One of our great traveling memories was spending Christmas in New York City back in 2003.
In total we spent 10 days in New York over the Christmas and New Years period and we had an amazing time. Our New York City travel tips are based on that trip, plus, we’ve also gathered some great tips from our facebook community for travel in New York.
Traveling to New York in the middle of winter was challenging. We are not cold weather people. But we had so much fun exploring everything on offer, and we came to realize there really is no other city quite like the Big Apple.
The New York City vibe is hard to find elsewhere.
It’s an energy that hits you in the face even when you’re just getting out of a taxi, or emerging from the subway.
Below our our tips for travel in NYC, and our facebook fans:
Walk the city of New York
The best way to experience New York City is by foot.
That way you get to explore at your own pace, you can discover hidden gems along the way, and you can buy a cup of coffee and a donut from the street corner vendors and continue on your way.
Walking around NY is made easy by the fact that it’s flat, it’s well laid out and easy to navigate.
We highly recommend a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
This famous landmark has a pedestrian walkway and it offers amazing views back to Manhattan. It can be appreciated both at daylight, and especially in the nighttime with the city lights lit up. And watching the sunset on Manhattan from the Brooklyn side is a great site.
Central Park, NYC is a must
It doesn’t get much better than a stroll around arguably the famous city park in the world.
From the lovely lakes, pavillions, monuments, horse drawn carriages, and squirrels at play, a walk around this park is a great relief from the hustle and bustle that is New York.
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to finally live the life you had always seen in the movies?
This is how we found ourselves on Christmas morning in 2004; ice-skating in Central Park, with the New York City skyline in front of us, jingle bells playing in the background, and Santa zooming right past as we scrambled to keep our legs upright.
Walk from east to west and north to south
Explore the quaint bars of Greenwich Village, the buzzing excitement of Times Square, the hip areas of Soho and Tribeca.
We also walked the famous boutique stores along Broadway and Fifth Avenue, not for shopping of any kind, but to spend 5 minutes smothering our body in warmth so we could continue seeing more of New York.
Although it did feel good to dream that one day we would return, just as Julia Roberts did in Pretty Woman, and go on a shopping spree!
Other walking destinations include Wall Street, Little Italy, and of course Chinatown. There really is no other way to see this city.
New Years Eve in New York with a local
Spending 6 hours standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of thousands of other crazy people freezing their asses off with nowhere to buy a drink and nowhere to pee, didn’t sound like our kind of fun.
So when the invitation arrived to attend a locals New Years Eve bash in an apartment over looking the Statue of Liberty, we jumped on it.
Now we had warmth, yummy food, our own music, an unlimited supply of alcohol, somewhere to pee, and the added bonus of a roof top terrace to watch the fireworks display over the Statue of Liberty.
Maybe it’s on your bucket list to see the ball drop in Times Square, and maybe we will someday too, but if an option becomes available party with a local, seriously consider it.
Take the New York City Subway
Ride the subway to Harlem and check out a local Gospel choir in Harlem. The people watching on the subway is very interesting, and the gospel choir was amazing. Get there early as tourists tend to line up to get a seat.
Tips from our Facebook Fans
Cafes and Coffee in New York City:
Connie Hum…MUDD coffee! There’s a cafe in East Village but also the MUDD trucks in Astor Place and Greenwich. The chai lattes are to die for!
Jade Broadus…best coffee ever. at Joe Heart of Coffee. several locations.
Karina Grosheva…Best coffee shop is upper west side – on Amsterdam avenue – across the… biggest cathedral in the world ( after Rome) St. John Divine. so you can combine visiting both. Name Hungarian coffee shop. + Nespresso in Soho.
New York City Pizza:
Giulia Cimarosti…Best pizza in Manhattan, IMHO (Italian style): Luzzo in the East Village, or Emporio in Tribeca… yummy
Hannah DeMilta….Lombardi’s in Little Italy is v. good (and pretty well known).
Connie Hum…NOTHING beats Artichoke. Though Bleeker Street Pizza is a close second. Seriously!
Karina Grosheva…Best pizza place – New york is the best for pizzas (people from other state come for pizza) One of the coolest places is “Bella Vita” right on the corner of times square.
Marianne Schwab…I lived in NYC for 8 years! Best Pizza is at Freddy & Pepe’s on Columbus Avenue Upper West Side.
Other places to eat in New York City:
Hannah DeMilta…Have a pastrami sandwich @ Katz’s Delicatessen. Mmmm 🙂 http://www.katzdeli.com
ToursByLocals.com…Found a great southern friend chicken and BBQ place up in Harlem “Charles Country Fried Chicken” I think it was called – awesome v. local place.
Mariellen Ward…I loved eating at Bhojan’s in the Little India on Lexington – authentic Gujurati thalis, yummy
Downtown Traveler…I’d recommend spending as little time in Times Square as possible 😉 If you are in the area, dine at the restaurants on 9th Ave instead of the chains.
Aaron Heflich Shapiro…Everyone has their own favorite bagel place but in my humble opinion, the best bagels in NYC can be found at Absolute Bagels on 108th Street and Broadway. Blows H&H (the really famous ones) out of the water!
Sarah Wu…Explore Queens (Tons of cheap eats)
Catherine Tran…Schnippers. Best burger in the world. Across from Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Karina Grosheva…try dining in Hoboken. is known for being place with the biggest number of bars on sq kilometer. Eat in the french district in upper east side (70th-80th): bunch of nice french restaurants.
Kellie June… For the best cookies ever: Levain Bakery 74th street and Amsterdam. For amazing hummus: The Hummus Place 74th street and Amsterdam. For the best frozen hot chocolate: Serendipity. For great Italian food: Azalea 5 1st street and between Broadway and 8th avenue
Vicki Edmunds…we have members in New York willing to meet up or cook you a meal check them out on www.eatwithalocal.com
Places to stay in New York City:
Catherine Tran…Stay: Boutiques Hostel. Cheap and clean on 42nd st!
For more places to stay in New York City click here
Shopping in New York City
Catherine Tran…Shop: Broad Street in Soho. Thrift stores in Brooklyn!
Vicki Edmunds…When I was in New York I shopped in the consignment shops, thrift shops had numerous bargains, top named designers.
New York Broadway Tickets
Marianne Schwab…Best Photo Op? Top of the 30 ROCK looking toward the Empire State Building
Karina Grosheva...Best views and nice walks: long island city view and Hoboken view. Central park is not only where apple store is. Walk to Belvedere castle. Take the walk across from west to east. Take a picture on the little bridge on the north side. Walk towards reservoir and botanic gardens.
Other Travel Tips for New York City
Marianne Schwab…don’t miss the Double Decker tours and I went on a Movie Location Tour when I was back on biz last May.
Catherine Tran…See: All the museums. eg Museum of Sex, MoCCA (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art).
Catherine Sweeney…Take the aerial tram at 59th Street over to Roosevelt Island in the East River — residential area with parks and gorgeous view of Manhattan.
Stephanie Boyle…Go to Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side for live music that is always excellent and suitably large glasses of lovely red wine.
Aaron Heflich Shapiro…I tell everyone who comes to NYC that they must ride the Staten Island Ferry…it’s free, runs 24 hours, and offers stunning views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty without having to wait in that awful line to to go Liberty Island.
Kellie June…For free ice skating: Bryant Park
Karina Grosheva…Must do federal reserve tour, tours in St Patrick cathedral, Carnegie hall music concert,Bronx zoo, little Italy.Take a free ferry to Staten island and pass by statue of liberty ( no need to do any other tour).
Visit Yankee stadium in Bronx. Take an hour trip to Coney Island. Ocean is very beautiful and you can also swim summer time on Brighton and Manhattan beaches. You go to nice beach – which is on long island (LIRR) -Jones beach.
Laurence N…My tip (which I actually employ for most cities with a suitable large building) is to get up the Empire State building as early as possible. Looking down on a city from high up is a great way to get your bearings for your future meanderings.
Oh, and it’s worth going up it twice, as the night time view is just as good!
Need more New York tips?
- City Guide – Things to Do in New York City
- Taste New York’s history through a walking food tour
- 11 ways to enjoy a New York summer
Plan Your Trip in New York City
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Do You have any New York City travel tips?