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10 things to know before you go to New York City.

Mahfouz Ali

Hi, I do travel guides that are fun, informative, and entertaining and in this post I’m gonna tell you 10 things you need to know before you visit this city right here, The Big Apple.

I’m starting this on the New Jersey side of the river. Why? Because it’s the best place for you to see Manhattan in the background. Well, the first thing you need to know, we’ll talk about some general stuff, is that Manhattan and actually more than just Manhattan, New York City is more than Manhattan.

Often people think it’s only Manhattan but New York City consists of five boroughs. Those are, number one, Manhattan, number two Brooklyn, number three, Queens, number four, The Bronx, and number five, Staten Island. So, if you’re coming to New York City make sure to check out some of the other boroughs.

New York City and Manhattan is big. You’ve probably looked at New York and Manhattan on a map and looked at it and it seems really, really small, but let me tell you, you will not be able to walk all of Manhattan in a day. Well, you can walk in a day, but it’ll be a really, really full day, and your feet will be tired.

So, make sure you wear some comfortable shoes, ’cause you’re gonna be doing a lot of walking, and ladies, you may have seen Sex in the City where it seems like all the girls here wear heels, let me tell you that’s actually not the case, particularly if you’re gonna be a tourist.

A lot of times the ladies here, they’ll have sneakers when they commute on the subway and things like that, and a pair of heels in their bag to put on when they go to that formal event. So, don’t be expecting to just wear your heels everywhere you go.

Also, you’ll be doing a lot of walking but don’t try to walk everywhere. There’s a subway, use the subway, it’ll save your feet quite a bit. Also, if you’re planning how many days to spend in New York City, I would say three days at the minimum, five days is probably optimal. There is a lot of stuff, trust me, you won’t be bored.

Also, New York City is expensive. The land in Manhattan is some of the most expensive in the US, actually I think it is the most expensive, per square foot, in the US and therefore, everything else is expensive. You ever bought, like, one of those movie tickets for AMC or Regal and it says this is valid everywhere except New York City? Yeah, it’s because the prices here are higher. McDonald’s prices are higher, everything is a little more expensive in New York City.

Also, the city runs on tips. Valets, restaurants, things like that, so make sure you’ve got some dollar bills that you can give out as tips. Two last general things, and then we’ll get on to number two, is a lot of times people have an impression that New Yorkers are rude, and I’ll tell you, they aren’t rude, they just like to be efficient. So, they’ll try to have the quickest conversation with you to get you through the line, or process, whatever it is you need.

Also, if you need to use a bathroom in New York City, don’t expect to really use a good one for free, there are very few public toilets. If you want a clean, nice bathroom, you are gonna have to pay for it. All right so that’s all the general stuff you need to know.

let’s get on to thing to know number two about visiting New York City, and that is, the weather. The weather in New York, well, there’s probably, I’d say eight months out of the year it’s chilly, and actually it’s chilly right now, so I’m gonna put on my jacket. Okay, that’s much better. New York can be really cold, because there’s a lot of water around here, it gets really windy, and that wind off the cold water? Really cold! So, make sure you bring, if you’re coming in those eight months of cold weather, you bring some warm clothes. You’ll want a fleece, a jacket, you’ll want layers, because you’re gonna be in and out of buildings and the subway. The subway may be hot, the buildings may be hot, but outside it may be cold. So, have layers so you can take those things off. Also if you’re coming in the winter, make sure to bring some rain boots, because it rains here a lot and when it snows and it gets rain then the space between the sidewalk and the street just become these giant puddles. So, you won’t want fabric shoes, you’ll want leather shoes or something that’s waterproof, so if you step in a puddle, your feet aren’t soaking wet and you’re not miserable the rest of the time. In the summer it’s really hot, and actually people would say it’s just plain miserable, because it gets so hot and humid. So, that leaves you about two months that are good in the year. So, the best times to come are September and October, kind of the fall time before it’s winter, and in May and June right before it’s summer, those are the best months to come. The third thing to know about coming to New York City is about getting in. So, you’ve got a few different modes. You can take a plane, a train, a bus, or a car. So, let’s talk about those different modes. First let’s talk about airports. There are three airports that service the New York area. JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark. Two of those are in New York. Newark is actually in New Jersey. I tend to fly into Newark because I fly United, but JFK and LaGuardia are a little closer. I will tell you these airports, they have lots of delays, because they share this really busy airspace. So, do expect some delays as you’re coming in. You can also, I mentioned trains. That’s my favorite way to get into New York City, is to take the train. There’s two great train stations. There’s Grand Central Terminal and then there’s Penn Station. If you’re taking the train from the South, like Washington DC area, make sure to not get off at Newark Penn Station, get off at New York Penn Station. They sound pretty similar but they’re actually different. Also you can take Megabus if you’re on the East Coast, that’s a cheap way to get here. They’ve got buses that come from a lot of the cities nearby and finally, you can drive, but expect to play a lot for parking and lots of tolls to get in. If you are doing that, then when you come into Manhattan just park your car and leave it. Don’t expect to drive it around really anywhere, ’cause parking is at a minimum. Now that you’re in New York, the fourth thing to know is about transportation in New York City. The most iconic way to get around New York is to take the New York City Subway. But, you should know the New York City Subway on Manhattan mostly runs North and South, it doesn’t really run East or West. So, actually right now I’m standing right in front of Central Park, and so, if you wanna get from one side of Central Park to the other, there aren’t really subways that go that way. So, you’ll be walking or taking a taxi, or finding some other way to get across Central Park. Just remember if you’re going North and South, take the subway, if you’re going East or West, use your feet. Also, when you’re riding the subway, if you see an empty subway car and all the other ones are full, it is empty for a reason, you’ll want to go ahead and skip that one. It’s either really smelly or the air conditioning’s out. Either way, you don’t wanna be in it. Pay attention to the local and express trains. The local trains, they stop at every stop. The express trains only stop so many stops. So, if you’re just going a short distance, take the local train. If you’re going a long way, take the express train, it’ll get you there faster. Also, the final note about the subway, make sure you get in the correct subway entrance. Different subway stations will have entrances on different sides of the street, or in different city blocks that will take you to only certain lines or certain directions. So, you don’t wanna be like me and have to go in, get stuck and have to go out again to actually find the correct entrance. So, other ways that aren’t subways to get around. There’s plenty of iconic yellow taxis that play around New York. They’re pretty easy to find, though they are hard to get on a rainy day. This is also a big city for Uber and Lyft. I may prefer those to taxis, though if I’m at a hotel, and there’s a taxi rank, I may just take the taxi because it happens to be convenient. Just a note, if you are running late, don’t take a taxi. There’s like this unwritten rule in New York City that if you’re running late and you take a taxi you will get stuck in a traffic jam, I can almost guarantee it. One of the best ways to get around, though, I don’t know if I mentioned this, is walking. I know I mentioned it in number one, so if you’ve got comfy shoes, just walk around the city. There are ferries for a different experience, ferries that go on the water. There’s the Staten Island Ferry, that one’s free, you can get really great views of the Statue of Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry. Also, you can take the ferries over to New Jersey. You can take the East River Ferry. The East River Ferry has some great views of Manhattan, so check out the ferries for a less stressful travel experience. Also, if you wanna ride a bike, there’s this program in the city called Citi Bike, C-I-T-I, as in CitiBank. There are 10,000 bikes and 600 stations. You can download the Citi Bike app, C-I-T-I Bike App. It’s $12 a day to rent those bikes, hop on, hop off. The final note, I wanna mention to not take are the bus tours. I would skip the bus tours. It’s pretty easy to get around yourself, the sights are fairly packed in. So, I don’t think you need a bus tour. The fifth thing to know before you visit New York is about Times Square. It’s crowded, chaotic, dazzling and overpriced. Yes, everything in Times Square is quite expensive. Manhattan, some of the highest rents in the world, but Times Square, probably the highest, and most expensive real estate. But, you’ve gotta come here if you’re here in New York, if nothing, for all the light up signs. It is a pretty neat place to be, particular because everybody’s seen this place on New Year’s Eve. This is where the ball drops. It drops on that, that building right up there, you can actually see the 2017 ball up at the top. I mean it’s really small, but trust me, it’s up there. And, so, what’s there to do in Times Square? Well, the one thing you don’t wanna do is you don’t wanna eat. I mean, unless you wanna eat at McDonalds. All the restaurants in Times Square, really overpriced, just like everything here. I think the coolest thing to do in Times Square, back here behind me it’s the tkts booth, and they’ve got this little staircase up there. You can climb up on that staircase, you can get great views of Times Square down below. How much time are you gonna spend in Times Square? Well, it depends how long you’re gonna be taking selfies of yourself, but once you get here and spend 10, 20, maybe even 30 minutes just admiring the lights and things like that, the glitz, then it’ll probably be time to go and explore the rest of New York. The sixth thing you need to know before you visit New York is about Broadway Shows, or just shows and theater in general. So, of course there’s a street called Broadway and that’s where the most famous plays, and musical theaters are, but if you’re buying a ticket or you want to buy a ticket for those, book well ahead of time. Many shows are really popular. Hamilton is probably the most famous right now, and you better book your tickets months ahead of time if you want to get a seat. So, what do you do if you didn’t buy a ticket ahead of time? In Times Square there’s a tkts booth. They sell like 50% off discount tickets. You can also find a lot of discount tickets now online. I’ll also suggest to you that there’s a number of off-Broadway shows and off-off-Broadway shows. So, don’t just be limited to the ones on Broadway. Those might be the most expensive and the most glitzy, but check out some of the ones that are just off-Broadway. One of my favorites that’s off-Broadway is a show called Avenue Q. It’s a musical with puppets. It is not kid-friendly, so definitely the adults on that one. Also I really love The Book of Mormon. If you haven’t seen The Book of Mormon I would recommend that one number one, and then Avenue Q number two. The seventh thing to know before you visit New York City is about the parks. First we’ll start with Central Park, this park right behind me. Actually, not behind me, it’s the park that I’m in. Central Park, famous park in the center of Manhattan. The park is 500 acres, there’s an amazing number of things to do in Central Park. Super popular just to walk around on a nice day. There’s bike riding, there are horse carriages right back there, you can rent a horse, it’s kind of romantic. You don’t rent the horse, but you ride in the carriage. Did I mention ice skating? One of my favorite times in Central Park is in the winter when they do ice skating. It’s also really neat when it’s all covered in white, a winter wonderland. In the summer you can take boats out on some of the lakes. I think I mentioned it before, though, there’s no subway across Central Park or that runs through it, so if you’re going through Central Park you’ll be doing a lot of walking, but it’s neat if you’re spending a week in Manhattan to get away from the noise and the cars and things like that and just experience this greenery. But, you know that you’re close to civilization, ’cause the high rise buildings are out there just in the back. The other really neat park in New York City, it’s called the High Line, it’s one of New York City’s newer parks, so a lot of people don’t know about it. Well, actually a lot of people know about it, but a lot of new visitors to New York, or people who lived here and haven’t been here recently don’t know about it. It is a disused portion of elevated rail line that’s been converted into a linear park. I’ve got a video on the High Line, you can click here for the info card, or on this side, wherever it shows up. Or, find the link in the description below to watch it at the end after you’re watching this one, but it’s a really cool attraction. If you’re gonna go visit the High Line though, don’t visit it on weekends because it can be super, super busy down in Chelsea, but it’s pretty neat on a week day when it’s not overly packed. The eight thing to know before you come to New York City is about the Big Apple attractions. Yes, New York City has many big attractions, so some of the things you won’t want to miss while you’re here is the Statue of Liberty. But if you’re going to the Statue of Liberty, make sure to book ahead of time. There’s ferries you have to take to get there, there’s limited tickets, and then there’s more, even limited tickets to actually go inside the Statue of Liberty. Make those months in advance. If you can’t get tickets to see the Statue of Liberty, well, that Staten Island Ferry that I mentioned, ride on that, it’ll take you close to the Statue of Liberty, you can at least get your pictures nearby, and that doesn’t cost you any money. There’s the Empire State Building. But, if you want to see the Empire State Building, well, you can’t from itself. The Empire State Building has really long lines to go up to the observatory. I would recommend the top of the Rock, which is the observatory at the top of Rockefeller Center. That one has an open air viewing area, and I actually think it’s a better observatory with less lines than the Empire State Building. There’s another new observatory at the New World Trade Center. That one’s pretty cool ’cause that building is just super, super tall. It can be pretty expensive. Pro-tip, if you’re military, free admission to the World Trade Center Observatory at the top there. I’ve also got a video on the World Trade Center Observatory. Click one of these cards or find the link in the description to watch that. There’s lots of museums in New York. There’s the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and a lot of these museums, pro-tip, have a suggested admission, but if it’s a suggested admission, you don’t actually have to pay the full suggested admission. It’s kind of like a donation. You can pay whatever you think you want to pay at a place that has a suggested admission for the museum. Some other neat attractions, Chelsea Market. If you’re down by the High Line, check out the Chelsea Market, it’s a cool, kinda like food hall. People say that Chelsea Market is what started the food hall revival in the US. The New York Public Library is famous, check that building out, go inside. And then of course there’s the iconic 5th Avenue shopping, which is… Well it’s down a few blocks that way from where I’m standing. All the iconic New York things are on 5th Avenue, so make sure you check that out if you like shopping. All right, the ninth thing to know before you come to New York City is about hotels. So, earlier I said hotels, not just hotels, but everything in New York City is really expensive, including the hotels. Hotels here charge way more than anywhere else in the US and often you don’t really get a very good value, just because it is so popular to come here. If you wanna save some money, then don’t stay on Manhattan, stay in some of the outer Boroughs. Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island. You could even stay in New Jersey and take the path trains into the city. I’ve done that before, it’s pretty easy. If money is no object I will tell you the Park Hyatt, which is just, one, two blocks away from where I’m standing is quite amazing. I’ve got a video review of the Park Hyatt. You can click one of these cards over here to check that one out. Park Hyatt normally runs for like $750 a night, but if you’ve got Hyatt points you can book it for free with Hyatt points. Also, the JW Marriott at Essex House is right here by Central Park as well. That often has points reservations. If you wanna stay in Times Square, I’m a Marriott guy, a lot of people hate the Marriott Marquis, I actually kind of liked it when I’ve stayed there. It’s cool if it’s your first time to New York City to actually stay in Times Square in the center of all the activity. Marriott Marquis is like a few thousand rooms, it’s one of the biggest Marriotts there is, but it really does feel in the center of the action. Okay, the tenth thing you need to know before you come to New York City, and this is the last item is about food! Now, Chris, how could you wait ’til 10 to mention food? But, I’m not ending without talking about food. So, New York City is a foodie city. And, of course, one of the most famous things to eat in New York City is the pizza, New York pizza, famous around the world. Pizza by the slice, pizza by the whole pie, definitely make sure you eat plenty of pizza while you’re here. Some of the best whole pizza places, there’s Lombardi’s in Little Italy, and then there’s Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn, underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. If you go to those places, make sure you take a friend, ’cause you can only get a whole pizza at those places. There’s plenty of other pizza by the slice places in the center city. Check those out. Make sure when you get the pizza by the slice that you put on Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, chili peppers, and oregano, those kind of four toppings, classic in New York pizza by the slice establishments. Also, New York City has a lot of food carts, and I’ll tell you, for the most part, you should avoid the carts. They can be pretty sketchy, but, the Halal Guys has a pretty cool cart and the lines are often really long for the Halal Guys, so, check that one out. Look it up on Yelp, they’ve got thousands of reviews, and the Halal Guys really is that good. New York City is also famous for pastrami sandwiches. Katz’ Deli, famous place for pastrami. Get a pastrami sandwich on rye. Also a great place for food is in China Town. China Town has great Chinese food. There’s this place that has a bunch of locations in New York but they have it in China Town too, called Xian Famous Foods. Chinese foods from Xian, spicy noodles. Check that out, also, check out the dumplings. Bagels are pretty popular in New York City. Get some bagels with lox. Also, New York hot dogs, if you wanna try New York hot dogs, definitely skip the carts, but stop by this place called Gray’s Papaya. They’ve got a few locations in Manhattan, but they do hot dogs and papaya juice, so get yourself a hot dog and a papaya juice from Gray’s Papaya. That’ll probably be one of the cheapest things that you eat when you’re here in New York. And finally, make sure you get some New York cheesecake. That’s right. All right, well hey, I hope you enjoyed this video. If this was your first time watching my channel, please click here to subscribe, so that you don’t miss any of my new videos every weekend. Or, you might follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Links are in the description below, or click here and here to watch some of my other videos from New York. You’ll find links to those in the description below as well. All right, bye bye!

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