Ah New York. The concrete city where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do. These lights will inspire you…
In all seriousness, New York City is a place I believe everyone should see at least once in their lives. The people, the lights, the atmosphere, the fashion, the noise, the smells…it is an experience like no other.
After spending three days in the Big Apple during July, I’ve come away learning much more than I ever thought I would. So, here are my top 15 tips and tricks for every NYC first timer.
1. Take the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
One of the best ways to see the city, the hop-on hop-off bus gives you the freedom to explore and learn about the city without the pressure of finding a subway! Me and my Mum booked an Uptown & Downtown tour with Top View, who had amazing deals on their website. Whether you’re staying for a week or a day, they have the bus tour (and more) for you. We really enjoyed the ease of getting from one part of the city to the next, all while seeing the sites and listening to the history. With ponchos, earplugs and friendly staff it was a great experience which we would do again.
2. Cycle in Central Park
Don’t forget your basket and lock! An inexpensive and healthy way to see the park, cycling in Central Park is definitely an experience. Despite the fact I nearly got run over by bicycles (and visa versa!), cycling the outskirts of the park offers a unique escape from the concrete jungle that surrounds you. Take it for a few hours, or the day, it’s up to you!
3. Surf the Subway
Have you truly been to NYC if you haven’t taken the subway? Crowded or spacious, standing or sitting, running or waiting until you can’t feel your feet, everyone has to take the subway from A to B. Don’t be afraid to ask a New Yorker about what subway you need to take. It’s all about of the adventure and they will be happy to help.
4. Learn your Blocks from your Avenues
Yes, they are different things. The city is massive and spans beyond the imagination. What will make it less overwhelming is learning the difference between blocks and avenues. This will help massively when navigating the cities sites!
5. Chic and Comfy!
NYC is one of the fashion capitals of the world, so you will certainly see countless amazing outfits. The city is a runway! However, if you are only planning to stay for a few days and experience all the touristy to-dos on your list, you may need to dress it down. In essence – don’t be cycling the city in an expensive dress or pant suit! Keep it comfy and chic. Don’t forget a good pair of shoes – the concrete sidewalks are hard on your feet.
6. Bring a rug
The parks inside New York are stunning and full of life and activities. Because of this, there isn’t always a place to sit. It’s a good idea to bring a light rug with you to the parks. This way, you know you have a place to plonk down on no matter where you end up. All you need to worry about is finding a spot with the best view!
7. ‘Groupons’ are your new best friend.
Whether you’re looking to get pampered, find someplace to eat, or simply save a few dollars, Groupons are your new best friend. Groupons allow you to research restaurants, hop-on hop-off bus and more on its site – all at a discounted rate! You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll save.
8. Stay central
If by now you have been persuaded to take the plunge and travel to NYC, don’t go booking your stay just yet! Ensure wherever you stay is central (or as close to as feasible) to the city. This will make your stay much more pleasant, as after a long day of shopping, walking and sightseeing, you will not be willing to take the seemingly endless journey back to your hotel. The closer you are to the city lights and sights, the better on you!
9. Make time for Museums
You could easily spend a week in NYC visiting museums. It is a historians Disney World. My advice is to do your research. Look online what museums interest you most, where they are, when they open, what sights are near them (so you can visit them too!) and what days are cheapest/free to enter. Some museums and sights are free/discounted on certain days. Keep an eye online and refresh Groupon!
10. Travel by ferry
Easily the cheapest and most enjoyable way to see the outskirts of NYC, taking the ferry is a must do. Take a day trip to Brooklyn, Queens or Long Beach, and take a video of the towering buildings that pass as you sail on by.
11. Experience Broadway
You simply cannot miss Broadway when in New York. No matter if you’re a theatre kid fanatic, or someone who doesn’t know who Lin-Manuel Miranda is (if you don’t, I suggest you look up this musical legend right now), no-one is left disappointed by the musical streets. If you are lucky enough to catch a performance on the streets, on a Broadway or Off-Broadway stage, make sure to soak up the magic, music and mystery of theatre life.
12. Find the naked cowboy
Usually standing within the hustle and bustle of Times Square, this man is hard to miss. All he wears in a pair of briefs, cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and guitar…that’s it! He is a sight to see! If you’re lucky enough to see him, make sure to snap a selfie and enjoy the show with a Starbies.
13. People watching
Find yourself a restaurant or café that overlooks the bustling streets of the city and watch the world go by. That is not a request, that’s a demand! It is truly amazing to think that millions of people live and pass through this city on a daily basis…and your part of it. Guess where people are going, their life story, or simply gaze out the window. No matter what you choose to do – you’ve just got to do it.
14. Find a pizza slice
Apologies if you’re allergic to pizza, dislike pizza or you’re simply vegan… you might want to skip this one! If you’re still reading this, you know what to do! Find yourself a greasy stall and buy yourself a pizza slice. Forget the calories! Tuck in and enjoy!
15. The lights will inspire you
At the end of it all, NYC is a place like any other. If you can, head outside for an evening stroll at sunset, and watch as the city that never sleeps turns on it’s lights for yet another long night. It is one thing to witness the city in the heat of the day – it is another to look up to the sky at the lights that surround you.
Amelhyne is an 18-year-old writer, podcaster, and photographer from Ireland. She hosts her own podcast called ‘Talk About It’ which focuses on mental health, film, and music for teens and young adults. She also writes a fortnightly article for her regional newspaper and contributes some of her poetry to literary magazines. She is also very passionate about photography. Her passion for photography lies in capturing the everyday moments in life, and the beauty of film, theatre, and music. Her plans are to continue growing her podcast and study journalism over the next year.