New York City Travel Guide
Cool, cosmopolitan, crowded, constantly evolving … the Big Apple blends big-city splendor with small-town charm. Amid Gotham's iconic landmarks and towering skyscrapers, you'll experience a vibrant culture permeating each of the city's distinctive neighborhoods and boroughs. Follow trendsetters to the East Village and Brooklyn to check out indie boutiques, iconic bakeries and trendy coffee shops. Afterward, peruse the racks of the sleek shops lining Fifth Avenue, admire the cutting-edge art collections at the ... continue» Read More
The best time to visit New York is anytime. Each season in Gotham offers visitors plenty of reasons to visit. Early fall offers crisp breezes, bright sun and comfortable temperatures while late fall and winter make merry with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and holiday decorations. Deep winter — January and February — is cold, but that also means better hotel rates. Spring is glorious and New Yorkers celebrate the thaw by taking to the streets, shopping at outdoor markets, frolicking in Central Park and dining outside. Summer is hot, but hey, so are lots of places, and at least this is New York.Read More Best Times to Visit New York City»
New York City Neighborhoods
Every New York block presents a totally different scene to visitors than the last. Many people associate New York with the island of Manhattan, and you will probably spend most of your time touring this area. However, there are four other boroughs — Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island — that are worth the visit as well.
Constantly buzzing with a bright vibrancy, there is never a shortage of things to do in Manhattan. The center of fashion and trendsetting, this borough is made up of three main districts — Uptown, Midtown and Downtown — that each have their own neighborhoods. Avenues generally run north to south and increase in number as you go west. Streets run the opposite direction, and numbers increase as you go north.
This easy layout is a completely different story south of Houston Street (pronounced HOW-stin) in the southern half of Manhattan. Streets are no longer on a grid and the names have no helpful logic. Ask around to get your bearings, and definitely invest in a map.
The Upper East Side and the Upper West Side in northern Manhattan are divided by scenic Central Park. Meanwhile, 59th Street separates Uptown from Midtown.
Upper East Side
Accessible via the 4, 5 and 6 subway lines.
The homes and stores that line the streets of the Upper East Side can only be described as posh. Museums like the Guggenheim, located near the 86th St. stop of the 4, 5 and 6 subway lines, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (known simply as "the Met"), just four blocks south, are also situated here. North of 96th Street is Spanish Harlem, whose history as the stomping grounds of Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington make the area worth visiting. We suggest taking a guided tour of the area during the day. Recently, the area has started to clean up its image (and is now home to a decent range of restaurants and shops), but you should use caution if you decide to visit, especially after dark.
Upper West Side
Accessible via the 1, 2, 3, A, B, C and D subway lines.
Much of the Upper West Side is characterized by elegant residences and architecture. It's also home to the Lincoln Center, the concert hall of the well-regarded New York Philharmonic Orchestra and New York City Ballet. You'll find this venue off the 66th St.-Lincoln Center stop on the 1 and 2 lines or the 59th St. stop of the A, B, C and D subway lines. Columbia University is located in the northwest corner of the Upper West Side, in an area known as Morningside Heights.
Accessible via the A, B, C, D, Q, 2 and 3 subway lines.
Central Park hosts many of the city's concerts and other outdoor activities, plus it serves as an escape from the commotion of the surrounding city. One of the park's most popular spots is the Bethesda Terrace, which overlooks the Central Park Lake. The Obelisk, which has a duplicate in London, is another point of interest.
Most easily accessible via the A, C, E, 4, 5 and 6 subway lines.
Midtown's glitz and glamour draws many of the city's camera-toting tourists — and for good reason. It's the home to classic landmarks like Rockefeller Center (off the Rockefeller Center stop on the B, D, F or M subway line), the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Bryant Park, Grand Central Station and Times Square. Part of Times Square — from 42nd to 47th Street — is closed off from cars to relieve congestion. The Square is accessible off the 42nd Street Times Square stop off the 1, 2, 3 and 7 subway lines. Midtown also shelters the Theater District, high-end shopping along Fifth Avenue, Carnegie Hall and the Museum of Modern Art (nicknamed the MoMA).
If Uptown is home to ritzy residences and Midtown has the lights and postcard sights, then cutting-edge Downtown keeps Manhattan cool. It's helpful to learn this area's abbreviations, since the streets here aren't as navigable or logical as the ones in the rest of the island.
SoHo and NoHo
Accessible via the 6, N, Q, R, W, A, C and E subway lines.
For shopping and good restaurants, head to SOuth of HOuston Street to the SoHo neighborhood, accessible by the Prince St. stop off the R and N lines, among others. NoHo, is similar to its southern counterpart with trendy eateries and bars.
Greenwich Village and Chelsea
Accessible via the B, D, F, V, L, N Q, R, W, A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 and 6 subway lines.
Greenwich Village, located north of SoHo, still maintains the laidback bohemian feel that it became known for. Further north is Chelsea, which is the place to see contemporary art galleries. It's also the center of the city's gay community.
Accessible via the A, C, E, 1, N, Q, R and W subway lines.
The TRIangle BElow CAnal Street, known as TriBeCa, is probably most known for actor Robert De Niro's annual Tribeca Film Festival. TriBeCa also consists of art galleries and old converted warehouse buildings.
Chinatown and Little Italy
Accessible via the J, M, Z, N, Q, R, and W subway lines.
Sitting in the middle of downtown is a shrinking Little Italy. Trendier dining establishments have started to push out the more traditional Old World feeling the area used to have, but Mulberry Street still embraces traditional cuisine. To the east, Chinatown has one of the biggest immigrant communities outside of China and is filled with authentic restaurants, like Joe's Shanghai, which comes recommended by visitors.
East Village and Lower East Side
Accessible via the F, V, L, N, Q, R, W, 4, 5 and 6 subway lines.
The East Village leans a bit bohemian compared with the neighboring upscale bars and restaurants of the Lower East Side.
Accessible via the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, E, J, N and R subway lines.
The southern end of Manhattan is where you'll find the World Trade Center site, as well as the New York Stock Exchange. You can reach the Financial District by jumping on the J line to the Broad St. stop or the 2, 3, 4 or 5 line to the Wall St. stop, among others. Bustling and busy during the day, the area empties after work hours, but we recommend a visit here for its excellent views of the Statue of Liberty.
Accessible via the A, C, N, Q, B, D, F, J, M, Z, 2 and 3 subway lines.
Out of all five New York boroughs, Brooklyn is the most populated, and is steadily growing. Down-to-earth and artsy, this area gives New York an unpretentious quality. Music venues, museums and eclectic shops are spread throughout. Some of the most popular areas include Williamsburg, with its newly booming restaurant scene, or the pricey-but-quaint Brooklyn Heights, with its fantastic views of Manhattan. Coney Island is located in Brooklyn and sits off the Coney Island Stillwell Ave. stop on the D, F, N and Q subway lines.
Connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan is the 5,989-foot Brooklyn Bridge, which spans the East River. The suspension bridge provides nice views of Manhattan from a wide pedestrian walkway that is elevated above traffic. If you have time, we suggest taking a train to High Street in Brooklyn to walk the bridge back to Manhattan.
Accessible via the 7, G, R, V, F, L, E, J and Z subway lines.
A trip on subway lines 7 and G will take you east of Manhattan to the eclectic borough of Queens. Astoria, located closest to Manhattan off the N and Q lines, is the city's Greektown; numerous Greek cafes, restaurants and Greek Orthodox churches line the streets here, while nearby Flushing is home to the second largest Chinatown in New York City. The New York Mets play in the recently constructed Citi Field, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. East of Astoria, Jackson Heights has a large Indian community, and Elmhurst, farther southeast along the 7 line, has a vibrant Latino population. Each of these areas' differing cultural personalities and ethnic eats make Queens a borough of wonderfully diverse character. It's also home to top-notch museums like the PS1 Contemporary Art Center.
While it's relatively easy to get to Queens from Manhattan, most visitors lament the difficulties of traveling within the borough. Queens isn't as pedestrian-friendly as other boroughs like Manhattan and the subway isn't as extensive.
Accessible via the 2, 5 and 6 subway lines.
The Bronx is probably best known for the rough exterior presented in the media, but it's an unfair assessment of the area's unique charms. The borough is home to country's largest metropolitan zoo, the Bronx Zoo off the 2 and 5 lines to Bronx Park East or accessible via the BxM11 Express bus from Manhattan, as well as the Yankee Stadium. It's easy to get to the Bronx from Manhattan, but harder to travel within: Subway lines only run north to south, and buses can be slow. We suggest you steer clear of South Bronx, as it's typically the most dangerous part of the area.
Accessible via ferry from the Financial District.
An island south of Manhattan, Staten Island was once dubbed as "the Alaska of New York City," according to the New York Times, as it's "somehow urban, rural and suburban at once." We suggest you hop one of the free ferries from Manhattan to Staten Island and enjoy the beautiful city views as you ride. You can also drive to the island from New Jersey and Brooklyn, though there are steep road tolls.
On the island are several notable museums, which include the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art and the interactive Staten Island Children's Museum, as well as a historic replica of a New York village from the old days at Historic Richmond Town.
In the past, New York City has owned a reputation for being a rough and dangerous city, but now it's one of the safest large cities in the country. As a tourist, you're not likely to encounter any serious crimes, but you should still use common sense when exploring the city. In the evenings, stick to well-lit areas with other people and keep a close eye on valuables. To discourage pickpockets, keep your wallet in your front pocket and your purses zipped closed.
Like other large cities, New York City is filled with its own group of eclectic personalities. Should someone out of the ordinary approach you, follow many New Yorkers' leads and simply walk away. Be particularly wary in places like Manhattan's Lower East Side and parts of boroughs Queens, Brooklyn and especially the Bronx. Central Park can also get very seedy at night.
Despite what people may think, the subway in New York City is safer now than it has ever been. That said, you should be particularly watchful of your belongings while riding, especially when the trains are packed and crowded. Stay near the ticket booths and get into cars with more people or with the conductor, who will normally stick his head out when the train stops. Consider taking a cab at night if you are alone.
The best way to get around New York City is by foot as traffic is fairly heavy around-the-clock. That said, the subway system is a convenient option, too, and it extends throughout Manhattan and into the other New York boroughs. Buses are another affordable way to get around, but keep in mind they traverse streets clogged with weaving cars and cabs. Picking up a car isn't the best mode of transportation, as traffic is heavy. To get from the two main airports — LaGuardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International (JFK) — into the city, we suggest taking a taxi. Although public transportation is available, the buses are usually more of a hassle than a help since they involve multiple transfers and are liable to gridlock.Getting Around New York City»