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 not to leave.
We are talking, of course, about New York: a city where it is practically impossible to close your eyes. There's so much to see and do that it's important to know what's worth seeing and what's not so you don't get overwhelmed. So here are the most amazing experiences for your trip to New York.
1. Fly over New York City on a helicopter tour
Taking a helicopter tour of New York City will show you the city as few others 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 a spectacle in itself, even more so from a helicopter flight over New York. Most flights last around 15 minutes, taking you on a journey where the wonderful views combine with the adrenaline rush of flying over New York in a helicopter at over 200 kilometres per hour.
2. The world's best basketball live
Whether you're a basketball fan or not, going to an NBA game is something you won't experience anywhere else. The iconic Madison Square Garden is home to the New York Knicks, the home team, and it's in this arena that you'll be able to watch the stars of the NBA play their hearts out on the court. It's definitely an experience that will add a lot to your trip and a must if you're passionate about basketball. If you already know you're not going to miss it, buy your NBA tickets here.
If you want to read a bit more about the experience, understand what you'll find there or discover why it's one of the top experiences you can have in New York, let me convince you in my article about the NBA. How to Buy Tickets for an NBA Game in New York.
See the legendary Madison Square Garden
You may not be a fan of the NBA per se, but you can't wait to discover this venue where so many 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 to buy tickets to Madison Square Garden.
Don't miss the Brooklyn Nets' home stadium
The Brooklyn Nets ' home arena may not be as well known as Madison Square Garden, but that doesn't mean that the Barclays Center is not interesting. It hosts concerts and events in addition to NBA games and is well worth a visit during your tour of Brooklyn. Here's everything you need to know about the Brooklyn Nets arena.
3. Enjoy a Broadway show
New York is a city devoted entirely to entertainment. It's no coincidence that Broadway musicals and plays are world-famous and a magnet for visitors, so if you want to enjoy a truly unique experience I recommend you buy your tickets in advance and add a special touch to your visit to New York.
Both The Lion King and Aladdin are undoubtedly two of the most popular musicals, so try to get your tickets as early as possible to ensure you get the best seat at the best price. But if you're still not sure which one you want to see, here's a list of what I think are the best Broadway musicals.
Other Broadway musicals
- The Cats Musical
- Moulin Rouge on Broadway
- The Broadway Musical of Wicked
- Jersey Boys
- The Musical of King Kong
- Pretty Woman on Broadway
- Chicago, the Musical
- The Phantom of the Opera
- Radio Citytimas Spectacular
- Harry Potter
- The Book of Mormon
4. Explore New York's multiculturalism on popular guided tours
The Tour of Contrasts
New York is undoubtedly a city where the contrasts are so rapid that it's hard to keep up with them. The Contrasts Tour takes you to four very different parts of the city: Queens, Harlem, Bronx and Brooklyn.
You'll get to see the industrial part of the city, the Jewish quarter, the historic streets of Harlem, iconic buildings and in just one day you'll have toured the city and really get to know it like a local.
The Upper and Lower Manhattan Tour
If the contrasts tour is a must for getting to know the different areas of New York and understanding much better how the different cultures fit together, the Upper and Lower Manhattan tour will delve much deeper into those contrasts and corners of Manhattan Island that you can't miss. Whether it's your first time in New York or you're already a regular in the city, the explanations of this expert guide will reveal 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 travellers 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've made this selection of 10 best New York City Tours so that you can choose the one that suits you best.
Discover the secrets of the city
If you're not a big fan of guided tours and prefer to explore the city at your own pace and without explanations from a guide, I recommend 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 fancy discovering alternative or hidden places that are less visited by tourists, don't miss my guide to the city's secret spots.
5. 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'll find everything that many tourists miss out on by just seeing Manhattan during their trip. You'll also be able to attend an authentic Gospel Mass and experience the spirituality of the neighbourhood 's churches, with services so intense they're a spectacle to behold.
If you want to explore this neighbourhood on your own, I recommend that you take note of the essential things to see and do in Harlem to make sure you don't miss anything, and also take advantage of this list of the best places to eat in Harlem and this list of the best places to listen to music in Harlem.
6. Take a trip to Niagara Falls
While it's not something to do in New York, it's a great way to use your trip to the East Coast of the United States to cross one of the world's most impressive natural wonders off your bucket list.
Niagara Falls tours are a great way to round off your trip to the Big Apple with a big dose of nature in its purest form. Accompanied by an expert guide and with transport included to and from Manhattan, they are the best option for touring one of the most spectacular National Parks in the United States.
But is it worth it? If you're travelling to New York for two days or if your trip to New York is for three days, it's best to spend them in the Big Apple and not leave, but if you're travelling to New York for 10 days or 15 days or more, it's an option you should consider.
7. Take a stroll through Central Park
You've probably made Central Park one of your New York City plans, 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, Belvedere Castle, a small castle at the highest point of the park with beautiful views, and Bethesda Terrace and its fountain, a marvel of architecture where you can take some spectacular photos.
The park is huge, so to help you find your way around, I've put together this guide to the park. 15 things to do in Central Park. In general, I recommend you rent a bike (snow permitting) and spend a few hours getting lost in the lungs of Manhattan. Let's roll!
8. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt Observatory Opens: Midtown's Newest Observatory
Yes, you read that right. A few months after New York inaugurated the glass-enclosed observation deck the Edge, we are once again faced with an opening that has left everyone open-mouthed: SUMMIT is a spectacular observation deck that you can't miss, both for the views it offers of Manhattan and for the incredible architecture of the building itself.
Everything here is designed for the visitor's enjoyment: perspectives with mirrors and glass for you to take the best photos, glassed-in observation decks for you to feel the vertigo first-hand, ultra-modern lifts for you to feel the adrenaline in your body? I won't tell you more. If you want to organise your visit, check out this article on how to go up to the new SUMMIT One Vanderbilt observation deck.
9. Have a picnic at another of Mahattan's parks: Bryant Park
If you thought there was no green space in New York beyond Central Park, you were wrong. Along its long streets and avenues you'll find small squares and parks where you'll see crowds of New Yorkers strolling, playing sports or having a picnic on a break from work. If I had to choose my favourite of the best parks in New York (after the obligatory visit to Central Park, of course), it would be Bryant Park.
I recommend you get one of their little tables (they bring them out when the weather is nice) for a picnic with a view, but I'll tell you more about it in my article on 10 things to do in Bryant Park NYC.
10. Tour the High Line floating park
This linear park, built on former railroad tracks, crosses the Chelsea neighbourhood with a walkway flanked by floral arrangements and views of the surrounding buildings and the Hudson River to the south. It's a different way to stroll around New York and I recommend including it in a walk around Chelsea.
In this article about Guide to the High Line in New York City I'll give you some tips on how to get around it, where to stop for lunch or to see the best views, and I'll give you a suggested itinerary so you don't miss the most important sights.
11. Get your jaw dropped in Times Square
Times Square needs no introduction: neon lights, giant screens and lots of people. It can be overwhelming and wonderful in equal parts, but it certainly doesn't leave you indifferent. It's definitely a place to get lost in on your visit to New York, and even more so at night when the buildings glow and the magic of New York begins to shine through.
Other things to see and do in Manhattan
Although it may seem like a cliché, Times Square is undoubtedly one of the city's landmarks. But fortunately, Manhattan has many other places (some of them surprising, others we've seen a thousand times in the movies) that will leave us in awe. If you don't know where to start, here's a practical guide to the top things to do and see in Manhattan so you can organise your visit.
12. Go shopping
SoHo ("South of Houston Street") used to be an industrial area full of factories, and long before gentrification, the neighbourhood's charm attracted the riches that made its buildings and streets the birthplace of "industrial chic". Today, it's an area full of bars, restaurants and shops on the site of former factories - visit if you love exposed brick walls, exposed pipes and iron architecture.
Along Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue is New York's street of luxury, where you'll see the city's most opulent residential buildings, the headquarters of some of the world's most prestigious jewellery and fashion brands, and a battery of museums including the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Visit the best outlet mall in New York
If you love shopping but are looking for the best bargains, you're in luck in New York, because you can visit the Premium Outlets, where you'll find dozens of luxury brand shops at deeply discounted prices. Being a bit far from Manhattan, there are organised tours so you can go shopping without having to worry about the logistics of how to get there. I'll tell you how I did it and give you some tips on how to organise your shopping day here: Premium Outlet Day Trips from New York.
What to buy
You're probably going to New York with a bargain in mind. And you're not wrong: American brands (both clothing and electronics) are undoubtedly the ones that pay off the most. In New York you'll be able to find certain products at very good prices, but you'll have to know how to look for them. That's why I've written a practical guide to help you find your way around when it comes to shopping: 10 things to buy in New York Remember to leave enough room in your suitcase!
13. Discover New York's great attractions that go unnoticed by many tourists
The New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden is a lush 100-hectare park where more than a million species are grown in 50 different spaces and environments. One of its main attractions is that it has part of the old forest that covered New York before it was colonised in the 17th century, where you can find beautiful specimens of white ash, birch, tulip, cherry and beech trees. I highly recommend a visit, especially if you are travelling to New York in spring.
New York Aquarium
It is one of the most enjoyable experiences if you visit New York with your family. Located on the Coney Island boardwalk, the New York Aquarium is home to more than 500 marine species. The visit is organised in an entertaining way through exhibitions and games designed to teach children values related to nature. In this guide to the New York Aquarium I give you all the information.
The Bronx Zoo
One of New York's great attractions, which unfortunately (or fortunately for you) goes unnoticed by the millions of tourists who visit the city, is the Bronx Zoo. Hundreds of species live in this gigantic zoo in semi-freedom, making it the perfect place to visit. Especially if you're travelling with children, a visit to the animals at the Bronx Zoo is well worth it. Here are some articles with everything you need to know about how to get tickets to the Bronx Zoo, zoo opening hours and prices at the Bronx Zoo.
14. Tour Chinatown
Manhattan's Chinatown, surrounded by TriBeCa, the old Little Italy, and the Lower East Side, is a place where you could easily imagine yourself on the Asian mainland, with the comings and goings of Cantonese phrases and signs, and the constant market atmosphere, with fishmongers, butchers and greengrocers bustling with activity. It's not the prettiest Chinatown in the whole country, but it's certainly one of the most authentic and well worth a visit if you're passing through.
So that you don't just wander aimlessly through its streets (although wandering the streets is always highly recommended), here is a practical guide about 10 things to do in Chinatown NYC with tips and a list of things you can't miss out on seeing and doing there. And don't miss the chance to try some of the most authentic Chinese food in the city: here's a guide to the best places to eat in Chinatown.
15. Stroll Hudson Yards
It's New York's hottest new neighbourhood. 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 shops. In addition to housing The Vessel and The Edge (I'll tell you more about them later, but you can't miss them), it's also home to the famous High Line, the city's new park that I've already told you about.
In this neighbourhood you'll be able to eat in luxury, you'll be able to admire the new wonders of New York architecture and you'll be able to go shopping in the new luxury shopping centre. Here is a practical guide to the neighbourhood: Things to do at Hudson Yards in NYC.
16. Say hello to the Statue of Liberty
If you 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 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 visit the Statue's pedestal or even climb the Crown. You can also tour the museum and enjoy the view from the Statue of Liberty's observation deck with beautiful panoramic views of Manhattan. If you also choose a guided tour, you should know that there are some that complete the experience with a visit to Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum.
17. Go in search of film sets
It is clear that the city hides in its streets and squares thousands of scenes from mythical films and series. If you want to know exactly where is the flat where Monica and Rachel had Chandler and Joey as neighbours in Friends or you want to discover the mythical fire station of the Ghostbusters, this article on 10 TV & movie locations in New York City will help you. Whether you join a guided tour or go on your own, be sure to look them up!
16. Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is located on the site where the Twin Towers would be 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 highly recommend it as it will give you an alternative context to your trip and you will see New York through different eyes after your visit.
18. One World Observatory: a tribute looking to the future
If you're in the area and you've made your way to the 9/11 Memorial or the 9/11 Museum, you might want to go up to One World Observatory to admire New York from above. At the top of One World Trade Center, the skyscraper that was built at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, you'll find a glass observation deck with a clear view of southern Manhattan, the Hudson and Brooklyn.
If you have a bit of vertigo, you won't need to miss the views from the One World Observatory as this is the best observation deck in the city, as being glassed in, it conveys a sense of protection that other open observatories don't have. You can read all the details here: NYC One World Observatory Tickets: how to buy, prices and discounts and take note of how to get to the One World Observatory in this other article.
19. Discover all that Rockefeller Center has to offer
Climb the Top of the Rock
And while you're there, how can you not go up to one of the most popular observatories in the city? Don't miss the New York skyline and the views from the Top of the Rock, at the top of Rockefeller Center, including the night views... Here are the details for you to organise your climb: NYC Top of the Rock Tickets and for you to decide whether it's better for you to climb the Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building. However, bear in mind that you 'll find plenty of places to eat at Rockefeller Center, so it can be a recommendable visit even if you don't go up to the observation deck.
Also, if you visit the city at Christmas time, the Rockefeller Center at Christmas is a must-see, both for its famous tree (one of the best Christmas trees in New York ) and its skating rink. The city wouldn't be the same at Christmas without this little corner, where you can have your photo taken and even put on your skates and jump on the rink. All in all, I'm not going to deny that Christmas in New York deserves a special mention.
That's why I've put together this guide to 11 Christmas things to do in New York City And if you're lucky enough to visit New York at Christmas time, don't miss out on the spectacular decorations that Brooklyn locals put up every year in their Dyker Heights homes. And if lighting is your thing, don't miss the chance to see the Christmas lights at the Bronx Zoo. Christmas lovers, this will be your paradise!
Another option is to take one of the guided tours to discover the city's lights- you'll find it an incredible experience to discover the Big Apple decked out for the holidays!
20. Get cultured in New York's best museums
Whether you want to devour the city's entire range of museums or just pick one or two museums to visit during your trip, I've put together this list of the best museums to visit. 12 best museums in New York City. Here you can read the highlights of each one of them so you can see all the options available, what you'll see in each one and how to get tickets at the best price.
It's impossible not to mention, among New York's must-sees, the MoMa or Museum of Modern Art. Among the best works at the MoMA are Van Gogh's 'Starry Night', Dali's 'The Persistence of Memory', Picasso's 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon', Andy Warhol's 'Cambell Soup Cans' and many other works of modern art that are worth seeing live at least once in a lifetime.
The majestic Fifth Avenue museum, the MET (whose stairs you'll instantly recognise if you've seen Gossip Girl) houses works of art and artefacts such as Chinese calligraphy books, cuneiform tablets, Egyptian mummies, armour of European kings, musical instruments and a jaw-dropping collection of paintings, with works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Raphael among its highlights.
If you're curious about visiting a wax museum to see up close what your idols or the most popular characters are like today and historically, Madame Tussauds and its wax figures are a great option. As well as being a fun visit, it will leave you with countless photos and anecdotes that are well worth the effort. If you're going to New York with children or friends, it's a great option. Here you have all the information about Madame Tussauds New York Tickets: how to buy and what to see.
A day at the museum in "A Night at the Museum"
Although it was the film "A Night at the Museum" that brought it to fame, for decades one of the museums that has impressed its visitors the most for the large number of curiosities and objects that can be seen (and learnt) inside: the Museum of Natural History.
Today it is still one of the most important scientific and research centres in the city and its collection contains thousands of fossils, meteorites and minerals that you won't be able to see anywhere else. If you're also visiting New York with children, don't hesitate to take them on this jaw-dropping visit.
The Guggenheim in New York
This incredible museum will steal your heart, not only for the incredible works it houses but also for its design and structure, unique in the world. Enter its majestic staircase and feel how you lose track of time in the heart of Manhattan inside the Guggenheim New York- you won't regret it!
Other interesting museums in the city
As with just about everything in New York, the city has more cultural offerings than any city in the world. It's hard to calculate how much time you'd need to visit all of its incredible museums, but if you have the time or a passion for art and culture, check out these other museums that won't leave you indifferent:
Read more about the Fotografiska New York, venture to the Brooklyn Museum, discover the history of the city at the Museum of the City of New York, delve into the Whitney Museum of American Art or feel like a spy at the KGB Spy Museum.
21. Challenge vertigo from the top of the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is New York's most iconic landmark, and from its observation deck you can enjoy wonderful views of the Big Apple. You can go up at sunrise, just before sunset, or even at night- whatever you choose, it's an experience you're sure to look back on with nostalgia for years to come.
For this, I highly recommend buying your Empire State tickets online in advance to avoid the queue at the ticket booths, to choose the best time to climb the Empire State and to avoid the huge crowds of tourists who, of course, have this visit among their priorities when visiting New York.
22. For the bravest, The Edge
One of the most amazing observation decks in the world has recently opened its doors in New York: The Edge. With its glass floor (yes, yes, you read that right) you can fly over the New York skyline with your own two feet. The structure of the building (it's literally an "edge", as the name suggests) is designed to make you feel the wind (and vertigo) on your skin as you lean out from the top. Ready to test your adrenaline with the views from The Edge?
23. Visit Harvard University, Boston, from New York City
As you read it: visiting Harvard is possible and you don't have to be an educated person (or an alumnus) to do so. One of the world's most famous universities opens its doors for travellers to visit on a guided tour. With a trip to Boston from New York, you can also explore Boston's historic city centre, where one of the most important episodes in American history was forged: the American War of Independence.
You'll also get to see MIT and learn all 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'll be back at your hotel in the Big Apple ready to continue your trip.
24. The lights of the city, best seen from the tour bus
Whether you're visiting New York in winter, when the cold weather will be raging, or you're short on time, the sightseeing bus will ease the cold temperatures and allow you to get around the city in the easiest way possible. While it may seem like an inauthentic experience at first glance, the truth is that New York' s tour bus routes are designed to get you from one attraction to another as quickly as possible (and without fighting with the underground map!).
What I like most about this experience is that you can do it both during the day and take the New York sightseeing bus at night, when you've finished your marathon day of sightseeing and just want to relax while you continue enjoying the panoramic views.
25. What about Nuevo, New York: The Vessel
Even if it's not your first time in the city, this area will be a complete stranger to you: after being a semi-abandoned industrial area for decades, Hudson Yards has emerged in Midtown Manhattan over the last few years (and is still under construction) to house shopping malls and luxury housing. And much of the limelight in this futuristic new area of Manhattan goes 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 views it offers to those who visit it. I encourage you to go inside, climb its four flights of stairs and draw your own conclusions.
26. Sip a cocktail at the city's best rooftops
If the views from one of the city's observatories are not enough for you, you can still enjoy them from one of the wonderful rooftops or terraces that Manhattan has to offer. Although the views won't 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 very New York atmosphere that I always find a great way to end a busy day of sightseeing in the city.
Sometimes, finding these little bars or rooftops can seem tricky, so I've put together a list of what I think are the best rooftops in New York.
27. Get out of Manhattan and explore the rest of New York's boroughs
I'm sorry but... New York is so much more than Manhattan and while it's tempting to just explore the island's most iconic landmarks, there's so much more to New York than that. In fact, the city is made up of five boroughs (or "Boroughs") where New Yorkers live, dine out, shop, dance... Don't let laziness get the better of you and explore what Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island have to offer in addition to Manhattan. Here's what you can't miss on your visit to the city: 20 best New York City Neighborhoods.
What to see and do in Brooklyn
I won't hide or deny that Brooklyn is one of my favourite areas of the city, so I encourage you (because I can't force you) to take to the streets and leave no corner of this area untouched. You'll love its cafés, vintage markets, alternative shops and gastronomic markets. Also, take note of the best places to eat in Brooklyn as you can try very authentic dishes at a lower price than in Manhattan. Here are my recommendations: Things to Do in Brooklyn NYC.
Also, within Brooklyn, you can visit Williamsburg and New York's Jewish Quarter, a real world apart that blew my mind the first time I visited it. I'll give you some tips on how to organise your visit in this practical guide on Things to Do in Williamsburg.
28. Americanize at a Football or Baseball game
If there's one thing that will make you feel truly at the heart of the United States, it's enjoying its most popular sports. While in New York you'll have the chance to see the legendary New York Yankees at a baseball game, which for me was a real experience (I didn't even know the rules of the game, but the experience surrounding these events was spectacular).
If you don't travel to New York during the MLB season, you can always take a tour of the stadium or visit the surrounding area. After all, it is a mythical place that sets the cultural, sporting and leisure agenda for New Yorkers. Here is an article to help you discover how to visit Yankee Stadium.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to watch an NFL (National Football League) game, the New York Giants play at MetLife Stadium and watching them live is quite a spectacle.
29. Disconnect from the tourist life on a Hudson River Cruise
Cruising the waters of the Hudson will give you a break from long walks as you take in the views of the Manhattan skyline, cross the Brooklyn Bridge below and get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty.
Best of all, there are tours and itineraries to suit all budgets (from a short one-hour tour to a luxury cruise with dinner and live music) and even cruises on the Hudson for kids. Try it out and even if it's cold, wrap up warm and get out on deck to take the best photos. Here is an article I wrote about Best Manhattan Cruises with my favourite options, but I'll tell you right now, a dinner cruise on the Hudson could be the most amazing experience of your trip.
If you want more details you have an article about the best time to take a Hudson River cruise, another one about how much do Hudson River cruises cost and this last one about tips to enjoy a cruise in Manhattan.
Get around using the ferry
The Hudson is one of the city's main attractions and if you want to get out of Manhattan, you 'll have to cross it by underground, train or ferry. I think the ferry is a great way to get around the city while enjoying the views of the Skyline, so even if the boat isn't as comfortable as the cruise ships, don't hesitate to use the ferry during your trip. Here's all the information you need about the New York ferry.
30. Enjoy the best international cuisine
Yes, I know, burgers aren't exactly what you think of when you think of 'haute cuisine', but the great thing about New York is that you can literally eat everything. From the cheapest fast street food to the best pasta, fish, sushi and pizza you can imagine.
Of course, your trip won't be complete without hot dogs, the legendary hamburgers and cheesecakes. You'll want to have a picnic in one of the parks, save money at the fast-food chains and sit down for dinner at one of the cosy, candlelit restaurants in the West Village or SoHo. I'll tell you all about it here: 10 places to eat in New York City.
Visit Chelsea Market
If you plan to walk along the High Line, eating at Chelsea Market before or after your walk is a great option. In this gastronomic market you'll find shops where you can buy good quality food, but also several stalls where you can stop for a bite to eat. If you're looking for desserts, breakfasts or snacks, you're also in luck: there are bakeries, cupcake shops, patisseries...
31. Take the opportunity to visit 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 forget to take a trip to other nearby cities such as Washington or Philadelphia from New York. If you take a guided tour to the cradle of American history, you can learn a lot more about the culture and idiosyncrasies of the country. I found Washington in particular to be an incredible place, very monumental and with so many corners, monuments and landmarks to discover.
In addition, its order, cleanliness and majesty, contrasts with the chaos of the Big Apple, so you will complete your trip by adding this counterpoint that will not leave you indifferent. Best of all, there are several options for discovering Washington and its surroundings, especially if you take a two-day trip to Washington, so I have compiled the most interesting ones here: Washington Day Trips from New York.
If you feel like exploring the area around New York but are still not sure which is your preferred destination, I've written a guide to the best places to visit in New York. 5 Day Trips from New York where I've 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 transport or hiring a car. Get travelling!
32. Enjoy the views from the Roosevelt Island Cable Car
You may not even have heard of this little island to the east of Manhattan, but if you have time and feel like discovering something different, it's a great place 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 and land on the other side, on Roosevelt Island, to enjoy a stroll along the pier. If you're thinking of crossing the river on board this cable car, you can read more about the experience in my article on Roosevelt Island Tramway NYC.
Other unique experiences in New York
If in addition to the cable car you want to know about other unique activities to do in the city, I have prepared a list of the best experiences to do in New York so that your trip will not be like everyone else's. I recommend it especially if it's not your first time in the city or if you want to go off the beaten track and take home a unique souvenir of your stay in New York.
33. Make the most of summer in the Big Apple
If there's one time of year when you can enjoy more daylight hours to explore the city outdoors, it's in the summer. It's true that the temperatures are very high (sometimes too high) and you'll appreciate the air conditioning in shops and buildings, but the cool evenings on the terraces and the endless strolls through Manhattan, along the banks of the Hudson and the bike rides in Central Park make up for it all.
Starting with the fireworks on the 4th of July and taking into account that Major League Baseball takes place in the summer, I suggest a host of activities that will make you not want to leave the city despite the heat: what to do and what to see in New York in summer.
34. And face the cold in winter
If, on the other hand, you decide to visit the city in winter, apart from the great attraction of Christmas, I assure you that the cold will not prevent you from enjoying the city, as it is more than prepared for the low temperatures. If you're lucky, it may even snow and you'll be left with some postcard-perfect photos.
As well as enjoying the NBA games, you'll appreciate a warm drink in one of the city's cosy cafés. My advice is to combine indoor activities in the evenings (such as visiting the observation decks, seeing a Broadway musical or shopping) with outdoor activities (walking around the city, taking a cruise on the Hudson or crossing Central Park) in the middle of the day when the sun warms up the temperatures a bit.
If you're cold, don't worry because I've put together a guide to everything you can see and do in New York in winter and what to bring, what to wear, etc. to make your stay there more than enjoyable: what to do and see in New York in winter.
In any case, when you travel to New York you'll find a thousand things to do. However, if you haven't booked your tickets yet, you can take a look at this article with all the information about the best time to travel to New York.
Tips for planning your trip to New York
Perhaps less romantic but just as practical as any other advice I can give you about your trip to New York, I'm going to give you a few tips on how to avoid destroying your travel budget as soon as you arrive (if you're travelling on an unlimited budget this part might be of less interest to you, but let me address the rest of us).
Get a sightseeing card
If you are planning to visit a number of attractions or take a tour (sightseeing, museums, sightseeing bus tours, cruises, etc), it is possible that the amount of money you spend on entrance fees will be more than relevant. For this, there are city tourist cards, which will allow you to access the most emblematic points for a fixed, reduced price.
There are four main options: New York Pass, New York CityPASS, New York Explorer Pass y 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 that you read this New York sightseeing pass comparison so you can be sure which one to choose before making the investment.
Book a transfer between the airport and your hotel in Manhattan
If you're looking for a convenient way to get to your hotel from the airport you land at without spending a lot of money trying, I recommend you hire a shuttle (which you can use exclusively or share with other travellers) to the door of your accommodation. I tell you how to do it in this article on New York Airport Transfers and here's another one on how to get from JFK to Manhattan where you have more options.
Use public transport
Besides the fact that the New York underground is an attraction in itself (if you like taking photos, there are some iconic stations where you'll enjoy going underground), it's the fastest way to get from one part of the city to another. Don't be paralysed by the sheer number of lines and stops you'll see on the maps: jump on the subway and get around like a local. Here's a handy guide to getting around on the New York underground.
Follow these basic tips
If this is your first time in New York, don't worry. There are hundreds of doubts that will plague you now, just as they plagued all of us travellers when we were there for the first time. Likewise, we've all fallen into the tourist traps that the city has prepared for its visitors. That's why I've decided to compile the best ones 10 travel tips for New York in this article. I'm sure you'll find them useful to start organising your trip.
Plan your itinerary
To avoid wasting a lot of time (and money) on unnecessary sightseeing, I recommend that you roughly organise your itinerary according to days or things you want to see. Here are some practical guides that I think will help you organise your time as efficiently as possible: Things to do in New York City in the Fall y 7-day New York Itinerary.
Take out travel insurance
Although at first glance 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). Medical costs there are extremely high and it never hurts to have a good insurance policy to cover any unforeseen event. If you don't know which one to take, what you need to cover and how to do it, I leave you here an article with all the details about Health insurance to travel to New York.
Remember to have your visa ready
It is most likely that to enter New York as a tourist you will need to take the ESTA visa. You can fill it out online and pay the fee online, which makes the process much easier. If you have doubts about how to do it because you have never done it before, you can consult my article on how to get the ESTA visa to travel to New York.
Follow these guides to make sure you don't miss out on the big dates, wherever you go
- New York in January: don't let the cold weather stop you. The year has just started and it's a great time to finish enjoying the Christmas lights.
- New York in February: Take advantage of the great prices that the low season has to offer - the best hotels are much cheaper! Plus, celebrating Valentine's Day in the Big Apple is an American experience not to be missed.
- New York in March: welcome spring as the days begin to lengthen, the temperatures ease and it's a pleasure to walk the endless avenues of Manhattan.
- New York in April: Easter and Easter holidays are likely to kick off New York's peak season with thousands of tourists. Book your tickets and activities in advance to ensure you get in on the most in-demand ones.
- New York in May: The city's parks are now in full bloom: explore them all on foot or by bike and don't leave a green space untouched - how does a picnic in Bryant Park or a sunny morning on the lake in Central Park sound?
- New York in June: the heat is starting to get hot, but the days are long and you'll have time for everything. It's probably the best time of the year to enjoy the views of Manhattan from the top of one of its skyscrapers.
- New York in July: This is an important month for Americans. If you're there for the 4th of July Independence Day celebrations, don't miss the fireworks display.
- New York in August: the heat is on, but it's a great time to discover the city at night, when the sun gives a break and Manhattan's parks set up incredible outdoor summer cinemas. Take the opportunity to visit the beaches of Brooklyn or Coney Island and even Luna Park, where you'll enjoy yourself like a child.
- New York in September: Back to school is a very special time in New York. Offices are bustling again, New Yorkers are back in the city and are eager to enjoy the restaurants, rooftops and theatres, so take the opportunity to enjoy the city's nightlife like one of the locals!
- New York in October: In October, New York turns pumpkin orange. The Halloween decorations on houses, storefronts and streets are incredible (probably some of the best in the world) so don't miss this time of year in the city.
- New York in November: Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the Macy's parade. Who's more? If you visit the city in the last quarter of the year you'll find Christmas preparations in full swing.
- New York in December: You'll feel like you're in the famous Home Alone movie: skating rinks all over the city, shop windows decked out with Christmas lights and giant Christmas trees decorating the city. Don't miss Manhattan's ceremonial lighting of the lights or the amazing Dyker Heights neighbourhood with dozens of houses showing off their decorations and lights - oh, and Happy New Year!