10 Rules for Traveling to New York City, NY

 

When traveling to New York City, there are some rules you will want to know before and while traveling there. New York is like Las Vegas on steroids. It is a very unique and very alive city. You will find it hard not to get either caught up or annoyed by the speed and hustle and bustle of the city. If you want to do, eat, see or hear something, NYC will have it and probably 5 different versions of it. This is one of the many reasons why you should be prepared for your visit. These 10 Rules of New York City will guild you through trip with ease.

  1. Getting Around: This is probably one of the most important rules of NYC. This is when you lace up your shoes and head out. As long as you remember a couple things, you will be good to go. First, get your bearings! Most places in the world, you can see a single landmark to help get your bearings but in New York, all you see is skyscrapers. Secondly, once you figure out which way North is, you just need to remember AVEs run north and south and Streets run east and west. Lastly, Manhattan Island is only 4.5 miles from Central Park to southern tip and only 2 miles wide. Don't let the city intimidate you, you can walk to just about anything you will need.
    • My Advice: Make sure you pack comfortable clothes and a good pair of walking shoes. As long as you are not leaving the city and are up for it, you can go your entire trip without even hailing a taxi or jumping on a subway car. If you are staying more than a day, I would recommend picking up a multiday/week Mass Transit Pass. This would allow you to hop on the subway or bus anytime you need and without having to purchase a new pass each time.
       
  2. The Subway: The subway is the heart of NYC. It is what makes it tick and allows the city to keep moving. It is one of the oldest and most expansive subway systems in the world, so take advantage of it! The are 468 stations and over 229 miles of track, so it will either be able to take you to your destination or get your dang close. Don't get scared off by the way TV shows and movies portray it as a dirty, dark and scary place. It is actually a very safe, easy, quick and clean (well as clean as a tunnel in the ground that carries millions of people can be) way to travel Manhattan. It is also one of the cheapest and quickest ways to travel and get around Manhattan and surrounding boroughs.
    • My Advice: Use the subway to the fullest extent. First pick up a multiday/week pass, so you don't have to be purchasing a new pass every time you need to take it. Secondly, figure out the subway system. By this I mean, know which trains are express, which are not, where the stations are, which way they are heading and make sure you are entering the station on the correct side (if you swipe your card and are on the wrong side, you will not be able to go to the other side and swipe your card again for 15 minutes). Once you are able to figure that out, you will wonder how you were every able to get by without it.
       
  3. Hotel: This is also a very important rule. Your hotel will dictate most of your trip, so you will want to do your research and due diligence when selecting one. Picking a hotel in NYC is like buying a home, unless you’re on an unlimited budget, you are going to have to compromise on what you book. What is going to be most important to you, booking through a specific hotel chain, the room size or amenities offered, maybe a certain neighborhood or you need at least 3 stars or higher or maybe it is a very specific location. There are over 245 hotels and 69,000 rooms, so you will have your choice, make it wisely.
    • My Advice: There are a couple factors before I can even give my advice on this subject. First, do you want a more relaxing vacation or do you want to be in the heart of it all? Both answers will find you ending up in Midtown but you will want to make sure you end up in the right spot. If you like the people, speed and noise of NYC, you will want to find a place right on or near Time Square. If you are someone that can only take wall to wall waves of people, no matter the time of day, you will want to find a place at least several blocks off of Time Square or any major attraction. Photograph America stayed at the Hotel Edison. It was a very fairly priced hotel, literally 100 feet from Time Square. This meant we were right next to a subway station for transportation anywhere, restaurants, bars, gift shops, shopping, Time Square, the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station and just about anything else you could imagine. This comes with a compromise though. This means you are right next to everything I just mentioned and also the noise and droves and droves of people that come with it. I am not a person that minds crowds or a lot of people but it only took me a couple days before I was starting to get sick of all the people, weaving in and out of them and at 3am in the morning, it is still the same.
       
  4. Broadway: You can't go to New York without going to at least one Broadway show. It is unlike any other play, performance or show you have ever seen. The actors are bigger, the sets are bigger and the shows bigger. You have to see at least one Broadway show while in New York. Tickets can sell out quick and you will be paying well for them but you will definitely find it worth it.
    • My Advice: Firstly, you will need to decide which show you will be going to see. You will have your choice of comedies, tragedies, classics, opera and more. So choose a genre or find an actor you have always wanted to see and start reading the reviews and descriptions. Secondly, purchasing your tickets. If money is no concern, go online and find a good seat in the middle of the lower level and enjoy the show. For the rest of us, we will do our research and compare our options. There are two main options, one is to go online and buy our tickets and the second is to stand in line and buy them at the TKTS booths. Many people like to be able to hold their tickets in their hand and they are many places to go online and buy those tickets and good price beforehand. For the rest, they want or need to save every cent they can, let’s be real, New York is not a cheap place to travel too. For them, there are the TKTS booths. There are two of them; one in Time Square and the other in the southern seaport are of Manhattan. Now, you will have to remember a couple things, you will be standing in line for a while and you may not have a great selection of plays to choose from. How long you ask, well it could be anywhere from 30 minutes to the more likely 1 to 4 hours. My advice is to find head to the much less busy seaport TKTS booth for a matinee show. There are less people at that location and less people waiting for the earlier matinee tickets.
       
  5. Attractions: The attractions, the reason so many people make the pilgrimage to New York City. I could go on for pages and pages on all the attractions, which ones to see, which ones to skip, how to see them, when to see them and so on but I am going to condense it down for you. So let’s get this started.
    • My Advice: There are several ways to look at this, if you are looking for views, architecture and history or if you are working with a specific budget or on a set time frame. Without know all that, all I can do is tell you what is worth seeing, when to see it and what to remember.

·        What to see:

1.      Empire State Building: This may be the most overdone attraction in New York but is still the must see for Photograph America. It offers the best and unobstructed views of the city, both Downtown and of Midtown. If you are going to go, I would recommend heading up top at sunset, for some amazing views of the sunset and the city lit up and twinkling below you.

2.      Brooklyn Bridge and Park: This is left off of a lot of lists and shouldn't be. Once you make the journey, this will instantly become one of your favorite memories. My advice: Take the subway to the High St/Brooklyn Bridge station. Walk a couple blocks NW to the Empire Fulton Ferry State Park. This park offers green space, benches and amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Manhattan. From there was a couple blocks to the Brooklyn Bridge Park to take in more green space and amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan. From there, hike the steps up to the Brooklyn Bridge and share the walkway back to Manhattan.

3.      Rockefeller Center/Top of the Rock: The musts: Check out Rockefeller Plaza, the Atlas Statue, St. Patrick’s Cathedral across the street and then head up top to the "Top of the Rock." The misses: The Tonight Show, Rock Center Cafe and the Rockefeller Center Tour.

4.      Chrysler Building: This one makes our list because it is arguably one of the top 2 most beautiful buildings in America (the other being down the street at 350 5th Ave). There is no observation deck our building tour but the design, architecture and history of this building, make it is a must see.

5.      Grand Central Station: Another building filled with history and detail. It is also the largest train station in the world (by # of platforms).

6.      Time Square: Many people will argue this but if you have not been, you definitely will have to walk through Time Square at least once. If not the the sights, sounds and TV hanging from each building but for the ambiance and electricity that runs through it.

7.      Yankees Game: If you aren't from NY, you probably hate the Yankees but don't take it out on the brand new, state of the stadium or the 57,000 other people at the game. It is truly a beautiful stadium and unique experience.

8.      Broadway Play: This is another of the typical must do's of visiting New York.

9.      NYC Harbor Cruise: This was not high on my list of to do when traveling to NYC but it quickly became one of my favorite experiences and most memorable. Take the time to relax and take the twilight tour around the harbor. Definitely a must do.

10.  The MET: This didn't just make the list for it's amazing works of arts and collections but also because of the rooftop. Unknown to many travelers, the MET offers a rooftop, with a cafe, an outside exhibit and most importantly, amazing and one of a kind views of NYC and Central Park.

·        What to avoid:

1.      Coney Island: Yes, there is all the history, the amusement park and Nathan's but there is also a 45 minute subway ride to it, questionable food stands and a beach littered with trash and broken glass everywhere.

2.      Staten Island Ferry: This was a difficult one to put on the Avoid list but it offers bad views and overcrowded rides across the river. The main reason it landed on the avoid list is because if you want to see NYC from the harbor, take a harbor cruise. You will see, learn and enjoy so much more.

3.      Time Square: Yes, this was also on the must see list. Time Square is one of those places you have to see but you have to see just once.

4.      China Town: Don't let China Town get your hopes up, there isn't much there or much to do.

5.      Street Food Vendors: Everybody wants to get a hot dog from the street vendor and they may be convenient but that is where the positives end.

6.      Century 21 Dept Store: This is a definite must avoid. It may be the only department store, it may seem like it has good deals but before you know it, you are trapped in it with what could literally be 1 million other people, trying to avoid enough people to just get out alive.

7.      Statue of Liberty: It is the symbol of our country and an important one but you aren't going to see much more after your expensive and long trip to it, then you would from Manhattan itself.

8.      Ellis Island: If you want to see if or search for you name, by all means go but otherwise all you really gain from this trip is a thinner wallet and several hours you will never get back.

6.      Planning: This will be very important for one major reason, NYC has everything to offer. If you are going there with no real plans and nothing you have to do, then don't worry about it. If you are like the rest of the world, there will be certain things you want to do, a certain budget you will have and a certain time frame you will have to do it in.

·        My Advice: Make a list of everything you want to see or do and then start planning out your trip. Rank what you would like to do. Then figure out costs of everything. Then figure out which days you can or would like to do it. This will help you stay on budget and see everything you want to do without losing your sanity. Also, search online and find some of the little less known attractions.

7.      Safety: When someone thinks of tourist in NYC, they think of pick pockets and thieves. Although it is an issue and the typical tourist is easy target, it is also blown way out of proportion, especially if you follow a couple guidelines.

·        My Advice:

A.    Pick Pockets: All you need to remember for this is women, have your purse around you shoulder or neck instead of just dangling from you hand or arm. Men, ditch the wallet and carry your cash and cards in your front pocket. International travelers buy a passport lanyard and wear it under your shirt/clothes.

B.     Neighborhoods: Every larger city across the world has worse neighborhoods and neighborhoods you need to avoid, NYC is no exception. If you are going to go off the beaten path, do it during the day or take a cab straight to your destination. Otherwise, if you are heading to or from any major attraction, you will be around people and in safer neighborhoods.

8.      Tickets/Pricing: Almost everything in NYC is going to cost you something. The good news is that just about everything that will cost you money, you will be able to save on and also save a lot of time if you do your research and plan ahead.

·        My Advice:

A.    For things like concerts or sporting events, you can browse sites like StubHub. If you are willing to wait until the day of the event, you can save up to 75% or more.

B.     For Broadway plays, you can also use StubHub or take your chances at the TKTS booths. Head to the south street one and the lines will be shorter.

C.    For attractions, check out sites like CityPass or the New York Pass. Both offer great discounts for bundling several attractions together, are customizable and most importantly, allow you to bypass the ticket lines at the attractions.

D.    Using the subway, pick up an Unlimited Ride Metro pass. For only $27, you can get a 7 day unlimited metro pass.

9.      Eating: New York City is the center for food. NYC is home to the Food Network, restaurants of every kind and some of the top chefs in the world. New York has over 20,000 restaurants, so you will have your choice.

·        My Advice: Find the real, unique and authentic NYC restaurants. Trust me, you are not going to find them around Time Square or next to other major attractions. Get off the beaten path! There are some truly great restaurants out there but if you never sway from your tourist map or book, you will never find them. My advice, talk to the locals and find out what their favorites are.

10.  Understanding: This is probably the most important rule for us at Photograph America. You are traveling to one of the oldest, most history rich and architecturally stunning places in the world.

·        My Advice: Head to Barnes and Noble and pick up a couple books about NYC and traveling there. Read up on all the history, the design, inspiration, buildings and the city. Then when you are there, stop, take a breath and actually look at some of the buildings to see how much work, detail and craftsmanship went into to. Walk through the finance district and think about how much money and power is around you. Peer out to Ellis Island and think about the people that saved their entire life, sat on boat for months, just for the opportunity to come where you are now standing.

 

Final Advice: Bring a camera! New York City has views around and on top of every corner, CAPTURE IT! Take a minute and check out some of the ways I was able to capture it at www.KlementGallery.com.