by Adam Guy
So you are headed to the Big Apple! Maybe it’s your first time; maybe you’ve been here many times before. In either case, it can feel overwhelming. There may be a lot to consider and certainly a lot to do. Budgets are a variable. Maybe you have small kids or mobility issues. You have doubts about the subway. You don’t know where anything is and the city seems massive. You are not sure how to prioritize all there is to see.
I get it. Breathe. You will be fine. One step; one decision; one block at a time. While I can’t offer everything in this one blog, I will offer seven simple pieces of advice to help you get the right mindset in planning for and visiting New York City.
Don’t over plan or overdo it.
You’ve read the guidebooks, asked friends for advice, and made lists. You now have 116 places to see and 31 restaurants to try in 4 days. Never going to happen. Here’s my advice. Pick one or maybe two “attractions” per day to do when you are here. Fill the rest of the time with exploring neighborhoods, stumbling into that cool shop, enjoying a meal, and visiting with your travel mates. You’ll check more off you list than you think. Also, you need to factor in getting from place to place, which takes more time than you realize. And you will get lost, so why not factor that in? A mad dash through the city can be fun, but you may not remember much.
No Applebee’s. No Olive Garden. No Red Lobster. Find the local pizza joint. Try the random Ukrainian restaurant. Sample the French bakery. Don’t base your trip on food either, especially if you don’t know how to navigate the city. Maybe there are one or two places you have heard about and want to try. Great! Include those in your trip plan. Make reservations if needed. Please know that there’s a yummy place within a few blocks of where ever you are.
Use the subway
The subway is the fastest and most cost effective way to get anywhere in the city. Period. It seems overwhelming. I get that. And your friend (who’s never been to New York by the way) saw a news story about some violence that occurred. Listen. Most New Yorkers use the subway every day, multiple times a days. You will get the hang of it. Other riders will help you and there are now a dozen free apps that will literally tell you what train to get on based on where you are, and where to get off based on where you need to go. In terms of safety, just be vigilant. Use common sense. The scary stuff you read about makes great headlines, but is infrequent and often overblown. Not that things don’t happen. But if you look at the news in your town, I guarantee you’ll see just as much scary stuff. We just happen to have 10,000 news outlets and 8 million cell phones in the city capturing every movement.
The “attractions” are great. I love visiting the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Yes, do them. But leave room to explore, and maybe even get lost a bit in New York’s neighborhoods like the East Village, SoHo, or Upper West Side. Each of them has their own personality, vibes, shops, architecture, and characters. You can often wander from one to the next and feel the shift, which is incredible. Hands down, this is my favorite thing to do in New York City.
See a show or sporting event
New York is the theater capital of the world. There are 41 Broadway, 85 off-Broadway and 125 off-off Broadway theaters… that’s excluding opera, dance performances, concerts, and puppetry. There is something for everyone! I’ve found shows for some of my most discerning guests. They all relented and told me that had a ball.
As for sports, we have 2 NBA basketball teams, 2 NFL football teams, 2 NHL hockey teams, 2 MLB baseball teams, 2 MLS soccer teams, professional rugby, lacrosse and Ultimate frisbee teams… oh and the US Open Tennis tournament is here, as well as the Westminster Dog Show. This isn’t the whole list. You get my drift. Go experience some local entertainment.
Take a tour
It’s one thing to see a place and another to learn about it. It sticks a lot more when you hear a story about the place or learn about a person who once dwelled there. Another perk? You don’t have to look at a map when you take a tour! Even if you don’t book a tour with me (but I would love it, of course), find a tour that interests you and take it. I do all the time, and I’m a tour guide. There are all kinds of tours, too… public tours, private tours, food tours, drag queen tours, chocolate tours, boat tours, birdwatching tours, superhero movie tours, shopping tours, history tours, speakeasy tours… You get it.
This sort of circles back to “don’t overdo it,” but just be present… wherever you are in the city. Watch the people. Feel the energy. Take in the atmosphere. Notice the small things. I know I sound a little hokey right now. I’m being sincere though. New York is a tapestry that fills the senses… sights, sounds, and smells. When you’re present, you begin to understand why the city it magical and one-of-a kind.
And remember… Just BREATHE, and you will have an amazing adventure.
If you‘d like to book a fantastic full or half day private neighborhood walking tour with me, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss what adventures might be best for your family or group. Lots of people have toured with I Know A Guy! See what they had to say on Google Reviews. I’m also for hire to build itineraries.
Thanks for reading this blog! If you would like to chat about your upcoming trip and possible tour ideas, please contact me at email@example.com. I'm quite friendly!
© All photos by Adam Guy