A Newbie’s Guide to New York City
I have dreamed about visiting New York City my entire life and I finally had the chance to see what the Big Apple is all about. NYC is truly an experience that features architecture, history, diversity, dining, and more. My best piece of advice is, plan ahead. Time moves fast in the big city and it’s best to have a general itinerary to keep you on track!
What to Pack
Before heading to NYC, I invested in new athletic shoes, and boy am I glad I did. I averaged walking about 11 miles per day during my vacation. Between strolling through neighborhoods to visiting large museums, you’re feet will be thankful to have comfy shoes. Check the weather prior to arrival, Winter/Spring bring wind and snow, while Summer/Fall is hot and humid.
Ride the Subway
Grab a map of the subway routes to start mapping out your days through the city. Purchase a Subway MetroCard to save time and money. You can purchase a 7-day Unlimited Pass for around $32.00. Newbie’s Tip: the 7-day Unlimited Pass is valid for local bus rides as well. Riding the subway is intimidating but once you get the hang of it, you are good to go.
Budget Friendly Tip
Treat yourself to an NYC City Pass, it is an amazing bargain. With the city pass, you’ll gain access to six major attractions for only $132 per adult. The first three attractions include The Empire State Building, The American Museum of Natural History, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. For the remaining three attractions, you get to choose between the following:
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck or The Guggenheim Museum
- Ferry Access to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island or a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum or The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Now that we’ve got the city pass covered, put on your comfy shoes and let’s hit the town!
For my first attraction, I chose the ferry ride to see the Statue of Liberty, as the ferry rounds the bay, you’ll feel like you just stepped into a movie. Seeing Lady Liberty in person is incredible! She overlooks NYC in all of her glory.
Next on my list, was the American Museum of Natural History. Give yourself a few hours to explore all of the exhibits. I enjoyed seeing each character from the blockbuster movie, Night at the Museum. Be sure to snap a picture with the infamous Dum Dum. Daily tours are available and they also have a great app to guide you through the museum.
By this time I’m sure you’ll be pretty hungry. Luckily, there are street food vendors on every corner. Grab an NYC staple like a slice of pizza or a hot dog with your choice of toppings.
Opt for a quiet afternoon by visiting Central Park. The park is the perfect place for a long walk, reading a book, or watching intramural sports. Newbie’s Tip: Navigate your way to the hidden Belvedere Castle for a special view.
Wake up bright and early, head over to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. This memorial is beautifully designed and represents a pivotal moment in United States history. Be respectful of the visitors in this area who are paying respects to lost loved ones. After the outdoor memorial, visit the 9/11 Museum. The museum features an array of artifacts and memorabilia. This attraction is very touching and a must-see.
For the art aficionado in your group, make your way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was blown away by the collection. Give yourself a good four hours to explore. I suggest picking up a map and selecting a few exhibits to see. Saying this attraction is “huge” is an understatement, there are many exhibits on display year round.
For a breath of fresh air take a walk around China Town and Little Italy. You will find great shops for reasonably priced souvenirs and snacks. It’s amazing to see all of the different cultures throughout the city.
Next, visit City Hall Park and walk across the elevated pedestrian walkway along the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge alone is a beautiful work of architecture. The views from the bridge create perfect backdrops for photo ops.
As for a fun nightlife attraction, visit the unique, coffee shop by day, speakeasy by night Patent Pending. This fun bar features delicious handcrafted cocktails and an intimate setting. The bar’s theme pays homage to Nikola Tesla, a former tenant of the building. Newbie’s Tip: Approach the café door after 5 pm and wait until you are buzzed in for a table.
This quick guide only scratches the surface of what NYC has to offer. Be sure to plan ahead and pick out a few top attractions to plan your trip. If it’s your first time visiting NYC don’t shy away from popular attractions like Time’s Square, The Empire State Building, and The Chrysler Building. You will be blown away by the buzzing energy of one of the biggest cities in the world!
Know Before You Go
- Opt for walking tours instead of bus tours if you want to eliminate the issue of traffic – just make sure to pack comfortable shoes!
- If you bring your own ice skates, Bryant Park allows you to ice skate for free in the winter.
- The Bronx Zoo is pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays.
- Utilize the New York Subway to travel like a local – it’s also a great way to avoid traffic!