New York, the largest city in the state of New York, is not just that! It’s the largest city in the United States too. It’s also the most populous city in the country. Known for its standing in the areas of finance & International relations and the opportunities it provides, New York City (NYC) continues to grow as a powerhouse. And its cityscape, landmarks, food scene, theater, & arts continue to attract visitors from all over. For a long time now it’s been a very desirable place and that has won it the nickname Big Apple. Read on for a complete New York City travel guide.
The city’s beginnings go back to the 1600s when the Dutch found this desirable area near a large natural harbor in the northeast of what is now the United States. The settlement they built there was then named New Amsterdam. Later that century, the English took over the city it had become and called it New York. Some years later it was back under the control of the Dutch, and it came to be called New Orange for a bit before ‘New York’ was returned to it.
In the years that followed, the city has played not just the capital of the state of New York but even the capital of the country for a period of five years starting 1785.
What to see & do
This city with a history that dates back several centuries has been the largest city in the United States since 1790. So there’s a lot to see and do in the Big Apple! Some of the most popular attractions here are world-famous structures like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, & One World Center. Tourists to the city usually go see Times Square, Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center, and the city’s many museums.
Things to do in New York, New York include exploring Central Park, taking in the skyline of the city, and trying out all the great food available here. Another thing not to be missed is watching a Broadway show.
Being the shopping Mecca that it is, New York is a place to do all kinds of shopping. Other things you can do are a guided tour of the city, a food tour, and maybe a cruise on the waters around it.
For more ideas on what to do that weren’t included in this New York City travel guide, check out my post: Top 10 Things to do in New York.
Food is one of the many things New York City is known for. Being a city that has always welcomed migrants from all over the world, this multicultural city has a wide variety of cuisines that make up New York City’s food.
The reinventions of many popular dishes you find in the US took place here in New York. First of all, there’s the pizza. The Neapolitans brought it to New York and redeveloped it here. So you have to try the thin-crust New York-style pizza while you’re here. You might also want to try the New York Slice, which is just made of crust, sauce, & cheese, and can be eaten folded lengthwise. Secondly, there’s the New York Bagels that the Jewish brought in. The bagels here are boiled and then baked, making it hard for other bagels to compete with it. The Jewish seem to have given NYC its pastrami sandwiches, too. And the Irish immigrants made corned beef a thing in New York! Then there’s the hot dog that the Germans brought with them.
When in NYC you should also go to Little Italy for the Italian food and Chinatown for the Chinese food. You’ll also find many places serving good Mexican, Japanese, Korean, & Indian food among other cuisines.
You’ll also find great burgers, cheesecake, & donuts in several joints around the city. One other dessert you have to try while you are here is the Cronut, which is a coming together of the croissant & the donut, and was also ideated right here in the Big Apple.
NYC is home to a large number of fine-dining restaurants many of them with Michelin Stars & other awards to their credit. Several of them are owned & led by James Beard Award-winning & celebrated chefs.
For specific restaurants to check out that aren’t included in this New York City travel guide, check out my post: Best Restaurants in New York City.
Shopping is also a big deal in New York. It’s a city of high fashion and is home to a number of flagship stores of many big brands. There’s no shortage of upscale shopping options in this big city. Head to the Upper East Side and the neighborhoods around it for high-end clothes, shoes, & accessories. Fifth Avenue is a world-famous shopping street and is where you’ll find Cartier, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany, and even Apple. It’s a great place for window shopping too. Close behind is Madison Avenue, another place where you can shop for the big names in the fashion industry.
Then there’s Flatiron District & the Meatpacking District, which also have quite a lineup of branded stores. SoHo (South of Houston Street) is another area where you might want to go shopping. You’ll find designer clothing, many boutiques, & even big department stores here. Nolita (North of Little Italy) is a fun place to go for some retail therapy. And in Herald Square is the largest Macy’s and H&M stores.
For vintage clothing & antique shopping, you can go to East Village or go over to Greenpoint in Brooklyn. When in Brooklyn you could also consider Brooklyn Flea Market and Williamsburg.
Chelsea is where to go for art. And for outlet shopping, Empire Outlet in Staten Island is the place.
As for things to take back, there are the fridge magnets & shot glasses with images of New York’s attractions. You could also look for miniature versions of iconic landmarks and NYC snow globes. Other recommendations are New York Yankees & New York Giants’ merchandise, tees & necklaces with New York City’s Skyline, or books from New York Public Library Shop or Strand Book Store.
New York City is situated in the southeastern part of New York State and was developed around New York Harbor at the mouth of the Hudson River.
The city is made up of 5 boroughs — Staten Island, Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, & Brooklyn — each a part of different counties of the state of New York. Two of them are islands and are connected to the other parts of the city and state with bridges & ferries.
Where to stay is a must for a New York City travel guide! This city that receives visitors of all kinds and from all over the globe is equipped with accommodations of all types and for different budgets. The best way to decide where to stay when in New York City is by going by what you are here to do and how often you visit the city.
If you’re a first-time visitor or have very little time to see the city, you could look for a hotel room in Midtown Manhattan. It’s not an inexpensive area, but you should find a fairly good range of room rates here. If you stay here you’re also close to some of the most popular attractions of the city, some of which are at a walkable distance. Central Park, Times Square, Broadway, Rockefeller Center, & Grand Central are all not far from here. From here it’s also easy to get to several other neighborhoods.
If you don’t want to be in the middle of too much action, you could consider Flatiron District, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, East Village, or even Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
If not Midtown, you might prefer the Upper East Side if you’re travelling with family.
For budget options, you could look for something in Long Island City in Queens. From here you can easily take the subway to get to Manhattan.
If nightlife is big on your NYC list, look for a room in East Village, Greenwich Village, Meatpacking District, or Hell’s Kitchen. Shop for a hotel room in SoHo or Lower Eastside if you want to be close to shops & restaurants. Tribeca also has some good places to eat & drink.
If you’re flying into New York City, the airports you could be looking at are John F Kennedy International Airport or La Guardia Airport. You could also consider landing at Newark Liberty International Airport in neighboring New Jersey.
Another mode of transport to get you into NYC is Amtrak which connects the city with several major cities in the United States.
To get around the city, your options are many. Being the large & heavily populated city it is, there’s the popular subway system, commuter trains and even public buses that do a good job. Then there are areas to which you can take a ferry. Also extremely popular are the taxis & ride share services, which make it very convenient to move around the Big Apple.
Best time to visit
New York City is an all-year destination. It gets most of its visitors in the summer and a part of it in winter. Most of the city’s tourists are here in the months of June to September when it’s warm out here and schools are on break. The city also sees a large number of visitors towards the end of December when it’s decked up with holiday lights. A good part of the traffic is brought in by the New Year’s Eve Ball drop that takes place in Times Square.
The best time to be in New York City weather-wise is in late spring and in fall although you can expect some showers & snow in spring and some snowfall in late fall. Also, if you’d like to attend some of NYC’s bigger events like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Tree Lighting in Rockefeller Center, fall is your season. Then there’s the New York City Marathon too.
In terms of the best room rates, the best time to visit NYC is January or February if you don’t mind the cold weather.
Despite being a New York City travel guide, I wanted to include nearby destinations you can visit. When you visit NYC, it’d be easy to extend your travels to Upstate New York, or even the neighboring states of New Jersey & Connecticut.
You could also consider adding Washington & Boston into the itinerary if you haven’t visited these cities or would like to see them again. Washington is less than a 4-hour drive south of NYC, and Boston is a few hours’ drive up north.