The Ultimate Guide To New York City
New York City, a plethora of skyscrapers & fusion of many cultures!
New York, a quintessential city with a multitude of opulent skyscrapers, museums, nightlife, sports venues, shows, and shopping districts, offers a blend of stunning cityscapes and several cultures!
Renowned the world over for its several skyscrapers, flashing neon-lit streets, and pumping nightlife, New York needs no introduction! Often referred to as “The Big Apple” and “The City That Never Sleeps,” New York lives up to both its nicknames! With thousands of towering skyscrapers lining the city’s skyline, modern architecture, and the bustling and brightly lit Times Square, New York features captivating cityscapes that are hard to match!
However, it’s not just the towering buildings and nightlife, but also the well-planned city parks, historic neighborhoods, world-class museums, and inexhaustible shopping & dining options that make New York City one of the most sought-after destinations in the US! The looming Empire State Building, Charging Bull of Wall Street, One World Trade Center, and Statue of Liberty National Monument are more than just iconic landmarks of New York. They tell the tale of the city’s past, achievements, and courage to rebuild itself after some of the devastating events that took place in the city.
Once home to Native Americans followed by Dutch settlers and British, the city of New York was under British rule until the American Revolution and has witnessed several battles of the Revolutionary War. Upon opening of the Erie Canal, which led to the growth of trade and agriculture, brought several immigrants to the city, and New York soon emerged as the economic center of the US and became the Nation’s first capital. The city of New York has faced several grim events, including riots, devastating fires, and the 9/11 terrorist attack, but the city continues to grow and emerge!
New York has endless sightseeing opportunities, complemented with a few excellent land tours and harbor cruises offered by a few local tour companies!
Located in the southeast part of the New York State, the city of New York is situated on a harbor along the Atlantic Coast. The state and the city share the same name, so it might get confusing at time, but the city of New York is the most populous town in the state of New York and the US, comprising of several neighborhoods in its five districts / boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. The city of New York is not that huge in size, but given the several attractions in the city, it’s a good idea to use local sightseeing tour companies, especially when visiting the city for the first time!
Here is my ultimate guide to New York City, featuring essential trip-planning information, significant attractions, New York City attractions map, shows, tours, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants in New York City!
Planning Your Trip To New York City
Directly flying into New York City, staying in Downtown New York, and using bus and boat tours is the best way to explore the city!
Best Time To Visit New York City: Summer and early winter are the busiest seasons in New York City! Summers are great for sightseeing and early winter, November through December, is when the city is decorated for the holidays and bustling with festivities, skating rinks, and several events. However, summer and early winter are also the time when you’re most likely to stand in long queues to get inside a museum or an attraction. If you don’t mind slightly cooler weather, visiting in spring and fall is a great option to beat the crowd in New York City. Late winter, January through March, is harsh with regular snowfalls and is not the best time for outdoor activities in New York City.
Time Required At New York City: With so much to see and do in New York City, I recommend spending a minimum of three days to see the city’s major highlights. However, if you have more time, you could spend an entire week exploring every museum, multiple neighborhoods, take various tours, enjoy some of the great shows, and of course, indulge in some of the best cuisines and restaurants in New York City.
Getting To New York City: The best and most comfortable way to get to New York City is by flying into one of New York’s three airports, located very close to New York City. Alternatively, you could also take a train or a bus to New York City.
- Flight: New York City is served by three major airports, located pretty close to the city – (1) LaGuardia Airport (LGA), New York City, New York, about 12 miles from New York City, (2) Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Newark, New Jersey, approximately 14 miles from the city, and (3) John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York City, New York, around 25 miles from the city.
- Train: The Moynihan Train Hall Amtrak station in downtown New York connects several cities and states to New York City and is the closest Amtrak station right in the heart of downtown Manhattan.
- Bus: Greyhound offers bus services to New York City, with the closest Greyhound bus stop located on 8th Avenue, New York City.
Parking & Transportation In New York City: Finding parking in the city of New York is a hassle, and if you’re flying directly into New York City and staying in the downtown area, which I highly recommend, you really don’t need to rent a car when visiting New York City. Traffic and finding parking can be really challenging in New York City, especially during the summer and early winter months, the busiest seasons in New York City. Additionally, most of the attractions in New York City are located close to each other and are better explored using public transportation, private cabs, or a guided bus tour that takes you to all the attractions.
Tours & Multi-Attraction Passes In New York City: I highly recommend using a hop-on-hop-off tour service in New York City so that you spend less time driving and finding parking and instead have more time at the attractions. The best way to explore New York City is by using the Big Bus Tours and purchasing a multi-attraction discounted pass from CityPASS or Go City. A trip to New York City is incomplete without experiencing the city’s skyline on board the Circle Line Harbor Cruise, a narrated harbor cruise highlighting several landmarks of the city.
Lodging & Dining In New York City: New York City is bustling with hotels ranging from luxury boutique hotels to bread and breakfasts! Though there’re several places to stay outside the downtown area, I highly recommend staying close to Downtown New York, also known as Downtown Manhattan, for easy access to the attractions and an authentic New York City experience. The dining options in New York City can be overwhelming, ranging from fine dining to casual dining, but you must try a few popular New York City dishes, including New York-style Pizza, pastrami sandwiches, and New York-style cheesecake when visiting the town. I have reviewed the lodging and dining options in New York City in detail in the later section of this post.
Things To Do In New York City
New York City Attractions Map
New York Brief Overview
The best way to explore New York City is by using a hop-on-hop-off bus tour to get to the landmarks and museums in the city and marveling at the grandeur of skyscraping structures on-board a harbor tour!
Given the several sightseeing options, including numerous landmarks, museums, parks, and shopping districts, spread all over the city, driving and finding parking can be very time-consuming and a big challenge, especially if you’re traveling during the peak summer and early winter months. So, I highly recommend using one of the tour companies that offer hop-on-hop-off bus tours and boat tours to get the most out of your trip to New York City.
Hop-on-hop-off Bus Tours: The hop-on-hop-off narrated bus tours in New York City are a great option to learn about the city’s history and culture and easily get around the city. There are a couple of tour companies that offer hop-on-hop-off bus tours in New York City – Big Bus Tours and City Sightseeing. These companies provide quite frequent busses, and I love that Big Bus also offers a phone app using which you could track the real-time location of the next shuttle.
Harbor Cruises & Boat Tours: There are several local companies that offer boat cruises in New York City, offering spectacular views of the city’s skyline. Two of the most popular boat tour companies in New York City, Circle Line Harbor Cruise and Classic Harbor Line, offer a variety of harbor tours, including City Landmark Cruises, Sunset Cruises, Statue of Liberty Cruises, special events, and private cruises.
Multi-Attraction Passes: Buying a discounted multi-attraction pass from CityPASS or Go City can really save you money and, most importantly time, that you would otherwise spend standing in queue to purchase tickets at each attraction.
New York City Attractions
The Rockefeller Center in Midtown Manhattan is a large complex comprising several commercial buildings and several attractions, including Top of the Rock Observatory, The Rink, Channel Gardens, Radio City Music Hall, and the NBC Studios. Rockefeller Center is one of the most happening places in the town, especially during the holidays!
Times Square, an iconic landmark of New York City, is a bustling neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan, lined with bright flashing neon lights, colossal digital billboards, Broadway theaters, shops, restaurants, and street performers. It’s also home to NASDAQ, and of course, the headquarters for The New York Times, from which Times Square got its name.
Empire State Building
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building, one of the skyscrapers in New York City, is a 102-story building located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. Empire State Building features two observation decks, one on the 86th and the other on the 102nd floor, offering spectacular views of the city’s skyline, and a few restaurants and a gift shop.
Little Italy is a neighborhood in New York City that was once home to several Italian immigrants who came to New York City in the 1800s. The area still retains several original structures and Italian culture from that era and home to many traditional Italian eateries, bakeries, and souvenir shops.
New York City’s Chinatown, home to several Asian immigrants, is a bustling neighborhood with narrow streets lined with several Chinese restaurants and shops. The Chinatown also features a statue of Lin Zexu, a renowned Chinese scholar, a pagoda-style roof, and a Buddhist temple.
Brooklyn Bridge, another iconic landmark of New York City, is a suspension bridge spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge is best explored on foot by walking along its elevated pedestrian walkway, which offers some of the best views of the city of New York.
Charging Bull, also referred to as the “Wall Street Bull,” is a bronze sculpture created by a renowned Italian-American sculptor, Arturo Di Modica. Located in the Financial District of Manhattan, the Charging Bull symbolizing the American stock market is one of the most photographed and visited highlights of New York City.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
9/11 Memorial & Museum
Honoring the people who were killed during the September 11, 2001, and 1993 World Trade Center terrorist attacks, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum features two reflecting pools and several artifacts and multimedia displays telling the tale of the grim events, personal loss, and the courage to rebuild the city.
One World Observatory
One World Observatory
One World Observatory, an observation deck located on the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the US and in the Western Hemisphere, features incredible views of New York City’s skyline, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty National Monument, a statue of a Roman Goddess holding a torch above her head, symbolizing freedom and democracy, was gifted to the US from the people of France. The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island in New York and can be visiting using a ferry. You can find more details in my Ultimate Guide to Statue of Liberty.
Shows & Performances In New York City
End a hectic day of sightseeing by watching a spellbinding Broadway show at one of many theaters in New York City!
New York City’s Theater District is home to numerous theaters featuring several entertaining shows, including concerts, live performances, stand-up comedies, musicals, and much more. Whether you want to see a Broadway show or a locally inspired play, you will find it in one of the theaters in the Theater District! Touring the city and marveling at the several landmarks in the daytime followed by dinner and a Broadway show is my idea of an ideal trip to New York City!
There are forty-one Broadway theaters, professional theaters seating more than 500 people, and several Off-Broadway theaters, smaller theaters seating less than 500 people, in New York City featuring shows and live performances by several renowned artists, bands, and production companies. Most of the popular Broadway theaters in New York City are located along Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, including Gershwin Theatre, New Amsterdam Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Winter Garden Theatre, Marquis Theatre, and Lunt Fontanne Theatre.
You can find the latest shows, timings and even buy your Broadway show tickets online on the Broadway website. While all Broadway shows are spectacular, here’re some of the most popular Broadway shows of all time – Aladdin, The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked.
I highly recommend staying in Downtown New York City / Downtown Manhattan for easy access to the attractions and an authentic New York experience!
Hotels In New York City: Staying in downtown New York City has several upsides, including easy access to several attractions and tours, there’s no need to rent a car, and the liberty to enjoy late-night shows and nightlife. There’re several hotels in downtown New York City / Manhattan, ranging from boutique hotels to bread and breakfasts. Here’re are my top picks for hotels in New York City
- Mandarin Oriental: Located in Midtown Manhattan, Mandarin Oriental is a luxury hotel featuring lavish guest rooms, spa services, and several dining options.
- The Ritz-Carlton New York: With easy access to New York City’s shopping and theater districts, the luxurious The Ritz-Carlton New York in Central Park is an excellent lodging option in downtown New York City.
- Walker Hotel Greenwich Village: The Walker Hotel Greenwich Village, located close to several attractions, including Chinatown, Little Italy, One World Trade Center, is a boutique hotel with vintage decor and exceptional guest service.
- Hilton Garden Inn New York: Located on West 35th Street, close to the Empire State Building, Hilton Garden Inn New York offers modern amenities, great views, and culinary experiences.
Restaurants In New York City: The dining options in New York City can be overwhelming, ranging from fine dining to casual food trucks; you will find every cuisine in New York City! There’re so many eateries in every street of the town it’s impossible to try them all and pick one over the other. However, here’re a few dishes and joints you must try when in New York City – New York-style Pizza in NY Pizza Suprema or Joe’s Pizza, pastrami sandwiches at Katz’s Delicatessen, delicious Chicken, Gyros, and Falafel Platters at The Halal Guys, and New York-style cheesecake at Junior’s Restaurant & Bakery.
Other New York Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To New York City, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to New York City. You can find other New York attractions in my New York Travel Guide.
Happy feeding your soul!
Shop Travel Essentials
This is not a sponsored post, and I recommend products based on my experience. This may contain affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using my link at no extra cost to you. More Travel Accessories.