Things to Know Before You Go to New York City

New York City welcomes over 60 million visitors each year, drawn by its iconic skyline, cultural diversity, and unparalleled energy. In agreement with Alicia Keys, it’s a “concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” offering endless opportunities for exploration, entertainment, culinary adventures, and more!

Aerial view of New York City skyline at night, with illuminated skyscrapers and city lights shining brightly
Aerial view of New York City skyline at night

Visiting New York City is like stepping onto a set of countless stories about it, both told and untold. This metropolis, where more than 800 languages are spoken, epitomizes the melting pot of cultures, making it a fascinating world within a city. Known affectionately as “The City That Never Sleeps,” NYC captivates with its skyline that stretches into the ether, its streets pulsating with life, and its parks offering serene escapes. With so much to see, do, and taste, diving into the essentials— such as things to know before you go to New York City, is your ticket to making the most of this unparalleled urban expedition. 

From the towering observatories offering panoramic views of the city to the hidden speakeasies whispering tales of the past, let’s navigate through the vibrant lanes of NYC. Buckle up, because we’re about to unfold the myriad layers of this iconic city, ensuring your visit is as electrifying as the city itself.

The Best Time to Visit New York City

Deciding when to visit New York City can be as crucial as choosing where to explore. Each season brings its own unique flavor to the cityscape, making NYC a year-round destination. 

Spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) stand out as the prime times to visit. During these months, the weather strikes a perfect balance between the chilly winds of winter and the often oppressive heat of summer, making outdoor explorations and city walks thoroughly enjoyable. 

Spring also ushers in a burst of blooming cherry blossoms in Central Park and a lineup of outdoor markets, while fall dazzles with its vibrant foliage and a packed cultural calendar, including the New York Film Festival.

These seasons not only showcase the city’s natural beauty at its peak but also offer a comfortable backdrop for experiencing the bustling street life, outdoor dining, and rooftop lounging that define New York City living.

Yellow taxis and cars on the street in New York City
Yellow taxis and cars on the street in New York City

Getting Around The City

Navigating New York City’s sprawling metropolis is an adventure in itself, offering a glimpse into the daily rhythm of its inhabitants. The New York City Subway, extensive and operating 24/7, is the lifeline of the city, connecting its five boroughs with speed and efficiency. While it might seem daunting at first, mastering the subway system is a rite of passage for any NYC visitor. This mode of transportation surely offers a quick and cost-effective way to cover large distances.

Conversely, if you prefer to take in the city’s sights at a more leisurely pace, walking is not only feasible but recommended. Especially in pedestrian-friendly areas like Manhattan. Meanwhile, Citi Bike, the city’s bike-share program, provides an eco-friendly alternative for short distances, ideal for those sunny days when Central Park calls for a picnic. 

And, of course, the iconic NYC yellow cabs and various ride-sharing options are ever-present. They’re ready to whisk you away to your next urban adventure, be it a Broadway show or a hidden gallery in SoHo.

Each mode of transportation in NYC offers its own unique perspective of the city, inviting visitors to experience the dynamic urban tapestry that makes the Big Apple truly unforgettable.

Things To Know Before You Go To New York City: Must-See Places, Dining Spots, and More

Going to New York City means diving into an eclectic mix of experiences that define the city’s pulsating heart. 

Here are some essential things to know before you go to New York City, ensuring your itinerary is as dynamic as the city itself:

How about starting off with the iconic Statue of Liberty? Thereafter, you can lose yourself in the vast expanse of Central Park. For art lovers, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art offer unparalleled collections. Also not to be missed, the High Line provides a unique perspective of the city from an elevated park.

For some culinary exploration that redefines your NYC experience, dive into the city’s diverse boroughs for authentic eats from around the globe. In Manhattan, sample the legendary New York-style pizza or indulge in a bagel with lox for a true taste of the city. For a more elevated experience, rooftop bars in Chelsea offer stunning views and exquisite cocktails that spell “classy” one letter at a time.

You might also want to consider participating in local experiences for something more authentic, which can truly help you embrace the very fabric of New York City. Attend a live taping of a show, explore the vibrant street art in Bushwick, or take a short trip to Long Island for some beach time. 

And finally, immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of Times Square at night to witness the neon spectacle, a quintessential New York moment. 

Remember, every corner of NYC has something new to offer. From the historic streets of Greenwich Village to the avant-garde galleries in SoHo, don’t be afraid to take the reins of your NYC adventures so you won’t leave any stone unturned.

A nighttime city skyline view from a balcony of an apartment in New York City
A nighttime city skyline view from the balcony of an apartment in New York City

The Best Places To Stay in New York City

Finding the perfect place to stay is also one of the most important things to know before you go to New York City. The city’s diverse neighborhoods offer a range of accommodations that cater to every preference and budget, ensuring you find the right spot to call home during your visit.

Midtown Manhattan is the heart of NYC, pulsating with the energy of Times Square, Broadway theaters, and a myriad of shopping options. Staying here puts you right at the center of the action, with easy access to the city’s most iconic landmarks.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn offers a more laid-back vibe, with neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Brooklyn Heights providing a mix of trendy apartments, boutiques, and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. This spot is certainly ideal for those looking to experience New York City’s more “hipster” side.

Going North, Lower Manhattan is where history meets modernity. Areas like the Financial District and Battery Park offer quieter stays, not to mention being close to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the departure point to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

On the other hand, the Upper West Side is perfect for those seeking a residential atmosphere, as it is flanked by Central Park and the Hudson River. It’s also home to cultural institutions like the American Museum of Natural History and Lincoln Center.

Remember that choosing the right neighborhood can enhance your New York City experience. It allows you to immerse in the city’s vibrant culture and history while enjoying the comforts and conveniences tailored to your unique preferences.

Good This City Knows Tips: Things To Know Before You Go To New York City

Before you pack your bags, here are a few key tips that can help ensure your NYC trip is as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

  • Familiarize yourself with purchasing and using a MetroCard. Cards can be bought at subway stations and offer significant savings with unlimited ride options from seven to 30 days. It is definitely recommended if you’re planning for longer stays.
  • Download a subway app like CityMapper or the MTA’s official app to navigate the system with real-time updates. It’s particularly handy during the weekend or late-night travel when services change.
  • New York City boasts numerous free attractions, such as walking across the Brooklyn Bridge or visiting museums on free admission days. Research these in advance to add value to your trip without stretching your budget.
  • When dining, explore eateries in less touristy neighborhoods for authentic and affordable experiences. Apps like OpenTable, Yelp, or TikTok can help you discover hidden gems and secure reservations.
  • Majority of establishments in NYC now accept contactless payments, so set up Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or similar services on your smartphone for convenient and cashless transactions.
  • For Broadway shows, consider visiting the TKTS booth in Times Square for same-day discounted tickets. Alternatively, entering online lotteries can also score you great deals on top shows.
A line of brown brick houses of a serene neighborhood in New York City
A line of brown brick houses of a serene neighborhood in New York City

Come Feel The NYC Vibe with This City Knows

As we bring our guide about the things you need to know before you go to New York City to a close, we’re confident that you’re now ready to conquer this urban jungle. NYC is brimming with endless energy and is ready to offer you a piece of its iconic spirit. From the majestic views atop the Empire State Building to the tranquil corners of Central Park, your adventure in NYC is definitely going to be one for the books.

You see, New York City is a collection of stories, and yours is just about to unfold. We encourage you to dive deep into the city’s heart, beyond the guidebooks and itineraries. Engage with the city, let its rhythm guide your days and its nights spark your curiosity.

And when you return, laden with memories and stories, remember that we’d love to hear about your adventures. Share your discoveries, your favorite moments, and even the hidden gems you stumbled upon in the comments below. Your insights not only enrich our community but also inspire fellow travelers to explore New York City with renewed perspective and enthusiasm.

So, take these tips, and your sense of adventure, and let’s make your New York City experience unforgettable

Katie
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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