We often get questions from our customers and blog readers, asking to send them some tips on How to Enjoy New York as a New Yorker. So here are some special tours that could give you the opportunity to get to know not just tourist attractions, but also places that locals love. Bookmark this link now, so you can use it on your next visit to New York – and experience the city the same way New Yorkers do.
Enjoying New York as a New Yorker (Part I)
By Lucas Compan, a storyteller passionate about New York
You have a dream: to visit New York City. You want to plan your vacations in details, because you know you'll have only seven days to enjoy New York to the fullest. That's the moment when you likely get lost trying to pick the best tours and sightseeing among so many attractions. There's also another aspect: you want to experience New York as locals do because they know where to find the best spots in the city – both for themselves and for visitants. So how to choose the best things to do? Well, the answer lies on your personal taste and the things you usually enjoy the most – or new things you want to experience.
We are going to publish a series of lists of tours and things to do – to help you out with fulfilling the best experience in New York ever.
1 – FIRST THINGS, FIRST
First-off: Let's have in mind that if you spent seven days in New York, you'd have around sixty hours available to enjoy tours and sightseeing in the city. Do the math: you have an average of 11/12 hours per day to take your tours and sightseeing. Also, deduct time spent with airport procedures, checking in hotels, unpacking your stuff, going to breakfasts, lunches, dinners, bars, then packing your stuff back, checking out and all.
All right, putting together transportation to and from the tourist attraction, plus the time spent on each one to enjoy them (three to four hours each), you would have sixty hours left to enjoy those places you dream about. Also, you might want to enjoy two-day extended tours in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, the Northeast, and Niagara Falls – from New York. So that's the spirit. It's all about options and time optimization.
OPTIONS AND TIME OPTIMIZATION
In this blog post, you will find a list of 20 tourist attractions, places which both tourists and New Yorkers love – how to enjoy them to the fullest, how to save money, how to fit all these attractions into those sixty hours, and even how to talk as a New Yorker.
Sixty-Hour Tour and Sightseeing list for a 7-day trip
2 – ARRIVING IN NEW YORK
Save money and time with your transportation from JFK, Newark, or LaGuardia Airports to your hotel. Plan in advance when you are still at your hometown. Click here to see your options, from shuttles, to limos, to private limousines.
3- FIFTY ATTRACTIONS, ONE EXPLORER PASS
After settling in your hotel, get ready to explore the most exciting city in the world. For starters, you can get your New York City Explorer Pass (or any other Pass among these options) until one day before you intend to use it. When you book it, The Welcome Hub will send you an online voucher. You print it out and exchange your voucher for the Explorer Pass at one of the Visitors Centers.
The New York Explorer Pass allows you to choose from among 50 attractions, museums, and tours in New York. Save money and get 30 days to utilize your Explorer Pass. You do not have to choose now what to do. Once in New York, just present your Explorer Pass at whichever attraction you want to visit: Total Freedom. Click here to access the list with addresses.
You might also save money with subway rides. Then, get an Unlimited Ride 7-Day MetroCard for US$31, which gives you unlimited subway ride within seven days. Important tip: your unlimited Ride MetroCard cannot be used again at the same subway station or the same bus route for AT LEAST 18 minutes. To learn more, click here.
4 – MUSEUMS
These are personal recommendations. Meaning, based on personal taste, and also on our experience with tourists – what they love the most. I've been to at least sixty percent of all museums in New York (One-hundred and thirty-two museums). Unless you are a museum aficionado (which is awesome and we also have special museum tours for you), I would pick two or three museums to visit. Why? Well, museums tours take a lot of time. If you spend too long in four or five museums (four to five hours each one), you won't have enough time to enjoy other attractions. So my favorite museums are:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online.
Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum's galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures. At The Met you can also enjoy one of the best rooftop bars in the city, surrounded by incredible views of Central Park. Save time, skip the line: get your tickets in advance.
You can also download The Met app to get directions, transportation tips, and to see what's happening at The Met every day.
An internationally renowned art museum and one of the most significant architectural icons of the 20th century, the Guggenheim Museum in New York is at once a vital cultural center, an educational institution, and the heart of an international network of museums.
Visitors can experience special exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, lectures by artists and critics, performances and film screenings, classes for teens and adults, and daily tours of the galleries led by museum educators. Founded on a collection of early modern masterpieces, the Guggenheim Museum today is an ever-evolving institution devoted to the art of the 20th century and beyond. Download the Guggenheim app here.
American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum in the world with a mission commensurately monumental in scope. The entire museum spans 4 city blocks and consists of some 25 interconnected buildings. Though today the phrase "natural history" is restricted to the study of animal life, the museum—founded in 1869 on the heels of discoveries by Darwin and other Victorians—uses it in its original sense: that is, the study of all natural objects, animal, vegetable and mineral. Click here to access a list of apps they offer.
Founded in 1929, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a place that fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration. With extraordinary exhibitions and the world's finest collection of modern and contemporary art, MoMA is dedicated to the conversation between the past and the present, the established and the experimental. MoMA's mission is helping you understand and enjoy the art of our time. Click here to get your skip-the-line ticket.
Are you a museum nerd? So if you'd like to explore MoMA upside down, here's your Nerd’s Guide to the 2,229 Paintings at MoMA. If you think these options are not good enough for you, that's fine. Click here to access a complete A-to-Z list of 132 museums in New York City.
5 – THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
Even if you are not a big fan of reading and books, the NYPL is one of those places that will make you get lost in culture–to find yourself mesmerized surrounded by such beauty. Well, they have 92 different locations in New York. The most visited by tourists is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, located at Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. Click here to download the NYPL mobile app.
6 – DOWTOWN
Here are some tourist attractions in Downtown (14th Street/Union Square to Battery Park) that locals love, too.
One World Observatory
One word: unforgettable! Yes, it is an incredible experience. Even New Yorkers usually visit the 101st, and 102nd floors of the One World Trade Center more than one time. I've been there twice myself. It's an amazing journey.
At the site, you can also walk to see the 9/11 memorial (the former site of the Twin Towers), the new train station OCULUS, and even do some shop at the Century 21 (very good prices for premium brands).
In the surrounding area, you can also take a walk on Wall Street, take pictures at the Wall Street Bull, and walk Battery Park. You can also book a guided walking tour to cover the whole area – known as the Financial District. There's also another very nice spot in that area: South Seaport Street. On a sunny day, you feel like you are at the beach right in the middle of Manhattan.
The Brooklyn Bridge + DUMBO
You have to cross this bridge. You can do it from Manhattan towards Brooklyn – or vice-versa. If you don't want to go by yourself, you can always book a personalized Walking Tour with a licensed New York guide (and New Yorker). Once in Brooklyn, you have to visit DUMBO, a very nice neighborhood, with great awesome views of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Jane's Carousel
Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty is also a classic. If you want to avoid lines and save money (it's for free), you can take the Staten Island Ferry. You are going to enjoy an incredible ferry trip, and see the Statue at a close distance.
However, if this isn't enough for you, so take the Circle Line Statue of Liberty Ride.
Saving time and money: always a good combination, right? So when you are in downtown, you should try Century 21 – at Cortland and Church Streets. Click here to learn more.
The High Line
One visit to The High Line and you will fall in love with it. One of my top favorite spots in New York. Seriously. You have to visit The High Line. It's a place where both New Yorkers and tourists LOVE.
Once there, you can also take a tour of the streets in the Meatpacking District, a very cool trendy neighborhood in New York – where you can find both men's and women's high-end fashion, super cool bars, and trendy restaurants. Prices in that area are overrated, though, so be careful with your credit card.
You could also visit the new building of the Whitney Museum of American Art – art surrounded by views of the Hudson River.
At the end of The High Line, you will be on 34th Street and 11th Avenue – which is Midtown Manhattan.
From that point, it's a 20-minute walk to the Empire State Building, on 34th Street and 5th Avenue. You could also take the 7 train at the 34th Street-Hudson Yards subway station.
7 – MIDTOWN
Geographically, the northern border of Midtown Manhattan is defined to be 59th Street in Manhattan, and although its southern border is less clear, it is variously taken to be 34th Street, 23 Street, or even 14th Street, Midtown spans the entire island of Manhattan along an east-west axis, being bounded by the East River on its east and the Hudson River to its west.
Empire State Building
The Chrysler Building is a incredibly beautiful landmark, a masterpiece of architecture and design. In "The Secret Stories of an Icon" you can explore interesting facts and top secrets, so when you pay it a visit you will be able to better understand the dimension of the Chrysler Building in New York's life, and in the global scene.
Walking a bit more toward Uptown (North) or taking any uptown-bound subway on 34th street, you will reach Times Square/42nd Street. It's always crowded with tourists and people. But you have to take a walk in there. Try NOT to buy or eat anything around that area, unless you are really need it, don't have the time to go someplace else, or if you are not willing to go to other areas.
Click here to access our list of top secrets in Times Square – including places to eat and drink that locals love to go in that area. It's a great spot for taking pictures or just have a seat at the TKTS steps, and observe everything around. To better experience the lights and everything, visit Times Square at night.
Important tip: you can get tickets with a BIG DISCOUNT if you have the patience and time to participate on the TICKETS LOTTERY. Most of Broadway shows are participants of this lottery.
Grand Central Terminal
Incredibly beautiful train station. It's not just a terminal, it's an experience. You can also find The Grand Market, a mouth watering experience, and an Apple Store. Click here to experience visual tours and videos of Grand Central Terminal.
If you love go shopping, this is your playground. It's a great experience. Take your time and walk along 5th Ave. Tip: the best blocks are between 42nd Street and 59th Street. Here you can find a complete list of brands on Fifth Ave. You could also try other blocks but you'll find either just residences (and museums like the Guggenheim, when you go toward Uptown after 59th Street) or not so fancy stores (heading Downtown, after 42nd Street). However, if you walk all the way towards Washington Square Park ( where the Avenue ends up ) it's a pretty nice walk. Once at Washington Square Park, you will be right in the middle of NYU campus.
On Fifth Avenue and 59th Street you will find one of the Apple Stores in the city. You must not miss this store. However, to avoid TONS of people (really, this store is always insanely packed) you should go before 10am or after 11pm. The store is open 24/7 and it's very safe to walk in that area.
Well, Central Park is Central Park. I mean, you MUST NOT miss it for the world. The Park goes from 60th Street to 100th Street. The best attractions are in between 60th and 72nd Streets, though. Take a peek at "The Secrets in the Heart of New York," an incredible visual story. Unless you are really curious to walk the park until its end, you should save your time to other attractions. Once you hit 72nd Street, you will be in UPTOWN
8 – UPTOWN
Uptown is basically a residential area. So just if you are curious about visiting these blocks, this is a list of things to do. From this list I would to with Park Avenue Armory (pretty good entertainment, very cool spot) and the American Museum of Natural History.
We will be exploring Uptown in more details in future "How to Enjoy New York as a New Yorker" lists.
9 – SPOTS ONLY NEW YORKERS KNOW. WE ARE NOW SHARING IT WITH YOU
Long Island City Waterfront
If you are a photographer or love taking pictures or just want to explore a new experience, you should really go to Long Island City Piers. AWESOME views of Manhattan, stunning sunsets, a very nice park to take a walk, cool cozy bars and restaurants, and a nice atmosphere. Learn more in "The Best Spots To Photograph the City (Part 1)."
From Long Island City, you have the chance to explore Manhattan views on the East River waterfront. From Hoboken, a small town in New Jersey, a 12-minute train ride from 34th Street, you can admire Manhattan on the Judson River waterfront. Learn more in "The Best Spots To Photograph the City (Part 2)."
Grand Finale With Style
Wrap up your one-week exploration with something remarkable: a helicopter ride over New York City. Seeing the city from the skies is an unforgettable moment in life, an experience that lasts forever.
Well, I think you have enough info and attractions to fulfill seven days in New York. This is just the first list of a series. There will be others coming up soon.
Tip: Do not worry if you don't speak English or if you think your English is not good enough. Relax. In New York there are almost eight-hundred different spoken languages. Meaning, there will be always someone to understand you wherever you are. However, if you rather fell more comfortable having a professional New Yorker licensed guide by your side, there are several options to pick.
Now, start planning your next adventure in New York. Pack your things and dreams, and have a nice trip. And remember: we are here always to help you to make your travel experience the best of the best.