New York City

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love the New York City

Aerial view of the skyscrapers around Central park and Manhattan
Aerial photo over Central Park and Manhattan

Why We Love New York City: ~ New York City stands out from every other major metropolis on the planet. Its energy is undeniable. From the overflowing culture and rich nightlife to the iconic foods and endless history to explore, it’s hard not to fall in love with the magical city that never sleeps.

Best of New York City

✨ Things to Do

View of the people wandering around and the tall buildings from Central Park on a sunny day
Central Park on a bright, sunny day

There are so many intriguing things to do across the boroughs of New York City. The age-old saying that you can find anything in NYC definitely rings true:

  • Central Park – In the heart of Manhattan, Central Park brings life and nature into the urban jungle of NYC.
  • Times Square – The bustling, colorful Times Square in Midtown Manhattan is a must-see for first-time visitors. 
  • Brooklyn Bridge – There is more to NYC than just Manhattan. Brooklyn is only an hour’s walk away across the BK Bridge.
  • Broadway – Get in touch with NYC culture on Broadway. There are over 30 different Broadway shows right now. 
  • Rockefeller Center – In the winter, don’t miss the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. It’s a magical NYC tradition.

🗺️ Where to Stay

The island of New York City contains entire worlds, and each of those worlds is constituted by a different neighborhood. There are a lot of varying qualities between NYC’s neighborhoods:

  • Upper West Side, Manhattan – Between Central Park and the Hudson River, the Upper West Side is full of museums and attractions. 
  • SoHo, Manhattan – SoHo is a dream come true for visitors who want to treat themselves and shop until they drop.
  • Midtown, Manhattan – First-time visitors who want to see the NYC portrayed in movies should go right to Midtown Manhattan. 
  • Long Island City, Queens – For foodies and travelers on a budget, this neighborhood makes a great base.
  • Williamsburg, Brooklyn – To take advantage of an excellent nightlife, music, and arts scene, check out Williamsburg.
  • The Bronx – If you’re traveling with kids or headed to a Yankee’s game, then basing yourself in The Bronx is your best bet.

👉 Read the complete guide to where to stay in New York City

View of the vehicles passing the Midtown Manhattan
Midtown Manhattan

🛎️ Best Hotels

Exterior and entrance view of The Peninsula Hotel with impressive Christmas decorations
The historic Peninsula Hotel (photo: ieronymos / Shutterstock)

If you want to get the most out of a trip to New York, you need a comfortable, safe place to rest your head at night. When you book with these hotels in NYC, you’ll wake up every morning refreshed and ready to take on the Big Apple: 

  • Hotel Scherman – In Midtown, Hotel Scherman is a cute boutique hotel haven in the middle of the buzzing city center. 
  • The Artezen Hotel – The Artezan Hotel is an excellent, quiet stay for business travelers near public transportation. 
  • NobleDEN Hotel – NobleDEN Hotel is one of the most optimally-located stays. It’s between SoHo, Chinatown, and Bowery.
  • Opera House Hotel – Located in the Bronx, the Opera House Hotel is super close to the subway station and is great for families.
  • The Box House Hotel – A decidedly colorful hotel in Brooklyn, The Box House Hotel has gorgeous lofts and suites.
  • The William Vale – A stunning Williamsburg hotel with unreal views.

🍽️ Restaurants

A plate of huge sandwich with pickles and drinks on the side from Katz Deli
A sandwich from the famous Katz Deli (photo: PICTOR PICTURES / Shutterstock)

The New York food scene is rich and comes complete with 5-star establishments and affordable hole-in-the-walls. Out of everywhere in NYC, these are some of the city’s very best restaurants:

  • Eleven Madison Park – This culinary creation by chef Daniel Humm is a 3 Michelin-star restaurant and named one of the top 50 best restaurants in the entire world. 
  • Keens Steakhouse – Keens Steakhouse is one of the most famous NYC restaurants for its rich steaks and mutton chops. 
  • Katz Delicatessen – It’s rare to find a time when Katz Deli isn’t busy with hungry patrons ordering their signature sandwiches.
  • Rubirosa – If you want the mecca of all NY pizza, grab one of the fancy pies at Rubirosa in Nolita.
  • Sylvia’s – Located in Central Harlem, Sylvia’s is a piece of soul food heaven that’s been in business since 1962.

🚗 Day Trips

View of the Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills
Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills
  • The Catskills, NY  – The nature and outdoor activities of the Catskills are only two hours away from NYC on the train. 
  • Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia’s wealth of American history and culture is just two hours away from Manhattan.  
  • Fire Island, NY – Fire Island is an LGBTQ+-friendly beach destination just two hours outside of NYC.
  • Hudson, NY – In the town of Hudson 2.5 hours outside of Manhattan, you’ll find vintage shopping and yummy restaurants. 
  • Greenwich, CT – Spend the day in the eclectic town of Greenwich, Connecticut a mere 45-minute drive from New York City.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

View of the tall buildings and buy street near the Chinatown in Manhattan at sunset
Chinatown in the Lower East Side (photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock)
  • Upper West Side – If you want a neighborhood in the middle of the city center, the Upper West Side is the way to go. 
  • East Village – This spunky Manhattan neighborhood was once home to many of the city’s top musicians and artists. 
  • Park Slope – Across the bridge in Brooklyn is the family-friendly neighborhood of Park Slope located right next to Prospect Park. 
  • Harlem – The NYC neighborhood of Harlem hosts an abundance of music history and a very fun nightlife scene.
  • SoHo – The picturesque neighborhood of SoHo is awash with trendy boutique hotels and one-of-a-kind shopping. 

👉 Read the complete guide to the best neighborhoods in New York City

🍸 Bars

View of a woman chilling at the rooftop bar in Manhattan at sunset
Rooftop bar in Manhattan
  • The Up & Up – If you want to feel mysterious and cool on an evening out in NYC, grab a cocktail at The Up & Up. 
  • The Dead Rabbit – The Dead Rabbit is a traditional Irish pub with a bit of New York grit. 
  • Death & Company – This East Village bar gives those classy, speakeasy vibes that make you feel like you’re living in a movie.
  • Julius’ – Opened all the way back in 1864, Julius’ LGBTQ+ bar is the oldest gay bar in NYC. 
  • Please Don’t Tell – To get inside the secret Please Don’t Tell speakeasy, you actually have to enter through a phone booth.

🖼️ Museums

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) – The MET isn’t just a cherished art museum for New York City; it’s actually the largest museum in all of America. 
  • American Museum of Natural History – For families with children of any age, the American Museum of Natural History is an absolute must. Its exhibits will spark life into your inner science enthusiast. 
  • The National September 11 Memorial Museum – Take a moment to acknowledge one of the most painful and life-changing moments in New York history – 9/11. Learn about the events, victims, and heroes of that fateful day and how it changed the city and world.
  • The Museum of the Moving Image – Everyone loves movies and television, but do you know everything that goes into making these productions? At the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, you can find out.

👉 Read the complete guide to NYC museums

🎶 Music Venues

  • Carnegie Hall – For many musicians, playing at Carnegie Hall in Midtown Manhattan means they’ve made it. It has hosted everyone from Judy Garland to The Beatles. Just visiting Carnegie Hall is an event in itself because of all the history there. The shows are spectacular, too though. 
  • Bowery Ballroom – The Bowery Ballroom is a 3-story venue with a reputation for being one of Manhattan’s very best. Rolling Stone Magazine even called Bowery Ballroom the #1 club in the entire country. 
  • Brooklyn Steel – Over in Williamsburg across the river from Manhattan, you’ll stumble upon the vivacious Brooklyn Steel venue. This place is a much more intimate experience than some of New York City’s other venues and hosts a bunch of underground artists. 
  • The Apollo Theater – One of New York’s most historic music venues is the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The theater itself is so famous and influential that it’s basically a cultural landmark.

👉 Read the complete guide to NYC music venues

New York City Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Your experience in New York City will be shifted depending on what time of year you choose to visit. Just a few weeks can mean the difference between warm, sunny days or walking frigid, wet streets. Not to mention that the prices fluctuate with the changing weather:

  • 🍂 Fall –  Fall is an incredibly fun time of year to visit New York City. There are lots of fun activities happening around this time. Autumn is also considered the shoulder season in New York City. So, there will be fewer crowds and prices will be slightly cheaper. 
  • 🌞 Summer – The most popular time to visit New York City is probably summer from June to early September. Despite the high temperatures, people flock to NYC in the summer for all its exciting activities. If it’s your first time ever visiting New York, the summer season will leave a positive impression on you. 
  • ❄️ Winter – Unlike many places, winter is one of the most popular seasons to visit New York City. Especially around Christmas, there are endless winter activities to do in New York. If you visit during the winter, you’ll need warm clothes and be prepared for freezing temperatures. 
  • 🌼 Spring –  In the springtime, New York City comes back to life after hibernating for the winter. From March until June, the city exudes lively energy. It’s an awesome transitionary period before it gets super hot and busy for the summer.

🚌 Getting Around

There are a bunch of ways to get around NYC that range from unbelievably expensive to completely free. Let’s get into it:

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – New York City is one of the most walkable cities in America, with a walkability score of 88. The borough of Manhattan in particular is very easy to navigate on foot. The streets are organized by number, making it simple to figure out where you are no matter where you wander off to.
  • 🚗 Driving – You do not want to deal with the hassle of driving and storing a car in New York City. At almost any time of day, you’ll be stuck in horrible traffic and the prices of the tolls are crazy high. Worst of all, though, is the parking situation. It is nearly impossible to find street parking in most boroughs of New York City. 
  • 🚇 Public Transit – The best way to get around New York City is public transportation. The subway and bus system is very comprehensive and runs all night long. It costs just $2.75 per ride to use public transit in New York City. 
  • 📲 RideShare – Rideshares in New York City are notoriously expensive, especially if you’re taking one after a night out on the town. Cabs are usually a little less expensive than ride shares, but they can be harder to find. If you are going to use ride shares, Uber, Lyft, Revel, Via, and Curb are all available in New York City. 
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – New York City is super biking-friendly. There are bike lanes throughout the entire city and lots of rentals available on the streets. 
  • 🛴 Scooters – E-Scooters are allowed in New York and there are thousands of them available across the city. There are a few brands of scooters available in New York including Bird, Lime, and VeoRide.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🍕 Eat the NYC food staples – There is a bounty of delicious food waiting for you in New York. It’s a culinary adventure out there and you want to try everything the Big Apple is famous for. This includes stuff like bagels, cheesecake, pastrami sandwiches, and eggs benedict. Plus, of course, a slice (or ten) of New York-style pizza. 
  • 🍸 Go to the bars during happy hour – Partying on a budget in New York City is almost impossible. A single cocktail can cost you $17+ depending on what neighborhood you’re in. One way to avoid these high fees is by going out at happy hour to get a hefty discount on drinks. While happy hours vary between bars, it’s usually weekdays from 4 pm to 7 pm. 
  • 📆 Plan in advance  – Many people think the high price point of NYC makes visiting NYC unfeasible, but it’s totally possible as long as you plan in advance. The earlier you book and reserve, the cheaper prices you’ll get. The only exception is when you’re trying to get last-minute tickets to things like Broadway shows in Times Square.  
  • 🚇 Use public transportation – You don’t even want to know how expensive a 20-minute taxi ride in the populated streets of New York City costs. It’s insane. Thankfully, there is a pretty easy solution to the high cost of driving around – New York City’s public transportation. Between the subways and the buses, you can get anywhere across NYC for a pretty low cost. It’s $2.75 per ride on either mode of transportation in New York. 
  • 🌇 Visit Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx too – The city’s surrounding boroughs have just as much to offer as the beautiful area of Manhattan. When you’re visiting New York City, don’t forget to hop on the train and go to Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx for a day. They’re very easy to access on public transportation and you won’t be disappointed by the unique ambiance of each borough.

👉 Read the full list of New York City tips.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 📱 Portable charger – When you’re running around New York City, you’ll constantly be using up your phone juice. Running out of phone battery happens fast and furious on a day in NYC. So, it’s better to carry a charged-up portable charger, so you never end up lost without a way to get back on track. 
  • 🎒 Daypack – It’s much easier to carry around a backpack in the busy streets of NYC, as opposed to a purse or fanny pack. Plus, it gives you a place to put any purchases you pick up along the way. 
  • 👟 Extremely comfortable shoes – No matter what you plan on doing in New York City, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be doing a whole bunch of walking. Trying to get around New York City in uncomfortable shoes is a complete nightmare. Before you attempt a trip to NYC, make sure you invest in a good pair of walking shoes that won’t leave you limping by the end of the day. 
  • 👝 Packing cubes – Packing light will save you a lot of hassle when you’re traveling in New York City. One excellent way to minimize your packing is by putting your stuff in packing cubes. These pieces of travel gear allow you to better organize your bag and keep everything compressed. You’ll be amazed how much space packing cubes save you.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 8,804,190 (city), 20,096,413 (metro area)
  • Time Zone – Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -5 / UTC -4 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – 212, 718, 917, 646 
  • Airports – John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Nickname – The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps 
  • Demonynm – New Yorker
  • StateNew York
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $190-$235/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $150-$200/night
  • Rental Car – $56/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$2.75 ($11 to the airport from the center)
  • RideShare from Downtown to Airport – $75 to $123
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $35-$50
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $100+
  • Draft Beer – $8.00

💵 Read the full guide to doing New York City on a budget.

FAQs About Visiting New York City

Is New York City safe for tourists?

New York City is safe for tourists. New York City is actually considered one of the safest major cities in America as of 2023. However, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. New York City is still a major city and visitors need to be constantly aware of their surroundings. Crime happens in New York City and the more vigilant you are, the less likely you’ll become a victim of it. 

How many days in New York is enough?

Five days are enough time to get acquainted with New York City. This provides enough time to leisurely check out the city’s biggest tourist attractions and visit its best neighborhoods. However, it’s possible to do New York City in more or less time. Just a weekend in New York City can be plenty of time for a short burst of fun.

Is $1,000 enough for 5 days in New York?

$1,000 is enough for five days in New York if you’re planning on sticking to a very strict budget and visiting during the off-season. You’ll need to stay in a lower-range hotel and do lots of budget activities. However, it won’t be enough for a luxurious vacation in New York City. If you really want to treat yourself in NYC, you’ll need at least $2,500 for 5 days in New York City.

Meet Our New York Travel Experts

Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional writer from New York with an insatiable craving for exploring the world. After a post-college adventure around 6 Asian countries, she dove head-first into a writing career and travel lifestyle. Sky currently lives in Mexico City with her dog Bear. When she’s not whipping up content for Travel Lemming, she writes for Booking, Zippia, and her blog.

👉 Read Sky’s Articles

Larissa Albright

Larissa Albright is a New York City-based writer and travel enthusiast. She loves trying local restaurants and coffee shops in her neighborhood and exploring every inch of Central Park. She visits London whenever she can and spends her summers in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

👉 Read Larissa’s Articles

Victoria Folz

Victoria Folz is a freelance writer and travel enthusiast based in Southern California. She enjoys red eye flights, hiking, road trips, running, and solo adventures. Her favorite destination abroad is a tie between the island of Roatan and Porto Xeli, Greece. Visit her website here.

👉 Read Victoria‘s Articles

📰 New York Travel Guides

Even though the world knows about NYC, there is much more to New York than just Manhattan. Many of New York state’s other coolest places are only a short bus or train ride away. To learn more, check out our other NY travel guides:

🗺️ New York City Map