Books have been written about what to see and do when visiting New York City. There is no way that a short article can do justice to the topic without taking a few shortcuts.
The first is we aren’t going to talk about food. Everyone’s tastes are different and where one person would be happy with a hot dog from a cart on Wall Street, another might only be satisfied with a Delmonico at the restaurant at the top of One World Trade Center. Individual tastes lead to independent choices and while that hot dog might cost $5, the steak is certainly going to cost upwards of $100.
The second is lodging. I have found it considerably less expensive to stay in Brooklyn or Long Island and catch the subway into Manhattan for sightseeing, but the inconvenience of riding into the city is more than some visitors are willing to put up with. Stay where you can afford, but for those of us on a budget, New York’s mass transit system makes getting into the city a simple and (usually) pleasant experience.
Finally, we are not going to discuss theater. I know that there are many visitors to New York that go just for the shows, but that falls into a completely different category. Part of the experience is eating and lodging near Broadway to soak up the atmosphere and get in touch with the city’s mood. For casual visitors and most tourists, mood isn’t why we visit New York.
Why are you going?
The first time you visit New York City, it is easy to get overwhelmed with everything that you can see and do. You can take in one or two or a dozen museums or art galleries. Visit iconic landmarks reflective of the American spirit. Research your family’s arrival in the United States or hundreds of other activities.
Unless you want to get overwhelmed by the city, it is best to plan your itinerary prior to going. Although not particularly spontaneous, planning your first trip can ensure you see the sites that are important to you while still not getting dazed by the grandeur of New York.
Plan small. Keep your schedule light but hit the most important sites for you. Don’t try to do too many things and give yourself time to explore and make stops along the way to interesting sites that aren’t in the guide books.
New York can be challenging to navigate even for natives. For visitors, the traffic and sheer mass of people can make driving hellish. My advice is to leave the car at the hotel and grab the subway or bus into the city. Once there, get a day (or two-day or weekly) pass to one of the hop-on/hop-off bus tours – check out the TopView Sightseeing Homepage for prices and schedules – and let them get you around town.
A day pass will cost less than taxi fare in the city and you can catch the buses on your schedule. They really are the easiest, most cost-effective way to get around Manhattan.
Plan a return trip
Unless you are planning on staying for a few years, you won’t be able to see everything in one trip that you want to. There are over a hundred museums in New York City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for example, currently has over two million pieces of art in its permanent collection. Hosting over seven million visitors in 2016, this one museum could take up an entire trip to New York City.
By preparing for a return trip, you can prioritize what you want to see and do without losing out on other incredible tourist attractions. New York City is definitely one of the top destinations that you have to see!