To help you properly navigate this crazy city that I call home, I’ve outlined a list of things that you should either do or know before visiting NYC, in an effort to help you feel more prepared and allow you to save money where you can so that you don’t feel like a trip to NYC broke the bank.
New York City doesn’t have to be expensive. Is NYC more expensive than your typical suburb? Yes. But, it doesn’t have to be viewed at as a splurge trip. While there are a number of high class hotels in the city, there are equally as many budget friendly hotels available within the $85-200 range. Another way to save money is by avoiding the restaurants and bars in the touristy areas of the city and by choosing the subway over a cab. While it won’t be the cheapest vacation you’ve ever had, it definitely has the ability to be an affordable one.
The subway is the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get around. Although you may have heard horror stories about the NYC subway, it’s not nearly as bad as it seems. And while it may be tempting to take an Uber or a cab, I promise you the subway will save you a lot of time (NYC traffic is no joke), hassle and money. If you’re visiting for a longer period of time and are planning to hit up as many spots as possible, I highly recommend choosing the unlimited weekly pass for just $33 over paying as you go.
As for navigating the subway, you can use Google Maps or the NYC Subway app to easily make your way around the city.
Pro Tip: The subway is its most crowded from 8-9am and 5-6:30pm, as this is the height of the work commute. If you want to save yourself the trouble of being squished on a crowded train, I’d recommend avoiding the subway during these times.
Avoid eating & drinking in the touristy areas of the city. Not only will they be significantly more expensive but they’re often full of chain restaurants that aren’t reflective of the unique NYC food scene.
Pro Tip: During the week, most local NYC restaurants and bars have great happy hour deals, which will help to save some extra $$.
Research restaurants & bars beforehand. NYC is full of amazing and not so amazing bars and restaurants, and often times it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide where to go (even for those of us that live here). I’d recommend doing research ahead of time, bookmarking the spots that you want to visit and determining how they fit into your touring schedule. This will help to give you a better idea of your costs ahead of time and will help you avoid feeling frantic to pick a spot at the last minute. If you’re looking for some local recommendations, I highly recommend checking out The Infatuation or Eater NY.
Pro Tip: A lot of NYC’s best restaurants are hard to get into so I highly recommend making reservations wherever possible, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend.
The best way to see the city is by foot. Though it can be tempting to focus on hitting up the all of the key landmarks while you’re here, the best way to really see the city is by foot. When I first moved here, I would wander through different neighborhoods for hours, stopping in unique shops, restaurants and bars along the way. That’s how I really got to know this crazy city and all that it has to offer. And while I do recommend stopping by all of the must-see spots, let yourself wander the streets of NYC and get lost.
Pro Tip: Divide each day into neighborhoods to make seeing everything a little more manageable. For example, SoHo and the Lower East Side are right next to each other so it’s good to tackle them together, then spend a day exploring Bryant Park, Times Square & 5th Avenue another day. By strategically planning out your days you can easily walk from one landmark to the next while taking in everything in between.
New York City is safe. I’ve spoken to many people over the years that are under the impression that because New York is a busy, crowded city, it’s not safe, and that’s just not true. In the 6+ years that I’ve lived here, I can count on one hand the amount of times that I’ve felt uneasy either walking alone at night or getting in an Uber alone. Just like any other city, it’s always smart to have your wits about you; act smart when navigating crowds, avoid dark alleyways and stay aware of your surroundings taking the subway late at night. As long as you’re aware of your surroundings, you’ll feel at ease navigating this city.
The city really doesn’t ever sleep. Okay, if you live here you do sleep but what I mean by this is that the businesses don’t. Bars are open until at least 2am, with some staying open till 6am. Late night food spots are open just as late and you can easily eat dinner at 10pm. There really is always something to do and somewhere to go so take advantage of it!
Let me know if you have any questions before visiting New York City in the comments below!0