There is no place on earth set in people’s subconscious quite like the bright lights of New York City, the setting for hundreds of films, iconic TV series and the birthplace of the American dream, nothing compares to it, and nothing ever will, understandable then that 47 million people flock to it’s skyscraper lined streets every year to walk in the footsteps of Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn and Carrie Bradshaw.
Fighting 47 million other tourists can be tough, and lets face it no one wants to feel like a tourist their entire trip so here are our top tips to getting the most out of New York City on a short break and how to avoid the common pitfalls made by huge numbers of tourists each and every day!
1. If you want to visit the key attractions there are two things to bear in mind. Firstly, be organised, if time is short make your mind up on a top 5, you simply can’t do everything. Secondly it pays to invest in a NYC tourist pass, the savings you make are considerable, visit www.nycgo.com for more information and to organise your trip.
2. With 47 million tourists there are monumental queues everywhere and if like me you are literally pathologically unable to queue, you need to get up damned early or stay up late to avoid them. We ascended the Top of the Rock at 9.00am (it’s open from 8.00am) and the Empire State building at midnight and didn’t queue even for a moment. If you only intend on visiting one of these Top of The Rock is the answer afterall you want The Empire State Building in your pictures.
3. As touristy as it might seem a quick and easy way to cover ground in Manhattan is to do an open top bus tour, 9 times out of 10 the guide will be fabulous and the hop on-hop off policy means you can plan your own day.
4. Use the subway, it’s fast, clean and infinitely easier than jumping in and out of taxis every five minutes. Since the deregulation of taxi cab drivers in New York City some years ago a taxi driver is no longer a fountain of all knowledge/friendly guide to the city, often cab drivers are very new to the city themselves, they are not worth the money!
5. The food prices are as varied at the cuisine itself but there are a few places to avoid if you want to get value for money. Time Square, or anywhere around it is going to be expensive, with some of the hotels topping out at $45 for a glass of coke! If you want a bargain head to restaurant row, literally lined with restaurants all competing for trade so the prices are kept reasonable, or failing that the village is great for an evening meal. Do not buy pretzels off the average street trader, there are specialists with cheese/meat filled options which are much tastier!
6. All national galleries are owned by the state are actually free entry, the price is a suggested donation, however $20 is incredibly cheap considering what you get to see! The Guggenheim operates a ‘pay what you wish’ entry on Saturday nights.
7. If you don’t have the money for a boat trip around The Statue of Liberty jump on the Staten Island Ferry, it goes right past and is entirely free.
8. Get off the Island, we adored Brooklyn for its laid back vibe, vintage shops and quiet tree lined streets and thought Harlem was utterly beautiful. The most iconic and amazing image of NY City can be found sitting next to the water in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
9. Steer clear of fake rubbish in China town, not only is it illegal but very recently a law was passed ensuring you will be fined heavily if found in possession of any items. If you want cheap designer clothes then jump on a bus and head out to Woodbury Common.
10. If you are (ahem) caught short in New York, you can use the bathroom in any hotel in the city, they are obliged.