My husband and I took our first trip to New York City together for fashion week this past year, and we’ve been back twice since. In between fashion shows and after parties we went sightseeing, checked out a few museums, tried some delicious food, and did a little shopping. We could have spent an entire month in NYC and not done everything we wanted to. There’s such a vast variety of cultures, ideas, and styles that are represented in New York that make it one of the most unique places on Earth, and we tried to do a little bit of everything the city had to offer. While we were overwhelmed at all of our choices at first, I’ve created this guide to help you make the most of your time in NYC, so you can skip the feeling overwhelmed part and get straight to having a great time in the city that never sleeps!
Getting There & Getting Around NYC
New York City has several airports that serve it including LaGuardia, JFK International, and Newark Liberty International. We drove from Michigan to NYC (about an 8 hour drive), and the traffic was honestly not bad at all. We never had an issue finding parking, because there are lots of parking structures and most places we visited had a valet or parking nearby.
Getting around the city was easy, but it took a long time. Everything is technically within walking distance, if you don’t mind walking 30 minutes to 2 hours. NYC is fantastic for getting your steps in each day, because you can easily walk anywhere. Be aware when walking around NYC that just because something is only 4 or 5 blocks away doesn’t mean it won’t take 30 minutes to get there.
We walked where we could, but to stay on schedule during fashion shows we took Ubers and met some of the nicest people. We were stuck in traffic on our way to the Alexander Wang show and learned that our Uber driver was the mother of 11 children, all of whom she’d adopted with her husband. She told us stories about them and it was just such a cool way to get to another person while traveling. Lyft, Via, and Juno are all apps just like Uber where you summon a stranger via your phone to pick you up and drop you off at your destination, but cheaper.
Bikesharing and subways are also another great way to get around NYC, but be sure to avoid the subways during rush hour in the morning and evening, and if you can avoid riding them along late at night that you should do so.
Where to Stay in New York City
We loved our stays at 11 Howard, The Greenwich Hotel, and The New York Edition, and I highly recommend any of them! When selecting a hotel in New York City, plan out the things you want to see during your trip and plan to stay near that area. This will not only save you money on taxis or Ubers, but it will also save you time getting from place to place.
What to Eat in New York City
I’m working on a post about the 75 best places to eat in New York City which will be up soon, but in the mean time, I highly recommend Poke Bowl, BEC, Laudurée, Ramen-Ya, The Green Table, Dirt Candy, Beyond Sushi, Blossom, and Hangawi.
Black Tap milkshakes are insanely huge and so fun to share with friends. We tried the Birthday Cake milkshake and it was insane, I could only eat a couple bites because it was sugary. The rim of the glass was covered in frosting and sprinkles, filled with milkshake, and topped with a slice of birthday cake. My friend Eva got the Candy shake and it was a lot like mine, but with cotton candy and suckers on top of it.
New York also has 5 out of the world’s 120 3-star Michelin Star restaurants, so if you’re a fan of fine dining, or want to have a once in a lifetime meal while in the Big Apple, try a restaurant like Masa, Per Se, the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Eleven Madison Park, or Le Bernadin.
If you’re in New York City over a weekend, head over to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, which is the world’s largest open-air food market. Open only Saturdays and Sundays, food, drinks, desserts, and much more from around the world are available for your inner foodie, or as a way to do your grocery shopping there for the week!
What to See & Do in NYC
New York City has dozens of museums, pop-ups, and exhibits, and they’re all worth checking out. Some of our favorites were the Museum of Modern Art aka MoMa, The Whitney, Cooper Hewitt, The Metropolitan Museum of Art aka The Met, Frick Collection, Getty, The Jewish Museum (the building itself is stunning!), the American Museum of Natural History, and the Morgan Library & Museum. Catching a show or performance on Broadway is also a can’t miss activity in NYC.
Some very touristy yet iconic buildings and places to visit include Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Central Park, the Empire State Building, The Bronx Zoo, The Oculus Building, Grand Central Station, and the Flatiron Building in the Flatiron District.
If the concrete jungle of NYC is a bit too urban for you, or you’d just like to take a stroll somewhere greener, there are lots of beautiful gardens in New York City. The New York City Conservatory Gardens, Elizabeth Street Gardens, New York Botanical Gardens, 6BC Botanical Gardens, and the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden are all beautiful oases in the middle of the city.
If you’re looking for lovely or unique places to take photos try SoHo, Chinatown, Chelsea Market, the observation deck on top of Rockefeller Center provides incredible views of the city from above as well as the skyline, 11th Street in Greenwich, Washington Mews and 5th Ave have a large variety of buildings to take photos in front of, South Street Sea Port is cool for a nautical vibe, The Highline, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Chelsea Market are all excellent spots to take photos of the architecture, city life, or even your outfit.
Shopping in New York City is unmatched, and you can find everything from one-of-a-kind or handmade items, to vintage goods, imported and exotic clothing and shoes, as well as high-end and luxury finds. We spent an entire day just exploring flagship and luxury stores, as well as home decor stores and dreaming about how we want to decorate our next home!
Have you ever been to New York City? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
Farewell, fellow adventurers!
Jessica Malinowski says
I was born in NY. But never been to the city!
Brooke Humphreys says
NYC is my favorite place to go of all time! ??I normally go a couple times a year, just because there’s so much to see and do and one day is just not enough ?
Christina H. says
NYC at Christmastime is my favorite!
Allyson Rideout says
I love Travel Guides for NYC. I’m there twice a year and always find new things to check out. If you’re looking for the BEST coffee in town try Romeo and Juliet on 42nd. It’s a cute cafe with lots of food and drink options.