New York City is both a cultural hub and a cultural icon. So many songs extol its bustling vibe and creative energy. Visiting NYC is quite the task— though there’s an excellent restaurant or theatre on every corner, and though the city has a sense of community like no other, there is a lot going on in the city at all times. Tap into your inner explorer and get ready to visit the Big Apple with this comprehensive guide! 

Top 3 Neighborhoods 

1. SoHo

NYC’s trendiest neighborhood is located in Lower Manhattan, south of Houston street (which is where the name SoHo comes from!). Here, you’ll find countless luxury boutiques, from Chanel and Burberry to independent designers like TAI Jewellery. There are also many upscale vintage shops for you to find some retro gems. Once you’ve shopped your heart out, you can relax with a cocktail at one of SoHo’s more laidback bars, or explore an art gallery that pays homage to the neighborhood’s creative roots. 

2. Harlem

Creativity and culture collide in this iconic Upper Manhattan area. Harlem, a historically African American neighborhood, was the center of the 1920s renaissance movement, and the area remains an iconic cultural hub. Along its main street sits the legendary Apollo Theater, where you can catch up-and-coming performers at Amateur Night. With soul food restaurants, classic jazz clubs, and vibrant street art, you’ll never get tired of this community-centric neighborhood. 

3. Greenwich Village

Considered to be the most bohemian neighborhood in all of New York, the streets of Greenwich Village are lined with trees, brownstones, and history. Once it was the birthplace of a booming counterculture movement in the 1960s, with artists making their home within it. Now, it boasts upscale restaurants and luxury buildings. Despite the change, there’s still a distinctly nonconformist vibe to the neighborhood. Between eccentric Off-Broadway theaters and unforgettable jazz clubs, the spirit of Greenwich Village remains inspired and everpresent.

READ MORE: The Summer Club Elevates Poolside Day Clubs In New York 

 

Top 3 Attractions

1. Times Square

The heart of New York City, arguably, is Times Square. The bright billboards have been featured in a multitude of movies, but viewing them on a screen is nothing compared to seeing them in real life. Times Square is five blocks long, spanning from 42nd to 47th street, and encompasses not only the iconic bowtie of billboards but also theatrical venues and mass media company headquarters. Walking around the area, you’ll find street performers, beloved characters like Elmo and Spider-Man, and the iconic fixture: the Naked Cowboy. Whether you’re catching a Broadway show, visiting Madame Tussauds wax museum, or taking in the views at a rooftop bar, you’re sure to enjoy your time visiting one of the most popular tourist attractions in America. 

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Live out your “Gossip Girl” dreams by having lunch on the steps in front of the Met— and then go inside and explore the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere! With over 2 million works in its permanent collection and frequent exhibitions and events, there is no shortage of art to view here. The permanent collection features artwork from around the world. The most famous wing of the Met is the Anna Wintour Costume Center, which houses the Costume Institute: an elite sector of the museum that hosts the iconic Met Gala, the theme of which is centered around the current year’s exhibition. During the warmer months, the Met rooftop opens to the public, boasting a martini bar and an exhibition on top of the building. New York State residents, as well as students in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, can decide what to pay to enter so long as they bring valid ID. General admission tickets are $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students. 

 

3. Central Park 

This famous 843-acre park sits between the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan. As one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, it has leagues of greenery, picturesque landscape features, formal venues, and entertainment attractions. The park is a lovely detour into nature that still allows sightseers a view of the city. After catching a free matinee of a Shakespearean play, you can take a carriage ride to the Central Park Zoo and immerse yourself in a realistic rainforest setting with exotic animals— all without leaving the park! 

Top 3 Restaurants

1. The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens

Price range: $$$

Located on the 9th floor of EDITION Hotel in Times Square, The Terrace and Outdoor Gardens is an all-day restaurant serving both American and French cuisine. The menu includes appetizing meals such as Wagyu beef tartare and steamed Alaskan King Crab pasta, with many healthy vegetable dishes as well. The breakfast and brunch menus display delicious frittatas and smoothie bowls. Later in the evening, you can settle beneath a ceiling of plants to watch Times Square with a drink from their expansive wine menu. 

 

2. P.S. Kitchen

Price range: $$

You can now eat delicious vegan food while simultaneously helping other people! At P.S. Kitchen, 100 percent of the profits go to sustainable non-profit organizations. And if that doesn’t sound good enough for you, the menu certainly will. The fully plant-based menu features scrumptious salads and a variety of mouthwatering wraps and sandwiches. There are a range of coffees and teas that you can have with your meal, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try one of their many cocktails or mocktails. If you’re spending some time in the city on a weekend, don’t miss out on P.S. Kitchen’s weekend-exclusive brunch menu! 

3. Marea 

Price range: $$$$

This Michelin-starred restaurant has an exquisite menu that will evoke a feeling of dining by the Italian seaside. With extensive seafood options and housemade pasta, you’re in for an upscale dining experience. The menu boasts various kinds of caviar and oysters among other items like grilled octopus and roasted lamb loin. Located just south of Central Park, this is the perfect dinner spot after taking a stroll through the greenery— or, you could catch their lunch menu from 12 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.. After that, the restaurant takes a fiesta like real Italians until 5 p.m., which is when they open again for dinner. 

 

READ MORE: New York’s 7 Most Unique Foods And Where To Find Them

 

Best Ways To Get Around 

No matter where you land in New York City, there will be something within walking distance— but there will be so much more beyond that! The city has a trusty Metro system, with 26 subway lines across the city. Buses, while a less popular choice, will transport you around with a view. There are also trains that stretch from Lower Manhattan to East Bronx, and then out of the city and into the suburbs. 

The fare is $2.75 per ride, with one free transfer from bus-to-bus or bus-to-train within the hour after you pay. You can pay this with change or get a MetroCard, which are available for $1 in subway stations. You can load your MetroCard with money and pay for each ride; or, you can purchase a 7-day unlimited card for $33 or a 30-day unlimited card for $127. Kids under 44 inches tall ride free with a paying adult. Alternatively, you can use the new contactless OMNY system, where you can tap a debit card, credit card, prepaid card, your phone’s digital wallet, or a reloadable OMNY card. OMNY cards are available at select retailers, including many CVS and Walgreens locations. 

There are also 1300 CitiBike stations spread across the city. A single 30 minute trip will cost $3.99, while a day pass costs $15 per day and includes as many 30 minute trips as you want within that 24 hour period. Be careful, though! If you purchase a single trip pass and use the bike for more than 30 minutes, you will be charged $0.23 per additional minute. Likewise, if you purchase a day pass and take a trip longer than 30 minutes, you will be charged $4 per additional 15 minutes. Passes can be purchased online or on the app, which you’ll need to find a CitiBike station. Biking can be dangerous in cities, especially in one as chaotic and busy as NYC, so make sure you’re confident in your biking skills before taking off! 

If you’d prefer to travel faster, you can always hail one of New York City’s iconic yellow taxis. All licensed taxis have fares beginning at $2.50, with an additional $0.50 per mile if traffic is stopped or slower than 12 miles an hour (19km/hr). If the taxi is going above 12 miles an hour (19km/hr), the fee is $0.50 for every fifth of a mile. The expected tip is around 15%–20% (more on tips in general, later). 

Ride-sharing apps are widely available in the city, with Uber, Lyft, and Via being the most popular options. 

 

Best Time Of Year To Visit & Weather 

Given how cold the winters are and how hot the summers get, tourists and locals alike consider spring and fall to be the best seasons to spend in New York City. The weather from April–June and September–November tends to be warm without being muggy, with typical temperatures ranging from (12°C) to (22°C). Tourist season tends to peak in the summer months and around winter holidays. 

READ MORE: No More $27 Beers: New York’s Airport Food Is Now Much Cheaper 

Language

The majority of people in New York City speak English, America’s national language. However, the city is quite diverse and there are over 800 languages are spoken within the city.

The other languages you may hear are dependent on where you travel to— for example, you may hear Russian in Brighton Beach due to the large immigrant population there. Likewise, you may hear Mandarin in Flushing, Cantonese in Chinatown, Italian in Staten Island, and more! 

Currency & Tipping Customs 

In New York City, American dollars are used. If you’re not from America, you’ll want to convert some of your native currency into American dollars.

In America, it’s polite to tip at least 15 percent at restaurants, bars, and other places of service. Many people choose to tip 18 percent, and it’s typically an option on credit card machines. Tips usually range from 15-20 percent. Generally speaking: the better the service, the higher the tip. 

Emergency Info + Local Pharmacies 

For police, fire, and medical emergencies, call 9-1-1. 

The non-emergency number is 3-1-1.

If you missed something on your packing list or need to pick up a prescription, there are many pharmacies throughout the city. The most popular ones are CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.

Rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 can usually be picked up at participating zoos, libraries, and museums. The list of participating locations can be found here. New York also offers express on-site testing by appointment only. That information can be found here

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