Best things to do in New York
The definitive guide to the world's most spectacular city
The Big Apple is the place where great artists have dreamed of success, where many European immigrants found a way to change their destiny, and where every visitor has found a reason to stay.
We are talking, of course, about New York: a city where you won't want to close your eyes in case you miss something. There's so much to see and do that, during a trip, it is important to know what's worth seeing the most so you don't get overwhelmed. So, without further ado, here are the most amazing experiences for your trip to New York.
1. Fly over New York on a helicopter tour
Taking a helicopter tour of New York City will show you the city as few others get to see it. The bird's eye view will allow you to see New York as if it were in the palm of your hand, and it's an experience you'll definitely want to talk about when you return from your trip.
The city's skyline is so spectacular in itself, even more so from a helicopter flight over New York. Most flights last around 15 minutes, and in one of these experiences, you will enjoy the wonderful views and the adrenaline of flying in a helicopter over New York at more than 120 miles per hour.
2. Defy vertigo from the top of the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is the most iconic landmark in New York, and from its observation deck, you can enjoy wonderful views of the Big Apple. You can go up at dawn, just before sunset, or at night: whatever you choose it will be an experience that you will surely remember with nostalgia many years later.
I highly recommend to buy your tickets online for the Empire State to skip the line at the ticket office and avoid the large crowds of tourists who, of course, have this visit among their top priorities when visiting New York.
3. Explore New York's multiculturalism on the most popular guided tours
New York Contrasts tour
New York is, without a doubt, a city where contrasts follow one another at such a speed that it is difficult to keep up with them. The New York Contrasts Tour takes you to four very different neighborhoods of the city: Queens, Harlem, Bronx, and Brooklyn.
You will see the industrial part of New York, the Jewish quarter, the historic streets of Harlem, iconic buildings all around the city, and in just one day you will have toured the city and know it like a local.
The Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour
If the Contrasts Tour is a must to get to know the different areas of New York and understand much better how its different cultures fit together, the Upper and Lower Manhattan tour will delve much deeper into those contrasts and corners of the island of Manhattan that you can't miss. Whether it's your first time in New York or you're already a regular visitor to the city, the explanations of this expert guide will uncover many key places in the city that I bet you didn't know about.
For better or worse, New York is a tourist mecca for millions of travelers who make the pilgrimage to the city that never sleeps every year. As such, there are dozens of options for touring the city (on foot, by bus, more or less in-depth, etc), and sometimes, choosing the one that best fits our travel itinerary can seem overwhelming. That's why I have made this selection of 10 best New York City Tours so you can choose the one that suits you best.
Discover the secrets of the city
If you are not a fan of guided tours and prefer to walk around the city at your own pace free from the explanations from a guide, I recommend that you make your own itinerary to make sure you don't miss anything. If it's not your first time in the city and you feel like discovering alternative or hidden places that are less visited by tourists, don't miss my guide on secret places of New York.
4. Tour Harlem and attend a Gospel Mass
Exploring Harlem with a guide is one of the best experiences you can have in New York, as you will discover everything that many tourists miss by only seeing Manhattan during their trip. In addition, you will be able to attend an authentic Gospel Mass and feel the enormous spirituality of the neighborhood's churches in their intense religious ceremonies.
5. Take a trip to Niagara Falls
While it's not something to do in New York, it's a great way to make the most of your trip to the East Coast of the United States and cross off the bucket list of one of the world's most impressive natural wonders.
Niagara Falls is a bit far from New York, but that doesn't stop many people who travel to this city from taking a trip to the Canadian border and marveling at the breathtaking spectacle they offer.
6. Get cultured in the best museums of New York City
Whether you want to devour the city's entire museum offerings or select one or two museums to visit during your trip, I've put together this list of 10 best museums in New York City. Here you can learn about the highlights of each one of them so you can see all the options that exist, what you will see in each one, and most importantly how to get tickets at the best price.
It is impossible not to mention, among the must-sees of New York, the MoMa or Museum of Modern Art. In its halls you can find such iconic paintings as 'The Starry Night' by Van Gogh, 'The Persistence of Memory' by Dali, 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon' by Picasso, 'Campbell's Soup Cans' by Andy Warhol, and many other works of modern art that are worth seeing with your own eyes at least once in a lifetime.
The majestic museum on Fifth Avenue (whose stairs you'll instantly recognize if you've seen 'Gossip Girl') houses works of art and artifacts such as Chinese calligraphy books, cuneiform writing tablets, Egyptian mummies, the armor of European kings, musical instruments and a jaw-dropping collection of paintings, with works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Raphael among its most relevant names.
Visiting a wax museum to see up close what popular celebrities are like? If this sounds good to you, then Madame Tussauds is a great option. Besides being a fun visit, it will leave you with countless photos and anecdotes that are totally worth it. It is also a great experience to go with your children or friends. Here's all the information about Madame Tussauds New York tickets.
A day at the museum of 'A Night at the Museum'
Even though it was the movie 'A Night at the Museum' that launched it to fame, this museum has stood near Central Park for decades and has impressed thousands of visitors with its massive collection of objects and rarities: this is, of course, New York's Museum of Natural History.
Today it is still one of the most important scientific and research centers in the city and its collection houses thousands of fossils, meteorites, and minerals that you will not be able to see anywhere else. If you are also visiting New York with children, do not hesitate to include this visit in your itinerary, it will be one of their favorite experiences throughout the whole trip.
7. Take a stroll through Central Park
Surely you count visiting Central Park among your plans in New York, but do you know what not to miss once you get there? Stroll through the Conservatory Gardens, a European style garden with beautiful fountains and statues, the Belvedere Castle, a small castle located at the highest point of the park with beautiful views, and the Bethesda Terrace and its fountain, a marvel of architecture where you can take some spectacular pictures.
Its extension is enormous, so to give you the best possible orientation, I have created this guide about 10 things to do in Central Park. In general, I recommend that you rent a bike (snow permitting) and spend a few hours getting lost in Manhattan's world-known park. Let's roll!
Other charming parks: Bryant Park
If you thought there were no green spaces in New York aside from Central Park, you were wrong. Along its long streets and avenues, you will find small squares and parks where you can see locals strolling, practicing sports or enjoying a picnic on a work break. If I had to choose my favorite (after, of course, the obligatory visit to Central Park), this would have to be Bryant Park.
The best tip I can give you is to get one of the little tables you will find here (they are brought out when the weather is nice) for a picnic with a view. Looking for more suggestions? Find them here: 10 things to do in Bryant Park.
8. Tour the High Line Floating Park
This linear park, built on former railroad tracks, crosses the Chelsea neighborhood with a walkway flanked by floral arrangements and views of the surrounding buildings and the Hudson River to the south. Walking along it is a different way of strolling around New York and I recommend you include it in a walk around Chelsea.
In this Guide to the High Line in New York City I tell you some tips to better enjoy this visit, such as where to stop to eat or where to get astonishing views. Also, you will find an itinerary that you can follow to see the best of High Line.
9. Stand in awe in Times Square
Times Square needs no introduction: neon, giant screens and lots of people. It can be equal parts overwhelming and wonderful, but it sure doesn't leave you unimpressed. It's definitely a place to get lost in during your visit to New York, and even more so at night, when the buildings shine brightly and the magic of New York begins to shine through.
What else can you see and do in Manhattan?
Although this will surprise no one, I'll reinforce the idea that Times Square is one of the most emblematic places in the city. But Manhattan is home to many other places (some surprising, others we have seen thousands of times in the movies) that will leave you completely amazed. If you're not really sure about where to start, here's a practical guide on the top things to do and see in Manhattan so you can better organize your visit.
At the SoHo
SoHo ("South of Houston Street") used to be an industrial area full of factories, and long before the concept of gentrification even existed the neighborhood's charm attracted great fortunes that turned its buildings and streets into the birthplace of "industrial chic". Today, it's an area full of bars, restaurants, and stores where factories used to be: visiting SoHo is a must if you love exposed brick walls, exposed pipes, and iron-based architecture.
Along Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue is a synonym of luxury in New York: here you'll see the city's most opulent residential buildings, the headquarters of some of the world's most prestigious jewelry and fashion brands, and a battery of museums including the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Visit New York's Best Outlet Store
If you love shopping for the best deals, you're in luck in New York, because you can visit the Premium Outlets where you'll find dozens of luxury brand stores at hugely discounted prices. Since they are a bit far from Manhattan, there are organized tours so you can go shopping without having to worry about how to get there. I'll tell you how I visited these outlets on my last trip to New York, and give you some tips on how to organize for your shopping day once you get there: Premium Outlet Day Trips from New York.
What to buy
You're probably going to New York with a "bargain" in mind that you want to get. And you're not wrong: American brands (both clothing and electronics) are so much cheaper if bought within U.S. borders. In New York City, you will be able to find certain products at very good prices, but you will have to know how to look for them. That's why I've written a practical guide to help you find your way around: 10 things to buy in New York. Just remember to leave enough room in your luggage!
11. Delight yourself at the New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden is a lush park of 100 hectares in which more than one million species are grown in 50 different spaces and environments. One of its main attractions is being able to see part of the old forest that covered New York before it was colonized in the seventeenth century, where you can find beautiful specimens of white ash, birch, tulips, cherry, and beech trees. I highly recommend you to visit it, especially in spring.
12. Tour Chinatown
Manhattan's Chinatown, surrounded by TriBeCa, the former Little Italy, and the Lower East Side, is a place where you could easily imagine yourself on the Asian mainland, due to the coming and going of Cantonese talk and signs, and the market vibe, with fishmongers, butchers, and greengrocers in constant activity. It is not the most beautiful Chinatown in the whole country, but certainly one of the most authentic and worth a visit if you pass by.
Just so that you don't just get lost among its streets (although wandering around is always highly recommended), here's a practical guide including 10 things to do in Chinatown with a bunch of traveler tips and hacks to fully enjoy your visit.
13. Stroll around Hudson Yards
It's New York's hottest new neighborhood. In just a few years, it has gone from being a totally abandoned area to the new golden mile for luxury residences, ultra-modern Manhattan skyscrapers, and trendy restaurants and stores. In addition to housing The Vessel and The Edge (I'll tell you more about them later, but you can't miss them), here you will find the famous High Line, the new city park I've already told you about.
In this neighborhood you will find fine dining options, you will be able to admire the new wonders of New York architecture and you will be able to go shopping at the new luxury mall. Here's a practical guide on how to discover this neighborhood: Things to do at Hudson Yards.
14. Say hello to the Statue of Liberty
If one had to choose just one icon to represent the City That Never Sleeps, it would be the Statue of Liberty. The famous 'Lady Liberty' is located on Liberty Island, a ferry ride away from the piers south of Manhattan, and visiting her is one of the must-do activities on a trip to New York.
Once you arrive at the Statue of Liberty, you have the option to go inside and tour its museum and an observation deck with beautiful views of Manhattan.
15. Go in search of movie sets
The city hides in its streets and squares thousands of scenarios of iconic movies and series. If you want to know exactly where is the apartment where Monica and Rachel had Chandler and Joey as neighbors in 'Friends' or you want to discover the unmistakable fire station of 'Ghostbusters', this article on 10 TV & movie locations in New York City will help you. Whether you're thinking of joining an organized tour or exploring the locations on your own, be sure to check out the guide!
16. Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
The Memorial and Museum dedicated to the 9/11 terrorist attacks are located on the place the Twin Towers would occupy today, also known as Ground Zero. Instead, you'll find fountains engraved with the names of the victims and a memorial museum telling the story of the attacks and how New York slowly rebuilt itself in the days that followed.
Although visiting the 9/11 Museum exhibit is an emotionally overwhelming experience, I recommend it as it will give you an alternative context to your trip and you will see New York from a different perspective after the visit.
The One World Observatory: a tribute and a reminder for the future
If you are in the area and you have been encouraged to visit the 9/11 Memorial or the 9/11 Museum, you might want to go up to admire New York from high above at the One World Observatory. At the top of One World Trade Center, the skyscraper that was built at Ground Zero after the devastation caused by the 9/11 attacks, you will find a glass observation deck that will allow you to see southern Manhattan, the Hudson, and Brooklyn.
If you suffer from vertigo, this is undoubtedly the best viewpoint in the city, since being completely enclosed in glass, it conveys a sense of protection that other open observatories do not have. You can read all the details here: One World Observatory Tickets and Tours.
17. Discover all that Rockefeller Center has to offer
Climb the Top of the Rock
While in Rockefeller Center, why not go up to one of the most popular observatories in the city? Don't miss the New York skyline from the Top of the Rock, at the top of Rockefeller Center. Here are the details to help you organize this visit: Top of the Rock Tickets.
Rockefeller Plaza will be a must-see if you are in New York at Christmas, for its famous Christmas tree and skating rink. The city would not be the same at Christmas without this little corner, where you can take a nice picture and even put on your skates and jump on the rink. To be honest, Christmas in New York deserves its own post.
That's why I've put together this guide to 10 Christmas things to do in New York City so that you leave no Christmas tree unseen, no showcase undiscovered and of course, no ice rink un-skated. Oh! And if you're lucky enough to visit New York at Christmas, don't miss the spectacular decorations that Brooklyn locals put up every year in their homes in Dyker Heights. Christmas lovers, this will be your paradise!
18. Enjoy a Broadway show
New York is a city entirely dedicated to entertainment. It is no coincidence that Broadway musicals and theatrical performances are famous in the whole world and an attraction for visitors, so if you want to enjoy a truly unique experience I recommend you to buy your tickets in advance and give a special twist to your visit to New York.
Both The Lion King and Aladdin are undoubtedly two of the most demanded musicals, so try to get your tickets as soon as possible to ensure the best seat at the best price. But if you still don't know which one you want to see, I leave you a list with the ones that for me, are the best Broadway musicals.
19. Watch the NBA stars go wild
Whether you're a basketball fan or not, going to an NBA game is something you won't be able to experience anywhere else. The iconic Madison Square Garden is the home of the New York Knicks, and it is in this stadium where you will be able to see the stars of the NBA putting on a spectacular show. Definitely, an experience that will add a lot to your trip and a must if you are passionate about basketball. If you already know this is something you can't miss, get your tickets for NBA games here.
If you want to read a little more about the experience, understand what you will see at an NBA game, or learn why it's one of the top experiences you can have in New York, check out my article on How to Buy Tickets for an NBA Match in New York.
Visit the iconic Madison Square Garden
You may not be that much of an NBA fan per se, but you might find it interesting to discover this venue where so many musical artists and sports teams have made history. There are guided tours of the venue, you can attend concerts and you can, of course, watch the Knicks play at home. Here's how: buy tickets to the Madison Square Garden.
Don't miss the Brooklyn Nets Stadium
The Brooklyn Nets Stadium, the Barclays Center, may not be as well known as Madison Square Garden but is no less interesting. This venue hosts concerts and events in addition to NBA games and is worth a visit during your tour of Brooklyn. Here is everything you need to know about the Brooklyn Nets stadium.
20. For the bravest of the brave, The Edge
One of the most amazing observation decks in the world recently opened its doors in New York: The Edge. With its glass floor (yep...you read that right) you can literally fly over the New York skyline with your own two feet. The structure of the building (it's literally an "edge" as the name implies) is designed to make you feel the wind (and vertigo) on your skin as you lean out from the top. Ready to put yourself to the test?
21. Visit Harvard University in Boston from New York City
You have read correctly: visiting Harvard is possible, and you don't have to be a student to do so. One of the most famous universities in the world has its doors open for travelers to visit on a guided tour. By taking a day trip to Boston from New York, you will also be able to explore the historic center of the city of Boston, where one of the most important episodes of American history had its starting point: the American War of Independence.
On this tour, you will also see MIT and learn everything you need to know about the city and its customs, which contrast with the hustle and bustle of New York. The best part? In the evening you will be back at your hotel in the Big Apple ready to continue your trip.
22. The lights of the city, best seen from the tour bus
Whether you visit the city in winter, when the low temperatures hit really hard, or if you don't have a lot of time in the city, the tourist bus will allow you to tour the city in the easiest way possible. Although it may seem at first an inauthentic experience, the truth is that the New York City Sightseeing Bus routes are designed to get you from one attraction to another as quickly as possible (and avoiding the hassle of looking at a subway map!).
What I like most about this experience is that you can do it both day and night, when you have finished your marathon day of sightseeing and you just want to rest while still enjoying the panoramic views.
23. New in New York City: The Vessel
Even if it's not your first time in the city, this area is probably going to be completely new to you: after being a semi-abandoned area of industrial use for decades, Hudson Yards has emerged in Midtown Manhattan over the past few years (and is still under construction) to accommodate shopping centers and luxury housing. And much of the limelight in this futuristic new area of Manhattan is thanks to The Vessel (or the Hive, as many call it).
Halfway between architectural jewel and tourist attraction or viewpoint, this building stands out for its external appearance but also for the optical games and the views it offers to those who visit it. I encourage you to go inside, climb its four flights of stairs and experience it yourself.
24. Have a cocktail at the hippest rooftops in town
If the views from one of the observatories of the city have not been enough for you, you can continue contemplating New York from one of the wonderful rooftops or terraces that Manhattan has to offer. Although the views will not be as impressive (almost none of them offer 360 views of the city, because other skyscrapers in front can block the views), they usually have live music and a cool atmosphere and offer a great plan to finish a busy day of sightseeing in the city.
Sometimes, finding these little bars or rooftops can be a bit complicated for a traveler, so I've put together a list of what I think are the best rooftops in New York City.
25. Get out of Manhattan and explore the rest of New York's boroughs
Sorry but... New York is so much more than Manhattan and while it's tempting to stick to exploring the island's most iconic landmarks, the city has much more to it than that. In fact, the city is made up of five boroughs where New Yorkers live, dine out, shop, dance... Don't stay in just one place and explore what, in addition to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island have to offer. Here's what you can't miss on your visit to the city: 20 best New York City Neighborhoods.
What to do and what to see in Brooklyn
I won't deny that Brooklyn is one of my favorite areas of the city, so I encourage you (I'd force you if I could) to visit its streets to leave no corner undiscovered in this area. You will love its cafes, vintage markets, alternative stores, and gastronomic markets. Here are my recommendations: Things to do in Brooklyn.
Also, in Brooklyn, you can visit Williamsburg and the Jewish Quarter of New York, a parallel world that blew my mind the first time I visited it. I give you some tips to prepare for your visit in this practical guide about 10 things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
26. Get into the American spirit at a football or baseball game
If there's one thing that will truly make you feel on American soil, it's enjoying the country's most popular sports. Being in New York you will have the chance to see the iconic New York Yankees in a baseball game, which for me was an awesome experience (I didn't even know the rules of the game, but the experience surrounding these events was quite spectacular).
If on the other hand, you prefer to watch the NFL (National Football League), the New York Giants play at MetLife Stadium, and watching them live is something you will never forget.
27. Take a break from your trip schedule on a Hudson River cruise
Cruising the waters of the Hudson will allow you to take a break from long walks while you take in the views of the Manhattan Skyline, cross the Brooklyn Bridge underneath, and get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty.
Best of all, there are routes and itineraries to suit all budgets (from a short one-hour route to a luxury cruise with dinner and live music). Even if it's cold, wrap up in warm clothes and go out on deck to take some great pictures. Here is an article I wrote about the Best Manhattan Cruises with my favorite options.
Get around using the ferry
The Hudson is the main artery of the city and if you want to get out of Manhattan, you will have to cross it by subway, train, or ferry. I find the ferry a great way to get around the city while enjoying the views of its skyline, so even if the boat is not as comfortable as the cruise ships, don't hesitate to use the ferry during your trip. Here is all the information you need about the New York ferry.
28. Enjoy the best international gastronomy
Yes, I know, burgers aren't exactly what you have in mind when you think of "haute cuisine", but the great thing about New York is that you're going to be able to eat literally everything. From the cheapest fast street food to the best pasta, fish, sushi, or pizzas you can imagine.
Of course, on your trip you can't miss the hot dogs, the iconic hamburgers and cheesecakes. Have a picnic in one of its parks, indulge yourself in a greasy meal from a fast-food chain or sit down for dinner in a cozy, candlelit restaurant in the West Village or SoHo. Here's my eating guide to New York City: 10 places to eat in New York City.
Visit Chelsea Market
If you plan to walk along the High Line, eating at the Chelsea Market before or after your route is a great option. In this gastronomic market, you will find stores where you can buy quality products, but also several stalls where you can stop for lunch. If you are looking for desserts, breakfasts, or snacks, you are also in luck: in here you will find bakeries, cupcake stores, pastry shops...
29. Make the most of your trip by visiting other cities such as Washington or Philadelphia
New York itself is a world apart but the United States has so much to see that it would be a shame to skip other nearby cities like Washington or Philadelphia. If you take a guided tour to the cradle of the history of this country, you can learn much more about its culture and idiosyncrasy. I found Washington, in particular, to be an incredible place, very monumental and with many corners, monuments, and emblematic places to discover.
In addition, its order, cleanliness, and majesty are a contrast with the chaos of the Big Apple, so you will complete your trip by adding this perfect balance that will not leave you indifferent. The best of all is that there are several options, besides visiting Washington, to discover its surroundings, and I have compiled the most interesting ones here: Washington Day Trips from New York.
Other day trips
If you feel like exploring around New York but are still not sure which is your preferred destination, I have written a guide on Day Trips from New York where I have compiled the best places to discover and how to join a guided tour so you don't have to worry about the logistics of getting there by public transportation or renting a car. Let's travel!
30. Enjoy the views from the Roosevelt Island cable car
You may not even have heard of this little island east of Manhattan, but the truth is that if you have time and feel like discovering something different, it is a great option to spend an afternoon. To get there, it's best to take the cable car (it leaves from Second Avenue and 60th) and enjoy the views along the way.
You'll see some of Manhattan's most iconic buildings from afar and, once on Roosevelt Island, enjoy a walk along its pier. If you are thinking about crossing the river aboard the cable car, you can read more about this experience in my post on Roosevelt Island Tramway.
Other unique experiences in New York
If you're a sucker for secret spots, alternative plans, and unique places that go unnoticed by most tourists, here's a list of the best alternative experiences in New York so that your trip is like no other. I recommend you check it out, especially if it is not your first time in the city or if you want to get out of the typical itineraries and find something unique during your trip to New York.
31. Make the most of the summer in the Big Apple...
If there is a time of the year when you can enjoy more daylight hours to wander around the city, it is summer. Temperatures are indeed very high (sometimes too high) and you will thank the air conditioning in stores and buildings, but the warm nights on the terraces and endless walks through Manhattan, the banks of the Hudson, and bike tours in Central Park make up for it all.
Starting with the 4th of July fireworks and the baseball league that takes place in the summer, here's a bunch of activities that will make you want to stay in the city the whole summer: what to do and what to see in summer in New York.
32. ...And storm the weather in winter
If on the other hand, you decide to visit the city in winter, besides how great is spending Christmas in New York, I assure you that the cold will not stop you from enjoying the city, as it is more than prepared for low temperatures. If you're lucky, it may even snow and you'll be left with some postcard-worthy Christmas photos.
Besides being able to enjoy the NBA games, you will appreciate having a warm drink in the coziest cafes in the city. My advice is to combine indoor activities in the afternoons (such as visits to observation decks or observatories, attending a Broadway musical or shopping) with outdoor activities (walking around the city, taking a cruise on the Hudson, or exploring Central Park) in the middle hours of the day when the sun balances out the temperatures a bit.
If you can't stand the cold, don't worry because I have put together a guide with everything you can see and do in New York in winter and what to bring, what clothing to wear, etc. to make your stay there more than pleasant: what to do and what to see in winter in New York.
33. Stick to your budget from day one (yes, it is possible!)
Perhaps less romantic but just as practical as any other advice I can give you about your trip to New York: Here are some tips to avoid spending your whole travel budget as soon as you arrive (if you're traveling on an unlimited budget this part might interest you a little less, but allow me to address the rest of us mortals).
Get a tourist card
If you are planning to visit several attractions or take a tour (observatories, museums, sightseeing bus tours, cruises, etc), the amount you will spend on entrance fees may be more than relevant. To help with this, there are several tourist cards of the city, which will allow you to access the most emblematic landmarks for a fixed, reduced price.
There are four main options: New York Pass, New York CityPASS, New York Explorer Pass and New York Sightseeing Pass. I know: choosing one among these four may seem like mission impossible, so in addition to the detailed explanation of each of them, I recommend you read this comparison of New York tourist passes so you can be sure which one to choose before your purchase.
Book a transfer between the airport and your hotel in Manhattan
If you are looking for a comfortable way to get to your hotel from the airport without breaking the bank, I recommend that you book a transfer (which you can use privately or share with other travelers) to the door of your hotel or apartment. More details in this article on New York Airport Transfers.
Use public transportation
Besides the fact that the New York subway is an attraction in itself (if you like to take pictures, some iconic stations are more like underground works of art), it is the fastest way to move from one point to another in the city. Don't be scared by the large number of lines and stops that you will see on the maps: jump on the subway and get around like a true New Yorker. Here's a practical guide to find your bearings on the New York subway.
Follow these basic tips
If this is your first time in New York, don't worry. It is quite common to have hundreds of doubts about your trip, and this is something that any traveler who has visited the Big Apple can relate to. This is why it is so easy to fall into the tourist traps that the city has prepared for its visitors. That is why I have put together the best 10 travel tips for New York in this article. I'm sure they will come in handy to start organizing your trip.
Plan your itinerary
To avoid wasting a lot of time (and money) on unnecessary tours, I recommend that you organize an itinerary by days or things you want to see. Here are a couple practical guides that I think will help you to organize your time in the most efficient way possible: Things to do in New York City in the Fall and 7-day New York Itinerary.
Get travel insurance
Although at first it may seem like an extra expense, I assure you that having travel insurance is essential when you travel to New York (or anywhere in the United States). The medical costs there are very high, so it is a good idea to have insurance that covers any unforeseen event. If you don't know which one to choose, what do you need coverage for, and how to get insurance, be sure to check out all the details here: Health insurance to travel to New York.
Remember to have your visa in order
Most likely, to enter New York as a tourist, you will need to bring the ESTA visa. You can fill it out and pay the fee online, which makes the process much easier. If this is your first time and you're not really sure how to do it, you can check my article about how to get the ESTA visa to travel to New York.