Thinking about visiting New York City? Wondering where to start?
Personally, I think the best way to plan your trip is to find a good guidebook — something that fits your own interests, style and approach to travel — and use it to select a few “must-sees.” The recommended books, maps & more link below will show you some of the guidebooks I consider outstanding.
In addition, I suggest participating in a walking tour. All types of tours are available, and even a brief tour may add a great deal to your understanding of the city. A knowledgable guide can take you to out-of-the-way neighborhoods and offbeat attractions while providing a “behind the scenes” view of places and events that few tourists ever see.
Here are the top five things to keep in mind while you are here:
1. Beware of well-intentioned advice from people who don’t live or work here. Before you follow your friends’ suggestions, read a recent review to ensure that a visit is worth your time. Remember:
(a) Recommendations are like fish — they are only as good as they are fresh. The place your cousin loved when she was in New York five years ago may have closed, changed ownership, or lowered its quality.
(b) Some people have a limited frame of reference (that is, they don’t know any better). The eatery your neighbor raved about may be the best place he ever ate, but may very well be considered less-than-mediocre by New York standards.
2. Understand that even if you had unlimited time, it would be impossible to see and do everything. This is one of the world’s largest cities, with hundreds of neighborhoods and thousands of museums, galleries and historical landmarks, each with its own appeal. Since you can’t see it all, focus on seeing the things that are most important to you while remaining open to the serendipitous adventures that lie around every corner.
3. Remember that if you want to go somewhere by taxi, you need to be sure of your destination — otherwise, you might easily end up on the wrong side of town. Don’t blame the cabby; the “problem” is New York’s variety. Many cities have a Chinatown district; New York has three (located in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn). Many places have a zoo; New York has a collection of them including Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and the Bronx Zoo. In most places, you can tell the driver to take you to “the airport” or “the train station,” but we boast three international airports and two major train stations. Take a moment to check your map or guidebook before you jump into a taxi and you’ll avoid disappointment.
4. Take in at least one live event or performance. This is one of the most diverse and culturally rich cities in the world and home base to countless athletes, singers, actors, musicians, dancers, acrobats and artists. There are hundreds of theatres, galleries and concert halls, thousands of cafes, cabarets and nightclubs, and countless venues offering entertainment for every taste and budget.
5. Pack a comfortable pair of shoes. Even if you drive everywhere at home, be prepared to walk around New York. This is a city best seen on foot; sore feet and blisters can absolutely ruin your trip.
By the way, the links below are my own personal recommendations. I do not receive compensation when you click on them; I include them only because I enjoy them and believe that they are worthy of your consideration.
- Recommended Books, Maps & More
- Recommended Tour Groups & Guides
- Recommended Tourism Web Sites
- Recommended Budget Hotels (Cheap But Not Sleazy)