New York City

New York City is one of the most iconic and exciting cities in the world. With its towering skyscrapers, bustling streets, and endless things to see and do, it’s no wonder over 50 million tourists visit New York City every year. Planning a trip to the Big Apple can feel overwhelming, but this comprehensive city guide will give you all the information you need to make the most of your New York City vacation.

New York City is a larger-than-life metropolis with endless possibilities. From world-famous attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building to hidden gems like the High Line and Brooklyn Bridge Park, there are endless unique and unforgettable New York City things to do. Navigating the city’s vast public transportation system, finding the right New York City accommodation, and knowing the best New York City tips and tricks can make or break your NYC experience. Use this guide to get insider knowledge on the top New York City attractions, New York City transportation options, where to stay, and expert advice to ensure your trip to the Big Apple is smooth sailing.

Overview of New York City

New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. Manhattan is the city’s most famous borough and is what most people picture when they think of New York. It’s home to Times Square, Central Park, and many of the city’s top attractions. The other boroughs have their own unique culture and are worth exploring too.

New York City has a population of over 8 million people and is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Over 800 languages are spoken here! It’s also one of the oldest cities in the U.S., founded in 1624 by Dutch settlers. Today it remains a major global hub for finance, media, food, fashion, and entertainment.

There’s no bad time to visit New York City thanks to its temperate climate. Summer is peak season and winter offers magical holiday sights. Spring and fall are shoulder seasons with mild weather, making them budget-friendly times to visit.

New York City Things to Do

The number of attractions and activities in New York City is endless. Here are some of the top things to do on a NYC vacation:

Visit the Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty is an iconic NYC landmark. Take a ferry to Liberty Island to see the statue up close and tour the pedestal and crown (advanced reservations required) for amazing city views.

Take in the Views from the Top of the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building offers stunning 360 degree views from the 86th and 102nd floor observatories. Go at night to see the city lit up. Purchase skip-the-line tickets ahead of time to avoid long waits.

See Times Square’s Bright Lights

Times Square is the brightly lit hub of New York City. Walk through the bustling area, admire the giant billboards, and feel the infectious energy this famous square exudes.

Stroll Through Central Park

Central Park offers a peaceful nature escape from the city. Walk along its paths or rent a bike or a boat and take in attractions like the Central Park Zoo and Strawberry Fields.

Indulge in Retail Therapy on 5th Avenue

5th Avenue is lined with famous high-end stores like Saks, Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffany & Co. Even window shopping is a treat on this iconic shopping street.

Take in the Views from Top of the Rock

For breathtaking views of the Empire State Building and Central Park, head to the observation decks at Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. Purchase tickets ahead of time to avoid long lines.

Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

This poignant museum pays tribute to the lives lost in the 9/11 attacks. Visitors can view artifacts from that day and learn more about the tragedy.

See a Broadway Show

Broadway is famous for its musicals and plays. Book well in advance to get tickets to popular shows like The Lion King or Hamilton.

Explore the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Also known as “The Met”, this massive museum houses over 2 million works of art in its many galleries. You could spend days wandering its halls.

Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Walk across this iconic bridge for magnificent views of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge Park below. Pro tip: start on the Brooklyn side for the best views.

New York City Attractions Off the Beaten Path

In addition to its most famous sites, New York City is filled with unique attractions and hidden gems. Here are some of the best off-the-beaten-path things to do in NYC:

High Line Park

This public park built on an old elevated railway on Manhattan’s West Side has lush greenery, public art installations, and great views.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

This Queens park houses the iconic Unisphere globe sculpture built for the 1964 World’s Fair. It’s also home to the Queens Museum, New York Hall of Science, and Queens Zoo.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Stretching 1.3 miles along the East River, this waterfront park offers picture-perfect views of the Manhattan skyline.

Museum of the Moving Image

This museum in Astoria, Queens is dedicated to the art, history, and technology of film, television, and digital media. It offers fascinating exhibits plus regular film screenings.

City Island

Easily accessible from the Bronx, this quaint island neighborhood feels worlds away from the city with its small-town seaside charm.

Governors Island

Just a quick ferry ride from Lower Manhattan, Governors Island offers everything from historic forts to a beach to a glamping site.

Roosevelt Island

This residential island on the East River has a small town vibe with riverside parks, historic landmarks, and scenic city views via the Roosevelt Island Tramway.

Coney Island

Home to the iconic amusement park Luna Park, the original Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, and a beachfront boardwalk, Coney Island offers classic seaside fun in Brooklyn.

New York City Transportation

With its extensive public transit system, getting around New York City is fairly easy. Here’s an overview of the main transportation options:


The subway system is the most convenient and affordable way to get around NYC. It operates 24/7 and reaches all boroughs. Purchase a MetroCard to pay for rides.


NYC buses cover areas that subways don’t reach. Use buses to get across town or to outer borough neighborhoods. Pay with a MetroCard or exact change.


Yellow cabs are available for street hails in Manhattan and at taxi stands at transportation hubs. Other borough taxis must be called or booked via app.

Ride Share Services

Apps like Uber and Lyft operate throughout NYC. Prices surge during peak times but offer convenience.


The NYC ferry system connects Manhattan to Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. It’s a scenic way to commute with regular schedules and affordable tickets.

Citi Bike

NYC’s bike share has stations across Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Purchase a pass to rent bikes for quick trips.


Hoofing it is the best way to experience NYC neighborhoods! Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Pro tip: Purchase an unlimited MetroCard to save money if you’ll be using the subway/bus frequently. Also consider getting a CityPass which includes admission to top attractions.

New York City Accommodation

With hundreds of hotels across five boroughs, you have lodging options to fit any budget and style in New York City. Here are some top accommodation types:


Hotels range from budget chains like Holiday Inn Express to luxury brands like the Plaza and Four Seasons. Look in Midtown near attractions or quieter areas like the Upper West Side.


For solo travelers and youth, NYC hostels offer cheap dorms and private rooms. The best are located near subway lines for easy access.

Apartment Rentals

Rent an apartment through Airbnb or VRBO for more space and amenities. Consider locations in Brooklyn or the Upper West Side.

B&Bs and Inns

For a cozy, low-key vibe, stay at one of NYC’s many B&Bs or inns. The best are in charming areas like the West Village.

Pod Hotels

Pod hotels offer tiny, well-designed rooms with shared bathrooms at affordable rates. Great option for the solo traveler.

Wherever you stay, look for locations near subway stations for the easiest access to attractions. Reserving at least 6 months in advance can help secure the best rates and availability.

New York City Tips to Know Before You Go

With some insider knowledge, you can make the most of your first New York City trip:

Pack comfortable walking shoes.

NYC requires tons of walking. Leave heels and dress shoes at home and opt for supportive sneakers or flats instead.

Dress in layers.

NYC weather can quickly change from cold to hot and back again. Dress in layers so you can adjust your attire.

BYOB (bring your own bag).

Shops charge for plastic bags. Bring a reusable tote for souvenirs and purchases.

Get a MetroCard.

Purchase a refillable MetroCard to use on subways and buses. It’s the most affordable way to get around.

Timing is everything.

Avoid rush hour crowds by timing your attractions and restaurant visits for off-peak times when possible.

Make reservations.

Book tickets for attractions and make dinner reservations well in advance to ensure you get a spot.

Don’t stand still on escalators.

On busy subway escalators, stand to the right and walk on the left.

Watch for scams.

Avoid buying tickets from street vendors. Only buy from official sources and licensed agents.

Enjoy free attractions.

NYC offers many high-quality free museums, performances, and activities if you know where to look.

Talk to locals.

Locals can provide insider tips on attractions, restaurants, events, and more unique NYC experiences.

Start Planning Your New York City Adventure

From world famous sites to hidden local gems, New York City offers endless things to see, do, eat, and explore. Use this comprehensive city guide to start planning your own unforgettable NYC trip.

With the right New York City tips, New York City transportation knowledge, and New York City accommodation booked, you’re sure to make the most of your time in this incredible city. Use this list of the top New York City attractions and off-the-beaten-path finds to build your perfect NYC itinerary.

Whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth, New York City’s energy, diversity, and nonstop action will draw you in. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime exploring all the Big Apple has to offer from its top tourist sights to local favorites. What are you waiting for? Start planning your New York City adventure today!