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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Hathaway

Own the City: 25 NYC Travel Tips to Survive and Thrive in the City

Updated: Apr 27

A view of the NYC skyline

Yellow cabs whizzing by, the smell of pretzels in the air, the Empire State Building towering above – there's no place quite like NYC. This dazzling city packs in world-class restaurants, Broadway lights, and more hustle and bustle than you can imagine. No wonder seeing its iconic sights is high on so many bucket lists! We're huge NYC fans and travel there often, so we've picked up some insider tips along the way. Ready to make your NYC trip as unforgettable as the city itself? Here are 15 ideas to get you started...

Navigating the City Like a Local

  1. Embrace public transit: Public transit can be intimidating, but ditch the walking fatigue with the subway. Use Google Maps for directions, but download a PDF map from the MTA for backup.

  2. Don't Block the Flow:  Hustle with the crowd! Avoid stopping abruptly and keep groups to single file on the sidewalk. If you do have to stop just move to the side! New Yorkers will not hesitate to tell you to move.

  3. Skip the Airport Taxi: Save money and stress! Opt for public transit, a pre-booked private transfer, or an Uber or Lyft instead of pricey cabs.

  4. Set Sail with the Ferry:  Enjoy scenic views and a unique way to get around on ferries like the Staten Island Ferry – some are even free!

  5. Seek Out Restrooms: Public restrooms are scarce. Use them when you find them, even if you don't need to go urgently, and remember businesses often require a purchase.

Hidden Gems & Free Activities

  1. Picnic in the Park:  NYC has no shortage of parks. Explore iconic Central Park or the elevated High Line. Pack snacks, people-watch, and soak up the greenery.

  2. Museum Mania:  NYC is a museum mecca! Find free admission days or "pay-what-you-wish" options to save some cash.

  3. Window Shopping Wonderland:  Stroll 5th Avenue and admire luxurious window displays – a free peek into high-end fashion.

  4. Festival Fever:  From food to flowers, NYC always has a festival happening. Seek out one that matches your interests!

  5. Seasonal Delights:  Free summer movies, dazzling winter lights – there's magic in NYC year-round. Embrace the season's unique offerings.

Dining Dos & Don'ts

  • Rethink Refills: Skip the free refill mindset – drinks in NYC will cost you each time. Sip slowly and savor the flavor!

  • Ditch the Chains: Avoid the familiar (and overpriced) chain restaurants. Discover NYC's incredible local food scene for a true taste of the city.

  • Street Eats for the win: Embrace NYC's iconic street food! From halal carts and hot dog stands to those irresistible caramelized nuts, a delicious and affordable adventure awaits.

  • Happy Hour Hopping: Take advantage of happy hour deals! Find spots for discounted food and drinks, and make it a fun afternoon outing.

  • Tour the World: Explore Chinatown, Little Italy, Koreatown, and more for a world of flavors! Step outside your comfort zone and discover new favorites.

Preparing Like a Pro

  1. Comfortable Shoes: You'll be walking a LOT in NYC. Prioritize comfort over style with broken-in shoes – your feet will thank you!

  2. Embrace the Layers: NYC weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers to easily adjust to temperature changes.

  3. Make a Plan: With so much to see and do, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Create a list of your "must-dos" to make the most of your trip. You don't want to miss a thing!!

  4. Be Ready for Rain: Don't get caught unprepared in a downpour! Pack a raincoat or umbrella – those sold on street corners are pricey and flimsy.

  5. Cover the Feet: Cute sandals might seem tempting, but your feet will get grimy and dirty on the busy city streets. Opt for closed-toe shoes for a more comfortable experience. I promise end-of-the-night you will be grateful.

Beyond the Tourist Traps

  1. Explore the Boroughs: Venture beyond Manhattan! Each NYC borough (Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) offers unique cafes, art scenes, and hidden gems.

  2. Times Square Tactics: Be wary of scams in Times Square. Avoid taking photos with costumed characters unless you're willing to pay, and politely decline anything handed to you by promoters. It may seem rude, but I promise you can find better deals elsewhere.

  3. Escape the Crowds: Research peak times for popular attractions like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Visiting during off-peak hours makes for a more enjoyable experience.

  4. Discount Broadway Tickets: Score amazing deals on Broadway shows by waiting in line at a TKTS booth. While you won't know which shows will be available in advance, it's perfect if you're flexible!

  5. Find the Local Haunts: Seek out recommendations for restaurants, shops, and entertainment from hotel staff or friendly locals – you might discover gems the internet overlooks!

These tips are just the start of your amazing NYC journey. Remember, sometimes the best moments are discovered when you ditch the guidebook and just wander. Be open to the unexpected, say 'yes' to new experiences, and let the city's infectious energy carry you along on a trip you'll never forget.

Ready to start planning your own NYC trip? We are here to help! Click the button below to schedule your FREE discovery call today.


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