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Your Guide to New York

If New York City is sitting on your travel bucket list waiting to be checked off, you’re not alone. As the home to some of the most visited tourist attractions in the United States, New York City has a lot to offer, and planning one’s trip agenda here can be a daunting task. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

This guide to New York City will cover everything, including the top attractions, what to expect from your flying experience, where to stay, and what to do.

There’s no right or wrong way to explore New York City, but we’ll help you find the way that’s best for you. Read on for vital tips on how to have the most unique experience while getting the best bang-for-your-buck or lavishing yourself in the city’s finest.  

Top Attractions in New York

New York City has more than 80 museums, 1,700 parks, 25,000 restaurants, and is the most populated city in the United States. To keep more than 8.6 million inhabitants happy, it’s no surprise that many attractions are scattered throughout the five boroughs. So, if you’re unsure where to start, these are the top attractions in New York City.

Times Square

One of the most iconic images of New York City depicts the kaleidoscopic lights and massive billboards and television screens that line Times Square. This neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan is depicted in various forms of pop culture worldwide, and so, it is no wonder that people travel hundreds of miles just to stand in the midst of it all.

Times Square is located in the entertainment hub of New York City and a mere walk away from the Theatre District, where you can watch countless Broadway performances any day of the week performed by artists of unmatched talent. You can also visit numerous attractions found within Times Square, such as Madame Tussauds and Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Central Park

Amidst the Concrete Jungle is 843 acres of natural beauty that is Central Park. This is a great family or date location where you can:

  • Lay in the open grass, gaze at the architectural beauty of Bethesda Terrace
  • Walk amongst the exotic animals in Central Park Zoo
  • Row a boat in the park lake
  • Take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage tour for a different view of the park

If you plan and time it just right, sit down to an iconic show of Shakespeare in the Park.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is an essential landmark of New York City. At 1,454 feet tall, it was the tallest building in the world upon its completion in 1930 and is the pinnacle of architecture and design. Although the view of this magnificent skyscraper alone is reason enough to visit, it’s what it has to offer inside that makes it such an iconic attraction.

You’ve never truly seen New York City until you’ve seen it from above, and the Empire State Building allows you to do that. There are two observatories in the building: one on the 86th floor and one on the 102nd.

With 360-degree views that can stretch up to 80 miles, the view of New York City from the Empire State Building is unmatched. But that’s not all. Visitors can also walk through awe-inspiring exhibits on the 2nd and 80th floors with content ranging from historical, to architectural, to borderline fanciful.

The Experience Flying into New York Airports

For most, the first impression a traveler receives of New York City is the airport, and, more often than not, this airport will be John F. Kennedy International Airport. JFK Airport is the fifth largest and sixth busiest airport in the United States, so brace yourself if this is your first stop.

With eight terminals, over 300 gates, and an average of 150,000 passengers per day, this building’s mammoth might be a bit overwhelming and difficult to navigate. The best plan of action would be to use the 24/7 airport rail,AirTrain, to travel between terminals.

However, before you rush out into the bustle of New York City, take a moment to appreciate some of the exceptional services JFK has to offer. Shop around in Terminal 5, grab a bite to eat at Terminal 4, or get pampered at one of the spas in Terminals 1, 4, and 7. Once you’re well-fed and refreshed, you’ll be ready to take on The Big Apple.

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Top 3 Tips to Fly Cheap to New York

Traveling to New York City alone can cost a small fortune, and the best way to limit cost would be to buy your tickets cheap. Here are a few simple tips to ensure you don’t ever spend before you’ve even landed.

1. Book in Advance:

One of the best ways to find low prices for plane tickets is to search for the 2-3 months before your trip. You are more likely to get cheaper tickets ahead of most buyers than at the last minute when airlines are trying to fill their seats.

2. Be the Oddball:

Unsurprisingly, the cheaper tickets are sold when people don’t typically want to travel. If you aren’t particular about when you can visit New York City, you’ll find tickets at a significantly reduced price from January to April. However, if New York’s winter chill doesn’t appeal to you, tickets will be cheaper if you book them on a Tuesday (when airlines release their deals) and set to arrive on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. If all else fails, the early bird and night-owl get the worm. Fly before 7am or after 9 pm for the best prices.

3. Shop Around:

Don’t settle for one airline or travel company. There are three major airports in New York City alone: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). Spend the time to compare ticket prices using different flight search engines, such as Kayak, Booking.com, and Expedia. 

Popular Areas of the City to Stay

After buying your plane tickets, the next step is to figure out where you’ll stay. Some of the most popular areas of New York City are:

1. Midtown:

commonly agreed upon as the best area for first-timers, Midtown, named for its central location in the city, is arguably the most tourist-friendly location. Popular sightseeing stops located here are Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the High Line, to name a few. Not only does Midtown offer a wide range of attractions and experiences, but tourists will also save a lot of money in travel fees by simply staying in this area.

2. Upper East Side:

A stark contrast to the noisy, touristy bustle of Midtown, Upper East Side is one of the safest and quietest locations in all of New York City. Here, visitors can walk the Museum Mile along Fifth Avenue, spend a pretty penny in a designer boutique, or take a stroll over to Central Park. There is an air of peace and luxury to this area, which is great for families and visitors to avoid the overbearing crowds.

3. SoHo:

If you’re more into the culture of shopping for vintage items and watching indie films rather than the mainstream tourist attractions, SoHo is for you. Often referred to as the more“hipster” area of the city, SoHo is filled with trendy shops, contemporary art galleries, and a prime location for nightlife adventures.

Popular Hotels in those areas

You know where you’re going, but where are you going to stay? These are some of the most popular hotels in each area, either for the bargain master trying to save cash or for those looking for the finer things.

Midtown

Affordable Hotels

The Seton Hotel boasts a prime location that is a mere walk to popular tourist hotspots, such as the Chrysler Building. The hotel also provides spacious and affordable rooms with sleek and trendy furnishings.

Luxury Hotels

The Refinery Hotel offers a spectacular view from its rooftop bar and pampers its guests with a jazz happy hour and personalized service.

Upper East Side

Affordable Hotels

Garden Suites Hotel by Affinia an ideal option for families. Not only does the hotel have rooms with fully equipped kitchens, but it is also pet-friendly.

Luxury Hotels

The Mark Hotel is a picture of French taste due to its unique interior design and furnishings.  But its exquisite taste doesn’t stop there. Be sure to stop by the hotel’s Jean Georges Vongerichten restaurant and bar for an unforgettable meal.

SoHo

Affordable Hotels

Nomo Soho reflects the hipster vibes of the area clearly from its exterior alone. Graffiti art-covered walls starkly contrast the ivy wrapped tunnel archway that leads to the hotel’s front doors. Its quaint outdoor dining is perfect for a cup of coffee.

Luxury Hotels

Crosby Street Hotel has a reputation for treating their guests as if they’re movie stars. The staff is extremely attentive and provide top-of-the-line amenities, particularly in their extensive bar and private theatre.

Popular Airbnb Places in Those Areas

If you want a space that’s more personable and feels closer to home, try an Airbnb. These are some popular hosts and locations for solo travelers and families/groups.

Midtown

Solo Travelers

Penthouse Studio East 50s Terrace hosted by Hillary

Unique feature: Rooftop terrace with a view.

Families or Groups

3BR near Times Square! Best Location!

Unique feature: Walking distance to some of New York’s biggest attractions.

 

Upper East Side

Solo Travelers

Entire apartment hosted by Elena (Prime location, Renovated, Inspiring)

Unique feature: Close to the subway and various restaurants!

Families or Groups

The entire house hosted by Dina (ALL new modern apartment of 2 bedroom NYC style!❤️)

Unique feature: It is located above the Italian restaurant Patsy, giving renters a 10% discount on their

SoHo

Solo Travelers

Entire loft hosted by Scott (Private Floor in SOHO Townhouse)

Unique feature: Space has a piano and an 11-foot ceiling, and large windows provide a fantastic view.

Families or Groups

Entire loft hosted by James (Shelter in An Incredible Place.)

Unique feature: Loft has its sauna and is located in a quiet neighborhood.

Top 5 Things to do in New York

Coolest Airbnb Experiences in New York

Airbnb is widely known for providing luxurious or affordable lodging to the everyday traveler. But, did you know they also offer a wide range of experiences, from online field trips to city tours to local food tastings? So, if you’re looking for a more niche experience in the city, here’s a list of the coolest Airbnb experiences available.

Exploring New York City can be an immense challenge to tackle. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of options that surround you. Although all of the options listed here are optimal places to start, sometimes the best approach is to try something new right in front of you.

Final Thoughts

Don’t treat the city like a checklist; treat it like an adventure. There’s an unlimited amount of cultures, opportunities, and history surrounding you on every corner, so don’t get swept away in the whirlwind around you.

Take your time and embrace what the city has to offer, especially some of the more niche locations if you’re revisiting the city or want to do something more unconventional. You never know where quirkiness and spontaneity will lead you, especially in an urban playground like New York City.

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