8 Insider Tips to Have the Best New York City Trip Ever
Make sure you see, eat, and do everything awesome that NYC has to offer right now.
New York City is one of those places that people either desperately want to visit or never have the urge to see firsthand. Especially for folks from small towns, the concept of such a massive city can be nerve-wracking—all the people, cars, buildings, sights, smells, and sounds are a lot to take in all at once. But for others, there simply is no other place on Earth quite like the city, and its magic can be felt at all hours of the day and night. After all, this is the City That Never Sleeps.
If you've been to NYC once or a dozen times, there are bound to be things you've yet to do during a trip there. Here are the latest insider tips from travel experts on how to make the most of your New York City experience to guarantee you have the best visit ever (did we mention summer is a great time to go?). And next, don't miss the 10 Best U.S. Islands to Add to Your Bucket List—No Passport Required.
Don't do franchise food.
Anytime you visit a place, it can be easy to fall into comfort food. Even so, it's usually best to avoid franchises when you're traveling for work or fun. Why? Because there are so many eateries around NYC that deserve your attention. Matthew Bowley, marketing manager at Solmar Villas, agrees.
"Avoid chain restaurants (unless it's Eataly or a well-known 5-star restaurant). NYC is recognized for having a plethora of incredible restaurants that aren't Red Lobster, Fridays, Olive Garden, or Planet Hollywood," he says. "Remember to make a reservation if you intend to dine at a great restaurant."
Rent a bike.
Just because cabs are frequently seen in movies or television shows in NYC, doesn't mean everyone is taking them all the time. New York City is a pedestrian and biking metropolis too–especially if you spend some much-needed time in Central Park. Nicole Hunter, travel blogger at Go Far Grow Close, loves renting bikes for some time in the city's massive green space.
"Central Park is 778 acres and found in the [center] of New York City," she says. "It has a zoo, horse stables for horseback riding, lakes and ponds, fountains, dozens of playgrounds and fields, among other things. It was designed to insulate the visitor from the chaos and noise of NYC. There are several bike rental places around Central Park." Just be careful and wear a helmet if you can.
See the view from a bridge.
As both a travel writer and New Yorker, Charles Breitbart of TripTins knows all too well that it can be nearly impossible to avoid touristy areas in New York. Still, he believes that every NYC tourist should see some of the city's piers. Some of his favorite and "underrated piers include Pier 15, Pier 26, Pier 35, and PIer 57. Not to mention the lesser appreciated Manhattan Bridge," he says. (No, not the Brooklyn Bridge. The Manhattan Bridge.)
"The views from the Manhattan Bridge are some of the best you'll find in NYC and is a much less frequented bridge than the nearby Brooklyn Bridge," Breitbart says. "While all tourists should spend some time walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to take in that experience, I also believe they should do the same for the Manhattan Bridge. The views of downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge are tough to beat. Spending time up there for sunset is one of my favorite things to do on the weekends.
Hit up a food tour.
One of the best ways to get to know any place is to get to know its cuisine. The same is true for New York City, which has always been a hub of different kinds of people. For Lanie van der Horst, a New Yorker for ten years, food tours are the way to go to really get to know NYC. She might be an Aussie now, but that doesn't mean this Make More Adventures writer is going to miss an opportunity to dish on the NYC foodie scene.
"Food tours are a great way to experience a new-to-you neighborhood safely," van der Horst says. "Not only will you be able to try a lot of delicious restaurants and bakeries—way more than you would on your own—but you will learn all about the neighborhood. Sometimes, it's hard to know where to go in a neighborhood, and that is where a food tour helps. Food tours are great for solo travelers too as they offer a way to interact with others and an opportunity to eat with others."
Head to the Apollo.
You've probably heard of New York City's Apollo Theater. Even if you've never considered going there, Tim White (founder of MilePro) implores that you do to elevate your NYC experience. "If you want to get a sneak peek at the best up-and-coming artists and comedians in New York City, you have to go to Amateur Night at the Apollo," he says. "Visitors applaud the performers, and the artist with the most applause wins. It's not a very touristy event, so you won't have to deal with thousands of people breathing down your neck, and it's a very fun event for a date with your loved one." Avoiding tourists? Don't mind if we do!
Find those complimentary breakfasts.
Fewer and fewer hotels are offering free breakfast these days. But when you're visiting a city like NYC, where you know food is going to be expensive, finding a hotel that still offers that perk can be a big help. Born and bred New Yorker Jackie Martin of CIIC PR suggests serious consideration be made about the perks offered by your hotel.
"With inflation and budgeting while traveling, we're all trying to save a buck and unfortunately, breakfast in NYC is pricey," she says. "Skip the hassle of having to worry about where you're going to fuel up for the day… You can't adventure all day on an empty stomach, after all!"
Don't forget the rest of NYC.
Manhattan might have the popular culture heft, though it's far from the whole of NYC. "New York is not just Manhattan, it has four more boroughs, including Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island," explains Trippolo CEO Axel Hernborg. "People often miss these places, but these are just as important. Seeing the boroughs is a way to see NYC as so many New Yorkers do. After all, not everyone can live in Manhattan–and there is so much more to see."
Jack Lee of TripBison and Evolve Mala agrees. He has a particular fondness for Queens after almost 30 years of living in New York. "I appreciate that Queens may not be as flashy as Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn, but it has a lot to offer nonetheless and is an ideal place to stay for anyone looking to visit NYC. Queens is one of the most diverse urban areas in the world, and as such, provides access to a plethora of different cuisines."
Wear your most comfortable shoes.
Wearing good shoes can ensure that you aren't miserable at the end of the day after walking through the streets of NYC. You will definitely be wanting those comfy shoes if you make the mistake of choosing fashion over function. Director of operations for Hawaiian Islands Nick Mueller agrees–shoes need to be a priority.
"When you're in New York, you are going to be walking a lot," he says. "So, although you may be tempted to break out your new, fashionable shoes for the occasion, you're going to want to stick with comfy tennis shoes instead—trust me. Save the fancy shoes for your nights out or any outing that will be short. And, make sure that your shoes are always close-toed. New York is great, but the streets aren't, and the last thing you want is to accidentally step on the sidewalk/street with your bare feet (or have a pigeon or rat run across them—it can happen!)" Ah, New York City, you're one of a kind!
For more travel tips, check out The Best Travel-Planning Hacks You Need to Know Right Now.