Last week I had the time of my life in New York. However, it took lots of research and walking a few blocks in the wrong direction to get the most out of my time in the big apple. Every borough (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island) has such a distinct style and culture that is so different than the other, that each one is different to navigate. From crowded subways to free events— here are a few tips and tricks for visiting New York.
I’m going to split it up into 3 sections:
Transportation and navigation
Food and Entertainment
Free things to do
TRANSPORTATION AND NAVIGATION
1. Download Citymapper
This app is your best friend! It gives you direct subway, walking, ferry, driving, and biking routes and times. It will tell you exactly what lines to take and what stops to get off at. You can even download your routes before you leave if you don’t have data.
2. Buy a MetroCard, don’t buy a SingleRide
Buy a MetroCard and fill it up as needed. Unless you know you are only going to use the Subway once, buying a single ride is more costly and annoying to keep buying them if you need more. We just added money to our card, but if you are staying for a while and will be using the Subway a lot, here is a link for more information on the different kinds of MetroCards.
3. Use Uber Pool
Sometimes the Subway can be too crowded, running behind, or the nearest station may be too far of a trek. Uber pool is pretty cheap in New York (it only costs me $6.00 to get all the across, Brooklyn). It also gives you the opportunity to meet more people, I was incredibly fortunate to share a 15-minute ride with a woman who lived right across from the World Trade Center during 9/11 who shared her experience. It was one of the most enlightening conversations I’ve ever had with a stranger.
4. Take the Staten Island Ferry, it’s FREE
Get a full view of New York as well as the Statue of Liberty by taking the Staten Island Ferry. It is a free, smooth sailing way to see everything from the bridges to the Empire State. It does get crowded and leaves right on the dot, so get there a little early to beat the crowds.
FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT
1. Check out TripAdvisor for restaurant recommendations:
People rave about the $1.00 pizza slices and cheap hot dog carts on the streets, but let’s be honest, that won’t sustain you every day. NY has tons of amazing food options for all pallets and dietary restrictions. Jess and I found our favorites by browsing TripAdvisor and Instagram and found some AMAZING bites at relatively decent prices (we shelled out for a few nice dinners).
2. Go to the theater’s box office the day of for discounted tickets
New York is home to some of the best theater in the WORLD. Go down Broadway to the theatres the day of to try and snag some last minute show tickets. Not only can you find some great seats, but you also avoid all of the service fees online buy buying them in-person. We got center orchestra seats to see Hadestown by doing this.
FREE THINGS TO DO
1. Be a studio audience member for a TV Show
So many studio shows are filmed in New York such as The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, Late Night with Seth Meyers, etc. Most of them are filmed near Rockefeller Center, but a few are a bit out of the way. Each show has a different protocol for how to get tickets and when/where to line up. However, I snagged tickets to see The Daily Show with Trevor Noah by going onto showclix.com the week before and securing General Admission guaranteed tickets. I got in line at 4:30 pm for the 7 pm taping. They checked my ticket and government ID (make sure you have this) and then let us in where we waited until about 6 pm to go into the studio. Next, they gave us directions and then had a comedian come on to hype us up before Trevor came out and did the show (he is absolutely amazing by the way).
2. Check out some parks
Every borough has several different community parks that are full of life and beautiful trees, lakes, and monuments to check out. We visited Central Park, Battery Park, Washington Square Park, and Prospect Park, but there are literally hundreds parks to choose from.
3. See some cool art
Most museums have special dates/times or pay what you wish fees.
However, there is also a ton of street art you can check out as well. One of my favorites was the Bushwick Collective graffiti and street art area in Brooklyn.