Between its five boroughs and more than 8.5 million people, the Big Apple has something for everyone.
Though it’s had its share of costume changes, New York remains, in many ways, unaltered. It’s one of the financial and media capitals of the world. Its museums, parks and public transit systems are among the largest and busiest anywhere. It boasts more theater seats—in total and per capita—than any other American city. And many of its neighborhoods are still incredibly tight-knit and charming. It certainly charms the upwards of 60 million people who visit each year.
When to go
Days can be cool, which means April events such as the Tribeca Film Festival draw big crowds. But sights gradually shift outdoors, with events like Fleet Week, when servicemen and women from the U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard arrive en masse (and in uniform) to explore the city.
Parades, street fairs and festivals fill the weekends, as do free events like Shakespeare in the Park and film screenings at Central and Bryant parks.
Art aficionados’ calendars heat up as the weather cools down. Most plays, musicals and big museum exhibitions open between September and May. Fall also marks one of New York City’s most magical traditions—the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Culture and recreation continue in the face of cold, blustery weather. Crowds brave chilly air for the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony and New Year’s Eve ball drop at Times Square—knowing that nearby bistros and coffee shops will bring relief.
New York’s subway system is generally the most efficient and least expensive way to get around the city. The subway runs 24 hours a day and is safe, but it’s still best to avoid riding in empty cars and late at night, especially if you’re alone. Rush-hour trains are packed, and stations are hot in the summer. City buses are an option, too, especially for traveling cross-town—between the city’s East and West sides, where subways lines are limited. Ride-shares like Uber and Lyft and, of course, the city’s famous yellow cabs are always an option, too, but they won’t get you to your destination as fast as a subway during rush hour.
- If you plan to hit the top attractions, buy a CityPASS, a pack of tickets to six top New York attractions: the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim Museum or Top of the Rock, the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, and the September 11 Memorial & Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. At $122 ($98 for children), the pass will save you more than 40 percent on the cost of tickets purchased individually.
- For discounted seats at Broadway shows, head to the TKTS booth in Times Square (or, for shorter lines, at the Downtown Brooklyn, Lincoln Center or South Street Seaport locations). But before you go, download the TKTS app to check on real-time ticket availability for shows. Note that you must still actually buy the tickets in person, not on the app.
- For a cheap and tasty breakfast, grab an egg sandwich and a coffee at one of the city’s countless corner stores (known to locals as bodegas).