When visiting my best friend in Boston last month, we decided to do a little weekend excursion to New York City, which is only about 4 hours away from Boston. Since it was my first time in the city we obviously had to see as many top attractions as possible. Here are a few of my tips on how to make the most of your first time in New York City.
Don’t underestimate bus tours!
Although bus tours might seem super touristy and lame, you should definitely consider spending your first few hours in the city doing a bus tour. Whether it being with the traditional red busses, hop-on/hop-off busses, or any other bus tours, this is the best way to get a nice overview of the city and its neighborhoods along with a bunch of knowledge about the city. We did a tour with On Location Tours* which took us to all the movie and TV filming locations around the city.
Book in advance!
If you think you can enter the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, or a Broadway show just by showing up, think again! Make sure to book tickets for all those things in advance and even then, you might even have to arrive in advance. Even if you preordered tickets for the Statue of Liberty you can expect huge lines, so try to get tickets in the morning to prevent the longest lines.
Don’t dine around Times Square!
It might be tempting to grab your lunch or dinner around Times Square since you might already be in the area for sightseeing. However, most of those restaurants tend to be tourist traps with waiters trying to get you out as soon as you get your meal just to make more money. Instead do a little bit of homework, and you’ll find great and more affordable food just a few blocks away. Over the weekend we actually only bought 3 meals, but because of the huge portion sizes we managed to make them last the whole weekend. I would definitely recommend that you check out Chinatown for super cheap and great Chinese food, bagels or donuts, and the Nachos from Taqueria Diana.
Walk or take the subway!
If you’re looking for a great way to save on time and money, don’t take the cabs everywhere you go. New York has a great subway system which can take you pretty much anywhere at anytime. On top of that, New York is actually a pretty great city for walking, and you can reach pretty much all the main attractions on Manhattan by foot.
Don’t forget about Brooklyn!
Although you only have a few days in New York, you simply cannot miss out on Brooklyn! We decided to start our last day out with visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero, and then crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and spent the rest of the day in the DUMBO area, which has a bunch of great stores, cafes, and bars, and the most beautiful views of Manhattan.
Don’t know what to see and do in New York? I have a whole post dedicated to my New York City bucket list.
Have you been to New York, and do you have any other tips for first-time visitors?