Living so close to New York City makes it very easy to take multiple bites of the big apple. (Haha, I had to say it. I’m the cheesy type.) I’ve visited the city at least a dozen times and maybe another handful since 2009.
Drive or fly? –
If you’re planning your first trip to NYC, I highly recommend flying. Then either taking a cab/car service or the subway to your hotel or final destination.
Driving in NYC can be hectic and chaotic at times(or almost all times) and if you’re an experienced driver in large cities, this could be a huge problem. If you’ve driven in big cities before, and I’m talkin’ L.A. status, then go for it! It’s a rush of adrenaline, lots of horn honking and even a few slams on the break. No sweat, really……
BUT, you absolutely do not need a car in the city! There are many means of transportation from the NYC subway, the bus systems, taxis, car service, bikes, and walking! The subway will be by far the cheapest, if you’re not walking on foot that is, but it can also be the most confusing! Take a minute to study the subway map or just use the GPS on your smart phone – once you figure out how the subway runs, you’ll start to get the hang of it.
Car service is the most expensive, but it can get you where you wanna go, timely and fast. I’ve used car service from lower Manhattan to the JFK airport in no time. It was almost lightening fast, actually. Oh and they also have fixed rates for airports. I think I paid $40 plus tip for JFK.
If you’re driving to the city and planning to park in the city, please read all parking signs – Don’t assume you can park somewhere just because someone else is. I’ve learned that you’ll not only get a fat ticket, but your car will get towed too. (Haha.. uhh… that’s a story for another day.) You’re better off finding a garage that has a early bird special to save an extra couple bucks. Hotels that include valet service can be very useful too, just keep in mind the daily rates do not include tax. All in all.. parking in the city is not cheap, whatsoever.
Oh em gee, I don’t even know where to start for food. So I’ll just keep it simple. Street food will be one of your best friends in times of hunger. Starbucks will also be your best friend. Not only are these 2 options available anywhere, but I believe the Times Square Starbucks is open 24hrs! (Please tip your barista!) Not sure about street vendors, but I’m sure they’re up there too ! The city never sleeps.
Coffee, coffee & coffee. If you love coffee just as much as me, then check out Gorilla Coffee. Located right in Brooklyn. Grab a bag of Gorilla single origin whole bean coffee to take home! Dooooooooo ittttttt, you coffee fanatics will not be disappointed.
Looking for a sit down eatery, but not tryin ‘ to get fancy? You can visit that diner in Seinfeld(Monk’s Diner) or it’s real name, Tom’s Restaurant located in Morningside Heights. Although I haven’t eaten there yet, it’s on the bucket list! Seinfeld is one of my favorite shows!
If you’re strollin’ around downtown, then you should check out Cup & Saucer. It’s right on Canal St in Chinatown. Quick service, open early, cash only, delicious food.
Okay so now you’re lookin’ to get fancy. Well here’s the Yelp listing to fancy & expensive top rated restaurants. I have yet to pay $50 + for a plate of food, but I trust my fellow Yelpers.
When it comes to dessert you absolutely must visit Junior’s. It’s hands down eaters choice, my choice, everyones choice, the best cheesecake in the city. I’m seriously serious.
So this isn’t even a 5% explanation to NYC’s food culture, but it’s a start. Just get out and explore yourself, see what you walk into. Go explore the crazy amounts of authentic international cuisines in districts like Little Italy, Chinatown, all the way up to the north sides of Manhattan and all over Brooklyn. Endless. Options. Of. Epic. Food.
The views –
I don’t care if its your first time in NYC or your 30th, make a stop in Times Square. Stop there in the daytime and in the evening. Just go!
Looking to shop? Walk down 5th Avenue & 7th Avenue(Fashion Avenue). You need to stop in Saks Fifth Ave, or if you’re with the kids stop in the famous FAO Schwarz. Before this turns into a paragraph, I’ll just stop here. I see a future NYC shopping guide in the works.
If its your first time you need to visit either Rockafeller or the Empire State Building. If you have time and money do both!
If you do plan on visiting many attractions like MoMA, Statue of Liberty, and Empire State Building. I recommend get the CityPass. I purchased one of these my first time in NYC and it was a huge savings!
Looking for a guided tour and some cool views? You could try a bus tour. There are several that are hop on/hop off.. meaning you can get on in one location and get off whenever/where ever! I believe this option was good for the full day and let’s you explore where ever you want! The one I took went to Brooklyn as well, which was a must see! You can see the NYC skyline from Brooklyn!
—–If you’re down in lower Manhattan, there is a lot going on. You have the AM Chinatown hustle, where shops are opening, people are coming out, and everyone is trying to sell you something! It’s pretty fun! You also have Little Italy, warming up the block with their tomato and basil fragrant spell. North of Chinatown is some major shopping districts like SoHo and TriBecca with lots of people running around on the daily. If you keep heading south away from Chinatown you’ll find the World Trade Center & the 9/11 Memorial Site. Then when you hit the end of the island, there she’ll be. The Statue of Liberty. This doesn’t even cover half of what you’ll discover in NYC.
To stay –
I’ve stayed in many NYC hotels over the past 7/8 years, I’ve also slept in the car with my dog and my boyfriend a couple times(crazy I know, we’re pretty bad ass city-goers). I’ll link my Yelp page if you’re curious about some of these hotels. I’ll start with the pet friendly locations since I do like to bring my dog to NY. First is Ravel (Yelp), and second is Best Western Seaport Inn (Yelp). A favorite that is not pet friendly is Park Central. These 3 are my top choices, currently.
Personal Bucket List For Future Visits –
- Dillion’s Candy Bar
- Magnolia Bakery
- Patsey’s Pizza
Other Cool POI –
- NBC Center
- Time Warner Center
Cruise Tunes –
Future 2020 self here. Read my updated favorite NYC vegan food spots here. I should update an entire NYC travel list with all the hotels we’ve stayed in….
If you’d like to see where I got engaged in 2018, click here. ♥️