New York City (also referred to as “New York”, “NYC”, “The Big Apple”, or just “The City” by locals), is the most populous city in the United States. It lies at the mouth of the Hudson River in the southernmost part of the state, which is part of the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The city spans a land area of 305 square miles (790km²).
New York City has a population of approximately 8.2 million people. The New York Metropolitan Area, which spans lower New York, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut, has a population of 18.7 million, making it the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. As of 2014, it was one of the 15 largest metro areas in the world.
New York City is a center for media, culture, food, fashion, art, research, finance, and trade. It has one of the largest and most famous skylines on earth, dominated by the iconic Empire State Building.
New York City consists of five boroughs, which are five separate counties. Each borough has a unique culture and could be a large city in its own right. Within each borough individual neighborhoods, some several square miles in size, and others only a few blocks in size, have personalities lauded in music and film. Where you live, work, and play in New York says something to New Yorkers about who you are.
The five New York boroughs are:
|Manhattan (New York County)
The famous island between the Hudson and East Rivers, with many diverse and unique neighborhoods. Manhattan is home to the Empire State Building in Midtown, Central Park, Times Square, Wall Street, Harlem, and the trendy neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and SoHo.
|Brooklyn (Kings County)
The most populous borough, and formerly a separate city. Located south and east of Manhattan across the East River. Known for artists, music venues, beaches, and Coney Island. Brooklyn is also home to the Barclays Center, an arena that hosts the Brooklyn Nets professional basketball team.
|Queens (Queens County)
Located to the east of Manhattan, across the East River, and north, east, and south of Brooklyn. Queens is the home of the city’s two major airports, the New York Mets professional baseball team, the United States Open Tennis Center, and New York City’s second-largest Chinatown (in Flushing). With over 170 languages spoken, Queens is the most ethnically diverse region in the United States, and one of the most diverse in the world.
|The Bronx (Bronx County)
Located north of Manhattan Island, the Bronx is home to the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Gardens, and the New York Yankees professional baseball team.
|Staten Island (Richmond County)
A large island in New York Harbor, south of Manhattan and just across the narrow Kill Van Kull from New Jersey. Unlike the rest of New York City, Staten Island has a suburban character.
New York City is one of the global hubs of international finance, politics, communications, film, music, fashion, and culture. Alongside London it’s one of only two universally acknowledged to be “World Cities” – the most important and influential cities on Earth. It’s home to many world-class museums, art galleries, and theaters. Many of the world’s largest corporations have their headquarters here. The headquarters of the United Nations is in New York and most countries have a consulate here. This city’s influence on the globe, and all its inhabitants, is hard to overstate, as decisions made within its boundaries often have impacts and ramifications across the world.
Immigrants (and their descendants) from over 180 countries live here, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Travelers are attracted to New York City for its culture, energy and cosmopolitanism. English is the primary language spoken by most New Yorkers although in many communities it is common to hear other languages that are generally widely understood. In many neighborhoods, there is a large Latino/Hispanic population, and many New Yorkers speak Spanish. Most cab drivers speak either Arabic, Hindi or Bengali. There are also many neighborhoods throughout the city that have a high concentration of Chinese immigrants where Mandarin or Cantonese may be useful. In some of these neighborhoods, some locals may not speak very good English, but store owners and those who would deal frequently with tourists or visitors all will speak English.
The World Trade Center attacks of 11 September 2001 were a shared ordeal for the city’s inhabitants. Despite those events, from 2003 to the present, New York City has rebounded and surpassed itself in growth. In the past 20 years, so many middle class people have moved into the city, whether from other parts of USA or the world it has changed the entire city’s character. Areas that were decaying and dangerous in the 1970’s and 1980’s are now very expensive to live in. Times Square with all its brightness and amusement park visuals today was avoided at all costs 30 years ago. Although crime has dropped nationwide in the last 20 years, the differences in New York City are extreme. Crime is down to one third of the levels of 1989 and, considering how much the population has grown in the same years, New York City is now one of the safest large cities in America.
At the center and western edge of New York City is the borough of Manhattan, a long, narrow island nestled in a natural harbor. It is separated from The Bronx on the north east by the Harlem River (actually a tidal strait); from Queens and Brooklyn to the east and south by the East River (also a tidal strait); and from the State of New Jersey to the west and north by the Hudson River. Staten Island lies to the south west, across Upper New York Bay.
Although Manhattan runs northeast to southwest, it is referred to as if it ran north-south. Thus, “uptown” means north, and “downtown” means south. Street numbers continue from Manhattan into the Bronx, and the street numbers rise as one moves farther north (however, in the Bronx, there is no simple numerical grid, so there may be 7 blocks between 167 St. and 170 St., for example). Avenues run north and south. In Brooklyn the opposite is true, as street numbers rise as one moves south. Queens streets are laid out in a perpendicular grid – street numbers rise as one moves toward the east, and avenues run east and west. Staten Island has no street numbers at all.
The term “the city” may refer either to New York City as a whole, or to the borough of Manhattan alone, depending on the context. The other boroughs, which are Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens, are sometimes referred to as “the outer boroughs.” The term “upstate” generally refers to any part of the State of New York north of the city limits of the Bronx, but not neighboring New Jersey or Connecticut.
|Daily highs (°F)||38||41||50||61||71||79||84||82||75||64||53||43|
|Nightly lows (°F)||26||28||35||44||54||63||69||68||60||50||41||32|
Check New York’s 7 day forecast at NOAA
New York City has a humid continental climate and experiences all four seasons, with hot and humid summers (Jun-Sep), cool and dry autumns (Sep-Dec), cold winters (Dec-Mar), and wet springs (Mar-Jun). Average highs for January are around 38°F (3°C) and average highs for July are about 84°F (29°C). However, temperatures in the winter can go down to as low as 0°F (-18°C) or even lower and in the summer, temperatures can go as high as 100°F (38°C) or slightly higher. The temperature in any season is quite variable and it is not unusual to have a sunny 60°F (16°C) day in January followed by a snowy 25°F (-3°C) day. New York can also be prone to snowstorms and nor’easters (large storms similar to a tropical storm), which can dump as much as 2 feet (60cm) of snow in 24-48 hours. However, snow rarely lies more than a few days. Tropical storms can also hit New York City in the summer and early fall.
The diverse population runs the gamut from some of America’s wealthiest celebrities and socialites to homeless people. There are millions of immigrants living in the city. New York’s population has been diverse since the city’s founding by the Dutch. Successive waves of immigration from virtually every nation in the world make New York a giant social experiment in cross-cultural harmony.
The city’s ethnic heritage illuminates different neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. Manhattan’s Chinatown remains a vibrant center of New York City’s Chinese community, though in recent years the very large Chinese community in Flushing, Queens, has rivaled if not eclipsed it in importance, and three other Chinatowns have formed in New York City: the Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park; the Elmhurst Chinatown in Queens; and the Avenue U Chinatown located in the Homecrest section of Brooklyn. Traces of the Lower East Side’s once-thriving Jewish community still exist amid the newly-gentrified neighborhood’s trendy restaurants and bars, but there are Chassidic communities in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Harlem has been gentrifying and diversifying and remains a center of African-American culture in New York. East (Spanish) Harlem still justifies its reputation as a large Hispanic neighborhood. Little known to most tourists are the large Dominican neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. Brooklyn’s Greenpoint is famous for its large and vibrant Polish community, and the Flatbush section – once home to the Brooklyn Dodgers – is today a huge and thriving Caribbean and West Indian section. Queens and Brooklyn are known for being home to many of New York’s more recent immigrant groups, which since 1990 have included large numbers of Russians, Uzbeks, Nigerians, Chinese, Irish, Italian, French, Filipinos, Yugoslavians, Greeks, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Kenyans, Arabs (from throughout the Middle East and northern Africa), Mexicans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Brazilians, Colombians and Jamaicans. Unlike most of the USA, New York City’s Caucasian population who are native born New Yorkers are overwhelmingly descended from the previous centuries immigrants: Irish, Italian or Eastern European Jewish, a smaller percentage are Greeks, Yugoslavs, Albanians. Each of these groups have brought their cuisines with them, making NYC a city where authentic bagels, Pizza and Gyros are available everywhere. An important change has been taking place in the population recently. During the last 2 decades and especially since 2003, large numbers of young people, many of them recent college graduates and professionals from the rest of the USA have moved to New York City, mostly to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the parts of Queens closest to Manhattan. They have changed things considerably and continue to add to New York’s vitality and artistic output. They have completely changed their neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan, such as Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Lower East side, Manhattan. One important thing to note about New York City, is its never-ending change, new stores, businesses, buildings and even skyscrapers replace the previous structures, there is always new construction. Photographs of the same busy street 10 or 20 years ago are unrecognizable today.
New York City is home to 46 Fortune 500 companies. Its 2009 gross metropolitan product of $1.265 trillion was the largest of any American city and represented approximately 9% of the American economy. If it were a nation, the city would have the 16th-highest GDP in the world. New York’s constantly expanding economy is the main reason why millions have immigrated to the city, from all over the world and all over the country over the past 2 centuries of the city’s growth.
New York is the national center for several industries. It’s the home of the two largest US stock exchanges (NYSE, NASDAQ) and many banks. The famous Wall Street is where the New York Stock Exchange (NYSC) is as well as the famous (or infamous) investment banks and financial investment firms. Wall Street is located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan.
IATA: NYC is the code for all New York City airports, and the city is extremely well connected by air with flights from almost every corner of the world. Three large airports, and several small ones, serve the region.
John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport (the latter in New Jersey) are large international airports, while LaGuardia Airportis a busy domestic airport. All three airports are run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Teterboro Airport (IATA: TEB) is popular for general aviation and business jet travellers out of New York City. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Incredijet Private Jet Charter. The Early Air Way, Monarch Air Group, Mercury Jets and Jetset Charter fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstream’s down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals.
- Bus/Subway – Connections between airports using the bus/subway/PATH trains are the cheapest option, but will require many transfers. Set aside a minimum of 2 hours for travel time.
- New York City Airporter Bus – Service between JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Airports ($14 between JFK and LaGuardia [1 hour], $27 from/to Newark [2-3 hours]). Buses depart every 20-30 minutes. A bus transfer is required to the Newark Airport Express Bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal for Newark Airport to and from JFK and LaGuardia Airports.
- ETS Air Shuttle – runs very infrequent shared ride van service between LGA and EWR for $32. The rides cost $10 between LGA and JFK, $32 between EWR and LGA and $29 between JFK and EWR.
- All County Express – runs very infrequent shared ride van service between all LGA and EWR for $32.
- Taxis – the fastest option when changing airports. A taxi between JFK and LGA will cost about $25-29 and should take 30min. A taxi between LGA and EWR will cost about $78 + tolls and should take 60-75min. A taxi between JFK and EWR will cost about $85 + tolls and should take 60-75min.
- Helicopter Transfer – A common method of travel or business people to downtown as well as smaller private airports. Companies like New York Helicopter offer these services.
(IATA: JFK) is in the borough of Queens. There are eight terminals that are not very close to each other (with two that are to be demolished and soon rebuilt), so it is important to note which terminal your flight leaves from. AirTrain connects the terminals – note that it is only free if you are traveling between terminals; to either terminus, the fare is $5. There is Wi-Fi via Boingo, which is sometimes considered not reliable; however, Terminal 5 has free Wi-Fi.
|1||Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air China, Air France, Alitalia, Austrian, Brussels, Cayman Airways, China Eastern, Fly Jamaica, Interjet, Japan Airlines, Korean, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, Meridiana, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Royal Air Moroc, Saudia, Transaero, Turkish|
|2 (Built for Northwest, Northeast & Braniff Airlines in 1962)||Delta (domestic), Delta Connection|
|3 (Pan Am Worldport)||(Closed. To be demolished for additional aircraft parking.)|
|4 (International Terminal)||Delta (to LAX, SFO, SEA, to/from domestic and international destinations), Aer Lingus (arrivals not pre-cleared by US authorities in Ireland), Air India, Air Europa, Air Jamaica, Alitalia (AZ602/603 are at T4 while their other flights are at T1), Arik, Asiana, Avianca/Taca, Caribbean, China Airlines, Copa, Czech, Egyptair, El Al, Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, JetBlue (international arrivals), KLM, Kuwait Airways, Miami Air International (charter flights), Pakistan International Airways, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Sun Country, TAME (Ecuador), Swiss International, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Uzbekistan, XL Airways|
|5 (TWA Flight Center)||Aer Lingus, Hawaiian, JetBlue(arrivals from Bogota (via Orlando), Aruba, Bermuda, and the Bahamas arrive at Terminal 5. All other international flights arrive at Terminal 4)|
|6 (National Airlines Sundrome)||(Demolished to allow for expansion of T5 under T5i for international flights)|
|7 (Originally built in 1970 for BOAC & Air Canada)||Air Canada Express/Jazz, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, Iceland Air, Open Skies, United, United Express|
|8 (American Airlines Terminal)||Air Berlin, American (domestic & international), American Eagle, LAN (and its subsidiaries), Finnair, Royal Jordanian, Qantas, Qatar, TAM Brazilian|
Landing or taking off from JFK has been much improved in recent years by the addition of the multi-billion-dollar Bay Runway, but due to sheer volume it remains the worst airport in the country in terms of flight delays. If possible, do not connect using JFK, especially when switching terminals. If you must connect via JFK, make sure you have sufficient time. For flights from domestic (US and Canada) to JFK to domestic, 2-3h. For domestic to JFK to international, 3-4h. For international to JFK to domestic, 3-5h. For international to JFK to international, 3-6h. International travelers are most strongly advised to avoid connecting in JFK to other international flights, as the security and immigration procedures for non-US citizens are monumentally time-consuming and tiresome. In addition, all Jetblue International flights and some Aer Lingus flights (except any flights from both airlines that have done pre-clearance and Flights from Puerto Rico) are required to arrive at Terminal 4 not Terminal 5 since they don’t have customs yet, although it’ll be built by 2015.
Left luggage services are available in the arrivals areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 and cost $4-16 per bag per day, depending on size. There are plenty of ATMs, but almost all charge a $2-3 fee per withdrawal. Luggage trolleys are available either for a fee of $3 in Terminals 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 or free in Terminals 1 and 4. There are many hotels of all service levels close to the airport and most run shuttle buses to/from the airport.
To travel between JFK and Manhattan (“the city”):
- JFK AirTrain – a people mover system that runs 24/7, connecting all airport terminals with nearby rail and metro stations for $5 plus $1 for MetroCard . Runs services to:
- Howard Beach Station to connect with the “A” train (to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan). When returning to the airport on the “A” train, be sure to board a train to Far Rockaway or Rockaway Park, NOT to Lefferts Blvd. Look for this destination sign on the side of the train as many tourists often mistakenly take the Lefferts Blvd train when not paying attention.
- Jamaica Station to connect with the:
- “E” train (to Queens and Midtown Manhattan)
- “J/Z” trains (to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan). Marginally faster, and much less crowded, than the “E”. Note that during rush hours, the “J” and “Z” operate a skip-stop service, bypassing alternate stations between Manhattan and Queens.
- Long Island Railroad to Penn Station ($4 weekend with CityTicket, $7.25 weekday off-peak, $10.00 peak times), Brooklyn, or Long Island. Elevators are available at Jamaica and Penn Stations.
Total time to Manhattan using the subway is 60min; using the Long Island Railroad is 45min. This is sometimes faster than taking a taxi. If you take the “A” or “J” during overnight hours, be alert of your surroundings as the train passes through some rough neighborhoods.
- MTA NYC Bus – costing $2.75 (with MetroCard plus $1 fee if new, $3.00 single-ride ticket), these are the cheapest methods of transport, although the slowest to Manhattan. The buses depart from a new ramp near Terminal 5 (signs inside Terminal 5 will point the way). These buses have little room for luggage and go to non-touristy neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn. However, they offer connections to the subway and Long Island Railroad. Note that free transfers between bus and subway are available only with a MetroCard; the single ride ticket does not allow free transfers. Coins (not bills) are needed to board the buses without a MetroCard. MetroCards are sold at Hudson Newsstands in Terminals 1 and 5. If the newsstands are closed and you would like to spend 30 minutes to save $2.25, take the Airtrain to the Howard Beach Station where you can buy a multiple ride Metrocard from the vending machines without leaving the station (free). Then take the Airtrain back one stop to the Lefferts Boulevard station, where you can cross the street for the Q10 and B15 buses. (The signage here is not as good as in Terminal 5.) Bus to subway/LIRR transfers include:
- Q3 to:
- Jamaica-179th St (45 minutes): “F” Train
- Q10 to:
- Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd (20 min): “A” Train – the subway connection closest to the airport
- Jamaica Ave & Lefferts Blvd: “J” & “Z” Trains (walk 3 blocks E to 121st St Jamaica Ave Stn)
- Kew Gardens (30 minutes): Transfer here to the Long Island Railroad (Austin St Stn) with service to Penn Station ($8 peak, $5.75 off-peak, $4 weekend with CityTicket), Brooklyn, and Long Island. While this option is cheaper than taking the AirTrain to Jamaica and connecting there to the LIRR, LIRR service from here is much less frequent than LIRR service from Jamaica.
- Kew Gardens-80 Road-Union Turnpike (Last Stop) (35 minutes): “E” & “F” Trains. During rush hours, from this stop, you can take express buses X63, X64, X68, QM18, and QM21 to Manhattan. While these routes are slower and more expensive than taking the subway, they do offer a ride on cloth seats without the crowding. Ask where the bus stops are located. $6.00, but it is $3.50 if you transfer from the Q10 bus and pay for both with a MetroCard.
- B15 to:
- Ashford Street & New Lots Avenue (30min): “3” Train.
- Van Sinderen Ave & New Lots Avenue (35min): “L” Train.
- Fulton Street & Kingston-Throop Avenues (60min): “C” Train.
- Flushing Ave.: “J” Train all times except weekdays 7AM-1PM towards Manhattan and 1PM-8PM away from Manhattan, “M” Train weekdays (at Broadway).
- Q3 to:
Transfers from the B15 to the subway are in some of Brooklyn’s roughest neighborhoods, so this route is not recommended at night or for people unfamiliar with the city.
- New York City Airporter Bus – provides services to/from Grand Central Terminal and the Port Authority Bus Terminal for $16 one-way, $29 round-trip (return ticket). Buses depart every 15-30min and the trip to Grand Central Terminal can take up to 90min. Terminal 7 is usually the first stop, which takes about 45 minutes after departing, then Terminals 8, 1, 2, 4, and 5. It may take up to half an hour to go around the airport. While the online schedule shows stops at Penn Station, the bus does not go there until 8pm; however, there is a free connecting service between Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal.
- SuperShuttle – blue vans provide door-to-door service to Manhattan hotels for about $25.
- Go Airlink Shuttle – Shared van service to or from most of Manhattan for $17-20 one way. 10% discount for online booking.
- Taxi – The most flexible route into the city from JFK is a taxi, although the wait for one can be long when many flights arrive simultaneously. Fare runs a flat $52.50 to anywhere in Manhattan, not including tolls (up to $5.50) or tips. Taxis to points other than Manhattan and taxis to the airport from anywhere use the meter (see taxis in ‘Getting around”). The arrivals terminals are filled with drivers hawking illegal livery rides – if you want to take one of these, be sure to negotiate the fare in advance and make sure that it is cheaper than the taxi fare noted above. This also saves the wait in the taxi line. In general, though, it is not recommended if you are unfamiliar with the city.
- Car Service/Limousines – An alternative to taxis, car services are useful for getting to the airport from the outer boroughs where taxis are harder to find, or if you prefer to have transportation reserved in advance. Typically $60+ between JFK and Manhattan.
Newark Liberty International Airport
IATA: EWR (+1 800 397 4636) located to the west of NYC in Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey. This airport has three terminals labeled A, B, C. Terminal C is the home of United Airlines which has a major hub at Newark. Most other international airlines use Terminal B while domestic flights (except Delta in which they depart/arrive in Terminal B) are from Terminal A, but there are exceptions so check your terminal before you head for the airport. Remember where you’ll depart so you don’t get lost. If you are flying by United to the US from another country, You may arrive at Terminal B. Remember that most international United flights (except any flight that’s done pre-clearance, for example in Dublin) always arrives at Terminal C while some may arrive at Terminal B due to space. If this is not your final destination but a layover to your destination, re-check your bags, and go to Terminal C.
|Terminal A||Level 1: Parking; Level 2: Arrivals and Ground Transportation; Level 3: All Airline Check-in Counters|
|Terminal B||Level 1: British Airways, Open Skies; Level 2: Air India, Alaska, Delta, Jet Airways, Porter, Virgin Atlantic; Level 3: El Al, Lufthansa, SAS, Singapore, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, WOW Air|
|Terminal C||Level 1: Arrivals, and Ground Transportation; Level 2: Economy Passengers, Premier Access Check-in, BusinessFirst Check-in, Global Services; Level 3: Economy Passengers, Group Check-in, Special Services|
To travel between the city and EWR:
- AirTrain Newark – easily accessed from the airport terminals via elevator/escalators and runs 24 hours to Newark Airport Rail Station, 10min away, however, there’s a $5.50 fee when exiting/entering to the Newark Airport Station. From here you can take a NJ Transit train ($12.50, 30min ride, every 15-30min) to New York Penn Station (34th St & 8th Ave in Manhattan) or Amtrak train to other destinations along the east coast. Amtrak also runs trains to Manhattan, but they cost $20-30. NJ Transit tickets are not valid on Amtrak trains. NJ Transit trains stop at both Penn Station in Newark and at Penn Station in New York, so if travelling to Manhattan, stay on till the second Penn Station, in New York.
- NJ Transit Trains operate 21h a day so there’s no nightly service 2-5am. Otherwise, you may have to take the 62 Bus, a taxi, Amtrak to/from Newark or New York Penn Station by Northeast Corridor, or other alternatives.
- If travelling to Lower Manhattan, an option which can save time (and a cab/subway fare) is take NJ Transit only as far as Newark Penn Station (1 stop from Newark Airport, $8.50), and then change to the PATH train to the World Trade Center ($2.75). Total cost is $11.25.
- ‘New Jersey Transit Bus #62 and other NJT Buses – The most inexpensive option, New Jersey Transit #62 bus runs from in front of the airport terminals to Newark Penn Station (one-way fare $1.60; exact change only; 25min). From there, you may take a PATH subway train ($2.75) either to World Trade Center station in lower Manhattan (25min), or, to Journal Square, where you can transfer to the Journal Square-33rd St train across the platform, which runs to the following stops along 6th Ave: Christopher St in Greenwich Village, 9th St, 14th St, 23rd St, and 33rd St. Plan on 90 minutes including waiting times. As a word of caution, note that this is not a well-publicized option; you may well find yourself to be the only tourist on the bus, so don’t expect much help or companionship in finding your way. The #62 Bus operates 24/7 between Elizabeth and Newark Penn Station, including holidays. Service generally runs every 10-15 minutes weekdays, 15-20 minutes Saturdays, and 20-30 minutes Sundays, with overnight service every 30 minutes.
Other buses, such as the Go 28 Bus, the 37 Bus, the 40 Bus, and the #67 Bus stops in Newark Airport at Terminals A, B, and C. Passengers who are stopped at the North Area of Newark Airport can be transferred by the Go 28 Bus.
- Newark Airport Express Bus – ($16 one way, $28 round-trip) runs every 15min to 42nd street in Manhattan. The trip takes about 40min depending on traffic. Children under 12 ride for free and Senior Citizens 62 or older get a discount.
- Supershuttle – Country-wide, shared van door-to-door service. $19 to Manhattan.
- Go Airlink Shuttle – Shared van door-to-door service. around $30 to Manhattan (around half for subsequent passengers).
- Taxis – Travelers from EWR to New York City are charged a flat rate based on the destination (the dispatcher will note the fare and destination on the taxi form). Fare to most parts of Manhattan is $50-70. Tips and round trip tolls ($8 to/from Manhattan) are extra. You may also pay a $2 toll if the driver uses the New Jersey Turnpike. A $5 surcharge is added for trips to to New York, except Staten Island, during weekday rush hours or weekend afternoons. There is also a 10% discount for people above age 62.
- Private Car Service – An alternative to taxis, car services are useful for getting to the airport from the outer boroughs where taxis are harder to find, or if you prefer to have transportation reserved in advance. Typically $50 between EWR and Manhattan, $70-80 to/from Brooklyn.
(IATA: LGA) in Queens is the smallest of the New York Metropolitan Area’s three major airports, but the closest to Manhattan. Due to regulations, almost all direct flights from LGA are to destinations within 1,500 miles (2,419km). Most flights are domestic; however, there are international flights from LGA to Canada, Aruba, the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Marine Air Terminal, currently used by Delta Airlines (LaGuardia is also Delta Airlines’s Hub) for services to Washington D.C. and Boston, is one of the oldest, still-in-use, airport terminals in the world. In 2009, LGA ranked last among major US airports in both on-time arrivals and customer satisfaction.
|A (Marine Air Terminal)||Delta Shuttle|
|B, Concourse A||Air Canada, JetBlue, United, United Express|
|B, Concourse B||AirTran, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit|
|B, Concourse C||American Eagle, United, United Express|
|B, Concourse D||American|
To travel between the city and LGA:
There is no rail service at LaGuardia Airport. However, buses (see below) connect to the subway or commuter rail systems.
- Local Bus – costing $2.75, this is the cheapest method of transport, although the slowest to Manhattan. The buses have little room for luggage (M60 SBS and Q70 routes have luggage racks on board). However, they offer connections to the subway and Long Island Railroad. Free transfers between bus and subway, subway and bus, and bus and bus are available only with a MetroCard; the single ride ticket does not allow free transfers and coins are needed to board the buses without a MetroCard. There is a change machine in the airport terminal and MetroCards can be bought in the airport at Hudson News. The MetroCard vending machine at the airport does not accept cash.
On 25 May 2014 the M60 Select Bus Service (SBS) began. An off-board fare payment system is in use on this route only, and a proof-of-payment ticket must be obtained before boarding the M60 SBS route by using a MetroCard, single ride ticket, or coins at the SBS fare machines located at the bus stop. These machines do not vend MetroCards, one must still be obtained in the airport first.
Bus to subway/LIRR transfers include:
- M60, particularly useful if you are staying in Harlem, the Upper West Side or Hostelling International New York, to:
- Astoria Blvd (15-25min): “N” and “Q” Trains ( “Q” trains weekdays only)
- 125th St & Lexington Ave (30min): “4”, “5”, “6” Trains & Metro-North Railroad Service
- 125th St & Lenox Ave./Malcolm X Blvd (30min): “2” & “3” Trains
- 125th St & 8th Ave./St. Nicholas Ave (35min): “A”, “B” (weekdays only), “C”, and “D” Trains
- 116th St & Broadway (40min): “1” Train
- Q47 from Marine Air Terminal to:
- Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Avenue for the “E”, “F”, “M”, “R”, and “7” trains. (30min)
- Q48 to:
- Flushing (30min): Long Island Railroad, as well as buses to Eastern Queens and northern Nassau County.
- Q70 from any of the other terminals nonstop to:
- Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Avenue (8-10min without traffic) for the “E”, “F”, “M”, “R”, and “7” trains.
- Woodside-61st Street (15-20 minutes without traffic) for Long Island Railroad
- Q72 to:
- Junction Blvd & Roosevelt Avenue for “7” train. (20min) or
- ‘Rego Park for “M” or “R” trains (35-40min)
- Go Airlink Shuttle – Shared van door-to-door service. $16 to Manhattan. 10% discount for online purchase.
- New York City Airporter Bus – provides services to/from Grand Central Terminal and the Port Authority Bus Terminal for $12 one-way, $22 round-trip (return ticket). Buses depart every 15-30min and the trip to Grand Central Terminal can take up to 65min. While the schedule on-line shows stops at Penn Station, the bus does not go there noon-6pm; however, SuperShuttle offers a free connecting service between Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal.
- Taxis cost $21-30 to/from Manhattan plus tips, tolls, a $0.50 tax to NY, and a $1 surcharge during rush hour. You can save on tolls by asking the driver to use Queensboro Bridge for points midtown and on the Upper East Side, the Williamsburg Bridge for the Village and downtown, or Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges for points downtown. If going above 72nd St, it is better to pay the toll ($5.50) and take the RFK Bridge (formerly called the Triboro) into Manhattan.
- Private Car Service – An alternative to taxis, car services are useful for getting to the airport from the outer boroughs where taxis are harder to find, or if you prefer to have transportation reserved in advance. Typically $40+ between LGA and Manhattan.
Long Island MacArthur Airport
(Islip Airport) (IATA: ISP) is located in Ronkonkoma (Town of Islip) on Long Island. The airport is served by Southwest Airlines, a major US discount carrier. USAirways has a minor presence at the airport.
To travel between the city and ISP:
- A shuttle bus (10min, $5) operates between the ISP and the Ronkonkoma Long Island Railroad station. From there, you can take a train to Penn Station in Manhattan. (1.5h, $12.75 off peak/$17.50 peak). The Long Island Railroad offers a discount package ($17.50 per adult for shuttle+train to Manhattan)
There is also the S57 bus from the airport to Ronkonkoma for $1.50. However, it isn’t coordinated with the trains like the shuttle is.
- BoltBus bus shuttles to Manhattan from the Courtyard by Marriott hotel near the LIRR station. Approx. $7-10 one-way.
- Hampton Jitney bus services from Ronkonkoma to Manhattan cost $25; the bus stop’s a short cab ride away from ISP.
Westchester County Airport (IATA: HPN)
Near the town of White Plains, is served by American, Cape Air, Delta, JetBlue, United, & USAirways.
To travel between the city and HPN:
- Beeline Bus #12 ($2.75; call +1-914-813-7777 for details) operates service to/from the White Plains Metro-North station. From there, you can take a Metro-North train ($6.25 off-peak and $8.50 peak) to any of various points in the Bronx, or 125th St/Park Ave and Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. Trains run roughly every half hour for most of the day and take approximately 40min.
Stewart International Airport (IATA: SWF)
To travel between the city and SWF:
- A shuttle bus connects the SWF with the Beacon Metro North Train Station. From there, you can take a train into Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.
Trenton-Mercer Airport (IATA: TTN)
A little further afield, sees limited commercial service on Frontier Airlines. Passengers flying into Trenton can reach Manhattan by taking a taxi to the Trenton train station and then taking the Jersey Transit’s Northeast Corridor Line or Amtrak to Penn Station.
+1 800 USA RAIL (+1 800 872 7245) operates from New York Penn Station, directly under Madison Square Garden, on 34th St between 7th & 8th Avenues. Popular trains leaving during rush hours can fill up quickly; it’s a good idea to make reservations on-line or via phone and pick up your ticket using a credit card or your confirmation number at one of the electronic kiosks located throughout the station. On some of the non-business routes, for example New York to Montreal, Amtrak actually takes more time and costs more money than taking the bus or renting a car. Check and compare schedules and prices before booking.
Amtrak’s Acela express train provides regular fast commuter service between major points along the east coast such as Washington, D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Haven, and Providence. Amtrak services are also available to points along the East Coast down to Florida, across the southeast to New Orleans, to points between New York and Chicago, including Pittsburgh and Cleveland, to New York state including Albany, Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and to Toronto and Montreal in Canada. Service to California takes 4 days and requires a change of train in Chicago.
Amtrak’s ClubAcela, located near the big security desk in Penn Station, offers complimentary drinks, WiFi, newspapers, magazines and clean bathrooms. Access to the club is granted to travelers with sleeper tickets, First Class Acela tickets, Amtrak GuestRewards SelectPlus membership, or United Airlines BusinessFirst tickets for same-day travel, and United Club members.
New York City is served by three commuter railroads. With the exception of the Metro-North Railroad (starts at Grand Central) the other commuter railroads also start at Penn Station by Madison Square Gardens.
- Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) operates between New York Penn Station and Long Island with New York City stops at Jamaica Station, Long Island City, and Hunters Point in Queens as well as Atlantic Terminal station in Brooklyn. LIRR tickets can be purchased on-line or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
- Metro-North Rail Road (Metro North) operates between Grand Central Terminal and points north and east of the city all the way to Connecticut. Trains also stop at the Harlem station on 125th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan. The New Haven line serves cities along the coast with branch lines to Danbury and Waterbury. The Hudson Line serves points along the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie. The Harlem Line serves Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties to Pawling and Wassaic. At New Haven, passengers may transfer to Amtrak or to the Shore Line East providing local service between New Haven and New London, Connecticut. Metro North tickets can be purchased on-line or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
- New Jersey Transit operates between New York Penn Station and points in New Jersey. The Northeast corridor line goes to Princeton and Trenton. Services are also available for points along the Jersey Coast and, with a transfer in Secaucus, to points north of the city (in New Jersey and New York State west of the Hudson). Connecting service is available from Trenton to Philadelphia via SEPTA or to Camden (New Jersey) via RiverLINE. Connecting service to Newark Liberty International Airport is available from some Northeast corridor trains. NJ Transit tickets can be purchased online or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
PATH costs $2.75 per ride. PATH 10-ride discount: $21 for 10 rides, which are stored in a SmartLink Gray disposable paper card (no charge for the card) or a permanent Smartlink green plastic card ($5 extra for the card). The PATH system also accepts the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard (but not Unlimited Ride MetroCard). There’s a $1 fee for buying a new Metrocard except if expired or damaged. For the visitor traveling from New Jersey daily, it is more convenient and possibly cheaper to purchase the MetroCard to travel on both the PATH and the MTA systems. However, remember there is no free MetroCard transfer between PATH and MTA subways/buses.
Some buses offer WiFi, power outlets and even business-class style luxury. Buses serve New Jersey, New York suburbs west of the Hudson River, and all cities along the east coast of the US.
Additionally, be aware that with private buses in New York City “you get what you pay for.” Most buses are safe, however, bus companies that are offering very low fares often are riskier in that their drivers are not as cautious on the roads and often speed. Also, the level of service is frequently somewhat less. If you have to transfer between buses using these discount buses for example, their drivers may speak limited English and be less able to assist you in making the transfer. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but it is a consideration of which travelers should be aware when choosing a bus company.
The NY Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 8th Ave in Manhattan (8th Ave & W 42nd St next to Times Square – ’42nd St Port Authority Bus Terminal’ subway stop) serves as a central bus terminal for most major lines. Note that not all lines go into the NY Port Authority bus Terminal either. They can have stops (or their own office & terminal) on the streets around Times Square, around Penn Station, Wall St, Chinatown, the airport(s), and/or anywhere in the city instead. Others may serve the Port Authority Terminal and then several other places around the city. Check with them before departing.
To/from New Jersey
- New Jersey Transit operates service between destinations in New Jersey and Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Ave & 42nd St.
- Lakeland operates Rt#46 (To Dover), 78 (Bernardsville or Bedminster) and 80 (Newton or Sparta) from Port Authority Bus Terminal.
The trip normally takes 4.5h, there are at least 82 buses daily in each direction.
- Boston Deluxe, connects Chinatown to Hartford. Weekend service. $15.NOTICE: Website is under construction.
- Fung Wah Bus Granddaddy of all Chinatown buses, with service to and from Boston at the corner of Canal and Chrystie Streets. $15. At least hourly 7AM-11PM, additional weekend service. WARNING: Fung Wah Bus has suspended all bus service until further notice.
- Limoliner from Boston with on board attendant, food service, WiFi, wide seats.
- Lucky Star runs from Boston to their Chinatown office at least hourly 6AM-11PM and at 2AM. WiFi on some buses. From $1 online, $15 walk-up.
- Boltbus, runs from Boston South Station
- Peter Pan Bus
- Go Buses runs from Cambridge and Newton
To/from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC
Also see BoltBus, Greyhound, Megabus, and Yo! serving other locations.
- DC2NY service to/from Washington DC. WiFi.
- Eastern Travel – several buses a day to Chinatown and/or Penn Station. Wi-Fi on some buses. Partner with Megabus on some services.
- Hola Bus
- Today’s Bus
- The Know It Express – service between Atlantic Ave-Pacific St subway station in Brooklyn and Washington DC.
- Tripper Bus – service to/from Bethesda, MD; Arlington (Rosslyn), VA. Pickup location is at 7th Ave & 34th St at Penn Station & Madison Square Garden. From $1 online.
- Vamoose Bus – service between New York City Penn Station (7th Ave & W 30th St) and Bethesda, MD; Arlington, VA & Lorton, VA. Fares start at $30 each way.
- Washington Deluxe service to/from Washington DC. WiFi. From Washington DC ($21) some to Brooklyn.
To/From Pennsylvania beyond Philadelphia
- Executive Coach provides affordable and safe roundtrip bus charter service to New York City from local Pennsylvanian cities such as Lancaster, Hershey, and Harrisburg. We also provide service throughout the Continental United States and Canada.
- Martz Trailways operates service to western Pennsylvania and Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Ave & 42nd St.
- Susquehannabus Trailways goes to northern & central Pennsylvania.
- Trans Bridges goes to Bethlehem, Allentown, Doylestown, etc. in Pennsylvania.
- Elite Coach Provides roundtrip service to New York City from Lancaster, Ephrata, York, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and other Pennsylvania locations.
To/from other locations
- Adirondack Trailways goes up to various other places in New York state and to Montreal.
- BoltBus offers service from Boston, Washington, DC and Philadelphia; fares start at $1 online, closer to the date they typically cost around $20. WiFi, electrical outlets. Buses to DC stop at 33rd St & 7th Ave as well as Canal St & 6th Ave. Buses to Philadelphia stop at Canal St & 6th Ave as well as 34th St & 8th Ave.
- C&J, ☎ +1-603-430-1100 (toll free: +1-800-258-7111), . Goes up to Tewksbury, MA and Portsmouth, NH edit
- Greyhound, Vermont Transit offer connections across North America and internet-only bargain fares to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Ave & 42nd St. WiFi, electrical outlets and the works on some buses.
- La Cubana goes down to Miami, once daily except Tuesdays and Thursdays, along I-95 with stops in Union City, NJ; Elizabeth, NJ; Philadelphia, Washington etc. from their office & stop at 4149 Broadway.
- Coach USA. Coach USA also operates as Suburban, Shortline, Olympia, Red & Tan Line, and Rockland bus lines to other destinations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, upstate New York, or Connecticut
- NeOn is a service operated by Greyhound and partners to Toronto; buses run to the New Yorker Hotel on 8th Ave and 34th St from the Royal York Hotel in Toronto and stops across New York state. WiFi, electrical outlets. Fares start at $1 if booked several months in advance, closer to the date they more typically cost around $50.
- Peter Pan Bus Company operates between cities in the Northeast U.S. and the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Ave & 42nd St.
- 7Bus goes up to upper Long Island.
- Today Bus, Everyday Bus, and Tiger Bus  All three operate from Chinatown in Manhattan non-stop to Virginia Beach/Norfolk Virginia (approx 6 hours; the first two go to Norfolk, while the third goes to Virginia Beach, the next town over). Price varies, but is generally around $60 round-trip or $35 one way.
- Yo! Bus offers service from Boston, Washington, DC and Philadelphia; fares start at $12 online. Every bus features power outlets and free WiFi. Tickets can also be bought from a ticket window at 95 E. Broadway. Buses depart from the median near 2 Pike Street, located between E. Broadway and Division Street.
New York City – as you would expect – enjoys a prominent position on the US Interstate highway network. Although the city can be easily reached by car from anywhere in the nation, driving within the metropolitan area is an experience definitely not for the faint hearted! It makes much more sense to use public transportation, but for those who insist on driving, the main routes into the New York City area are:
- I-76/I-78 from western New Jersey, the interior of Pennsylvania and beyond.
- I-80 is the main approach from much of the Midwest and Western United States; I-80 stretches across the continent from San Francisco, some 2,900 miles (4,700km) away on the opposite coast.
- I-87, the main approach from Upstate New York and Montreal, Canada.
- I-95 is the main route up the eastern seaboard of the United States, connecting Miami to the Canadian border. Realistically, the main destinations along I-95 which are within reasonable driving distance to New York are Boston (374km) to the north, Philadelphia (152km), Baltimore (302km), and Washington DC (364km) to the south.
New York City has always been one of the world’s most important passenger sea ports, and arriving by ocean liner or cruise ship still remains an extraordinary and stylish method of arrival. In addition to passenger service from the Cunard Line, many cruise ships start or end their voyages in New York City.
- The Cunard Line operates regularly scheduled passenger service between the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and Southampton, England as well as Hamburg, Germany aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2, the grandest, largest ocean liner ever built. The trip takes 6-7 days and costs $800-6,000 depending on the cabin and season.
Main article: New York City/Get around
Note that, due to security concerns, there are very few left luggage, storage lockers, or coatcheck services at any New York train station. This includes Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal; however the Amtrak checked luggage point at Penn Station is still operating, but only for ticketed passengers.There are left luggage services in the Arrivals area of Terminals 1 and 4 at JFK Airport. The left luggage office in Terminal 4 is open 24 hours. There is also a luggage storage at Building 4 of JFK, which will require photo ID.In Manhattan there is Cubby, with one location at 303 Park Avenue South – which is close to Grand Central Terminal; their prices are $7-12 per 24 hour period. Also, there is Schwartz Travel & Storage, with three locations in Midtown Manhattan, close to Penn Station; the price per day is $7-10 per bag.Some hotels will store luggage for customers who have checked out of the hotel.
Most of NYC is laid out in a grid. By convention, Manhattan is spoken of as if it runs north to south (it’s actually northeast to southwest), with streets running east and west and avenues running north and south. This makes it relatively easy and straightforward to find your way. Streets are numbered (except in downtown Manhattan) and the numbering rises as you go north. Most avenues are numbered from east to west (so First Ave is east of Second, etc.) below 59th St. Building numbering on avenues starts at the south end of the avenue and rises as you move north, while building numbering on streets starts at Fifth Ave (for the most part – see below) and increases as you go east or west crosstown.
Above Washington Sq, Fifth Ave divides Manhattan into east and west; numbering starts at Fifth Ave on each side (except where Central Park interrupts) and increases in either direction. Addresses west of Fifth Ave are written as, for example, 220 W 34th St, while those east of Fifth Ave are written as 220 E 34th St. However, for numbered streets below Washington Sq (fortunately, there are only two, 3rd and 4th streets), Broadway divides the streets into East and West. Because of this dual-numbering system, it is always advisable to keep in mind the closest intersection to your destination (6th Ave and 34th St, Broadway and 51st, etc.). You might also see addresses written in a kind of shorthand in terms of the nearest crossing streets, for example “1755 Broadway b/w 56th & 57th” or “74 E. 4th b/w 2nd & Bowery.” – along with the terms “uptown” and “downtown”, this shorthand is almost a New York language which most visitors soon learn surreptitiously and start speaking themselves! In Greenwich Village and downtown Manhattan – generally considered as below Houston St (“HOW-ston”) – all bets are off as streets meander, dead-end and intersect themselves. Streets in Greenwich Village are particularly notorious for defying logic. For instance, West 4th St intersects with West 10th St and West 12th St, and you can stand on the corner of Waverly Place and Waverly Place!
As a convenient guide to distance, there are 20 blocks per mile along the avenues (walking north/south). The average person can walk roughly 1 block per minute, or 60 blocks (3 mi) per hour. Walking east/west on the streets, blocks are generally much longer.
In Queens, avenues, roads, and drives generally run east/west and increase numerically as you proceed south. Streets run north/south. Queens and Northern Blvds run east/west.
The Bronx is a continuation of the Manhattan street numbers. 3rd Ave is the only numbered avenue in the Bronx.
For shorter distances, there is no better way of getting around New York than hitting the sidewalk. If you use the subway or buses, you will almost certainly need to walk to and from stations or stops. In all areas of New York a traveler is likely to visit, all streets have wide, smoothly-paved sidewalks. For long distances, walking is also fine and a great way to see the city.
Jaywalking is extremely common among New Yorkers; an average New Yorker typically jaywalks 10-15 times a day. However, it can be extremely dangerous. If you cannot properly gauge the speed of oncoming cars, it is recommended you wait for the walk signal. Do not blindly follow someone crossing, as while they might have time to make it across, the person behind them might not. If you do jaywalk, remember that in the US, people drive on the right side of the road on two-way streets so remember to look left to check for oncoming traffic on your side of the road. Be aware that many streets are one-way, so you may have to look right. Beware of bicyclists unlawfully going against the proper flow of vehicular traffic.
Remember that even if you have a walk signal, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances can bypass red traffic lights. Always defer to these vehicles when walking.
- New York City Pedestrian Etiquette
- If you do not wish to jaywalk, be considerate of New Yorkers by not blocking them from jaywalking while you are waiting for your signal.
- It’s New York City. It’s crowded on those sidewalks — especially in Manhattan — so when someone accidentally bumps into someone else, it is not only acceptable, but generally expected, for one to say “Excuse me,” or “I’m sorry.” Be especially careful when you are carrying an umbrella to ensure that it does not catch a passer-by in the eye.
- Just like when driving, stay to the right (e.g. on subway staircases), let people pass if you are a slow walker, and don’t stop suddenly or cut people off. If you are with a group, it is considered extremely poor etiquette to block the sidewalk without providing space for others to pass or overtake you.
- Texting (or, by extension, even reading texts) on one’s cellphone while walking, is discouraged
- If you see someone who is in obvious distress, stop and offer to help them. Call 911 if necessary. NYC may be large, but it is still a relatively close-knit community, and New Yorkers generally take care of New Yorkers, visitors included.
- Keep your pets close by. Wandering pets can become a large problem on crowded NYC sidewalks. They can get in people’s way, and their leashes may become obstacles and entanglements to others.
- A simple, common-sense rule of thumb yet, to this day is all-too-often ill-applied, will always work wonders on the streets of NYC (most notably Manhattan): WALK in the areas that are meant for WALKING, STAND in the areas that are meant for STANDING, and SIT in the areas that are meant for SITTING. DO NOT EVER mix any combination of the three.
- To sum up — the general, basic rule of the NYC sidewalk: Watching out for others at all times. In the most fundamental sense, this means preventing collisions with other people.
Public Transit – Buses and Subway
To ride the buses and subways in NYC it’s most likely you’ll need a MetroCard from The Metropolitan Transit Authority or MTA for use on the New York City bus and subway systems. While it is possible to pay bus fares using exact change (coins only), you must have a MetroCard to enter the subway system. Cards can be bought online, at station booths, at vending machines in subway stations, and at many grocery stores and newstands(look for a MetroCard sign on the store window). The vending machines in the stations accept credit cards; however, MetroCard vending machines will require that you type in your 5-digit zip code, or your regular PIN on international cards. There is a $1 fee for a new MetroCard due to recent fare hikes.
The PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) subway system, which operates between New York and New Jersey, is not operated by the MTA and is therefore separate but with the same fare as the MTA. In addition, if you buy a new Metrocard in any PATH Station The $1 Fee also applies to all Metrocard Vending machines in all PATH Stations including station/commuter rail booths. Even though PATH accepts payment by MetroCard, no free transfers are available to or from MTA subways or buses, because PATH is separate. JFK AirTrain also accepts MetroCard, but again, is not operated by the MTA and no free transfers are available.
Metro-North Commuter Railroad, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), New Jersey Transit (NJT) Buses, Trains, and Light Rail systems, and Amtrak trains do not accept MetroCard.
Up to three children 44 inches (112cm) tall ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult.
MetroCards generally expire one year after purchase; the expiration date is printed on the back of the card at the upper left.
- Single Ride MetroCard – costs $3.00 and is good for one use. It allows no free transfers (outside the subway system) and is only valid for two hours after purchase.
- Pay-Per-Ride (Regular) MetroCards – are available in amounts from $5.50 to $80. Each local bus or subway trip, and each use of the PATH System deducts $2.75 from your card; each express buses trip deducts $6.50. Usage of JFK Airtrain deducts $5. Note that you can always add additional money to your MetroCard at a later time. Additionally, you receive a 11% bonus for purchases of $10 or more (e.g. a $10 purchase yields a credit of $11.10). Regular MetroCard is the best option if you are spending a few days in New York and plan to use public transportation intermittently.
- Additionally, a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard allows for one free transfer during a two hour window immediately following a paid fare:
- From subway to local bus
- From local bus to subway
- From local bus to local bus (but not to any bus on the same route as the first)
- From express bus to subway
- From express bus to local bus
- From express bus to express bus (but not to any bus on the same route as the first)
- You can transfer from subway to subway as often as you like provided that you do not exit the subway system by leaving through a turnstile or gate. Many subway connections are possible in this way, by using in-station connections between the various lines. Indeed, the Guinness Book of World Records tracks the fastest times of groups that have tried to ride every single New York City subway train line on one fare – some have spent over 24 consecutive hours riding in the subway! Just remember that if you leave the subway and re-enter, you will be charged a second fare.
- Additionally, if you board a local bus and pay the $2.75 fare with a MetroCard, you can transfer to an express bus for the reduced price of $3.75 (instead of the standard $6.50 express bus fare).
- Unlimited Ride MetroCards – are available in 7-day ($31) and 30-day ($116.50). They are valid from the time you first use them until midnight of the 7th and 30th day, respectively. Do the math; these cards may work out to be cheaper if you plan on using public transport frequently during your stay. Roughly, it works out to two trips every day for a week so those who commute round-trip within the city every day can benefit from this. Note that Unlimited Ride MetroCards may not be used in rapid succession at the same subway station or on the same bus route. Once used, 18 minutes must elapse before it can be used at the same station (or on the same bus route). This is to prevent people from using a single Unlimited Ride MetroCard to pay for an entire group, for example. Hence, each member of the group will require their own Unlimited Ride MetroCard. Unlimited Ride MetroCards are NOT valid on express buses, JFK AirTrain, or PATH trains to New Jersey.
- 7-Day Express Bus Plus – costs $57.25 and allows unlimited use of not just local buses and subways, but also express buses. If you are staying in Staten Island, Queens, or Westchester county and plan to commute to the city during your visit, this pass may be advantageous to you.
- Also available are two passes good only for unlimited use of the JFK Airtrain: a 30-day unlimited AirTrain pass for $40, and a 10-trip pass for $25.
You can also get discounted tickets to certain events by showing your MetroCard when purchasing tickets. Current promotions,
Despite a (somewhat deserved) reputation for being dirty, the subway, which operates 24/7, is the fastest and best way to travel around the city. Fares are $2.75 (unless you use Single Ride MetroCard, which is $3.00), regardless of distance traveled. The much-feared subway crimes of the 1970s and 1980s are for the most part a thing of the past, and it is almost always completely safe. Just remember to use common sense when traveling late at night alone. Try to use heavily-traveled stations, remain visible to other people, and don’t display items of value publicly. While violent crime is rare, petty crime – especially theft of iPhones and other expensive electronics – is more frequent, so be aware when using your phone on the train. Also, beware that hundreds of people have been arrested for putting their feet on a Subway seat or sitting improperly on a subway seat. Seven years ago, rule 1050(7)(J) of the city’s transit code criminalized what was once simply selfish behavior, such as standing too close to the doors. About 1,600 people were arrested in 2011 and had to wait long periods before seeing a judge and being sentenced.
- To enter the subway, you will need to swipe your MetroCard through the slot on the right hand side of the turnstile that greets you at the subway entrance. Hold your card with the logo facing your body and black magnetic strip down. Then slide it forward through the slot at a moderate speed. You’ll know you succeeded when the display flashes “Go” in green and you hear a *CLICK* sound. Only once you hear the *CLICK* is it OK to walk through the turnstile. Swiping the card improperly or moving the turnstile incorrectly could mean the forfeiture of your fare (for Pay-Per-Ride cards) or a lockout of 18 min (for Unlimited Ride cards). If this happens, go to a station booth and explain the problem. The agent will ask for your MetroCard, confirm that it was just charged, and let you go through (though many agents will simply accept your word and allow you through for expediency).
- Overhead signage next to each track indicates the train lines that stop at that particular track and the direction they are heading. In addition, the trains themselves are marked by signage that indicates their line. Subway stations are ventilated to the street, so they can be quite cold in the winter. In summertime, the stations can be much warmer than the outside temperature. The trains themselves are quite comfortable, but keep the temperature of stations in mind when planning your trip.
- Some lines are express, meaning that they skip local stations to provide faster service. Wherever there is an express train, there is also a local train that makes all stops. Local and express lines often use different tracks, which are marked on platforms and trains. For example, the 2 and 3 are the express trains for the 7th Ave Line between 96th St and Chambers St in Manhattan, while the 1 runs local alongside them.
- During weekends and late nights, certain trains do not operate, many express trains make local stops, and some subway entrances are closed. Detailed information is available on the MTA website. Additionally, maintenance work is usually concentrated on weekends and overnight. Notices of maintenance are also posted at stations to avoid unpleasant surprises. Remember, if you do feel confused, ask for help. Be aware that construction related service changes confuse many New Yorkers, so the best person to ask is a subway employee. The entire subway system is a massive, connected network, so do not fear — there will always be another way to get to your destination.
- A free subway map can be found online, or obtained at staffed station booths. Station agents can also assist you with directions. Even if not taking the bus, the free bus system maps for each borough double as fairly good street maps that show the exact location of every subway station. For directions on how to travel between two addresses in the city via subway, buses, regional rail, or walking, see HopStop.com. Additionally, for convenience, subway maps are displayed in every station and on every train.
Every subway line is identified by either a letter or a number. In midtown Manhattan, they are mostly grouped by color, but not always. However, lines are not identified by their color (e.g. “Blue Line”), but instead by letter/number (e.g. “A”).
- The Lexington Ave Line trains (4, 5, 6) are essentially the only trains on the East Side above 23 St. Useful to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (4, 5, or 6 to 86th St Station or 6 to 77th St Station), Guggenheim Museum (4, 5, or 6 to 86th St Station), and other East Side museums. Also to get to the Statue of Liberty (4, 5 to Bowling Green Station), Chinatown (6 to Canal Street Station), and the Stock Exchange (4 and 5 to Wall St).
- The Seventh Ave Line (1, 2, 3) serves Broadway above 42nd St, and Seventh Ave below 42nd St. Useful to get to the West Village, Chelsea, and Tribeca neighborhoods as well as the Staten Island or Statue of Liberty ferries (1 to South Ferry Station) and Columbia University (1 to 116th Street Station).
- The Eighth Ave Line (A, C, E) serves Eighth Ave between 14th and 116th streets, then St. Nicholas Ave, Broadway, and Ft. Washington Ave starting at 125th St. in Harlem. Between 50th and 59th streets, the E branches off to Queens, and the B and D lines join the A and C lines for the journey uptown along Central Park West (the B and C make local stops). This section is useful to get to the Natural History Museum (B and C to 81st St Station), and Cloisters Museum (A to 190th St Station). Take an uptown E train or a Rockaway-bound A train for access to JFK Airport.
- The Sixth Ave Line (B, D, F, M) runs on 6th Ave from West 4th St to 47th-50th St and is useful for accessing the New York Public Library (42nd St), Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral (47th-50th St).
- The Broadway Line (N, Q, R) runs down Broadway below 42nd St and on Seventh Ave and 59th St above Times Sq. The N, Q, and R trains are useful for accessing Chinatown (Canal St), SoHo/NoHo, NYU area, Union Sq (14th St), the Empire State Bldg (34th St), Times Sq (42nd St), Carnegie Hall (57th St), Central Park (57th St and 5th Ave stations) and the southern end of the Upper East Side. The R trains also go down to Financial District and South Ferry (Whitehall St).
- The Nassau St line (J,Z), starts in the Financial District at Broad Street, then continues north to Essex Street and crosses the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn and Queens. During rush hours, the J and Z operate skip-stop, or bypass alternate intermediate stations to speed up the trip.
- The Flushing Line (7), unofficially dubbed the “International Express”, runs crosstown along 42nd St (making a good late-night alternative to the upstairs shuttle (see below)) and out to Queens, making stops in Filipino, South Asian, Hispanic, and Chinese/Korean neighborhoods, and also to Citi Field (formerly Shea Stadium).
- The Canarsie Line (L) also runs crosstown along 14th St, then out to Canarsie in Brooklyn.
- The Crosstown Line (G) runs along most of Western Brooklyn and into Long Island City in Queens. At no point on its route does it stop in Manhattan.
- There are three Shuttles (indicated with an “S”) throughout the system. The 42nd St Shuttle connects Times Sq on the West Side, with Grand Central Terminal on the East Side. The Franklin Ave shuttle in Brooklyn makes four stops at Fulton St (transfer to C), Park Pl, Botanical Gardens (transfer to 2,3,4, and 5), and Prospect Pk (transfer to B and Q). The Rockaway Shuttle runs alongside the A train between Broad Channel and Beach 116th St.
PATH can be used to travel within Manhattan, from 33rd St along 6th Ave to Christopher St, and for less than the subway due to fare hike proposals from the MTA. It covers such a small territory but in theory you can use it if you have to travel its exact route. Note that Unlimited Ride Metrocards cannot be used on the PATH. PATH also accepts the SmartLink Card (similar to the MetroCard, but the SmartLink Card cannot be used on the subway). PATH fare is $2.75, Around the same price as the New York City Subway, for now. The PATH train can be a great way to get around lower Midtown along 6th Ave. Like the subway, PATH operates 24/7. Usually, PATH trains arrive every 5-10 min (based on the time), but overnight, they may only come every 35 min.
By commuter rail
Commuter rail lines are mostly used for traveling between the city and its suburbs; however, they can be used for intracity transit as well. A handful of destinations are closer to commuter rail stops but far from the subway. MetroCards are not accepted on commuter rail; separate single or period tickets must be bought. When purchasing commuter railroad tickets, it is advantageous to purchase them online or in railroad stations prior to boarding. While tickets are available for sale on trains, there is an on-board surcharge that makes them significantly more expensive.
The Long Island Railroad, often called the LIRR runs to/from Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, Flatbush Avenue/Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, and has limited rush hour service to/from Long Island City, Queens. The Port Washington Branch goes to Northeast Queens which, aside from Flushing and Citi Field, is not served by the subway system. The Main Line, which contains most of the branches to the different parts of Long Island, goes to Southeastern Queens, including Jamaica, Laurelton, and Rosedale. The Atlantic Branch, which ends in Downtown Brooklyn, goes to East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant, both in Brooklyn. This branch is not accessible from Manhattan, however. The LIRR is also the fastest way to get from JFK to Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, and also runs to many popular getaways in Long Island, such as Long Beach, Port Jefferson, and Montauk. The LIRR has a somewhat deserved reputation for poor on-time performance, however this is more of a problem in the farther eastern reaches of the railroad and not so much a problem in New York City and its immediate suburbs.
The Metro-North Railroad provides services to/from Grand Central Terminal. Trains go to the Bronx and the northern suburbs of the city. The Hudson Line covers several parts of the Western Bronx, while the Harlem Line goes through the Central Bronx — an area with no subway service. It is the best way to get to Arthur Avenue and the New York Botanic Gardens. The Hudson and Harlem Lines are also your gateway to Westchester County and beyond, with the Hudson Line running all the way to Poughkeepsie. The New Haven Line runs to Connecticut, terminating, logically enough, in New Haven.
New York City bus
Even in Manhattan, with its dense subway network, buses can often be the best way of making a cross-town (i.e. east-west) journey, for example, crossing Central Park to go from the Metropolitan Museum to the Museum of Natural History. And outside peak hours, a ride by bus from the tip of Manhattan at Battery Park to Midtown is a good and cheap way of taking in the sights.
- Bus lines are identified by letters followed by numbers. The letters indicate the borough in which the line mostly operates (M=Manhattan; Bx=Bronx; B=Brooklyn; Q=Queens; S=Staten Island). Collectively, the letters and numbers make up the route (examples: M31, Bx9, M15). Signage at each bus stop indicates which buses stop there. Signage on the front of each bus indicates the route and destination of the bus. maps for each borough.
- Express buses travel between Manhattan and the outer boroughs, usually to areas where the subway doesn’t operate (such as eastern Queens, the eastern Bronx, southeast Brooklyn, and Staten Island). They cost $6 but offer comfortable cloth seats and are less crowded than the subway and local buses. Most Express buses are identified with either “X” (X1, X2, X63, X68) or by the Borough they connect to Manhattan. So Expresses buses to and from the Bronx would be labeled BxM (BxM11, BxM18), to and from Brooklyn would be labeled BM (BM1, BM2) and to and from Queens QM (QM1,QM2). Staten Island express buses are labeled with “X”. Keep in mind that several Brooklyn & Queens routes are also labeled with an “X” (the X27/37 and X28/38 go to Brooklyn, while the X63/64/68 go to Queens).
- When boarding a bus with a MetroCard, insert the card vertically, with the pin hole down, the black stripe to the right and the word “MetroCard” facing towards you, into the card slot in the top of the fare box next to the driver. You should be able to read the word “MetroCard” from bottom to top when inserting the card in this manner. The fare box will swallow the card, read it, and return it to you. Note this is different from the procedure to enter the subway described in “Subway Basics.”
- Bus fareboxes only accept nickels, dimes and quarters (no bills). As a safety precaution, drivers do not handle money. Change is not given, so exact fares must be paid. If you pay with coins and require a free transfer, you will have to ask the driver for one after you have paid.
- Certain north-south buses contain a small orange and purple card in the window that says “Limited.” These limited buses do not make all local bus stops, but instead stop only at major cross streets. If a Limited bus skips your stop, you can wait for a local bus which will arrive soon. On some Avenues where there is at least two or more bus routes serving it, some bus routes may operate Limited on the entire avenue or at least until they branch off. For example along 3rd/Lexington Avenue, the M101 provides limited-stop service, while the M102 & M103 provide local service.
- +Select Bus Service+ also makes limited stops like the Limited buses described above, and costs the standard $2.75 fare. They appear on the Bx12 & Bx41 in the Bronx, B44 in Brooklyn and M15, M34 and M34A in Manhattan. They can be identified by two large blinking blue lights on the front of the bus. However, these buses operate on a very different payment system. To board these +SBS+ buses, fares must be paid before boarding by using machines on the sidewalk near a special +SBS+ bus stop which is typically quite close to the local bus stop. Follow the instructions at the machine to pay. Once the fare has been paid, a receipt will be printed; take it and keep it with you. Once the bus arrives, you can enter through any door, but remember if you paid with cash to use the front door if you will need to ask the driver for a transfer. Fare inspectors will randomly check for your fare receipt as proof of payment; show it to them if they ask. If you don’t have a valid receipt, you will be fined $100 or more so it is wise to always pay the fare. However, if you cannot buy the ticket successfully, such as due to a malfunctioning machine, note the machine number and report the problem to the bus driver near the front door at once. If the +SBS+ skips your stop, wait at the local bus stop for a local bus which will arrive soon.
- Buses across the city have a new feature called BusTime that allows you to see how far away the next bus is. It is available at bustime.mta.info.
- Yellow Cabs cruise in most of Manhattan and are available at dispatcher lines at airports, but are harder to find in the other four boroughs and Northern Manhattan where Green Boro taxis cruise. NYC taxis are yellow, have a metal seal on the hood (“medallion”), a rooflight with a taxi number, a meter for billing, stickers on the door stating “NYC T” and metered fare, special taxi license plates, and a partition inside the car. The previously ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria sedan is slowly being phased out, although they still make up the majority on the roads – Toyota/Nissan hybrid sedans, and even some small SUVs and minivans are now commonplace.
- Green Boro Cabs cruise exclusively in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and northern Manhattan (north of East 96 St and north of West 110 St). They do not service southern Manhattan where yellow cabs predominate or any of the airports. They will take passengers into Manhattan and the airports but will not pick up in these areas as their GPS meters deactivate. Boro taxis are apple green, have a rooflight with a taxi number, a meter for billing, stickers on the door stating “NYC T Boro” and metered fare, special taxi license plates, and a partition inside the car.
- The fares are $2.50 plus a $0.50 state tax to start, plus $0.50 for each 1/5 mile traveled. There is a night surcharge 8PM-6AM of $0.50 and a rush hour surcharge of $1 from M-F 4PM-8PM. A trip between JFK Airport and Manhattan is a flat fare of $52.50. In addition, as in the rest of the United States, tipping your taxi driver is expected in New York. For more information, see Tipping in the United States. Info on fares, flat fares, group rides and rules. All yellow cabs accept VISA, MasterCard, and American Express for payment. In the unlikely event that the card reader is broken, the driver will let you know before you get into the taxi. To hail a taxi, stand visibly near the street (but away from moving traffic) with one arm raised over your head. The medallion numbers on the roof of the taxi will indicate the status of the taxi:
- If the medallion number is lit the taxi is available for hire.
- If the medallion number is unlit, then the taxi is already occupied or off-duty, but he or she may still pick you up if off-duty and you are traveling in the same direction as the driver. It’s worth a try to hail it. However, a driver may still decline your fare even after stopping if you are going a different direction than them.
- Livery or Black Cars, known as car services or livery cabs, may only be called by phone, and are flat rate rather than metered. In most areas, they are not allowed to cruise the streets or airports for fares, although they will do so anyway. Ask for the fare in advance. Their license plates will say either “Livery” or “TLC” on the bottom.
In some areas, livery cabs can be flagged on the street. Though this is technically illegal (the driver, not you, could get into trouble), it is useful in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs and is accepted practice. The minimum fare in these cabs is about $7, and it is advisable to negotiate the fare before you get inside (again, tipping your driver is expected). Since yellow cabs are hard to come by in the outer boroughs, these cars are particularly useful for getting to the airport (your hotel can arrange one, or look up car services in the Yellow Pages).
- All licensed yellow and green taxis and sedan limousines are authorized to take three passengers in the backseat and one in the front seat for a total of four. However, some of the newer minivan and SUV yellow cabs can seat more passengers and may take more than four passengers (even though the licensed limit is posted in the cab). Larger than sedan limousines can be reserved, also useful for airport trips with lots of luggage, by calling any of the dozens of companies in the yellow pages.
- For all cabs, you must pay tolls for bridges, tunnels and highways. All cabs must use EZPASS automatic toll collectors which will display separately on the meter. Only pay the toll shown on the meter. Be careful of being overcharged by drivers for toll crossings—on bridges and tunnels (like the Queens-Midtown Tunnel or Triboro Bridge) rates are not posted in plain view. So, a crossing which actually cost the cab driver $5 is easily passed onto the unsuspecting passenger as a $10 charge. Outside the city, other than flat fare destinations and Newark Airport, meter rates are doubled (when going to Westchester or Nassau County). Tipping your driver is expected.
- Finding an available yellow cab can be difficult during the “shift change” times. Cabdrivers work 12-hour shifts, usually 5PM-5AM or 5AM-5PM. As a result, cabs are scarce 4PM-5PM, and 4AM-5AM. If you need to get to the airport during these times, calling a car service is a good idea.
- Knowing where cabdrivers want to go at various times of the day can help you find one. In the morning, drivers without a fare head for the Village and uptown to pick up commuters heading for Midtown and Wall Street. Hence if you are standing on the uptown side of Park Ave at 72nd St, for example, you will find more empty cabs (heading uptown) than if you are trying to hail one going downtown (towards midtown). The reverse is true during the afternoon rush hours. If you are in an outer borough, find a green cab or a yellow cab on a major road heading into Manhattan.
- NYC taxis MUST take you to any destination within the five boroughs. Yellow cab drivers often will not want to go to the outer boroughs (since it is hard to find fares there and they often have to return to Manhattan without one) but they are required to take you by law. If a driver refuses, you can call 311.
- Use NYC green boro taxis when traveling within the outer boroughs.
- Be wary of unlicensed cars (known derisively as “gypsy cabs”) cruising for passengers, especially near the airports. While drivers may claim to offer you a cheaper rate than an actual taxi, your chances of actually getting this rate (not to mention getting to your destination safely and quickly) are less. If you are in doubt, ask an airport staffer for help finding a cab or cabstand. Major airports have taxi information cards for passengers.
- There are also bizarre van and shuttle services in different parts of the city. You will have to ask where it is going and how much it costs. Usually, you will see people lining up and some mysterious van will appear and they will board. There are services between Chinatown and Queens (you won’t have to make any transfers if it goes where you need to go!), and also there are separate services in Brooklyn, and Queens. Many of these services are branded as “Dollar Vans” (actually costing $2), and follow major bus routes along major avenues in these boroughs and will drop you off and pick up at any corner along the avenue. Some are legal while most aren’t and usually compete with each other for customers and may cut some other van drivers off. This is an accepted practice in these boroughs and at times are faster than MTA buses. Most drivers of these vans have heavy West Indian accent. Some may seem sketchy but for the most part are people just trying to make a living. They are usually are helpful with directions. It is rare that incidents occur with them.
- In recent years, pedicabs have appeared in New York. The city is in the early stages of licensing and enforcing safety regulations for them.
- The Staten Island Ferry, runs from Battery Park in southern Manhattan to Staten Island. The ferry carries passengers and bicycles only, runs every 30 minutes during rush hours, and is free (so don’t be fooled by con artists trying to sell “advance tickets”). Not only does the ferry provide a means of transport, but it offers an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor on its way. Even if you don’t want to visit Staten Island, taking this trip is highly recommended and is very popular with tourists. Ride on the starboard side of the ferry (right side facing the front) from Manhattan and the port side from Staten Island for the best views (to the west). If you want to take good photographs, try to get on the ferry as soon as the gates open and walk briskly to an open window (few windows are open to the air and will populate quickly). The Manhattan-to-Staten Island route passes slightly closer to the Statue of Liberty than the return route.
- New York Waterway, operates ferries that connect the city with the New Jersey Hudson River Waterfront, and with points in Brooklyn and Queens. These ferries are not free. Inquire as to fares before boarding.
- New York Water Taxi runs ferries between points within Manhattan, with some connections to Brooklyn and New Jersey. Their boats are painted to look like taxis.
A word of advice about driving in New York City: don’t. A car is inadvisable — street parking is practically non-existent near crowded areas and tourist attractions, and garage parking rates range from very expensive to plain extortion. Traffic is almost always congested, parking rules are confusing, and many drivers are aggressive – as you will find out, Manhattan reverberates to the near constant sound of car horns being blown. The public transportation options are many and offer significant advantages and savings over driving a car. Many New Yorkers, particularly in Manhattan, don’t own cars for this reason. If you are staying in a suburb and commuting to the city by car, think twice — driving to one of the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, or New Jersey Transit stations and taking the train into the city is a better option, and the parking fees at the station, train fare, and MetroCard combined are usually much cheaper than parking downtown. There are often secure parking areas in many stations. In Staten Island, parking near the ferry terminal and using the ferry will save you money and time.
If you do choose to drive, get a map, especially if driving outside of Manhattan. Good maps to use, if you are not driving, are the free bus maps which have each street, though the subway map can work in a pinch (also used for small boat navigation). In Queens, numbers identify not only avenues and streets, but also roads, places, crescents, and lanes, all of which might be near each other. Read the entire street sign. Outer borough highways are confusing and often narrowed to one lane, the potholes could trap an elephant, the signs are sometimes misleading, exits which should appear do not, and signs directing a highway approach drag you through miles of colorful neighborhood (in the wrong direction) before finally letting you onto the highway with a stop sign and six inches of merge space.
Traffic in New York City roughly follows a hierarchy of precedence, which is unwise to challenge. Fire engines, ambulances, and police cruisers are given priority, followed by other public service vehicles such as buses, road crews, and sanitation trucks. Beneath them are taxi cabs and delivery trucks. Below those are other cars. Note also that driving a car with out-of-state license plates (save for perhaps Connecticut or New Jersey) will instantly mark you as an outsider, sometimes resulting in other drivers being more aggressive around you than they would with a local. Suffice it to say, driving in New York is not for the timid, fearful, or otherwise emotionally fragile.
The major car rental agencies have offices throughout the city. Smaller agencies are also well represented. Be warned that car rentals in New York are generally more expensive than elsewhere in the United States, and frequently require a deposit of up to $500, if you do not have a credit card. Insurance rates also tend to be higher in New York than in most other cities.
Gas stations are few and far between, especially in Manhattan, where only a handful exist around the perimeter of the island. Be prepared to up to $0.50 more per gallon than in the surrounding suburbs or New Jersey. Therefore, if you have the option, it is best to fill your car while you aren’t in NYC, as long as you have enough gas to last!
Points of entry
There are several points of entry/exit into the city from the New Jersey side: the Lincoln Tunnel (midtown/41st Street), the Holland Tunnel (downtown/Canal St), and the George Washington Bridge (way uptown/178th St) — all are accessible from the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95). I-78 east will also feed directly into the Holland Tunnel (US-1/9 is also a popular route). I-80 east will terminate at an I-95 junction, the north route of which will lead directly to the George Washington Bridge. The bridge is also directly accessible from US-46 east. With all of these options, many commuters choose to listen to 24 hour traffic reports on AM stations 880 (every ten minutes on the 8’s) and 1010 (every ten minutes on the 1’s) to find the least congested route at that time. Weekend traffic delays can easily exceed 60 minutes at some of the tunnels, so plan accordingly!
The Midtown Tunnel under the East River is convenient for Long Island travelers, as it becomes the Long Island Expressway. The Queensborough Bridge (aka The 59th Street Bridge) also crosses the East River into Queens, is toll-free, and lands near the mouth of the Midtown Tunnel but requires some automotive manipulation to get onto the Long Island Expressway. Other routes head north and east out of the Bronx, including Interstates 87 (north to Albany) and 95 (northeast to Boston) and the Henry Hudson Parkway, which is along the Hudson River.
Toll charges are Very Expensive for some crossings mostly to New York from New Jersey and to Staten Island from New York. The Port Authority has increased the tolls for New York/New Jersey crossings to a whopping $13, and it’s cheaper if the toll is paid by E-ZPass. Eventually, it will increase until 2016 and there was some criticism for how that money was used. The MTA is more different. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge cost $15, and most crossings cost $7.50 or less. Be advised that there are traffic delays as well, sometimes lasting up to an hour.
On the other hand, many of the crossings (in particular all three Hudson River crossings) are only tolled going into New York City.
Rush hour traffic
Traveling at off-hours makes sense to avoid rush hour traffic, but highways and roads are still generally packed any time of day. The Cross Bronx Expressway, which is part of I-95 and leads to the George Washington Bridge, is almost always choked with traffic. Expect traffic jams at 1-2am. The Long Island Expressway has heavy eastbound traffic between the morning and evening rushes. The Holland and Lincoln Tunnels are 10 minute waits on a good day. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) is notorious, and an accident on the Verazzano Bridge without shoulders can cause a backup all the way through the northern part of Staten Island into New Jersey. It is a good idea to check radio traffic reports, especially before crossing a bridge or tunnel. Three different stations have reports every 10 minutes around the clock: 880 AM (on the 8’s), 1010 AM (on the 1’s), and 1130 AM (on the 5’s).
Driving cross-town (east-west) in Manhattan during rush hours is especially troublesome because the traffic lights are optimized to move traffic along the north-south roads. Your best bet is to avoid driving in Midtown Manhattan (between the 30s and 50s) whenever possible. If you do drive in Midtown Manhattan cross-town, posted Midtown Thru Streets  may reduce delays.
Traveling with a commercial vehicle
If you are traveling with a commercial vehicle, such as a moving truck, remember that commercial traffic is prohibited on many roadways throughout the city. Commercial traffic is permitted only on multiple-lane roadways designated as “expressways” (such as the Long Island Expressway, Cross-Bronx Expressway, or Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) and the surface streets unless marked otherwise. Commercial traffic is prohibited on all multiple-lane roadways designated as “parkways” (such as the Grand Central Parkway, Cross-Island Parkway, or Henry Hudson Parkway) with frequent low bridges.  Unfortunately, the majority of fast-moving roadways are designated as parkways in New York City. Commercial traffic is also prohibited on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Drive in Manhattan. The only viable option for traveling with a commercial vehicle in Manhattan is the surface streets, but always look out for low vertical clearance. Commercial vehicles have exclusive metered parking in Midtown Manhattan and are prohibited from parking overnight on any city street.
Parking in garages or outdoor lots is usually very expensive, costing as much as $40 per day in Manhattan, although cheap or free lot parking is available at some times at certain locations. Street parking can be free or much cheaper than garage or lot parking, but can be extremely hard to come by. Also, “bumping” cars in front of and behind of you to get into and out of a parking spot (known to some as “Braille Parking”) is common, so if you choose to park on the street, don’t be surprised if you find a few new scratches and scrapes on your bumper.
As a general rule, hotels in New York do not supply garage parking. The few that do will charge you handsomely for the privilege.
- SpotHero is a free website and app (iOS & Android) that helps drivers find, book and reserve discount parking with convenient garages, lots & valets around New York City.
- ParkWhiz.com is a free site and mobile app that allow users to book the perfect parking spot. Simply enter your destination to search parking by location, price, amenities and garage reviews. You can book daily and monthly parking as well as parking for sports, theaters and concerts throughout New York.
- DiscountNYCParking.com is a website full of tips about parking in New York City.
- BestParking.com is a free service that allows users to search and compare all daily and monthly rates and locations for parking facilities in Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Users can book free parking “Reservations” and “Rate Guarantees” at over 20% of Manhattan’s parking garages (including Icon Parking Systems and Edison ParkFast). The website’s instant rate comparison clearly displays the rates on a Google map and the interface is extremely user-friendly. Regular rates, early bird specials, weekend specials, night Specials, SUV/oversize/luxury vehicle rates, motorcycle rates, and all additional posted charges are included in the instant rate comparison.
- Parkopedia.com is a free site that allows users to find on-street and off-street parking in all New York boroughs. Users can type in an address, intersection, or zip code and will get the regulations for that area. The parking regulations display on a Google map and the interface is easy to use. Note that Parkopedia will only tell you how long you can stay in a parking spot in any particular zone; there’s no guarantee that there will actually be an empty spot waiting for you when you arrive.
- IconParking.com is a service where you can book your parking time (if you know it) by the block, date, time, and even choose which garage. One traveler says, “I’ve gone into garages that have initially said they’re full up and then I said I booked it online and they shrugged and honored it.” When you book online with this company, print a confirmation and take it with you. Most times the attendants/valets will assume you know what you’re talking about, but sometimes they want to see the printed confirmation. Also, when you pay, they may feign ignorance as to the price you were quoted online. This is another reason to print out the reservation. Using this service, it is possible to pay $10 on a weekday for 8 hours of parking 10AM-6PM on John St in the Financial District. If initially the valet says they don’t have to honor that rate, be persistent and you should get it.
- ParkFast.com. This site is for Edison Parkfast, the owner/manager of 40 parking locations around the city. The site isn’t as feature-rich and you can’t pick your hours or dates, but at least they have some basic rates and locations.
- NYC Parking Authority posts detailed guides to parking in popular neighborhoods, during seasonal events, and at airports throughout New York City, as well as tips to avoid expensive tickets; plus, links to mobile apps and websites for finding and reserving parking.
- Parking Panda is a free website and mobile app that allows drivers to compare prices, view real-time parking availability, and reserve parking in advance. Just enter where you are going on the site/app, and you can purchase daily, event, and monthly parking for just about any location you search for throughout the city.
Street Parking – Rules and penalties for violation
- Check all parking signs carefully. Parking meters demand constant feeding, and are hungry late into the night in some areas. All are pay-and-display meters which accept coins and credit cards. Meters are for 1-2-3 hour duration and in effect from morning to night except on Sunday. If a meter is broken, you must walk to a working meter and purchase a receipt. Most of Midtown Manhattan is metered parking for trucks only. [http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/faqs/faqs_traffic.shtmlParking is illegal at ALL bus stops and within 15 feet (4.5 m) of fire hydrants. Yellow lines on the curb have no legal meaning in NYC, so they cannot be relied upon to tell you if you are parked far enough from a hydrant. That said, in most areas the seams in the sidewalk are roughly five feet apart, so leaving at least three “squares” of sidewalk between the hydrant and your bumper is a smart move. Many motorists simply pay garage fees to avoid the anxiety of finding a parking spot and the risks of expensive parking tickets.
- New York has “street cleaning” parking rules , which may require drivers to move their cars at different times of the day (such as early morning, or overnight in a few business districts) so that street sweepers can clean the roads. Street cleaning rules are suspended on many obscure holidays, while parking meters and other hourly restrictions are only suspended on a few major holidays (not even on all Federal holidays).
- Trying to leave a car parked illegally for very long will often end with a $150 fine, and a vehicle illegally parked in an overcrowded place is very likely to be towed away and face a $300 fine. The New York Police Department operates the tow pounds .
Important Rules While Driving
- The citywide speed limit is 25mph.
- Unlike other places in the United States, New York City is a citywide No-Turn-On-Red zone. Be careful when driving as some (but not all) entrances to New York City have signs alerting motorists that it is illegal to turn on red signal in NYC, and other drivers from out of town may not know this rule.
- As in the rest of New York State, talking on a cell-phone (without a hands-free device) or texting while driving is illegal. Even if you do have a hands-free device, minimize your talking and prioritize driving.
- There are red light cameras at 100 various intersections in New York City. . A camera will take a picture if you run a red light and a fine disputable on the web will be issued in 30 days. However, since the camera does not identify who is driving the vehicle, no points will be issued against your drivers’ license.
- Some bus lanes have video cameras. A camera will take a video if you drive illegally in the bus lane other than to turn right and a fine disputable on the web will be issued in 30 days.
- There are 20 to 40 speed limit cameras in the city located near schools.
- If there is an emergency vehicle trying to get through with its siren blaring, pull over to the side and move forward as necessary.
- Some avenues and many streets have only one-way traffic. Thankfully, one-way streets generally alternate direction, so if your destination is down a one-way street going in the wrong direction, go another block and double-back. A handy mnemonic is “Evens go East,” meaning that, for the most part, streets with even numbers will head east, and vice-versa (in Manhattan). The best gauge to determine a one way street’s direction is to check the direction parked cars face.
- Be wary of your surroundings when you park your car. While NYC is a safe city for its size, it’s not necessarily safe for your car as well. Make it as unworthy to steal as possible.
A warning about riding bicycles in New York City; don’t do it at all! Most of the city is a police enforced No-Ride-Zone for cyclists and the streets are far too crowded and dangerous for cyclists. If you must go bicycle riding or if the bicycle bug is really gotten to you, pretty much the only place citywide you can ride without getting rear ended by a car or getting arrested is Central Park.
Like most of the great world cities, New York has an abundance of great attractions – so many, that it would be impossible to list them all here. What follows is but a sampling of the most high-profile attractions in New York City; more detailed info can be found in the district pages.
Many tourist attractions in New York City offer free or discounted admission on certain days, eg Museum of Modern Art’s Free Friday, or Museums on Us® program by Bank of America.
A number of multi-attraction schemes give reduced prices and line-skipping privileges:
- Explorer Pass allows you to choose 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 top attractions to visit. Cardholders have 30 days to use the card after visiting the first attraction. Attractions to choose from include Top of the Rock Observation, Rockefeller Center Tour, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, movie tours, cruises, and more. Also included with the card are shopping, dining, and additional attraction discounts.
- New York CityPASS grants admission to 6 New York attractions within 9 days of first use for a much reduced rate. The attractions are Empire State Building; Metropolitan Museum of Art and same-day admission to The Cloisters; American Museum of Natural History; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Option Ticket One with choice of either Top of the Rock™ Observation Deck or Guggenheim Museum; Option Ticket Two with choice of either a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise or Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. $106 adult, $79 youth aged 6–17.
- New York Pass, . Grants access to over 50 top attractions with line skipping privileges. Passes are available for 1 day ($80 adult, $60 child), 2 days ($130 adult, $110 child), 3 days ($140 adult, $120 child) or 7 days ($180 adult, $140 child). Remember, you must obtain a ticket in each attraction. You can visit as many attractions as you want in the time period – the more attractions you visit, the more you save. Also includes a free 140 page guide book, but is much better to organize your visits previously, via internet.
See also the district pages for detailed information about attractions. Detail is gradually being moved from this page to the district pages.
- OnBoard New York Tours (NYC Tours), 1650 Broadway (50th & 7th Avenue), ☎ 212-852-4821, . Sightseeing Bus and Walking Tours of New York City.Varies. edit
- Zip Aviation Helicopter Tours, Pier 6, East River (Downtown R Train, Whitehall Stop), ☎ 866ZIPOVER, . 9A-7P. Zip Aviation offers three different helicopter tours of New York City and operates out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport on Pier 6, East River side. $145. edit
- City Sightseeing New York, 455 12th Avenue, New York, NY 10018, ☎ (212) 445-7599, . 9A-7P. City Sightseeing New York provides hop on, hop off boat tours on New York City harbor. edit
- CitySights NY, 234 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036, ☎ (212) 812-2700, . 9A-7P. CitySights NY operates hop on, hop off bus tours in New York City. Our fleet of double decker top seating buses will provide you with the best view of skylines in NYC. edit
- NYC Insider Guide, . Independent guide to monthly events, attractions, tours, free things to do and see, activities, kids and more. edit
- Lokafy, ☎ 1-800-943-9145, . Lokafy connects you with a local who is passionate about exploring the hidden gems in New York City. It’s just like having a friend show you around the city. $15 an hour per person. edit
Naturally, Manhattan possesses the lion’s share of the landmarks that have saturated American popular culture. Starting in Lower Manhattan, perhaps the most famous of these landmarks is easy to spot – the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the nation standing atop a small island in the harbor, and perhaps also the most difficult attraction to access in terms of crowds and the long lines to see it. Nearby Ellis Island preserves the site where millions of immigrants completed their journey to America. Within Lower Manhattan itself, Wall Street acts as the heart of big business being the home of the New York Stock Exchange, although the narrow street also holds some historical attractions, namely Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. Nearby, the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Site commemorates the victims of that fateful day. The 1776 foot tall One World Trade Center is the spiritual successor to the fallen Twin Towers and is now the tallest skyscraper in both New York and the United States. Connecting Lower Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge offers fantastic views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.
Moving north to Midtown, Manhattan’s other major business district, you’ll find some of New York’s most famous landmarks. The Empire State Building looms over it all as the second-tallest building in the city, with the nearby Chrysler Building also dominating the landscape. Nearby is the headquarters of United Nations overlooking the East River and Grand Central Terminal, one of the busiest train stations in the world. Also nearby is the main branch of the New York Public Library, a beautiful building famous for its magnificent reading rooms and the lion statues outside the front door; and Rockefeller Plaza, home to NBC Studios, Radio City Music Hall, and (during the winter) the famous Christmas Tree and Skating Rink.
Still in the Midtown area but just to the west, in the Theater District, is the tourist center of New York: Times Square, filled with bright, flashing video screens and LED signs running 24 hours a day. Just to the north is Central Park, with its lawns, trees and lakes popular for recreation and concerts.
Museums and galleries
New York has some of the finest museums in the world. All the public museums (notably including the Metropolitan Museum), which are run by the city, accept donations for an entrance fee, but private museums (especially the Museum of Modern Art) can be very expensive. In addition to the major museums, hundreds of small galleries are spread throughout the city, notably in neighborhoods like Chelsea and Williamsburg. Many galleries and museums in New York close on Mondays, so be sure to check hours before visiting. The following is just a list of highlights; see district pages for more listings.
Arts and culture
New York City is home to some of the finest art museums in the country, and in Manhattan, you’ll find the grandest of them all. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park has vast holdings that represent a series of collections, each of which ranks in its category among the finest in the world. Within this single building you’ll find perhaps the world’s finest collection of American artwork, period rooms, thousands of European paintings including Rembrandts and Vermeers, the greatest collection of Egyptian art outside Cairo, one of the world’s finest Islamic art collections, Asian art, European sculpture, medieval and Renaissance art, antiquities from around the ancient world, and much, much more. As if all that wasn’t enough, the Metropolitan also operates The Cloisters, located in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, houses a collection of medieval art and incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters and other monastic sites in southern France in its renowned gardens.
Near the Metropolitan, in the Upper East Side, is the Guggenheim Museum. Although more famed for its architecture than the collection it hosts, the spiraling galleries are ideal for exhibiting art works. Also nearby is the Whitney Museum of American Art, with a collection of contemporary American art. In Midtown, the Museum of Modern Art(MoMA), holds the most comprehensive collection of modern art in the world, and is so large as to require multiple visits to see all of the works on display, which include Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, as well as an extensive industrial design collection. Midtown is also home to the Paley Center for Media, a museum dedicated to television and radio, including a massive database of old shows. Unknown to some Harlem, previously known as the black mecca of the Americas, is the home of important landmarks of New York City such as the Apollo Theater and 125th. You will also find the Studio Museum and contemporary art galleries such as Tatiana Pagés Gallery.
In Brooklyn‘s Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum of Art is the city’s second largest art museum with excellent collections of Egyptian art, Assyrian reliefs, 19th-century American art, and art from Africa and Oceania, among other things. Long Island City in Queens is home to a number of art museums, including the PS1 Contemporary Art Center, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of the Moving Image, which showcases movies and the televisual arts.
Science and technology
In New York City, no museum holds a sway over children like the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Containing the Hayden Planetarium, incredible astronomy exhibits, animal dioramas, many rare and beautiful gems and mineral specimens, anthropology halls, and one of the largest collections of dinosaur skeletons in the world, this place offers plenty of stunning sights.
Near Times Square in the Theater District, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum takes up a pier on the Hudson River, with the aircraft carrier Intrepid docked here and holding some incredible air and space craft.
Over in the Flushing district of Queens, on the grounds of the former World’s Fair, is the New York Hall of Science, which incorporates the Great Hall of the fair and now full of hands-on exhibits for kids to enjoy.
Another standout museum is the Transit Museum located in an abandoned station in Downtown Brooklyn. The old subway cars are a real treat and the museum is a must if you’re in New York with kids (and well-worth it even if you’re not).
Like all great cities, New York is made up of distinct neighborhoods, each of which has its own flavor. Many of the neighborhoods are popular with visitors, and all are best experienced on foot. See individual borough pages (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx , and Staten Island) for a comprehensive listing of neighborhoods.
Though the image many people have of Manhattan is endless skyscrapers and packed sidewalks, the city also boasts numerous lovely parks, ranging from small squares to the 850-acre Central Park, and there are worthwhile parks in every borough. From the views of the New Jersey Palisades from Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, to the grand Pelham Bay Park in The Bronx, and the famous Flushing Meadow Park in Corona, Queens, site of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, there is more than enough to keep any visitor busy. And almost any park is a great spot to rest, read, or just relax and watch the people streaming past. To find out more about New York City parks, look at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website and the WikiTravel pages for each borough.
Note that except for special events, all NYC parks are closed 1AM–6AM. Also, as a reminder to youngsters, it is illegal to climb trees in the park in New York City.
A general word of advice on sightseeing in New York:
Tourists often spend their entire vacation in New York standing in line (or as New Yorkers say, “standing on line”). This is often unnecessary; there are usually alternatives. For example, one can choose to avoid the Empire State Building during the day (it is open, and empty, late, until midnight or 2AM on weekends during summer), skip the Statue of Liberty in favor of the Staten Island Ferry, and stay away from the Guggenheim on Monday (it is one of the only museums open that day). Also, there is no reason to stand in line for a Broadway show if you already have a ticket with an assigned seat. If you prefer, get a drink nearby and come back closer to curtain time, when you can walk right in. The lines for bus tours can be absurd because tourists all seem to have the exact same itinerary – which is get on a bus in the morning in Times Square, get off for the Statue of Liberty, and finish on the East Side in the afternoon. Why not go downtown in the morning, and save Midtown for the afternoon? You will thank yourself for avoiding the crowds. Also, understand that buses are the slowest way to go crosstown in Midtown Manhattan during peak hours, and taxis are not much better. You are often better off either on foot or taking the subway.
Theater and Performing Arts
New York’s Broadway is famous for its many shows, especially musicals. You might want to visit TKTS online, which offers tickets for shows the same night at discounted prices, usually 50% off or visit BroadwayBox.com or NYTix.com, both community sites posting all recent Broadway discounts. TKTS has two offices, one at Times Square with lines often hours long, and a much faster one (sometimes minutes) at South Street Seaport (Corner of John St, just south of Brooklyn Bridge). Only cash is accepted at South Street. Show up at opening time for best selection. Tickets to most Broadway shows are also available from the Broadway Concierge and Ticket Center, inside the Times Square Visitor Center. They offer restaurant and hotel recommendations, parking help, and other services in addition to ticket sales, available in several languages.
New York boasts an enormous number and variety of theatrical performances. These shows usually fall into one of three categories: Broadway, Off-Broadway, or Off-Off-Broadway. Broadway refers to the shows near Times Square that usually play to theaters of 500 seats or more. These include the major musicals and big-name dramatic works, and are the most popular with visitors. Tickets for Broadway shows can run to $130 a seat, though discounters like TKTS (above) make cheaper seats available. Off-Broadway indicates performances that are smaller (less than 500 seats) and usually of a certain intellectual seriousness. Some of these theaters are located around Times Square in addition to different locations throughout Manhattan. Tickets to Off-Broadway shows tend to range from $25–50. Off-Off-Broadwayrefers to those shows that play to very small audiences (less than 100 seats) with actors working without equity. These can be dirt cheap and often very good, but some may be sufficiently avant-garde as to turn off conservative playgoers. Off-Off-Broadway Theaters worth checking out are Rising Sun Performance Company, Endtimes Productions, and The People’s Improv Theater.
For current and upcoming Broadway and Off-Broadway info and listings, visit Playbill.com. This site also has lots of articles on what’s going on in the NY commercial theater scene. Broadway.com  and Newyorkcitytheatre.com  also has plenty of info, as well as some videos and photos. Theatermania  has many discounts to the bigger shows, and also provides listings for the Off-Off scene. If visiting in the summer, brave the huge lines and attempt to get tickets to the Public Theater’s  annual “Shakespeare in the Park,” which often features big-time stars of stage and screen. Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Natalie Portman, and Liev Schrieber are just a few of the actors to have appeared here in recent years. Oh, and it’s free. Just get to one of the box offices ridiculously early, especially the one at the Park.
It’s possible to purchase tickets to The Tony Awards, Broadway’s biggest award ceremony and the culmination of the theatrical season in the city. These aren’t cheap, but if you’re into the theater scene and know something about the various performers being honored, it can be an exciting night. In any case, the performances are always fun, and you can catch moments that aren’t in the broadcast. Always the first or second Sunday night in June, visit The Tony Awards website  for the most current details.
New York has a wide variety of musical and dance companies, including several that are among the world’s most renowned. There are also numerous small companies putting on more idiosyncratic shows every night of the week. The following are just a few of New York’s most high-profile music and dance options.
- Brooklyn Academy of Music(BAM), 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn. Home to the impressive Brooklyn Philharmonic, BAM is one of the best places in the country to attend cutting-edge new musical and dance performances. The Next Wave Festival every autumn is a much-anticipated event of the New York performance scene.
- Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue. The premier venue for classical music in the United States, Carnegie Hall is famous around the world for its dazzling performances. Playing at Carnegie Hall is, for many classical musicians, the epitome of success. Carnegie Hall houses three different auditoriums, with the Isaac Stern auditorium being the largest venue.
Subway: N, Q, or R to 57th Street-7th Avenue.
- Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, 155 W 65th St (at Broadway). The Chamber Music Society is the most prestigious chamber music ensemble in the United States, playing in the acoustically impeccable Alice Tully Hall.
- Metropolitan Opera at Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center, 155 W 65th St (at Broadway). The Met (as it is known) is one of the greatest opera companies in the world. The company performs six days a week (Monday-Saturday) during the season (Sep-Apr), and always lands the greatest singers from around the globe. Expect to pay a small fortune for the most expensive seats, but upper-tier seats can cost as little as $25.
Subway: 1 to 66th Street-Lincoln Center
- New York City Ballet at New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, 155 W 65th St (at Broadway). Founded by George Balanchine, the New York City Ballet is among the world’s best dance companies. Their performances of the The Nutcracker, during the holiday season, are enormously popular.
- New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, 155 W 65th St (at Broadway). One of the premier orchestras in the United States, playing a wide variety of concerts (more than 100) every year to sold-out crowds, the Philharmonic is well-known for its standard-setting performances of the classical canon. The season runs from September to June, and in the summer they play free concerts in parks around the city .
- Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, +1-212-632-3975, . See the Rockettes, another show or just tour the famous Art Deco masterpiece.
New York is one of the world’s greatest film cities, home to a huge number of theaters playing independent and repertory programs. Many major US studio releases open earlier in New York than elsewhere (especially in the autumn) and can be found at the major cineplexes (AMC, United Artists, etc.) around the city. Be advised that, as with everything else in New York, movies are quite popular, and even relatively obscure films at unappealing times of the day can still be sold out. It’s best to get tickets in advance whenever possible.
As many films premiere in New York, you can often catch a moderated discussion with the director or cast after the show. Sometimes even repertory films will have post-screening discussions or parties. Check listings for details.
In addition to the more than 15 commercial multiplexes located throughout the city, some of the more intriguing New York film options include:
- Film Forum 209 W Houston St. A stylish theater in Greenwich Village that runs two programs—contemporary independent releases and classic repertory films. While the current releases are almost always interesting and worth seeing, it’s the repertory programming schedule that filmlovers anticipate eagerly.
- American Museum of the Moving Image 35th Ave and 36th St, Queens. AMMI contains a museum devoted to, literally, moving images, so visitors will find exhibits on zoetropes and video games in addition to film and television. They also put on a terrific screening program, with films showing continuously throughout the day.
- Angelika Film Center 18 W Houston St at Broadway, +1-212-995-2000, . Just down the street from Film Forum, the Angelika plays new independent and foreign films, many of which are only screened in New York. The cafe upstairs is something of a hotspot as well.
Subway: N or R to Prince Street.
- Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Ave (at E 2nd St), . A varied program of unique films, both repertory and new, most playing for only one or two screenings. Many of the films shown here can’t be seen anywhere else (for better or worse). It also plays host to several film festivals yearly.
Subway: F to 2nd Avenue-Lower East Side
- Cinema Village On 22 E 12th St between University Place and Fifth Ave, +1-212-629-5097,  Cinema Village specializes in showing documentaries, independent and foreign films. Often the films there will not be playing anywhere else in the country and Q&As with directors are common at opening weekends.
- Film Society at Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, 155 W 65th St (at Broadway), . The Film Society always puts on a terrific repertory program and shows a wide variety of experimental and foreign films. In addition, numerous talks and panels are held here, many featuring bold-named directors, screenwriters, and actors.
- MoMA 11 West 53rd Street. In addition to being the crown jewel of modern art museums, MoMA puts on a terrific repertory program in a nicely renovated theater below the museum. And compared to other New York movie theaters, tickets to films at MoMA are a steal.
- New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Running in October, the New York Film Festival is one of the country’s best, with great films from around the world accompanied by interesting discussions, lectures, and panels. Be advised that tickets usually sell out at least a month in advance.
- Tribeca Film Festival. Throughout May the movie theaters of Lower Manhattan are taken over by the Tribeca Film Festival, which puts on a truly enormous amount of screenings and talks. Just a few years old, the Tribeca Film Festival has already secured a prominent place in New York’s film calendar.
New York City hosts many parades, street festivals and outdoor pageants. These are some of the most famous:
- New York’s Village Halloween Parade. Each Halloween (31 Oct) at 7PM. This parade and street pageant attracts 2 million spectators and 50,000 costumed participants along Sixth Ave between Spring St and 21st St. Anyone in a costume is welcome to march; those wishing to, should show up 6PM-9PM at Spring St and 6th Ave.
- Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The morning of each Thanksgiving on Central Park W, this parade attracts many spectators and is broadcast on nationwide television.
- Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The largest St. Paddy’s parade in the world! Route is up 5th Ave from 44th St to 86th St and lasts from 11AM to about 2:30PM. Celebrations in pubs citywide happen the rest of the day and night until the green beer runs out.
- Labor Day (also known as West Indian Day Parade or New York Caribbean Carnival). An annual celebration held in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Its main event is the West Indian-American Day Parade, which attracts between one and three million spectators, thus taking in more foot traffic in one day than the entirety of Toronto’s Caribana festival. The spectators watch the parade on its route along Eastern Parkway. The large parade is held on American Labor Day, the first Monday in September.
New York is arguably the fashion capital of the United States, and is a major shopping destination for people around the world. The city boasts an unmatched range of department stores, boutiques, and specialty shops. Some neighborhoods boast more shopping options than most other American cities and have become famous as consumer destinations. Anything you could possibly want to buy can be found in New York, including clothing, cameras, computers and accessories, music, musical instruments, electronic equipment, art supplies, sporting goods, and all kinds of foodstuffs and kitchen appliances. See the borough pages and district sub-pages for listings of some of the more important stores and major business districts, of which there are several.
Anyone can freely create, display, and sell art, including paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, DVDs, and CDs, based on freedom of speech rights. Thousands of artists earn their livings on NYC streets and in parks. Common places to find street artists selling their work are SoHo in Lower Manhattan and near the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 81st Street.
New York City has a number of retail outlet locations, offering substantial discounts and the opportunity to purchase ends-of-line and factory seconds. Century 21 in Manhattan is one of the largest stores where New Yorkers get designer clothing for less.
Basic food, drinks, snacks, medicine, and toiletries can be found at decent prices at the ubiquitous Duane Reade , CVS, and Rite Aid stores. For a more authentically New York experience, stop by one of the thousands of bodegas/delis/groceries. Although sometimes dirty-looking in apparent need of repair, you can purchase groceries, water, inexpensive flowers, coffee, and cooked food — typically 24/7.
Shopping in airports
Most shops in NYC airports are chain outlets, the same as can be found in most of large airports in the world–so it’s pretty difficult to feel the spirit of the fashion capital if you only have 2 hours waiting for a connecting flight. At JFK airport, JetBlue Airways’ new terminal 5 is populated with modern, cutting-edge restaurants and shops, but terminals 4 and 8 are also a good place for retail and duty free shopping.
From Newark, the best shopping can be found in United Airlines’ main hub in Terminal C which has a massive selection of restaurants and shops with the offering from Terminal B being pretty poor in comparison (although the Port Authority is making improvements as of 2012), and almost non-existent from the domestic Terminal A.
In New York City it is common for street vendors to set up tables on the sidewalk, close to the curb, and sell items. They are required to obtain a permit to perform this activity, but it is legal. Purchasing from these vendors is generally legitimate, although buying brand name goods from these vendors (particularly expensive clothing and movies) is ill advised as the products being sold may be cheap imitation products. It is considered safe to buy less expensive goods from these vendors, but most will not accept payment by credit card, so you will have to bring money. Be particularly wary of any street vendor that does not sell from a table (especially vendors who approach you with their merchandise in a briefcase) as these goods are almost certainly cheap imitation products.
New York has, as you might expect of the Big Apple, all the eating options covered and you can find almost every type of food available and every cuisine of the world represented. There are tens of thousands of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, ranging from dingy $0.99-a-slice pizza joints to $500-a-plate prix fixe sushi and exclusive Michelin-starred eateries. Thousands of delis, bodegas, and grocery stores dot every corner of the city and DIY meals are easy and cheap to find. Street food comes in various tastes, ranging from the ubiquitous New York hot dog vendors to the many carts with Middle Eastern cuisine on street corners in mid-town. However in mid-town be wary of restaurants and bars both immediately on and around Times Square, or near the Empire State Building – many are tourist traps cashing in on travelers’ gullibility and lack of local knowledge. New Yorkers wouldn’t dream of eating out in such places; you shouldn’t either! It pays to be adventurous therefore and reach out into the individual neighborhoods for a true authentic NYC dining experience!
Fruit stalls appear at many intersections from Spring to Fall with ready to eat strawberries, bananas, apples, etc available at very low cost. Vegetarians will find New York to be a paradise with hundreds of vegetarian-only restaurants and good veggie options in even the most expensive places.
Delis & Street Food
- The New York Bagel. There is no bagel like the New York Bagel anywhere else in the world. Bagels, which are a doughnut-shaped round of boiled dough with a distinctive, chewy, sweet interior and a leathery outer crust, arrived from the old world with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and have become utterly New York in character. You can get bagels anywhere in the city but, for the best bagels you may have to trek away from the main tourist sites. H&H Bagels at W 46th St. and 12th Av. is very popular and expensive, but many bagel connoisseurs consider Absolute Bagels at Broadway and 107th street to be the most traditional and best. Ess-a-Bagel on 21st and 1st Av. and 3rd Av. between 51st and 52nd Sts. also has a strong following. For anyone out there wanting to try a REAL bagel, you need to go to Brooklyn. One good spot is the Bagel Hole (see Prospect Park (7th Avenue of the F or G) or try looking in Midwood (Avenue J on the Q subway line). For the best bagels, go early when they are warm and straight from the oven. There’s also a little-known cousin to the bagel, the bialy, which is like a bagel but the hole does not go all the way through. Kossar’s Bialys on Grand Street at Essex is an ancient Lower East Side institution.
- The New York Hot Dog. Vendors all over the city sell hot dogs – affectionately called “dirty water dogs” by the locals – from pushcarts on city sidewalks and in parks. Choose your toppings from mustard, ketchup, and relish (or just ask for everything), wrap the dog in a paper napkin, and walk along the sidewalk trying not to let the toppings slip and slide all over your hands. Also recommended is Papaya King (several locations), known for their inexpensive meals ($3.25 for a dog and a drink) and their blended tropical fruit drinks and smoothies. Or, take the Subway to Coney Island (D, F, N, Q trains, Coney Island – Stillwell Ave. stop) for the famous Nathan’s hot dog (1310 Surf Ave).
- The New York Deli Sandwich. Another delicacy brought over by Jewish Immigrants, you must try either a corned beef or pastrami sandwich (a “Reuben” is always a good choice). There are some better known delis in the city, but the most famous one is Katz’s Deli at Houston and Ludlow Streets. They have been around since 1888, and still pack them in day and night.
- The New York Pizza. A peculiarly New York thing, you can buy pizza, with a variety of toppings, by the slice from almost every pizzeria in the city. A New York pizza has a thin crust (sometimes chewy, sometimes crisp), plenty of cheese, and an artery-hardening sheen of grease on top. Buy a slice, fold in half lengthwise, and enjoy. If you just want a piece of plain cheese pizza, ask for “a slice.” Or pick up one with pepperoni — the quintessential meal on the go in New York.
- The New York Cheesecake. Made famous by Lindy’s and Junior’s deli in New York, it relies upon heavy cream, cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks to add a richness and a smooth consistency. Now available throughout the city, but to get the original, go to Junior’s, just off the Manhattan Bridge in Downtown Brooklyn (see Downtown Brooklyn) (B, Q, or R to DeKalb Ave)
- The New York Egg Cream. Also often referred to as a “Chocolate Egg Cream”. A blend of chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer water. One of the best is found at Katz’s Delicatessen. Though not often on the menu at many diners, if you ask for one they will still prepare it for you at most locations.
- The New York Falafel and Gyro. You can find gyro vendors scattered throughout the city. However, a quick stop into the famous Mamoun’s locations will get you one of the best classic shawarma sandwich in the city (St. Mark’s Place and MacDougal St). Don’t forget to try out their hot sauce and to bring cash!  If you’re in the Upper East Side and looking for a gyro that has recognizable meat, check out Amali Restaurant on E60th between Lex and Park St, primarily a fine dining Mediterranean restaurant, the restaurant has an outdoor grill where they make chicken and pork gyros with organic meat from Upstate New York and even stuff some tasty fries into their sandwich. 
Maybe it’s the size of New Yorkers’ tiny kitchens, or perhaps it’s the enormous melting-pot immigrant populations, but either way, this city excels at every kind of restaurant. There are fancy famous-chef restaurants, all ethnic cuisines and fusion/updates of ethnic cuisines (second-generation immigrants tweaking their family tradition), plus all the fashionable spots, casual bistros, lounges for drinking and noshing and more.
While most restaurants accept credit cards, some smaller restaurants, particularly in Chinatown and Williamsburg, do not. Others have required minimum purchase amounts for credit/debit purchases. Most establishments will prominently display this requirement, so keep your eyes open if you typically pay for meals with plastic.
As in the rest of the United States, tipping is expected in New York restaurants. New Yorkers often calculate the base tip by doubling the tax. For more information, see Tipping in the United States.
Restaurants with meal courses under $20 are unlikely to have any preference about what their customers wear. Of course, like most major cities, New York has some expensive, extremely fashionable restaurants that care about, and enforce, a certain level of dress among their customers – but “jackets only” restaurants are very uncommon nowadays.
If you’re from elsewhere in the US and wish to “pass” as a local within Manhattan, pay attention to your shoes and coat. Most local exclusiveness is pretty understated, but where it exists it’s generally from nightlife commuters from New Jersey and Long Island that supposedly threaten to rob bar-filled neighborhoods of their local color. Therefore, if your style doesn’t fit in but is obviously from outside the US, you may find yourself as welcomed as graciously as any local, if not more so.
New York is a friendly place for vegetarians and vegans. There are many vegetarian only restaurants with offerings varying from macrobiotic food to Ayurvedic thalis or Asian Buddhist food. But, more importantly, almost every restaurant at every point on the price scale has vegetarian dishes that are more than an afterthought. Even Per Se, one of the most expensive and sought after restaurants in the city, has a seven course vegetarian tasting menu well worth the expense. DIY vegetarians will have no problem finding fresh vegetables, a wide variety of cheese, bread and prepared vegetarian foods in New York supermarkets.
Nothing differentiates New York more from other American cities than the astonishing amount of food cooked and served on the streets. Starting with the thousands of hot dog stands on almost every street corner (try Hallo Berlin on 54th and Fifth for the best rated sausages), the possibilities are endless. People trek to Jackson Heights in Queens for a nibble of the famous arepas of the Arepa Lady. Freshly cooked Indian dosas are served up for a pittance at the NY Dosas stand in Washington Square Park. The Trinidadian/Pakistani Trinipak cart on 43rd and Sixth. Danny Meyer, the famous restaurateur, has a burger stand (“Shake Shack”) in Madison Square Park as well as a new location on the upper west side. The halal offerings in midtown are legendary (Kwik-Meal on 45th and Sixth; Chicken Guy/Halal Chicken on 53rd and Sixth and many others). Most carts serve lunch (from about eleven in the morning to five or six in the evening) and disappear after dark, so look for a cart near you, smell what’s cooking, and enjoy a hot and often tasty lunch for a few dollars (a meal costs anywhere from about $2-8). Mornings, from about 6AM-10AM, the streets are dotted with coffee carts that sell coffee, croissants, bagels, and danish pastries and are good for a cheap breakfast: small coffee and bagel for a dollar or so. From 10AM to 7PM many vendors sell lunch and dinner choices, including hot dogs, hamburgers, gyros, and halal. Other street vendors sell italian ices, pretzels, ice cream, and roasted peanuts. Also, look around for the coffee truck (often found in Union Square), dessert truck, as well as Belgian waffle truck that roam around the city.
Do It Yourself
New York’s many markets and grocery stores make preparing your own food interesting and easy. Almost every grocery store, deli, or bodega has a prepared foods section where you can make your own salad (beware, you are charged by the pound!) or buy ready to eat foods such as burritos, tacos, curries and rice, lasagna, pastas, pre-prepared or freshly-made sandwiches, and many other types of foods. Whole Foods has five New York City locations, all with a variety of foods, and a clean place to sit and eat but any supermarket will have enough to take away to the park or your hotel room for a low cost meal. If you have a place to cook, you’ll find almost any kind of food in New York though you may have to travel to the outer boroughs for ethnic ingredients. Most supermarkets have Thai, Chinese, and Indian sauces to add flavor to your pot, and many, especially in upper Manhattan, have the ingredients necessary for a Mexican or Central American meal, but go to Chinatown for the best Chinese ingredients, Little India in Murray Hill for Indian ingredients, Flushing for all things Chinese or Korean, Jackson Heights for Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Indian, Flatbush and Crown Heights for Jamaican, Williamsburg for Kosher, Greenpoint for Polish, or Brighton Beach for Russian & Eastern European. Ask around for where you can get your favorite ethnic ingredients and you’ll find traveling around in local neighborhoods a rewarding experience. There is also a Trader Joe’s at Union Square for cheap but delicious supermarket buys. Western Beef Supermarkets offer more foods from different ethnicities than average supermarkets.
The only thing about New York City that changes faster than the subway map or the restaurants is the bar scene. While some established watering holes have been around for decades or centuries, the hot spot of the moment may well have opened last week and could likely close just as quickly. The best way to find a decent bar is to ask the advice of a native dweller with trustworthy taste.
The following is a general overview of the popular neighborhoods for a night out. For more specific suggestions, see the relevant district pages.
- Greenwich Village – Probably the best neighborhood to go if you are in town for just a brief period. It is the equivalent somewhat of a Latin Quarter, full of locals of all ages, especially students attending NYU. There are many bars and jazz clubs around Bleecker Street and MacDougal, as well as near lower Seventh and Sixth Avenues.
- Chelsea – Lots of clubs and a thriving gay scene along Eighth Ave between 20th & 30th Streets. There is a mix of bars and of course not every bar is a gay bar. West Chelsea (27th-29th Streets, west of 10th Ave) is loaded with clubs. If you are European and looking for a discotheque, this is where you want to be.
- The Meatpacking District – Trendier bars and clubs and some expensive restaurants, including the Old Homestead, NYC’s oldest steakhouse. Located between Greenwich Village and Chelsea, around 14th St and 9th Ave.
- The Lower East Side – Formerly the dingy alternative to the West Village, but has become trendier today. Ludlow Street is crawling with bars and small music venues in an area that may remind you of the Bastille in Paris. Rivington and Stanton Street are also viable options. The area has experienced an influx of hipsters in recent years.
- The East Village – Lots of bars located on Second Ave around 2nd St. There is also a sizeable cluster of Japanese bars, which are great fun, located on St. Mark’s between 2nd and 3rd.
- Alphabet City – East of the East Village, this area was once a dangerous drug-addled hell hole; today it is cleaned up and loaded with bars. Heroin dens have been replaced with brunch places!
- Murray Hill – More hip with the 30-year-old crowd. The area around 29th St and Lexington Avenue has many Indian restaurants, but within three blocks there are plenty of watering holes, including a couple of fireman bars and an all Irish whiskey pub.
- Times Square – A very touristy area. The Marriot Marquis at Broadway & 45th has a revolving bar on the 50th floor. The Peninsula Hotel at 5th Avenue & 55th has probably the classiest rooftop bar in New York. The Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center is often closed and has a dress code. The Hotel Metro on 5th Avenue & 35th also has a rooftop bar with fantastic, stress free, views of the Empire State Building. Very few New Yorkers would be caught dead at these places.
- Williamsburg – One stop into Brooklyn on the L train, this is the capital of NYC’s hipster scene. If you like thin pale boys with tight jeans and no job, this is the place for you. There are plenty of bars along Bedford Avenue. Many of New York’s small music venues are located here.
- Woodside – A 10-minute ride on the #7 train line from Times Square, this Queens neighborhood is a great for happy hour and drinking festivities before a Mets baseball game. There are several Irish pubs by the Woodside train station.
- Astoria – This Queens neighborhood, 25 minutes from Times Square on the N/Q trains, is home to Queens’ Bohemian Hall Beer Garden, near the Astoria Boulevard subway stop. This bar, popular in the summer, covers an entire city block, is walled and filled with trees, indoor and outdoor tables and a cool crowd, and serves great Czech and German beer.
- Bay Ridge – This Brooklyn neighborhood has one of the highest concentrations of bars in the city! The neighborhood has been generally Irish/Italian and does not have the hipster/yuppie scene common in New York.
- Park Slope – This Brooklyn neighborhood is the yuppie capital of New York and you are more likely to find a tea house serving soy milk than a bar here. Young couples pushing strollers is a common sight. There is some low-key nightlife, although in recent years this has been on the decline. A number of lesbian bars are located in this area.
- St. George – This Staten Island neighborhood has a few bars located south of the ferry terminal. Make a left when you leave the boat. Tourists take the trip on the ferry every year and never get off. Look for live music at the Cargo Cafe or Karl’s Klipper, both located on Bay Street w/ phenomenal views of the Verrazano Bridge.
Last call is 4AM, although many establishments will let you stay beyond that, especially in the outer boroughs. It is not uncommon to be locked in a bar after 4AM so people can keep drinking.
Travelers from abroad should always follow local tipping customs when it comes to drinking at a bar. New York bartenders expect $1 for each drink served, even if it is a simple can of beer. The reason it’s expected is that it represents the overwhelming majority of the bartender’s wage. The bar owner typically does not pay the bar staff, with the exception of a symbolic “shift pay,” which can be less than $5 an hour before taxes. The result is that on a slow night a bartender may make close to nothing, whereas on a busy Saturday they can walk out with a great deal of cash.
Seasoned bartenders will not hesitate to remind the drinker of this custom, and it is sometimes assumed that non-tipping foreigners are consciously withholding tips despite knowing better. A customer who does not tip may find the level of service drop precipitously.
While those not accustomed to this system may object to essentially bankrolling the salary of the staff, note that many bartenders will “buy back” your 3rd or 4th round (i.e. you get it for free), which can balance it out.
In short, happy bartenders make happy customers, and your generosity will usually be rewarded.
In New York State (this includes NYC), wine and liquor are sold at liquor stores, and are not sold at delis or supermarkets. Beer cannot be bought 4AM-8AM on Sunday morning (although if you look hard, you can get around this).
Liquor, wine and beer are almost always sold to you with a paper or plastic bag. Keep this bag on the alcohol. It is frowned upon to carry alcohol openly in the streets, as it is assumed you might be consuming it.
There are various local beers to try. Chelsea Brewing Company, Heartland Brewery, and Brooklyn Brewery are worth a visit.
In New York, as in most of the US, the legal drinking age is 21. Even if you’re well over 21, make sure to keep your driver’s license (sufficient for US & Canadian citizens), national ID card (usually sufficient for European citizens) or passport (sufficient for everyone else) at hand. Especially in touristy neighborhoods, it’s not uncommon to be asked to prove your age as a matter of policy or court order – even at a restaurant. Outside of the touristy areas, and especially in Brooklyn, people tend to be more relaxed. However the State of New York allows under-age drinking provided that it is on private premises that do not retail alcohol and has parental consent. Under-age drinking is also allowed for religious purposes.
The costs of hotel accommodation in New York City is generally higher than the American average, and Manhattan (where most visitors will want to base themselves) in particular has some of the most expensive accommodation in the world. Expect to pay up to $50 for a hostel, $100-200 for a budget room with shared bath, $250-350 for a mid-range hotel with a decent room and a restaurant and/or room service; right up to world famous luxury hotels such as the Waldorf Astoria or The Plaza, where a stay in the top suites can run into thousands of dollars a night. There is no shortage of choice however as all of the major international hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Holiday Inn each have multiple properties in Manhattan. Most rooms below $200 in Manhattan are small with room for a bed, a tv, and little else, and may be located in less attractive areas of the island – for instance along the West Side Highway, or on the northern reaches beyond Central Park.
You can reduce the costs by basing yourself in the outer boroughs, of course but beware of cheap hotels in Brooklyn or Queens where you may be sharing the premises with hourly customers! A smarter move is to stay along the New Jersey shore – Hoboken, Jersey City and Newark for instance all have major chain hotels which can be much cheaper than their Manhattan equivalents, and are connected across the Hudson via the PATH system.
That said however, there are ways of finding accommodation in a big name mainstream hotel in Manhattan at lower prices – it takes some determination – but it can be done using the following tips:
- January/February (but after the New Year period), are traditionally the “quiet” months in the city for tourism. If you can stomach the likelihood of heavy snow and bitterly cold weather (equally, New York has a character all of its own in times of heavy snowfall), there are deals to be had as hotels discount heavily to fill rooms.
- The the last 2 weeks of August, the 3 days before the US Thanksgiving, and Sunday evenings are also times when hotel rates drop, but if planning to visit during the US Thanksgiving – bear in mind the likely travel chaos before and after, and that many businesses (even in the city that never sleeps!) close down completely on Thanksgiving Day itself.
- Consider combined “flight+hotel” packages from your airline or travel agency; they often reduce the overall cost of the trip considerably compared with booking travel and accommodation separately. Be aware that many of these are non-changeable and cannot be cancelled.
- Check with the usual price comparison and aggregation websites, and so-called “Secret Room” promotions – discounts from $75-200 per night are not unheard of.
Airbnb is one of the best options for accommodation in NYC with over 1,000 listings in New York City. Private rooms and entire apartments in every borough of NYC with prices starting at around $50. Midtown and Soho are good suburbs if you are unfamiliar with Manhattan. Note that the city is starting to crack down on Airbnb as the some proprietors do not pay hotel taxes and others are technically illegal establishments in NYC.
- The Radisson Martinique on Broadway, 49 W 32ND ST, NEW YORK, NY 10001, ☎ 212-736-3800, . The Radisson Martinique on Brodway is located on Broways and 32nd streat – the heart of New York City. Nearby, you will find Penn Station and Subway connections just below the hotel. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this hotel offers well appointed hotel rooms and suites perfect for business and leisure travelers. edit
- The Avalon Hotel, 16 E 32ND ST, NEW YORK, NY 10016, ☎ 212-299-7000, . The Avalon Hotel NYC is located in the heart of New York City near 5th Avenue, Penn Station, and 7 subway lines. This boutique hotel in Midtown Manhattan offers guests spacious hotel rooms and suites perfect for business and leisure travelers. edit
- The Gotham Hotel, 16 E 46th Street, New York, NY 10017, ☎ 212.490.8500, . The Gotham Hotel on 46th Street is a luxury boutique hotel in Midtown East, Manhattan featuring 67 hotel rooms and suites with private balconies and an upscale on-site steakhouse in a modern, residential-style building. edit
Room rates are typically quoted excluding taxes, so expect your actual bill to be higher than the quoted rate. Taxes include New York State and New York City sales tax (8.875%), a New York City Hotel Occupancy Tax (varies but, for rooms above $40, $2 + 5.875%), and a surcharge of $1.50. For a $100 per night room, expect to pay $117.75, after taxes are taken into account.
Alternatives to Manhattan accommodations
You can also find alternative accommodation such as short term apartments or hotels alternatives on the NewYorkStay website. Travellers with a very restrictive budget may prefer to share the amenities of an apartment with other travellers rather than spend hundreds of dollars in a hotel room they will use very little time. It’s worth keeping in mind that you don’t have to stay in Manhattan.
Long Island City, Queens
In Long Island City, Queens, there are 10-15 clean and safe hotels in the region just across the Queensborough/59th Street Bridge from Manhattan. Accommodation here can cost as little as $50 per night. This area is being developed by the city as its new “hotel zone.” Take advantage of it! Since the subway runs all night, you can go out in Manhattan and come back at any time.
Brooklyn has a sprawling number of hotels. In the neighborhood of Park Slope alone there are over 5 hotels. With great access to public transportation and quick trips into Manhattan Brooklyn is definitely a borough you should look into.
Just over the Hudson River and out of the city limits, in New Jersey, there are cheaper hotels, and Manhattan is easily accessible by a short 15-minute ferry ride, by train, by bus, or by a more expensive cab ride. However, public transit to and from New Jersey does not run as often as transportation within New York City, especially after midnight. Taking a cab to New Jersey can be difficult – at times, crossing the bridges and tunnels to New Jersey is painfully slow due to traffic.
Hotels close to Newark Airport can cost as little as $50 per night if booked online. However, to travel to Manhattan with public transportation can be complicated . Multiple transfers are required (airport shuttle to airport; #62 to Newark Penn Station; PATH train to the city), and services are of low frequency. Expect 1.5 to 2 hours each way from your Newark airport hotel to Manhattan.
Jersey City can be easier – it’s only a short hop from there to Midtown on the PATH.
Another option for travelers coming from Newark Airport is to stay in Staten Island. Some Staten Island hotels offer free shuttle buses or are on bus lines to the free St. George Ferry to Manhattan. Do be aware though that Staten Island is a lot farther than it seems from the main attractions.
Staying with locals
It is highly advised to stay with someone you know who lives in New York, New Jersey or south and western Connecticut. If you don’t know anyone, you can look into a hospitality exchange. New Yorkers love showing off their city and understand that hotels are expensive. Taking an old friend out to dinner one night in return for accommodation is far more economical than staying in a hotel – and you will get a real take on New York as opposed to just the tourist attractions.
Wi-Fi is available in city parks and quite a few public libraries. The Apple store has dozens of computers setup and doesn’t seem to mind that many people use them for free internet access, but they can be pretty busy at times. Easy Internet Cafe and FedEx Office are just some of the internet cafes which offer broadband internet at reasonable prices. Finding a store with an open power outlet may be difficult so be sure your device is fully charged and its battery is working properly.
Public phones are found all over the city so carry quarters if you plan to use them. Remember to include the 1 and area code when dialing from any phone in NYC – including private “land line” phones in buildings – as 11-digit dialing is always in effect, even when dialing locally.
For choosing a mobile network OpenSignal provide crowdsourced cellular coverage maps of New York for comparing the carriers. Note, in US English “carrier” means “network” or “mobile network operator. Be aware that some operators (such as Sprint and Verizon) use CDMA, this means you cannot get a SIM from these carriers. In addition, operators may use different network bands to those your phone uses, make sure you check this. You can also find information on network bands used by each network on OpenSignal’s network specific pages (e.g. T-Mobile network coverage, AT&T network coverage).
If you are traveling from overseas, you may need to unlock your cellphone before it can be used with a local carrier. One store that specializes in this service is New Wave Inc., located in Midtown Manhattan. (New Wave Inc.)
Commonly believed to be very dangerous, New York is statistically the safest large city in the United States, and its crime rate per person is actually lower than the national average and many small towns. You can also be assured of a high police presence in Times Square, public transportation hubs and other major crowded places.
NOTE: There are apparently rumors circulating about it being legal in New York City for women to walk around topless. Those rumors are totally false. It remains totally illegal under Federal law, including in New York City for women to be topless, the violation of which can carry a sentence of up to fifty-five years imprisonment. All women must be completely covered, top and bottom, at all times nationwide including in New York City.
The most common crime against tourists (not including being overcharged!) is bag snatching. Never let go of your bag, especially in the subway but also when eating at a restaurant. Take special care if sitting outdoors or in a crowded self-service restaurant. Leave your passport and other valuables in a hotel safe or hidden in your suitcase, and don’t flaunt a wad of money.
While muggings are rare, they do happen. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you find yourself on a lightly traveled or poorly lit street. Certain neighborhoods that are off the tourist path should be avoided in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Riverside Park and Central Park can be dangerous at night. If you go to an evening outdoor concert at one of the parks, follow the crowd out of the park before heading toward your destination.
In a post 9/11 New York, airport style security is becoming a common sight at a growing list of buildings, museums and tourist attractions, even the Public Library. Generally you can expect to have your bags checked (either manually by a security guard or through an x-ray machine) and walk through a metal detector. Unlike their counterparts at JFK and LaGuardia, security screenings at building entrances are surprisingly quick and efficient – and you can even leave your shoes on!
If you think you’ve inadvertently wandered into a dangerous area, hop into a cab, if available, or into the nearest subway station and go elsewhere. If a subway platform is deserted, stay within sight of the station agent if possible, or within sight of the closed circuit cameras. Otherwise, if you are on the streets of an unfamiliar neighborhood, acting like you know where you’re going – even if you don’t – goes a long way. Criminals tend to look for easy targets – don’t be one!
New York has its share of odd people: talkative pan-handlers, lonely people just wanting a chat, religious preachers, people with psychological disorders, etc. If you prefer not to speak with someone who approaches you for a chat, do what most New Yorkers do: completely ignore them or say “Sorry, gotta go” while continuing to walk at a brisk pace.
Despite the stereotypes, many New Yorkers are nice people and don’t mind giving out directions (time allowing), so don’t be afraid to ask! In busier areas, you may even experience multiple New Yorkers jumping in to argue over the best way to get to your destination, which is often a quite colorful. If you ever get into trouble, approach the nearest police officer. You’ll find them to be friendly, polite, and very helpful.
Here are a few unofficial maps that can help you avoid inadvertently wandering into a higher-crime area.
NOTE: New York City has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws. Weapons permits issued elsewhere — including New York State permits — are not honored within the five boroughs of the city. Some popular venues have a “No guns” sign posted outside, leading people to falsely assume such weapons are prohibited only in certain places. In fact, they’re just as illegal outside these venues as inside. Attempting to leave weapons with security guards or police prior to entry will likely lead to very serious criminal charges.
New York is by far the most expensive city in the United States in which to both live and visit, although from a tourist perspective, you can expect the costs to be comparable to other major “world cities” such as London, Paris and Tokyo. One of the biggest expenses when visiting New York is accommodation – the median rate for a decent hotel room in Manhattan seldom dips below $200 a night for example, although there are techniques (see the “#Sleep” section above) to lower the cost. On the flip side, eating out in restaurants – is relatively inexpensive given the massive amount of competition and choice on offer. As with most major tourist destinations, New York has its fair share of “tourist traps” in terms of eating and drinking options, which can trap the unwary.
Citizen Service Center, tel 311 (lines open 24/7) – New York City’s official non-emergency help line, available in 171 languages for questions (parade hours and routes, parking restrictions, transport problems) and complaints (litter, noise pollution, access).
- Baby Sitters’ Guild, +1 212 682-0227 . Bookings daily 09:00-21:00, cash payments only. For stressed and busy parents visiting New York, round-the-clock baby-sitting is available short- or long-term from $20 per hour (4h minimum) and cab fare (approx. $10). Multilingual sitters are also available.
- Barnard Babysitting Agency, +1 212 854-2035. Students of Barnard College babysit for around $16 an hour, minimum two hours, plus a $20 registration fee.
Smoking in public places is highly restricted. It is prohibited in indoor sections of bars, restaurants, subway stations and trains (all transit system property), public parks, public beaches, pedestrian malls, both indoor and outdoor stadiums and sports arenas, and many other public places. If you light up in any of these places, you are subject to a summons and fine, ejection, and/or indignant reactions from residents. There do remain a small number of legal cigar bars that are exempt, as are the outside areas of sidewalk cafes and the like, but these are very much the exception. If you need to smoke while eating or drinking, be prepared to take a break and join the rest of the smokers outside, whatever the weather; many establishments have large space heaters. As in most US cities, drinking alcoholic beverages on the street is illegal, so bars will not let you take your drink outside.
- Andorra, 27F, Two United Nations Plaza, ☎ +1 212 750-8064/5 (fax: +1 212 750-6630), . The Andorran embassy is in New York, not Washington D.C. edit
Not a complete list.
- Argentina, 12 W 56 St (btwn 5th and 6th Aves), ☎ +1 212 603-0400 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 212 541-7746), . edit
- Australia, 150 E 42nd St 34F, ☎ +1-212 351-6500 (fax: +1 212 351-6501), . edit
- Austria, 31 E 69th St, ☎ +1 212 933-5140 (email@example.com), . edit
- Belgium, 1065 Avenue of the Americas, 22F, ☎ +1-212-586-5110 (NewYork@diplobel.fed.be, fax: +1-212-582-9657), . edit
- Brazil, 1185 Avenue of the Americas, 21F, ☎ +1 917-777-7777 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 212-827-0225), . edit
- Canada, 1251 Avenue of the Americas, ☎ +1 212 596-1628 (email@example.com, fax: +1 212 596-1790), . edit
- China, 520 12th Ave, ☎ +1-212-244-9456, . edit
- Colombia, 10 E 46th St (btwn 5th and Madison Aves), ☎ +1-212-798-9000 (fax: +1-212-972-1725), . edit
- Denmark, One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 885 Second Ave, 18F, ☎ +1-212-223-4545 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1-212-754-1904), . edit
- Dominican Republic, 1501 Broadway Ave, Ste 410, ☎ +1 212 768-2480 (email@example.com, fax: +1-212-768-2677 or +1-212-827-0425), . edit
- Egypt, 1110 Second Ave, ☎ +1-212-759-7120 (fax: +1-212-308-7643), . edit
- France, 934 Fifth Ave (btwn 74th and 75th Sts), ☎ +1-212-606-3600 (fax: +1-212-606-3620), . edit
- Germany, 871 United Nations Plaza (First Ave btwn 48th and 49th Sts), ☎ +1-212-610-9700 (fax: +1-212-940-0402), . edit
- Greece, 69 E 79th St, ☎ +1-212-988-5500 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1-212-734-8492), . edit
- Guatemala, 276 Park Ave S, 2F, ☎ +1-212-686-3837 (email@example.com, fax: +1-212-271-3503), . edit
- Grenada, 800 Second Avenue, Suite 400k, ☎ +1-212-599-0301 (fax: +1-212-599-1540), . edit
- India, 3 E 64th St (btwn 5th and Madison Aves), ☎ +1-212-774-0600 (fax: +1-212-861-3788), . edit
- Indonesia, 5 E 68th St, ☎ +1-212-879-0600 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1-212-570-6206), . edit
- Ireland, 345 Park Ave, 17F, ☎ +1-212-319-2555 (fax: +1 212 980-9475), . edit
- Israel, 800 2nd Ave (btwn 42nd and 43rd Sts), ☎ + 1-212-499-5300 (email@example.com), . edit
- Italy, 690 Park Ave, ☎ +1-212-737-9100 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1-212-249-4945), . edit
- Japan, 299 Park Ave, 18F, ☎ +1-212-371-8222 (fax: +1-212-319-6357), . edit
- Kenya, 866 UN Plaza, Ste 4016, ☎ +1-212-421-4741 (email@example.com, fax: +1 212-486-1985), . edit
- Mexico, 27 E 39th St, ☎ +1-212-217-6400 (fax: +1-212-545-8197), . edit
- Netherlands, 666 Third Avenue, 19th Floor, ☎ (+1) 646 557 22 00 (toll free: +1 877-DUTCHHELP, firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: (+1) 212 370 19 54), . edit
- Norway, 825 Third Avenue, 38th floor, ☎ +1-646-430-7500 (fax: +1-646-430-7599), . edit
- Philippines, 556 5th Ave, ☎ +1-212-764-1330 (fax: +1-212-764-6010), . edit
- Portugal, 630 Fifth Ave, Ste 801, ☎ +1 212-765-2980 (email@example.com, fax: +1 212-262-2143), . edit
- South Africa, 333 E 38th St, ☎ +1-212-213-4880 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1-212-213-0102), . edit
- Spain, 150 E 58th St, 30-31F, ☎ +1-212-355-4080 (email@example.com, fax: +1-212-644-3751), . edit
- Switzerland, 633 Third Ave, 30F, ☎ +1-212-599-5700 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1-212-599-4266), . edit
- Turkey, 821 United Nations Plaza, ☎ +1-646-430-6560/90 (fax: +1-212-983-1293), . edit
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 845 Third Ave, ☎ +1-212-745-0200 (fax: +1-212-754-3062), . edit
- Venezuela, 7 East 51th Street, ☎ +1-212-826-1660 (fax: +1-212-644-7471), . edit
- Taiwan (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office), 1 E 42nd St, 4F, ☎ +1 212 486-0088 (email@example.com, fax: +1 212 421 7866), . edit
- Hong Kong (Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office), 115 E 54th St, ☎ +1 212 752 3320 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 212 752 3395), . edit
Locals would ask why you ever want to leave, but New York is a great jumping-off point to other locations in the metro area (including New Jersey and Connecticut) or anywhere in the Boston–Washington Megalopolis corridor.
- Paramus, New Jersey — If you love shopping and want to avoid paying any sales tax on shoes and clothing, as well as trying to eat at favorite American restaurants and visit typical American suburban, take the bus, taxi or drive to one of the four local shopping malls in Paramus, a town located only 15 minute drive from George Washington Bridge, or 45 minutes from Midtown Manhattan. Garden State Plaza is the largest mall in New Jersey with over 300 retail stores, movie theater, restaurants and food court. Bergen Town Center only 5 minutes drive from Garden State Plaza is an outlet mall with nearly 50 stores and restaurants. If you have a car, drive along Route 4 and Route 17 and shop at any of the thousands of stores along the highways. The Shops at Riverside in Hackensack is an upscale-shopping mall right next to Paramus that offers some exclusive stores and great restaurants. All retail stores and malls are closed on Sundays in Bergen County, including Paramus and Hackensack malls.
- Long Island— When you travel to NYC in the summer, a great idea is to check out Long Island. With its beautiful long white sanded beaches you can have it all: the big city and the summer holiday. Many New Yorkers do that every Friday, Saturday and Sunday if it is hot. Take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Long Beach ($6.75 one way), and from there go south to the beach itself. Take a day trip on the Hampton Jitney from various stops in NYC to the East End, where Long Island wine country is on the North Fork and The Hamptons are on the South Fork.
- Fire Island – an all-pedestrian summer-resort island located off the coast of Long Island. Fire Island is home to many vacation communities on the western part of the island (Ocean Beach being the most populous, with the most restaurants and bars that make an excellent day trip). The eastern part of the island is home to the largely gay communities of Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines. Western Fire Island is reachable by ferry from Bay Shore on Long Island. Bay Shore is about an hour’s train ride on the Long Island Rail Road from Manhattan, and the ferry ride from Bay Shore is another thirty minutes. Ferries to Ocean Beach from Bay Shore run about once every hour during the summer. Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines are reachable by ferry from Sayville. The easternmost community, Davis Park, is reachable by ferry from Patchogue.
- Jersey City, New Jersey– Directly across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan is New Jersey’s second largest city. Jersey City is a diverse city with lots of multicultural shops and restaurants. It can be reached from Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel or the PATH trains (the bi-state subway)
- Hoboken, New Jersey-Directly across the Hudson River from the West Village and Chelsea is the alleged birthplace of baseball (most erroneously believe that the birthplace is Cooperstown, NY) and actual birthplace of Frank Sinatra. Hoboken is a small city in area with a great assortment of prewar buildings and conspicuous lack of many corporate establishments. The piers have great views of Manhattan, a large selection of bars, restaurants, and clubs, and are a good place to walk around. Hoboken can be reached from Manhattan by the PATH train or by bus from Port Authority as well by NY Waterway ferries.
- The Palisades– On the western bank of the Hudson River, there are cliffs that rise sharply. These cliffs are known as the majestic Palisades. They range from 300 to 500 feet. They start in the Northern portion of Jersey City and stretch all the way to Nyack, New York. There are numerous viewpoints, trails and campsites located along the Palisades. The Palisades can be easily reached from Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge. Palisade Interstate Park and Parkway start north of the bridge.
- Jersey Shore, New Jersey– The Jersey Shore starts just a few miles south of New York City. It stretches for almost 130 miles, and along it are private and public beaches. There are numerous activities along the Jersey Shore. A convenient train ride on the NJ Transit trains from Penn Station will get you to several of the towns on the Jersey Shore, including Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach.
- Westchester and the Hudson Valley – Home to the country’s only government-operated theme park – Rye Playland – as well as beautiful neighborhoods. There are pretty communities along the Long Island Sound and inland, and the Hudson Valley (which extends north of Westchester) is truly beautiful; the train route (Metro North Hudson Line to Poughkeepsie or Amtrak to Albany) along the Hudson River is one of the loveliest in the country. Westchester County starts just north of the NYC borough of The Bronx.
- Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey– Just an 80-minute drive from Manhattan sits the largest theme park in the world. Six Flags Great Adventure features 12 monster roller coasters and includes a Wild Safari. There is also Six Flags Hurricane Harbor right next door (the largest water park in the Northeast). New Jersey Transit also provides bus service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan when the park is open (May-October).
- Princeton, New Jersey– Also an easy train ride on New Jersey Transit, Princeton offers a quiet, tree-lined town, good for strolling or for visiting the Princeton University campus. Take the Northeast Corridor line to Princeton Junction, then transfer to the shuttle train (known locally as the “Dinky”) to ride directly into campus.
- New Haven, Connecticut— Just 65 miles away, New Haven is a 1 hour 45 minute ride from Grand Central Terminal via Metro North Railroad, and home to Yale University.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The second capital of the United States is 1 hour 20 minutes away by Amtrak, very feasible for a day trip or side trip from New York. A cheaper but somewhat slower method of getting there is to either take the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line to Trenton and change for SEPTA or take a bus.
- Boston, Massachusetts – Beantown, home to the Freedom Trail, incredible seafood, Harvard University in nearby Cambridge, and the Boston Red Sox (who are the most hated sports team of most New Yorkers), is 4 hours north on I-95 ($15-20 one way by bus on Greyhound, Peter Pan, Bolt Bus or Mega Bus), with a bus from Port Authority Bus Terminal every hour around the clock or $60-80 one way on Amtrak from Penn Station.
- Woodbury Commons, in Orange County – This is one of the largest outlet chains in the northeast with over 200 stores to shop in. Just take exit 16 (Harriman) on Interstate 87. If you don’t have a car, there are several bus alternatives from Manhattan like Gray Line New York, Hampton Luxury Liner and Manhattan Transfer tours.
|Routes through New York City|
|Philadelphia ← Newark ←||SW NE||→ New Rochelle → New Haven |
|Allentown ← Jersey City ←||W E||→ END |
|Albany ← Yonkers ←||N S||→ END |
|New Haven ← New Rochelle ←||N S||→ Fort Lee → Philadelphia |
|Linden ← Elizabeth ←||W E||→ Merges into N |
|Weehawken ← Becomes ←||W E||→ Plainview → Riverhead |
|New Haven ← New Rochelle ←||N S||→ Fort Lee → Philadelphia |
|Albany ← Yonkers ←||N S||→ Fort Lee → Cape May |
|New Haven ← Mount Vernon ←||N S||→ END|