When choosing a travel destination, few places, if any, beat New York City. It's one of the greatest cities in the world because everything is there, with its fantastic food, diverse cultures, Broadway shows, museums, and Times Square. If you've never been to NYC, you're missing out on a unique experience. But if you're planning a trip as a first-time visitor, NYC natives and experienced travelers want you to know a few things before you arrive.
1. Take in the NYC Experience
A New Yorker in the know says to get that authentic NYC experience, visit the Chelsa Market and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Staten Island Ferry is free – take it to Staten Island and back to view the Statue of Liberty. Visit Fraunces Tavern, the oldest bar in the city. Check out the Grand Central Station ceiling and stand in Times Square when the Broadway shows audiences leave.
2. Catch a Broadway Show
A Broadway fan in the thread tells visitors tickets can be hard to come by if they want to see a Broadway show. If they aren't particular about which one, they should enter their name into all of the Broadway ticket lotteries. Some lotteries only allow same-day signups, and others accept entries made in advance. It's an excellent chance to see a show on the legendary Great White Way.
3. Use Public Transit
OMNY is a tap-to-pay system to ride public transit. Once you pay for 12 rides in seven days, the rest of your trips for the week are free. To navigate the subway system, use Google Maps on your phone for the train schedules and to know where and when to get on and off the train. Most importantly, if you must stop and look at your phone while walking, don't stop and stand in the middle of the sidewalk. Be considerate and move to the side to avoid obstructing foot traffic.
4. Buy Tickets Online
New York City is home to some of the most renowned museums in the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Met Cloisters, the Neue Galerie New York, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum are only a few examples. If you plan to visit one or more museums, buy your entrance tickets online to avoid the long lines.
5. Try the Food
New York City's food scene is legendary. There are plenty of fancy, Michelin-starred restaurants, but some of the best meals are from the small, off-the-beaten-path places. Bring cash for the inexpensive but tasty food from the sidewalk carts and food trucks. Cafes are great alternatives to pricier restaurants, and bagel places are everywhere.
6. The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is one of the most popular tourist attractions in NYC. If you try to go there during the day, you'll wait at least an hour in different lines to get to the observation deck at the top of the building. Instead, one seasoned traveler advises visiting the building at sunset. It's far less crowded, and the view of the city from the deck is incredible.
7. Don't Overschedule
There's so much to do and see in NYC; it's understandable why visitors would want to see as many sights as possible. Be careful not to book a schedule that's so tight that it leaves no room for spontaneous discovery. Leave some free time in your itinerary to walk or bike around and explore the city. There's too much to see to stick to a packed schedule.
8. Rent a Citi Bike
Another experienced traveler says visitors should consider buying a Citi Bike day pass to explore New York City's various sites. First-time visitors to the city may not realize how big the city is or how long an NYC block is. To save yourself thousands of footsteps and a ton of money taking cabs, riding around the city on a bicycle is an inexpensive alternative.
9. Music School Concerts
If you want to attend a classical music concert but balk at paying philharmonic ticket prices, check the websites for any of the city's most distinguished music schools, like Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Mannes School of Music at The New School. They offer student performances that are either free or have reasonably priced tickets.
10. Go Outside
If you're traveling to NYC during the warmer months, several commenters suggest some outdoor attractions that are a must-visit. Walking across the famed Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line elevated park is free of charge. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a rooftop garden with art exhibits included with the price of admission for a ticket to the museum.
11. Visit the Ethnic Neighborhoods
New York City is a rich hub for various cultures, and the neighborhoods attract NYC natives and visitors alike. Chinatown is known for its souvenir shops, restaurants, and bubble tea shops. Little Italy has some of the best Italian restaurants you'll ever find, and Harlem is home to genuine soul food restaurants and cool jazz clubs.
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