New York is one of my favourite cities in the world. I’ve been twice and each time I’ve been left wanting more. We went on a family trip last August and spent seven amazing days sightseeing and eating.
I shared plenty of content across my social platforms while we were there, which you can check out here. There is so much to see and do in the city, so I thought I would create a mini-series on things to do and see and my favourite places to eat.This week I thought I’d share my 7 top tips, if you’re planning a trip to the city.
TRAVEL BY SUBWAY
The best – and cheapest – way to get around the city is to travel by subway.
It consists of 24 lines that cover all five boroughs of New York City, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.
To use the subway, you need to purchase a MetroCard, which costs 33 dollars for seven days. The card is rechargeable and is available at subway station booths and vending machines.For some reason, the machine wouldn’t accept our bank or credit cards, so we paid by cash.
You can also use your phone or a contactless card by tapping it at the turnstile. This is called the OMNY system. Once you’ve hit 12 paid trips starting Monday, the rest of your rides through till Sunday of the same week are free.
The MetroCard was the most effective method for us, as a family of four because you can’t get unlimited taps for seven days for everyone using the same payment method. There are more details here.It took us a few journeys to really get to grips with the subway and our direction of travel but the MTA app and Google Maps had us covered.
DON’T FALL INTO TOURIST TRAPS IN TIMES SQUARE
Times Square is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York. You’ve all seen the bright lights, billboards, and bustling atmosphere in films and on TV shows.
But unfortunately it’s known for it’s tourist traps.
Don’t feel rushed. If someone’s trying to pressure you into making a decision on buying something, take your time and think it through. It’s better to walk away than to regret a hasty decision.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Times Square. It’s OK for a quick visit during the day, if it’s your first time in New York. And maybe at a push, one visit at night. Don’t spend your valuable time in a city that has so much to offer, by sticking to such a touristy place.
WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES
Whatever you do, invest in some comfy shoes because you will be doing a lot of walking. You may find yourself walking long distances to get from one place to another.Get shoes with good arch support and cushioning and break them in before your trip. The last thing you want is blisters or other foot problems.
And of course always bring a back-up, which is also broken in and ready to go.I alternated between three pairs of shoes; white Adidas trainers, leather slides which were super comfy with cushioning and some soft leather ballet pumps.
CHECK OUT AN OBSERVATION DECK
There are a few observation decks that offer panoramic views of the city and it’s iconic landmarks.
There’s the Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan, the One World Observatory, located at the top of One World Trade Center and Top of the Rock, located at Rockefeller Center.
Then you have The Edge, which is located at Hudson Yards and opened in 2021.
Each of these observation decks is different, so it’s worth considering which one is the best fit for you. I did Top Of The Rock in 2012 and I think it’s fairly over-hyped.So we decided to go with The Summit One Vanderbilt because after doing our research, this was the one that appealed to us most. It’s not just an observation deck, it’s an experience.
You ascend in an all-mirror elevator and then there are a few different levels to check out. One of the rooms is almost completely made of glass and mirror, so you get an immersive experience.
But ladies, be warned. Do not go in a short dress like Shalini and I did. We had to clutch our dresses every time we stepped onto the mirrored floor!Our favourite room the one with inflatable silver balloons that float through the air. You can easily spend a good couple of hours experiencing the different rooms and levels.
By the time we got up to the rooftop observatory, it was night and the views over the city were spectacular.
DON’T EAT AT CHAIN RESTAURANTS
Chain restaurants can be convenient but for me they lack the character and charm of local eateries. And why would you want to eat a restaurant you can get anywhere in the world when you have so many independent places that offer delicious and authentic cuisine?
We did our research beforehand. There were places we wanted to hit in Chinatown after watching several YouTube videos. We also knew we wanted to do a food tour in Flushing and Jackson Heights, Queens.
The rest of the time we spent in Manhattan and even then only ventured to a chain restaurant once.
Don’t be afraid to explore off the beaten path. You never know what gems you might find. We relied heavily on Google and Tripadvisor and found some great restaurants.
Eating local is also a great way to support the community and family businesses.
WALK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Walk as much as possible because you don’t want to miss anything in such a vibrant city as New York. If you spend all your time in taxis or on the subway, you might miss a great spot to eat or a place to shop or visit.
The city is known for its bustling streets and vibrant neighbourhoods, and walking allows you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and atmosphere.
Another plus-point is being able to stay active and healthy whilst on holiday. Even though we used the subway a lot, we also walked A LOT. We clocked up between 20 and 30-thousand steps a day.We were there during the peak of summer so it was important to wear comfy shoes, stay hydrated, taking breaks and planning our route. Google Maps was our best friend.
If you’re planning on walking as much as possible during your trip to New York City, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
CHECK OUT A COUPLE OF BOROUGHS
New York City is made up of five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.
Each borough has its own unique character and attractions, so it’s a good idea to explore a couple of them during your trip to New York City. Don’t be afraid to venture out of Manhattan!When planning our trip, we decided to do a trip to Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) which is a neighbourhood in Brooklyn. I’ll write more about our time in Dumbo in a later post in the series but you hit the area as soon as you walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.Next time I’d like to explore more of Brooklyn and maybe even stay in an Air BnB or hotel in Brooklyn, as it’s cheaper than Manhattan but still easily accessible.
We also visited Queens, which has a diverse population and vibrant neighbourhoods. We visited both Flushing and Jackson Heights and again, I shall write about these trips in a later post.
So there you have it. My 7 top tips for New York. If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple, let me know if you found this list useful.
Coming up in my New York series; Things You Should Do In Greenwich Village and 7 Instagrammable Places In New York.
While you’re here, why not check out my first post of the year on how to make 2023 a successful year.
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