From the Statue of Liberty to Radio City Music Hall, New York City’s landmarks are renowned the world over. But the soul of the Big Apple lies in its rich cultural flavor.
Unlike many popular destinations, New York City’s main industry isn’t tourism. Explore the nation’s largest metropolis with a mix of respect and adventure — your next delight is just around the corner.
1. Embrace public transportation.
The most efficient way to see the city is by subway, bus, ferry or train. Most rides cost $2.75 one way, regardless of how far you’re traveling. Just head to a Metropolitan Transportation Authority kiosk, purchase a MetroCard, swipe at a turnstile and hop aboard.
2. Plan routes in advance …
While some subway stations offer Wi-Fi, coverage is spotty throughout the ride and not guaranteed. So it’s best to plot your travels ahead of time. Google Maps is a sturdy aid, as are the MTA’s app and Citymapper.
3. … and pack for the day.
To make the most of your trip, avoid stopping back at your hotel room or rental. Consider packing daily essentials in a backpack, and grab a slice of $2 pizza for lunch if cash is tight. In true New Yorker style, embrace the shade at a nearby park or coffee shop.
4. Stay alert (and don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk).
On the streets of New York, energy swirls from every direction. Keeping your eyes up is key — not only to prevent theft, but also out of courtesy for others. Stepping off the sidewalk could put you directly in the path of a fast-moving biker.
Sometimes New Yorkers get a bad rep for being rude. The reality is that most are quite friendly. But understand that though you’re on vacation, you’ll likely cross paths with someone’s daily commute. Staying mindful ensures everyone is able to travel smoothly.
5. Make time to laugh.
The comedy scene in New York is legendary, and there’s something for every taste. Whether you’re looking for an intimate indie hideout or bright lights and big names, you’ll laugh along with some of the greats at a comedy show in the city.
6. Wear comfortable shoes.
Nothing sabotages a trip faster than blisters and bloody heels. Prioritize comfort over style when visiting the Big Apple, even if it means leaving your fabulous stilettos behind.
7. Explore beyond Times Square.
Think of Times Square as the midway of a state fair: It’s bright, crowded, loud and stuffed with expensive spots. Sure, it’s worthwhile to see — and home to Broadway theaters — but it’s just one note in New York’s glorious symphony.
Ignite your senses in Harlem’s rush of jazz, soul food and street art. Wander through Greenwich Village’s romantic, zig-zagged streets and take a break in Washington Square Park. Soak in the riches of immigrant history at the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum, then head north to admire the art deco magic of Grand Central Terminal and couturiers on the Upper East Side.
And don’t forget about the Upper West Side, Washington Heights, Hell’s Kitchen, the Flatiron District, Union Square, Chelsea, East Village, Little Italy, SoHo, Tribeca, Chinatown and the Financial District.
8. Explore the outer boroughs.
True, you could spend years exploring Manhattan alone. But Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island are add to the city’s overall flavor.
Whether picnicking in Prospect Park or admiring art at MoMA’s PS1, you’ll get a clearer picture of local life by venturing off the island.
What’s a bodega?
Bodegas are corner shops that are part supermarket, part convenience store and wholly neighborhood landmarks. The word bodega comes from a Spanish word that means “warehouse” or “wine cellar.” In the 1940s and ’50s, bodegas were typically operated by Puerto Rican immigrants. Stop in to grab last-minute munchies, snag a bottle of wine or pet a mascot cat.
Home to millions of hardworking people, New York City is transformative, entertaining, inspiring and slightly bewildering for visitors. The key is to plan ahead and stay curious about what each of the city’s dynamic neighborhoods has to offer.