Sunday, May 20, 2012
10 Things You Should Know About Visiting New York City
Click here to order bus tour passes!
The Good: This is one of the biggest cities on Earth . . .
The Bad: . . . that’s not always the best thing.
The Basics: An amazing place to visit, New York City is a lot of fun when you can afford to do it right!
What could I possibly write about New York City that hasn’t been written before? The truth is, there are books – full, huge, small text, pages packed in every way books – written on New York City and with almost thousands of reviews of New York City online, I figured my review should do something both different for me and from them. So, this is intended to be a very basic guide to New York City and what sets it apart from every other city in the world. I am foregoing my usual structure for Travel reviews and focusing very much on the essentials because, frankly, if you’re planning a trip to New York City and you don’t know where in the world it is, you’re pretty much out of luck already!
As such, here are Ten Things Every Traveler Should Know When Visiting New York City!
10. Bring money. New York City is a massive city and there are a ton of things to do. Most of them cost money. In fact, virtually all of them cost money and the experience of being poor in New York City is not as romantic as it might sound. It’s every bit as depressing as seeing about seven million people eating when you can’t afford a hot dog. Not cool. New York City is a very expensive city and what most people forget to tell you is that it costs money to get into the city via car! The bridges and tunnels from New Jersey and Upstate New York cost money (last time I visited $6 - $8 per), probably because New Jersey figures people leaving it will never return and they want your money if that’s the case. While many travel guides say don’t bring cash, I highly recommend having cash on you. At least one hundred dollars. Just be smart about where you put it on you.
With all of the dining, shopping, museum, entertainment options in New York City, it is hard to get around the City for less than $100 per day, so plan accordingly. New York City eats money up exceptionally quickly.
9. Go in winter. Seriously. If you hate crowds, go in the winter. It is easier to get around the City and the whole place doesn’t smell. In the summer, it smells in many places and the people are much more agitated. The only thing one misses out on by going to New York City in the winter is Central Park and, frankly, Central Park is beautiful in the winter, too.
8. Lodge outside the City, if you can. New York City hotels are almost never less than $200 a night. It takes a real bargain hunter to find good lodging details on the island (did I mention, New York City is an island?) and what might seem like a good price might not take into account the stifling hotel tax rates (over 15% at the time I wrote this). There are plenty of good places right outside the City which are far more affordable, like the Quality Inn & Suites Maspeth and the Comfort Inn Edgewater. If you have reliable transportation, stay outside New York City and drive in each day, park (it’ll cost you) and walk around.
7. Getting around New York City is every bit the pain in the butt you’ve heard it is: don’t drive more than you have to! I have a pretty hard and fast rule: I don’t drive in New York City any time between the hours of 5 A.M. and 9 P.M. If you try, you’ll meet a lot of car traffic. Even taking a taxi around is ridiculous (and expensive). The last three visits I took to New York City, I bent my own rule and after waiting ridiculous amounts of time in traffic (the things I’ll do for a movie preview!), I parked as quickly as I could at a lot and hoofed it the rest of the way. Running through New York City is one of the fastest ways to get around.
Hint: If visiting New York City, arrive in the City as early in the day as possible and stay late. Most garages have “Early Bird Specials” and when I took my partner to the City last year for her birthday, we took advantage of these and parking was only $10/day (I had budgeted $50!).
6. Take in a show. It took me years to actually do this, but theater is alive and well in New York City and you might as well check it out. I’ve seen The Phantom Of The Opera and Spamalot and I know now, I’ll see more. If you don’t think you like theater, there’s no better city in the world (except, maybe, London, from what I hear) to see it in than New York City.
5. Try some local (international) cuisine. Almost every time I’ve gone to New York City, I’ve eaten at Chipotle Grill or Dunkin' Donuts because they are familiar. Three trips ago, I discovered the Europa Café chain, which is basically like Panera Bread in the City. The last trip, I actually went to the Hard Rock Cafe! After that, there was nothing I wouldn’t try. My partner and I went to a little Japanese restaurant and we went to a wonderful Thai restaurant called Room Service. The food in New York City is amazing and it’s from all over the world.
4. Go to historic or cultural places. New York City is full of them. In fact, some places in New York City that I’ve reviewed are:
American Museum Of Natural History
Museum Of Modern Art
Lincoln Center For the Performing Arts
The City is full of cultural and historical landmarks and visitors will find plenty to do. I, however, tend to recommend walk arounds of the big tourist traps. Why? The Statue of Liberty is cool to see. The view from the top of it is not terribly extraordinary or even very different from what one gets from a good ferry ride out to Staten Island. Most of the buildings are tall and impressive, but they’re just buildings.
3. Watch your shopping in New York City. Prices and sales tax are ridiculous. Most everything you can buy in New York City is not unique to there and can be found less expensive elsewhere (like the internet). For some, it might be a badge of honor to go shopping in New York City, for the thrifty shopper, it seldom is.
2. Manhattan is exceptionally easy to get around. Yes, I know what I said. But if you’re on foot, Manhattan is basically twelve main avenues which crisscross the island with numbered streets. Getting around is as easy as figuring out where you are, knowing where you want to go and turning in the right direction (the sun doesn’t lie!). Within two blocks in any direction, one ought to be able to figure out if they are headed where they want to go. Most of New York City is laid out in a grid-pattern with numbered streets that follow very regular intervals (i.e. if you’re on 42nd Street now, you make a right onto Broadway, the next cross street will be either 41st Street or 43rd Street).
1. Bring a camera. Gawk. You’re in New York City, one of the largest cities in the world, not just the United States. You’ve seen it on television or heard about it, but nothing can prepare you for most of the sights; you just have to experience them.
For other cities, please check out my reviews of:
For other travel reviews, please visit my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the travel reviews I have written.
© 2012, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
Click here to order a New York City pass!