NYC Guides

New York City Travel Guide-All You Need to Know

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They say write about what you love. Here I am. New York City. Nothing lights my fire more. I travel to New York City once a month, sometimes more. I have traveled to New York City more than I have been to Dallas, 32 miles away. I know, crazy.

This is your ultimate New York City travel guide! All the things you need to do and see :)

As many times I have been to New York City, I find something else to do, a new restaurant, a unique experience or activity. New York keeps everyone on their toes. Even living in New York City, you will find something new every day. This is why I love it so much.

The first time I went to New York City was twenty years ago. I had gone on my honeymoon, and we did all the wrong things. I did not like it at all. I wanted to go home early and couldn’t understand why movies and people loved the city so much. Now I know. You have to know what to do and not get caught up in tourist traps.

Some major tourist attractions are a million percent worth seeing, and even locals love these attractions and experiences. It’s the little experiences in New York City that make it so magical.

This post is your ultimate New York City guide with tips and suggestions. This NYC guide will not steer you wrong. If you have any questions, shoot me an email at [email protected], I would love to help you with an epic trip to New York City!

Best Time to Visit New York City

I feel the best time to visit New York City is any time, BUT that’s me. For the weather and sightseeing, spring and fall are excellent times to visit New York City.

March through June is perfect. Central Park is blooming, and the weather is mild. March and April can stay a bit on the cooler side.

Always bring a heavier coat and clothes. Sometimes, it can get chilly with all the skyscrapers and the wind that funnels through.

June through August is HOT. Sweltering. If you plan not to do much tourist stuff and walk around the city, then I say come during this time. You can lounge in Central Park, get a fabulous hotel with a rooftop pool and live the life. Even take the Jitney to the Hamptons.

Later September through November is a beautiful time to go, too. The air is crisp, and the leaves change bright orange, yellow, and red. Central Park and all the neighborhoods through the city are so pretty while you stroll bundled up with a cup of hot coffee or cocoa.

December in New York City is cold but magical. All the stores are decorated, twinkling lights are everywhere, ice skating and cozy little cafes to dine in. There is nowhere in the United States so pretty during December.

What to wear in NYC during winter tip: New Yorkers do not mess around with being cold. They just don’t. They find being warm over fashion a must. Bring a heavy coat, beanie, gloves, and warm boots in the colder months, October through March. I promise you, being warm in New York City trumps being cute.

February and January are COLD. Snowstorms and blizzards are possible. However, flying to New York City, hotels, Broadway tickets, and such come at a much lower price.

New York City Travel Restrictions COVID

As of February 2022, all inbound international travelers ages two and old must test one day prior to departure regardless of vaccination status.

New York has lifted mask requirements, and as of March 7, 2022, you no longer need to show proof of vaccination upon entering indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, etc.

New York City’s COVID protocol is called “Key2NYC,” you may read more in-depth about Key2NYC here.

Getting to New York City

Please do not rent a car in New York City. It’s an overwhelming place to drive and park. Parking can cost you anywhere from $36-$70 a day if you can even find it. Most hotels in NYC do not have parking garages. While walking through neighborhoods, check out how people are parked and the bumpers.

The primary mode of transportation is public transportation, particularly the subway system. It’s scary at first, but it’s the easiest and fastest way to get around efficiently and cost-wise.

You can get an unlimited pass on the MTA for seven days for $33. It’s a steal. You can purchase MetroCards as you arrive at any of the airports or any of the subway terminals at a kiosk.

Three major airports fly to New York City, LaGuardia (LGA has some international flights but mainly domestic), JFK, and Newark (which are primarily international). I always fly into LGA. It is the closest airport to Manhattan, a “cheaper” taxi ride, and the new renovation is absolutely beautiful.

To get to Midtown (middle) Manhattan, you can:

  • Take a taxi, roughly $40 for a metered ride plus tip and tolls (LGA) Flat rate from JFK is approximately $52, with a surcharge for peak hours. Newark, $60. These are all one-way fares. A taxi is the fastest way to get into the city.
  • Uber’s, Lyft are likely to cost 5%-15% more than a taxi from the airport
  • You can take the train or bus for $2.75, but it is about an hour of travel time. You can read on which bus or MTA line to take to your destination, here.
  • Get a car service. If you are traveling with a group, this may be a great option for you.

How Long Should I Plan on Staying in NYC?

Your first time in New York City, you should plan on a 4-5 day trip, depending on your budget. There are so many things to do in New York City. You must narrow what you really want to do, what restaurants you must try, and what you want to see.

The thing with New York City is you can’t do it all and see it all. I have been so many times but new things pop up all the time and I get major NYC FOMO (fear of missing out).

Trying to get all of it in will overwhelm you. One day at a time and make a plan before you leave for your trip. Otherwise, you will wander around the city aimlessly. You can always come back.

Insider Travelers Tip: Break down your NYC trip into neighborhoods (which I will explain down further) and what activity and what restaurant is in each. For example, on day one spend your day exploring, having a picnic in Central Park, and visiting an Upper East Side museum like the MET.

Where to Stay in New York City

I have stayed in every neighborhood, spot, location, hotel imaginable in New York City. From luxury to budget, the choices are plenty. You need to choose your accommodation based on location, your personality, what is important to you (a room with a Central Park view, perhaps?), and what you want to see the most. I broke the confusion down for you.

Finding a hotel in New York City can be difficult. Where should you stay in New York City? I have narrowed it right now for you. Photo: @lifeonlavender

Which Area/Neighborhood of New York City Should I Stay in?

I prefer to stay in Midtown. My reasoning behind this, I am in New York City to see different areas. Midtown has subway stations that have access to everything you possibly need to see and do in NYC. It’s in the middle of Manhattan.

I can jump on a subway and be anywhere in less than 10 minutes.

I also love staying near the West Village and Chelsea because it is quiet, quaint, and has a neighborhood, home feel.

Downtown Manhattan and the Financial District is a nice area to stay in but far from most things to do in New York City. It gets very quiet and feels deserted sometimes, especially when Wall Street goes home. There is not a lot of entertainment.

Staying near Central Park is always a good idea and I may get in trouble for this but…

Do not stay in Times Square or close.

Times Square is awesome to visit, especially at night, to do the tourist thing. But please, do not stay in Times Square. It’s crowded and loud. It’s a tourist trap. Yes, you may be traveling to NYC, but there is no need to stay in this area.

The very first time I went to New York City, we stayed in Times Square. It’s a big no-no.

There are so many better spots. I promise you; it is not that great to stay in Times Square. Please do not eat in Times Square either. It’s generally chains and very expensive. You will pay $26 for a subpar turkey sandwich when you can find so many better places around the city.

Where are the safest places to stay in New York City?

  • Upper West Side
  • Central Park South
  • Upper East Side
  • Chelsea/Hudson Yards
  • West Village
  • Greenwich Village
  • Gramercy

I travel to New York City solo all the time. I have also traveled with my children as babies, toddlers, and kids. I have never really felt unsafe in New York City like popular belief. The only time I have felt unsafe is Times Square. It may have been an isolated incident, but all in all, I wander around the city all by myself all the time. Never have I felt in danger.

Best Places to Stay in NYC

Choosing a place to stay in New York City is overwhelming, I will narrow it down completely for you. Each of these hotels I recommend is nice, clean, and comfortable regardless of price.

Budget: Best Western Herald Square. This New York City hotel is by the world’s largest Macy’s; the subway station is around the corner in which everywhere you want to go is a 4-10 minute ride from this location. Plus, my view from my room was absolutely insane. You can read the article below.

Read: Best Place to Stay in New York City, Hands Down

Empire State, Summit One, Bryant Park, the famous Macy’s, is a walk down the street from Herald Square. I stay here almost every single time I come to New York City. Sometimes I can get this nice, clean, comfortable hotel for under $100 a night. Don’t let that fool you; it’s my favorite place to stay, and I am picky. I do not spend a ton of time in my room, especially in New York City. I am out and about taking it all in.

Mid-Range: The Omni Berkshire. If you’re looking for luxury accommodations in the heart of NYC, look no further than Omni Berkshire Place. This iconic hotel has been a favorite among travelers and with good reason – from the plush furnishings to the attentive staff, the Omni Berkshire offers guests first-class service and top-notch amenities. We love that our coffee and paper is delivered at our time of choice each morning 🙂

Luxury Hotel in New York City: I have two favorites for different reasons. One, Equinox Hotel in Hudson Yards. This trendy, chic hotel is located right at the Hudson Yards Vessel, The Shops Hudson Yards, and near every amazing restaurant possible.

The Baccarat Hotel is the most stunning, modern, crystal chandelier-filled luxury five-star hotel in New York City. The Baccarat is near Central Park, has luxury accommodations and services such as a car service. This hotel is so beautiful to even put into words.

For the best places to stay in New York City, regardless of price, I have narrowed the options down for you.

Iconic NYC Hotel: If you want the whole New York City experience, you must stay at The Plaza Hotel. The Plaza Hotel is a grand hotel that has been around since 1907 and has been in several famous movies and TV shows. It’s well-known for its luxurious accommodations and iconic location in the heart of Manhattan, across the street from Central Park and steps from 5th Avenue shopping.

Insider Travel Tip: One of our very favorite restaurants, Sara Beth’s is on Central Park South, the same street The Plaza is on. The food is a bit pricey but it is excellent every single time. My daughter and niece said they still dream about the bacon. They have several locations but the one on Central Park South is the best.

The Five NYC Boroughs

When people think of New York City, they think of Manhattan, where all the tourist attractions are. New York City, however, consists of five boroughs:

  • Manhattan (the main island where most of the tourist attractions are, such as Empire State, Central Park, where you will likely stay, eat, play, etc.) The other boroughs are easily accessible from Manhattan. 
  • Brooklyn 
  • Staten Island 
  • Bronx 
  • Queens

Each borough has its neighborhoods/districts within and each has its own personality and vibe. Each borough offers something different for visitors. Whether you’re interested in culture, nightlife, or history, there’s a borough and neighborhood for you.

NYC Travel. Pinterest Pin
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New York City Neighborhoods

Manhattan will likely be where you spend most of your time if you come to NYC for the first time or want to see most of the attractions.

Manhattan is divided into neighborhoods and within those neighborhoods are, let’s say, for technical purposes, sub-neighborhoods. New Yorkers will argue to the death about which neighborhood, district, etc. is where, which, and when. I am confusing myself writing this, and I have been to NYC fourteen million times, so we will roll with it.

In order not to confuse you and for your enjoyment, I will simplify the neighborhood situation into the MAIN neighborhoods and what significant landmarks, attractions, etc., are in each.

The main Manhattan sections/neighborhoods starting up north and working down are:

Upper Manhattan

  • Harlem
  • Bronx
  • Upper West Side (Columbia University, American Museum of Natural History, lines the west side of Central Park.
  • Upper East Side (Museum Mile including MOMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Roosevelt Island Tramway, lines the east side of Central Park)

Midtown Manhattan

  • Midtown West (includes Hells Kitchen, Clinton, Garment District)
  • Midtown East (Empire State, Grand Central, Chrysler Building, Summit One Vanderbilt, Bryant Park, Murray Hill)
  • Times Square
  • Chelsea (The High Line, Chelsea Market, Madison Square Garden, Chelsea Piers)
  • Hudson Yards (The Vessel, The Edge Skydeck, northern entrance of the High Line)
  • Gramercy (Flatiron Building, Union Square Gramercy Park, The Friend Experience)

Lower Manhattan

  • West Village (Greenwich Village eastern part of the West Village), Washington Square Park, Christopher Street, Carrie Bradshaw’s brownstone, the “Friends” apartment)
  • East Village
  • Soho (Museum of Ice Cream, Broadway shopping)
  • Little Italy
  • Lower East Side
  • Tribeca
  • Chinatown
  • Financial District/downtown Manhattan (Wall Street, The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, One World Observatory, The Oculus, Battery Park where the Statue of Liberty resides)

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The Best Things to Do in New York City

These are the things I highly recommend doing in New York City. There is so much to do, I have done all of these personally. I will break them down into neighborhoods. You just need to decide what appeals and excites you the most.

I recommend planning your trip in neighborhoods. You can easily see the Upper East Side and Central Park in one day, and Hudson Yards and Chelsea, for example, day two.

Central Park

Central Park is the most obvious thing to do in New York City. It is truly a magical place, with large open green areas lined by New York City’s Sky Scrapers. There is so much to do in this park. Most tourists only see a small section of Central Park and do not realize how much is actually inside. You can spend the whole day in Central Park and not see the entirety. It’s truly beautiful.

Central Park is always a must for your NYC trip!

Insider Travel Tip: This is my favorite thing to do in New York City. I grab a picnic made just for me or my kids at Perfect Picnic on the Upper West Side. The sandwiches are so delicious and it is such a fun way to experience Central Park. They make a simple picnic or they can even set up a picnic experience: For a kid’s birthday party, a romantic picnic in Central Park, a boozy brunch for you and your girlfriends. Head to Sheep Meadow with your picnic and enjoy your day in the park.

What to See in Central Park:

  • Central Park Zoo
  • Step into the secluded oasis of the Conservatory Garden at 5th Avenue and 105th street
  • Watch a marionette play at the Swedish Cottage
  • Sit and have a picnic in Sheep Meadow
  • See Belvedere Castle
  • Head to Gapstow Bridge
  • Take photos at Bethesda Terrace
  • See the Bow Bridge
  • Rent a rowboat at Loeb Boathouse
  • During the summer, a fun free thing to do in New York City is the summer concert series in the park or Shakespeare in the Park. You can check out the Central Park website for details. The 2022 details are out.

Central Park in the Fall: Discover Central Park’s activities and best photo spots, and things to do in the fall in this guide HERE.

Upper West Side

American Museum of Natural History: This museum is one of the largest and most popular museums in the world. It is home to some of the most impressive and interesting exhibits and collections. The American Museum of Natural History is a must-visit attraction in NYC, especially if you are traveling with kids.

New-York Historical Society Museum & Library: New York has one of the most interesting and significant histories. This center is the oldest historical society in the United States, and its mission is to collect, preserve, and interpret artifacts relating to the history of the United States and New York. The library contains approximately 550,000 book titles and more than 1 million manuscripts. This is a great free thing to do in New York City: admission is free for all visitors on Fridays from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Columbus Circle: If you’re looking for a fun day of shopping in the heart of New York City, The Shops at Columbus Circle is great. There are plenty of dining and shopping options along with Columbus Circle’s amazing architecture and skyscrapers. Plus, given its central location, it’s easy to get to from anywhere in the city.

Columbia University: As one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Columbia University is known for its top-notch academics and illustrious alumni. Situated in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan (technically not Upper West Side), Columbia’s campus is a beautiful mix of traditional and modern architecture. With plenty of open green space, worth a visit while in Manhattan.

The MET Cloisters: Located at Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights, Upper Manhattan. The MET Cloisters is one of the most unique places in all of New York City. This enchanting museum has original medieval architecture with an amazing collection of European medieval art with a focus on the Romanesque and Gothic periods. You can ride the 1 and A trains to Washington Heights while exploring the Upper West Side. Alternatively, the M4 bus or a car will take you all the way there.

Upper East Side

The Upper East Side is filled with luxury shopping, boutiques, Museum Mile, and easy access to Central Park.

The Upper East Side has the highest population of billionaires in the United States, home of the famous Park Avenue and 5th Avenue shopping. Throughout the Upper East Side are luxury townhomes with tree-lined streets worth strolling through to see how the 1% live.

Metropolitan Museum of Art This is my personal favorite New York City museum. You don’t have to be a fan of museums or art to appreciate this stunning museum. It is located on the Upper East Side and you can follow the East Side of Central Park to get there. There is a rooftop with cocktails and bites overlooking Central Park that you must see.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City. Located on Fifth Avenue, the museum features a stunning collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian. The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building is also a major attraction for visitors who come to admire its unique architecture.

The Frick Collection. Founded in 1935 by industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick, this museum housed in a Beaux-Arts mansion on 5th avenue has an incomparable collection of European paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the present day. It offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience masterpieces by artists such as Botticelli, Rembrandt, Titian, Vermeer, Gainsborough, and Renoir in a setting that recreates the intimacy of a private home.

Bloomingdales This store is probably as iconic as the Empire State. If you are all about shopping, Bloomingdales should be on your New York City bucket list. This store will take you a bit to get through because it has everything your heart desires.

Dylan’s Candy Bar Across the way from Bloomingdales is Dylan’s Candy Bar. This three-story candy store has candy floor to ceiling. You must check out the giant chocolate Easter bunny and the candy stairs. This place is a real treat.

The Roosevelt Island Tram This tram is located at Lexington Ave / 59th St. The Roosevelt Island Tran will take you along the Queensborough Bridge for spectacular views. The views of the city coming back are magnificent. This trip will only cost you $3.00 and is one of the best things to do in NYC.

Once you arrive at Roosevelt Island, you can turn around and go back or hang out on the island. Roosevelt Island is an interesting place. There are a number of parks, landmarks, and historical significance like the Renwick Ruin, a former smallpox hospital, or Octagon tower, the remnants of an insane asylum.

There are beautiful parks with amazing views of Manhattan, like the Louis Kahn–designed Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. Or, Lighthouse Park where you can get a wide-angle view of the city.

Insider Travel Tip: The Graduate Hotel on Roosevelt Island has Panorama Room located on the 18th floor. This rooftop has 360-degree views of New York City and fantastic food and cocktails.

Midtown West

Times Square: Times Square is an adventure all in itself. Like I said, please do not stay in Times Square, and please do not eat in Times Square. Go to Times Square for photos, some shopping, and visual entertainment. It is fun to go at night because of the lights. Be safe in Times Square. Out of everywhere in the city, I feel the least safe here.

Broadway Shows: With so many to choose from, it’s all about which ones appeal to you. Many Broadway Shows sell out, so if this is important to you on your trip to New York City, buy your tickets ahead of time.

Insider Travelers Tip: In the theatre district is a “secret” speakeasy for classic cocktails after or before your Broadway show. This bar is in an unmarked brownstone apartment at 324 W 46th St. Bravely walk through the door and there will be a hostess.

Radio City Music Hall: One of the most recognizable buildings in New York City. The Art Deco building has been a fixture on Manhattan’s skyline since it opened in 1932. The hall is home to the world-famous Rockettes, concerts, stage shows, and other events throughout the year.

Rockefeller Center Nestled in the heart of Midtown Manhattan lies Rockefeller Center, one of New York City’s most famous landmarks. This massive complex was developed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and is now home to offices, restaurants, a shopping center, and of course, the world-famous skating rink. During the holidays, the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center is the prized Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

NYC Travel Tip: Inside Rockefeller Plaza on the 65th floor is the Rainbow Room. If you are lucky enough to have a wedding or even brunch here, its a once in a lifetime experience and is at the top of the list. On the same floor is Bar SixtyFive where you can have cocktails and light bites with amazing city views.

Top of the Rock Observation Tower is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City. Offering stunning unobstructed panoramic views of the city from 70 floors above, with terraces outdoor and indoor, it’s definitely one of the top things to do in New York City.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) This world-renowned museum houses some of the most iconic and cutting edge pieces of art in the world including works by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Warhol.

NYC Food Recommendation: For years now, when we head to New York City, if we want a nice steak dinner we go to Benjamins Steakhouse at W 41st Street. The owners make you feel like you are part of their old-school New York City family and All the steaks are all dry-aged, the sides are amazing. The restaurant itself has high, gothic ceilings for an intimate night out. If you are traveling to New York City on a budget, Benjamins has a $39 power lunch. I recommend making reservations.

Midtown Manhattan

Empire State Building The most famous and recognizable building, quite possibly, in the world, you can’t visit New York City without going to the Empire State Building. This iconic skyscraper has been standing tall in Midtown Manhattan since 1930 and offers visitors unparalleled views of the cityscape.

Skip the line tickets >>>

Macy’s: This Herald Square Macy’s is the largest department store in America and was the first modern building to have an escalator 🙂 This Macys is over 150 years old, home of the NYC Thanksgiving Day parade, and is surrounded by other shopping.

Bryant Park Known as Manhattans Town Square, is located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and is home to a variety of activities, from concerts and movie screenings to ice skating in the winter village. If you are looking for fun free things to do in New York City, Bryant Park offers activities, classes, and workshops. Check it out, here.

Madison Square Garden “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” Madison Square Garden is one of the most popular and important arenas in the world. If you are looking to see an iconic concert, sporting events like the Knicks or NHL hockey, Madison Square Garden is it.

NYC Night Out: A little south of Midtown, Midtown East is the Murray Hill neighborhood. There is a quaint bar, CASK Bar + Kitchen. This neighborhood bar is the perfect spot for cocktails and conversation.

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Midtown East

Summit One NYC: This is the newest cultural experience in New York City. I flew in just to experience this observation deck/art installation. If you are looking for an amazing, unique, view and experience, Summit One NYC is a must. There are levels of mirrored rooms, a glass elevator, a cocktail room, and unapparelled views of Manhattan, Hudson River, Empire State, and Chrysler Building. The experience has indoor and outdoor terraces.

Read: Summit One Vanderbilt: NYC’s Newest Experience

Grand Central Station Grand Central is likely the most beautiful train station in the world. Not only is it a major transportation hub for New York City, but the Beaux-Arts architecture, and the cavernous main concourse it is filled with shops and great restaurants.

Insider Travelers Tip: when you head into Grand Central Station, head to the Main Concourse and Vanderbilt Hall you can find a “whispering gallery.” not a lot of people know about these galleries. Have someone go to one side far away, and you to the other and you can hear each other from distance.

Flatiron District

Madison Square Park is a beautiful and popular park in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. The park offers visitors plenty of green space to relax, as well as a variety of activities and attractions. From concerts and movie screenings to playgrounds and gardens.

NYC Cheap Eats: If you are looking for some cheap, delicious NYC eats, Madison Square Garden has Shake Shack, a New York favorite. Great burgers, fries, and milkshakes!

The Flatiron Building is one of the most iconic and distinguishing landmarks in New York City. It was completed in 1902 and is widely considered to be the first skyscraper in the city. The building gets its name from its distinctive triangular shape, which allows for more windows and better light exposure than a traditional square building. The Flatiron Building has been featured in countless photos, films, and postcards over the years and remains a popular tourist attraction today.

Gramercy

Gramercy Park This park you cannot go into unless you have a key. Yes, a key. Gramercy Park is exclusive to the residents around the park. While it may seem like a bit of an exclusive club, Gramercy Park is one of the most beautiful places in Manhattan. With lush gardens and historic architecture, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

The Friends Experience New York City I added this in here because it was so amazing. If you are a “Friends” TV show fan, you must, must go do this experience. It’s the flagship experience and much better than the ones that travel around the United States. It is so well done. Read more below.

Read: The Friends Experience: The One in New York City

Chelsea/Hudson Yards

No matter what time of year it is, there’s always something to do in Chelsea, NYC. With world-famous art galleries, award-winning restaurants, and a buzzing nightlife scene, this vibrant neighborhood is chic and one of NYC’s favorite neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for a place to spend an afternoon browsing the latest exhibitions or want somewhere to dance the night away, Chelsea is sure to entertain.

Hotel Recommendation: Chelsea is an excellent location to stay in New York City. The restaurants, shopping, nightlife are unbeatable. Chelsea is home to a brand new, “lifestyle hotel” Motto: by Hilton. In the heart of Chelsea, this chic, comfortable, affordable New York City hotel, offers guests the opportunity to connect with the neighborhood culture and is within walking distance of everything you need and subway stations.

What to do in Chelsea

Chelsea Market: If you’re looking for a quintessential New York City experience, Chelsea Market is a must-see. This historic indoor marketplace is home to dozens of food stalls, shops, and restaurants. From fresh produce to artisanal cheese, there’s something for everyone at Chelsea Market. Plus, the market is in a prime location right off of the High Line park, so it’s easy to combine a visit with some sightseeing.

Chelsea Piers: There are so many fun things at Chelsea Piers. You can book a sailboat, hit golf balls over the Hudson River, ice skate, and bowl.

Little Island: Little Island is a new public park located at Hudson River Park between 14th and 15th streets. Little Island is the remnants of the old Pier 54 turned into a 2.4 acre lush, green unique landscape for visitors to enjoy. This amazing public space holds events, concerts, and performances and is free to visitors.

The High Line: Grab a picnic or a walking cappuccino at Chelsea Markt and head to the High Line. The High Line, a narrow elevated park in New York City, was created on an old freight rail line that ran above the streets. It spans 1.45 miles (2.3 kilometers) and features a variety of gardens, art installations, seating areas, and viewpoints. The High Line attracts around four million visitors every year and has been credited with revitalizing the neighborhoods it passes through.

Meatpacking District: The Meatpacking District has come a long way since its industrial days as one of the busiest and most important areas of trade in the city. With its gritty history and trendy past, this vibrant neighborhood is now home to some of the most unique shops, restaurants, and galleries in Manhattan.

Hudson Yards

The Hudson Yards is “geographically” part of Chelsea, but I read that it is now its own separate neighborhood but, in your travels, this makes it easier to plan. This is the new kid on the block and New York’s most expensive development since Rockefeller Center. This 28-acre site includes commercial and residential space, a cultural center, and extensive public spaces.

What is at the Hudson Yards?

The Hudson Yards Vessel is a stunning sight to behold. This massive honeycomb-shaped structure is made up of 154 intertwined staircases that lead to a viewing deck. It’s the perfect place to take in the cityscape and snap some amazing photos. The Vessel is AMAZING during Christmas time in New York.

The Edge the Edge has one of the coolest and is the highest observation deck in Manhattan and the Western Hemisphere. The Edge deck is suspended in mid-air above Manhattan to give you the feeling you are floating and 360-degree views for an experience like no other.

NYC Attraction Tip: The Edge has one of the most adrenaline-induced experiences in NYC, City Climb. Climb the outside of the skyscraper more than 1200 feet above the ground. Once you reach its “summit” you will lean over and look down over Manhattan from the highest outdoor platform in NYC.

The Shed: The Shed NYC is the newest cultural phenomenon in the city. The Shed NYC is a new performance art space in the heart of Chelsea. It’s a provocative and innovative addition to the New York City arts scene, with a mission to support and showcase emerging artists. Whether you love art, music, concerts, or performance art, this place is a must-see.

The Shops at Hudson Yards: The Shops at Hudson Yards is a new shopping destination in New York City. It’s the biggest shopping center in the city, with over 112 stores, restaurants, and services. From high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus, Dior, Chanel to specialty boutiques, this shopping complex is absolutely stunning to spend the afternoon.

Insider Travel Tip: If you are in New York City during Christmas, the Vessel and the Shop at Hudson Yards should be top on your list to see. It is one of the most magical experiences in the city during the holidays.

West Village

The West Village is a small, charming neighborhood in the heart of New York City. Full of tree-lined streets, trendy restaurants and bars, and boutique shops, the West Village is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City Apartment: located on a tree-lined street at 66 Perry Street in the West Village, you can take photos in front of the famous brownstone Carrie Bradshaw lived in. Just be respectful of the neighborhood and the people that actually live at the brownstone.

The “Friends” Building. See the building that was used for the TV promos in “Friends.” They didn’t actually film in the building, however, the restaurant at the bottom, The Little Owl, is excellent for brunch. The building is located at 90 Bedford Street.

Bleeker Street: Bleeker Street has the best shopping experiences in NYC. From Stoney Clover to the famous Magnolia Bakery, shopping up and down this quaint street is our favorite thing to do in New York City.

NYC Activity: At Pier 40 in the West Village there is a place where you can do flying trapeze lessons on the Hudson River. It’s quite the experience.

Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is one of the most historic and iconic neighborhoods in New York City. It has been home to various cultures and communities for centuries, and its streets are rich with stories that deserve to be told.

SoHo

In the heart of downtown lies one of the most vibrant and eclectic neighborhoods in the city. Originally an industrial district, Soho is well known for its cast of characters and high-end art scene. The streets are constantly alive with people and energy. Whether you’re looking for a place to eat, drink, or explore, SoHo has it.

What to do in SoHo:

  • Museum of Ice Cream this experience that has taken over social media, and you can find it in SoHo. The Museum of Ice Cream is everything you could hope for and more. From an interactive exhibit where you can learn about the history of ice cream, to a pool of sprinkles that you can literally wade in. This fun and whimsical museum is not just for kids.

  • Shopping: Soho is a mecca for shopping. Some people might say that Soho is one of the best places in the world to go shopping. The streets are lined with fashion boutiques, art galleries, and all sorts of trendy stores. You can find just about anything you’re looking for in this neighborhood, from designer clothes to unique home decor items. If you’re looking for a shopping adventure, Soho is definitely the place to be!

NYC Treats Recommendation: Dominique Ansel Bakery has some of the most beautiful pastries and desserts in the city. Chef Dominique Ansel created the Cronut pastry, a donut-croissant hybrid. We LOVE getting a cronut with the blossoming hot chocolate. Everything is amazing here. Don’t be afraid of the line out the door, it goes pretty quick. There is always a line.

Tribeca

Walk the streets of Tribeca and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a different world. This historic neighborhood in Lower Manhattan is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in New York City.

Tribeca Eats: My very favorite cafe is in a little pink townhome on Broadway, Tiny’s. This adorable restaurant is the only pink historic landmark in NYC and has a fantastic brunch and killer martinis. We highly suggest making a reservation, because it’s, well, tiny!

Little Italy

Little Italy is a popular tourist destination for those who appreciate Italian food and culture. Established in the early 1900s, this small neighborhood on the Lower East Side has been preserved as an ethnic enclave and offers a glimpse into traditional Italian life in America.

Looking for the best New York City Pizza? We love Lombardi's and around the corner is Eileen's!

Today, visitors can enjoy classic dishes at dozens of restaurants, browse unique shops, and listen to live music on certain streets. Whether you’re looking for a delicious meal or just want to take a stroll through history.

Insider travel tip: You can eat at America’s first pizzeria, and it happens to be my favorite pizza place in NYC, Lombardi’s. This location has been here since 1905 and still serves up the best hot coal-oven baked pizzas on red checkered tablecloths. Head around the corner to Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, for the best cheesecake in New York City.

Chinatown

This neighborhood is home to some of the best Chinese restaurants in the city, as well as souvenir shops and other attractions. Whether you’re looking for a little bit of culture or just a good meal, Chinatown is definitely worth a visit.

NYC Travel Tip: Chinatown has some of the best NYC souvenir shops. Do not be afraid to haggle prices. Get the best price you can because the next shop over will take your price. Additionally, there is a lot of knock-off or counterfeit items for sale such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton merchandise. While it’s not illegal for you to buy the items, just research where these items come from before purchasing.

Lower Manhattan

9/11 Memorial and Museum If you travel to New York City and do one thing, make the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum a top priority. When I travel to NYC, I come almost every time. The museum tells the story of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and the subsequent rescue and recovery efforts. It’s a moving and powerful experience that provides an important understanding of what happened on that tragic day.

One World Trade Center: When completed in 2013, One World Trade Center became the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and seventh-tallest in the world. Standing at 1,776 feet, it’s a symbol of both American resilience and engineering prowess. This skyscraper is now one of the most recognizable structures on the New York City skyline.

The Oculus: If you’re looking for a shopping experience that is unique and exciting, then be sure to check out The Oculus. This new shopping center in lower Manhattan is home to some of the best stores in the city. Not only that, the Oculus is a major transportation hub and filled with amazing dining experiences.

Check out our video of our favorite specialty shop in the Oculus, Eataly.

Statue of Liberty located in Battery Park at the very tip of Manhattan, The Statue of Liberty remains one of the world’s most recognizable symbols of freedom and democracy. She has been featured in paintings, TV shows, video games, and more. Thousands visit her each year to snap photos of this icon.

New York City Money-Saving Tip: If you want to take a tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and see the Ellis Island Museum, you should book your tickets in advance. However, if you just want to see the Statue of Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry goes directly by Miss Liberty. You get a fantastic view, can take pictures because the ferry is very slow, and when you arrive in Staten Island, you can take a marvelous picture of Manhattan. Best part? It is free!

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is a world-renowned financial institution and the largest stock exchange in the United States. If you’re looking to experience Wall Street up close and personal, the NYSE is a must-visit tourist destination. With visitor information centers, guided tours, and exhibits on the history and the markets. Make sure you visit the Charging Bull or the Bull of Wall Street located at the oldest park in New York City, Bowling Green, at Broadway and Whitehall Street.

Historic Stone Street This historic lane is one of the oldest streets in Manhattan, and today it’s home to trendy restaurants and great bars. Whether you’re looking for a unique shopping experience or a memorable meal head to this cobblestone-lined street in the Financial District.

Brooklyn (DUMBO)

Brooklyn Bridge starting at the manhattan entrance….. You can choose to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or ride a bike. I have found that it is harder than one thinks to ride across it but doable. t’s the initial climb, then it’s downhill from there.

Photo opportunity: The famous Instagram spot in DUMBO of the Manhattan Bridge framed between buildings is located along Washington Street near Water Street.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Brooklyn Bridge Park is a beautiful 85-acre park on the Brooklyn side of the East River.

This park offers stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline, as well as of the Hudson River. It’s a great spot for a picnic or a walk, and there’s even a magical carousel (Janes Carousel) and a nautical park for the kids.

We have to include Brooklyn in this guide to New York City! DUMBO is so awesome and beautiful and a must in New York

Where to Eat in DUMBO: Right next to Empire Fulton Park is Time Out New York Market in Empire Stores. Inside, a food hall, featuring some of the greatest New York City restaurants and chefs in one spot. Ess-a-Bagel, Clinton Street Baking Company, Sugar Hill Creamery (get the hot chocolate), Pat LaFrida Meat Purveyors, and much more.

New York City Resources

These are just a few resources to help with the planning and budget of your New York City trip!

Get Your Guide. I personally love Get your Guide to plan all my attractions, shows activities, and experiences. The main reason is you can cancel for a full refund 24 hours ahead of your ticket or attraction times, even shows. If you book these direct, your tickets are always nonrefundable and nontransferable. Travel can always go unexpectedly or change.

Skyscanner. I have found flights round-trip to New York City for $97. Round trip! Even to Las Vegas to see my parents. You can get great hotel deals, flight deals, and car rentals at a steal.

Google Maps. I used to be petrified to ride the subways in New York City and spent so much money on taxis. I started using Google Maps to navigate the train system. Google Maps app will give you step-by-step instructions for your destination. Even which corner of the street you should head down into the subway. I find this app to be the most user-friendly while navigating the subway system. New York Tip: Pay attention to uptown and downtown trains 😉

NYC Travel Tip: If I had to bring one item adventuring around New York City, it is a portable charger for my phone. You will run out of charge and need it to navigate subways and directions. I love these little chargers for any time, too.

New York City Travel Essentials

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting city to explore, look no further than New York City. This is the greatest city in the world, has unparalleled energy and vibe. There’s something for everyone in this vibrant metropolis, from world-class museums and theaters to trendy restaurants and nightlife.

With so much to see and do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed – take your time, enjoy this amazing city. I hope this guide helped you! So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure in the Big Apple! Happy travels!

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