We all have different opinions when it comes to traveling. Especially in a concrete jungle like New York, where possibilities are seemingly endless, people—from locals to tourists—have diverse opinions about all the things to do, the places to see, and the food to eat.
Part of the fun is creating an itinerary before visiting the Big Apple; however, it becomes extra challenging when you’re traveling to New York for the first time. Thankfully, we’re here to help you with that.
Before we go any further, remember that everyone does things differently, and what we’re about to provide here today are some recommendations that we’ve gleaned from our days as first-time visitors to New York City. When you build an itinerary for such a large, lively city totally on your own, it’s always a learning process, and while it doesn’t make me an expert, it does give us more things to talk about! They’re worth what they’re worth.
In this article, we’ve talked to some of our friends to know more about the great city of New York. Here are their tips:
1. New York is a Dog-Friendly City
If you’ll be bringing your pup along when you visit New York, you may be worried about how limited you’ll be with an animal in tow. The good news is: New York is a pretty dog-friendly city.
Of course, there are places you can’t bring your pet—such as grocery stores—but most establishments allow you to bring your pup inside. Nobody will think twice if you and your dog do a little shopping on 5th Avenue or eat at the patio tables of a West Village cafe.
Just make sure you secure pet-friendly lodging, and if your furry friend is small enough to fit into a carrier, bring one along just in case.
2. A Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge Makes for a Cheap Date Night
One thing pretty much everybody knows about New York City is that it’s expensive. If you’re worried about straining your budget while you’re here, plan to spend one evening walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
You can start on the Lower East Side and walk across to Dumbo, New York. Swing by Ample Hills Creamery for some ice cream and sit by the water beneath the Manhattan Bridge to view the lights of the Manhattan Skyline.
– Daniel Caughill, Co-Founder, The Dog Tale
3. A Little Effort in Research Will Go a Long Way
Traveling for the first time seems unnerving because it will feel like you’re an alien. Before taking a first step to some place you’ve never been, especially New York, you must always do your research to let you have a glimpse of the place where you are going.
Research that includes tourist attractions, culture, language (basic conversation if you must), cuisines, price range, the people, etc. This’ll help you choose something that you could do outside of your comfort zone, as well as trying something new treated with respect.
– Liam Johnson, CEO, The Hitch Store
4. The National Museum of Immigration is a Must When Visiting NYC
Equally moving and thought-provoking, the National Museum of Immigration tells the story of the immigrants who made the difficult voyage to America. Through a comprehensive collection of photographs and heirlooms, visitors can learn just how difficult life was for the early immigrants.
This beautifully preserved museum, located on Ellis Island is accessible by ferry. It even provides the bonus of fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty.
– Piyushi Dihr, Founder, Help and Wellness
5. NYC is Easier to Visit Than It Seems
I’ve visited New York for five days in March 2019 during my year-long world tour. Surprisingly enough, what seemed to be very difficult when planning my trip there, actually wasn’t.
Nearly whole of NYC is easily accessible by foot or public transport, and there’s no reason to be afraid of the size of the city. I booked a hostel in Manhattan and had no issue going around, visiting museums, joining free tours by foot in Central Park, and enjoying the Saint Patrick’s parade with a less than an hour trip to anywhere around.
Even the airports are very well connected to the city center. So, when traveling to New York for the first time, keep that in mind: it is quite simple to get around the whole area, and you should focus on what you want to do instead of where you’ll be staying.
– Yoann Bierling, Founder, Where Can I Fly?
6. New York City is a Great Option for Budget Traveling
In my experience, staying in New York can be quite expensive but there are tons of great options with lots of transportation in areas near the big city. It makes for a great option for budget travelling.
Another interesting thing is to get the New York Pass. You’ll be able to visit almost every New York museum for free with it, saving you a ton of money and giving you endless options in case you want to change plans on the go.
My final but super handy tip is don’t be afraid to eat food in street shops and fast food places. Save your big bucks for splurge dining somewhere really cool and stay away from the instagrammable shops that charge you for their looks but serve the same food that the street vendors do.
– Joe Flanagan, Founder, 90s Fashion World
7. The New York Subway is Your Friend
New York is one of the most dynamic cities in the world, but it’s also a huge city and first-time visitors can find it difficult to navigate. With so much to see and do, you don’t want to waste time getting lost or held up in traffic. Taking cabs everywhere can also work out an expensive option.
With this in mind, my number one tip for anyone visiting New York, especially for the first time, is to use the Subway. It’s true that the Subway can be daunting. With 22 lines serving 472 stations, it’s the largest system in the world and can be confusing but following a few tips can make your journeys much easier.
Firstly, get yourself a map. You can download maps from the MTA website or pick up a paper copy from any station. It’s a good idea to have an offline version on your phone too.
Secondly, if you are going to be in NYC for more than a couple of days, get an unlimited Metro Pass. It will save you dollars.
– Brandon Wachs, Founder, Shark Eyes