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Top tips when visiting New York

Time is of the essence in New York but especially for a tourist! There’s lots to see and lots to do and with everyone needing to save time and money during their visit, I’ve collated my top tips to help you do just that.

Take the Subway

Want to feel like a true New Yorker? Get the subway! It may seem intimidating at first especially if you’re used to driving everywhere at home but the subway really is king in NYC. Cabs will rack up whilst you’re there and with cars being in bumper to bumper traffic a lot of the time, you’ll save time as well as money. The joy of the subway is you’re never more than two blocks away from where you can get on and it runs into the wee hours of the morning so you’ll always be able to get back to your hotel after a night out.

Utilise your evenings

Ever heard the saying “NYC is the city that never sleeps”? Well it’s almost true! The likes of Time Square and big tourist attractions such as the Empire State building don’t close until 2am even on week nights. With this in mind, make sure you utilise your time in the evenings as you’ll see a whole other side to the city. The same can’t be said about every city as on many city breaks, the evening is your opportunity to go for dinner and put your feet up as everywhere has closed, but not in New York!

On my last trip I did 50% of my sightseeing list in the evening including, Times Square, Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State building, enjoying the atmosphere and taking in the breath taking views. Your evening time is not to be wasted!

Plan your activities together

Planning your activities together is crucial for time-saving in New York. There is a lot packed into this city and although you can get around quite quickly on the subway, you don’t want to lose time by going across town after every activity. e.g. if you’d like to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art, within a few blocks is the Guggenheim Museum and Central Park. If these are already on your list, it doesn’t make sense to then go across town to get on the Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty after visiting the Met. Save it for another day and plan your sightseeing around that main event.

Don't get caught in the photo trap

The photo trap is not all the lovely photos you’ll take on your trip, it’s all the other ‘staged’ photos ops whilst out sightseeing which you’ll be subjected to. Unfortunately this is a very common occurrence in popular tourist spots like New York, as you wait in line to get in somewhere like the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, you’ll have your picture taken and be charged at the end. Now, you don’t have to buy the photos of course (and I certainly didn’t when I went last year) but the fact that it’s just another money making scheme and holds the line up just personally irritates me!

The worst was when queuing up for an evening meal in cool restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, it wasn’t enough to make us queue for half an hour to even be seated but to find out that this is largely so they can take your photo is just annoying. You can pay anything up to $20 (approx. £13.56) for just one photo so it’s just not worth it. So be a savvy traveller and don’t get caught in the moment…and the photo trap!

Stay central

This was really helpful when the sole of my boot came off whilst about to get onto the subway in the morning of day 3 on my last trip!* Luckily because I was staying central I managed to drag myself back to the hotel without losing too much time changing my shoes. Not everyone may agree with me on staying somewhere central as of course you’ll pay less the further out of the centre you stay. But you can get some great deals without compromising your location. I stayed in the New Yorker Hotel the last time which was about a 10 minute walk away from Times Square and it was perfect. My boyfriend and I paid around £65 each for five nights with a beautiful view of the city and decent sized room, not bad for a central location! We loved it and would definitely stay again.

*Note to self, never buy footwear in New Look again!

Make sure you tip

Each of the fifty states has a different minimum wage, usually around $8 (approx. £5.43) an hour. But under federal law, the minimum wage for tipped employees like bartenders and waitresses is just $2.13 (approx. £1.44) per hour! This is why there is a big tipping culture in America so be sure to tip around 20% of your overall bill. In America you’ll find that people in the service industry give you fantastic service so the tips are definitely deserved.

Go off road

This is not me telling you to go to the dodgier areas of town! What I am saying is venture down side roads and off the beaten track as you never know what you’ll discover. We found unique stores with great prices and whilst trying to locate the Ghostbusters Firehouse on my last trip we stumbled upon Tiny’s, a bar and restaurant in a three story Townhouse built in 1810 . Awesome!

Get a New York City Pass

The New York Pass is a tourist card created by real, life-long New Yorkers to save you time and money on sightseeing in New York. With an NY Pass, visitors get free entry to over 80 attractions and skip ticket lines at many of the busiest places. A 3 day city pass will set you back $150.00 (approx. £101.73) but in the long run it will save you a fortune! I wouldn’t plug a city pass for every city as they do vary on discounts and freebies especially on popular attractions but the New York City Pass by far is the best for value. Plus you get a free guidebook on what to check out whilst you’re there.

What tips would you include for people visiting New York?

Mel x

About the author

Hi, I’m Mel! The adventure-seeking vegan travel blogger behind Footsteps on the Globe. On this blog you'll find my latest adventures, travel inspiration as well as tips and tricks on how to be vegan around the world. You don’t have to give up being vegan to follow your travel dreams and I’m here to show you how!