There’s so much more to New York than the top attractions, shows & shopping. We wanted to share some NYC tips so that you can personalise your trip for an even more memorable experience!
Manhattan Bridge from Dumbo
This iconic shot of the Manhattan Bridge is a regular feature on Instagram NYC feeds. If you line up your shot carefully, you can capture the Empire State Building in the distance, between the legs of the bridge. Head to Washington Street in Dumbo.
Big Apple Greeters
One of the highlights from many visitor’s city break in New York is an experience with a Big Apple Greeter. These volunteers take small groups of up to 6 people for a personal guided tour of their city. These tours are free, themes and locations vary. Many grateful visitors take a personal gift for their greeter, such as Harrods tea & biscuits as they have a no-tipping policy. You can make a donation online afterwards, although there is no obligation. You should book at least a month in advance, you have to be staying a minimum of 2 nights and within the 5 boroughs of NYC. Find out more here: https://bigapplegreeter.org/
Soothe your aching feet overnight by taking moisturising foot packs with you. These foot socks come with a variety of lotions and can normally be found for under £1 each at outlets such as Poundland, Superdrug etc.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
It can be difficult to secure a table at Tiffany’s for breakfast or afternoon tea. To be in with a chance of securing your preferred date and time at The Blue Box Cafe here’s what to do. Set up your card details in advance by signing up to Resy, so that there is no delay in making your booking as time is of the essence! Reservations open 30 days in advance at 9:00 in NYC, this is 14:00 UK time. On the dot of 9am go for it! Book here: www.tiffany.com
Avoid Time Square Characters
Do not interact or take photos of the characters found in Time Square, unless you don’t mind paying for the experience. Avoid walking through the blue squares marked out on the floor, as they have to stay within these lines. The same goes for the CD hustlers, don’t make eye contact and keep your hands in your pockets.
More hotels in NYC are now charging a resort fee, this additional cost is on the increase, although you can still find accommodation without. This charge generally ranging from $20-$40 per room, per night is on top of your accommodation reservation rate.
The other annoying expense to be covered on check in is the hold on your card for incidentals. This is best covered with a credit card, rather than a debit card so funds are not drawn from your account, it can also be paid in cash. This money is refunded after check out, less any bar / restaurant bills, mini bar drinks, or room damages. This practice can be a shock for anyone travelling on a tight budget without a credit card.
World’s Best 50 Bars
This annual list is compiled by 500 drinks international experts from around the world, 4 of NYC’s bars are listed in the top 20. Here’s where to find these ultimate drinking destinations in New York:
The NoMad (No 7 in 2018) situated in the mid-town hotel of the same name, this bar has been in the top 10 of the World’s Best 50 Bars for 3 consecutive years. Pick your spot in the Elephant Bar or Library inspired by NYC taverns and imbibe a classic cocktail with a twist.
Dante (No 9 in 2018) started life as a Greenwich Village Italian cafe. Over 100 years later, Dante has retained its classic Italian charm, with historical photos of patrons and the original owners displayed on the walls.
Attaboy (No 15 in 2018) on Eldridge St, is the place to go for a bespoke cocktail, if you can find a seat in this busy bar. There’s no menu, simply tell the bartender your preferences and they will fix your drink from their extensive repertoire. Open 5 years, Attaboy has attained a place in the World’s Best 50 Bars for each one of them.
The Dead Rabbit (No 16 in 2018) on Water St is a fantastic Irish bar with comic book menus and coasters quoting “Born in a hurricane, forged in a fire”. Seek out The Dead Rabbit to try their own Irish Whisky, a pint of the black stuff, an Irish coffee or cocktails in The Parlour.
Use the subway and local buses with a MetroCard. The standard fare is $2.75 for adults, children up to 44 inches tall ride free with a fare paying adult.
A 7 day Unlimited Ride MetroCard at $32 can be the most cost effect option for tourists. Activated on your first use, this card can be used on subway and local buses until midnight (AirTrain not included).
If you are staying for less time, or don’t plan to use public transport that much the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard is worth looking at. These can be purchased with a denomination from $5.50 to $80 at a station booth or vending machine. Each time you pay over $5.50 on the card, you will receive an additional 5%. Eg. Pay $20 get $21 credit.
Be aware of your subway passes in NYC when travelling with luggage. You can’t use the normal turnstiles with suitcases, so you need to go through the gate. Don’t hand your pass over to anyone offering to help at the gate! The reason is that these people are scammers, you are presenting them with an opportunity to switch your pass for an invalid one, this could cost you $32 for a brand new unlimited 7 day pass.
For Sex and the City fans, you can find Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment at 66 Perry Street in the West Village. Furthermore, you can also see the exterior of the Friends sitcom apartment block at 90 Bedford Street.
The distinctive Ghostbuster’s firehouse can be found at Hook and Ladder 8. Situated at 14 North Moore Street in Lower Manhattan, look for their logo painted on the sidewalk.
The famous fake orgasm scene by Meg Ryan was filmed in Katz’s Delicatessen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Order a pastrami sandwich and look up to find the actual table, there’s a sign “Where Harry Met Sally… Hope You Have What She Had. Enjoy!”
Buy a slice of New York pizza from Joe’s Pizza on 233 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. This is where Peter Parker worked briefly as a pizza delivery guy in Spider-Man 2.
Visit Carlo’s Bakery at 95 Washington Street in Hoboken, where the American reality TV series Cake Boss featured art cakes created by Buddy Valastro and family. You can find some great views of Manhattan from the waterfront in this location too.
Newark Airport Public Transport
The AirTrain is $13 each from Newark Airport. Change at Newark Liberty station ( free service 2-4 mins away) for Penn station which takes around 30 minutes, then use the subway to your hotel. The trains are usually standing room only and with double decks, there are lifts and escalators at the stations.
There’s also the Newark Airport Express bus service from Newark Airport which stops at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (41st St), Bryant Park(W 42 St & 5 Av) and Grand Central (101 Park Ave) at $18 one way or $31 return, per adult. The bus can be busy from Manhattan to the airport. Our tip is to board at the first stop in Grand Central at peak times. You can pay on the day, or book in advance online.
JFK Airport Public Transport
The cheapest way to transfer from JFK airport in NYC is via the AirTrain to Jamaica Street $5. Next take the subway to your hotel $2.75 for a single journey (or see MetroCard above for multi trip options).
Budget approx $70 on arrival to take a New York City yellow cab from JFK to a Manhattan hotel. Normal traffic is 40-60 minutes, longer at weekday rush hours 06:00-09:00 and 16:00-19:00. The cost of $70 should cover the flat fee, tolls, rush hour fee and tip.
NYC Express Bus service from JFK is $19 per adult 1 way to Time Square. Or book a return at $35 to Grand Central / Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Harbor Lights Cruise
If you’re wondering which boat trip to take, this one is really popular and easy on the feet after a day of sightseeing. The Harbor Lights Cruise departs from pier 83 in Midtown at 19:00. The standard adult fare is $40, children aged 3-12 are $33. The cruise highlights include views of the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, High Line, One World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Dumbo, South Street Seaport, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge & Williamsburg Bridge. For more comfortable seating and a better view upgrade to premier seating if available. Book direct with Circle-Line Sightseeing Cruises who have been operating in NYC for 70 years.
The Mills at Jersey Gardens is an indoor mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey with 200 outlets. Take the New Jersey Transit bus 111 or 115 from the Port Authority Bus Terminal for $14 return.
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets is an outdoor shopping centre with 240 outlets. There’s a frequent daily bus service to Woodbury Common from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Alternatively the MTA Metro – North Railroad offers a weekend train service. Some attraction passes include this shopping trip.
If you don’t want to leave Manhattan, Century 21 have 2 outlet stores in NYC (Broadway & 5 W 19th St) plus 1 store at the City Point Shopping Center in Brooklyn, where discounted bargains can be found.
Remember in the USA you need to ask for the restroom, rather than the toilet as they find this request rude. If you need to go in a hurry whilst exploring NYC, the easiest way to find an open loo is in a hotel lobby, according to the doormen the hotel can’t refuse if they have a public restroom. Fast food outlets and coffee shops can have a code on the restroom door or ask for your receipt before giving access. Bryant Park restrooms are definitely worth visiting if you get the chance, they have classical music playing, art displayed, fresh flowers and a full time attendant. The public restrooms in Madison Square Park cost 25 cents for 15 minutes. Use transportation hubs such as Grand Central and Penn Station. Department stores are also easy to access without any pressure of making a purchase, try Macy’s, Saks, Bergdorf Goldman and the Plaza Food Hall.
Plan your trip with a navigation app such as Ulmon. It’s free to download to your device and you can use it offline once in NYC if you don’t have data roaming. Pin your places of interest including sightseeing, restaurants and shops that you want to visit. Once you arrive in NYC, connect with WiFi then download an offline version of your map.
Smorgasburg is the name given to outdoor food events held from April to October in Brooklyn. Choose from Friday nights at the Vice Night Market (6pm onwards), Saturdays in Williamsburg at the East River State Park, and Sundays in Prospect Park on Breeze Hill.
If visiting in the winter months, there’s an indoor event Smorgasburg & Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays and Sundays at the Atlantic Center (11am – 8pm Sat & 11am – 5pm Sun).
Take the Astoria route on the NYC Ferry from Pier 11 near Wall Street for a 30 minute boat ride to Roosevelt Island with views of Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Return to the Upper East Side of Manhattan via the aerial Tramway. Tram payment is via MTA MetroCards only, they run from the Tramway Plaza on Roosevelt Island to 2nd Avenue, between 59th Street and 60th Street.
Television Live Audience
Register with 1iota for free tickets to be part of the live audience for these television shows in New York City:
Always Late With Katie Nolan
Late Night with Seth Meyers
GMA – Strahan & Sara
LIVE with Kelly & Ryan
Shows are listed for the month ahead, it can take a couple of weeks to receive a response, so apply in advance of departure. There’s no catch, the tickets are free, the deal is you smile and clap! Simply create your 1iota account, submit ticket request to be on the waitlist, is you are selected reserve your ticket asap, or it could be allocated to someone else.
Tom Otterness Bronze Statues
There are collections of Tom Otterness’s bronze sculptures scattered across NYC. The Real World in Rockefeller Park (Battery Park) is a delightful mix of human and animal characters on the face of it, look closer and you will find references to the financial world. The Marriage of Real Estate and Money quirky sculptures can be found in the East River on Roosevelt Island. Life Underground at the 14th St./Eighth Ave. station has cartoon style figures and whimsical characters in abundance, but also in unexpected places at the intersection of the A/C/E/L lines. Look out for the shinier ones such as the rat eating a coin, or the moneybag head which commuters rub for luck, plus the alligator in a suit crawling out of the sewer.
It can be quite hard to find toy shops in NYC for your children to buy a souvenir of their trip, or take a present back as a treat for those left behind. FAO Schwarz in the Rockefeller Plaza is the largest toy shop in New York City, founded in 1862. There’s a Disney store on Broadway in Times Square. Kidding Around is an educational learning store in Grand Central Terminal. Camp is a family experience store in the Flatiron district on 5th Ave. American Girl for dolls and accessories at the Rockefeller Plaza. Five Below on 5th Ave is great for older children with lots of ideas priced under $5. Target and Kmart stores also have toy sections.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our NYC tips. We’ll continue to add to this article as we discover more gems to share with you. Do get in touch if you’d like a personal quote for a trip to NYC, we can tailor make an itinerary to suite you for a city break or multi city trip.