New York. One city, a million dreams. It is one place that absolutely pulls at my heartstrings, more than you can imagine. It’s a city full of so much warmth, hope and potential. The hustle and bustle of taxis beeping their way through Times Square, office workers commuting across from Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan ready for whatever the day brings, and creatives and influencers budding to be the next best thing. There is no city quite like it. Many people would compare it to London, but I beg to differ after calling the big smoke home for the past six years.
After the number of times I have been to New York City, I would say I have mastered the tips and tricks to hack the city, and making the most out of every trip — even if you’re a first timer. After all, when in New York, you want to get the most out of every minute spent there. Right? So, what are we waiting for? Let’s begin!
1. Summer over winter
Having been in both in the blistery cold months and the baking hot, long summer days, NYC is definitely better in the summer. The longer days give you more hours in a day to explore, the rooftop bars are buzzing and central park is the most enjoyable thing to experience, especially with a picnic in tow.
2. Be sure to cross over into Brooklyn
You haven’t truly seen New York City until you have crossed over Brooklyn Bridge. Past the hustle and bustle of the tourists, stores and millions of taxis, there resides a more peaceful and suburban vibe. And, it has more to offer than you can ever imagine. I suggest visiting Williamsburg for a start.
3. Take the subway whenever you can
Controversial statement for a luxury traveller, but not only is it cheaper… it’s quicker too! The NYC traffic is so horrendous at times, it can often take a lot longer. Plus, with the express trains you can make a 30-minute journey by taxi into a seven-minute one by tube.
TIP: Get the 7-day metro card, as it works out cheaper, even if you’re only around for a few days.
4. Go early or late, never pick a peak time in the day.
When visiting the famous attractions of New York City, like the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty, decide whether you want to go early in the morning or later in the day. Often enough, everyone has the idea of visiting between 10:30-5pm. If you decide to go in the morning, go as soon as it opens. If you miss that slot, go later in the evening. You will thank me later.
TIP: The best time to see the Statue of Liberty is in the afternoon. You can expect to miss the two-hour wait and glide straight through to the front.
For the Empire State Building, buy your tickets in the morning and return 30 minutes before the sunset. You will be able to not only skip the queue but experience the view during the day, as the sunsets and it at night too.
5. Get used to tipping
Tipping in New York City is essential, mainly because waitstaff depend on their tips as income, instead of extra cash like in the UK. They get paid significantly low wages in comparison and the rest is made up of the tips they make. The tips aren’t added to the bill automatically, and you will receive a receipt where you have to add your tip after you have paid.
TIP: The normal amount to tip is between 15-20% of the total bill.
6. It’s not as glamorous as you think
In movies, we’re led to believe that people commute to work in stiletto heels, skinny triple espresso vanilla lattes and designer clothing. If you’re going with that expectation, then you might be sorely disappointed. While NYC is a buzzing capital with a lot of wealth, it is also balanced out with extreme poverty, lots of pollution and dirty streets. City life for you, hey?
7. You can’t leave without trying a New York City bagel
I strongly suggest (read as: don’t you dare) leave New York City without trying their famous bagels. They are truly what everyone claims them to be, and more. While there are many places that don’t serve the best of the best, I have the right place for you. Zucker’s in the Tribeca area, close to the 9/11 memorial will bring your bagel-loving dreams to life. With an array of fillings and an assortment of bagels, you will find the right combination for you – whether it be sweet or savoury.
8. Lower Manhattan is best for food hotspots and bars
Don’t stick to areas like Times Square to dine. Do yourself a favour and explore all the wonderful independent restaurants that NYC’s restaurant scene has to offer. From fantastic brunch spots, like High Street on Hudson, gorgeous bars such as Mr. Purple in Lower Manhattan, and Sauce and Barrel for must-try pizza!
9. Plan a slightly longer trip
If I were to leave you with one last tip for visiting NYC, it would be plan a longer trip. There is so much to do, see and eat, it will keep you wanting more. Every time I have visited, I have spent five days in the Big Apple, and even that’s not enough for me. If you plan on visiting various times, you might be able to get away with a slightly shorter stay. However, if it’s your first time, I suggest a week – if you can!
Let me know all YOUR favourite NYC tips, down below.
Until next time…