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.
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.)
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.
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.