New York City Travel Tips

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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.

New York City the perfect winter vacation for families in the USA

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.

New York City Travel Tips

Walk the city of New York

Saks 5th avenue window displays Things to do in New York at Christmas

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

Ice skating Wollman Rink Central Park New York at Christmas

It doesn’t get much better than a stroll around arguably the famous city park in the world.

From the lovely lakes, pavilions, 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

riding the subway New York City
Go down!

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

Don’t forget the New York City pass, which saves you money on your admission to six of New York’s most popular attractions. Click here for more information. 

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!

Mariellen WardHotel 17 is a great inexpensive hotel on 17th street;

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

Jade Broadus…here’s our tips on getting the cheapest tickets: Broadway Shows & New York Theatre For Less

Photo Opps

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?

Plan Your Trip in New York City

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Do You have any New York City travel tips?

43 thoughts on “New York City Travel Tips”

  1. Wow, perfect timing! I’m headed up to NYC this weekend and always looking for new ideas since I’ve done most of the touristy stuff. These tips are great, especially the dining ones since picking restaurants can be so overwhelming there! I never thought to check out a gospel choir – that sounds really interesting.

  2. Excellent tips all around! As often as I’ve been to NYC and as much as I love pizza, I’ve never tried the ones on the list. Can’t wait to try them and other places listed. Thanks for including my tip, too.

  3. I LOVED New York! We went there over the Christmas and New Year period as well. We had the best time ever!
    There are some great tips here that’s for sure. One to add, the Natural History Museum is a must-and you can spend all day there. Also, you don’t have to pay the full price-that is only a suggested amount-you can pay whatever donation you see fit to enter the museum. So if you are on a budget (as New York is so expensive!) This is a great little money saver!
    Also, head to Chelsea Markets if you love food. Great restaurants/cafes as well as nice food markets in an old warehouse.

  4. Thanks, for the tips. New York has so much to do and some much to see. Thank you for the shout out from Facebook. Jackson Heights, NY has a lot great cheap Latin & Indian food. Next tiem if you stop by NYC again. I’ll send you some place I like to eat at. :). If you come during the summer, check out this little island called Fire Island (Need to drive). But it’s beautiful beach.

  5. So many awesome tips – great idea to compile tips from different people! This is coming at the right time for us, as we’re in the middle of planning a trip to NYC this summer – we can’t wait to go back and explore more of this terrific city!! We’ll check out some of the tips above for sure! Bookmarked 😉

  6. Really nice list. I grew up outside of the city and have been in the crowd in time square and let me tell you it is not something I willing to do again. Partying some else is a much better choice. I was there even before the alcohol ban went down. It was still cold and no place to pee.

  7. There is so much to do in New York City! You really should visit in the spring! Its beautiful. I guess you can’t really go wrong when you visit New York! Next time you travel this way you should check out Family In New York! They specialize in custom private New York Sightseeing tour! They can, with your input, plan a tour to meet your needs and interests! That way you don’t miss out on the best of New York!

  8. If you like photography, citifari offers photo tours of new york. Along with explanations, they have selected shots of the landmark monuments packed into a 2-1/2h tour.

  9. I love your blog. You have some really good tips. I have studied for 5 months in New York 2 years ago. Since than I am crazy about that city. Now I live in Barcelona. I still write travel tips about NYC a lot. I even made Restaurant guide for New York so that tourists or students know where to eat good food. It is called http://www.feedmenewyork.com/
    Anyway, great blog.

    1. Can you send the Restaurant guide that you did for students? This link doesn’t take me there. We are traveling with 11 students in December and are looking to find the best places to eat. Thanks,

  10. Really interesting read. I love New York, it is a unique place on earth. There is nowhere that has the same energy and allure that New York has. It is so busy but you can equally feel yourself feeling at home here. One of my favourite worldwide destinationsand definately my favourite of the big world cities.

  11. Empire State building – the last ride up. Go late, JUST BEFORE 2am. You’ll have it to yourself – no lines. We went in March once and there was SNOW on the top. Beautiful. Then when you get back down, check out some Street Meat for late night munchies. <3 LOVE LOVE LOVE NYC! Brooklyn is pretty rad to hang out in as well.

  12. The Cloisters! at the top of Manhattan is a great park and the Cloisters! It belongs to the Met so your Met ticket will get you into the Cloisters on the same day too. This is a great museum everyone misses when they go to New York (http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/visit-the-cloisters/) . There’s also some great alternative tours as well, like the chocolate tour: http://www.sweetwalks.com/, or photo safaris: http://newyorkcityphotosafari.com or gangster tour: http://nycmobtour.com/

  13. Great tips! Next time you visit NYC you need to check out Family In New York. They specialize in custom private New York tours. They can customize a tour for you that can include all of the typical New York sights but that can also take you off the beaten path! They also offer layover tours, transportation, accessible tours…and the list goes on! Totally worth checking out!

  14. Being in New York is a dream! There are just so many things you can appreciate in New York, big shopping malls, great museums, best hotels and parks, theaters, art galleries and more. I have been in the business of car rental company in New York (Arrow Transportation) and the clients I have had on tours say it was an adventure and a memory to cherish for sure.

  15. Another option for tours are self-guided tours that you download to your smartphone. I tried some when I visited the city recently. If you search the Apple App Store you’ll find lots of companies and options, but the tours I liked the best are from Racontours.com. The biggest advantages: cost (a lot cheaper than hiring a private guide), flexibility (start when you want and go at your own pace), and a rich multi-media experience (tons of pictures, videos, trivia, etc).

    Enjoy New York!

  16. There is no other city like New York. The energy and constant hustle of the The Big Apple is almost contagious. I’ve lived within 30 minutes of NYC my entire life and grown extremely fond of its unique architecture, style and sense of itself. The White Horse Tavern (Cash Only, kind of a bummer) is a Greenwich Village must visit and an iconic haunt of several literary legends. Ulysses down on Water St by battery park is an Irish Pub style trendy bar with an excellent outdoor patio during the warmer months. St Patrick Cathedral has always awed me. I’ve spent countless hours staring off at the epic stained glass and distinctive architecture. The best pizza in the world also resides here.

  17. There are so many must-see attractions in New York City. There are several guided city tours that allow you to visit the top attractions in New York City as a package.

  18. We have been to NYC a handful of times, and the most memorable moment for me was the helicopter ride over Manhattan. We went with Zip Aviation and it was all very safe and affordable. The pilot was extremely funny, and we couldn’t believe the value we got for our money. We saved a ton of money seeing all the sights in 30 minutes rather than hustling around town in a cab. That left us more time to watch shows and eat:)

  19. And I thought I was excited about my trip to NYC before I read this blog. You have some truly terrific information and suggestions here. Thanks for taking the time to write it!

  20. New York is a perfect place for a destination Last time I visited there with my friends, colleagues and enjoyed a lot .Hope I will be there by next month and also remember these beautiful tips.

  21. Michael Leedy

    Great post… lot’s of value here!

    Another thing I love to do over the the holiday season is to take a trip to Bergdorf Goodmans to look at their holiday windows!! Bar none… they are THE MOST SPECTACULAR windows every single year and a MUST SEE for anyone visiting our city 🙂

    Located at 754 5th Ave between 57th & 58th streets

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