New York City

New York City

New York City is the largest city in the United States and one of the most culturally and commercially influential cities in the world. New York offers so many things and excels at all of them. Landmarks, food, museums, parks, sports and theater are just a few of the experiences to try.

Map of New York City
Map of New York City

The city is divided into five boroughs (Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) with Manhattan being home to the most tourist attractions. Newark and the New Jersey Suburbs are located right across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

When to Go

Spring and fall are the best times to go. The weather is better and prices are lower because it is a shoulder season.

What to Pack

This depends on what time of year you are visiting and what you are looking to do while in New York. Pack clothing for warm weather if you are visiting in the summer and pack for low temperatures and possibly snow in the winter. At any point in the year it may rain so check the forecast to see if an umbrella will be necessary. It may be a good idea to bring one just in case. If you are planning on taking in a show or going to a upscale restaurant or club then be sure to pack some nice clothes.

How to Get There

For people coming from outside the Northeast fly into Kennedy Airport, LaGaurdia Airport or Newark Liberty Airport. If you are staying in Brooklyn or Queens I would recommend Kennedy or LaGuardia. If you are staying in Manhattan I would select which airport based on flight times, prices, and or airline preference. For passengers coming from other locations in the Northeast United States there is train service provided by Amtrak into Penn Station.

Where to Stay

There are two different factors to consider when deciding where to stay. One is price and the other is convenience. If convenience is a top priority then I would find a hotel in midtown Manhattan but it will be expensive. If you are concerned with price I would find a hotel in another borough or New Jersey and take the train into Manhattan. I did this on a previous trip and saved over $150 per night and it was only a 20 minute journey each direction (10 minutes to the train station and a 10 minute train ride).

 

Getting Around

In New York it is very easy to get around using either public transportation or walking. The subway is very affordable and provides pretty frequent service to popular neighborhoods and attractions. Ubers and taxis are also available. It will cost a bit more but could be less travel time depending on where you are going. If you have a car leave it outside Manhattan and take the train or ferry (from Staten Island) in. Speaking from experience, driving in Manhattan is an absolute nightmare and parking is expensive and difficult to find.

 

What to Eat

New York has got to be one of the top cities for food in the United States, if not the world. There are so many good restaurants serving a variety of food that it is difficult to go wrong. If you like pizza definitely get a slice of the local style. 

 

Must See

One of my favorite things about New York is that there is something there for everyone. The places below are some of what I have seen and would recommend but it is by no means a complete list.

Brooklyn Bridge

First opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge has since become one of the most iconic bridges in the world. There is a sidewalk that runs in the center of the bridge offering great views of the waterfront and of Lower Manhattan.

Brooklyn Bridge with Lower Manhattan in the background
The walkway in the center of the Brooklyn Bridge

Central Park

At over 800 acres, Central Park is a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. The park features multiple lakes, ponds, walking trails and natural woods.

One of the lakes in Central Park
Bethesda Terrace
Gapstow Bridge

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1931. Even though it no longer holds that title, it's Art Deco design continues to be a fixture of the New York skyline. There are observations decks on the 86th and 102 floor, but be warned that the lines can be very long.
Looking up towards the top of the Empire State Building
View facing towards midtown
View facing towards New Jersey
View facing towards Queens

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal serves train passengers heading to suburbs north of Manhattan. It is notable for its large main concourse and elaborate ceiling that features different constellations.
The main concourse of Grand Central Terminal
Looking up at the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal

High Line

The High Line is a former elevated freight rail line on the west side of Manhattan that was converted to a public space after sitting unused since the 1980s.

The High Line
The High Line
On the street below the High Line

Lower Manhattan/Financial District

Lower Manhattan is home to New York's Financial District and the New York Stock Exchange. My favorite part of the neighborhood is the public art (pictured below).

New York Stock Exchange
Fearless Girl
Charging Bull
The Sphere

Madison Square Park

Madison Square is a 3 block public park bound by some notable skyscrapers such as the Met Life Tower and the Flatiron Building.

Met Life Tower
Flatiron Building

Top of the Rock

The 70 floor Comcast Building (more commonly know as 30 Rockefeller Plaza) has an observation deck that is a popular alternative to the Empire State Building. When I went the wait was only 15 minutes and the view is just as good as the Empire State Building.

 

Comcast Building
Statue of Atlas, located in front of Rockefeller Center
View facing Central Park
View facing Lower Manhattan

Saint Patrick's Cathedral

St Patrick's Cathedral is a prominent Roman Catholic Church in Midtown Manhattan, built in the neo gothic style.
The entrance to St Patrick's Cathedral
Inside St Patrick's Cathedral

Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island

One of the most popular attractions in New York City is the tour to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Boats leave from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan or Liberty State Park in New Jersey. While leaving from Battery Park may be more convenient the lines are much less crowded leaving from New Jersey. If you are planning to visit get tickets as far in advance as possible.
Approaching Liberty Island
Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Interior of Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Times Square

Times Square is a major commercial center in Midtown Manhatten. The five block long stretch of Seventh Avenue, intersected in the center by Broadway, is famous for its abundance of shiny billboards and neon signs. With 50 million visitors every year, Times Square is the most visited tourist destination in the United States. It is also the heart of the Broadway Theater District which makes it a good jumping off point to see a show.

Times Square
ABC News Building
ABC News Building (right) and One Times Square (left)

World Trade Center

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is dedicated to the people who lost their lives in the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Two memorial pools sit on the footprints of the former North and South World Trade Center Towers with the names of the victims inscribed around the edges. The museum, which chronicles the attacks, is an intense and emotional experience but I highly recommend it.
South Pool at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum
National September 11 Memorial and Museum
One World Trade Center (previously known as the Freedom Tower)
Interior of September 11 Memorial Museum

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is a public park located next to NYU in the Greenwich Village neighborhood. Its defining feature is the Washington Square Arch which was modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. With the park being frequented by both residents and tourists, it is a great spot for people watching.

Washington Square Arch

Go to a sporting event

New York City is home to some of the most well known sporting venues in America. With multiple teams in each league there is almost always a game in town.
Yankee Stadium, Bronx
Citi Field, Queens
Madison Square Garden, Manhatten
Barclays Center, Brooklyn

Sample Itineraries

3 Day Trip 

Day 1

  • Arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport
  • Take the NJ Transit into Manhattan
  • Check into hotel
  • Explore Times Square and the surrounding neighborhood
  • Dinner in Midtown Manhattan
  • Go to the Top of the Rock

Day 2

  • Visit the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum
  • Lunch in Lower Manhattan
  • Take a walk along the High Line
  • Shop at Chelsea Market
  • Dinner in Chelsea
  • Go to a Broadway show or a sporting event

Day 3

  • Check out of Hotel
  • Visit Central Park
  • Stroll down 5th Avenue
  • Lunch in Midtown Manhattan
  • Take NJ Transit back to the airport
  • Fly out of Newark Liberty International Airport

5 Day Trip

Day 1

  • Arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport
  • Take the NJ Transit into Manhattan
  • Check into hotel
  • Explore Times Square and the surrounding neighborhood
  • Dinner in Midtown Manhattan
  • Go to the Top of the Rock

Day 2

  • People watch at Washington Square Park
  • Lunch in Greenwich Village
  • Take a walk along the High Line
  • Shop at Chelsea Market
  • Dinner in Chelsea
  • Go to a Broadway show

Day 3

  • Stroll through the Financial District
  • Visit the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum
  • Lunch in Lower Manhattan
  • Take the tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Dinner in Little Italy
  • Experience the nightlife in Soho, Greenwich Village, or the East Village

Day 4

  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Lunch in Brooklyn
  • Tour a museum such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Dinner near sporting venue
  • Go to a sporting event

Day 5

  • Check out of Hotel
  • Visit Central Park
  • Stroll down 5th Avenue
  • Lunch in Midtown Manhattan
  • Take NJ Transit back to the airport
  • Fly out of Newark Liberty International Airport

7 Day Trip

Day 1

  • Arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport
  • Take the NJ Transit into Manhattan
  • Check into hotel
  • Explore Times Square and the surrounding neighborhood
  • Dinner in Midtown Manhattan

Day 2

  • People watch at Washington Square Park
  • Lunch in Greenwich Village
  • Take a walk along the High Line
  • Shop at Chelsea Market
  • Dinner in Chelsea
  • Go to a Broadway show

Day 3

  • Stroll through the Financial District
  • Visit the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum
  • Lunch in Lower Manhattan
  • Take the tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • Dinner in Little Italy
  • Experience the nightlife in Soho, Greenwich Village, or East Village

Day 4

  • Visit Central Park
  • Lunch in the Upper East Side
  • Tour a museum such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Dinner near sporting venue
  • Go to a sporting event

Day 5

  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Lunch in Brooklyn
  • Explore the DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights Neighborhood
  • Relax at Prospect Park
  • Dinner and drinks in Williamsburg

Day 6

  • Stop by Grand Central Terminal
  • Stroll down 5th Avenue
  • Lunch in Midtown Manhattan
  • Go to the Top of the Rock
  • Tour St Patrick's Cathedral
  • Dinner in Hell's Kitchen

Day 7

  • Check out of Hotel
  • Visit Madison Square Park
  • Lunch In Midtown Manhattan
  • Take NJ Transit back to the airport
  • Fly out of Newark Liberty International Airport

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