NYC, The Big Apple, Manhattan, The City that Never Sleeps…whatever name you give it, one thing is true, New York City is one of the most widely visited cities in the world. When you visit NYC, you will naturally want to see it all, but with hundreds of attractions it can feel overwhelming. So to take away some of the stress of deciding what to see and do during your stay I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts with a few handy tips thrown in that I picked up along the way.
NYC: DOS & DON’TS
DO go to the top of the Rockefeller Centre at night, for awesome views of the Empire State Building lit up. Don’t ask questions, just trust me and do it!
DON’T pay to go on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Take the Staten Island Ferry instead for FREE! Not only does it go right past the Statue of Liberty but it provides fab views of the Manhattan skyline from the water. And did I mention, it’s free?!
DO walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s quite a walk but worth it for the iconic photo!
DON’T take an inappropriate selfie at the 911 memorial…be respectful people.
DO take a stroll through Central Park on a sunny day. In a city as busy as New York, it’s great to have a green space to escape the crowds and just wander aimlessly. But…
DON’T wander in Central Park after dark. Most local New-Yorkers will tell you to steer clear of Central Park at night. You may be fine, but due to its seclusion and badly lit areas, it’s better safe than sorry.
DO head to the Roof Garden Bar at The Met for stunning views of the New York skyline over the trees of Central Park.
DON’T forget to tip. Everyone from taxi drivers to doormen, from bellhops to waiters, will all expect a tip. Taxi drivers & waiters should be tipped 15-20% and doormen & bellhops tipped $1-2 for each bag they help you with. For a more detailed guide on what to tip see this post on Tripadvisor.
DO purchase an Unlimited 7-Day Metrocard. The $31 may seem steep initially, but it will save you money in the long-run and make it real easy to hop on and off the subway without having to worry about change for your ticket.
DON’T use the Subway for every trip. The best way to see a city is on foot, so get a decent map and take a hike, or even better, use Google Maps on your phone (so you don’t stand out as a tourist). NYC is a very walkable city and by walking as much as possible you will stumble across attractions and hidden gems that you may not have seen otherwise.
DO get away from the mainstream areas and tourist hot-spots. Of course you are going to want to see Times Square and the Empire State Building (who doesn’t) but some of the best trips begin when you head off the beaten path and wander aimlessly.
DON’T eat in popular tourist areas. It goes without saying that you will pay a packet more if you eat in restaurants close to Times Square. So, as with the above tip, wander off the beaten path and try some of the lesser-known, family-run restaurants. It will be cheaper and quite often, the food is better!
DON’T feel that you have to pay $25 entrance fee for The Metropolitan Museum of Art. While it is good to pay something if you intend to enjoy the Museum, the $25 fee is just a suggested donation and you can actually pay whatever you want.
DO head straight for Times Square to soak up the atmosphere and look at the pretty lights! Forget what people say about it being touristy, it’s just something you have to do. You haven’t visited New York until you’ve been to Times Square.
DON’T forget to look up! You will feel tiny and small and insignificant but totally in awe of the sheer size of the buildings.
DO climb the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower for breath-taking views of the City that Never Sleeps. Remember, Rockefeller at night, Empire State during the day.
DON’T forget to hit a rooftop bar. If there is one place in the world, where you should head to a rooftop bar it’s NYC. 230 Fifth on Fifth Avenue is my favourite as it offers fab views of the Empire State Building lit up at night.
DO wear comfortable shoes!
DON’T try and fit too much into your day. New York is a big place with lots to see and do but to really experience it you need to take your time and soak it all up. Make a rough plan of what you want to see before you go to make sure you don’t miss anything.
DO take time to check out the different neighbourhoods in New York. Each neighbourhood has its own distinct feel and are all worth a visit in their own right.
DO research which museums you want to visit and on which days. New York has a museum for everyone, whether it’s the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the American Museum of Natural History or The Guggenheim to name just a few. Most museums have certain days and certain times when you can get in for free or at least pay what you want. So research this in advance to save yourself some bucks.
DO fall in love with New York and enjoy every minute of it. We found New Yorkers to be very friendly, so don’t worry too much about anything and just go with the flow.
Have a great time and let me know in the comments if there’s anything I’ve missed or any other tips you have picked up from your visits to The Big Apple.