New York City is the iconic cultural capital of the United States. Made up of five distinct boroughs, this city is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Each neighborhood has its own culture, history, and identity that offers something unique for all visitors. With so much to do and see, visitors can quickly become overwhelmed with the sheer number of possibilities. And unfortunately, due to inexperience, many travelers will make the same mistakes. I’ve assembled this guide to help you avoid some of the major time-wasters and tourist traps of this bustling, spirited city.
Choose Your Hotel Wisely
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I’m nearing the broken-record status when it comes to this tip, but choosing the right accommodation can really make or break a trip. Most travelers will spend most of their time seeing the most iconic tourist sights, so you’ll definitely want to find affordable accommodation in Manhattan. Consult the map and mark the places you really want to see, then choose accommodations that makes sense for you. Will saving $10 per night be worth it if you have to taxi to most of your destinations? There are so many New York hotels that you will have no trouble finding one that fits your needs.
Don’t Spend Your Trip Standing in Line
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Veteran travelers know that most major sights come with painfully long lines. Lucky for you, that is not necessarily the case in New York. For example, if the Empire State Building is on your must-see list, why not visit late at night? Visiting any time late in the day will offer much shorter lines. If you’re going to visit popular museums like the Guggenheim, avoid Mondays when everyone flocks to the few open museums.
If you’re flexible, don’t spend hours in line at the Statue of Liberty. Save your $28 and hop aboard the free Staten Island Ferry from which you’ll get stunning views of the Statue, New York Harbor, and Ellis Island, among others. If you do want to visit the Statue, reserve your tickets ahead to save time.
For those who will be seeing a Broadway show, don’t worry about arriving ahead of time and waiting in line. If you already have your seats booked, enjoy a light appetizer or drink and show up 15 minutes before curtain call. If you’ll be picking up your tickets, arrive 30 minutes beforehand.
Enjoy the Free Activities
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Though New York City has a reputation for being expensive, there are many great places to enjoy for free. One of the most notable is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has quite an impressive collection, and it remains free to all visitors, though a donation is heavily recommended. Central Park is another iconic place to spend an afternoon for free. Stroll along the green spaces, enjoy a leisurely bike ride, or even visit the small Central Park Zoo.
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New York City can be a daunting place, but armed with these tips, you’ll be ready to take the city head on.