Official New York Blog

Submitted by Lizz Riggs on tagged in:

NYC Tourist is all about our Top 10 lists. We gave you the top 10 romantic spots in NYC, the top 10 favorite attractions, even our top 10 entertaining eateries - but where are all the helpful tips for your vacation overall? Don't all you first timers need to know how to cross the street in NYC and how to hail a cab - and for the people who have been to NYC before, we know you like a little guidance now and then too!

It can be tough exploring a new city without a little help, but help is what we do - give you the inside scoop on all the hotels, restaurants, bars and businesses, providing you with exclusive deals and keeping you up to date with everything happening in the city. You won't miss a thing (or do anything wrong) when you follow these few pointers. Well, there are a few things that can still go wrong, but at least your wallet and your belly will be in good hands!

So here you go, here are our top 10 tips for NYC Tourists of all levels of expertise. 

Know Your Cross Streets
New York City has some of the longest streets with tons of destinations crammed into every block. If you don't know the cross streets, you could be searching for your destination for a very long time. Get the cross streets before you head out! Yelp is a great asset in these cases, as they'll tell you the cross streets and narrow down the neighborhoods. Use our helpful NYC map whenever you need it as well - it can get tricky at times! 
Little travel tip: 20 blocks North or South in Manhattan equals one mile. You can surely get plenty of exercise in NYC and see the city while you're doing it, but if you don't want to just be cluelessly wandering the streets, take one of the NYC walking tours and have someone else lead the way to everything you need to see!

Love Your Metro Card
Your MTA MetroCard is your best friend when you're getting around NYC. Buy one in the Subway Stations, but you can also use them on NYC Buses (just note, you can't buy them on the bus) so it provides you with the best transportation in NYC. There's a Pay-Per-Ride and an Unlimited Ride MetroCard - so know the perks based on who you're traveling with and how long you're going to be there.

  • The Pay-Per-Ride card let's up to 4 people ride together, but the Unlimited ride card is only good for one person and can't be used more than once every 18 minutes. (You can't trick this system!) 
  • If you put more than $10 on your Pay-Per-Ride card (all at once) you get a 7% bonus. 
  • MetroCards accept all sorts of payment - don't worry, they'll take any money you got!
  • They'll tell you your remaining balance on your card after every use.
  • One ride costs $2.50

Taxi Time?
When you're not relying on the subway or bus to get your from point A to point B (or lost somewhere because you didn't follow tip #1) hail one of those famous NYC taxis. When the light on the top of the cab is shining bright like your savior, that yellow cab may be yours for the taking! If the light isn't on, don't bother raising your hand. Taxis run 24/7, so you don't usually have to worry about being stranded somewhere, and now many of them accept credit cards, so your no-cash dilemma isn't usually an issue.

Eating Out on Vacation
Okay, we can't advise you to eat at just our favorite restaurant and avoid all the places that we have personal quarrels with just because they cut us off at the bar last time or don't have BBQ sauce on hand or charge an outrageous amount to uncork our wine for us (although just ask, we'll happily give you a few pointers in any of those departments too). For this tip though, we just advise you to try a few NYC classics and not just eat hot dogs for every meal that you don't consume at McDonalds or Starbucks. That's not proper food for a real NYC Tourist! Yes, NYC is famous for their hot dogs and their coffee, so don't neglect every single hot dog stand you walk by - try at least one. Otherwise, try some NYC MUSTS:

  • Coffee: Don't head to Starbucks every time - have a brew at Abraco in East Village, Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Midtown West, and of course the famous Zabar's on the Upper West Side deserves a visit from every coffee drinking NYC Tourist!
  • Cheesecake: Many say that Eileen's Special Cheesecake in Little Italy has some of the best cheesecake they've ever had. Junior's in Brooklyn, Two Little Red Hens on the Upper East Side and Veniero's Pastry Shop in East Village are all top contenders as well. You won't go wrong with any of these.
  • A NYC Bagel: Go to Ess-A-Bagel or grab one with your coffee from Zabar's while you're there. Actually, definitely do that. We don't need to make a special trip for bagels - you have lots more eating to do elsewhere!
  • NYC Pizza: Lombardi's Pizza, hands down. But Grimaldi's and Artickoke Basille's Pizza in Eat Village are both hot spots too!
  • Oysters: (Because my boyfriend insists on them, but this by no means comes from me, not because they are not good, but because I have other priorities in NYC - like pizza, cheesecake and beer.) Le Bernardin is an upscale restaurant in the Theater District and the Bedford in Williamsburg.
  • Craft Beer: McSorley's Old Ale House in East Village, Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden (yes, especially this place) in Astoria and The Ginger Man in Midtown East.

Tipping in NYC
Just like back home, it's usually a good idea to tip. Everytime you eat out (although you don't have to tip your hot dog vendor - so that's one reason to eat hot dogs your whole trip, as if you needed any reason other than them being pure delicious!) every time you grab a drink, every time you get out of the cab, you should tip the people that got you there! In NYC, especially the touristy places, they like you to tip 15-20%. Of course it's your money, so it's completely up to you (unless they're one of those places that add gratuity for you) but if you expect your bartender to come back to you for a second round or the doorman to graciously offer all of his inside guidance to you, you should probably be nice.

Get You Wireless Access Free
Almost all of the parks in NYC now offer free wireless internet, and obviously there are a million coffee shops to go to and check your Facebook (or whatever it is that's so important you had to bring your computer on vacation - get a smartphone already!) but just don't pay for it at your hotel when you can get it for free in the great outdoors!

Check Out the Hotel Deals
Before you book the room for your NYC vacation, be sure to check out all the current NYC hotel deals that are available. Rooms can get pretty pricey, and you have plenty of other things to splurge on! NYC Tourist compiles all the best hotel deals in NYC onto one page so that you can find one that's perfect for your trip! Find a discounted rates or a package deal with a great room and complimentary bonuses, like shopping discounts, tickets to attractions and Broadway shows or a romantic suite complete with champagne! 

Don't Go Without
There are tons of places in New York City that are open 24/7. Convenience stores, delis, spas, bowling alleys (bars - let's face it, we need the 24 hour bars on vacation) - you don't have to wait until tomorrow to get what you need - just walk outside and explore, or ask your concierge.

Don't Be Afraid of Being "Too Touristy"
There's nothing wrong with seeing the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Shopping at Macy's and Bloomingdale's, going to popular museums, going on a tour and eating a hot dog in Central Park all in one day! These are things that every NYC Tourist needs to experience, and then you can go on to explore the cool insider spots that all the locals are hiding from you. Let NYC Tourist help you find all the best attractions in the city and the NYC tours that are actually worth taking! You won't regret the experience - we promise.

Which brings us to our last tip...

Stay in the Know
NYC Tourist can help you find all the best things to do in the city, including places you'll want to see, restaurants you'll want to eat in, tours you'll want to take, shows you'll want to see and all the events that are going on while you're on vacation. We can help you save big on all these things so that you can do even more! Follow us at to find all the things you need, and stay up to date with new things we're adding by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+