Planning A Trip To New York City: The ABCs of NYC

Thinking about planning a trip to New York City but don’t know where to start? From the heights of the Empire State to the bustling streets of Times Square, our guide has you covered with insider tips and must-see spots.

The Empire State Building in New York City underneath blue, cloudy skies
The Empire State Building in New York City underneath blue, cloudy skies

Did you know that New York City was briefly the U.S. capital from 1789 to 1790? 

Known as “The City That Never Sleeps,” NYC is a smorgasbord of culture, fashion, and history. And if you’re planning a trip to New York City, you’re in for a world of exploration. From iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty to hidden gems tucked away in the city’s diverse neighborhoods, you’re in for a treat as you take a bite of the Big Apple. And whether it’s your first visit or your tenth, each trip to NYC certainly promises new delights and discoveries!

Planning A Trip To New York City: Knowing The Basics

When planning a trip to New York City, a few practical tips can ensure you make the most of your urban adventure. 

Here are some to keep in mind:

No visa? No problem. 

Many travelers from countries within the Visa Waiver Program can enter the U.S. for up to 90 days without one, though an approved ESTA is required before travel.

Moreover, booking your flight to NYC offers flexibility; with three major airports—JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. 

Protip: Comparing prices can save you bucks. And if you aim for a Tuesday or Wednesday flight, you might just be able to dodge the weekend surcharge.

Alongside the visa and flight tips, it’s also smart to familiarize yourself with the city’s extensive public transportation options. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates subways and buses that cover all boroughs. With that, buying a MetroCard is absolutely essential for easier travel across the city.

And the best times to visit? Fall and spring see the city at its finest, with mild weather and vibrant colors. However, for those willing to brave the cold, winter months can also offer magical holiday displays with typically lower accommodation rates. Altogether, it’s best to avoid peak summer unless you’re ready to embrace both the heat and the crowds.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out city passes that can save you money on major attractions. The New York Pass, for instance, offers entry to over 100 attractions at a fraction of the cost, perfect for the eager explorer.

You might also like to read: A List of Free Museums in New York City

People dining in a bistro in Greenwich Village, New York City
People dining in a bistro in Greenwich Village, New York City

Planning A Trip To New York City: Creating Your Itinerary

Creating an itinerary for New York City is all about embracing diversity. Start with the classics—spend a morning admiring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Then, wander through the expansive corridors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art to soak in an ample dose of local culture.

And for a taste of the city’s bustling atmosphere, stroll through Times Square and Broadway, or plan an evening to catch a live show. Central Park certainly offers a natural escape in the middle of all the urban hustle; while enjoying a boat ride in the lake or simply meandering through its leafy paths can also give you that much sought-after calm.

As most locals would agree, no trip to NYC is complete without experiencing its vibrant food scene. Dive into diverse culinary adventures from the eateries of Chinatown to the bistros of Greenwich Village. If you’re visiting during the weekend, the Smorgasburg food market in Brooklyn is a must-visit for foodies.

Lastly, consider day trips outside the hustle—head to the tranquil grounds of the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx or explore the historic homes along the Hudson River.

But regardless of wherever you want to go, every corner of NYC offers something unique, making each day of your visit go off the chain. 

Where To Stay in New York City

Of course, deciding where to stay in New York City is as crucial as the attractions you plan to visit. But don’t get too overwhelmed by how social media portrays costly stays in this city. Rest assured, there are plenty of options that would appease your budget. 

For first-timers, Manhattan is certainly a prime choice, putting you within walking distance of Times Square, Broadway, and Central Park. Here, you can find everything from luxury hotels to budget-friendly apartments if costs are immaterial.

If you’re seeking a trendier vibe, Williamsburg in Brooklyn offers chic boutique hotels and vibrant nightlife, plus stellar views of Manhattan’s skyline with reasonable prices.

And for a quieter, more residential experience, consider the Upper West Side, which boasts elegant brownstones and is a stone’s throw from the natural beauty of Central Park.

Meanwhile, travelers looking for an artsy flair should head to the Chelsea area, home to art galleries and close to the High Line park. Here, you’ll find a range of accommodations from modern hotels like Selina Chelsea to charming inns that won’t break the bank.

You can also check out this guide to vacation rentals in New York City to experience the Big Apple like a true local.

Yellow taxis on the road in New York City
Yellow taxis on the road in New York City

Navigate NYC Like A Pro with ThisCityKnows

Ready to take a bite out of the Big Apple? 

With our guide to planning a trip to New York City, you’re all set to navigate this bustling metropolis with ease. From soaring skyscrapers to hidden speakeasies, let each day in NYC surprise and delight you.

Remember, ThisCityKnows is your go-to guide for uncovering the world’s most exciting urban experiences. We’re here to ensure your travel plans glide as smoothly as a subway ride through Manhattan. 

Got a New York story or tip to share? Join our community in the comments or reach out directly—we’d love to hear from our fellow urban explorers!

Now, grab your map and your metro card and let your NYC adventure begin with ThisCityKnows!

Author: Katie

Katie is all about hitting the road solo, always on the lookout for spots the internet hasn't fully discovered yet. She’s the one turning left when the map says right, hunting for those genuine, "you had to be there" moments. With a style that's as engaging as a late-night chat by the hostel fire, her stories aren't just about places, but the raw, unfiltered joy of exploring them on your own terms.

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