New York City
Table of Contents
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Newark Liberty International Airport
To/from New Jersey
To/from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC
To/from other locations
Public Transit – Buses and Subways
Types of MetroCards
Important lines in Manhattan
By Commuter Rail
Points of entry
Rush hour traffic
Traveling with a commercial vehicle
Street Parking – Rules and penalties for violation
Important Rules While Driving
Museums and galleries
Arts and culture
Science and technology
Shopping in airports
Delis & Street Food
Do It Yourself
Alternatives to Manhattan accommodations
Long Island City, Queens
Staying with locals
is an enormous city. Each of its five boroughs is the equivalent of a large city in its own right and may itself be divided into districts. These borough and district articles contain sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all. New York City (also referred to as “New York”, “NYC”, “The Big Apple”, or just “the City” by locals), is the most populous city in the United States. It lies at the mouth of the Hudson River in the southernmost part of the state, which is part of the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The city spans a land area of 305 square miles (790 km2). New York City has a population of approximately 8.2 million people. The New York Metropolitan Area, which spans lower New York, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut, has a population of 18.7 million, making it the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. As of 2007, it was 5th in the world, after Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Seoul. New York City is a center for media, culture, food, fashion, art, research, finance, and trade. It has one of the largest and most famous skylines on earth, dominated by the iconic Empire State Building.
New York City consists of five boroughs, which are five separate counties. Each borough has a unique culture and could be a large city in its own right. Within each borough individual neighborhoods, some only a few blocks in size, have personalities lauded in music and film. Where you live, work, and play in New York says something to New Yorkers about who you are. The five New York boroughs are:
New York City is one of the global centers of international finance, politics, communications, film, music, fashion, and culture, and is among the world’s most important and influential cities. It is home to many world-class museums, art galleries, and theaters. Many of the world’s largest corporations have their headquarters here. The headquarters of the United Nations is in New York and most countries have a consulate here. This city’s influence on the globe, and all its inhabitants, is hard to overstate, as decisions made within its boundaries often have impacts and ramifications across the world. Immigrants (and their descendants) from over 180 countries live here, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Travelers are attracted to New York City for its culture, energy and cosmopolitanism. English is the primary language spoken by most New Yorkers although in many communities it is common to hear other languages that are generally widely understood. In many neighborhoods, there is a large Latino/Hispanic population, and many New Yorkers speak Spanish. There are also many neighborhoods throughout the city that have a high concentration of Chinese immigrants where Mandarin or Cantonese may be useful. In some of these neighborhoods, some locals may not speak very good English, but store owners and those who would deal frequently with tourists or visitors all will speak English.
At the center of New York City is the borough of Manhattan, a long, narrow island nestled in a natural harbor. It is separated from The Bronx on the north east by the Harlem River (actually a tidal strait); from Queens and Brooklyn to the east and south by the East River (also a tidal strait); and from the State of New Jersey to the west and north by the Hudson River. Staten Island lies to the south west, across Upper New York Bay. In Manhattan, the terms “uptown” and “north” mean in the direction of the Bronx, northeast on the compass, while “downtown” and “south” mean in the direction of the Battery, to the southwest. To avoid confusion, simply use “uptown” and “downtown.” Street numbers continue from Manhattan into the Bronx, and the street numbers rise as one moves farther north (however, in the Bronx, there is no simple numerical grid, so there may be 7 blocks between 167 St. and 170 St., for example). Avenues run north and south. In Brooklyn, however, the opposite is true, as street numbers rise as one moves toward the south. Queens streets are laid out in a perpendicular grid – street numbers rise as one moves toward the east, and avenues run east and west. To make matters more complicated, Staten Island has no street numbers at all. The term “the city” may refer either to New York City as a whole, or to the borough of Manhattan alone, depending on the context. The other boroughs, which are Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens, are sometimes referred to as “the outer boroughs.”
New York City has a humid continental climate and experiences all four seasons, with hot and humid summers (Jun-Sept), cool and dry autumns (Sep-Dec), cold winters (Dec-Mar), and wet springs (Mar-Jun). Average highs for January are around 38°F (3°C) and average highs for July are about 84°F (29°C). However, temperatures in the winter can go down to as low as 0°F (-18°C) and in the summer, temperatures can go as high as 100°F (38°C) or slightly higher. The temperature in any season is quite variable and it is not unusual to have a sunny 60°F (16°C) day in January followed by a snowy 25°F (-3°C) day. New York can also be prone to snowstorms and nor’easters (large storms similar to a tropical storm), which can dump as much as 2 feet (60 cm) of snow in 24-48 hours. However snow rarely lies more than a few days. Tropical storms can also hit New York City in the summer and early fall.
The diverse population runs the gamut from some of America’s wealthiest celebrities and socialites to homeless people. There are hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the city. New York’s population has been diverse since the city’s founding by the Dutch. Successive waves of immigration from virtually every nation in the world make New York a giant social experiment in cross-cultural harmony. The city’s ethnic heritage illuminates different neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. In Manhattan, Little Italy remains an operating (if touristy and increasingly Chinese) Italian enclave, though many New Yorkers consider Arthur Avenue in the Bronx and the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bensonhurst to be the “real” Little Italy (Italian is the main foreign language spoken in this section of Brooklyn). Manhattan’s Chinatown remains a vibrant center of New York City’s Chinese community, though in recent years the very large Chinese community in Flushing, Queens, has rivaled if not eclipsed it in importance, and three other Chinatowns have formed in New York City: the Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park; the Elmhurst Chinatown in Queens; and the Avenue U Chinatown located in the Homecrest section of Brooklyn. Traces of the Lower East Side’s once-thriving Jewish community still exist amid the newly-gentrified neighborhood’s trendy restaurants and bars, but there are Chassidic communities in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Harlem has been gentrifying and diversifying and remains a center of African-American culture in New York. East (Spanish) Harlem still justifies its reputation as a large Hispanic neighborhood. Little known to most tourists are the large Dominican neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. Brooklyn’s Greenpoint is famous for its large and vibrant Polish community. Queens and Brooklyn are known for being home to many of New York’s more recent immigrant groups, which since 1990 have included large numbers of Russians, Uzbeks, Chinese, French, Yugoslavians, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Africans, Arabs (from throughout the Middle East and northern Africa), Mexicans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Brazilians, Colombians and Jamaicans.
New York City is home to 46 Fortune 500 companies. Its 2009 gross metropolitan product of $1.265 trillion was the largest of any American city and represented approximately 9% of the American economy. If it were a nation, the city would have the 16th-highest GDP in the world. New York is the national center for several industries. It is the home of the three largest U.S. stock exchanges (NYSE, NASDAQ, and AMEX) and many banking and investment firms. Though these companies have traditionally been located in the area around Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, many have offices in other parts of the city. New York is the hub of the country’s publishing, fashion, accounting, advertising, media, and legal industries. The city boasts several top-tier hospitals and medical schools, which train more physicians than those in any other city in the world.
New York City ( for all airports) is well connected by air with flights from almost every corner of the world. Three large airports, and several small ones, serve the region. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) are large international airports, while LaGuardia Airport (LGA) is a busy domestic airport. All three airports are run by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey . Teterboro Airport(ICAO: KTEB) is popular for general aviation and business jet travelers out of New York City. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Jetset Charter fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstream’s down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals.
Bus/Subway – Connections between airports using the bus/subway/PATH trains are the cheapest option, but will require many transfers. Set aside a minimum of 2 hours for travel time.
New York Airport Shuttle – runs buses between LGA and JFK. The buses depart JFK every 30 minutes from 6:30AM-8PM and depart LGA every 30 minutes from 7:30AM-8PM. The trip costs $13 each way and takes 60 minutes with normal traffic.
ETS Air Shuttle – runs very infrequent shared ride van service between LGA and EWR for $32. The rides cost $10 between LGA and JFK, $32 between EWR and LGA and $29 between JFK and EWR.
All County Express – runs very infrequent shared ride van ervice between all LGA and EWR for $32.
Taxis – the fastest option when changing airports. A taxi between JFK and LGA will cost about $25-29 and should take 30 minutes. A taxi between LGA and EWR will cost about $78 + tolls and should take 60-75 minutes. A taxi between JFK and EWR will cost about $85 + tolls and should take 60-75 minutes.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport () is in the borough of Queens. There are 8 terminals that are not so close to each other, so it is important to take note which terminal your flight leaves from. The free AirTrain connects the terminals. Many international airlines including Air France and Lufthansa (Terminal 1), British Airways and Iberia (Terminal 7), and Virgin Atlantic (Terminal 4) fly into JFK and it is a major international hub for Delta Air Lines (Terminals 2 and 3) and American Airlines (Terminal 8). JetBlue, a large low-cost carrier, operates to/from Terminal 5. It is very painful both to land and depart from JFK, as there is fierce competition for the runways. If possible, do not connect using JFK, especially when switching terminals. If you must connect via JFK, make sure you have sufficient time. For flights from domestic (US and Canada) to JFK to domestic, 2-3 hours. For domestic to JFK to international, 3-4 hours. For international to JFK to domestic, 3-5 hours. For international to JFK to international, 3-6 hours and try to change your flights. Left luggage services are available in the arrivals areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 and cost $4-16 per bag per day, depending on size. There are plenty of ATMs, but almost all charge a $2-3 fee per withdrawal. Luggage trolleys are available either for a fee of $3 in Terminals 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 or free in Terminals 1 and 4. There are many hotels of all service levels close to the airport and most run shuttle buses to/from the airport. To travel between the city and JFK:
MTA NYC Bus – costing $2.25 (with MetroCard, $2.50 single-ride ticket), these are the cheapest methods of transport, although the slowest to Manhattan. The buses depart from Terminal 4. These buses have little room for luggage and go to non-touristy neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn. However, they offer connections to the subway and Long Island Railroad. Note that free transfers between bus and subway are available only with a MetroCard; the single ride ticket does not allow free transfers. Coins are needed to board the buses without a MetroCard. Metrocards are sold at Hudson Newsstands in Terminals 1 and 6. If the newsstands are closed and you would like to spend 30 minutes to save $2.50, take the Airtrain to the Howard Beach Station where you can buy a multiple ride Metrocard from the vending machines without leaving the station (free). Then take the Airtrain back to Terminal 4, where the buses are easiest to catch (on the right side of Terminal 4 when facing). The Q10 and B15 also stop at the Lefferts Boulevard AirTrain station, but are a little more difficult to figure out. Bus to subway/LIRR transfers include:
* Q10 to:
** Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd (20 minutes): “A” Train – the subway connection closest to the airport
** Jamaica Ave & Lefferts Blvd: “J” & “Z” Trains (walk 3 blocks east to 121st st Jamaica Ave Station)
** Kew Gardens (30 minutes): Transfer here to the Long Island Railroad (Austin Street Station) with service to Penn Station ($6.50 peak, $4.50 off-peak, $3.75 weekend with CityTicket), Brooklyn, and Long Island. While this option is cheaper than taking the AirTrain to Jamaica and connecting there to the LIRR, LIRR service from here is much less frequent than LIRR service from Jamaica.
** Kew Gardens-80 Road-Union Turnpike (Last Stop) (35 minutes): “E” & “F” Trains. During rush hours, from this stop, you can take express buses X63, X64, X68, QM18, and QM21 to Manhattan. While these routes are slower and more expensive than taking the subway, they do offer a ride on cloth seats without the crowding. Ask where the bus stops are located. $5.50, but it is $3.25 if you transfer from the Q10 bus and pay for both with a MetroCard.
* Q3 to:
** Jamaica-179th Street (45 minutes): “F” Train
* B15 to:
** Ashford Street & New Lots Avenue (30 minutes): “3” Train
** Van Sinderen Ave & New Lots Avenue (35 minutes): “L” Train
** Fulton Street & Kingston-Throop Avenues (60 minutes): “C” Train
** Flushing Ave.: “J” Train all times except weekdays 7AM-1PM towards Manhattan & 1PM-8PM away from Manhattan, “M” Train weekdays (at Broadway)
JFK AirTrain – stops at each terminal, costing $5. Runs service to Howard Beach Station to connect with the “A” Train to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, and Jamaica Station to connect with the “E” Train to Queens and Lower Manhattan, the “J/Z” Train, and the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station ($3.75 weekend with CityTicket, $5.75 weekday off-peak, $8 peak times), Brooklyn, or Long Island. Elevators are available at Jamaica and Penn Stations. Total time to Manhattan using the subway is 60 minutes; using the Long Island Railroad is 45 minutes. This is sometimes faster than taking a taxi. If you do go to Jamaica and want to reach downtown, the J/Z run above ground over a scenic route passing over the Williamsburg Bridge albeit through some rough neighborhoods, are marginally faster than the E and can be much less crowded during peak times than the E. During AM rush towards Manhattan and PM rush away from it, the J and Z do skip-stop service, meaning that some stations are J-only and Z-only. Keep this in mind if you are waiting at one of those stations. If returning to the airport on the “A” train, make sure the destination signs read Far Rockaway or Rockaway Park. Trains to Lefferts Blvd. do not connect to the airport! If you board the wrong train, transfer at any station at or before Rockaway Blvd. If you forget and overshoot, go to the end of the line and either backtrack or take the Q10 bus directly to the airport. As with the “J” and “Z” trains, when taking the “A” train during the overnight hours be alert of your surroundings as the train passes through some rough neighborhoods.
New York City Airporter Bus – provides services to/from Grand Central Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal for $12.75 one-way, $22 roundtrip. Buses depart every 15-30 minutes and the trip takes 60-95 minutes.
New York Airport Express Bus – provides services to/from Grand Central Station, Penn Station, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal for $15 one-way, $27 round-trip. 60-95 minutes.
SuperShuttle – blue vans provide door-to-door service to Manhattan hotels for about $25.
Go Airlink Shuttle – Shared van service top/from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Grand Central Station, Penn Station, and some midtown hotels for $17-20. 10% discount for online booking.
Taxi – The most flexible route into the city from JFK is a taxi, although the wait for one can be long when many flights arrive simultaneously. Taxi fare runs a flat $45 to anywhere in Manhattan, not including tolls (up to $5.50) or tips. Taxis to points other than Manhattan and taxis to the airport from anywhere use the meter (see taxis in Getting Around). During peak periods, you may have to wait up to 30 minutes for a taxi. The arrivals terminals are filled with drivers hawking illegal livery rides – if you want to take one of these, be sure to negotiate the fare in advance and make sure that it is cheaper than the taxi fare noted above. This also saves the wait in the taxi line.
Car Service/Limousines – An alternative to taxis, car services are useful for getting to the airport from the outer boroughs where taxis are harder to find, or if you prefer to have transportation reserved in advance. Typically $60+ between JFK and Manhattan.
Newark Liberty International Airport
Newark Liberty International Airport, 1-800-EWR-INFO, () is located to the west of the city in Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey. The airport has three terminals labeled A, B, C. Terminal C is the home of Continental Airlines which has a major hub at Newark. Most other international airlines use Terminal B while domestic flights are from Terminal A but there are exceptions, so check your terminal before you head for the airport. To travel between the city and EWR:
New Jersey Transit Bus #62 – The most inexpensive option, New Jersey Transit bus #62 runs from in front of the airport terminals to Newark Penn Station (one-way fare $1.50; exact change only; 25 minutes). From there, you may take a PATH subway train ($1.75) either to World Trade Center station in lower Manhattan (25 minutes), or, to Journal Square, where you can transfer to the Journal Square-33rd Street train across the platform, which runs to the following stops along 6th Avenue: Christopher St in Greenwich Village, 9th St, 14th St, 23rd St, and 33rd St. Plan on 90 minutes including waiting times. As a word of caution, note that this is not a well-publicized option; you may well find yourself to be the only tourist on the bus, so don’t expect much help or companionship in finding your way.
Newark Airport Express Bus – ($15 one way, $25 round-trip) runs every 15 minutes to 42nd street in Manhattan. The trip takes about 40 minutes depending on traffic.
AirTrain Newark – easily accessed from the airport terminals via elevator/escalators and runs 24-hour service to the Newark Airport Rail Station, 10 minutes away, costing $5.50. From here you can take a NJ Transit train ($12.50, 30-minute ride, every 15-30 minutes) to New York Penn Station (34th St & 8th Ave in Manhattan) or Amtrak train to other destinations along the east coast. Amtrak also runs trains to Manhattan, but they cost $20-$30. NJ Transit tickets are not valid on Amtrak trains. NJ Transit trains stop at both Penn Station in Newark and at Penn Station in New York, so if traveling to Manhattan, stay on till the second Penn Station, in New York.
Supershuttle – Country-wide, shared van door-to-door service. $19 to Manhattan.
Go Airlink Shuttle – Shared van door-to-door service. $18 to Manhattan. 10% discount for online purchase.
Taxis – Travelers from EWR to New York City are charged a flat rate based on the destination (the dispatcher will note the fare and destination on the taxi form). The fare to most parts of Manhattan is $50-70. Tips and round trips tolls ($8 to/from Manhattan) are extra. You may also pay a ~$2 toll if the driver uses the New Jersey Turnpike. A $5 surcharge is added for trips to to New York, except Staten Island, during weekday rush hours or weekend afternoons. There is also a 10% discount for people above age 62.
Private Car Service – An alternative to taxis, car services are useful for getting to the airport from the outer boroughs where taxis are harder to find, or if you prefer to have transportation reserved in advance. Typically $50 between EWR and Manhattan, $70-80 to/from Brooklyn. The 3 most common are:
* LimoRes Airport Car Service
* Dial7 (formerly Tel-Aviv)
LaGuardia Airport () is the smallest of the New York Metropolitan Area’s three major airports. As a result of certain regulations, almost all direct flights from LGA are to destinations with 1,500 miles. Almost all flights are domestic; however, there are international flights from LGA to Canada, Aruba, the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Marine Air Terminal, currently used by Delta Airlines for services to Washington D.C. and Boston, is one of the oldest, still-in-use, airport terminals in the world. In 2009, LGA ranked last among major U.S. airports in both on-time arrivals and customer satisfaction. To travel between the city and LGA:
Metrobus – costing $2.25, this is the cheapest, method of transport, although the slowest to Manhattan. The buses have little room for luggage. However, they offer connections to the subway and Long Island Railroad. Note that free transfers between bus and subway are available only with a MetroCard; the single ride ticket does not allow free transfers. Coins are needed to board the buses without a MetroCard. There is a change machine in the airport terminal and MetroCards can be bought in the airport at Hudson News. The MetroCard vending machine at the airport does not accept cash. Bus to subway/LIRR transfers include:
* M60 , particularly useful if you are staying in Harlem, the Upper West Side or Hostelling International New York, to:
** Astoria Blvd (15-25 minutes): “N” and “Q” Trains (weekdays only)
** 125th St & Lexington Ave (30 minutes): “4”, “5”, “6” Trains & Metro-North Railroad Service
** 125th St & Lenox Ave./Malcolm X Blvd (30 minutes): “2” & “3” Trains
** 125th St & 8th Ave./St. Nicholas Ave (35 minutes): “A”, “B” (weekdays only), “C”, and “D” Trains
** 116th St & Broadway (40 minutes): “1” Train
* Q33 or Metrobus Q47 to:
** Roosevelt Ave./Jackson Heights (20 minutes): “E”, “F”, “M”, “R”, and “7” Trains
* Q48 to:
** Mets-Willett Point (20 minutes): Long Island Railroad & “7” Trains
New York Airport Express Bus – runs buses to Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station for $12. The buses operate every 15 minutes.
Go Airlink Shuttle – Shared van door-to-door service. $16 to Manhattan. 10% discount for online purchase.
Taxi – Taxis cost $21-30 to/from Manhattan plus tips, tolls, a $0.50 tax to NY, and a $1 surcharge during rush hour. You can save on tolls by asking the driver to use Queensboro Bridge for points midtown and on the Upper East Side, the Williamsburg Bridge for the Village and downtown, or Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges for points downtown. If going above 72nd Street, it is better to pay the toll ($5.50) and take the RFK Bridge (formerly called the Triboro) into Manhattan.
Private Car Service – An alternative to taxis, car services are useful for getting to the airport from the outer boroughs where taxis are harder to find, or if you prefer to have transportation reserved in advance. Typically $40+ between LGA and Manhattan. The 4 most common are:
* LimoRes Airport Car Service
* Carroll Transportation .
Long Island MacArthur Airport (Islip Airport) () is located in Ronkonkoma (Town of Islip) on Long Island. The airport is served by Southwest Airlines, a major discount carrier in the US. US Airways has a minor presence at the airport. To travel between the city and ISP:
A shuttle bus (10 minutes, $5) operates between the ISP and the Ronkonkoma Long Island Railroad station. From there, you can take a train to Penn Station in Manhattan. (1.5 hours, $11.75). The Long Island Railroad offers a discount package for MacArthur Airport travelers on its website
Hampton Jitney operates bus services from Ronkonkoma to Manhattan costing $25; the bus stop is a short cab ride away from ISP. .
Westchester County Airport () , near the town of White Plains, is served by 7 airlines. To travel between the city and HPN:
Beeline Bus #12 (fare $2.25; call 914-813-7777 for details) operates service to/from the White Plains Metro-North station. From there, you can take a Metro-North train ($6.25 off-peak and $8.50 peak) to any of various points in the Bronx, or 125th St/Park Ave and Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. Trains run roughly every half hour for most of the day and take approximately 40 minutes.
Stewart International Airport () To travel between the city and SWF:
A shuttle bus connects the SWF with the Beacon Metro North Train Staion. From there, you can take a train into Grand Central Station in Manhattan.
Teterboro Airport (), in Teterboro, New Jersey, is used primarily for general aviation and receives no commercial flights.
Amtrak, +1 800-USA-RAIL (+1 800-872-7245), , operates from New York Penn Station, directly under Madison Square Garden, on 34th St between 7th & 8th Aves. Popular trains leaving during rush hours can fill up quickly; it is a good idea to make reservations online , or via phone, and pick up your ticket using a credit card or your confirmation number at one of the electronic kiosks located throughout the station. On some of the non-business routes, for example New York to Montreal, Amtrak actually takes more time and costs more money than taking the bus or renting a car. Check and compare schedules and prices before booking. Amtrak’s Acela express train provides regular fast commuter service between major points along the east coast such as Washington, D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Haven, and Providence. Amtrak services are also available to points along the East Coast down to Florida, to points between New York and Chicago, including Pittsburgh and Cleveland), to New York state including Albany, Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and to Toronto and Montreal in Canada. Service to California takes 3 days and requires a change of train in Chicago. Amtrak’s ClubAcela , located near the big security desk in Penn Station, offers complimentary drinks, wi-fi access, newspapers and magazines, and clean bathrooms. Access to the club is granted to travelers with sleeper tickets, First Class Acela tickets, Amtrak GuestRewards SelectPlus membership, or Continental Airlines BusinessFirst tickets for same-day travel, and Continental Airlines President’s Club members..
New York City is served by three commuter railroads.
Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) operates between New York Penn Station and Long Island with New York City stops at Jamaica Station, Long Island City, and Hunters Point in Queens as well as Atlantic Terminal station in Brooklyn. LIRR tickets can be purchased online or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
Metro-North Rail Road (Metro North) operates between Grand Central Terminal and points north and east of the city all the way to Connecticut. Trains also stop at the Harlem station on 125th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan. The New Haven line serves cities along the coast with branch lines to Danbury and Waterbury. The Hudson Line serves points along the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie. The Harlem Line serves Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties to Pawling and Wassaic. At New Haven, passengers may transfer to Amtrak or to the Shore Line East providing local service between New Haven and New London, Connecticut. Metro North tickets can be purchased online or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
New Jersey Transit operates between New York Penn Station and points in New Jersey. The Northeast corridor line goes to Princeton and Trenton. Services are also available for points along the Jersey Coast and, with a transfer in Secaucus, to points north of the city (in New Jersey and New York State west of the Hudson). Connecting service is available from Trenton to Philadelphia via SEPTA or to Camden (New Jersey) via RiverLINE. Connecting service to Newark Liberty International Airport is available from some Northeast corridor trains. NJ Transit tickets can be purchased online or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) is a subway type system connecting New York City to Hoboken, Newark, and various points on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River. Two lines pass under the Hudson and enter the city, one terminating near the World Trade Center site downtown, the other at 33rd Street in midtown (see map). Note the PATH station at 33rd Street is not connected to, nor part of Penn Station. PATH train fares are $1.75 per trip. An RFID-type stored value card known as the Smartlink affords PATH users discounts: $13 for 10 trips; $26 for 20 trips. However, the card itself must be purchased ($5, $18 including 10 trips). Fortunately, the PATH system accepts the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard (but not Unlimited Ride MetroCard). For the visitor traveling from New Jersey daily, it is more convenient and possibly cheaper to purchase the MetroCard to travel on both the PATH and the MTA systems. However remember there is no free MetroCard transfer between PATH and MTA subways/buses.
Some buses offer wi-fi, outlets and even business-class style luxury. Buses serve New Jersey, New York suburbs west of the Hudson River, and all cities along the east coast of the U.S. Additionally, be aware that with private buses in New York City “you get what you pay for.” Most buses are safe, however, bus companies that are offering very low fares often are riskier in that their drivers are not as cautious on the roads and often speed. Also, the level of service is frequently somewhat less. If you have to transfer between buses using these discount buses for example, their drivers may speak limited English and be less able to assist you in making the transfer. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but it is a consideration of which travelers should be aware when choosing a bus company.
To/from New Jersey
New Jersey Transit operates service between destinations in New Jersey and Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Ave & 42nd St.
Also see BoltBus, Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan serving other locations. The trip between Boston and New York takes about 4.5 hours.
Boston Deluxe , connects Chinatown to Boston and Hartford. Weekend service. $15.
Fung Wah Bus granddaddy of all Chinatown buses, with service to and from Boston at the corner of Canal and Chrystie Streets. $15. At least hourly 7AM-11PM”, additional weekend service.
Limoliner from Boston with on board attendant, food service, wifi, wide seats.
Lucky Star runs from Boston to their Chinatown office at least hourly 6AM-11PM and at 2AM. Wifi on some buses. From $1 online, $15 walk-up.
To/from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC
Also see BoltBus, Greyhound, and Megabus serving other locations.
Apex Bus – service to/from Washington D.C. ($20), Philadelphia ($10), Richmond ($40) and Atlanta ($105) among others.
DC2NY service to/from Washington DC. Wifi.
Eastern Travel – several buses a day to Chinatown and/or Penn Station. Wifi on some buses. Partner with Megabus on some services.
New Century Travel – at least seven daily buses from Philadelphia and Washington D.C. ($20).
MVP Bus – service to/from Baltimore and Washington D.C.
The Know It Express – service between Atlantic Ave-Pacific Street subway station in Brooklyn and Washington DC.
Tripper Bus – service to/from Bethesda, MD; Arlington (Rosslyn), VA. Pickup location is at 7th Ave. & 34th st. at Penn Station & Madison Square Garden. From $1 online.
Vamoose Bus – service between New York City Penn Station (7th Ave & W 30th St) and Bethesda, MD; Arlington, VA & Lorton, VA. Fares start at $30 each way.
Washington Deluxe service to/from Washington DC. Wifi. From Washington D.C. ($21) some to Brooklyn.
To/from other locations
BoltBus offers service from Boston, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia; fares start at $1 online, closer to the date they typically cost around $20. Wifi, electrical outlets. Buses to D.C. stop at 33rd Street & 7th Avenue as well as Canal Street & 6th Avenue. Buses to Philadelphia stop at Canal Street & 6th Avenue as well as 34th Street & 8th Avenue.
Greyhound offer connections across North America and internet-only bargain fares to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue & 42nd Street. Wifi, electrical outlets and the works on some buses.
Megabus frequent service from Boston, Buffalo, New York State, Toronto, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. Most buses arrive on the west side of 7th Avenue just south of 28th Street and depart from the west side of 9th Avenue just north of 31st Street. Atlantic City services arrive and depart at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue & 42nd Street. Wifi-electrical outlets. From $1 online. Cash-less pre-booking only online or by phone.
NeOn is a service operated by Greyhound and partners to Toronto, buses run to the New Yorker Hotel on 8th Avenue and 34th Street from the Royal York Hotel in Toronto and stops across New York state. Wifi, electrical outlets. Fares start at $1 if booked several months in advance, closer to the date they more typically cost around $50.
Peter Pan Bus Company operates between cities in the Northeast U.S. and the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue & 42nd Street.
Today Bus, Everyday Bus, and Tiger Bus All three operate from Chinatown in Manhattan non-stop to Virginia Beach/Norfolk Virginia (approx 6 hours; the first two go to Norfolk, while the third goes to Virginia Beach, the next town over). Price varies, but is generally around $60 round-trip or $35 one way.
New York City has always been one of the world’s most important passenger sea ports, and arriving by ocean liner or cruise ship still remains an extraordinary and stylish method of arrival. In addition to passenger service from the Cunard Line, many cruise ships start or end their voyages in New York City.
The Cunard Line operates regularly scheduled passenger service between the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and Southampton, England as well as Hamburg, Germany aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2, the grandest, largest ocean liner ever built. The trip takes 6-7 days and costs $800-$6,000 depending on the cabin and season.
Note that, due to security concerns, there are very few left luggage, storage lockers, or coatcheck service at any New York train station. This includes Penn and Grand Central stations; however the Amtrak checked luggage point at Penn Station is still operating, but only for ticketed passengers. There are left luggage services in the Arrivals area of Terminals 1 and 4 at JFK Airport. The left luggage office in Terminal 4 is open 24 hours. There is also a luggage storage at Building 4 of JFK, which will require photo ID. In Manhattan there is Cubby, with one location at 303 Park Avenue South – which is close to Grand Central Station; their prices are $5-$8 per 24 hour period and offer bike courier services for luggage retrieval. Also, there is Schwartz Travel & Storage, with one location in Midtown Manhattan, close to Penn Station; the price per day is $7-10 per bag. Some hotels will store luggage for customers who have checked out of the hotel.|print=fullpage Most of Manhattan is laid out in a grid. Accounting for Manhattan North, which is the convention stating that the island of Manhattan is oriented exactly north to south (it’s actually northeast to southwest), streets run east and west and avenues run north and south. This makes it relatively easy and straightforward to find your way. Streets are numbered (except in downtown Manhattan) and the numbering rises as you go north. Most avenues are numbered from east to west (so First Avenue is east of Second, etc.) below 59th Street. Building numbering on avenues starts at the south end of the avenue and rises as you move north, while building numbering on streets starts at Fifth Avenue (for the most part – see below) and increases as you go east or west crosstown. Above Washington Square, Fifth Avenue divides Manhattan into east and west; numbering starts at Fifth Avenue on each side (except where Central Park interrupts) and increases in either direction. Addresses west of Fifth Avenue are written as, for example, 220 W 34th Street, while those east of Fifth Avenue are written as 220 E 34th Street. However, for numbered streets below Washington Square (fortunately, there are only two, 3rd and 4th streets), Broadway divides the streets into East and West. Because of this dual-numbering system, it is always advisable to keep in mind the closest intersection to your destination (6th Avenue and 34th Street, Broadway and 51st, etc.). You might also see addresses written in a kind of shorthand in terms of the nearest crossing streets, for example “1755 Broadway b/w 56th & 57th” or “74 E. 4th b/w 2nd & Bowery.” In Greenwich Village and downtown Manhattan – generally considered as below Houston (“HOW-ston”) Street – all bets are off as streets meander, dead-end and intersect themselves. Streets in Greenwich Village are particularly notorious for defying logic. For instance West 4th Street intersects with West 10th Street and West 12th Street, and you can stand on the corner of Waverly Place and Waverly Place. As a convenient guide to distance, there are 20 blocks per mile along the avenues (walking North/South). The average person can walk roughly 1 block per minute, or 60 blocks (3 miles) per hour. Walking East/West on the streets, blocks are generally much longer.
For shorter distances, there is no better way of getting around New York than hitting the sidewalk. If you use the subway or buses, you will almost certainly need to walk to and from stations or stops. In all areas of New York a traveler is likely to visit, all streets have wide, smoothly-paved sidewalks. For long distances, walking is also fine and a great way to see the city.
Jaywalking is extremely common among New Yorkers; an average New Yorker typically jaywalks 10-15 times a day. However, it can be extremely dangerous. If you cannot properly gauge the speed of oncoming cars, it is recommended you wait for the walk signal. Do not blindly follow someone crossing, as while they might have time to make it across, the person behind them might not. If you do jaywalk, remember that in the U.S., people drive on the right side of the road on two-way streets so remember to look left to check for oncoming traffic on your side of the road. Be aware many streets are one-way, so you may have to look right. Your safest bet is to look in both directions if you are unsure, or if there are cars parked, look which way they are facing. Also beware of bicyclists unlawfully going against the proper flow of vehicular traffic — or, for that matter, police or other vehicles doing the same. Remember that even if you have a walk signal, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances can bypass red traffic lights. Always defer to these vehicles when walking. If you do not wish to jaywalk, be considerate of New Yorkers by not blocking them from jaywalking while you are waiting for your signal. Also, it is considered extremely poor etiquette, if you are walking with a group, to block the sidewalk without providing space for others to pass or overtake you.
Public Transit – Buses and Subways
To ride the buses and subways in New York City, most likely you will need a MetroCard. The Metropolitan Transit Authority , or MTA, sells MetroCards for use on the New York City bus and subway systems. While it is possible to pay bus fare using exact change (coins only), you must have a MetroCard to enter the subway system. Cards can be bought online, at station booths, at vending machines in subway stations, and at many grocery stores and newstands (look for a MetroCard sign on the store window) . The vending machines in the stations accept credit cards; however, MetroCard vending machines will require that you type in your 5-digit zip code, or your regular PIN on international cards. The PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) subway system, which operates between New York and New Jersey, is not operated by the MTA and is therefore a separate fare. Even though PATH accepts payment by MetroCard, no free transfers are available to or from MTA subways or buses, because PATH is separate. JFK AirTrain also accepts MetroCard, but again, is not operated by the MTA and therefore no free transfers are available. Metro-North Commuter Railroad, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), New Jersey Transit (NJT), and Amtrak trains do not accept MetroCard.
Types of MetroCards
Up to three children 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult.
Single Ride MetroCard – costs $2.50 and is good for one use. It allows no free transfers and is only valid for two hours after purchase.
Pay-Per-Ride (Regular) MetroCards – are available in amounts from $4.50 to $80. Each local bus or subway trip deducts $2.25 from your card; each express buses trip deducts $5.50. Usage of the PATH system deducts $1.75, and usage of JFK Airtrain deducts $5.00. Note that you can always add additional money to your MetroCard at a later time. Additionally, you receive a 7% bonus for purchases of $10 of more (ex: a $10 purchase yields a card worth $10.70). Regular MetroCard is the best option if you are spending a few days in New York and plan to use public transportation intermittently.
Additionally, a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard allows for one free transfer during a two hour window immediately following a paid fare:
-From subway to local bus
-From local bus to subway
-From local bus to local bus (but not to any bus on the same route as the first)
-From express bus to subway
-From express bus to local bus
-From express bus to express bus (but not to any bus on the same route as the first) You can transfer from subway to subway as often as you like provided that you do not exit the subway system by leaving through a turnstile or gate. Many subway connections are possible in this way, by using in-station connections between the various lines. Indeed, the Guinness Book of World Records tracks the fastest times of groups that have tried to ride every single New York City subway train line on one fare – some have spent over 24 consecutive hours riding in the subway! Just remember that if you leave the subway and re-enter, you will be charged a second fare. Additionally, if you board a local bus and pay the $2.25 fare with a MetroCard, you can transfer to an express bus for the reduced price of $3.25 (instead of the standard $5.50 express bus fare).
Unlimited Ride MetroCards – are available in 7-day ($29) and 30-day ($104). They are valid from the time you first use them until midnight of the 7th and 30th day, respectively. Do the math; these cards may work out to be cheaper if you plan on using public transport frequently during your stay. Note that Unlimited Ride MetroCards may not be used in rapid succession at the same subway station or on the same bus route. Once used, 18 minutes must elapse before it can be used at the same station (or on the same bus route). This is to prevent people from using a single Unlmited Ride MetroCard to pay for an entire group, for example. In such a situation, each member of the group will require their own Unlimited Ride MetroCard. Unlimited Ride MetroCards are NOT valid on express buses, JFK AirTrain, or PATH trains to New Jersey.
7-Day Express Bus Plus – costs $50 and allows unlimited use of not just local buses and subways, but also express buses. If you are staying in Staten Island, Queens, or Westchester county and plan to commute to the city during your visit, this pass may be advantageous to you.
Also available are two passes good only for unlimited use of the JFK Airtrain: a 30-day unlimited AirTrain pass for $40, and a 10-trip pass for $25.
You can also get discounted tickets to certain events by showing your MetroCard when purchasing tickets. Current promotions are listed on the MetroCard website
Despite a reputation for being dirty, the subway, which operates 24 hours per day, is the fastest and best way to travel around the city. Fares are $2.25 (unless you use Single Ride MetroCard, which is $2.50), regardless of distance traveled. The much-feared subway crimes of the 1970s and 1980s are for the most part a thing of the past, and it is almost always completely safe. Just remember to use common sense when traveling late at night alone. Try to use heavily-traveled stations, remain visible to other people, and don’t display items of value publicly. Nowadays, you are statistically more likely to get struck by lightning than be a victim of crime on the subway.
To enter the subway, you will need to swipe your MetroCard through the slot on the right hand side of the turnstile that greets you at the subway entrance. Hold your card with the logo facing your body and black magnetic strip down. Then slide it forward through the slot at a moderate speed. You’ll know you succeeded when the display flashes “Go” in green and you hear a *CLICK* sound. Only once you hear the *CLICK* is it OK to walk through the turnstile. Swiping the card improperly or moving the turnstile incorrectly could mean the forfeiture of your fare (for pay-per-ride cards) or a lockout of 18 minutes (for unlimited-ride cards). If this happens, go to a station booth and explain the problem. The agent will ask for your MetroCard, confirm that it was just charged, and let you go through.
Every subway line is identified by either a letter or a number. Ignore the colors as they have little meaning outside midtown Manhattan. Lines marked “S” are shuttles – there are 3 of them: The 42nd Street Shuttle in Manhattan, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle in Brooklyn, and the Rockaway Park Shuttle in southeast Queens. If you need directions to a shuttle, it is helpful to refer to the shuttle by its full name to avoid confusion.
Overhead signage next to each track indicates the train lines that stop at that particular track and the direction they are heading. In addition, the trains themselves are marked by signage that indicates their line. Subway stations are ventilated to the street, so they can be quite cold in the winter and quite hot in summertime. The trains themselves are obviously quite comfortable, but keep the temperature of stations in mind when planning your trip.
Some lines are ‘express’, meaning that they skip local stations to provide faster service. Wherever there is an express train, there is also a local train that makes all stops. Local and express lines often use different tracks, so be sure to board the correct train. For example, the 2 and 3 are the express trains for the 7th Avenue Line between 96th Street and Chambers Street in Manhattan, while the 1 runs local alongside them.
During weekends and late nights, certain trains do not operate, many express trains make local stops, and some subway entrances are closed. Detailed information is available on the MTA website . Additionally, maintenance work is usually concentrated on weekends and overnight. Notices of maintenance are posted at stations and on the MTA website , so check online to avoid unpleasant surprises. Remember, if you do feel confused, ask for help. Be aware that construction related service changes confuse many New Yorkers, so the best person to ask is a subway employee. The entire subway system is a massive, connected network, so do not fear – there will always be another way to get to your destination.
A free subway map can be found online , or obtained at staffed station booths. Station agents can also assist you with directions. There is also an online subway map that has been overlaid on top of Google Maps which can help you with exact locations for stations and entrances/exits. For directions on how to travel between two addresses in the city via subway, buses, regional rail, or walking, see HopStop.com . Additionally, for convenience, subway maps are displayed in every station and on every train.
Important lines in Manhattan
The Lexington Avenue Lines (4, 5, 6) are essentially the only trains on the East Side above 23 St. Useful to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (4, 5, or 6 to 86th Street Station or the 6 to 77th Street Station), Guggenheim Museum (4, 5, or 6 to 86th Street Station), and other East Side museums. Also to get to the Statue of Liberty (4, 5 to Bowling Green Station), Chinatown (6 to Canal Street Station), and Yankee Stadium (4 to 161 St./Yankee Stadium Station).
The Seventh Avenue Line (1, 2, 3) serves Broadway above 42nd Street, and Seventh Avenue below 42nd Street. Useful to get to the West Village, Chelsea, and Tribeca neighborhoods as well as the Staten Island or Statue of Liberty ferries (1 to South Ferry Station) and Columbia University (the 1 to 116th Street Station).
The Eighth Avenue Line (A, C, E) serves Eighth Avenue between 14th and 116th streets, then St. Nicholas Av., Broadway, and Ft. Washington Av. starting at 125th St. in Harlem. Useful to get to the Natural History Museum (C to 81st Street Station), the west side of Central Park (the C makes local stops on Central Park West), Cloisters Museum (A to 190th Street Station), JFK Airport (A to Howard Beach or E to Jamaica).
The Sixth Avenue Line (B, D, F, M) runs on 6th Ave. from West 4th St. to 57th St. (or to 47th-50th Sts. for all but the F), and is useful for accessing the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (47th-50th Sts.). D and F trains are useful for going to Coney Island, Brooklyn (Stillwell Av.). Grand St. on the B and D is the best all-purpose stop for Chinatown. The D train also converges with the 8th Av. Line from 59th St./Columbus Circle to 145th St., and is useful for traveling to Harlem, or to Yankee Stadium (161 St./Yankee Stadium).
The Broadway Line (N, Q, R) runs down Broadway below 42nd Street and on Seventh Avenue above Times Square. The N, Q, and R trains are useful for accessing Chinatown (Canal St), SoHo/NoHo, NYU area, Union Square, the Empire State Building (34th St), Times Square (42nd St), Carnegie Hall (57th St.), Central Park (57th St and 5th Av stations), and the southern end of the Upper East Side. The R trains also go down to Financial District and South Ferry (Whitehall St). N and Q trains provide service to Brooklyn’s famed Coney Island (Stillwell Ave.).
The PATH can be used to travel within Manhattan, from 33rd St along 6th Ave to Christopher st, and it’s cheaper than the subway. It isn’t terribly useful as it covers such a small territory but in theory you can use it if you have to travel its exact route. Note that unlimited Metrocards cannot be used on the PATH.
By Commuter Rail
Commuter rail lines are mostly used for traveling between the city and its suburbs; however, they can be used for intracity transit as well. A handful of destinations are closer to commuter rail stops but far from the subway. MetroCard is NOT accepted on commuter rail. Separate single or period tickets MUST be bought. When purchasing commuter railroad tickets, it is advantageous to purchase them online or in railroad stations prior to boarding. While tickets are available for sale on trains, there is an on-board surcharge that makes them significantly more expensive. The Long Island Railroad, often called the LIRR runs to/from Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, Flatbush Avenue/Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, and has limited rush hour service to/from Long Island City, Queens. The Port Washington Branch goes to Northeast Queens which, aside from Flushing and Citi Field, is not served by the subway system. The Main Line, which contains most of the branches to the different parts of Long Island, goes to Southeastern Queens, including Jamaica, Laurelton, and Rosedale. The Atlantic Branch, which ends in Downtown Brooklyn, goes to East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant, both in Brooklyn. This branch is not accessible from Manhattan, however. The LIRR is also the fastest way to get from JFK to Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, and also runs to many popular getaways in Long Island, such as Long Beach, Port Jefferson, and Montauk. The LIRR has a somewhat deserved reputation for poor on-time performance, however this is more of a problem in the farther eastern reaches of the railroad and not so much a problem in New York City and its immediate suburbs. The Metro-North Railroad provides services to/from Grand Central Terminal. Trains go to the Bronx and the Northern suburbs of the city. The Hudson line covers several parts of the Western Bronx, while the Harlem Line goes through the Central Bronx–an area with no subway service. It is the best way to get to Arthur Avenue and the New York Botanic Gardens. The Hudson and Harlem lines are also your gateway to Westchester County and beyond, with the Hudson line running all the way to Poughkeepsie. The New Haven line runs to Connecticut, terminating, logically enough, in New Haven.
Even in Manhattan, with its dense subway network, buses can often be the best way of making a cross-town (i.e. east-to-west or vice versa) journey, for example, crossing Central Park to go from the Metropolitan Museum to the Museum of Natural History. And outside peak hours, a ride by bus from the tip of Manhattan at Battery Park to Midtown is a good and cheap way of taking in the sights.
Bus lines are identified by letters followed by numbers. The letters indicate the borough in which the line mostly operates (M=Manhattan; Bx=Bronx; B=Brooklyn; Q=Queens; S=Staten Island). Collectively, the letters and numbers make up the route (examples: M31, Bx9, M15). Signage at each bus stop indicates which buses stop there. Signage on the front of each bus indicates the route and destination of the bus. Bus maps for each borough can be found at the MTA website .
Express buses travel between Manhattan and the outer boroughs, usually to areas where the subway doesn’t operate (such as eastern Queens, the eastern Bronx, southeast Brooklyn, and Staten Island). They cost $5.50 but offer comfortable cloth seats and are less crowded than the subway and local buses.
When boarding a bus with a MetroCard, insert the card vertically, with the pin hole down and the word “MetroCard” visible to you, into the card slot in the top of the fare box next to the driver. You should be able to read the word “MetroCard” from bottom to top when inserting the card in this manner. The fare box will swallow the card, read it, and return it to you. Note this is different from the procedure to enter the subway described in “Subway Basics.”
Bus fareboxes also accept coins. However, they will not accept pennies and half-dollar (50 cent) coins, nor will they accept bills. As a safety precaution, drivers do not handle money. Change is not given, so exact fares must be paid. If you pay with coins and require a free transfer, you will have to ask the driver for one after you have paid.
Certain north-south buses contain a small orange and purple card in the window that says “Limited.” These limited buses do not make all local bus stops, stopping only at major cross streets. They are similar to express buses in some ways, but only cost $2.25 to ride. If a Limited bus skips your stop, you can wait for a local bus which will arrive soon.
The +Select Bus Service+ also makes limited stops like the Limited buses described above, and costs the standard $2.25 fare. They appear on the Bx12 in the Bronx and M15 in Manhattan. They can be identified by two large blinking blue lights on the front of the bus. However, these buses operate on a very different payment system. To board these +SBS+ buses, fares must be paid before boarding by using machines on the sidewalk near a special +SBS+ bus stop which is typically quite close to the local bus stop. Follow the instructions at the machine to pay. Once the fare has been paid, a receipt will be printed; take it and keep it with you. Once the bus arrives, you can enter through any door, but remember if you paid with cash to use the front door if you will need to ask the driver for a transfer. Fare inspectors will occasionally check for your fare receipt as proof of payment; show it to them if they ask. If you don’t have a valid receipt, you will be forced to pay a fine of $100 or more so it is wise to always pay the fare. However, if you cannot buy the ticket successfully, such as due to a malfunctioning machine, note the machine number and report the problem to the bus driver near the front door at once. If the +SBS+ skips your stop, wait at the local bus stop for a local bus which will arrive soon.
Yellow Cabs cruise in most of Manhattan and are available at dispatcher lines at airports, but are harder to find in the other four boroughs. Real NYC taxis are yellow, have a metal seal on the hood (“medallion”), a light with a taxi number on the roof, a meter for billing, stickers on the windshield for various licenses, special taxi license plates, and a divider inside the car. The fares are $2.50 plus a $0.50 state tax to start, plus $0.40 for each 1/5 mile traveled. There is a night surcharge from 8PM to 6AM of $0.50 and a rush hour surcharge of $1 from 4PM-8PM M-F. In addition, as in the rest of the United States, tipping your taxi driver is expected in New York. For more information, see Tipping in the United States. Info on fares, flat fares, group rides and rules are online . All yellow cabs accept Visa, Mastercard, and American Express for payment. In the unlikely event that the card reader is broken, the driver will let you know before you get into the taxi. To hail a taxi, stand visibly near the street (but away from moving traffic) with one arm raised over your head. The medallion numbers on the roof of the taxi will indicate the status of the taxi:
* If the medallion number is unlit, then the taxi is already occupied and therefore unavailable.
* If the medallion number is lit and the “off-duty” sign next to it is also lit, the taxi is typically not available. However, sometimes the taxi will stop for you even if the off-duty sign is lit, usually if you are going in the same direction as the taxi driver to turn the cab in after his shift. So if you are desperate, it’s worth a try to hail it. However, a driver may still decline your fare even after stopping if you are going a different direction than them.
* If the medallion number is lit but the off-duty sign on the roof is not, then the taxi is available for hire.
Livery or Black Cars, known as car services or livery cabs, may only be called by phone, and are flat rate rather than metered. In most areas, they are not allowed to cruise the street or airports for fares, although sometimes they will do so anyway. Ask for the fare while on the phone. Their license plates will say either “Livery” or “TLC” on the bottom.
In some areas, livery cabs can be flagged on the street. Though this is technically illegal (the driver, not you, will get into trouble), it is useful in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs and is accepted practice. Negotiate the fare before you get inside (note: tipping your driver is expected). Since yellow cabs are hard to come by in the outer boroughs, these cars are particularly useful for getting to the airport (your hotel can arrange one, or look up car services in the Yellow Pages).
All licensed taxis and sedan limousines are authorized to take 3 passengers in the backseat and 1 in the front seat for a total of 4. However, some of the newer minivan and SUV yellow cabs can seat more passengers and may take more than four passengers (even though the licensed limit is posted in the cab). Larger than sedan limousines can be reserved, also useful for airport trips with lots of luggage, by calling any of the dozens of companies in the yellow pages.
For all cabs, you must pay tolls for bridges, tunnels and highways. Be careful of being overcharged by drivers for toll crossings—on some bridges and tunnels (like the Queens-Midtown Tunnel) rates are not posted in plain view. So, a crossing which actually cost the cab driver $4 is easily passed onto the unsuspecting passenger as a $5 charge. Outside the city, other than flat fare destinations and Newark Airport, meter rates are doubled (when going to Westchester or Nassau County). Tipping your driver is expected.
Be wary of unlicensed cars (known derisively as ‘gypsy cabs’) cruising for passengers, especially near the airports. While drivers may claim to offer you a cheaper rate than an actual taxi, your chances of actually getting this rate (not to mention getting to your destination safely and quickly) are less. If you are in doubt, ask an airport staffer for help finding a cab or cabstand. Major airports have taxi information cards for passengers.
There are also bizarre van and shuttle services in different parts of the city. You will have to ask where it is going and how much it costs. Usually, you will see people lining up and some mysterious van will appear and they will board. There are services between Chinatown and Queens (you won’t have to make any transfers if it goes where you need to go!), and also there are separate services in Brooklyn, and Queens. Many of these services are branded as “Dollar Vans” (actually costing $1.25), and follow major bus routes. One should use good judgment before using these vans to prevent getting cheated out of money, or something considerably worse than losing money.
In recent years, pedicabs have appeared in New York. The city is in the early stages of licensing and enforcing safety regulations for them.
The Staten Island Ferry , runs from Battery Park in southern Manhattan to Staten Island. The ferry carries passengers and bicycles only, runs every 15 minutes during rush hours, and is free (so don’t be fooled by con artists trying to sell “advance tickets”). Not only does the ferry provide a means of transport, but it offers an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor on its way. Even if you don’t want to visit Staten Island, taking this trip is highly recommended and is very popular with tourists. Ride on the starboard side of the ferry (right side facing the front) from Manhattan and the port side from Staten Island for the best views (to the west). If you want to take good photographs, try to get on the ferry as soon as the gates open and walk briskly to an open window (few windows are open to the air and will populate quickly). The Manhattan-to-Staten Island route passes slightly closer to the Statue of Liberty than the return route.
New York Waterway , operates ferries that connect the city with the New Jersey Hudson River Waterfront. These ferries are not free. Inquire as to fares before boarding.
New York Water Taxi runs ferries between points within Manhattan, with some connections to Brooklyn and New Jersey. Their boats are painted to look like taxis.
Think twice about driving in New York City. A car is inadvisable – street parking is practically nonexistent near crowded areas and tourist attractions, and garage parking rates range from very expensive to plainly extortionate. Traffic is almost always congested, parking rules are confusing, and many drivers are aggressive. The public transportation options are many and offer significant advantages and savings over driving a car. Many New Yorkers, particularly in Manhattan, don’t own cars for this reason. If you are staying in a suburb and commuting to the city by car, think twice – driving to one of the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, or New Jersey Transit stations and taking the train into the city is a better option. There are often secure parking areas in many stations. In Staten Island, parking near the ferry terminal and using the ferry will save you money and time. If you do choose to drive, get a map, especially if driving outside of Manhattan. Good maps to use, if you are not driving, are the free bus maps which have each street, though the subway map can work in a pinch (also used for small boat navigation). In Queens, numbers identify not only avenues and streets, but also roads, places, crescents, and lanes, all of which might be near each other. Read the entire street sign. Outer borough highways are confusing and often narrowed to one lane, the potholes could trap an elephant, the signs are sometimes misleading, exits which should appear do not, and signs directing a highway approach drag you through miles of colorful neighborhood (in the wrong direction) before finally letting you onto the highway with a stop sign and six inches of merge space. Traffic in New York City roughly follows a hierarchy of precedence, which is unwise to challenge. Fire engines, ambulances, and police cruisers are given priority, followed by other public service vehicles such as buses, road crews, and sanitation trucks. Beneath them are taxi cabs and delivery trucks. Below those are other cars. Note also that driving a car with out-of-state license plates (save for perhaps Connecticut or New Jersey) will instantly mark you as an outsider, sometimes resulting in other drivers being more aggressive around you than they would with a local. Suffice it to say, driving in New York is not for the timid, fearful, or otherwise emotionally fragile.
The major car rental agencies have offices throughout the city. Smaller agencies are also well represented. Be warned that car rentals in New York are generally more expensive than elsewhere in the United States, and frequently require a deposit of up to $500, if you do not have a credit card. Insurance rates also tend to be higher in New York than in most other cities.
Gas stations are few and far between, especially in Manhattan, where only a handful exist around the perimeter of the island. Be prepared to up to $0.50 more per gallon than in the surrounding suburbs or New Jersey. Therefore, if you have the option, it is best to fill your car while you aren’t in NYC, as long as you have enough gas to last!
Points of entry
There are several points of entry/exit into the city from the New Jersey side: the Lincoln Tunnel (midtown/41st Street), the Holland Tunnel (downtown/Canal Street), and the George Washington Bridge (way uptown/178th Street) — all are accessible from the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) and from I-80. The Midtown Tunnel under the East River is convenient for Long Island travelers, as it becomes the Long Island Expressway. The Queensborough Bridge (aka The 59th Street Bridge) also crosses the East River into Queens, is toll-free, and lands near the mouth of the Midtown Tunnel but requires some automotive manipulation to get onto the Long Island Expressway. Other routes head north and east out of the Bronx, including Interstates 87 (north to Albany) and 95 (northeast to Boston) and the Henry Hudson Parkway, which is along the Hudson River.
When entering New York from New Jersey, as well when driving across bridges and tunnels within New York City, you will incur tolls of up to $10, and associated traffic delays.
Rush hour traffic
Traveling at off-hours makes sense to avoid rush hour traffic, but highways and roads are still generally packed any time of day. The Cross Bronx Expressway, which is part of I-95 and leads to the George Washington Bridge, is almost always choked with traffic. The Long Island Expressway has heavy eastbound traffic between the morning and evening rushes. The Holland and Lincoln Tunnels are 10 minute waits on a good day. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) is notorious, and an accident on the Verazzano Bridge without shoulders can cause a backup all the way through the northern part of Staten Island into New Jersey. It is a good idea to check radio traffic reports, especially before crossing a bridge or tunnel. Three different stations have reports every 10 minutes around the clock: 880 AM (on the 8’s), 1010 AM (on the 1’s), and 1130 AM (on the 5’s). Driving cross-town (east-west) in Manhattan during rush hours is especially troublesome because the street lights are optimized to move traffic along the north-south roads. Your best bet is to avoid driving in Midtown Manhattan (between the 30s and 50s) whenever possible. If you do drive in Midtown Manhattan cross-town, posted Midtown Thru Streets may reduce delays.
Traveling with a commercial vehicle
If you are traveling with commercial vehicle, such as a moving truck, remember that commercial traffic is prohibited on many roadways throughout the city. Commercial traffic is permitted only on multiple-lane roadways designated as “expressways” (such as the Long Island Expressway, Cross-Bronx Expressway, or Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) and the surface streets unless marked otherwise. Commercial traffic is prohibited on all multiple-lane roadways designated as “parkways” (such as the Grand Central Parkway, Cross-Island Parkway, or Henry Hudson Parkway) with frequent low bridges. Unfortunately, the majority of fast-moving roadways are designated as parkways in New York City. Commercial traffic is also prohibited on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Drive in Manhattan. The only viable option for traveling with commercial vehicle in Manhattan is the surface streets, but always look out for low vertical clearance.
Parking in garages or outdoor lots is usually very expensive, costing as much as $40 per day in Manhattan, although cheap or free lot parking is available at some times at certain locations. Street parking can be free or much cheaper than garage or lot parking, but can be extremely hard to come by. Also, “bumping” cars in front of and behind of you to get into and out of a parking spot (known to some as “Braille Parking”) is common, so if you choose to park on the street, don’t be surprised if you find a few new scratches and scrapes on your bumper. As a general rule, hotels in New York do not supply garage parking. The few that do will charge you handsomely for the privilege. To find garage parking, look at the following four websites:
BestParking.com is a free service that allows users to search and compare all daily and monthly rates and locations for parking facilities in Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Users can book free parking “Reservations” and “Rate Guarantees” at over 20% of Manhattan’s parking garages (including Icon Parking Systems and Edison ParkFast). The website’s instant rate comparison clearly displays the rates on a Google map and the interface is extremely user-friendly. Regular rates, early bird specials, weekend specials, night Specials, SUV/oversize/luxury vehicle rates, motorcycle rates, and all additional posted charges are included in the instant rate comparison.
PrimoSpot.com is a free site that allows users to find on-street (free) parking. It will calculate the amount of time you can stay in metered and alternate side of the street city parking. They provide a breakdown of the regulations and photos of the signs. There is coverage for Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Hoboken, New Jersey. Users can type in an address, intersection, or zip code and will get the regulations for that area. The parking regulations display on a Google map and the interface is easy to use. Note that PrimoSpot will only tell you how long you can stay in a parking spot in any particular zone; there’s no guarantee that there will actually be an empty spot waiting for you when you arrive.
IconParking.com is a service where you can book your parking time (if you know it) by the block, date, time, and even choose which garage. One traveler says, “I’ve gone into garages that have initially said they’re full up and then I said I booked it online and they shrugged and honored it.” When you book online with this company, print a confirmation and take it with you. Most times the attendants/valets will assume you know what you’re talking about, but sometimes they want to see the printed confirmation. Also, when you pay, they may feign ignorance as to the price you were quoted online. This is another reason to print out the reservation. Using this service, it is possible to pay $10 on a weekday for 8 hours of parking from 10AM-6PM on John Street in the Financial district. If initially the valet says they don’t have to honor that rate, be persistent and you should get it.
ParkFast.com . This site is for Edison Parkfast, the owner/manager of 40 parking locations around the city. The site isn’t as feature-rich and you can’t pick your hours or dates, but at least they have some basic rates and locations.
Street Parking – Rules and penalties for violation
Check all parking signs carefully. Parking meters demand constant feeding, and are hungry late into the night in some areas. In some parts of Midtown Manhattan, there are pay-and-display meters which are only in effect from 6PM to midnight on weekdays and all day on weekends. In these areas, parking is prohibited during the workday, except for commercial trucks. It is a good idea to keep a roll of quarters in your car, as not all meters accept credit cards. Parking is permitted at broken or missing meters for the time posted on the signs. Parking is illegal at ALL bus stops and within 15 feet (4.5 m) of fire hydrants. Yellow lines on the curb have no legal meaning in NYC, so they cannot be relied upon to tell you if you are parked far enough from a hydrant. That said, in most areas the seams in the sidewalk are roughly five feet apart, so leaving at least three “squares” of sidewalk between the hydrant and your bumper is a smart move. Many motorists simply pay garage fees to avoid the anxiety of finding a parking spot and the risks of expensive parking tickets.
New York has “alternate side of the street” parking rules , which may require street parkers to move their cars at different times of the day (such as early morning, or overnight in a few business districts) so that street sweepers can clean the roads. Alternate side rules are suspended on many obscure holidays, while parking meters and other weekday restrictions are only suspended on a few major holidays (not even on all Federal holidays).
Trying to leave a car parked illegally for very long will often end with a $150 fine, and a vehicle illegally parked in an overcrowded place is very likely to be towed away and face a $300 fine. The New York Police Department operates the tow pounds .
Important Rules While Driving
Unlike other places in the United States, right turns on red lights are illegal in New York City, except where otherwise posted, like a sign that reads “AFTER STOP RIGHT TURN PERMITTED ON RED”. Be careful when driving as some but not all entrances to New York City have signs alerting motorists that it is illegal to turn on the red in New York City, and other drivers from out of town may not know this rule.
Don’t even think of driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs!
Talking on hand-held cell phones (without a hands-free device) while driving is illegal and dangerous. This law, however, is spottily enforced. Even if you do have a hands-free device, minimize your talking and prioritize driving.
There are red light cameras at 100 intersections in New York City. . A camera will take a picture if you run a red light and a fine disputable on the web will be issued in 30 days. However, since the camera does not identify who is driving the vehicle, no points will be issued against your drivers’ license.
Some bus lanes have video cameras. A camera will take a video if you drive illegally in the bus lane other than to turn right and a fine disputable on the web will be issued in 30 days.
If there is an emergency vehicle trying to get through with its siren blaring, pull over to the side and move forward as necessary. On many one-way streets (avenues in particular), the middle lane is designated as the “FIRE LANE” so that motorists can pull over to either side lane.
Some avenues and many streets have only one-way traffic. Thankfully, one-way streets generally alternate direction, so if your destination is down a one-way street going in the wrong direction, go another block and double-back. A handy mnemonic is “Evens go East,” meaning that, for the most part, streets with even numbers will head east, and vice-versa. The best gauge to determine a one way street’s direction is to check the direction parked cars face.
Be wary of your surroundings when you park your car. While NYC is a safe city for its size, it’s not necessarily safe for your car as well. Make it as unworthy to steal as possible.
Cycling in Manhattan can often be quicker than taking the subway or a taxi, but it isn’t for the fainthearted. New York City’s tumultuous traffic makes biking difficult. Aggressive cab drivers, jaywalking pedestrians, potholes and debris on the roads create a cycling experience that might just as well have been taken from Dante’s Inferno. If you do venture into the concrete jungle on a bike, make sure you wear a helmet and have sufficient experience in urban cycling. Despite the hazards, around 100,000 New Yorkers commute to work by bicycle every day. Conditions are likely to improve in future, as the city expands the cycle lane network and completes the traffic-free greenway encircling the whole of Manhattan.
Like most of the great world cities, New York has an abundance of great attractions – so many, that it would be impossible to list them all here. What follows is but a sampling of the most high-profile attractions in New York City; more detailed info can be found in the district pages. A number of multi-attraction schemes give reduced prices and line-skipping privileges.
Explorer Pass, . Allows you to choose 7, 5 or 3 top attractions to visit. Cardholders have 30 days to use the card after visiting the first attraction. Attractions to choose from include Top of the Rock Observation, Rockefeller Center Tour, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NBC Studio Tour, movie tours, cruises, and more. Also included with the card are shopping, dining, and additional attraction discounts.
New York CityPASS, . Grants admission to 6 New York attractions within 9 days of first use for a much reduced rate. The attractions are Empire State Building; Metropolitan Museum of Art and same-day admission to The Cloisters; American Museum of Natural History; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Option Ticket One with choice of either Top of the Rock™ Observation Deck or Guggenheim Museum; Option Ticket Two with choice of either a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise or Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. $79 adult, $59 youth aged 6–17.
New York Pass, . Grants access to over 50 top attractions with line skipping privileges. Passes are available for 1 day ($75 adult, $55 child), 2 days ($110 adult, $90 child), 3 days ($140 adult, $120 child) or 7 days ($180 adult, $140 child). Remember, you must obtain a ticket in each attraction. You can visit as many attractions as you want in the time period – the more attractions you visit, the more you save. Also includes a free 140 page guide book, but is much better to organize yours visits previously, via internet.
See also the district pages for detailed information about attractions. Detail is gradually being moved from this page to the district pages.
Naturally, Manhattan possesses the lion’s share of the landmarks that have saturated American popular culture. Starting in Lower Manhattan, perhaps the most famous of these landmarks is easy to spot – the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the nation standing atop a small island in the harbor, and perhaps also the most difficult attraction to access in terms of crowds and the long lines to see it. Nearby Ellis Island preserves the site where millions of immigrants completed their journey to America. Within Lower Manhattan itself, Wall Street acts as the heart of big business being the home of the New York Stock Exchange, although the narrow street also holds some historical attractions, namely Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. Nearby, the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Site commemorates the victims of that fateful day. Connecting Lower Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge offers fantastic views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. Moving north to Midtown, Manhattan’s other major business district, you’ll find some of New York’s most famous landmarks. The Empire State Building looms over it all as the tallest building in the city, with the nearby Chrysler Building also dominating the landscape. Nearby is the headquarters of United Nations overlooking the East River and Grand Central Terminal, one of the busiest train stations in the world. Also nearby is the main branch of the New York Public Library, a beautiful building famous for its magnificent reading rooms and the lion statues outside the front door; and Rockefeller Plaza, home to NBC Studios, Radio City Music Hall, and (during the winter) the famous Christmas Tree and Skating Rink. Still in the Midtown area but just to the west, in the Theater District, is the tourist center of New York: Times Square, filled with bright, flashing video screens and LED signs running 24 hours a day. Just to the north is Central Park, with its lawns, trees and lakes popular for recreation and concerts.
Museums and galleries
New York has some of the finest museums in the world. All the public museums (notably including the Metropolitan Museum), which are run by the city, accept donations for an entrance fee, but private museums (especially the Museum of Modern Art) can be very expensive. In addition to the major museums, hundreds of small galleries are spread throughout the city, notably in neighborhoods like Chelsea and Williamsburg. Many galleries and museums in New York close on Mondays, so be sure to check hours before visiting. The following is just a list of highlights; see district pages for more listings.
Arts and culture
New York City is home to some of the finest art museums in the country, and in Manhattan, you’ll find the grandest of them all. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park has vast holdings that represent a series of collections, each of which ranks in its category among the finest in the world. Within this single building you’ll find perhaps the world’s finest collection of American artwork, period rooms, thousands of European paintings including Rembrandts and Vermeers, the greatest collection of Egyptian art outside Cairo, one of the world’s finest Islamic art collections, Asian art, European sculpture, medieval and Renaissance art, antiquities from around the ancient world, and much, much more. As if all that wasn’t enough, the Metropolitan also operates The Cloisters, located in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, houses a collection of medieval art and incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters and other monastic sites in southern France in its renowned gardens. Near the Metropolitan, in the Upper East Side, is the Guggenheim Museum. Although more famed for its architecture than the collection it hosts, the spiraling galleries are ideal for exhibiting art works. Also nearby is the Whitney Museum of American Art, with a collection of contemporary American art. In Midtown, the Museum of Modern Art(MoMA), holds the most comprehensive collection of modern art in the world, and is so large as to require multiple visits to see all of the works on display, which include Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, as well as an extensive industrial design collection. Midtown is also home to the Paley Center for Media, a museum dedicated to television and radio, including a massive database of old shows. In Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum of Art is the city’s second largest art museum with excellent collections of Egyptian art, Assyrian reliefs, 19th-century American art, and art from Africa and Oceania, among other things. Long Island City in Queens is home to a number of art museums, including the PS1 Contemporary Art Center, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of the Moving Image, which showcases movies and the televisual arts.
Science and technology
In New York City, no museum holds a sway over children like the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Containing the Hayden Planetarium, incredible astronomy exhibits, animal dioramas, many rare and beautiful gems and mineral specimens, anthropology halls, and one of the largest collections of dinosaur skeletons in the world, this place offers plenty of stunning sights. Near Times Square in the Theater District, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum takes up a pier on the Hudson River, with the aircraft carrier Intrepid docked here and holding some incredible air and space craft. Over in the Flushing district of Queens, on the grounds of the former World’s Fair, is the New York Hall of Science, which incorporates the Great Hall of the fair and now full of hands-on exhibits for kids to enjoy. Another standout museum is the Transit Museum located in an abandoned station in Downtown Brooklyn. The old subway cars are a real treat and the museum is a must if you’re in New York with kids (and well-worth it even if you’re not).
Like all great cities, New York is made up of distinct neighborhoods, each of which has its own flavor. Many of the neighborhoods are popular with visitors, and all are best experienced on foot. See individual borough pages (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx , and Staten Island) for a comprehensive listing of neighborhoods.
Though the image many people have of Manhattan is endless skyscrapers and packed sidewalks, the city also boasts numerous lovely parks, ranging from small squares to the 850-acre Central Park, and there are worthwhile parks in every borough. From the views of the New Jersey Palisades from Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, to the grand Pelham Bay Park in The Bronx, and the famous Flushing Meadow Park in Corona, Queens, site of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, there is more than enough to keep any visitor busy. And almost any park is a great spot to rest, read, or just relax and watch the people streaming past. To find out more about New York City parks, look at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website and the WikiTravel pages for each borough. Note that except for special events, all NYC parks are closed 1AM–6AM.
A general word of advice on sightseeing in New York: Tourists often spend their entire vacation in New York standing in line (or as New Yorkers say, “standing on line”). This is often unnecessary; there are usually alternatives. For example, one can choose to avoid the Empire State Building during the day (it is open, and empty, late, until midnight or 2AM on weekends during summer), skip the Statue of Liberty in favor of the Staten Island Ferry, and stay away from the Guggenheim on Monday (it is one of the only museums open that day). Also, there is no reason to stand in line for a Broadway show if you already have a ticket with an assigned seat. If you prefer, get a drink nearby and come back closer to curtain time, when you can walk right in. The lines for bus tours can be absurd because tourists all seem to have the exact same itinerary – which is get on a bus in the morning in Times Square, get off for the Statue of Liberty, and finish on the East Side in the afternoon. Why not go downtown in the morning, and save Midtown for the afternoon? You will thank yourself for avoiding the crowds. Also, understand that buses are the slowest way to go crosstown in Midtown Manhattan during peak hours, and taxis are not much better. You are often better off on foot.
Theater and Performing Arts New York’s Broadway is famous for its many shows, especially musicals. You might want to visit TKTS online, which offers tickets for shows the same night at discounted prices, usually 50% off or visit BroadwayBox.com, or NYTix.com, community sites posting all recent Broadway discounts. TKTS has two offices, one at Times Square with lines often hours long, and a much faster one (sometimes minutes) at South Street Seaport (Corner of John St, just south of Brooklyn Bridge). Note that only cash is accepted at South Street. Show up at opening time for best selection. Tickets to most Broadway shows are also available from the Broadway Concierge and Ticket Center, inside the Times Square Visitor Center. They offer restaurant and hotel recommendations, parking help, and other services in addition to ticket sales, available in several languages. New York boasts an enormous amount and variety of theatrical performances. These shows usually fall into one of three categories: Broadway, Off-Broadway, or Off-Off-Broadway. Broadway refers to the shows near Times Square that usually play to theaters of 500 seats or more. These include the major musicals and big-name dramatic works, and are the most popular with visitors. Tickets for Broadway shows can run to $130 a seat, though discounters like TKTS (above) make cheaper seats available. Off-Broadway indicates performances that are smaller (less than 500 seats) and usually of a certain intellectual seriousness. Some of these theatres are located around Times Square in addition to different locations throughout Manhattan. Tickets to Off-Broadway shows tend to range from $25–50. Off-Off-Broadway refers to those shows that play to very small audiences (less than 100 seats) with actors working without equity. These can be dirt cheap and often very good, but some may be sufficiently avant-garde as to turn off conservative playgoers. Off-Off-Broadway Theaters worth checking out are Rising Sun Performance Company , Endtimes Productions , and The People’s Improv Theater . For current and upcoming Broadway and Off-Broadway info and listings, visit Playbill.com. This site also has lots of articles on what’s going on in the NY commercial theatre scene. Broadway.com and Newyorkcitytheatre.com also has plenty of info, as well as some videos and photos. Theatermania has many discounts to the bigger shows, and also provides listings for the Off-Off scene. If visiting in the summer, brave the huge lines and attempt to get tickets to the Public Theater’s annual “Shakespeare in the Park,” which often features big-time stars of stage and screen. Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Natalie Portman, and Liev Schrieber are just a few of the actors to have appeared here in recent years. Oh, and it’s free. Just get to one of the box offices ridiculously early, especially the one at the Park. It’s possible to purchase tickets to The Tony Awards, Broadway’s biggest award ceremony and the culmination of the theatrical season in the city. These aren’t cheap, but if you’re into the theatre scene and know something about the various performers being honored, it can be an exciting night. In any case, the performances are always fun, and you can catch moments that aren’t in the broadcast. Always the first or second Sunday night in June, visit The Tony Awards website for the most current details. New York has a wide variety of musical and dance companies, including several that are among the world’s most renowned. There are also numerous small companies putting on more idiosyncratic shows every night of the week. The following are just a few of New York’s most high-profile music and dance options.
Brooklyn Academy of Music(BAM), 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn. Home to the impressive Brooklyn Philharmonic, BAM is one of the best places in the country to attend cutting-edge new musical and dance performances. The Next Wave Festival every autumn is a much-anticipated event of the New York performance scene.
Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue. The premier venue for classical music in the United States, Carnegie Hall is famous around the world for its dazzling performances. Playing at Carnegie Hall is, for many classical musicians, the epitome of success. Carnegie Hall houses three different auditoriums, with the Isaac Stern auditorium being the largest venue.
Subway: N, Q, R, or W to 57th Street-7th Avenue.
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). The Chamber Music Society is the most prestigious chamber music ensemble in the United States, playing in the acoustically impeccable Alice Tully Hall.
Metropolitan Opera at Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). The Met (as it is known) is one of the greatest opera companies in the world. The company performs six days a week (Monday-Saturday) during the season (September-April), and always lands the greatest singers from around the globe. Expect to pay a small fortune for the most expensive seats, but upper-tier seats can cost as little as $25.
Subway: 1 to 66th Street-Lincoln Center
New York City Opera at New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). (Closed for renovations until Fall 2009.) The slightly more accessible and energetic younger sister of the Met, the NYCO is a world-class company that puts on a dynamic range of performances. Plus, tickets can go for as little as $16.
New York City Ballet at New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). Founded by George Balanchine, the New York City Ballet is among the world’s best dance companies. Their performances of the The Nutcracker, during the holiday season, are enormously popular.
New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway). One of the premier orchestras in the United States, playing a wide variety of concerts (more than 100) every year to sold-out crowds, the Philharmonic is well-known for its standard-setting performances of the classical canon. The season runs from September to June, and in the summer they play free concerts in parks around the city .
Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, (212) 632-3975, . See the Rockettes, another show or just tour the famous Art Deco masterpiece.
Film New York is one of the world’s greatest film cities, home to a huge number of theaters playing independent and repertory programs. Many major US studio releases open earlier in New York than elsewhere (especially in the autumn) and can be found at the major cineplexes (AMC, United Artists, etc.) around the city. Be advised that, as with everything else in New York, movies are quite popular, and even relatively obscure films at unappealing times of the day can still be sold out. It’s best to get tickets in advance whenever possible. As many films premiere in New York, you can often catch a moderated discussion with the director or cast after the show. Sometimes even repertory films will have post-screening discussions or parties. Check listings for details. In addition to the more than 15 commercial multiplexes located throughout the city, some of the more intriguing New York film options include:
Film Forum 209 West Houston Street. A stylish theater in Greenwich Village that runs two programs—contemporary independent releases and classic repertory films. While the current releases are almost always interesting and worth seeing, it’s the repertory programming schedule that filmlovers anticipate eagerly.
American Museum of the Moving Image 35th Ave and 36th Street, Queens. AMMI contains a museum devoted to, literally, moving images, so visitors will find exhibits on zoetropes and video games in addition to film and television. They also put on a terrific screening program, with films showing continuously throughout the day.
Angelika Film Center 18 West Houston Street at Broadway, (212) 995-2000, . Just down the street from Film Forum, the Angelika plays new independent and foreign films, many of which are only screened in New York. The cafe upstairs is something of a hotspot as well.
Subway: N or R to Prince Street.
Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue (at East 2nd Street), . A varied program of unique films, both repertory and new, most playing for only one or two screenings. Many of the films shown here can’t be seen anywhere else (for better or worse). It also plays host to several film festivals yearly.
Subway: F to 2nd Avenue-Lower East Side
Cinema Village On 22 East 12th Street between University Place and Fifth Ave (212) 629-5097, Cinema Village specializes in showing documentaries, independent and foreign films. Often the films there will not be playing anywhere else in the country and Q&As with directors are common at opening weekends.
Film Society at Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, 155 West 65th Street (at Broadway), . The Film Society always puts on a terrific repertory program and shows a wide variety of experimental and foreign films. In addition, numerous talks and panels are held here, many featuring bold-named directors, screenwriters, and actors.
MoMA 11 West 53rd Street. In addition to being the crown jewel of modern art museums, MoMA puts on a terrific repertory program in a nicely renovated theater below the museum. And compared to other New York movie theaters, tickets to films at MoMA are a steal.
New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Running in October, the New York Film Festival is one of the country’s best, with great films from around the world accompanied by interesting discussions, lectures, and panels. Be advised that tickets usually sell out at least a month in advance.
Tribeca Film Festival. Throughout May the movie theaters of Lower Manhattan are taken over by the Tribeca Film Festival, which puts on a truly enormous amount of screenings and talks. Just a few years old, the Tribeca Film Festival has already secured a prominent place in New York’s film calendar.
Parades New York City hosts many parades, street festivals and outdoor pageants. The following are the most famous:
New York’s Village Halloween Parade. Each Halloween (October 31) at 7PM. This parade and street pageant attracts 2 million spectators and 50,000 costumed participants along Sixth Avenue between Spring Street and 21st Street. Anyone in a costume is welcome to march; those wishing to should show up between 6PM-9PM at Spring Street and 6th Avenue.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The morning of each Thanksgiving on Central Park West, this parade attracts many spectators and is broadcast on nationwide television.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The largest St. Paddy’s parade in the world! Route is up 5th Ave from 44th Street to 86th Street and lasts from 11AM to about 2:30. Celebrations in pubs citywide happen the rest of the day and night until the green beer runs out.
Labor Day (aka West Indian Day Parade or New York Carribean Carnival). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day_Carnival The Labor Day Carnival, or West Indian Carnival, is an annual celebration held in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Its main event is the West Indian-American Day Parade, which attracts between one and three million spectators, thus taking in more foot traffic in one day than the entirety of Toronto’s Caribana festival. The spectators watch the parade on its route along Eastern Parkway. The large parade is held on American Labor Day, the first Monday in September.
New York is the fashion capital of the United States, and is a major shopping destination for people around the world. The city boasts an unmatched range of department stores, boutiques, and specialty shops. Some neighborhoods boast more shopping options than most other American cities and have become famous as consumer destinations. Anything you could possibly want to buy can be found in New York, including clothing, cameras, computers and accessories, music, musical instruments, electronic equipment, art supplies, sporting goods, and all kinds of foodstuffs and kitchen appliances. See the borough pages and district sub-pages for listings of some of the more important stores and major business districts, of which there are several.
Anyone can freely create, display, and sell art, including paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, DVDs, and CDs, based on freedom of speech rights. Thousands of artists earn their livings on NYC streets and in parks. Common places to find street artists selling their work are SoHo in Lower Manhattan and near the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 81st Street.
New York City has a number of retail outlet locations, offering substantial discounts and the opportunity to purchase ends-of-line and factory seconds. Century 21 and Filene’s in Manhattan are two of the largest stores where New Yorkers get designer clothing for less.
Basic food, drinks, snacks, medicine, and toiletries can be found at decent prices at the ubiquitous Duane Reade , CVS, and Rite Aid stores. For a more authentically New York experience, stop by one of the thousands of bodegas/delis/groceries. Although sometimes dirty-looking in apparent need of repair, you can purchase groceries, water, inexpensive flowers, coffee, and cooked food — typically 24/7.
Shopping in airports
Most shops in NYC airports are are chain outlets, the same as can be found in most of large airports in the world–so it’s pretty difficult to feel the spirit of the fashion capital if you only have 2 hours waiting for a connecting flight. At JFK airport, JetBlue Airways’ new terminal 5 is populated with modern, cutting-edge restaurants and shops, but terminals 4 and 8 are also a good place for retail and duty free shopping.
In New York City it is common for street vendors so set up tables on the sidewalk, close to the curb, and sell items. They are required to obtain a permit to perform this activity, but it is legal. Purchasing from these vendors is generally legitimate, although buying brand name goods from these vendors (particularly expensive clothing and movies) is ill advised as the products being sold may actually be cheap imitation products. It is considered safe to buy less expensive goods from these vendors, but most will not accept payment by credit card, so you will have to bring money. Be particularly wary of any street vendor that does not sell from a table (especially vendors who approach you with their merchandise in a briefcase) as these goods are almost certainly cheap imitation products.
New York has, as you might expect of the Big Apple, all the eating options covered and you can find almost every type of food available and every cuisine of the world represented. There are literally tens of thousands of restaurants, ranging from dingy $0.99-a-slice pizza joints to the $500-a-plate prix fixe sushi at Masa. Thousands of delis, bodegas, and grocery stores dot every corner of the city and DIY meals are easy and cheap to find. Street food comes in various tastes, ranging from the ubiquitous New York hot dog vendors to the many middle eastern carts at street corners in mid-town. Fruit stalls appear at many intersections from Spring to Fall with ready to eat strawberries, bananas, apples, etc available at very low cost. Vegetarians will find New York to be a paradise with hundreds of vegetarian-only restaurants and good veggie options in even the most expensive places.
Delis & Street Food
The New York Bagel. There is no bagel like the New York Bagel anywhere else in the world. Bagels, which are a doughnut-shaped round of boiled dough with a distinctive, chewy, sweet interior and a leathery outer crust, arrived from the old world with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and have become utterly New York in character. You can get bagels anywhere in the city but, for the best bagels you may have to trek away from the main tourist sites. H&H Bagels at W 46th St. and 12th Av. is very popular and expensive, but many bagel connoisseurs consider Absolute Bagels at Broadway and 107th street to be the most traditional and best. Ess-a-Bagel on 21st and 1st Av. and 3rd Av. between 51st and 52nd Sts. also has a strong following. For anyone out there wanting to try a REAL bagel, you need to go to Brooklyn. One good spot is the Bagel Hole (see Prospect Park (7th Avenue of the F or G) or try looking in Midwood (Avenue J on the Q subway line). For the best bagels, go early when they are warm and straight from the oven. There’s also a little-known cousin to the bagel, the bialy, which is like a bagel but the hole does not go all the way through. Kossar’s Bialys on Grand Street at Essex is an ancient Lower East Side institution.
The New York Hot Dog. Vendors all over the city sell hot dogs – affectionately called “dirty water dogs” by the locals – from pushcarts on city sidewalks and in parks. Choose your toppings from mustard, ketchup, and relish (or just ask for everything), wrap the dog in a paper napkin, and walk along the sidewalk trying not to let the toppings slip and slide all over your hands. Also recommended is Papaya King (several locations), known for their inexpensive meals ($3.25 for a dog and a drink) and their blended tropical fruit drinks and smoothies. Or, take the Subway to Coney Island (D, F, N, Q trains, Coney Island – Stillwell Ave. stop) for the famous Nathan’s hot dog (1310 Surf Ave). Be forewarned that many New Yorkers never eat either one of these foods.
The New York Deli Sandwich. Another delicacy brought over by Jewish Immigrants, you must try either a corned beef or pastrami sandwich (a “Reuben” is always a good choice). There are some better known delis in the city, but the most famous one is Katz’s Deli at Houston and Ludlow Streets. They have been around since 1888, and still pack them in day and night.
The New York Pizza. A peculiarly New York thing, you can buy pizza, with a variety of toppings, by the slice from almost every pizzeria in the city. A New York pizza has a thin crust (sometimes chewy, sometimes crisp), plenty of cheese, and an artery-hardening sheen of grease on top. Buy a slice, fold in half lengthwise, and enjoy. If you just want a piece of plain cheese pizza, ask for “a slice.” Or pick up one with pepperoni — the quintessential meal on the go in New York.
The New York Cheesecake. Made famous by Lindy’s and Junior’s deli in New York, it relies upon heavy cream, cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks to add a richness and a smooth consistency. Now available throughout the city, but to get the original, go to Junior’s, just off the Manhattan Bridge in Downtown Brooklyn (see Downtown Brooklyn) (B, Q, or R to DeKalb Avenue)
The New York Egg Cream. Also often referred to as a “Chocolate Egg Cream”. A blend of chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer water. One of the best is found at Katz’s Delicatessen. Though not often on the menu at many diners, if you ask for one they will still prepare it for you at most locations.
Maybe it’s the size of New Yorkers’ tiny kitchens, or perhaps it’s the enormous melting-pot immigrant populations, but either way, this city excels at every kind of restaurant. There are fancy famous-chef restaurants, all ethnic cuisines and fusion/updates of ethnic cuisines (second-generation immigrants tweaking their family tradition), plus all the fashionable spots, casual bistros, lounges for drinking and noshing and more. A hot list of New York restaurants is bound to become quickly out of date, but here are a few of the moment.
The Standard Grill–Latest big, fabulous, fashionable hotel-bistro. Celeb-packed. Superb food.
Momofuku Saam Bar–The chef here, David Chang, is the biggest new name to come out of the ’00s.
Prune–This is a classic tiny spot with a well-known female chef, and, for those willing to wait for a table at brunch, will give the ultimate NYC brunching experience, plus Bloody Marys.
Buttermilk Channel–It’s in Brooklyn at the tail end of Carroll Gardens near Red Hook. Simply great updated locavore comfort food.
While most restaurants accept credit cards, some smaller restaurants, particularly in Chinatown and Williamsburg, do not. Others have required minimum purchase amounts for credit/debit purchases. Most establishments will prominently display this requirement, so keep your eyes open if you typically pay for meals with plastic.
As in the rest of the United States, tipping is expected in New York restaurants. New Yorkers often calculate the base tip by doubling the tax. For more information, see Tipping in the United States.
Restaurants with entrees under $20 are unlikely to have any preference about what their customers wear. Of course, like most major cities, New York has some expensive, extremely fashionable restaurants that care about, and enforce, a certain level of dress among their customers – but “jackets only” restaurants are very uncommon nowadays. If you’re from elsewhere in the US and wish to “pass” as a local within Manhattan, pay attention to your shoes and coat. Most local exclusiveness is pretty understated, but where it exists it’s generally from nightlife commuters from New Jersey and Long Island that supposedly threaten to rob bar-filled neighborhoods of their local color. Therefore, if your style doesn’t fit in but is obviously from outside the US, you may find yourself as welcomed as graciously as any local, if not more so.
New York is a friendly place for vegetarians and vegans. There are many vegetarian only restaurants with offerings varying from macrobiotic food to Ayurvedic thalis or Asian Buddhist food. But, more importantly, almost every restaurant at every point on the price scale has vegetarian dishes that are more than an afterthought. Even Per Se, one of the most expensive and sought after restaurants in the city, has a seven course vegetarian tasting menu well worth the expense. DIY vegetarians will have no problem finding fresh vegetables, a wide variety of cheese, bread, and prepared vegetarian foods in New York supermarkets.
Nothing differentiates New York more from other American (and European) cities than the astonishing amount of food cooked and served on the streets. Starting with the thousands of hot dog stands on almost every street corner (try Hallo Berlin on 54th and Fifth for the best rated sausages), the possibilities are endless. People trek to Jackson Heights in Queens for a nibble of the famous arepas of the Arepa Lady. Freshly cooked Indian dosas are served up for a pittance at the NY Dosas stand in Washington Square Park. The Trinidadian/Pakistani Trinipak cart on 43rd and Sixth. Danny Meyer, the famous restaurateur, has a burger stand (“Shake Shack”) in Madison Square Park as well as a new location on the upper west side. The halal offerings in midtown are legendary (Kwik-Meal on 45th and Sixth; Chicken Guy/Halal Chicken on 53rd and Sixth and many others). Most carts serve lunch (from about 11AM to 5 or 6PM in the evening) and disappear after dark, so look for a cart near you, smell what’s cooking, and enjoy a hot and often tasty lunch for a few dollars (a meal costs anywhere from about $2 to $8). Mornings, from about 6AM to 10AM, the streets are dotted with coffee carts that sell coffee, croissants, bagels, and danish pastries and are good for a cheap breakfast: small coffee and bagel for a dollar or so. Other street vendors sell italian ices, ice cream, and roasted peanuts. Also, look around for the coffee truck (often found in Union Square), dessert truck, as well as Belgian waffle truck that roam around the city.
Do It Yourself
New York’s many markets and grocery stores make preparing your own food interesting and easy. Almost every grocery store, deli, or bodega has a prepared foods section where you can make your own salad (beware, you are charged by the pound!) or buy ready to eat foods such as burritos, tacos, curries and rice, lasagna, pastas, pre-prepared or freshly-made sandwiches, and many other types of foods. Whole Foods has five New York City locations, all with a variety of foods, and a clean place to sit and eat but any supermarket will have enough to take away to the park or your hotel room for a low cost meal. If you have a place to cook, you’ll find almost any kind of food in New York though you may have to travel to the outer boroughs for ethnic ingredients. Most supermarkets have Thai, Chinese, and Indian sauces to add flavor to your pot, and many, especially in upper Manhattan, have the ingredients necessary for a Mexican or Central American meal, but go to Chinatown for the best Chinese ingredients, Little India in Murray Hill for Indian ingredients, Flushing for all things Chinese or Korean, Jackson Heights for Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Indian, Flatbush and Crown Heights for Jamaican, Williamsburg for Kosher, Greenpoint for Polish. Ask around for where you can get your favorite ethnic ingredients and you’ll find traveling around in local neighborhoods a rewarding experience. There is also a Trader Joe’s at Union Square for cheap but delicious supermarket buys. Western Beef Supermarkets offer more foods from different ethnicities than average supermarkets.
The only thing about New York City that changes faster than the subway map or the restaurants is the bar scene. While some established watering holes have been around for decades or centuries, the hot spot of the moment may well have opened last week and could likely close just as quickly. The best way to find a decent bar is to ask the advice of a native dweller with trustworthy taste. For a map of all the city’s bars and/or reviews, check out:
New York on Tap
Time Out New York ,
Village Voice ,
The following is a general overview of the popular neighborhoods for a night out. For more specific suggestions, see the relevant district pages.
Greenwich Village – Probably the best neighborhood to go if you are in town for just a brief period. It is the equivalent somewhat of a Latin Quarter, full locals of all ages, especially students. There are many bars around Bleecker Street and MacDougal, as well as near lower Seventh and Sixth Avenues.
Chelsea – Lots of clubs and a thriving gay scene along Eighth Avenue between 20th & 30th Streets. There is a mix of bars and of course not every bar is a gay bar. West Chelsea (27th-29th streets, west of 10th Avenue) is loaded with clubs. If you are European and looking for a discotheque, this is where you want to be.
The Meatpacking District – Trendier bars and clubs and some expensive restaurants, including the Old Homestead, NYC’s oldest steakhouse. Located between Greenwich Village and Chelsea, around 14th Street and 9th Avenues.
The Lower East Side – Formerly the dingy alternative to the West Village, but has become trendier today. Ludlow Street is crawling with bars in an area that may remind you of the Bastille in Paris. Rivington and Stanton Street are also viable options.
The East Village – Lots of bars located on Second Avenue around 2nd Street. There is also a sizeable cluster of Japanese bars, which are great fun, located on St. Mark’s between 2nd and 3rd.
Alphabet City – East of the East Village, this area was once a dangerous drug-addled hell hole; today it is loaded with bars. Heroin dens have been replaced with brunch places!
Murray Hill – More hip with the 30-year-old crowd. The area around 29th Street and Lexington Avenue has many Indian restaurants, but within three blocks there are plenty of watering holes, including a couple of fireman bars and an all Irish whiskey pub.
Times Square – A very touristy area. The Marriot Marquis at Broadway & 45th has a revolving bar on the 50th floor. The Peninsula Hotel at 5th Avenue & 55th has probably the classiest rooftop bar in New York. The Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center is often closed and has a dress code. The Hotel Metro on 5th Avenue & 35th also has a rooftop bar with fantastic, stress free, views of the Empire State Building.
Williamsburg – One stop into Brooklyn on the L train, this is the capital of NYC’s hipster scene. If you like pale boys with tight jeans and no job, this is the place for you. There are plenty of bars along Bedford Avenue.
Woodside – A 10-minute ride on the #7 train line from Times Square, this Queens neighborhood is a great for happy hour and drinking festivities before a Mets baseball game. There are several Irish pubs by the Woodside train station.
Astoria – This Queens neighborhood, 25 minutes from Times Square on the N/Q trains, is home to Queens’ Bohemian Hall Beer Garden, near the Astoria Boulevard subway stop. This bar, popular in the summer, covers an entire city block, is walled and filled with trees, indoor and outdoor tables and a cool crowd, and serves great Czech and German beer.
Bay Ridge – This Brooklyn neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of bars in the city! The neighborhood has been generally Irish/Italian and does not have the hipster/yuppie scene common in New York.
Park Slope – This Brooklyn neighborhood is the yuppie capital of New York and you are more likely to find a tea house serving soy milk than a bar here. There is plenty of low-key nightlife. A number of lesbian bars are located in this area.
St. George – This Staten Island neighboorhood has a few bars located south of the ferry terminal. Make a left when you leave the boat. Tourists take the trip on the ferry every year and never get off. Look for live music at the Cargo Cafe or Karl’s Klipper, both located on Bay Street w/ phenomenal views of the Verrazano Bridge.
Last call is 4AM, although many establishments will let you stay beyond that, especially in the outer boroughs. It is not uncommon to be locked in a bar after 4AM so people can keep drinking.
Tip your bartender well and buybacks (drinks on the house) do happen- especially in the outer boroughs.
Wine and liquor are sold at liquor stores, and are not sold at delis or supermarkets. There are many located along 8th Avenue. The cheapest liquor store in Manhattan is Warehouse Wines and Spirits at 735 Broadway between Waverly Place and Astor Place, just a bit south of 8th Street. Beer cannot be bought between 4AM and 8AM on Sunday morning (although if you look hard, you can get around this… but you should probably just call it quits at that point).
There are various local beers to try. Chelsea Brewing Company, Heartland Brewery, and Brooklyn Brewery are worth a visit.
Keep in mind that in all of the United States, the legal drinking age is 21. Even if you’re over 21, make sure to keep your drivers license (sufficient for US & Canadian citizens) or passport (sufficient for everyone else) on hand. Especially in touristy neighborhoods, it’s not uncommon to be asked to prove your age as a matter of policy- even at a restaurant. Outside of the touristy areas, and especially in Brooklyn, people tend to be more relaxed.
New York has some of the most expensive accommodation in the world. Expect to pay up to $50 for a hostel, $100-$200 for a budget room with shared bath, $250-$350 for a mid-range hotel with a decent room and a restaurant and/or room service; and much higher in a high end hotel. Most rooms below $200 in Manhattan are small with room for a bed, a tv, and little else. Be warned that the quality of hotels varies significantly and, in many cheap hotels away from the center such as along the West Side Highway or in the outer reaches of Queens, you may share the premises with hourly customers!
Room rates are typically quoted excluding taxes, so expect your actual bill to be higher than the quoted rate. Taxes include New York State and New York City sales tax (8.875%), a New York City Hotel Occupancy Tax (varies but, for rooms above $40, $2 + 5.875%), and a surcharge of $1.50. For a $100 per night room, expect to pay $117.75, after taxes are taken into account.
Alternatives to Manhattan accommodations
It’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t have to stay in Manhattan.
Long Island City, Queens
In Long Island City, Queens, there are 10-15 clean and safe hotels in the region just across the Queensborough/59th Street Bridge from Manhattan. Accomodation here can cost as little as $50 per night. This area is being developed by the city as its new “hotel zone.” Take advantage of it! Since the subway runs all night, you can go out in Manhattan and come back at any time.
Just over the Hudson River and out of the city limits, in New Jersey, there are cheaper hotels, and Manhattan is easily accessible by a short 15-minute ferry ride, by train, by bus, or by a more expensive cab ride. However, public transit to and from New Jersey does not run as often as transportation within New York City, especially after midnight. Taking a cab to New Jersey can be difficult – at times, crossing the bridges and tunnels to New Jersey is painfully slow due to traffic. Hotels close to Newark Airport can cost as little as $50 per night if booked online. However, to travel to Manhattan with public transportation can be complicated . Multiple transfers are required (airport shuttle to airport; #62 to Newark Penn Station; PATH train to the city), and services are of low frequency. Expect 1.5 to 2 hours each way from your Newark airport hotel to Manhattan. Jersey City can be easier – it’s only a short hop from there to Midtown on the PATH.
Another option for customers coming from Newark Airport is to stay in Staten Island. Some Staten Island hotels, such as The Hilton Garden Inn at 900 South Avenue, offer free shuttle buses or are on bus lines to the free St. George Ferry to Manhattan. Do be aware though that Staten Island is a lot farther than it seems from the main attractions.
Staying with locals
It is highly advised to stay with someone you know who lives in New York. If you don’t know anyone, you can look into a hospitality exchange. New Yorkers love showing off their city and understand that hotels are expensive. Taking an old friend out to dinner one night in return for accommodation is far more economical than staying in a hotel – and you will get a real take on New York as opposed to just the tourist attractions.
Find free wireless hotspots across the city online at openwifinyc, NYC Wireless , and WiFi Free Spot. Wireless is available in city parks and quite a few public libraries. The Apple store has dozens of computers setup and doesn’t seem to mind that many people use them for free internet access, but they can be pretty busy at times. Easy Internet Cafe and FedEx Office are just some of the internet cafes which offer broadband internet at reasonable prices. Finding a store with an open power outlet may be difficult. Public phones are found all over the city so carry quarters if you plan to use them. Remember to include the 1 and area code when dialing from any phone in New York City – including private “land line” phones in buildings – as 11-digit dialing is always in effect, even when dialing locally.
Commonly believed to be very dangerous, New York is statistically the safest large city in the United States, and its crime rate per person is actually lower than the national average and the crime rate of many small towns. The most common crime against tourists (not including being overcharged!) is bag snatching. Never let go of your bag, especially in the subway but also when eating at a restaurant. Take special care if sitting outdoors or in a crowded self-service restaurant. Leave your passport and other valuables in a hotel safe or hidden in your suitcase, and don’t flaunt a wad of money. While muggings are rare, they do happen. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you find yourself on a lightly traveled or poorly lit street. Certain neighborhoods that are off the tourist path should be avoided in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Riverside Park and Central Park can be dangerous at night. If you go to an evening outdoor concert at one of the parks, follow the crowd out of the park before heading toward your destination. If you think you’ve inadvertently wandered into a dangerous area, hop into a cab, if available, or into the nearest subway station and go elsewhere. If a subway platform is deserted, stay within sight of the station agent. New York has its share of odd people: talkative pan-handlers, lonely people just wanting a chat, religious preachers, people with psychological disorders, etc. If you prefer not to speak with someone who approaches you for a chat, do what most New Yorkers do: completely ignore them or say “Sorry, gotta go” while continuing to walk at a brisk pace. Despite the stereotypes, many New Yorkers are nice people and don’t mind giving out directions (time allowing), so don’t be afraid to ask! If you ever get into trouble, approach the nearest police officer. You’ll find them to be friendly, polite, and very helpful.
Citizen Service Center, tel 311 (lines open 24/7) – New York City’s official non-emergency help line, available in 171 languages for questions (parade hours and routes, parking restrictions, transport problems) and complaints (litter, noise pollution, access).
Baby Sitters’ Guild, +1 212 682-0227 . Bookings 9AM–9PM daily, cash payments only. For stressed and busy parents visiting New York, round-the-clock baby-sitting is available short- or long-term from $20 per hour (4 hour minimum) and cab fare (approx. $10). Multilingual sitters are also available.
Barnard Babysitting Agency +1 212 854-2035 . Students of Barnard College babysit for around $16 an hour, minimum two hours, plus a $20 registration fee.
Smoking in public places is highly restricted. It is prohibited in indoor sections of bars, restaurants, subway stations and trains (all transit system property), public parks, public beaches, pedestrian malls, both indoor and outdoor stadiums and sports arenas, and many other public places. If you light up in any of these places, you are subject to a summons and fine, ejection, and/or indignant reactions from residents. There do remain a small number of legal cigar bars that are exempt, as are the outside areas of sidewalk cafes and the like, but these are very much the exception. If you need to smoke while eating or drinking, be prepared to take a break and join the rest of the smokers outside, whatever the weather; many establishments have large space heaters. As in most cities, drinking alcoholic beverages on the street is illegal, so bars will not let you take your drink outside.
Andorra 27F, Two United Nations Plaza, ☎ +1 212 750-8064/5, fax: +1 212 750-6630, (http://www.mae.ad/angles/htmls/menu/ambaixadausa.html)
Argentina 12 W 56 St (btwn 5th and 6th Aves) ☎ +1 212 603-0400, fax: +1 212 541-7746, (http://www.embassyofargentina.us/espanol/consuladosargentinoseneeuu/consuladosargentinoseneeuunuevayork.htm)
Australia 150 E 42nd St 34F, ☎ +1 212-351-6500, fax: +1 212-351-6501, (http://www.newyork.usa.embassy.gov.au/nycg/home.html)
Austria 31 East 69th Street, ☎ +1 (212) 933 5140, (http://www.bmeia.gv.at/newyorkgk)
Belgium 1065 Avenue of the Americas, 22F, ☎ +1 212-586-5110, fax: +1 212-582-9657, (http://www.diplomatie.be/newyork)
Brazil 1185 Avenue of the Americas, 21F, ☎ +1 917-777-7777, fax: +1 212-827-0225, (http://www.portalconsular.mre.gov.br/clientes/portalconsular/portalconsular/mundo/america-do-norte/estados-unidos-da-america/nova-york)
Canada 1251 Avenue of the Americas, ☎ +1 212-596-1628, fax: +1 212-596-1790, (http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/new_york/index.aspx?lang=eng)
China 520 12th Ave, ☎ +1 212-244-9456, (http://www.nyconsulate.prchina.org/eng/)
Colombia 10 East 46th St (btwn 5th and Madison Aves) ☎ +1 212 798-9000, fax: +1 212 972-1725, (http://www.consuladodecolombiany.com/)
Denmark One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 885 Second Ave, 18F, ☎ +1 212 223-4545, fax: +1 212 754-1904, (http://www.gknewyork.um.dk/en)
France 934 Fifth Ave (btwn 74th and 75th Sts) ☎ +1 212-606-3600, fax: +1 212-606-3620, (http://www.consulfrance-newyork.org/spip.php?rubrique7)
Germany 871 United Nations Plaza (First Ave btwn 48th and 49th Sts) ☎ +1 212-610-9700, fax: +1 212-940-0402, (http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/03__Consulates/New__York/00/__Home.html)
Greece 69 E 79th St, ☎ +1 212 988-5500, fax: +1 212 734-8492, (http://www.mfa.gr/www.mfa.gr/AuthoritiesAbroad/North+America/USA/GeneralConsulateNewYork/en-US/)
India 3 E 64th St (btwn 5th and Madison Aves) ☎ +1 212-774-0600, fax: +1 212-861-3788, (http://www.indiacgny.org/)
Ireland 345 Park Ave, 17F, ☎ + 1 212-319-2555, fax: +1 212-980-9475, (http://www.consulateofirelandnewyork.org/home/index.aspx?id=40066)
Italy 690 Park Ave, ☎ +1 212 737-9100, fax: +1 212 249-4945, (http://www.consnewyork.esteri.it)
Japan 299 Park Ave, 18F, ☎ +1 212-371-8222, fax: +1 212-319-6357, (http://www.ny.us.emb-japan.go.jp)
Kenya 866 UN Plaza, Ste 4016, ☎ +1 212-421-4741, fax: +1 212-486-1985, (https://www.kenyaembassy.com/nyservices/newpponlineapp.aspx)
Mexico 27 E 39th St, ☎ +1 212 217-6400, fax: +1 212 545-8197, (http://www.consulmexny.org)
Netherlands 1 Rockefeller Plaza, 11F, fax: +1 212-333-3603, (http://ny.the-netherlands.org/)
Philippines 556 5th Ave, ☎ +1 212-764-1330, fax: +1 212-764-6010, (http://www.pcgny.net/)
Portugal 630 Fifth Ave, Ste 801, ☎ +1 212-765-2980, fax: +1 212-262-2143, (http://www.un.int/portugal/visainfo.htm)
South Africa 333 E 38th St, ☎ +1 212-213-4880, fax: +1 212-213-0102, (http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/consulate/)
Spain 150 E 58th St, 30-31F, ☎ +1 212-355-4080, fax: +1 212-644-3751, (http://www.maec.es/Consulados/NuevaYork/es/Home/)
Switzerland 633 Third Ave, 30F, ☎ +1 212-599-5700, fax: +1 212-599-4266, (http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/reps/nameri/vusa/cgny.html)
Turkey 821 United Nations Plaza, ☎ +1 646-430-6560/90, fax: +1 212-983-1293, (http://newyork.bk.mfa.gov.tr/default.aspx)
United Kingdom 845 Third Ave, ☎ +1 212-745-0200, fax: +1 212-754-3062, (http://ukinusa.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/other-locations/ny/)
Taiwan (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) 1 E 42nd St, 4F, ☎ +1 212 486-0088, fax: +1 212 421 7866, (http://www.taiwanembassy.org/US/NYC/ct.asp?xItem=12626&CtNode=2945&mp=62&xp1=)
Locals would ask why you ever want to leave, but New York is a great jumping-off point to other locations in the metro area (including New Jersey and Connecticut) or anywhere in the Boston-Washington Megalopolis corridor.
Long Island— When you travel to NYC in the summer, a great idea is to check out Long Island. With its beautiful long white sanded beaches you can have it all: the big city and the summer holiday. Many New Yorkers do that every Friday, Saturday and Sunday if it is hot. Take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Long Beach ($6.75 one way), and from there go south to the beach itself. Take a day trip on the Hampton Jitney from various stops in NYC to the East End, where Long Island wine country is on the North Fork and The Hamptons are on the South Fork.
Fire Island – an all-pedestrian summer-resort island located off the coast of Long Island. Fire Island is home to many vacation communities on the western part of the island (Ocean Beach being the most populous, with the most restaurants and bars that make an excellent day trip). The eastern part of the island is home to the largely gay communities of Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines. Western Fire Island is reachable by ferry from Bay Shore on Long Island. Bay Shore is about an hour’s train ride on the Long Island Rail Road from Manhattan, and the ferry ride from Bay Shore is another thirty minutes. Ferries to Ocean Beach from Bay Shore run about once every hour during the summer. Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines are reachable by ferry from Sayville. The easternmost community, Davis Park, is reachable by ferry from Patchogue.
Jersey City, New Jersey- Directly across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan is New Jersey’s second largest city. Jersey City is a diverse city with lots of multicultural shops and restaurants. It can be reached from Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel or the PATH trains (the bi-state subway)
Hoboken, New Jersey-Directly across the Hudson River from the West Village and Chelsea is the alleged birthplace of baseball (most erroneously believe that the birthplace is Cooperstown, NY) and actual birthplace of Frank Sinatra. Hoboken is a small city in area with a great assortment of prewar buildings and conspicuous lack of many corporate establishments. The piers have great views of Manhattan, a large selection of bars, restaurants, and clubs, and are a good place to walk around. Hoboken can be reached from Manhattan by the PATH train or by bus from Port Authority as well by NY Waterway ferries.
The Palisades- On the western bank of the Hudson River, there are cliffs that rise sharply. These cliffs are known as the majestic Palisades. They range from 300 to 500 feet. They start in the Northern portion of Jersey City and stretch all the way to Nyack, New York. There are numerous viewpoints, trails and campsites located along the Palisades. The Palisades can be easily reached from Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge. Palisade Interstate Park and Parkway start north of the bridge.
Jersey Shore, New Jersey- The Jersey Shore starts just a few miles south of New York City. It stretches for almost 130 miles, and along it are private and public beaches. There are numerous activities along the Jersey Shore. A convenient train ride on the NJ Transit trains from Penn Station will get you to several of the towns on the Jersey Shore, including Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach.
Westchester and the Hudson Valley – Home to the country’s only government-operated theme park – Rye Playland – as well as beautiful neighborhoods. There are pretty communities along the Long Island Sound and inland, and the Hudson Valley (which extends north of Westchester) is truly beautiful; the train route (Metro North Hudson Line to Poughkeepsie or Amtrak to Albany) along the Hudson River is one of the loveliest in the country. Westchester County starts just north of the NYC borough of The Bronx.
Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey- Just an 80-minute drive from Manhattan sits the largest regional theme park in the world. Six Flags Great Adventure features 12 monster roller coasters and is located right next to the Wild Safari (one of the largest drive-through safaris in the world). There is also Six Flags Hurricane Harbor right next door (the largest water park in the Northeast). New Jersey Transit also provides bus service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan when the park is open (May-October).
Princeton, New Jersey- Also an easy train ride on New Jersey Transit, Princeton offers a quiet, tree-lined town, good for strolling or for visiting the Princeton University campus. Take the Northeast Corridor line to Princeton Junction, then transfer to the shuttle train (known locally as the “Dinky”) to ride directly into campus.
New Haven, Connecticut— Just 65 miles away, New Haven is a 1 hour 45 minute ride from Grand Central via Metro North Railroad, and home to Yale University.
Boston, Massachusetts – Beantown or the “Hub of the Universe” and home to the Freedom Trail, incredible seafood, Harvard University in nearby Cambridge, and the Boston Red Sox (who are the most hated sports team of New Yorkers), is 4 hours north on I-95 ($15-$20 one way by bus on Greyhound, Peter Pan, Bolt Bus or Mega Bus), with a bus from Port Authority Bus Terminal every hour around the clock.