Planning a visit to NYC? Here’s advice with our New York City local guide!
New York City “Center of the Universe” as stated by Angel in the musical Rent.
It’s extremely hard to argue that point, even when traveling the world. We’ve been on the road on and off the for the last 3 years and have visited more than 30 countries and spoken with hundreds if not thousands of different people. One thing we can all agree on is this fact alone if you’ve been to New York, you feel as though there is no other place on earth quite like it. It’s taken forever for us to actually write anything about this place because in all honesty the things closest to home we seem to take for granted!
Where else can you find a place where you can practically walk down a street and hear almost any language from around the world? Grab a bite to eat whether it’s Italian, Mongolian, Afghani, or Haitian food – you’ll always be able to find something to your liking. Maybe you’re working crazy hours and need to find a 24-hour spa…maybe you’re a party animal and you’d like to find parties that go all day and night…or maybe you’re visiting with your family and you all want to do different things one day and you’re all on different budgets, that’s ok since this city has places to see, eat, and play for all varieties of the budget. If you’ve found another city around this wonderful place we call Earth that’s better than this city, we want to know about it!
Getting around New York City
While it sounds like their may be one set way to get around, ask any New Yorker and they’ll tell you that’s just not true. Some days the subway is your best bet, the next day a taxi is the solution, or maybe the weather is good, in which case biking is always the fastest way to get around.
Subway - While it may not always be the most reliable and most satisfying means of transportation, it usually always get the job done for the best price. When working properly which it never is due to malfunction or construction, the subway will take you from point a to b faster than any other form of transport in the city. The fare is $2.75 per ride or $32.00 for a weekly pass, as of 2018
Uber/Lyft/Juno - Ride-sharing apps are the biggest things going in the city at the moment, and all of which are competing to keep the lowest fares for riders and best pay for the drivers. Try downloading and circulating through all of them so you can find out which offers the best price for your fare as they’ll vary from each app and depend on your location and time of day. Download
Ferry - One of the hidden gems among New Yorkers! If you want an experience you’ll never forget, try taking the ferry between Greenpoint /Williamsburg to Mid Town Manhattan at night. Being between the two boroughs on the river with the cool air of the night blowing on your face and pulling up to skyscrapers is one to not be forgotten. The fare is $2.50 as of 2018
Bike - For the past 10 years, the city has continuously been adding more and more bike lanes around the city. Citi bikes are also available around almost every corner in Manhattan making it extremely fast and easy getting a bike for anyone. Check the pricing and guidelines!
What to do in New York City
Visit Central Park
One of the biggest treasures that’s taken for granted by most of the people who live in the city. Central Park is not only a thing of beauty, but a place where you can find clarity and calmness from the madness that’ll surround you 24/7, and sometimes make you feel like an empty ball pit of sadness. Here you can take a walk, run, rent a bike or boat, eat, lay, and in the winter months, you can even ice skate. Don’t expect to spend less than a few hours here taking in the 360-degree views of nature and the beautiful skyline of this wonderful city. List of events in the Park!
What we thought was gonna just be a normal trip to the top of the building totally caught us by surprise. They truly outdid themselves when it comes to the fastest elevator in the world. This 360-degree video display elevator in HD will take you through the beginning of NYC and all the way through a hyper-lapse of it’s being constructed to the world we live in today, leaving you in complete awe when you step out. Prices to go to the top of this masterpiece start at $34, but if it’s busy I recommend you save time and pay $10 extra to skip the line!…TRUST US, IT’S WORTH IT!
See a Broadway Show
How could you possibly pass up the opportunity of a lifetime to see a Broadway Show?! Around 100 different shows from Plays to Musicals and just about every type of hybrid show in between, you’ll find something that’s right for you!
Rush tickets are usually given away when the box office opens (usually around 10am) but there are very limited quantities. Generally, tickets are around $25-30, seated in the front row, single seats, or partial viewing depending on what show you’re trying to see.
Pro Tip: Don’t pay for full price for tickets to shows unless it’s absolutely necessary or you can afford to do so. Playbill.com has a complete list of Lotto and General Rush as well as Today Tix App and TKTS info. Also if you need show recommendations, Email us!
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
One of the best ways to observe the city in our opinion, it gives you the chance to take in Manhattan and Brooklyn all in one! With traffic flowing just beneath you and life happening all around you, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the charm of the city. Just be careful to always look over your shoulder as you don’t want to die from getting hit be a cyclist in a hurry from one borough to the other. Best thing about walking across the bridge is…IT’S FREE!!!
Top places to eat in New York City
Celeste- A Southern Italian delicacy nestled comfortably between 84th and 85th Street on Amsterdam Ave on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. This place has been a staple to the neighborhood that we’ve been frequenting for the past 12 years now and the prices are still one of the best you will find, as it’s still undervalued to the quality in which you’ll receive. It’s the petite size and dim lit setting with a brick oven that’ll give you all the Italian feels you will need during your dinner, as will the owner Carmine who walks through the entire meal to make sure everything is to your liking.
Recommended Dish: Tagliatelle Con Gamberi E Verza (Pasta w/ sheep's cheese, shrimp, cabbage, basil, and an array of mouthwatering flavor) & glass of Montelpuciano D’Abruzzo Price $17 USD for the dish and $10 glass of wine
Arrogant Swine - When you think of proper bbq spots in New York City, you don’t really hold it to the same standards as you would when you’re visiting the southern US. But here you actually can, Tyson Ho the owner of AG, brings you to Hog Heaven with his wood-pit-smoker in the backyard of the restaurant located in the Industrial area of East Williamsburg. For 4 years he’s been sending out some of New York ’s finest BBQ dishes: from Carolina whole hog, outside brown shoulder, pitmaster chicken wings, and waffle pressed mac n cheese among many other items. To top it off they’ve always got a rotation of 15 different craft beers on draught, several cocktails, and a whiskey library that could keep you trying a new one every day for a year. View the full menu here
Recommended Dish: East Carolina Whole Hog (entire pig slow smoked over hardwood embers. Pulled, chopped and seasoned with vinegar pepper sauce) comes with slaw & cornbread. Price $15 USD and $7 pint of beer
Saxon and Parole - This Bowery delight has had me raving ever since we stepped foot in here for the first time this year. With a small but extremely unique menu filled with a high quality seafood tower to share for starters, all natural grass-fed 10 oz steak, and if you’re heading out with a group of friends try the Whole Cow! (5 cuts, 3 ages, 4 breeds, 2 feeds with sides + sauces) in your own private room for $360. Make it in for brunch Sunday and drink up on the Bloody Mary bar!
Recommended Dish: 8 oz. Hanger Steak w/ French Onion Twice Cooked Potato, Grilled Corn, Gruyere, Brie, Chives. $45 USD
Frying Pan - To the many people who’ve only viewed this place from the outside, it’ll look as though it's only built for the wealthy or it may as well be an invite only. But if you’re 21+ and are looking to take in the wonderful views of NYC from the Hudson River, then you need to give this place a try. The Frying Pan is a seasonal outdoor site at Pier 66 within Hudson River Park on an old railroad barge. It works cape cod style, as you’ll walk up to the counter and order your food and drinks and take a number and wait for your buzzer to go off. Given its location in midtown and being on the water you’d expect the prices to be a lot higher than they are.
Recommended Dish: For $16 you can enjoy a generous portion of fish n’ chips and a rotating board of draft beers for $8.
Best Iced Coffee in New York City
Sweetleaf - This is hands down the best place to get your fixing if you want something different, unique, and packing a powerful caffeine rush. They offer a drink called “Rocket fuel” which will blow your mind with it’s cold-brew base, chicory blended Louisiana style boldness, maple syrup, and milk. We promise, you won’t find another coffee in New York City like this one. Sure you’ll find the same recipes at different places, but this is the end all be all. Check out the location in Long Island City or GreenPoint!
Cobra Club - One of the most interesting places you’ll find in Bushwick as it offers a morning time coffee and donut set up, with kid yoga in the back, and acts as a music venue and dive bar at night. They really out did themselves when it comes to the Iced Coffee game though, with a large iced coffee costing you about $5, you’ll find yourself wired and sipping on it all day.
Blue Bottle Coffee - Also one of the best Louisiana-Style Iced Coffees you’ll find in the city. With locations in both Manhattan and Brooklyn you’re sure to find one to grab a cup. Best of all if you find yourself bragging about this drink, you can buy one of the pre-made cartons to take home and share with your friends and family!
Look for our full list of 51 coffee shops to try in NYC before you die! Coming February 2019
Where to stay in New York City
Budget - Pod Brooklyn Hotel Situated right in the middle of hipster central is where you’ll find this wonderful “budget hotel”. We have to use the term loosely because let’s face it, it’s NYC and budget still means it’s gonna run you $70 for a night. But nothing can compare to this price when it comes to location, vibe, and views of manhattan.
Mid-range - The Row A nice place to stay on 45th St and 8th ave in Manhattan. The rooms are clean, spacious, and modern. The hotel typically run specials or deals for free drinks/food for tourists, and it’s close enough to all the touristy things so it’s hard to get lost.
Pro Tip: check in process can be lengthy, so do yourselves a favor and check in online.
Luxury - Gansevoort Meatpacking District A modern and sleek hotel that’s placed in the middle of everything in the meatpacking district! If you come here during high season in the summer you’ll find the street flooded with chic and wealthy youngsters shopping and going to brunch. If you’ve got the money to splurge with, then this is the hotel for you! The rooms are gorgeous…all with windows overlooking the Meatpacking district below and some even out to the Hudson. The hotel comes equipped with a luxurious spa on the ground level and a VIP rooftop for those who want to feel the exclusivity and feeling that New Yorker VIP for a second. Don’t be fooled however these rooms come with the minimum tag of $500/night…but it’s well worth it!
Money Saving Tips
Take public transportation or better yet walk everywhere.
Don’t stay in the tourist traps like Midtown
If you drink, look up happy hours on one of the many happy hour NYC apps.
Make egg and cheese bodega sandwiches your go to breakfast.
If you want to eat out at nice places, eat lunch instead! We have very good lunch specials.
Come to the city with a friend and split costs of the room.
Rainy Day in New York City
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Open seven days a week with a General admission $25 for adults. It’s pay as you wish for NY residents and NY, NJ, CT students. They also offer free entry Fridays from 4:00 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Though we managed to enjoy this stunning museum for under a $1, even if we had to pay $25 it would be absolutely worth it! The museum is huge and you can easily spend a day there. If you are craving for some open air during your museum tour, take advantage of the terrace with a beautiful view of NYC.
Inna: This one of the best things I did when visiting NYC as a tourist, the atmosphere is just indescribable by words, the exhibits are unique – it’s one of the must-visit museums in the world!
American Museum of Natural History
Did you want to see a skeleton of a real dinosaur? Great, Tyrannosaurus rex is on display in the largest natural history museum in the world! You will see other dinosaurs too, of course, and huge marine creatures. You know what is the best about it? Pay-what-you-wish admission is applicable at ticket counters, where the amount you pay is up to you. If you wish to pay full price, the recommended general admission is $23 for adults.
IMAX theatre Lincoln Center - If you’ve got the time and resources to make your way to this part of the city, and the right movie is playing in IMAX, then this place is a no-brainer. With a state of the art 70 foot screen and an intense Dolby sound system, you’ll find yourself transported into what ever 3d world you paid to see. $26.50 per ticket but well worth it.
Gutter Bowling Alley in Brooklyn - One of the best places you can go for a happy hour with friends and enjoy a couple games of bowling without breaking the bank. Tucked away on North 14th St in Williamsburg, Brooklyn you’ll find this vintage bowling alley with $12 pitchers during happy hour and $40 an hour lane rentals Monday - Thursday. Best of all it’s open til 4 a.m.
Pro Tip: Make sure you take a look at the events page on The Gutters website. As sometimes they’ve got bands playing here and it can fill up and get extremely busy and loud.