I recently made my first visit to New York City for a conference. And while the city was a bit nerve-wracking at first (I truly thought I would be in some sort of auto accident before I even arrived at my hotel) I found it was very easy to navigate. I did come away with a few tips for the first time visitor.
1) Plan how you will get to your hotel before you arrive. My biggest worry was how to get to Midtown Manhattan from Newark Airport. While I could have taken the subway I really didn’t want to drag luggage on and off a few trains and then a few blocks down the street. Super Shuttle was recommended to me via Twitter by @giuliaccia. Not only was it inexpensive but it relieved a lot of pre-trip stress. Note: Stop lights, street markings and turn signals seem more like suggestions than actual rules in NYC. Don’t panic- your driver is used to the chaos!
2) Get a good subway map. Once you are in New York City it is economical to take the subway. Each ride is $2.25, but you can buy a 4 ride Metrocard for $8 or a 1-day Fun pass for $8.25. Seven, 14 and 30 day Metrocards are also available. You can associate yourself with the New York City subway online (the map can be downloaded in .pdf format) but I recommend picking up a map that shows the subway and streets. Of all the maps I had the nytab given to me by our hotel was most useful.
3) Know that the taxis take credit cards. Sometimes you just don’t want to take the subway. It’s too far to walk to the station, you’re tired or it’s late. NYC taxis now have credit card machines in them- no worries about having enough cash!
4) If you want to take in the sights get a New York City Pass. There are sights that everyone has on their “to bee seen in New York City” list. The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, the MoMA… The New York City Pass saves you $65 by bundling the attractions together. You can buy the pass online or at any of the participating attractions.
5) When you tire of running around take a “time out” in Central Park.
Even the most gung-ho traveler needs some down time. Possibilities are extensive in Central Park. Rent a boat or a bike, see if you can find all the sculptures, rent a model boat and maneuver it, or just wander along the miles of pathways and soak in the quiet peacefulness in the middle of such a busy city.
For more New York City tips from travelers see the comments section of the post Tips for a First Time Trip to New York City. Lots of great input on what to see, what to skip and the best “hidden” places to eat.