Welcome to New York City! Below is a compilation of outings/ideas grouped by interest in order to ensure you get the most out of your time in New York. Whether you’re interested in touring the Big Apple, perusing museums, shopping to your heart’s content, or enjoying the fine dining scene, there are activities below for you! Finally, there are some tips and tricks (including links to helpful smartphone apps) for getting around the city. Thank you to Julie Riederer for preparing this guide. In addition, for events going on in and around Central Park you can visit . They also have a email newsletter you can sign up for on their website.


Touring the Town

New York can be an overwhelming (but exciting) place, so why not hop on a double decker bus or walk around the city with a guided tour to take everything in? Below are descriptions of and links to the highest rated & most popular tours in New York:

Walking Tours: The group Real New York Tours offers more intimate, walking tours of New York City (and is one of the highest rated groups on TripAdvisor). There is a variety of walking tours provided, including exploring uptown (e.g., Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center/30 Rock, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, etc.), or going on a more intimate tour of some of the niche neighborhoods (e.g., Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, etc.). Check out their site for more information, and be sure to book in advance.

Bus Tours: If you want to sit back, relax, and take in New York from the comfort of a open-top bus, check out Double Decker Bus Tours, which offers hop-on/hop-off driving tours of New York. From Harlem to Brooklyn, you’ll see the entire scope of the city, depending on which tour you fancy. (Note: Some of the tours extend to 48-72 hours, for those who may be interested in booking this tour for the duration of their stay.)

Jazz Tours: If you’re into jazz, be sure not to miss the Big Apple Jazz Tour . This unique jaunt through Harlem offers a historical journey through jazz and a stop at the legendary Apollo Theater. There are a variety of tour options on the website, and if you decide to book a tour, mention Amanda Humes as your preferred tour guide...she’s the best!


General Sights to See

For those interested in exploring the city on their own, here are a few sights that you won’t want to miss:

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island: If considering a half day trip to see one of New York’s most famous treasures, be sure to book a tour. These popular attractions had been closed in the fall due to Hurricane Sandy, but will be open as of July 4th, so be sure to book your tickets in advance, and allow for a full morning/afternoon to see everything.

Tip: Go on an early tour to beat the crowds!

Empire State Building: The one, the only, Empire State Building is New York’s crown jewel. In order to visit the observatory high above the city, be sure to book a ticket.

Tip: Splurge for the express ticket in order to skip the crowds.

Rockefeller Plaza/30 Rock: Another fantastic (and personally most preferred!) view overlooking New York can be found on the Top of the Rock tour. You’ll learn about the famous history of this complex as well as take in breathtaking views of Central Park and the Empire State Building. If you don’t opt for the observatory tour, be sure to wander around Rockefeller Plaza in general to view the location of the famous Christmas tree (and skating rink!) as well as Radio City Music Hall.

Grand Central Terminal: A true architectural treasure, Grand Central is a bustling but beautiful delight in Midtown. In addition to its spectacle of a main hallway, this 100-year-old structure also boasts shopping and easy transportation access to other locations in the city. Don’t miss it!

Central Park: The ultimate green sanctuary in the middle of metropolis, Central Park is the perfect destination to wander through. Sights within the park to see include The Jackie Onassis Reservoir, Strawberry Fields, & Bethesda Fountain. Check out a map, and be sure to look into walking/pedicab/bike tours.

The High Line Park: Located on the Lower West side of Manhattan, don’t miss New York’s new treasured “green space.” Built on a former elevated railroad track, the High Line is a sleek, artful take on a traditional park. With stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and in close proximity to beer gardens and delicious outdoor dining in Chelsea, be sure to plan a visit.

Union Square: A central hang-out area (that’s easily accessible by subway), Union Square offers a rich area complete with shopping, history, and people-watching. The Union Square GreenMarket, which runs Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat during the summer, offers fresh produce from upstate farmers & crafts from local artists.

Tip: If you go to the top floor of the new Burlington Coat Factory just South of the park, you can get a stunning—and free—view of Union Square with the midtown skyline in the background.)

But Wait, There’s More! For additional ideas for activities & sights to see, check out Time Out New York for the Essential New York list and the Best Attractions in the city. Also, see The Skint, a site that is updated daily with free things to do in New York.


Museums Galore

As New York is one of the world’s art and cultural hotspots, the following includes the most popular museums to visit:

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on Central Park, this institute offers the largest collection of art in New York City. One can spend hours wandering through the Impressionism halls or taking in the Temple of Dendur in the Met, so be sure to account for enough time, perhaps through one of the site’s recommended itineraries.

Tip: The Metropolitan recommends a donation of $25 for admission. (Read: it’s okay to pay less than this amount.)

Tip: Head to the roof for great views overlooking Central Park and Manhattan!

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): Another fantastic art museum (that is easily accessible from Midtown) is MoMA, which offers some of the most recognizable paintings in the world, including Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Monet’s Water Lilies, & Jackson Pollack’s One. Admission is $25.00

American Museum of Natural History: The American Museum of Natural History offers something for everyone—dinosaurs, ancient relics, geodes, and a full scale replica of the blue whale. Similar to the Met, admission is a suggested donation of $19 (if purchased in person).

Other Highly Recommended Museums: Other highly recommended museums to check out include the Museum of the Moving Image (for the museum buff, complete with real Hollywood treasures), the Guggenheim (if not only to walk in and take in Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece—which can be done for free!), and the Tenement Museum (a firsthand tour of recreated tenements in the Lower East Side...if you’re not up for a tour, be sure to check out the gift shop, which offers unique NYC souvenirs and a free & interesting video about the tenement history of the Lower East Side).

Museum Links: For additional advice about museums, check out Time Out New York’s Guide to Museums. Also, check out this list of museums with free or suggested contributions.


For the Foodies

Do you love food? Do you love learning about, talking about, and most of all simply eating food? Then be sure to check out the following gustatory activities:

Walking Food Tours: If you’re interested in exploring the best culinary neighborhoods or diving into a specific cuisine, check out the tours provided by Foods of New York. If you’re in the mood for a multi-ethnic eating tour of the city, look to Big Onion. Finally, if you have a sweet tooth, be sure to check out SoHo’s Dessert & Wine Tour. You won’t regret any of these tours (although your beltline might).

Latest and Greatest Restaurants: If you’re into checking out the trendiest eateries in the city, look to New York Magazine or Time Out New York for their lists of hottest restaurants for the year.

Fine Dining: Look to Zagat or Michelin for the highest ranked restaurants the city has to offer. Check out Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list as well, which is a compilation of favorite restaurants for the “best value.”


Shop ‘Til You Drop

If you’re ready to shop, you’ve found the right city. See the recommendations below.

Shopping Neighborhoods: For the traditional New York shopping experience, start at 59th St. & Central Park South (near the Plaza Hotel & FAO Schwarz) and head South down Fifth Avenue to hit all of the New York classics (e.g., Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, & Tiffany & Co.). Once you hit 34th St, be sure not to miss Macy’s flagship store. Finally, for those looking for today’s latest fashion trends, head to SoHo.

Shopping Tips & Tricks: In order to stay up to date on the best shopping New York has to offer, head to New York Magazine's site for their comprehensive list of best shops in 2013. Also, be sure to peruse during your visit if you’re looking for bargains and sample sales.


For Those who Love the Stage

If catching live shows on the Great White Way is your thing, look no further than the tips below to get your Broadway fix.

Rush Tickets: One little known secret among the theater goers in NYC is being in the know about snagging rush tickets (often priced close to $30-$40 a pop) to Broadway shows. Playbill offers the greatest resource for how to obtain otherwise hard-to-get and/or expensive tickets, so definitely check out this site if catching a show for a bargain is a priority during your trip.

Tip: Be sure to visit the Playbill site close to your planned date and head to the box office first thing in the morning (check the box office hours on any given show’s website). Remember—rush tickets are always a gamble, but the savings can be worth it.

TKTS: If trying for rush tickets isn’t for you, the TKTS booth is always a good standby, which offers day-of tickets to Broadway shows for up to 50% off. Visit their site for maps of all booth locations.

Tip: Download the TKTS smartphone app to see which shows have had discounted tickets, in order to gauge if you want to wait at the booth.

TV Tapings: If you’re up for a show, but more so of the television variety, be sure to check out the list of free TV show tapings in New York. From late night to comedy, there’s something in there for you.


Getting Around New York: General Tips & Tricks

How does one get around one of the most metropolitan cities in the world? 

By Subway: It may seem daunting, but the NYC subway is very convenient and efficient once one has it down. Be sure to visit the following links on MTA’s website: you’ll find a subway map to download before your visit, MetroCard information, and general tips for riding the subway. Also, check out HopStop to pre-plan any trips on the subway.

Tip: If you think you will only be using the subway a limited number of times (i.e., 1-2 days), purchase a pay-per-ride MetroCard (single rides cost $2.75). If you’ll be using the subway frequently (i.e., 5-7 days for multiple times a day), consider an unlimited MetroCard, which costs $30 for unlimited rides for 7 days. (Note: This card cannot be used across users—only 1 per person.)

Tackling a Taxi: For a “classic” New York transportation method, look no further than a big yellow taxi. If you look to the top of the car and its center light is on (i.e., not the side lights), throw up your hand to “hail” it. Taxis are more expensive than the subway, of course, but at times more efficient to get around. All taxis now accept credit cards as well. If you’re still intimated, check out more taxi how-to’s.

Helpful Apps: For the subway, HopStop is helpful for navigating, while EmbarkNYC has very helpful and relatively up-to-date news on train times & construction.


Suggested Itineraries:

For those who are looking for specific itineraries/suggestions for each day, I’d suggest the following itineraries for each half day in order to maximize your sight-seeing time in New York:

Wednesday, August 21st

·       NYC Tour (either a bus tour or walking tour, select & book one)

·       Museum Visit (Metropolitan, MoMA, or American Museum of Natural History)

·       Broadway Show (evening, if schedule allows; book tickets in advance or check out rush tickets the morning of the show)


Thursday, August  22nd

·       Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty tour (morning)

·       Food Tour, Shopping, or Sight—Empire State Building/Central Park/Grand Central (afternoon)