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New York

Arguably the epicenter of the world (or at least according to New Yorkers), NYC needs no introduction. This bright-lights, ‘round-the-clock city has it all: iconic museums, yellow taxis, stellar shopping, and a culinary spectrum ranging from dollar slices to rarefied tasting menus.

Explore New York

67 Hoods
1172 Places
3 Itineraries
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Explore New York

67 Hoods
1172 Places
3 Itineraries
See all places

To longtime residents and besotted visitors, New York City can feel like the center of the universe. A claim so outsized and arrogant could seem off-putting, but this brash confidence is part of what attracts people from all over the world to call this dialed-to-eleven city home. New restaurants and bars open as quickly as they shutter, museums hold awe-inspiring collections, sprawling parks provide respite from the bustle, and skyscrapers offer sweeping views. There are no half measures here; this city functions at an unprecedented pace, with no signs of slowing down. Your job is simply to keep up (good luck!).

About New York City

(Photo Courtesy: TomasSereda)

When to go:

One of the magical things about New York is that no matter the time of year, there is always something to do: During the holiday season, tourists flock to Manhattan for a glimpse of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (November) and to revel in the outsized glory of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and 5th Avenue department store windows (November through December). Things get a little quiet between January and March, due to frigid temperatures, but come spring and summer, New York shakes off its frosty winter to welcome major movie, music, and food festival, and rooftop drinking. In the autumn, cool temperatures replace the heat, with beautiful fall foliage best enjoyed at Central and Prospect parks, or Hudson Valley towns easily accessible by MetroNorth. Luckily, all trains and buses come equipped with air conditioning and heating.

Think twice before hailing a yellow cab:

Riding in the the iconic yellow cabs isn't as glamorous as the movies make it out to be. Traffic congestion is one of the biggest headaches in Manhattan and its outer boroughs, especially during peak hours. While public transportation comes with its own problems (the dreaded signal malfunctions and NYPD investigations), in most circumstances, it's faster. If you're in doubt, check a maps app, as trips can become complicated and/or slow when transfers come into play. The subway, when it works right, works well, and most stations do not charge you to transfer onto another train.

That being said, don't let us deter you from ever experiencing a yellow cab: it's a hell of a ride that might leave your stomach a tad queasy, but can sometimes be the most efficient way to get to your destination. FYI: Hailing a yellow cab between 4 and 5pm is nearly impossible because of the shift change; also, yellow cabs typically charge a fixed rate depending on which airport you're going to.

Major ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft are popular here. Many New Yorkers, especially in areas where yellow cabs are less common, opt to order them instead. As always, Uber/Lyft provide a fixed price depending on distance and surge pricing whereas yellow cabs operate on a meter system.

Bikes are available to rent every few blocks though Citi Bikes, the local bike-sharing system. The ferry is also a viable and fun option for those seafaring folk who appreciate a good view of the city and don't mind a little wind in their hair. Routes take customers between boroughs with multiple stops along the way, and only costs $2.75. If the views aren't enough, you can drink beer or rosé as you head to your destination. And if all else fails, do as locals do: walk.

Breaking down the subway costs:

(Photo Courtesy: krblokhin)

  • Single-ride: $3.00; good for one swipe and cannot reload money into the card
  • Single-ride MetroCard: $2.75; good for one ride and can reload it with any amount of money. MetroCards are yellow whereas single-ride cards are white.
  • 7-Day Unlimited MetroCard: $33; can be used as many times as needed in a one-week span, including on buses. This is a great choice for those visiting for a few days.
  • 30-Day Unlimited MetroCard: $127; a better option for locals and commuters and not for visitors staying a short time.
  • If you're traveling from JFK into the city, the AirTrain MetroCard costs $5 per ride. The $5 does not cover additional subway rides, only the AirTrain to nearby subway station or the Long Island Railroad.
  • If you're riding the bus without a MetroCard, you'll need exact change (no bills accepted) to pay for the $2.75 fare. If you swiped a yellow MetroCard on the bus and hopped onto a subway a few minutes later, you will not get charged twice. If you paid the bus fare with coins and need to transfer to another bus, ask the driver to give you a transfer card. Transfer cards only work between buses, not bus to subway.

Speaking of money:

New York operates on US dollars, and lots of it. Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere but it's not a bad idea to keep some bills on hand for small transactions and for picking up the tab at the rare cash-only establishment.

New York is overwhelming, where to begin?

New York is its own microcosm and you cannot possibly see everything in one trip, and that's what makes the city so great. First-time visitors may gravitate towards the classic tourist attractions like Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center. But the real magic lies in wandering through residential neighborhoods, people watching, eating your way through the city's vast array of restaurants, or stumbling into a hidden jazz bar in the middle of the night. Yes, definitely go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but don't overlook the City Reliquary Museum in Williamsburg.

The locals seem to have a lot of attitude:

Like any relationship, New York comes with a lot of baggage. Being that most New Yorkers have somewhere to be and quickly (after all, time is money), one can understand that dawdling tourists can get in the way. Walking on the right side of the sidewalk or standing on the right side of the escalator is highly encouraged unless you want to be shoved "accidentally." The stereotypical New Yorker does exist (although you may have to travel deep into Brooklyn or the Bronx to hear any whiff of fuggedaboutits), but that doesn't mean all eight million of them are unapproachable. The people are pretty friendly here if you use good sense and don't get in their way.

How to "be" a New Yorker:

(Photo Courtesy: anouchka)

Here are some helpful facts and tidbits that'll get you through another day:

  • If you're here for the bagels, a lox bagel (cream cheese, salmon, onions, capers, tomatoes) is a classic. Embracing this American-Jewish creation at Zabar's or Russ and Daughter's on a Sunday morning is about as New York as you can get.
  • An empty subway car is never a good thing: Whether it's vomit or a malfunctioning A/C unit blasting heat in the middle of the summer, beware.
  • The swiping of a MetroCard is an art form. Too slow, it may eat your money like a vending machine and not let you through; too fast and the turnstile may not budge one inch. Either way, you're holding up the line behind you, but hopefully you'll get the hang of it soon.
  • Many subway lines change or do not operate on the weekends. Don't get stuck, check ahead! Also, although subways run 24/7 in New York, construction and late-night hours means less trains and longer wait times.
  • When using the subway system, the concepts of "north" and "south" do not exist. It's either uptown or downtown. If you're headed to another borough, terminus station names indicate the direction you're going. When in doubt consult the directions on your phone.
  • Unlike Los Angeles, you will not get a ticket for jaywalking. Sure, it can be dangerous, but New Yorkers are all about living on the edge, even if that edge is a curb.
  • Museums can get pricey, so look out for "suggested admission prices" or days where museums open their doors to the public for free or at half the price (monthly or weekly). Students get a discount at many museums with their ID.
  • Whoever said nothing good is ever free was wrong. The Staten Island Ferry is very much free, runs every few minutes, and gives you a great view of the Statue of Liberty without setting foot on Liberty Island, where tourists pose like John Lennon in front of Lady Liberty. It's a win-win.
  • Bodegas are the soul of New York. The corner store grocery sells everything from JUUL pods to a bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll, which New Yorkers can agree is the best hangover cure in town. Some bodegas even come with their very own bodega cats.
  • As far as cheap eats go: opt for pizza instead of a dirty water dog. Wolfing a dollar slice is practically a right of passage, but if you're willing to spend a bit more (around $3-4/slice), the quality goes up dramatically.
  • Outside of Chinatown and Koreatown, the best Asian food is located in Flushing, Queens (yes, Queens!).
  • If you hear the word "Showtime!" in the subway, get ready to watch kids dance and pull acrobatic moves on the subway poles. You may also get hit in the face.
  • Grammar junkies take note: New Yorkers are "on line," never waiting "in line" for anything.

Good to know:

  • Although tip is usually not included in your bill, some restaurants are gratuity-included or ticketed. Otherwise, a 20-percent tip is customary.
  • New Yorkers tend to eat and go out later than a lot of other places. Because bars are open late (drinks can be served till 4am), don't be surprised if you get invited to dinner past 8pm. Fittingly, brunch also starts on the late side here, and can be a hellish experience at peak hours (12:30-2pm), if you don't have a reservation. To beat the hungover crowds, get out the door early.
  • A wealth of late-night dining options exist. While most restaurants close at more reasonable hours, greasy spoons, and even some higher-end restaurants satisfy cravings late into the night.
  • Reservations are key to a smooth dining experience at most high-profile restaurants. That said, if you didn't book ahead, you might find luck in queuing up early (we're talking 5:30pm), as many establishments reserve a certain amount of tables for walk-ins. Prime dinner hours skew later than in many American cities, with 7:30-8:30 being the peak.
Block devider

Major Neighborhoods

(Photo Courtesy: Andrew Bertuleit)

This is by no means a complete list of all the neighborhoods that make up New York. Below are a few highlights and not-to-miss areas in each borough.

Manhattan

Chinatown in Manhattan (Photo Courtesy: FilippoBacci)

The heart of New York, and where it all began; some of the city's most beloved neighborhoods call Manhattan home. Midtown encompasses many of the major attractions and events venues that have become synonymous with New York, from the Theater District to the south end of Central Park. Midtown also tends to be the most crowded area on the island. Central Park borders both the Upper East and Upper West Sides, which are known for their affluence, family-oriented nature, and major museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, respectively. To the north, West and East Harlem have deep roots in the African-American and Spanish communities, so expect great jazz and Latin American and Caribbean food.

Downtown, Chelsea, West Village, and Greenwich Village are hubs for contemporary art, the LGBTQ community, young professionals, and literary crowds who pine for bygone days. If nightlife is your jam, East Village, Lower East Side, and Alphabet City has got you covered: from dives to speakeasies. Residents of these neighborhoods tend to skew young, and include college students who attend nearby colleges like NYU. SoHo, Nolita, and NoHo are home to some of the city's finest — albeit, priciest — shops; commerce and cinematically-beautiful streets draw models (both of runway and Instagram varieties) as well as throngs of tourists. Dumpling and noodle houses provide a traditional Chinatown experience, but fashion-set crowds gravitate to the Two Bridges area for the hip restaurants and bars that have popped up in recent years. The Financial District is not only the most powerful financial hub in the world, but it is also one of the most historical areas of old New York (aka New Amsterdam); major skyscrapers, museums, and unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty attract those who don't talk money.

Brooklyn

(Photo Courtesy: cmart7327)

Like a younger sister that's come into her own, Brooklyn may once have been viewed as a more-affordable alternative to Manhattan, but is very much now a destination in its own right. Here you'll find chill vibes, excellent dining, charming brownstones, and a little more space to breathe. A wave of gentrification has transformed Williamsburg — once the mecca of hipsterdom — into a neighborhood filled with posh shops and restaurants. Vestiges of the old Williamsburg still remain, but it is now mainly yuppies and tourists roaming the streets. Quieter and quirkier, neighboring Greenpoint is home to some of North Brooklyn's best bars, shops, and restaurants. Gentrification has also taken hold of this Polish enclave, but the effects are slightly-less apparent. Bushwick is the grungier cousin to the east; here you'll find music venues, bars, and hip restaurants housed in converted warehouses.

Picture-perfect DUMBO can get a little loud with the subways running along the Manhattan Bridge, but a few steps away is the Brooklyn Bridge and an incredible view of Lower Manhattan that's worth the racket. Just south, Downtown Brooklyn operates as its own micro-city, but if you're looking to visit the home of Biggie Smalls or drool over the iconic brownstones, Bedford-Stuyvesant is your best bet. For a slice of local life, take a stroll around the neighborhoods surrounding Prospect Park (Park Slope and Prospect Heights) or head east to Crown Heights, a neighborhood that celebrates Caribbean influences. For adventurous kinds looking to explore the far flung reaches of Brooklyn, Coney Island is home to one of the oldest wooden rollercoaster in the world — take a ride if you dare!

Queens

The globe sculpture in Corona Park (Photo Courtesy: Mishella)

Queens is often overshadowed by Manhattan and Brooklyn, but has much to offer to those who venture into this wildly diverse borough. The proof is in Jackson Heights, where you can taste just about any cuisine imaginable. Long Island City has morphed from industrial wasteland to a neighborhood filled with shiny high-rises. Perhaps best known to nonresidents for its proximity to midtown, it's also home to MoMA PS1 (and its summer DJ sets). A large population of Greeks and Brazilians call Astoria home, so you can expect above-average gyros and pão de queijos here.

Hop on the 7 train to Flushing where the Asian-immigrant population surpasses that of Manhattan's Chinatown, meaning that the dumpling game here is real. Catch a tennis match or root for the Mets in nearby Corona in the summer months**. Ridgewood** is on its way to becoming the next Bushwick with corner shops and locally-owned eateries popping up around its quiet streets.

The Bronx & Staten Island

The Landmark Zoo Center Building, formerly Elephant House, at the Bronx Zoo (Photo Courtesy: littleny)

If Queens is overshadowed, then these two outer boroughs are often overlooked. And unfairly so. While it may take a long subway ride to reach the heart of the Bronx, once you're there, you're welcomed with open arms. The Bronx Botanical Garden and Bronx Zoo (one of the largest in the United States) are reasons alone to head north for the day; you may even forget you're still in the city. A stroll down Arthur Avenue feels like a trip to Italy without the plane ticket. Here, you can eat your way through red sauce restaurants, before heading to Yankee Stadium to cheer on your favorite players.

The Staten Island leaves from Lower Manhattan and is free of charge. (Photo Courtesy: OlegAlbinsky)

From the corner

New York's must-visit places

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