Wow, what a city! For a place that doesn’t sleep, be prepared to wear yourself out for an extraordinary and adventurous time of your life. I have put in some little tips to help you out when you first get there followed by some of the main attractions and must do’s.
Avenues run North to South. Streets run East to West with most of them being numbers i.e. 42nd St.
To buy half price tickets for Broadway shows, head to Times Square (42nd and 7th) and find the TKTS booth located under the grandstand at the Northern end.
Catch a Jitney to the suburbs $3 cash on the bus each way or $2.50 if you pre purchase. They run every 2-5 minutes to certain suburbs. The easiest way is to find out if a service is running to where you want is to google search for it.
Breakfast will cost between $5-10, lunch is about $10-20, dinner is about $20+ and beers will set you back about $6-10.
Tipping is part of American culture and is seen as rude if you do not tip. It will actually cost the servers money if you do not tip as they have to tip out their kitchen staff, bussers and hosts. An average tip is 18-20% on meals and $1 per drink at the bar. Tip taxi drivers about 10-15%.
With a city of 8.4 million people, there are a lot of things to see and do. The most cost effective way is to purchase the New York City Pass. It will give you entry to over 80 attractions for free. If you plan it right, you can make the most of it and end up saving lots of money. You can even skip the long queues, allowing you more time at each place. The attractions below were all completed on a 5 day pass.
This museum is an excellent showcase of a former military aircraft carrier. You can hire an audio guide which has a fast track and a more slow paced option. Most of the exhibits have information signs next to them, so an audio guide is not necessary. Allow yourself 2-3 hours to have a look all over the ship and grounds. You also have the option of seeing a space craft and a Concorde for $7 extra each attraction. The ship was a war time vessel so remember to duck as you walk through.
National History Museum
The museum is quite easy to get too. If you jump on the ‘C’ Uptown subway and ride it all the way to 81st street, there is a stop directly outside. The museum is an all-day attraction. Pack your own lunch or buy some at one of the cafes inside. The cost will be a minimum $12 for any order. For fans of Night at the Museum, the Dum Dum statue can be found in the Pacific Island section.
Greenwich walking tour
The tour lasts for around 2 hours. Your guides will talk about how Greenwich has changed throughout the years. It became famous for people like Bob Dylan to hang out and played a large part in the Gay movement. Keep an eye out for celebrities who still live in the area. THe guides use flags to lead the tour, so stay in sight. For fans of Friends, you have the chance to see Monica and Rachael’s apartment from the outside.
For this, you will need to queue at the ticket booth from 8.30am. It is located near Madame Tussauds. There are limited spots on each of the 6 times a day the Ride leaves. The Ride has some great hosts who will take you on a journey around the city centre. There are a few surprises on the way and it finishes with a big New York style song. Be prepared for some crowd involvement too.
The museum is well laid out but can get quite busy with all the art lovers walking around. The sculpture garden is quite relaxing with benches and chairs to escape the busyness of the big smoke. Andy Warhol is notorious with New York and Moma puts an excellent display of Warhol’s work.
Tip of the Empire
Allow 45 minutes to an hour to check out the top of the Empire State building. There is a lot off queuing during busy times. If you were to choose between the Rock and the Empire State Building, I would choose the Rock as you get to see more of New York.
Top of the Rock
It takes about 45 minutes to visit the top. There are 3 levels to get views from. The top has the clearest view with the other two levels barricaded by glass panels. The staff are boosting morale and making the boring task of waiting in a line more fun.
Radio City Hall tour
This is a 1 hour tour. It has a focus on the live shows which take place there and the ‘Rockettes’, a dancing troupe which made 34 pairs of legs kicking in the air famous. You will even get to meet a Rockette. There is a great photo opportunity of the stage from the projection room.
Times Square Discovery Centre
This gives you the choice of 2 exhibits. The information is well presented with a few interactive games to keep you amused. At the time of writing, there was the choice of ‘Body works’ or ‘The Hunger games’. These change every now and again at not set time interval. A Star Wars attraction is being set up for opening in November.
Central Park on Locations movie walking tour
The tour lasts for around 1 hr and 45 minutes. You will get to see locations of Home Alone, Gossip Girl, Serendipity and Elf. The guides are actors so they have an interest in what they are talking about. Take some lunch with you as you have a 10 minute break half way through. It is recommended to tip your guide at the end $5 – $10 is an acceptable amount.
Grand Central Terminal Self-Guided Tour
The self-guided booth is located on the right hand side if you were looking from the West set of stair cases. It is opposite the Information Desk in the centre of the Terminal. The tour provides 2 versions, an express and an extended version. I would personally choose the express version, unless you are a major fan of Grand Central Terminal. Allow up to an hour to look around the terminal.
Harbour Lights Cruise
Get there early to get a good seat. And by early I mean at least 1 hour before the cruise is scheduled to leave. You can upgrade your ticket on board to a ‘premier’ seat. This ensures you have an outside seat near the rail. It is hard to get a good photo of anything as the boat is moving quickly.
If you have been to one Madame Tussauds you have been to them all. The one in New York is split over four levels but it over quite quickly. There is a heavy influence on New York celebrities which may have been the reason as to why it was quickly done. You will also have the option of viewing a 4D movie at an extra cost.
The next two attractions were not available on the New York Pass but will only add to your New York experience.
Central Park Row boats
The row boats are located next to the Boat House on the smaller of the 2 large lakes. It costs $15 to hire the rowboat for 1 hour. There is usually a queue but it moves quickly. The boats run all day and are constantly full.
To see the all the sights in the quickest time possible, make your way to Pier 11 and be a passenger in a helicopter tour of Manhattan. There are a few companies to choose from with all flying similar routes.
- Liberty Helicopters
- New York Helicopter
- Manhattan Helicopters
Other must do's whilst you are in New York include walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, buying a New York slice of pizza for $1, trying to figure out the subway system and whether or not the B train is the right one, visit Wall Street and get yelled at by a New Yorker.
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