Life in NYC: A Few Tips

Living in New York City for the past year, I’ve gained some pretty useful information on getting around and getting by stress-free. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m not an expert on NYC. Not yet. However, I do have tips that can help anyone visiting or starting a life in NYC have a smoother transition and really make use of their time.

#1 Add at least 30 minutes to the time estimator on Google Maps.

If you aren’t using google maps to get around and are still hoping to use your brains to figure it out, than you’re probably not looking for helpful tips to begin with. As fun as it may be to discover directions on your own, chances are you don’t have all the time in the world; whether you’re visiting or freshly moved in.

Google maps is great, but it’s time estimator misses the mark every-single-time. If you don’t want to be late or significantly underestimate how much time you have… add 30-60 minutes.

#2 Check ‘The Weekender‘ if you’re using the trains on the weekend or late nights.

Unless you want to spend a good chunk of your precious time figuring out that the train you’ve been waiting for doesn’t actually take you where you need to go… check it out online before leaving. Construction takes place on nights and weekends, and the mta has a website devoted to letting you know about these changes.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve regretted not checking this thing.

#3 Don’t wear heels. 

Unless you’re cabbing it or taking an Uber, I highly recommend against wearing anything but comfy shoes. It’s not rocket science, it’s logic. If you want to ruin your entire day by all means let your feet be pretty. By the time you reach your destination, you’ll be wishing you could take off your shoes, but this isn’t the country hills… You definitely don’t want your feet touching the ground or subway in the city.

#4 Nuts for Nuts carts = Sugary Holyness. 

Don’t think for a minute these nuts are a healthy alternative. They’re not. But they’re still one of my favorite parts of walking the city. Warm to the touch, crunchy to the teeth, and sweet sweet sweet! That’s right, I’m NUTS about them!

Pro tip: If you go to The Met (which, of course you will) save some time for post-museum rest. Grab a bag of delicious warm nuts and sit on the steps for some fun people watching and a much needed rest period (if you did The Met right, you’ll need a break).

#5 Go Pee. 

Seriously, if ever you have the chance to go pee while you’re in NYC. Do it. Chances are, the next time there’s an available rest room your bladder will have ruptured. If you’re leaving the house, go pee. If you’re visiting someone, go pee. If you’re walking around and see a Starbucks, go pee. (You’ll stand in line for a little bit, but trust me… better stand in line when you’re not about to explode) If you’re in a bind, you can also go into any hotel lobby and just pretend to blend in to use their lobby restroom.

This is not a drill. Take this one seriously.

#6 On that note… bring TP.

I’ve stood in my share of Starbucks’ lines to know that at the end of the road, toilet paper is not always plenty. I always carry a bit with me, just in case.

#7 Water.

If you’re going to be walking around a bunch… bring a water bottle with you or be prepared to spend $2 on what could have been free. The tap water here is gold.

#8 Eating out? Choose wisely. 

There is an overwhelming amount of eateries in this city. So much so, that I won’t go somewhere new unless I get a recommendation or read a great review. Please, for the love of all things beautiful and delicious, don’t go to Olive Garden. Or TGIFs or whatever… you’re in the culinary capital of the world, live a little.

You don’t need to leave the neighborhood that you’re in to enjoy some food. Every hood has it’s gold mine of yummy delights… just ask the guy at the corner coffee shop or if you’re afraid to talk to folks, look on yelp or Village Voice (resources at the bottom). Hell, if you post on here, I’d be happy to chime in too!

(Also: Prices vary depending on what neighborhood you’re in and where you go. Spending $30 on a meal (with a drink) is not abnormal, but you can also eat for $5.)

#9 CASH.

Carry cash. Many places have cash-only (including street food, which is yummy & cheap) or minimum payment establishments. ATMs are everywhere.

#10 Go to Brunch. 

If you’re in NYC on a weekend. Go to brunch. It’s a holiday, quite like no other. Every Saturday and Sunday folks from all walks of life come together to drink booze with their breakfast/lunch combinations and forget all that is wrong with their lives. There are a bunch of Boozy Brunches in the city (unlimited drinks usually for 2 hours for $X -usually $15-20).

#11 Stay in one/two neighborhoods.

If you’re short on time in the city, I recommend that you plan your time wisely. You don’t want to spend the majority of your time on one train to get onto another train etc. Plan to go to one neighborhood, and stay in the area (don’t try to do everything in one day, you can’t).

For example: Instead of trying to do: The highline, Time Square, & the Met in one day (waste of time in my opinion). Plan a day to visit Chelsea (The Highline, Chelsea Market, The Standard Beer Garden, Chelsea Galleries, Chelsea Pier, The Frying Pan etc.) and you can walk into the Meat Packing District or The West Village without having to get on a train OR spending all your time whizzing by place to place. A day in Midtown (Time Square, Rockefeller Center, The MoMa, Empire State, etc.) which can lead you into Hell’s Kitchen for dinner and a night out! A Day Uptown (The Met, The Frick, The Plaza, Central Park etc.) and cross over the park into the Upper West Side for the coolest architecture and swanky drinks or a show at Lincoln Center.

Walking around is fun, but at some point it’s nice to actually get to experience parts of the city; not just stare at them as you quickly pass by.

#12 You won’t get to see everything. 

If you’re visiting, chances are you won’t be coming for more than a handful of days. Understand that you won’t get to see everything. Make plans to come back because there’s always something new to do/see. Don’t try to do everything, because you’ll end up not really getting to do much of anything. And you’ll be exhausted.

#13 ClubFreeTime.com

There are a bunch of free things going on in the city. Always. I’ve come to rely on one resource (although there are many more). You can sign up for one month or recurring (if you’re lucky enough to call this city home). I’ve been able to see numerous shows at Carnegie Hall, small theatres, off-broadway shows, and many other cool things for $5 thanks to this site.

Other Sources: Time Out NY, Thrillist, Village Voice


I’m also uber happy to help, if you want to ask anything… just comment and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction if I know how. 

Reggie’s Guide to NYC: Coney Island

Ok. So I’ve survived a full year in New York City and my weekly updates have come and gone. I’m starting a couple new series on here (cue suspenseful tunes) that will surely knock your socks off 🙂

To start, I’m going to be posting a weekly ‘Reggie’s Guide to NYC’… not to be mistaken for another guide list. I am not an expert on nyc. I’m also not an expert on where to go in nyc. This guide is a work in progress… as I visit a place/series of places I’ll post about them with a first hand experience take. Sometimes it’ll be my first time there… sometimes not.

When I visit other cities, I prefer activities that revolve around doing something other than browsing the latest tourist attraction. Hopefully my series of posts will give folks (that’s y’all) an idea of what -else- you can do in the city other than trek to Time Square and stare at the pretty lights (although I can see how that can be appealing). I normally take a bunch of advice from locals myself and then act on them, think of the Reggie Guide as a 2nd filter to all the bullshit that could potentially waste your precious time in this beautiful city.

I’m still working out the kinks and structure.

My first Reggie Guide features Coney Island. Not your typical carnival/fair/theme park…. mainly because it’s something of all those three put together on a permanent (sort of) basis; located on the shore of Brooklyn. Did I mention it’s 95th birthday is Memorial Day 2015?

Best people watching experience I’ve had so far. 

Family-friendly, but be weary… it’s not disney. 

The boardwalk is nothing short of a cultural firework display… so many colors and shapes and sizes… and so many sounds. Walking about a 7 minute stretch, we ran into a latin band playing along side giant speakers, a guitar player with soul, karaoke, a hip hop DJ (there was a full blown dance sesh in the middle of the boardwalk) — all intermingled with the sounds of screams echoing from within the imaginary walls of the park.

coney3This is definitely no Disney… walking up to the gates of the park various versions of ‘Get Low’ could be heard booming from somewhere within.
coney4

coney1 coney10There’s no shortage of shops and food hubs, but it all feels so authentic. I have a distaste for theme parks mainly because nothing feels real… but at Coney Island, even with the sparkly new rides, there’s an aura of historical authenticity in the air. You can feel the presence of the last 95 years.

I think the quote “… perfection is the antithesis of authenticity” is perfectly suited for Coney Island. 
coney6When visiting Coney Island, you might as well plan to go to the beach. It would be a damn shame not to. The beach here gets packed so carry light (I wouldn’t bring a tent unless it’s off season). All the food, drinks, ice-cream, and alcohol you’ll ever want is just steps behind you. If you feel the extra couple of feet is too much to bear, simply wait 10-15 minutes and surely, some lovely gentleman will walk briskly by with hushed offerings like “beer” and “water”. [IF you walk down to Brighton Beach, every so often your friendly drink seller (a dude who just got back from the nearby store) will also carry offerings of the “Vodka” varieties.

coney11Don’t expect the beach here to be your perfect nature getaway (it’s more like a nature got away). You’ll be surrounded, as I mentioned before, so the attraction here has more to do with the beautiful array of folks and not so much the pristine nature. 
coney7 coney8The way tickets are dealt with here is a complete mess. I kind of feel like they keep their crazy irrational methods the same to maintain the historical integrity (or that’s what I keep telling myself). Each ride costs a different amount of ‘credits’ and you buy ‘credits’ at the ticket booth. I’d suggest looking over the rules before heading out so you know exactly what to expect. The folks working the park try their best to explain, but it’s not their fault the system was made by someone who had a personal vendetta against rational thinking.

coney2 coney9 coney12Cyclone: one of two original rides still active in the park (Luna Park). Built in 1927 & declared a NYC landmark in 1988.

It is pretty gosh darn cool to ride a coaster that old! I’m not going to lie, the rickety structure had me worried for a minute. 
coney13

To Bring:

* small bag (or light Backpack)

There are lockers inside the park and a place to either store your bag while you ride. Either way, you don’t want to carry something heavy all daylong.

* water bottle (you don’t want to spend $2.50 on a water bottle that could have cost you nothing)

* Sunscreen (trust me, you don’t want to learn the hard way)

* light towel (for the beach)

* cash (in case you loose the feeling in your legs and you decide to buy a drink from a passerby)

TIPS:

* Nathans Famous Hotdogs (the original) is here… if you want to be all historical and all, make sure you go to the original location (corner of Stillwell ave & Surf ave)

[There’s a special express line for hot dogs, fries, & beer… use it. Otherwise be ready to wait in line for-EVER]

* Eating cotton candy while riding the ferris wheel (Wonder Wheel) is recommended… because duh?

* Check the weather before coming, specifically for Coney Island, and be prepared. This area has a pretty big breeze going (especially right on the beach)

coney14The D, F, N & Q all end at Coney Island… from Manhattan, expect to take about 1 – 1.5 getting here.

 Have you ever been to Coney Island? What did ya think?