting Around New York City on a Budget
Getting around New York City doesn’t have to break the bank. With a bit of planning and insider knowledge, you can navigate the Big Apple without spending a fortune on transportation.
One of the best budget-friendly ways to explore NYC is by foot. Walking allows you to take in the sights and sounds at your own pace without opening your wallet. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes! Popular neighborhoods like SoHo, Greenwich Village, and the Upper West Side are perfect for leisurely strolls.
When hoofing it isn’t practical, public transportation is your most affordable option. The subway system can get you to any corner of the city for just $2.75 per ride. Purchase a 7-day unlimited MetroCard for $33 if you’ll be hopping on and off trains frequently. The buses cost the same per ride but allow you to see more of the streetscape.
Citi Bike, NYC’s bike share program, is another economical transportation choice. You can pick up a bike at any docking station for just $3.50 per 30-minute trip. Cycling is an energizing way to cover ground and you’ll zip by gridlocked traffic. Grab a helmet and stick to the protected bike lanes whenever possible.
To decrease Uber expenses, try using their POOL option which allows you to share rides with other passengers heading in the same direction. The UberPOOL rates start at just $3.75 plus $0.80 per mile. You’ll save even more money by sharing the ride with friends.
When heading to the outer boroughs from Manhattan, skip the pricey cab ride and take the NYC Ferry instead. The 20-minute trips along the East River and to Governor’s Island cost only $2.75. The ferries have concessions onboard so you can enjoy a beer or snack en route.
Another thrifty transit hack is the free Staten Island Ferry which provides outstanding views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan skyline during its 25-minute sailing. You can simply ride it round-trip without getting off.
Lastly, don’t buy individual tickets for attractions. Passes like the New York CityPASS and Explorer Pass include admission to multiple museums and experiences for one discounted rate. Some also include public transportation. Just be sure to check opening hours in advance since the museums are not all open daily.
What else is in this post?
- The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Getting Around New York City on a Budget
- The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Must-See Museums and Galleries in NYC
- The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Finding the Best Pizza, Bagels, and Delis
- The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Experience NYC's Vibrant Neighborhoods
- The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Central Park, High Line, and Other Green Spaces
- The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Iconic NYC Landmarks and Observation Decks
- The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Day Trips from New York City
The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Must-See Museums and Galleries in NYC
With over 150 museums and galleries scattered across the five boroughs, deciding where to experience New York City’s phenomenal art scene can feel overwhelming. But the Big Apple’s storied museum collections and thought-provoking contemporary exhibits make for some of the most rewarding ways to spend your time here.
While megastars like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA require at least half a day to explore properly, you can check out smaller specialty museums in just an hour or two. For instance, the intimately-sized Noguchi Museum in Long Island City spotlights the innovative sculptures, models, and furnishings of Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi.
Meanwhile, the moving Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown digs into the Chinese American experience. Their exhibits cover everything from 19th century immigration to garment workers and families to Chinese Americans’ involvement in WWII.
For photography buffs, the International Center of Photography in the Lower East Side impresses with its vast collection of contemporary and modern photos. And the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea focuses solely on the art of the Himalayas, with over 3,000 paintings, textiles, and sculptures from Tibet, Nepal, and surrounding regions.
When it comes to modern art, MoMA of course houses an illustrious collection including works by Pollock, Warhol, Picasso, and Van Gogh. For a more intimate modern art experience, check out the lesser-crowded Guggenheim Museum which spirals through seven levels showcasing 20th century masterpieces. The uniquely-designed structure itself is worth a visit.
The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum also present robust modern and contemporary collections with exciting rotating exhibits. And for a breath of fresh air, the open galleries of the SculptureCenter in Long Island City showcase experimental contemporary pieces.
While most of the major art museums cluster in Midtown and Upper East and West sides, venturing to the outer boroughs rewards you with gems like P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City and the massive Brooklyn Museum. Many New Yorkers will argue the finest art lives in Brooklyn these days.
The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Finding the Best Pizza, Bagels, and Delis
It’s no secret that New York City boasts some of the best pizza, bagels, and delicatessen fare in the world. With decades of tradition behind staples like the New York slice and pastrami sandwich, the city’s classic eateries have perfected these dishes into culinary works of art. Digging into piping hot pizza or a stacked deli sandwich stands as a rite of passage for any first-time visitor to the Big Apple.
Of course, with thousands of pizzerias and delis crammed into the five boroughs, finding the truly standout spots takes some sleuthing. You’ll want to avoid the tourist trap restaurants in Times Square dishing out subpar versions of these classics. Instead, head to legendary institutions favored by locals and food critics.
For pizza, Manhattan mainstays like John’s of Bleecker Street, Lombardi’s Pizza (America’s first pizzeria!), and Juliana’s never disappoint. In Brooklyn, Di Fara Pizza and Lucali make pies with meticulously sourced ingredients from family recipes. And for a true old-school experience, try one of the last remaining “slice joints” like Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street. No matter where you go, get ready for that signature charred, floppy, cheese-laden authentic New York slice. Just don’t fold it!
When it comes to bagels, 90-year-old bastions like Ess-a-Bagel and Absolute Bagels serve up the quintessential chewy, hand-rolled specimens boiled then baked to perfection. Try them out along with smoked fish platters and "schmears" of cream cheese and Nova lox. For an upgrade, Black Seed Bagels with locations around Manhattan infuse traditional bagel-making techniques with inventive flavors like wood-fired sesame and poppy.
Pastrami fanatics won’t want to miss deli temples Katz’s Delicatessen (established 1888!) and 2nd Avenue Deli piled high with juicy hot pastrami sandwiches. Go old school by getting your pastrami sandwich pressed and cut in half. Pair it with a Dr. Brown’s cream soda for the quintessential Jewish deli experience. For pastrami with a modern twist, check out Mile End Delicatessen which uses smoked meat techniques from Montreal. Their smoked meat poutine with cheese curds, gravy, and fries proves they aren’t messing around.
The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Experience NYC's Vibrant Neighborhoods
Beyond the bright lights of Times Square and Manhattan’s concrete jungle, New York City’s outer boroughs beckon visitors to slow down and uncover the vibrant communities that define this diverse metropolis. Delve into tight-knit ethnic enclaves, leafy residential streets, and edgy arts districts pulsing with creative energy. Wandering these distinctive neighborhoods opens windows into New York’s rich cultural fabric.
Head to Astoria, Queens for a taste of the Mediterranean. This Greek stronghold oozes seaside charm with its tavernas spilling out onto sidewalks and the tang of grilled octopus drifting through the streets. Locals sip iced coffees at corner cafes while bakery windows brim with golden spanakopita and honeyed baklava. The Museum of the Moving Image immerses you in film history and special exhibits like the Jim Henson retrospective. Just over the Triborough Bridge, the Bronx’s Little Italy transports you to another continent with its old-world green grocers and pasta joints like Mario’s Restaurant dishing up giant plates of linguine and clams.
Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant enchants with its magnificent brownstone-lined streets and abundant African-American heritage. The Weeksville Heritage Center spotlights one of America’s first free black communities, established in 1838. Nearby, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum delights little ones with interactive exhibits. From Bed-Stuy, make your way down to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for knockout views of Lower Manhattan’s iconic skyline.
To experience NYC’s thriving contemporary arts scene, devote an afternoon to gallery hopping in uber-hip Bushwick. This former industrial hood now pulsates with street art, warehouses converted into performance spaces, and lofts housing young artists. Fuel up on cold brew coffees and artisan grilled cheese sandwiches before diving into standout galleries like Signal and Storefront Ten Eyck. Many spaces stay open late for special pop-up events.
Sometimes the most fascinating slices of the city exist within micro-neighborhoods. New Yorkers simply call them their downtowns. For small town vibes, take a stroll in Downtown Flushing, Queens. This pocket-sized Chinatown dazzles with steaming soup dumpling shops, Korean barbecue joints, and Asian grocery stores stocking lychee nuts and live crabs. In Brooklyn, try the indie boutiques and coffee houses of Park Slope or the brownstone beauty of Cobble Hill.
The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Broadway Shows, Comedy Clubs, and Live Music Venues
As the entertainment capital of the world, New York City serves up endless nights of amusement courtesy of its legendary Broadway shows, packed comedy clubs, and rocking live music venues. Some of these Big Apple entertainment institutions have been dazzling crowds since the early 1900s, continuing storied traditions across changing times. Others offer more intimate spaces where budding young talents craft their chops. Whether you’re looking for a glitzy Broadway spectacle or indie dive bar gig, New York’s stages promise electric energy and star-studded entertainment into the wee hours.
For many travelers, watching a Broadway show stands as the ultimate NYC experience. The neon lights of Times Square set the scene as you join thousands of theatergoers piling into historic venues like the Majestic Theatre and Al Hirschfeld Theatre. A handful of powerhouse productions have achieved true icon status including The Lion King, Wicked, Chicago, and Phantom of the Opera – running over decades with no closure in sight. The level of talent on Broadway leaves first-timers dumbstruck, with dramatic sets and costumes transporting you from the busy Manhattan streets into fantastical realms.
Beyond the long-running popular shows, newly debuted productions featuring Hollywood A-listers often generate serious buzz. For instance, 2022 welcomed stars like Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga to Broadway in a revival of Macbeth that became the hottest ticket in town. While paying hundreds for an orchestra seat may make you flinch, more budget-friendly options exist like lotteries, rush tickets, and off-peak performances. Insider tip: download the TodayTix app for discounted last-minute seats.
For belly laughs, make your way to one of NYC’s famed comedy clubs to see the next generation of comics refine their razor-sharp New York wit. Venues like the Comedy Cellar, Carolines on Broadway, and Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea have helped launch legends from Jerry Seinfeld to Dave Chappelle. The Comedy Cellar specifically churns out major talents, with comedians like John Mulaney known to pop in unannounced to test new material in the intimate 115-seat basement venue.
Up-and-coming comics savor opportunities to perform brief sets here alongside established heavy-hitters. The free stand-up shows at East Village dive bar The Lantern also provide a proving ground for new talents. Hecklers not tolerated! Beyond stand-up, sketch comedy thrives at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre which serves as a feeder into late night TV writing gigs.
The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Central Park, High Line, and Other Green Spaces
In the concrete jungle of New York, nothing offers respite from the grinding hustle like the city’s abundant green spaces. Getting lost amid the wooded trails, expansive lawns, and colorful gardens of NYC’s parks provides the perfect antidote to the chaos of Manhattan. Towering trees transport you from the urban grid as the city’s soundtrack fades into birdsong. You’ll find both locals and travelers congregating in these urban oases to picnic, fly kites, jog, or simply sit and contemplate life in the grass.
Of course, no park stands more iconic than Central Park. This 843-acre refuge designed by Frederick Law Olmsted provides an astonishing dose of nature right in the heart of the city. meandering along the park’s curving paths past its ponds, fountains, and grassy meadows never gets old. Take a rowboat out on the Lake or grab a cappuccino by the Bethesda Fountain and you’ll understand why it’s dubbed an urban paradise. Join the joggers circling the 6-mile loop or get lost in the theatrical landscapes of The Ramble woodlands. The park hosts free events like Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in summer.
For a contemporary green space, head south to the wildly popular High Line. This brilliant adaptive reuse project transformed an old elevated rail line into an elevated park snaking through Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. Walking the High Line feels akin to strolling through a forest perched 30 feet up in the air amid highrises. In place of train tracks, a meandering walkway passes through gardens exploding with wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs. Relax on a reclining wooden chaise lounge and watch the city unfold beneath you. The park also displays sculptures and hosts music events.
In Brooklyn, Prospect Park provides a gorgeous natural playground rivaling Central Park in scope. Designed by the same Olmsted who created Central Park, Prospect Park dazzles with forested areas, a 60-acre lake, and rolling green hills. Join locals flying kites at Long Meadow, then take the kids to ride the antique carousel. Nearby Fort Greene Park captivates with its lush tree-lined pathways and monument of George Washington.
For a beach fix without leaving the city, Rockaway Beach in Queens beckons. Take the A train directly to this surfside oasis stretching over 6 miles. The vibrant scene here mixes seaside relaxation with a hip arts vibe. Try your hand at surfing or building sandcastles, then refuel on fish tacos and beer at the organic taco shack Rockaway Taco. Further east at Fort Tilden, chase seagulls across the wilder sandy expanse before hiking old Army roads through maritime forests.
The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Iconic NYC Landmarks and Observation Decks
The quintessential New York City experience remains gazing out at the cityscape from on high, drink in hand, while legendary landmarks gleam through the night below. Visiting an observation deck or rooftop bar perched hundreds of feet up allows you to truly appreciate NYC’s architectural marvels and absorb the electric energy buzzing through the concrete canyons. As Frank Sinatra croons, these breathtaking vistas make you want to be “part of it, New York, New York.”
The Empire State Building, an Art Deco masterpiece dating to 1931, offers views that never cease to amaze from its 86th and 102nd floor observatories. On a clear day, you can see 80 miles beyond Manhattan to Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The panoramas of iconic sites like the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, and the Hudson and East Rivers prove why this stands tall as one of the most photographed buildings on the planet. Getting a bird’s eye perspective of the orderly grid of streets and avenues that looks chaotic at ground level brings New York’s urban design into focus. Go at sunset for a truly mesmerizing experience as the city lights begin flickering on in an endless sea.
For a higher vantage point, ascend to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck on the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center to take in its Art Deco magnificence. Gaze down at the twinkling Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in winter and the buzzing ice rink. Views stretch past Central Park to Yankee Stadium in one direction and across the Hudson to New Jersey in another. The open-air deck stands 850 feet high but feels remarkably intimate compared to larger skyscrapers. Time your visit for golden hour right before sunset when the buildings become awash in dazzling light.
While One World Trade Center offers sky-high views from floors 100-102, the real treasures are hidden 53 stories up. Special access tours take you out onto the elevator catwalk, the interior of the spire, and the base of the building’s soaring mast. These behind-the-scenes spots show you the building’s sheer scale while giving you a nerdy peek into architectural features invisible from below. You’ll gain perspective on how this 21st century Lower Manhattan landmark elegantly reflects light and weather conditions through its crystalline geometry.
The Ultimate New York City Travel Guide: Tips, Itineraries, and Insider Advice to Maximize Your NYC Trip - Day Trips from New York City
Even the most epic New York City trip reaches a point where you need a temporary escape from the urban grind. Lucky for visitors, some of America’s greatest historical sites and natural landscapes lie just beyond the city limits. Venturing out on a day trip allows you to experience the diversity of the surrounding region while avoiding the headaches of a longer getaway. You’ll return to Manhattan rejuvenated and ready to dive back into the Big Apple fray.
History aficionados find paradise just over an hour north in the Hudson River Valley, home to fabled estates and Revolutionary War sites. Tour the sprawling mansionSpringwood, where Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his famous “New Deal” speech. Marvel at the dramatic cliffside vistas along one of America’s most scenic highways. Or stand where Washington crossed the Delaware on that fateful Christmas night in 1776 during the Battle of Trenton.
For a heavy dose of Americana, make the pilgrimage to Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman statue in tribute to Washington Irving’s classic legend. Wander past Gilded Age mansions and lush estates straight out of The Great Gatsby.
Nature lovers yearning for fresh air head two hours north to the Catskill Mountains, dubbed the “playground of the Northeast.” Lace up those hiking boots and choose from over 700 miles of trails traversing lush forests straight out of a Hudson River School painting. Test your nerves tackling the rock scrambles of Slide Mountain, the tallest peak in the Catskills. Spend the night at one of the historic B&Bs or farmhouse lodges in cozy towns like Woodstock, where the famous 1969 music festival captured the free spirited era.
The ocean breeze calls just three hours east in the Hamptons, the legendary playground of New York high society. Stroll pristine beaches like Coopers and Main, then peruse the tony boutiques of Southampton. Luxury rental cars and private jets fill the tarmac at East Hampton Airport during the summer season. For a more relaxed vibe and excellent surfing, head to the village of Montauk at the far eastern tip of Long Island’s South Fork.
No East Coast road trip would be complete without walking the streets of colonial Philadelphia just two hours southwest. Soak in the old-fashioned charm along Elfreth’s Alley, America’s oldest residential street dating to 1702. Visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed. Make sure to grab a famous Philly cheesesteak for the drive home!