new-york City Times Square

Everything You Need to Know for Your First Visit to New York City

Has New York City captured your imagination with its sparkling night skyline, theΒ endless things to see and do, and the nonstop energetic pulse?

Whether you’re drawn to live here (like me!) or visit, there’s no denying the magnetizing pull to experience incredible NYC.

If you’re planning your first visit to New York City, this guide has everything you need to know. From itinerary ideas with maps, tips on where to stay and eat, and how to get around, you have everything you need to make your first visit to New York City an absolute success!

Planning New York City Travel? This is a complete NYC guide with itinerary tips, things to do, where to stay, & more + A FREE NYC Cheat Sheet to take with you on your trip! #NYC #Travel #NewYorkCity

Arrival into New York City

New York City has 3 airports nearby, JFK, Laguardia, and Newark Liberty in New Jersey. If your flight arrives into JFK or Newark, it is possible to take commuter trains and/or the subway to get into NYC.

Visitors arriving into Laguardia, on the other hand, have fewer public transportation options. If taking a taxi or car service from Laguardia, brace yourself for at least an hour ride into Manhattan as the traffic can be horrendous in this area depending on the time of day your flight arrives.

New York Airport

New York City taxis are available at JFK and Laguardia. It’s a flat $52 fare from JFK plus tolls and tip. The fare is calculated by the meter for rides from Laguardia. You will pay to sit in traffic. To save money, book a ride with the most trusted shuttle from the New York Airports. They’re comfortable, reliable, and far cheaper than a taxi.

If you live in the northeast and are coming for your first visit to New York City, you’re better off taking a commuter train like Metro-North, NJ Transit, or Amtrak into the city. Or, for an even cheaper option, take a bus directly to New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, just 1 block from Times Square.

How to Get Around in New York City

Driving and parking in Manhattan are a nightmare. The best way to get anywhere in New York City is to put on the most comfortable shoes and take the subway or walk. (I own 2 pairs and wear them all the time to walk around NYC.)

And what about that pesky luggage?!

Of course, the easiest way to get around either by subway or on foot is without carrying heavy bags. Many subway entrances have only stairs and sidewalks, restaurants, and other attractions are likely to be crowded and even restrict luggage and other big bags.

So be sure to drop off your luggage at your hotel as soon as you can. Most hotels will securely store your bags even if your room isn’t ready for check-in yet.

Free of your bags, you can move around the city hassle-free, take in your surroundings, and focus on whether you should be heading uptown or downtown. πŸ˜‰

New York City Orientation and Subway Travel Tips

Think of New York City’s streets as a giant tic-tac-toe board across Manhattan. With the exception of lower Manhattan, streets run in a systematic, grid pattern. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the city like an expert pedestrian.
  • Streets run horizontally from east to west.
  • Avenues run vertically from north to south.
  • 5th Avenue splits the east side from the west side. Address numbers get lower the closer the building is to 5th Avenue and higher the farther it is away from 5th Avenue.
  • Broadway is the exception. It runs diagonally, interestingly enough, following an old Native American footpath.

The New York City subway extends throughout the city. No matter where you want to go, it’s likely a subway line is heading in that direction. Here’s the subway info you need to know to look like a pro.

  • Metrocards can be purchased from a ticket agent or from the automated machines in the stations. The small machines are for purchases made with credit cards or debit cards only. If you live outside the U.S., use 99999 as your zip code.
  • You can buy pay-per-ride Metrocards or unlimited weekly or monthly passes. There’s a $1 charge to get the actual card before loading it with money or time.
  • The subway fare is $2.75 per person each way with free transfers between the subway and city buses.
  • If you plan to ride the subway at least 12 times, the weekly unlimited pass will save you money regardless of how many days you stay in New York City. Unlimited passes are good for just 1 person, as you can only swipe it once every 18 minutes, except if you’re making a transfer from train to bus.
  • Download an NYC subway app or keep a PDF to save on your phone. I love the Exit Strategy app because it shows the subway map but also tells you which car will drop you closest to the subway exit.
  • Don’t get confused between express and local trains. On the map, express train stops are marked with a white circle while local stops show a black circle.
NYC subway
New York City subway platform

One last thing to consider for travel within NYC…

  • Bike rentals are plentiful. I wouldn’t suggest riding along the streets on your first visit to New York City, but scenic rides along the Hudson River bike path and through parks are great ways to combine sightseeing and transportation.

What to See and Do on Your First Visit to New York City

Itinerary Planning Idea #1 – Classic First-Time Sights

Times Square with its neon signs, bright lights, Broadway marquis, crowds of people, honking horns, and yellow taxis, all combine for a whirlwind introduction to NYC. On your first visit to New York City, it makes sense to start at this iconic crossroads.

new-york City Times Square

While you’re looking up, down, and all around Times Square, you’re sure to notice all the Broadway Theaters and the billboards advertising what’s playing. A TKTS Booth sells discounted tickets for performances on the same day. The TKTS app lets you know which shows have discounted tickets on sale that day. If you’re set on seeing a particular show, though, check Broadwaybox for advance purchase of discounted seats. Either way, seeing a Broadway show is an absolute must!

Don’t waste time waiting in line at TKTS, and instead, do as the locals do! Come back to TKTS 30 minutes before show time. There are always tickets available with practically no wait in line. πŸ™‚

Broadway NYC

Walk east along 50th Street, crossing over 7th Avenue, then 6th Avenue, to reach Rockefeller Center. On your way, you’ll see Radio City Music Hall and maybe even a Rockette or two!

The plaza at Rockefeller Center hosts the Today Show and their summer concerts, as well as the 30 Rock Center skyscraper, home to the SNL studios and the observation deck at the top. Christmas in New York is so magical when the ice skating rink fills with skaters just in front of the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree.

Continue again east, out of Rockefeller Center, to 5th Avenue and see the striking facade of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Head inside to tour the cathedral with a guide or on your own with the audio guide app.

You’re now on 5th Avenue, famous for its upscale boutiques and department stores. Walk along the avenue for a first-hand look at the busy combination of traffic, tour buses, and pedestrians.

NYC Dusk

You’ll not want to miss a chance at a birds-eye view over New York City and the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock offer breathtaking views! If you’re short on time or money (or both!), visit just 1 of these amazing skyscrapers.

The Empire State Building is a classic NYC landmark with an observation deck on the 86th and 102nd floors. If you choose the Empire State Building, head south on 5th Avenue (street numbers going down 50, 49, etc.) to 34th street.

The Top of the Rock observation deck is on the 70th floor. The bonus is you’ll also get to see and photograph the skyline with the Empire State Building in it. To visit the Top of the Rock, return to Rockefeller Plaza.

Either way, purchase your tickets in advance to save time in line…or even avoid the line altogether!

If you plan on maxing out on all of New York’s famous sights, save time and money with a New York CityPass, which gets you entry 6 NYC sights (3 set & 3 you choose) for one bundled low price! At some attractions, skip the line privileges are included, as well.

Pro Tip: Bryant Park (summer movies & holiday markets) and the New York Public Library (Rose Room) are worth a visit, too! Both are on the way to the Empire State Building at 42nd St. and 5th Avenue. Macy’s and Herald Square are just 1 block west of the Empire State Building, at 34th St. and 6th Avenue. (Aren’t there just so many things to do in NYC!?) πŸ˜‰

Itinerary Planning Idea #2 – Art, History, and a Classic Stroll

Several museums line the east and west sides of Central Park. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is along 5th Avenue at 82nd Street. The American Museum of Natural History is on the opposite side of the park on 81st Street and Central Park West. Both of these museums are musts on your first visit to New York City.

From the Temple of Dendur to Impressionist paintings by Monet and Renoir at “the Met” and the Prehistoric Halls and ocean and mammal exhibits on display at the Museum of Natural History, these stops offer the quintessential NYC museum experience.

Choose 1 of these museums to begin your day. After a few hours, and likely the effect of museum fatigue, head outside for some fresh air and a stroll through Central Park.

Central Park spans from 59th Street to 110th Street between 5th Avenue and Central Park West. Walk the pathways and discover Sheep’s Meadow, the Lake, and all the fountains, monuments, gardens, and bridges along the way. Be willing to “get lost” which is nearly impossible if you use the buildings and the traffic noise on the park’s east or west sides as bearings. Download the Central Park app to show where you are in relation to the park’s popular sights.

Meander to the opposite side of the park from where you entered and walk toward whichever of the above museums you have left to visit. Spend your afternoon enjoying another of New York City’s incredible museums.

Pro Tip: New York CityPASS includes entry to both the Met and the Museum of Natural History. The Guggenheim is not far from the Met and can also be included with your CityPASS depending on which attractions you decide to visit.

Itinerary Planning Idea #3 – Exploring Lower Manhattan

Yes, Times Square needs to be seen, but it should also be left. New York City has so much more to offer first-timers! Take the subway down to Lower Manhattan and do a bit of exploring.

Whether you want to shop in Soho, see classic NYC in Greenwich Village, eat well in Chinatown, or want a detailed Lower Manhattan itinerary, you’ll glimpse more of the “real” Manhattan by heading away from midtown’s more touristy spots.

New York City Chinatown
How about some Chinese food from Chinatown?

A few iconic sights should not be missed while you’re at Manhattan’s southern tip.  Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a must! Stroll along the pedestrian promenade to admire the New York City views and wonder over how such an impressive structure was built before the days of power tools.

Brooklyn Bridge Stock New York

Pro Tip: Many visitors like to head into Brooklyn and get pizza at Grimaldi’s. The pizza is delicious, but if you prefer not to wait in long lines, see my recommended pizza stops in the Lower Manhattan itinerary above. πŸ™‚

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum remembers and reflects on the events and the lives lost during the terrorist attacks. The experience is emotional but poignant and so well-designed.

The reflecting pools are in the original tower footprints with the names of victims inscribed around the edges. The museum houses artifacts like a damaged firetruck and the personal anecdotal accounts of the day. The memorial and museum simultaneously honor the fallen, inspire a sense of Patriotism, and encourage a continuing faith in the goodness of humanity.

It’s also a great opportunity to see the sweeping city and harbor views from the One World Observatory, one of the best things to do in NYC. As with any New York City attraction, purchasing tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line is a smart way to maximize your time.

As you ask yourself is the New York CityPASS worth it, know that the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is included with CityPASS but the One World Observatory ticket is not.

Freedom Tower & North Reflecting Pool

After visiting the museum, walk along Manhattan’s west side, through the West Village and Meat Packing neighborhoods. The streets are small and, sometimes, even lined with cobblestones.

Explore the cafes, beer gardens, and shops on your way to the High Line entrance at Gansevoort Street. It’s an elevated urban park built along abandoned train tracks. The views, street art, and ambiance along the walk will leave you feeling like a true New Yorker.

For a deeper look into the area, join a High Line and Meatpacking Neighborhood tour. Not only, do you get the High Line views, but you’ll also see architecture and art, as well as tour Chelsea Markets.

New York City High Line

Pro Tip: Another (obvious) sight to consider, depending on how much time you have in New York City, is the Statue of Liberty. You can take a boat ride tour to Lady Liberty or opt to pass by from a short distance on the free Staten Island Ferry. Either way, the views of Manhattan from the water are stunning!

New York City Stock

Top Things to Do Outside Manhattan 
on Your First Visit to New York City

See the best street art in New York City by spending a couple of hours in Brooklyn.

Watch a baseball game. Head to the Bronx on the “B” “D” or “4” trains to see the Yankees or the “7” to Queens see the Mets at Citi Field.

Go to a market in Brooklyn. Smorgasburg is a foodie’s delight and Brooklyn Flea sells vintage and antique clothing, housewares, and collectibles.

Traveling with children? They’ll love a day at the Bronx Zoo.

Coney Island Amusement Park and Boardwalk are right in Brooklyn and a perfect place for fun and ocean breezes to cool off from NYC’s summer heat.

Stroll through the Botanical Gardens in Brooklyn or the Bronx. They’re gorgeous in the fall!

Central Park New York City
Fall is the best time to visit New York City!

Where to Stay and Eat in New York City

The best “where to stay” tip is to be within comfortable walking distance to a subway station. From there, you’ll be able to access all the places you’d like to visit.

For a detailed breakdown of the best places to stay in NYC, neighborhood by neighborhood, head over to my where to stay in New York City guide.

hotel-room

New York City hotels are quite pricey, making it ideal if you have hotel points to use for an award stay. If you have credit card rewards like I do, Hyatt is a Chase transfer partner with solid redemptions. IHG points can be earned with the cash and points trick. 

If you don’t have enough points to use for an award stay, New York City has hotel properties in all major hotel loyalty programs, which could make for a lucrative points-earning opportunity for paid stays.

Use AwardMapper to check for hotels with loyalty programs and where they are in Manhattan.

If you don’t collect hotel points, these hotels are ranked as a top value in New York City. Keep in mind value is relative in NYC and could mean value in terms of location and amenities, too.

414 Hotel

Hotel Giraffe

Casablanca Hotel Times Square

Library Hotel

The Bryant Park Hotel

EVEN Hotel Times Square South

NobleDEN Hotel

The Pearl Hotel

CitizenM New York Times Square

You can also search for more great hotels on TripAdvisor, on Booking.com, on Hotels.com or find a few more affordable hotel choices here.

I’m not a food critic, but I’m no stranger to a fantastic meal. If you’re looking to let your inner foodie out, this where to eat in NYC guide has more than enough to make your taste buds smile.

Whether you’re looking for authentic Indian food or the best veggie burgers in NYC, New York City has an endless number of fantastic restaurants. Just promise yourself to stay away from tourist trap chains and fast food!

All of the suggestions below are based on my own unforgettable NYC eating experiences. (I’m hungry just typing these!)

  • Morandi
  • Lupa
  • Campagnola
  • Del Frisco’s
  • Locanda Verde
  • ABC Kitchen
  • Russ & Daughters
  • Cornelia Street Cafe
  • Sushi Zen
  • Hatsuhana
  • Otto
  • Classic NYC Diner (Any)
  • Market Table
  • The Spotted Pig
  • Candle Cafe

All that’s left now is to pack! You’re ready for a successful first visit to NYC!

So, have you traveled to New York City? What tip do you recommend for a first visit to New York City?

Like this post? Please share it on social media using the share buttons below!

Everything you need to know for your first visit to New York City Pinterest Pin
Save this guide for later. Pin it!

112 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know for Your First Visit to New York City”

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading! June is a great time to visit…before the summer heat! Hope you make it! πŸ™‚

  1. I’ve never been to US, but New York is one of my dream destinations since childhood. ( I know, what a cliche :D). Thank you for sharing your experience and advice!!! I will save this post for future with hopes I’ll get opportunity to visit this city soon)

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Not at all! Living in NYC was my dream since I was a little girl. Any trip to the U.S. has to include a first stop in NYC, Natalia. I hope you can make it for a visit soon!

  2. A complete guide to the Big Apple :). I wish I had this when I visited NYC. All things said, I always stayed out side New York, in New Jersey and take the train to NYC . I found the stay is less expensive outside NY.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hoboken and Jersey City are excellent options in New Jersey for cheaper hotels, Vasu. The PATH train makes it quick and easy to make into NYC. Great tip!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much, Sue! It’s meant to be a “one-stop shop” for first-time visitors. πŸ˜‰

  3. Your posts are always so practical and helpful, Jackie. This is great for someone who doesn’t know New York. In fact, there are some great pointers for everyone – a great tip for us Canadians about using 99999 as your zip code if buying a metrocard! I can’t wait to go back … and finally see the Statue of Liberty which I miss every time.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much, Carol! Glad the post is helpful. I hope you finally get to meet Lady Liberty up close and personal on your next NYC visit. πŸ™‚

  4. Great guide to NYC! It can be so daunting to plan a visit to NYC as there is so much to see. Agree with Bryant Park it’s a great stop as it is not as touristy. My fave is also going to MoMA on Fridays. Sigh…I love NYC πŸ™‚

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Lol, Christina…I know that sigh. Once NYC gets under your skin it constantly calls you back…

  5. What a fantastic resource! I would add Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons (not the new one, but the old one) and Gramercy Park hotel on the luxe end. I’ve loved my stays in all. But that’s the thing about NYC… so many great hotels and so little time!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks, Katie, for adding to this resource! I do love the Gramercy Park Hotel but I’ve just been there for drinks. πŸ™‚

  6. I knew of the famous grid system on NY and how it was built but it was interesting and really helpful to have the streets and avenues orientation and the public transport info. A city that everyone wants to visit but need quite a bit of research beforehand to make the most of it.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      So true, Sia! You really should have a little sense of how to get around or else you could miss so great NYC spots.

  7. Tips, tricks and itineraries for New York…so useful this post is. I have always felt that larger cities are so difficult to absorb, because of their sheer size. You tend to miss out on different angles and ways of experiencing the place. Posts on larger cities are so much needed.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thank you, Punita. Big cities certainly have so much to see and do. It’s hard to know where to begin.

  8. Fabulous post. I visited NYC in May this year. It had been on my bucket list for some years and I was not disappointed. I was lucky enough to have two full weeks there and I got to do a lot! Only problem is that I can’t wait to come back. Your post is spot on, and the best I have read (and believe me I’ve read a few). You’re so very lucky to live in NYC. Patrice (Australia) x

    PS: My favourite sweet in NYC was a choc chip cookie from Levain Bakery. De-licious!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words, Patrice. πŸ™‚ How awesome you made it to NYC. I’m so glad you loved it and hope you can make it back soon! Levain Bakery has the best chocolate chip cookie for sure.

  9. This is a wealth of useful tips! So informative….. NYC is on my radar. Not sure when I will get to go there but whenever I do I will come back to this post. And definitely saving it on my Flipboard!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thank you, La Dee! Hope you make it to NYC soon and reach out if you have any questions. Thanks for sharing, too! πŸ™‚

  10. Thank you Jackie.
    We leave for NYC in 6 sleeps!
    So excited and this guide is just perfect for us.
    I’ve been reading and organising and planning for months and months and months but this is one of the most succinct finds that will help us immensely.
    Thanks for helping a very excited Australian family.
    If you have one for Washington DC, feel free to share that too πŸ™‚

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Yay, how exciting, Jo!! I hope you love NYC and have a great time! πŸ™‚ I have a Washington, D.C. post as well. It’s not as succinct a guide as my NYC guide, but I still think it’s pretty good! πŸ˜‰ Feel free to get in touch if any last minute questions pop up. Thanks so much for reading! πŸ™‚

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      I’m so glad you’re giving NYC another chance, Leigh. Let me know if you need any other pointers. NYers always want you to love their city.

  11. I LOVE NYC! Can’t wait until my next opportunity to come back. Last time I went with some friends, we stayed across the Hudson in Jersey City, about 2 blocks from the PATH station. Been there twice and have done the “touristy” stuff, now I’m ready for a week of exploring the boroughs.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Awesome, Kim! The boroughs have such gems! Brooklyn, of course, is a hot spot, but Queens should not be overlooked. Best Chinese food in Flushing! Hope you can make it back soon. πŸ™‚

  12. What a fantastic article!! Going to NYC for first time in July….I know you all say it’s HOT in Summer but hey I live in southern Texas!!! It can’t be any hotter than here…LOL. Great tips and I’m going with my daughter who’s 21. We will be there for 6 nights. Can’t wait to plan out each of our days. My only concern is getting from airport to hotel.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much, Darcy. πŸ™‚ So exciting to be making your first NYC trip. Southern Texas has got to be pretty hot! If you let me know your airport and hotel neighborhood (no need to name exact hotel if you don’t want.), I’m happy to give you transfer tips. πŸ™‚

  13. This is a great post…very helpful and informative! I’m visiting NY for the first time this coming July. I’m driving from WV and worried about parking and traffic. Any pointers??

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Amanda, Thanks so much for reading and I’m glad the post is helpful for your upcoming NYC trip! πŸ™‚ So, I’m not sure what part of town you’re staying in, but I’d look to park my car away from the midtown (Times Square, Rock Center, Broadway) area. I’d go uptown to the west 80s, 90s, 100s street and look for street or garage parking there. NYC has street cleaning so for example on the street where I live, you can park on the street for free except for Tuesdays & Fridays between 10am-12pm. You’ll have to check the street signs wherever you park. If uptown is too far from where you want to be, look far west in midtown, like close to the Hudson River and West Side Highway. There are relatively cheaper outdoor parking lots. No matter what you decide, park your car for your stay and don’t drive it again. Traffic is truly awful and NYC sights and attractions don’t have any parking lots. So you’d just be going from one paid lot to another and losing time by sitting in traffic. Also, not sure if you have the electronic toll system EZPass in WV, but if you do, bring it. It’ll save you time when you cross into Manhattan via bridge or tunnel. Good luck!

    2. How funny! I am also from WV, planning to drive and I was wondering about parking. We do plan on parking for the duration and using the subway but now I know to check out parking areas other than what is available at our hotel. Thanks.

    3. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Such a small world, Tammy! πŸ˜‰ Definitely worth it to look outside of your hotel area. It most certainly will be cheaper. Good luck!

  14. Great break down of the city. I am visiting for the first time tomorrow and I only have a day to explore. I was feeling a little overwhelmed and now I feel like I can do it!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Yay, Amanda! You totally can do it. Enjoy your day in NYC and thanks so much for reading! πŸ™‚

  15. This is wonderful and incredibly helpful! We are bringing our three school-aged sons in October. You have made me even more excited and comfortable. Thank you!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Audrey! I’m so glad the post is helpful. So exciting to visit NYC, plus October is a great time to visit. Fewer tourists and great weather. Have so much fun!:)

  16. Planning going to see NYC sites in end of Sept. But driving would it be better to stay in Hoboken or Jersey City hotels to park my car then take Path to NYC. Thanks

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Julie, thanks for reading. Hoboken and Jersey City can be good alternatives. But just know each city has resident-only permit parking and limited, timed parking for visitors. Hoboken, in particular, is especially restrictive and will not hesitate to put a boot on your tire only to be removed by paying hundreds of dollars. Look for hotels that offer parking on site or local area lots and garages for the best deal. As a comparison point, you could also look at hotels/parking in Long Island City (Queens) and Brooklyn. These NYC boroughs do have street cleaning regulations a couple times of week depending on the neighborhood/side of the street, but street parking isn’t restricted to residents with permits. Be sure to check how close the subway is, as well, so you can easily get in and out of Manhattan. Hope that helps! Enjoy your trip. πŸ™‚

  17. Danielle Cronk Malacara

    This info is so helpful! Thank you, I look forward to my trip to New York in November of this year. And I look forward to utilizing so much of your helpful tips. Thank you so much Julie! Sincerely, Danielle (Last name deleted for privacy, URL removed.)

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Danielle. Hope you have a great trip to NYC!

  18. Hi I think your blog is well informed thank you very much. I am wondering if anybody knows when the tree lighting happens and when sacks has their laser show as well as Bergdorf’s Christmas windows if you can let me know that would be great thank you so much.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Steff. The Rockefeller Tree Lighting is on November 28, 2018. The department store holiday windows are typically open for viewing in late November. I don’t know the exact details of the Saks 5th Avenue laser show yet, but they typically begin in the late afternoon/early evening 4:30/5:00ish and happen periodically a few times an hour until about 11:30. I have an NYC Christmas Guide. I will be updating it soon. Bookmark it so you’ll have the latest info. πŸ™‚

  19. Such a great read thanks Jackie! I’m heading over with 2 girlfriends for my 40th and we are all very excited! Have been once before and remember the craziness of trying to get out of the airport, a little worried about it but not enough to dampen our spirits. Only there for three days so we are going to have to work out which of your itineraries to go with and what to chop. Thanks for doing all the hard work for me. Sioux (Australia)

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Sioux! Happy to have made your travel planning easier. Enjoy your girls trip!! πŸ™‚

  20. Such great information – thank you so much!!!!
    My husband and I are planning a trip this December 2018.
    I am a Christmas nut and am super excited to experience my first New York Christmas. I can’t wait to see all the lights, decorations, and just the magic!!
    Any pointers on the best way to tackle New York at Christmas time? I’m sure it is crazy busy that time of year and the lines will be never ending.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      I’m so glad the guide was helpful, Suzette. NYC is spectacular at Christmas but yes it is crazy busy. I have a Christmas in NYC guide and I’ll be updating it over the weekend for 2018. But there’s still plenty of great info that still applies from last year, as well. Feel free to comment again here or on that guide if you have more questions. πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading!

  21. Great and comprehensive guide Jackie! I read this before my first very trip to New York and because of your blog I was well prepared. I went the other week during 9/11, at a time where it was raining lots, but that did not hamper our stay there! [YouTube video link edited out]

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Junas. I’m so happy to hear the guide was useful for you. I don’t publish links in comments, so your video link was edited out.

  22. I remember the first time I went to New York. I stood in the middle of the Times Square on a very crowded evening. I have never in my life seen so many people in the street at once. I was a interesting experience. I learned a lot about the New York lifestyle.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Henry. New York City is a city like no other, that’s for sure.

  23. Jackie… my husband and I are planning our first trip to NYC this November. Our kids live in Lakehurst, NJ so we’ll be staying with them. Any suggestions on the best way to travel from there into the city? We are taking our kids and grandkids to see Aladdin on the 11th, which I just realized is Veterans Day. Anything we should be aware of because of the holiday?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Joni. How fun to come up to NYC with your family to see Aladdin! I know there are Academy buses that run from Lakehurst to NYC, I’m just not sure of the schedule or if that schedule would be different on 11/11. Another option could be to drive a short distance to main train station, park, and take the train into NYC from there. You might find the trains run more frequently giving you more flexibility about how long you can stay in NYC. Enjoy your visit and the show! πŸ™‚

  24. I didn’t know anything about New York to be honest so this post was a nice read and very helpful as well. [LINK EDITED OUT]

  25. Very informative article.Hi im nur frm Malaysia.We a family of 6 (me,husb,mom,4yo & 1 yo twins) will be going on the 14/12 till 28/12 from Nepal to New York and Washington.No matter how much i read or watch (youtube) i still feel a little overwhelmed by th thoughts of going there for th first time,with my small kids,and the super cold weather (wut i heard) and navigating the city for th first time. Your article gives me perspective.before,i even stongly considering to hire tour guide for sightseeing purpose.what do u think,is it necessary? Tq

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Nur. I don’t think it’s necessary to hire a tour guide for your entire trip to NYC, but you may want to consider day tours for specific things, like if you wanted an NYC overview or a neighborhood tour of lower Manhattan. Typically, getting underground to the subway is the best way to escape chilly winds. But, keep in mind, only specific subway entrances will have elevators for a baby stroller. New Yorkers often carry the stroller down or up the subway stairs. I might consider looking at a hop on hop off bus to get around outside of Times Square and the midtown Manhattan area (Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, Empire State Building). The one drawback to this is traffic. The weather will be chilly (likely between 30-45 F/-1-8 C), so it’s important to dress in layers and take advantage of breaks inside shops and places like Grand Central Station, and museums.

      I hope your NYC and Washington travels are fantastic! Respond to this comment if you have more NYC questions. πŸ™‚

  26. Wow, all the information you provided was very informative. I just booked flights for New York for my family in April! Yay!
    I was getting a bit overwhelmed with researching where the best places to stay, visit, etc. as this will be our first visit to NY and I am so glad I found your post. I will be purchasing the city pass for sure. Thank you!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Staci! Glad the post was helpful for your upcoming NYC trip. Feel free to reach back out if you have more questions. Love CityPASS, it’s a definite money-saver when doing a lot of sightseeing. πŸ™‚

  27. Hello Globetrotting Teacher,

    Thank you for mapping out a Mama and son first visit to NY! ( Itinerary 1,2 & 3 )

    Just what the doctor ordered!

    Straight to the point useful information.

    You go girl! : )

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Duv. Glad the itinerary ideas will be useful for your NYC trip! πŸ™‚

  28. My husband and I are headed to NY in March for the first time and since we booked the flight all I can do is plan our trip. This has been the best post I have come by. Thank you so much for putting this together!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Ciarra. So glad the guide is helpful. Have a great NYC trip! πŸ™‚

  29. Very informative. I’m visiting NYC for the first time in a couple of months and I have no clue where to stay. Of course we want to do lots of sightseeing, attend a broadway show, and I can’t wait to eat some good pizza! Any recommendations on cost effective places to stay?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Cassandra. I have a Where to Stay in NYC guide for you to use to help you find the right place to stay. As long as you are close to a subway line, you can easily access many parts of NYC. So a place like the Upper West Side, for example, is not in Times Square but the subway line will help you get there in just minutes. Hope that helps and you have a great NYC trip!

  30. This was SO HELPFUL!!! I am planning my first trip to NYC on my birthday in September and was feeling a bit overwhelmed thinking of how to get around and things to do. Also about where to stay.. What will the weather be like? Will i need to pack my faux fur? (LoL).

    I am SO printing this out to read again!

  31. What an absolutely fabulous and detailed write up, one of the best I have read on any city. Thanks for making our first trip to NYC so damn easy and fun

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Yes! So glad to hear that, Anah. πŸ™‚ Appreciate you reading and glad your trip was so fantastic.

  32. Thanks for the useful information! Family of 4 will be visiting NYC for the first time in April 2019. We will only be there for 2 days 1 night. Is it possible to do 8 attractions in 2 days? I was looking into buying the 2 day New York Pass.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Ann. I think 8 attractions is a lot in 2 days. The bundled sightseeing cards can be a great deal. I’ve written about the New York CityPASS. But, expect things to take longer in NYC. There’s traffic or a subway delay. People fill the sidewalks so you can’t walk as quickly as you might think. The line at a restaurant or attraction is longer than expected. For these reasons, you and your family could end up feeling really rushed. If you do decide to give it a go, I’d stick to using the subway. It’s the fastest way to get around. Hope you have a great trip to NYC!

  33. Super excited Theater Teacher here that just found our that I get to go to NYC with my 16 yr old son for our Birthday in June. (Yes I share Birthday with my son). My 50th and his 17th.
    This is an awesome list of what do do and how to get around. THANKS!!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading! NYC for 2 birthdays is a great way to celebrate! Hope you can make it to a Broadway show, too! πŸ™‚

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Sheila. Not sure exactly what you mean, but if you’re leaving the airport with only 5 hours before your next flight, I’d be really careful. The traffic in between LGA and Manhattan can be rough! If you’re set on catching a glimpse of the city, I would head to Times Square and from there walk over to Rockefeller Center, where you can also see Radio City Music Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The area has a lot of sights in a compact area. Good luck!

  34. This site is so great! Thank you!

    Two questions:
    1) We are leaving a concert at 2:30 pm at Carnegie Hall on a Saturday. Our plane leaves from Newark at 6:25pm. We would be riding the Subway. It looked like we were totally good, but my family thinks I’ve put us in a bind…thoughts??

    2) Family of 6: Mom and Dad and 4 boys ages 10,14,18,19…. We aren’t fancy eaters…can we eat do lunch and dinner together for $30/day pretty easily? This might be way too broad a question…you can tell me so! LOL

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Jen. πŸ™‚ If you plan to leave Carnegie Hall and go straight to Newark, you should have plenty of time. $30 for a family of 6 for lunch and dinner will be tough to accomplish. (I’m reading this as $30 for lunch and dinner for 6 people so hopefully, I understand what you mean!) Pizza slices are typically pretty cheap (for NYC), as are lunch specials at ethnic food restaurants (Chinese, Indian, etc.). Bagel carts can be cheap way to get a bagel with cream cheese for not that much money either. No matter what you do, avoid eating in and around Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza. It’s the most expensive area to eat in the city, even for just a pizza slice! Enjoy NYC.

  35. Hi, I’ve been reading up on visiting NYC a ton and your blog was one of the most helpful. I also looked through all of your comments which were helpful as well. I reserved an Airbnb months ago for my family in Jersey City. There will be 7 of us, kids ages 7-16 so that makes it difficult to get a hotel. But then I found out this week how expensive it is going to be to get back and forth to NYC every day. We will be there a total of 6 days and the home we are staying in is 2 miles away from the Path station. So not within walking distance. Between Peking our vehicle and paying for everyone to ride the Path and then getting into NYC and paying to ride the Metro I’m starting to wonder if staying in Jersey City was such a good plan. Any input at all would be most helpful. I’m not sure whether to drive into NY and pay for parking, or leave our car at the Path station and pay for parking there, or what to do. I feel like we are going to spend around $100 a day just to get into NYC and back and I am stressing out. I also am not sure if we should buy the 7 day Metro pass for each of us to travel around NYC or just pay per ride. Help!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Tiffany. You were right to look at Airbnb, particularly on the Jersey side. Jersey City and Hoboken are great ways to save money and still be close to NYC. However, the problem (as you said) is your place isn’t within walking distance to the PATH train. Is it possible to change to a different Airbnb closer to the PATH? I would not recommend driving into NYC as tempting as it seems. It’ll likely be just as expensive and cost you time. Traffic through the tunnels into Manhattan and in the city itself can eat up hours. Jersey City also has a Light Rail which can be good for getting around and connecting to other modes of transport. There are also NJ Transit buses that go right into Port Authority on 42nd Street. Just not sure if either are close to your Airbnb. The 7 day MetroPass is worth it if you plan to use it at least 12 times no matter how many days you visit NYC. It can also be used on the PATH trains. Hope that helps!! πŸ™‚

  36. Hi! Thanks for such a great article. We are headed to New York City for the first time in mid-July. We are staying in Times Square Hotel. The best way to get around seems to be walking and the subway, but we’ve never been on a subway. Are there people who can help with directions once I get to subway station? I’m a little nervous. Also, we are coming in from La Guardia airport. What is the best idea for getting to hotel from the airport?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Jennifer. Definitely walk and ride the subway for your NYC visit. The subway is really logical once you get the hang of it. The lines are broken up by color and named after a letter or number. From Times Square, you’ll have a lot of train lines available which makes getting to and from your hotel convenient. Some stations might have an MTA employee to help with directions, but it’s not overly common. I recommend having a subway app or PDF of a subway map on your phone. This way, you’ll always be able to check where you are and where you need to go. As for transferring from LGA, I have an LGA to Manhattan guide for you. πŸ™‚

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading. Glad you have good NYC experiences. πŸ™‚

  37. I like how you mentioned that the best place to stay is within comfortable walking distance to a subway station for better access to all the places you’d like to visit. My aunt wants to visit New York for the holidays, and she wanted to know how to find a tourism guide to take her to all the places she wants to visit. Thank you for the tip on the https://washingtondctraveler.com/ subway station, I’m going to let my aunt know about it so that she can start seeing her options when traveling.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Ron,

      Thanks for reading and thrilled that the tips are helpful.

      The best way to see NY AND get around is the subway.

      Holiday traffic in NYC can get rough so taking cabs or driving is not efficient on time and $$.

      I hope your aunt has a wonderful trip. Holiday time in NYC is a memorable one!

  38. Great Article. I’m going to drive down to NYC for the first time at the end of the month. I’ve been there several times but I’ve never driven. We are going to a gaming show at the Barclays center and will be driving down early morning and then leaving after show is over and maybe staying overnight somewhere once we get out of the city. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have, we are coming from upstate ny. thought about taking the bus down the night before but then not sure where to stay or how to get the Barclays center and then back to the bus. Thanks so much

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Nancy. I would avoid driving if you could. Traffic is crazy. Roads are confusing and a lot of time can be wasted just trying to get around. And that’s all before thinking about parking. If there are buses to bring you to Manhattan, you could easily take the subway to downtown Brooklyn or even an Uber or taxi. Downtown Brooklyn has hotels so it’s possible to stay within close proximity of the Barclays Center. Also, no matter where you stay in NYC, the Barclays Center has a transportation hub right next to it with subway lines from all over the city reaching there. If you haven’t, check out this where to stay in NYC guide. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  39. This article was incredible! I appreciate the time and dedication you showed to include all of the details. The information didn’t stop at the end of it either! You take the time to comment and reply to every comment you get, that’s amazing, you’re still giving out awesome information!

  40. I’m so excited. We are visiting NYC in June 2020. There are 6 of us going, 3 have already been, 1 lived in Jersey and worked in the city many moons ago. I’m so excited to eat food! ?

  41. Great article with a lot of details! Appreciate all the tips you provided. We’re coming to NYC mid-December and staying at the Park Central Hotel. Any suggestions for an affordable & family friendly place for dinner for a group of 2 families with kids? We’re celebrating a birthday but don’t want to break the bank. My wife wants a place that gives you that New York feel. Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading Rocky. Not sure if you’re looking to stay close to your hotel but I’d recommend looking at Benihana, Cowgirl, Bubby’s (great if you’re near the High Line), Fred’s (on the Upper West Side), and Keste, Lombardis, or even John’s pizza (in the theater district) for pizza. Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown is also an NYC classic. Have a great trip to NYC! πŸ™‚

  42. Thank you so much for all the insight! I am planning a family trip for Christmas 2020 with my hubby & 4 kids!! This gave me so many helpful tips and I was able to download every app so I can do some advance purchasing!!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Courtney. I’m so glad the guide is helpful for you. You’ll love NYC at Christmas. The city is just so pretty. πŸ™‚

  43. Your article is extremely appreciated. So much do in NYC, so many attractions and experiences to choose from . The tips you shared on transportation and local’s insights were especially helpful, and I like the different perspectives you pulled into the itinerary suggestions. Super excited about my first trip to NYC

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Meena. I’m glad the guide is helpful and I hope you have a great first trip to NYC!

  44. Stephanie Buckley

    You’re blog is so helpful! We’re planning our first family trip to NYC. There are 6 of us. I am having a hard time finding a hotel with a suite big enough for 6 people. Do you have any suggestions for larger hotel rooms in the city? Thank you for your help!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Stephanie. Glad the blog is helpful for planning your trip to New York City. Finding larger family rooms is tricky in NYC. Here are a few suggestions. Hotels like the Fairfield Inn in Midtown, Hyatt Place in midtown, the Residence Inn in midtown, even the Doubletree in Jersey City (10 mins to Lower Manhattan) if you’re looking to stay just outside of Manhattan will have suite rooms that have 2 double or queen beds plus a sofa sleeper bed. I hope that helps and you can find something that works! Good luck and enjoy NYC!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top