Do you want uninterrupted views of the Empire State Building? Visit Top of the Rock! Take a visual tour of the entire city from above, located in the Rockefeller Plaza you need to add this to your next NYC visit.
Welcome to the blooper reel of NYC!
Nice hat bro.
This isn’t Joe’s Pizza.
Help me find a window.
The beautiful smell of mile high trash piles.
OPEN YOUR EYES!!
Two inches makes a difference.
A swing and a miss.
Sit by me before someone without deodorant does.
Window seal struggles.
Welcome to New York! New York City is an enchanting city that oozes opportunity, possibility, and resiliency.
A city that gives you the feeling that anything is possible, no matter the hurdles. Given the nickname “the town that never sleeps” is a mecca of ability. The ability to do anything, whether it is helicopter around the statue of liberty, ferry around the city, or climb 102 stories to the top of the Empire State Building.
Welcome to the second post in my New York Series highlighting how to conquor your time in the Big Apple!
Day 1: Go into your trip with a plan. If you do not know where to start look into purchasing the Official New York CityPass. You can save almost 50% on admission pricing to the various attractions that you want to experience at least once in your life.
You can purchase this pass at any of the attractions below or online prior to your arrival for even more savings!
CityPASS Admission Includes
- The Empire State Building
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR Guggenheim Museum
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
This pass allows you to create some structure while amusing all your inner needs of views, history, art, and action. If you choose not to opt for the CityPass and plan your own day ensure you do your research. Take the following into consideration:
- Location: NYC is larger than you think, although you could probably walk to a lot of things (if you have good walking shoes and a lot of time) you may not want to spend half your day walking place to place. Plan your days by clumping similar location things together to prevent backtracking and jumping from one end of the city to the other several times.
- Transportation: The subway can be your best friend, offering you an affordable way to get around but can be confusing for first time users. Want to know how to get around the city visit my previous blog post NYC: How to Get Around.
- Priorities: There is no way to get everything done you want to during one trip. List out the places that are MUST SEES vs. CAN SEES in order to ensure that you hit the spots you have been dying to see.
- Eateries: There are thousands of restaurants to choose from making your options limitless. Do your research on the best pizza (*cough*cough* Joe’s), best desert, best breakfast, and best dinner and a show (Stardust). This helps wasted time and money on mediocre food and dinner experiences.
- What Makes You Happy: With so much to do and so much to offer it can be easy to decide to do things just to do them. Take into consideration what kind of things you enjoy instead of “what you should do” when in NYC. If you do not like Broadway style plays don’t see one. If you enjoy history take advantage of the museums. If you don’t like pizza, don’t eat it. If you enjoy seeing sites from above, schedule a helicopter tour. Take your happiness into consideration while planning your trip, it will make for a much more enjoyable and relaxing trip.
If you have never been to a city with public transportation or a subway system getting around can be a challenge until you figure out what you are doing. Here is some tips and tricks on how to get around NYC that can save your wallet and your sanity.
The subway is probably the best way to get around the city in order to prevent traffic, surge charges, and sketchy taxi drivers. For $3 you can buy a single pass to get to where you need to go that is able to used within a couple hour period.
If you know you will be using the subway more than once buy a MetroCard. For an extra $1 this reloadable card can help you get in and out without buying a single use ticket at the machines that usually acquire lines during rush hour. Once you purchase your single use or metro card swipe the card and go through the turnstile to enter the subway. To prevent some embarrassment watch some people go through the turnstiles prior to going through.
Express vs. Local Trains
This can cause some havoc if you are trying to get to a non-major stop you must use a local train. Express trains only stop at major subway stops. An easy way to ensure your train is stopping where you intend is to use a NYC subway map. White circles indicate that BOTH express and local trains stop there.
Subway directions include Uptown and Downtown. If you are in Manhattan near Times Square (42nd Street) if you wish to go north you need to go uptown. If you wish to go south you need to go downtown. Simple enough?
To make it a little more complicated you will sometimes see the subway direction read “UPTOWN & QUEENS” or “DOWNTOWN & BROOKLYN” this simply means you will still go uptown and downtown but if you do not get off at your designated stop you will end up in Queens or Brooklyn.
Simply at the end of the day go the direction you are needing to go and get off your intended stop and you will have no issues.
JKF to Manhattan
I absolutely hate taking cabs to the city from the airport, getting car sick every time. I don’t know if it’s the bumper to bumper traffic, windy roads, or excitement of just getting there. Airtrain and the subway can get you to the city cheaper and saving you from potential car sickness.
Exit JFK following the signs towards the Airtrain. Purchase a combined Airtrain + Subway ticket. Take the Airtrain towards Jamaica Station. Get on the E train towards Manhattan (fastest if going to Manhattan) or the A train towards Brooklyn and Manhattan. You will pay around $8 and spend about an hour to get to Times Square vs. $75+ and at least an hour depending on traffic via cab/uber.
This is a good option if you are going short distances around the city. For example on rainy or cold days I prefer to take a short Uber to go a couple blocks, usually costing less than $20. This can be a good option if you are wearing heels, running late, or simply sick of walking for the day. If it is your first time in the city this may be a great opportunity to strike up conversation with someone who truly knows that city and can point you in the direction of some great local spots.
Break out your passport again! Niagara Falls is a sight to see, iced over and glistening!
- Use Price Alerts
If you have the time to watch flight rates you can catch ticket prices at their lowest if you use price alerts. How? Search using Google Flights and if you don’t like the price listed, set an alert. You will get an email alert every time the prices changes allowing you to book the moment the price suits your needs.
- Outsmart Baggage Fees
Baggage fees can cost you up to $125 if you choose to check your bag. If possible consolidate your items into necessities and clothing items that can be warn several diverse ways with many different mix and match options. This can allow you to fit everything into a carry-on sized bag costing you nothing.
- Free Water
Airports charge triple the amount you would pay for a bottle of water anywhere else. To prevent these charges bring an empty water bottle with you through security and fill it up at one of the water fountains on your way to the gate. This will help save time and money that could be spent elsewhere.
- Be Snack Savvy
Airport snacks are expensive! Take advantage of TSA’s approved snacks that you can pack at home and take through security. All food must go though the X-ray machine with your bag, so be sure not to unwrap or open the snacks prior to the security checkpoint. Some approved snacks include, sandwiches (wrapped), fruit, granola bars, pretzels, cookies, pastries, instant oatmeal, and chips.
- TSA Pre-Check
TSA Pre-check saves you time, and the stress of long airport security lines. Airport security can take hours to get through, but for $85 you can become TSA Pre-check certified for five years. No longer will you have to remove your shoes, laptop, liquids, belt, or jacket. You will wait five minutes or less to get through security no matter how crowded.
- Contact Cases
If you are only traveling for a couple days, contact cases can save you a tremendous amount of room by downsizing your full size lotions, moisturizers, face wash, etc. This will save you the anxiety of spills or leaks during travel, and will allow you to continue your daily beauty regime without switching to travel size products.
- Take Advantage of Upgrades
Airlines sometimes offer upgrades at the gate for minimal pricing compared to when you book. Hotels do the same, you can either asks at check in or prior to arriving you can sometimes check your reservation online and see custom upgrade options. Hilton offers premium room upgrades if available for as little as $15 extra per night.
- Frequent Flyer? Take Advantage
If you use the same airlines, stay in the same hotel, or always rent a car from the same company sign up for their loyalty rewards program. Sometimes just signing up gets you benefits that you otherwise would not have. These loyalty programs can score you free miles, free hotel stays, free rentals, or just better customer service which is still a plus.
- Paperless boarding
Most airlines offer paperless boarding allowing you to skip the check in line and head straight to security if you are not checking any baggage. Having the app allows you to get immediate notifications if your gate is changes or your flight is delayed, saving you a lot of stress and hassle of trying to find your flight on the enormous board of flight and gate numbers. One downfall of technology is that sometimes our phones glitch and apps freeze. When you first check into your flight on the app be sure to screen shot the boarding pass in case something prohibits you from pulling it up at the gate or security.
- Middle Seat Doom
Do you hate sitting in a middle seat? Start looking at the type of plane you will be flying in while booking. Boeing 767 have fewer middle seats than other plans, increasing your chances of an isle or window seat if you don’t want to pay extra to choose your seat.