in addition to my new york city neighborhood guides, i thought it might be nice to put together a little post on how to get the most out of your time visiting new york city, since there are quite a few tricks and tips we’ve discovered over the years of living here. of course there is so much to take advantage of in this city, and it truly changes every week, that this is just a starting off point, and focuses more on manhattan where we live. if i missed anything here that you have found to be helpful, please do share in the comments below!
ON GETTING AROUND THE CITY:
we think the subway system is the best way to get around town. if you’re planning on using public transportation, you can get a metro card at any subway station. you can get an unlimited day pass, unlimited week pass or just put a bulk amount of dollars on it and use it as you go. it will depend on how frequently you plan to use the subway as well as how long you’ll be in town. you can also use it for the bus. there a quite a few apps with subway maps and bus routes and several estimate wait times. hopstop is a great site and app to help you navigate which route is fastest, even during rush hour times. you can see options for all kinds of transportation.
in addition to taxi cabs (they are available when the light is on, and already occupied if the light is off), is uber. while uber can be incredibly helpful by letting you request a car and have it on its way before you even get out to the curb, we’ve been frustrated with their service a couple of times which makes it hard to recommend. but when you can’t find a regular taxi and are in a crunch, it can be handy. (be sure to watch out for peak times when they increase the rate!)
another great way to see and get around the city is on a bike! there are several bike lanes and bike paths around the city, which make it safer and more practical nowadays. we use our own bikes, but citibike is a great bike sharing system available in the city with thousands of bikes parked all over the place which you can use 24/7. if you’re wanting a particular bike or needing a child/infant seat, etc, here is a list of other bike rental shops around manhattan.
and this was an interesting article on jaywalking in the city.
ON SEEING BROADWAY SHOWS, PLAYS, ETC IN THE CITY:
so you can’t come to new york city and not see a broadway show or play while you’re here! you just can’t! and if you do come and don’t see a show, don’t you dare tell me so!
if you have time the day of, you can get half price tickets at the ticket booth in times square. but todaytix is an app that gives you the best prices for the show you’re wanting and you don’t have to deal with long lines. it’s pretty great. i know broadway shows can be pricey, so look for matinees since they cost less. and there are also plenty of off-broadway productions going on all the time too.
and i know it always sounds like i’m just trying to give a plug for my old stomping ground, but i truly believe some of the best dance, music or theatre happening in this city is taking place at juilliard each semester and it’s one of the better kept secrets. many of the shows are free, or just require requesting tickets far in advance, so it’s worth checking out the performance calendar before your trip.
ON GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR NEW YORK CITY FOOD EXPERIENCE:
if you know anything about me, you know i love food. and the food in this city is just so good, it’s up there in the top three reasons i just can’t picture ever leaving.
i highlight many of my favorite restaurants and eateries in my neighborhood specific guides, but you might also try zagat, nymag, or yelp for restaurant and food reviews. and open table can be helpful for finding a restaurant with availability at a certain time or taking reservations in a certain neighborhood.
you must check out restaurant week if you happen to be in the city when it is taking place! worth it. i promise. also, there are countless street fairs in the city beginning around now through the warmer months which are fun to check out because street fair food is always a good idea. here’s a list of upcoming festivals and fairs around manhattan.
apps like caviar, postmates and seamless make food delivery incredibly easy as well!
ON TRAVELING AROUND THE CITY WITH LITTLE ONES:
one of the most important tidbits on being out all day in nyc with kiddos is navigating all the public restrooms! we’ve come to learn where almost every public restroom is on the upper west side, which ones are clean and usually open, which ones to avoid entirely, which will have that long long line… i thought i had it down before potty training, but that experience took us to a whole new level with figuring out the city’s bathroom situation.
most coffee shops have public restrooms. the bookstores, the grocery stores, all the restaurants. sometimes store owners are firm in their bathroom for patrons only policy, which i completely understand, and always try to abide to. but in a moment of desperate emergency crisis with a little one, i’ve never been turned away. people are kind all over this city and it’s one of the reasons i love it here.
if you’re in the throws of potty training and plan to be out all day, we have loved using a potette travel potty.
carry hand sanitizer in every pocket, bag, stroller compartment…. just make it super handy and available so you can get to it easily and often.
here is a map we made last fall showing all the elevators at the subway stations around manhattan. as for using a stroller versus an infant carrier, it’s all up to you and your child and your normal situation or routine. my kids nap so well in the stroller, and when we’re out all day, i’m thankful we took it. a carrier is another great option if you and your body can manage, since it makes the subway an easier ordeal.
car seats are not required or available in nyc taxi cabs, but you can request a car with one using uber family.
OTHER HELPFUL APPS AND GUIDES:
i swear they keep making this city easier and easier to live in. we now have foodkick, fresh direct, google express, amazon’s prime now app for manhattan, which delivers anything on amazon prime to your doorstep (or hotel doorstep?) within an hour (or more, depending on service and item and time windows.)
there is so much to do and see in this incredible city, and it’s ever changing from week to week. of course this list is just brushing the surface in terms of all you can get out of new york city, and i’ve only focused on just manhattan here, so i’m surely forgetting something, but hopefully it is helpful to some of you!
okay, what tips did i miss that you have found helpful with getting the most out of new york city?