Looking to dance all night in the city that never sleeps? Wanting to visit but on a budget? Traveling with kids? No matter how you want to explore New York City, this comprehensive travel guide has everything you need to know.
An Introduction to New York City
New York City, also known as the Big Apple, is among the most fascinating places in the world. Its population of over eight million comprises people from all over the world and makes it the most populous city in the U.S. There are almost 800 different languages spoken in the city, with about 70 percent of its residents speaking English. Often described as the city that never sleeps, New York is the undeclared financial capital of the world. The World Trade Center and the United Nations headquarters are located here. The official currency is the American dollar.
Top 3 Things to See and Do in New York City
The City of New York hosts some of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. Many of its iconic buildings and business centers like Times Square and Wall Street are world-famous. Sightseeing options in the city range from walking and bike tours to bus, boat, and helicopter tours.
Times Square, often called “The Crossroads of the World,” is a major entertainment center in NYC. Lined with shops, restaurants, and bright billboards, it’s one of the city’s busiest pedestrian areas. With about 50 million visitors a year, it also has the honor of being one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.
The Statue of Liberty is another global landmark in New York. It’s a huge monument on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor. The magnificent statue of the Roman goddess Libertas holding a torch in her hand is symbolic of freedom and the United States itself. Though no tickets are required to visit the Statue of Liberty, the only way to get there is through a ferry, which would cost you between $20-$25.
A visit to NYC is incomplete without seeing the Empire State Building. This 102-story skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan houses observatories, exhibits, shops, and restaurants, among other things. The observatories at the 86th and 102nd floors give spectacular 360-degree views of New York City. A standard pass for top and main decks, at 102nd and 86th floors, costs $54 for adults, $47 for children, and $51 for seniors.
Top Free Things to Do in New York City
Most of the popular attractions in New York City have an entry fee, and visiting a lot of them can put a serious dent in your wallet. So it’s a good idea to include some free attractions in your itinerary.
Central Park in Manhattan is one such destination. It’s a huge urban park with lakes, fountains, sports fields, walking and jogging paths, a zoo, theaters, a carousel, and much more, and it’s a popular location for shooting movies. Other beautiful parks that are free to visit include the 25-acre Battery Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the linear High Line Park.
Bronx Museum of the Arts is a great place for art lovers. It houses a collection of over 800 pieces from artists of different cultural backgrounds.
Top Things to Do in NYC with Kids
If you are visiting the city with kids and family, consider buying a tourist pass that gives you access to multiple attractions at a discounted price.
Let your children discover tech secrets through video games and animated movies at Sony Wonder Technology Lab. Interesting exhibits and workshops at Children’s Museum of Manhattan are also a great way to entertain and educate kids. Admission fee is $14 for children and adults and $11 for seniors. Children below 12 months are allowed in free. Stargazing and exploring the history of the universe at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History will be fun for the whole family. At the New York Hall of Science, children can learn about sound, light, math, physics, and astronomy.
Eating and Drinking
The food culture in New York City is as varied as its immigrants. The city offers every imaginable type of cuisine. There are restaurants, coffee houses, and mobile food vendors almost everywhere.
A number of rooftop restaurants and sidewalk cafés serve outdoor brunch. Santina, Llama Inn, and Quality Eats are some good places to try out. New York is also known for its cocktails. Many famous cocktails, such as the Martini, Manhattan, Penicillin and Pickleback, were invented in the New York bars.
Visit Katz’s Delicatessen, a famous Jewish deli, or Nathan’s Famous or Feltman’s Kitchen for the best hot dogs. For ice cream, head to Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream, Ample Hills Creamery, or OddFellows Ice Cream Co.
Nightlife and Entertainment
With plenty of dance bars and night clubs to hang out at, the nightlife scene in New York City is colorful and electrifying. You can catch live music at Bowery Ballroom, Irving Plaza, and Music Hall of Williamsburg. If you want to dance and get wild, check out House of Yes, Good Room, or Bembe. New York City also has some popular gay bars, like Drag Brunch and Lunes Picantes.
There are various ways to get around the city. The New York City subway, an extensive metro network, connects more than 400 rail stations in the city. A well-developed commuter rail system connects New York with its suburbs. Ferries are available to travel from Manhattan to other parts of the city.
Riding public buses is a good way to get an overview of the city. HOHO, or the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, is also great for general “cityseeing.” Taking a taxi, of course, remains the most convenient means but is not necessarily the fastest. If you rent a car in New York City, be aware that parking in Manhattan can cost as much as $40 a day.
New York is also a pedestrian-friendly city. You can explore Manhattan and all the other boroughs on foot.
New York City has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold and damp, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Spring and fall are usually mild, while summers can be really hot.
When to Go
Climate-wise, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit New York City, but it’s really a year-round destination because there’s always something going on. Some of the most famous events are the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration and the U.S. Open tennis tournament in August and September. Whenever you plan to visit, don’t forget to take hotel prices and availability into account.Search for Cheap Flights to NYC
Flying to New York
Most domestic and international cities have cheap flights to New York City, and there are three major airports serving the metropolitan area. JFK International Airport is the busiest and most popular one, with eight terminals. LaGuardia Airport is the smallest and mostly handles domestic flights. Newark Liberty International Airport is actually located in New Jersey but is just 15 miles from Manhattan.