I visited New York for the first time in January and I can’t believe I left it so long to visit! I was so overwhelmed when it came to planning so hopefully my experiences will help you. Here are my top tips when visiting NYC!
Buy a Metro Card
We were there for around 4 days and got so much use out of the unlimited metro card. Unfortunately they only do 7 day cards BUT we got our money out of them in the time we were there. I believe it’s $3 a journey on the subway but we paid $34 (it’s $33 but they charge $1 for the card!) for unlimited journeys.
We walked where we could and most people will tell you to walk, walk, walk but quite often it isn’t realistic. If the walk is over an hour you are best jumping on the subway, if like us, you were cramming a lot into a small amount of time! This was also our saviour on the Saturday we were there as it rained all day, so we definitely didn’t want to walk!
Use City Mapper
This leads me on to getting around the city. If you live in a big city in the UK (like London or Manchester) you’ll be familiar of City Mapper and I 100% recommend you download it for NYC if it isn’t already on your phone. It’s one of the easiest things to use, put in where you want to go and it will tell you how to get there. It’s so much easier that Google maps in my opinion and it really helped us navigate our way through the city, particularly the subway!
It even tells you which exit to take as you’ll find almost all subway stops have 2 or more exits which let you out at a different corner of the road. Oh, and it’s free so it seems like a no brainer!
Cheap Pizza is everywhere
I tried two amazing cheap eats when I visited and both have multiple sites across the city. We didn’t spend a lot on food simply because we didn’t need to. Joes Pizza is great and there is one not far from Times Square but my personal favourite was 2Bros Pizza where you can grab 2 slices of cheese pizza AND a can for $3!!!
Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building
If you are short of time (like we were), pick Top of the Rock. It was my favourite thing we did on the trip as the views were incredible! We went around 10am on a Thursday and it was dead – amazing!
We didn’t do the Empire State Building BUT I honestly think the TOTR gives you the best view!
Make a list of everything you want to do
Sounds incredibly simple but before you go sit down and list the top things you and your party want to get done. Keep them in a note on your phone so you can tick them off as you do them, and don’t forget to do the one thing your youngest really wanted to do!
From there you can plot them into days just to see if you think you have enough time. But don’t worry if your plans changed, ours did! We ticked everything off our list but they were on completely different days than we had planned!
Look into the New York Explorer Pass
Once you have your list of things to do, look at the attractive passes out there. We opted for the Explorer Pass and decided on 4 attractions that covered the main things we wanted! They were Top of the Rock, the Gossip Girl tour, an express tour to see the Statue of Liberty & the 9/11 memorial museum.
We opted for a 5 attraction pass which you can buy from a few different places. I’d recommend looking directly on their website or Attraction Tickets as they have offers on quite often!
Visit the ‘real’ Winnie the Pooh
A trip to the New York library isn’t on many people’s lists, but if you are a Disney fan you don’t want to miss it! As you enter you want to head to the children’s centre and Pooh & friends will be there in all their glory!
Snap some photos at the Mickey mural
Another one for Disney fans, when I visited (Jan 2020) there was a Mickey Mouse mural on Mott street. If you love a photo for the gram, this is perfect. I believe the closest subway station is Bleaker Street.
See a show on Broadway
This was recommended by everyone and we knew it had to happen! We love a good show so opted for Meal Girls. Lucky for us, we were there during Broadway Week which I believe happens twice throughout the year. Its essentially 2 for 1 tickets so we got two for like £50!
There’s a lot of different advice when it comes to buying tickets, if you know exactly what you want to see and have you heart set on it, book before you go! Use ticketmaster or something similar. If you aren’t bothered, there is a biiiig booth in Times Square you can pick up tickets from.
Spend half a day outlet shopping if it’s your thing
I love US outlets so one of the things on our list was to visit Woodbury Common outlets. They are about an hour outside of NYC by coach and there are loads of stores, such as Gucci, Disney, Levi’s and I thought Pandora was particularly good!
We bought our tickets before we travelled from Attraction Tickets. They were £29 each for the return coach, you don’t have to book a time/date, but they recommend you arrive about 30 mins before the time the coach is due to leave. It’s first come first serve and it left slightly early, so better to be safe and get there around 30 minutes before you depart.
Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan
Jump on the subway to Brooklyn, eat at the Time Out market and then walk back over to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge. A lot of people will recommend this but surprisingly we found loads of people doing it the other way! The views of Manhattan from the bridge are amazing, so it’s best to walk over that way.
Make sure you walk the High Line
The high line is an old train track, which has been developed into an amazing walk way through the city. You can then jump off it and explore Chelsea Market for a bite to eat. I wish we’d had more time on our trip so we could have spent longer there!
Visit Little Italy for some lunch
Unfortunately for us it was raining soooo much when we’d planned to visit Little Italy so we didn’t get to spend a lot of time around the area. We did however eat at Da Nico which was really lovely! Great food and service and whilst it was fairly busy at lunch we got seated and served really quickly.
Check the Weather
We visited in January and BOYYYY it was cold! We had spoken to people who had been around the same time, I stalked people who had only just come back and we kept our eyes on the weather apps! If you visit in January it’s going to be cold but walking around you’ll feel warmer so I recommend layers. I took thermals which I wore a couple of times, but I had a coat, scarf, hat and gloves which I just took off if I felt they were too much. It had snowed a few days before we got there so we were aware of that, too.
It’s just about being clever, so layers were key for us!
Try not to get caught up in the 1000 million different things people will tell you before you go
And finally, I found it so overwhelming when we were planning this trip, it was unbelievable! I’d consider myself someone who has travelled a lot but the sheer volume of recommendations or ‘don’t do this’ was CRAZY! Especially as they all contradicted each other!
My advice: you do you! It’s your trip and do things you want.