Five Tips for Exploring New York City Like a Pro
Planning a trip to New York City? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Everybody has an opinion about it.
It’s so easy to find New York must-dos and tips out there that it becomes difficult to identify what’s useful. Fear not, as some very good guides are here to help. The Not for Tourist Guide and Gothamist are my favorites. Also worth checking is the See NYC section from New York Mag and the I Love NY travel guide.
2. Don’t be that tourist.
Here’s what not to do, in a nutshell: A) Don’t slow down while walking on the sidewalks. If you want to stop and gaze at the skyscrapers, or look at your map, just remember to stand aside! B) Plan your subway trip. Get your subway map (or app, such as the official MTA Map and Route Planner, iOS and Android) and study how to get from A to B. C) Stand on the right on escalators.
3. Hotels are expensive, but there are some catches.
With 70,000 hotel rooms in New York, there’s no escape. You either get a travel agent to choose it for you or make use of Hipmunk.com and do the research yourself. But book it in advance: occupancy rates in Manhattan last year were as high as 88%!
Remember you don’t have to stay in Manhattan. There are plenty of good deals in Brooklyn or Long Island City, taking no longer than a 20 minute subway ride into the island. Consider boutique-hotels like the Aloft or NU in Downtown Brooklyn or Ravel Hotel, in Long Island City.
If you must stay in Manhattan, one of my favorites spots is the stylish/quirky Hotel 17 – film buffs may recognize it from Woody Allen’s 1993 Manhattan Murder Mystery. A more modern approach, also very affordable, is the POD Hotel.
4. Don’t be afraid of strange, new, unique food.
That coffee place you saw on a movie, that dinner featured on a much-loved comedy, a bar from Sex and the City: not worth it. There’s a lot more to explore. For instance foods trucks are so part of the city life, there’s even a NYC’s Food Truck Finder.
The best thing is to remember that New York helds dozens of different ethnicities and to try flavors you possibly can’t find at home, like Ghanan, Serbian or Colombian. Check this very good list for inspiration.
5. Put on your sneakers.
NY is a walkable city. Accordingly, a Walks of New York team will guide you on foot, whether your interest is the best restaurants in the Lower East Side or an in-depth tour of Statue of Liberty.
You may also try New York on two wheels, especially if you’ll be staying outside of Manhattan. If you’re not sure of using bikes as a way of transport, there are several bike tours in the city to teach you the way of it, like Get Up and Ride and TD Five Boro Bike Tours.