A Guide to New York City – Everything You Need to Know

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If you have never visited New York City, you don’t know know what you are missing! Our guide to New York City will hopefully give you an insight into why you should be adding this to your travel schedule sooner rather than later. For those of you that have visited the Big Apple, I am sure you will pick up a few useful tips that you will want to experience on your next trip.

From the best hotels in the heart of downtown Manhattan to some of the hidden gems we have uncovered, this post is a handy guide to exploring one of our favorite global cities. We are also delighted to feature some of our friends from the travel blogging world who have visited New York City and want to share their best insider tips.

guide to new york city

How to Get There?

New York City is served by three main airports, all of which offer easy access to downtown Manhattan.

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

Various methods of public transportation are available from JFK to Manhattan but the Airtrain offers connecting services through both Jamaica Station and Howard Beach Station. The most common method is to use the AirTrain and MTA Subway system.

Travel time from JFK to Manhattan is anywhere from 60 to 75 minutes.

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

The AirTrain Newark connects NJ Transit with Penn Station in Manhattan. Take the AirTrain from any terminal and then hop on the NJ Transit line.

Travel time from EWR to Manhattan is in the range of 35 to 50 minutes.

LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

New York City buses provide service between LaGuardia and Manhattan. The M60 bus is the most common option for visitors traveling between the two locations. The bus fare is $2.75.

Travel time from LGA to Manhattan is between 30 to 45 minutes.

Other Methods

The best alternative to reaching New York if you don’t fly is to use the Amtrak train service. Frequent train routes are available into New York’s Penn Station or Grand Central Station depending on where you arriving from.

new york city amtrak

Driving to New York City is obviously an option but not one that we would recommend. We have rented a car before at Newark and drove in and around NYC but with the volume of traffic and not to mention the cost of toll roads, it’s not our recommended form of transportation here. However, if you are planning on taking a road trip to nearby states or New York locations then perhaps this is a feasible option.

Where to Stay?

New York City visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation. Whether you are looking for a luxury, boutique hotel or an Airbnb option, the Big Apple has plenty of options. Budget, location, and accommodation type are all factors you should consider before heading to New York City.

Millenium Hilton

55 Church St,
New York, NY 10007
Tel: (212) 693-2001
Website: Millenium Hilton

The beauty of the Millenium Hilton is that it is located in the Financial District so it is away from the hustle and bustle of Times Square, yet at the same time offers easy access to anywhere in Manhattan.

millenium hotel new york city

Directly across from the One World Trade Center, this hotel offers epic views of this iconic area of NYC along with across the Hudson River.

The Paul Hotel

32 W 29th St,
New York, NY 10001
Tel: (212) 204-5750
Website: The Paul

the paul hotel new york city

“The Paul Hotel NYC is located at 32 W. 29th Street, and is ideally located to walk to many places, or if necessary to grab a subway or a taxi. It is located in the NoMad Neighborhood, nestled between Madison Square Park and the Flower District. The Terrace King rooms are bigger than a shoebox, with a large balcony. Unusual in New York, and a real find.” – Paula McInerney from Contented Traveller

Where to Eat?

When you visit New York City, the first thing you should avoid is chain restaurants! There are just too many great local options that you need to experience.

Gansevoort Market

Location: To Be Determined

Gansevoort Market is a great spot to sample fine, local cuisine in a typical marketplace environment. The location was formerly at the High Line in the Meatpacking District of NYC but in early 2016, the decision was made to move this.

guide to new york city

Although this is currently in a transition period, the majority of vendors have indicated they will move to the new location once this has been finalized.

the bruffin gansevoort market

This is certainly a gem in New York City and one that you have to experience. Whether you want to experience a ‘bruffin’ filled with ingredients typical of a country around the world or perhaps you would prefer some authentic Mexican at a taco van.

gansevoort market in new york city

Tasty Dumpling

42 Mulberry St,
New York, NY 10013
Tel: (212) 349-0070

“In New York, if you want to eat cheap, get out of Midtown. We lived in New York City for years and always told visitors, if you want to experience the “real New York,” go south of 14th Street and visit Chinatown! The locals tip for good, cheap grub is Tasty Dumpling on Mulberry Street.

chinatown new york city

A small order of five fried dumplings will set you back $1.25 and you can get 10 big, boiled ones for $3.25. The best part…they are absolutely delicious and you get to watch the lady making them by hand!” – Lance and Laura Longwell from Travel Addicts

tasty dumpling on mulberry street

Where to Visit?

To list every attraction worth visiting in New York City would be a little overwhelming, so here is a list of the top spots that we think you can’t afford to miss.

Empire State Building

empire state building

Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island

statue of liberty

Brooklyn Bridge

guide to new york city

Rockefeller Center

rockefeller center

Central Park

central park new york city

Times Square/Broadway

times square

Chinatown

chinatown new york city

Little Italy

guide to new york city

SoHo

soho guide to new york city

High Line/Meatpacking District

the high line new york city

One World Trade Center/National September 11 Memorial

world trade center memorial

Wall Street

wall street new york city

Grand Central Station

grand central station

If you visit all of the above attractions in one trip, not only will you be exhausted but you will likely realize why New York City is a city you will want to return to time and time again!

Insider Tips

New York Pass

Take advantage of the New York Pass if you are visiting either for the first time or on a return visit. Admission price hikes are common around NYC simply because of the volume of visitors every day, but the New York Pass offers visitors the opportunity to have great savings plus fast-track access to many attractions around the city.

New York City Walking Tours

Participate in a walking tour (either paid or free tours are available) around a neighborhood like SoHo, Chinatown, and Little Italy. This is a great way to meet a native New Yorker and find out some real insider tips on the best local restaurants, shops etc.

new york walking tour

Alternative to Broadway Shows

“If you want to see a show, that’s different from the typical Broadway musical I definitely recommend seeing the interactive show Sleep No More” – Alouise Dittrick from Take Me To The World

broadway new york city

Central Park

“Enter Central Park from W 72nd Street (Subway lines 1,2,3 and B,C). Check out Strawberry Fields, The Lake to see the rowboats and continue down The Mall to see the street performers, street artists, and the scene of many romantic comedy movies. As you exit Central Park, hit The Plaza for some afternoon tea.” – Chris Dolce Castillo from Dolce Does Travel

5th Avenue and Beyond

“Follow 5th Ave past St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, and the Empire State Building, on my way to the Flatiron Building at 23rd and 5th Ave. It’s a lengthy walk, but at the end is Eataly, where I highly recommend lunch or mid-afternoon stop at their rooftop spot La Birreria!” – Chris Dolce Castillo from Dolce Does Travel

Manhattan Bridge vs Brooklyn Bridge

“Consider visiting the Manhattan Bridge rather than the crowded Brooklyn Bridge. Riding a bike here is definitely more fun as it provides maximum shade and cyclists have their own bike path which is segregated from the walking path, so you won’t have pedestrians wandering into your path every few seconds (this is what happens on the Brooklyn Bridge)!” – Vivian Lee from Miss Happy Feet

manhattan bridge

The Cloisters Museum

“The Cloisters: A hidden museum in New York. This branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is devoted to medieval art from Europe. Wander around the stunning gardens, take in the view over the Hudson River and see the fabulously reconstructed cloisters which are filled with priceless medieval art, tapestries, and statues.” – Jenny Freedman from A Taste of Travel

The Highline and Chelsea Market

“Check out the Highline Park to see a renovated park built on old subway tracks a story above ground and get a different view of New York City. Stop by Chelsea Market for a snack before you head up there.” – Sarah Kim Chetrit from Tales From a Fork

Best Hidden Views in New York City

“For the best views I recommend going to Press Lounge, Le Bain at the Standard Hotel, The Skylark, The Jane Rooftop, Jimmy at the James Hotel, SixtyFive is one of my favorites as it’s the bar at Rockefeller Center (Tip: no need to pay to go to Top of the Rock when you can go to the SixtyFive bar for free with the same views)” – Christine Tran from Tour de Lust

Radegast Hall and Biergarten

“The Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Brooklyn will shatter your preconceived notions about the cost of eating in NYC. A bratwurst with fries is only $11 from the grill and there’s live music with no cover charge seven nights a week!” – Cherri Littleton Megasko from Bucket List Travel Club

Summary

New York City can never be described in just a few words but the ‘ultimate 24-hour city in the world’ is a pretty good summary! There is so much to do, so much to see, so much to experience that spending just a few days here will only touch the surface of what New York City has to offer.

We hope that this guide that we have put together in collaboration with many of our travel blogging experts who either live in NYC or frequently visit will help you the next time you plan on visiting the Big Apple!

What would you add to this guide as a ‘must see’ or ‘must do’ experience in New York City? Feel free to share your recommendations on attractions, hotels, restaurants etc. below.

weekend wanderlust


23 COMMENTS

    • Thanks Lydia, Gansevoort Market really is cool! I wish I knew where the “new” location is going to be but I am assuming it will be equally as cool given that the majority of vendors in the old location have already confirmed they will be moving to the new spot once it is open. I would recommend keep checking their website here (I know we plan on doing so!): http://www.gansmarket.com/

    • Agree Arnie and NYC has a wealth of walking tours available! We took two on our recent trip to NYC which actually wasn’t our first time there so in my opinion they are a great idea for newbies or experienced NYC visitors. The Broadway/Times Square tour wasn’t the best (don’t think I could justify paying the $35 for that tour) but the SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown was well worth the money! It’s also a great idea for first timers to purchase the NYC City Pass to save money and experience many of the top attractions, plus take one or two of these walking tours which are included in the price.

  1. I LOVE NYC. Been lucky enough to visit a number of times now and I could still keep going there. the more you go, the more you get to see unseen NYC. You’ve picked all the great highlights here. Amazing how so many can be in one city. Thanks for the tip about the market. I visited here on the High Line two years ago and loved the lunch time vibe there. We stayed in a couple of apartments in Greenwich Village and MidTown East, in what would have been the pre-cursor to Air Bnb. #weekendwanderlust
    Kerri recently posted…Manado Indonesia: A great choice for inquisitive travellersMy Profile

    • Thanks Kerri, we love NYC as you can probably tell also! Every time we go back there we find something new to experience but at the same time many of the top attractions are always a good idea to go back and see again. I can never get tired of the views from the top of the Empire State Building or taking a stroll along the riverfront to see the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge.

  2. This is an excellent list for most travellers to NYC! I lived there for 3 years and try to still visit once a year. Here are a few more things I would add: visit Union Square Market for local produce and cheese, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for great photo opps looking back to Manhattan, visit Korea Town in the low 30s and eat Korean BBQ or bulgogi, check out the funky local shops and cafes in the Lower East Side or in the East Village, take the train over to Jersey City or Hoboken to get another view of Manhattan. Also if you love food, NYC has a ton of fine dining restaurants, but most offer set meals at lunch at a fraction of their price for dinner. For example, Jean Georges, one of the top 5 NYC restaurants, serves a 3-course lunch for $38. A real bargain for NY! Enjoy! 🙂
    Joy @MyTravelingJoys recently posted…3 Reasons to Visit Athens & Why I Disliked ItMy Profile

    • Thanks so much Joy for the additional information! We will definitely be checking these out on our next trip to NYC. We actually walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on our last trip there and we wrote a post specifically about the experience just because the views of Manhattan are so spectacular from there. We have also stayed close to Secaucus in NJ and agree that the views from the other side of the Hudson are stunning, especially as you get to see the full panoramic view from the upper west side all the way down to the financial district…really is a sight to behold! Just typing all this makes me want to return to NYC NOW! 🙂

        • The views are stunning Joy! I’m sure you will have a great time in NYC later this year. We are planning a trip back there in August (maybe also July). Can’t get enough of the Big Apple 🙂

  3. Thank you for the great guide. I still haven’t been to NYC, and even though I live near a big city (Chicago), New York has always seemed overwhelming to me. One of these days, I will make it there and will take many of your suggestions.

    • YOU HAVE TO VISIT NYC!!! It’s as simple as that Connie because once you have been there, I am 99.9999% certain that you will fall in love with it. I realize that it’s not for everyone but I will say that there is something in NYC for everyone regardless of your taste or interests. Thanks for your kind words about this guide and we hope that you find it beneficial!

    • Cheers Dean, really appreciate your feedback! Hope some folks will find this guide beneficial, we are hoping to try and do something similar for different cities that we have visited around the world.

  4. Wonderful guide! There is a lot of places in here I want to check out (especially the markets). I have been to New York but my husband has not. I have to take him soon. We have no excuse since my sister lives there (free lodging!).

    • Thanks so much Ruth for your kind comments! Your husband is really missing out but once you have taken him there, he will be raring to go back I’m sure!

  5. First, great guide with lots of good suggestions – Including not renting a car. Who in their right mind would? 😉 Second, thanks for including so many fellow bloggers – We’ve got some great new people to follow now! We’d also echo Joy’s suggestion on Union Square Market – but then, we’re suckers for markets. As always, well done!

    • Thanks so much Rob, as always you are too kind 🙂 We made the mistake of renting a car once from EWR though to be fair we were attending a PGA golf event in New Jersey first and then intended on going to the first day of the US Open in Flushing Meadow. But of course to get from NJ to Flushing Meadow, we had to make our way across the Washington Bridge (crazy expensive toll!) and on the way back to EWR we tried to avoid the toll but instead had the joy of going through the heart of Manhattan which was an experience in itself 🙂

  6. Hey Chris !!!!

    Great article !!Its been great to read your post.I really appreciate it.New York City is defined by its skyline—the silhouette created by Manhattan’s buildings is instantly recognizable and utterly mesmerizing. In fact, NYC is home to more than 200 buildings measuring 500 feet or taller, roughly double that of its closest US competitor. You can appreciate the skyline’s grandeur from the observation decks atop the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and Top of the Rock, and revel in its scope from lower vantage points like the Brooklyn Bridge or the Brooklyn Heights promenade.

    Keep posting such article.
    Have a great day

    • Thanks so much Wayne for your kind comments! NYC is such an easy city for us to write about because WE LOVE IT! We are heading back next weekend and focusing our attention on exploring Lower Manhattan, hoping to stumble across some hidden gems along the way. However, the beauty of NYC is that those mainstream tourist attractions never get old. I can’t ever tire of climbing to the top of the Empire State and admiring the breathtaking views across Manhattan and the Hudson River.

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