New York City
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New York City (also referred to as "New York", "NYC", "The Big Apple", or just "The City" by locals), is the most populous city in the United States. It lies at the mouth of the Hudson River in the southernmost part of the state, which is part of the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The city spans a land area of 305 square miles (790km²).
New York City has a population of approximately 8.2 million people. The New York Metropolitan Area, which spans lower New York, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut, has a population of 18.7 million, making it the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. As of 2014, it was one of the 15 largest metro areas in the world.
New York City is a center for media, culture, food, fashion, art, research, finance, and trade. It has one of the largest and most famous skylines on earth, dominated by the iconic Empire State Building.
New York City consists of five boroughs, which are five separate counties. Each borough has a unique culture and could be a large city in its own right. Within each borough individual neighborhoods, some several square miles in size, and others only a few blocks in size, have personalities lauded in music and film. Where you live, work, and play in New York says something to New Yorkers about who you are.
The five New York boroughs are:
New York City is one of the global hubs of international finance, politics, communications, film, music, fashion, and culture. Alongside London it's one of only two universally acknowledged to be "World Cities" - the most important and influential cities on Earth. It's home to many world-class museums, art galleries, and theaters. Many of the world's largest corporations have their headquarters here. The headquarters of the United Nations is in New York and most countries have a consulate here. This city's influence on the globe, and all its inhabitants, is hard to overstate, as decisions made within its boundaries often have impacts and ramifications across the world.
Immigrants (and their descendants) from over 180 countries live here, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Travelers are attracted to New York City for its culture, energy and cosmopolitanism. English is the primary language spoken by most New Yorkers although in many communities it is common to hear other languages that are generally widely understood. In many neighborhoods, there is a large Latino/Hispanic population, and many New Yorkers speak Spanish. Most cab drivers speak either Arabic, Hindi or Bengali. There are also many neighborhoods throughout the city that have a high concentration of Chinese immigrants where Mandarin or Cantonese may be useful. In some of these neighborhoods, some locals may not speak very good English, but store owners and those who would deal frequently with tourists or visitors all will speak English.
The World Trade Center attacks of 11 September 2001 were a shared ordeal for the city's inhabitants. Despite those events, from 2003 to the present, New York City has rebounded and surpassed itself in growth.
Crime is down to one-third of the levels of 1990 and New York City is now one of the safest large cities in America.
At the center and western edge of New York City is the borough of Manhattan, a long, narrow island nestled in a natural harbor. It is separated from The Bronx on the north-east by the Harlem River (actually a tidal strait); from Queens and Brooklyn to the east and south by the East River (also a tidal strait); and from the State of New Jersey to the west and north by the Hudson River. Staten Island lies to the south-west, across Upper New York Bay.
Although Manhattan runs northeast to southwest, it is referred to as if it ran north-south. Thus, "uptown" means north, and "downtown" means south. Street numbers continue from Manhattan into the Bronx, and the street numbers rise as one moves farther north (however, in the Bronx, there is no simple numerical grid, so there may be 7 blocks between 167 St. and 170 St., for example). Avenues run north and south. In Brooklyn the opposite is true, as street numbers rise as one moves south. Queens streets are laid out in a perpendicular grid - street numbers rise as one moves toward the east, and avenues run east and west. Staten Island has no street numbers at all.
The term “the city” may refer either to New York City as a whole, or to the borough of Manhattan alone, depending on the context. The other boroughs, which are Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens, are sometimes referred to as “the outer boroughs.” The term "upstate" generally refers to any part of the State of New York north of the city limits of the Bronx, but not neighboring New Jersey or Connecticut.
New York City has a humid subtropical climate, experiencing all four seasons and with about 50 inches (1,200mm) of rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. Depending on the time of the year you visit it would be optimal to know what kind of weather you should expect.
Winter: Winters in NYC are chilly and damp. However due to the moderating effect of the ocean and the urban heat island, the city does have warmer temperatures when compared to other cities on the same latitude like Pittsburgh, Columbus or Indianapolis. Nighttime lows usually hover around freezing and daytime highs are usually between the low 40s and the mid 50s (5C-15C). How cold or how warm it gets though depends greatly upon the location you're at in the city: the northern and western parts of the metropolitan area (like The Bronx, Yonkers and Newark) are usually colder during the night while the southern - southeastern areas such as Staten Island and Long Island may have milder temperatures. Sometimes the mercury may dip down to the teens (around -10C) but prolonged cold periods are very rare. New York is the second snowiest city out of the big 5 in the northeast, being 17 inches behind Boston but 5 inches in front of Philadelphia. The first snowfall of the year usually happens around early or mid-December and the last one in late February or early March. The city is prone to big snowstorms that can produce up to 1-2 feet of snow. While such events can create a winter wonderland keep in mind that they can also cause big traffic bottlenecks especially on highways. How much snow falls depends on the location in the city as the aforementioned colder areas also tend to receive more snow than the aforementioned warmer areas (JFK airport receives 2 inches less snow than Central Park and 5 inches less snow than Newark on average). Nor-easters (storms with strong winds that produce mostly rain but also snow) do affect the city and represent a large chunk of the total precipitation in winter and spring.
Summer: Summertime is the time when most visitors arrive at NYC. The weather is generally mild with the ocean keeping the weather from being unbearably hot. Daytime highs are usually between the low 70s and the high 80s (20C-30C) and nighttime lows hover around 60F (16C). The city can experience heatwaves though that can make days particularly hot especially in places like Manhattan and inland areas like Newark, Patterson and the Yonkers which may become quite repulsive when the daytime high hits the 90s (30C and above). In stark contrast, coastal areas south of Long Island and Staten Island benefit significantly from the sea breeze that keeps temperatures much cooler even if Manhattan is sweltering. Prolonged hot periods are quite rare though. Rainfall is also a distinctive feature of the summer months as most of it falls between June and September and when it happens the weather may turn a bit chilly.
Spring - Autumn: Spring and Autumn are generally identical when it comes the climate and are generally considered some of the best times to visit the city with generally mild temperatures. Keep in mind however that the weather in March and November may be quite similar to that of winter and the city does usually see at least one light snowfall every year during those months. Nor-easters are also more prevalent during Spring than Autumn, while during Autumn the changed color of the leaves is in full sight, especially in large, green areas like Central Park.
The diverse population runs the gamut from some of America's wealthiest celebrities and socialites to homeless people. There are millions of immigrants living in the city. New York's population has been diverse since the city's founding by the Dutch. Successive waves of immigration from virtually every nation in the world make New York a giant social experiment in cross-cultural harmony.
The city's ethnic heritage illuminates different neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. Manhattan's Chinatown remains a vibrant center of New York City's Chinese community, though in recent years the very large Chinese community in Flushing, Queens, has rivaled if not eclipsed it in importance, and three other Chinatowns have formed in New York City: the Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park; the Elmhurst Chinatown in Queens; and the Avenue U Chinatown located in the Homecrest section of Brooklyn. Traces of the Lower East Side's once-thriving Jewish community still exist amid the newly-gentrified neighborhood's trendy restaurants and bars, but there are Chassidic communities in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Harlem has been gentrifying and diversifying and remains a center of African-American culture in New York. East (Spanish) Harlem still justifies its reputation as a large Hispanic neighborhood. Little known to most tourists are the large Dominican neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. Brooklyn's Greenpoint is famous for its large and vibrant Polish community, and the Flatbush section - once home to the Brooklyn Dodgers - is today a huge and thriving Caribbean and West Indian section. Queens and Brooklyn are known for being home to many of New York's more recent immigrant groups, which since 1990 have included large numbers of Russians, Uzbeks, Nigerians, Chinese, Irish, Italian, French, Filipinos, Yugoslavians, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Kenyans, Arabs (from throughout the Middle East and northern Africa), Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Brazilians, Colombians and Jamaicans. New York City's Caucasian population who are native born New Yorkers are overwhelmingly descended from the previous centuries immigrants: Irish, Italian or Eastern European Jewish, a smaller percentage are Turks, Yugoslavs, Albanians. Each of these groups has brought their cuisines with them, making NYC a city where authentic bagels, Pizza and ethnic foods are available everywhere. An important change has been taking place in the population recently. During the last 2 decades and especially since 2003, large numbers of young people, many of them recent college graduates and professionals from the rest of the USA have moved to New York City, mostly to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the parts of Queens closest to Manhattan. They have changed things considerably and continue to add to New York's vitality and artistic output. They have completely changed their neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan, such as Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Lower East side, Manhattan. One important thing to note about New York City, is its never-ending change, new stores, businesses, buildings and even skyscrapers replace the previous structures, there is always new construction. Photographs of the same busy street 10 or 20 years ago are unrecognizable today.
New York City is home to 46 Fortune 500 companies. Its gross metropolitan product of $1.7 trillion is the largest of any American city and represented approximately 9% of the American economy. If it were a nation, the city would have the 16th-highest GDP in the world. New York's constantly expanding economy is the main reason why millions have immigrated to the city, from all over the world and all over the country over the past 2 centuries of the city's growth.
New York is the national center for several industries. It's the home of the two largest US stock exchanges (NYSE, NASDAQ) and many banks. The famous Wall Street is where the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is as well as the famous investment banks and financial investment firms. Wall Street is located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan.
John F. Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK) is the largest international airport within NYC while LaGuardia Airport (IATA: LGA) is a busy domestic airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport (IATA: EWR) is the second largest and is the primary international airport in NJ. All three airports are run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK) is in the borough of Queens. There are eight terminals that are not very close to each other (with two that are to be demolished and soon rebuilt), so it is important to note which terminal from which your flight leaves. Click here for a list of airlines and the terminals from which they operate. AirTrain connects the terminals - note that it is only free if you are traveling between terminals; to either terminus, the fare is $7.75.
There is Wi-Fi via Boingo, which is free in certain areas of the airport, but is not always reliable.
If you must connect via JFK and change terminals, make sure you have sufficient time of at least 2 hours for domestic connections and 3 hours for international connections. However, the security and immigration procedures for non-US citizens are monumentally time-consuming and tiresome.
Left luggage services are available in the arrivals areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 4 and cost $4-16 per bag per day, depending on size. There are plenty of ATMs, but almost all charge a $2-3 fee per withdrawal. Luggage trolleys are available either for a fee of $3 in Terminals 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 or free in Terminals 1 and 4. There are many hotels of all service levels close to the airport and most run shuttle buses to/from the airport.
JFK is the biggest airport within NYC and the only airport within NYC that handles international flights to nearly every country.
To travel between JFK and Manhattan ("the city"):
Total time to Manhattan using the subway is 60min; using the Long Island Railroad is 45min. This is sometimes faster than taking a taxi. If you take the "A" or "J" during overnight hours, be alert of your surroundings as the train passes through some rough neighborhoods.
Transfers from the B15 to the subway are in some of Brooklyn's roughest neighborhoods, so this route is not recommended at night or for people unfamiliar with the city.
Newark Liberty International Airport
Newark Liberty International Airport IATA: EWR (+1 800 397 4636) located to the west of NYC in Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey. The airport has three terminals labeled A, B, C. Click here for a list of airlines and the terminals from which they operate.
To travel between the city and EWR:
Other buses, such as the Go 28 Bus, the 37 Bus, the 40 Bus, and the #67 Bus stops in Newark Airport at Terminals A, B, and C. Passengers who are stopped at the North Area of Newark Airport can be transferred by the Go 28 Bus.
LaGuardia Airport (IATA: LGA) in Queens is the smallest of the New York Metropolitan Area's three major airports, but the closest to Manhattan. Due to regulations, almost all direct flights from LGA are to destinations within 1,500 miles (2,419km). Most flights are domestic; however, there are international flights from LGA to Canada, Aruba, the Bahamas and Bermuda. The airport has been routinely ranked low in timeliness and customer satisfaction.
To travel between the city and LGA:
There is no rail service at LaGuardia Airport. However, buses (see below) connect to the subway or commuter rail systems.
Bus to subway/LIRR transfers include:
Long Island MacArthur Airport
Long Island MacArthur Airport (Islip Airport) (IATA: ISP) is located in Ronkonkoma (Town of Islip) on Long Island. The airport is served by Southwest Airlines and Frontier, two major US discount carriers.
To travel between the city and ISP:
Westchester County Airport
To travel between the city and HPN:
Stewart International Airport
Trenton-Mercer Airport (IATA: TTN) is 63 miles southwest of Midtown Manhattan and offers limited commercial service on Frontier Airlines. Passengers flying into Trenton can reach Manhattan by taking a taxi to the Trenton train station and then taking the Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor Line or Amtrak to Penn Station.
Teterboro Airport  (IATA: TEB) (ICAO: KTEB) is popular for general aviation and business jet travelers out of New York City, and one of the busiest private aviation airports in the world. Teterboro's weight limit of 100,000 pounds makes it nonviable for commercial aircraft, limiting traffic to general and executive aviation. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Incredijet Private Jet Charter, The Early Air Way, Monarch Air Group, Mercury Jets, Jetset Charter, and Private Jets Teterboro fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from luxury Gulfstream's down to economical piston twins and helicopters for small groups and individuals.
Amtrak +1 800 USA RAIL (+1 800 872 7245) operates from New York Penn Station, directly under Madison Square Garden, on 34th St between 7th & 8th Avenues. Popular trains leaving during rush hours can fill up quickly; it's a good idea to make reservations on-line or via phone and pick up your ticket using a credit card or your confirmation number at one of the electronic kiosks located throughout the station.
Amtrak's Acela express train provides regular 150 mph (240 km/h) commuter service between major points along the east coast such as Washington, D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Haven, and Providence. Amtrak services are also available to points along the East Coast down to Florida, across the southeast to New Orleans, to points between New York and Chicago, including Pittsburgh and Cleveland, to New York state including Albany, Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and to Toronto and Montreal in Canada. Service to California takes 4 days and requires a change of train in Chicago.
Amtrak's ClubAcela Lounge, near the big security desk in Penn Station, offers complimentary drinks, WiFi, newspapers, magazines and clean bathrooms. Access to the club is granted to travelers with sleeper tickets, First Class Acela tickets, Amtrak GuestRewards SelectPlus membership, or United Airlines BusinessFirst tickets for same-day travel, and United Club members.
New York City is served by three commuter railroads. With the exception of the Metro-North Railroad, which starts at Grand Central Terminal, the other commuter railroads also start at Penn Station by Madison Square Garden.
PATH(Port Authority Trans-Hudson) is a subway type system connecting New York City to Hoboken, Newark, and various points on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River. Two lines pass under the Hudson and enter the city, one terminating near the World Trade Center site downtown, the other at 33rd St in Midtown (see map). The PATH system is, therefore, a useful shortcut if traveling between Newark and Lower Manhattan, without having to travel all the way up to Penn Station, and then double back southward again. The PATH station at 33rd Street is not connected to, nor part of Penn Station.
PATH costs $2.75 per ride. PATH 10-ride discount: $21 for 10 rides, which are stored in a SmartLink Gray disposable paper card (no charge for the card) or a Smartlink green plastic card ($5 extra for the card). The PATH system also accepts the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard (but not Unlimited Ride MetroCard). There's a $1 fee for buying a new Metrocard except if expired or damaged. For the visitor traveling from New Jersey daily, it is more convenient and possibly cheaper to purchase the MetroCard to travel on both the PATH and the MTA systems. However, remember there is no free MetroCard transfer between PATH and MTA subways/buses.
World Trade Center Line
34ST Line Transfer at Journal Square
Some buses offer WiFi, power outlets and even business-class style luxury. Buses serve New Jersey, New York suburbs west of the Hudson River, and all cities along the east coast of the US.
The NY Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 8th Ave in Manhattan (8th Ave & W 42nd St next to Times Square - '42nd St Port Authority Bus Terminal' subway stop)  serves as a central bus terminal for several bus lines. However, not all lines go into the NY Port Authority Bus Terminal. Check the bus departure/arrival points before booking.
To/from New Jersey
The trip normally takes 4.5h, there are at least 82 buses daily in each direction.
To/from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC
Also see BoltBus, Greyhound, and Megabus serving other locations.
To/From Pennsylvania beyond Philadelphia
To/from other locations
New York City - as you would expect - enjoys a prominent position on the US Interstate highway network. Although the city can be easily reached by car from anywhere in the nation, driving within the metropolitan area is an experience definitely not for the faint-hearted! It makes much more sense to use public transportation, but for those who insist on driving, the main routes into the New York City area are:
New York City has always been one of the world's most important passenger sea ports, and arriving by ocean liner or cruise ship still remains an extraordinary and stylish method of arrival. In addition to passenger service from the Cunard Line, many cruise ships start or end their voyages in New York City.
Main article: New York City/Get around
Above Washington Sq, Fifth Ave divides Manhattan into east and west; numbering starts at Fifth Ave on each side (except where Central Park interrupts) and increases in either direction. Addresses west of Fifth Ave are written as, for example, 220 W 34th St, while those east of Fifth Ave are written as 220 E 34th St. However, for numbered streets below Washington Sq (fortunately, there are only two, 3rd and 4th streets), Broadway divides the streets into East and West. Because of this dual-numbering system, it is always advisable to keep in mind the closest intersection to your destination (6th Ave and 34th St, Broadway and 51st, etc.). You might also see addresses written in a kind of shorthand in terms of the nearest crossing streets, for example "1755 Broadway b/w 56th & 57th" or "74 E. 4th b/w 2nd & Bowery." - along with the terms "uptown" and "downtown", this shorthand is almost a New York language which most visitors soon learn surreptitiously and start speaking themselves! In Greenwich Village and downtown Manhattan - generally considered as below Houston St ("HOW-ston") - all bets are off as streets meander, dead-end and intersect themselves. Streets in Greenwich Village are particularly notorious for defying logic. For instance, West 4th St intersects with West 10th St and West 12th St, and you can stand on the corner of Waverly Place and Waverly Place!
As a convenient guide to distance, there are 20 blocks per mile along the avenues (walking north/south). The average person can walk roughly 1 block per minute, or 60 blocks (3 mi) per hour. Walking east/west on the streets, blocks are generally much longer.
In Queens, avenues, roads, and drives generally run east/west and increase numerically as you proceed south. Streets run north/south. Queens and Northern Blvds run east/west.
The Bronx is a continuation of the Manhattan street numbers. 3rd Ave is the only numbered avenue in the Bronx.
For shorter distances, there is no better way of getting around New York than hitting the sidewalk. If you use the subway or buses, you will almost certainly need to walk to and from stations or stops. In all areas of New York a traveler is likely to visit, all streets have wide, smoothly-paved sidewalks. For long distances, walking is also fine and a great way to see the city.
Jaywalking is extremely common among New Yorkers; an average New Yorker typically jaywalks 10-15 times a day. However, it can be extremely dangerous. If you cannot properly gauge the speed of oncoming cars, it is recommended you wait for the walk signal. Do not blindly follow someone crossing, as while they might have time to make it across, the person behind them might not. If you do jaywalk, remember that in the US, people drive on the right side of the road on two-way streets so remember to look left to check for oncoming traffic on your side of the road. Be aware that many streets are one-way, so you may have to look right. Beware of bicyclists unlawfully going against the proper flow of vehicular traffic.
Remember that even if you have a walk signal, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances can bypass red traffic lights. Always defer to these vehicles when walking.
Public Transit – Buses and Subways
To ride the buses and subways in NYC it's most likely you'll need a MetroCard from The Metropolitan Transit Authority or MTA for use on the New York City bus and subway systems. While it is possible to pay bus fares using exact change (coins only), you must have a MetroCard to enter the subway system. Cards can be bought online, at station booths, at vending machines in subway stations, and at many grocery stores and newstands (look for a MetroCard sign on the store window). The vending machines in the stations accept credit cards; however, MetroCard vending machines will require that you type in your 5-digit zip code, or your regular PIN on international cards. There is a $1 fee for a new MetroCard.
The PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) subway system, which operates between New York and New Jersey, is not operated by the MTA and is therefore separate but with the same fare as the MTA. Even though PATH accepts payment by MetroCard, no free transfers are available - you have to swipe your MetroCard again to transfer from the PATH to the subway and vice versa. JFK AirTrain also accepts MetroCard, but again, is not operated by the MTA and no free transfers are available.
Metro-North Commuter Railroad, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), New Jersey Transit (NJT) Buses, Trains, and Light Rail systems, and Amtrak trains do not accept MetroCard.
Up to three children 44 inches (112cm) tall ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult.
MetroCards generally expire one year after purchase; the expiration date is printed on the back of the card at the upper left. If a card is expired, one has 2 years after the expiration date to transfer any balance to a new card, eor by asking a station agent to replace it in the first year after expiration or if more than a year since expiration it must be mailed to MetroCard Customer Claims for replacement. If you put an expired MetroCard into a ticket vending machine it will automatically offer you the option of "trading in" - i.e. transferring any existing balance from the expired card onto a new one - this also avoids the $1 fee for buying a new card from scratch. Therefore if you intend to make a return visit to New York City always keep your old MetroCards!
You can also get discounted tickets to certain events by showing your MetroCard when purchasing tickets.
Despite a (somewhat deserved) reputation for being dirty, the subway, which operates 24/7, is the fastest and best way to travel around the city. Fares are $2.75 (unless you use Single Ride MetroCard, which is $3.00), regardless of distance traveled. The much-feared subway crimes of the 1970s and 1980s are for the most part a thing of the past, and it is almost always completely safe. Just remember to use common sense when traveling late at night alone. Try to use heavily-traveled stations, remain visible to other people, and don't display items of value publicly. While violent crime is rare, petty crime - especially theft of iPhones and other expensive electronics - is more frequent, so be aware when using your phone on the train. Also, beware that hundreds of people have been arrested for putting their feet on a Subway seat or sitting improperly on a subway seat. Seven years ago, rule 1050(7)(J) of the city’s transit code criminalized what was once simply selfish behavior, such as standing too close to the doors. About 1,600 people were arrested in 2011 and had to wait long periods before seeing a judge and being sentenced.
Every subway line is identified by either a letter or a number. In midtown Manhattan, they are mostly grouped by color, but not always. However, lines are not identified by their color (e.g. "Blue Line"), but instead by letter/number (e.g. "A").
PATH can be used to travel within Manhattan, from 33rd St along 6th Ave to Christopher St, and for less than the subway due to fare hike proposals from the MTA. It covers such a small territory but in theory you can use it if you have to travel its exact route. Unlimited Ride MetroCards cannot be used on the PATH. PATH also accepts the SmartLink Card (similar to the MetroCard, but the SmartLink Card cannot be used on the subway). PATH fare is $2.75, around the same price as the New York City Subway. The PATH train can be a great way to get around lower Midtown along 6th Ave. Like the subway, PATH operates 24/7. Usually, PATH trains arrive every 5-10 minutes (based on the time of day), but overnight, they may only come every 35 minutes.
By commuter rail
Commuter rail lines are mostly used for traveling between the city and its suburbs; however, they can be used for intra-city transit as well. A handful of destinations are closer to commuter rail stops but far from the subway. MetroCards are not accepted on commuter rail; separate single or period tickets must be bought. When purchasing commuter railroad tickets, it is advantageous to purchase them online or in railroad stations prior to boarding. While tickets are available for sale on trains, there is an on-board surcharge that makes them significantly more expensive.
The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) runs to/from Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, Flatbush Avenue/Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, and has limited rush hour service to/from Long Island City, Queens. The Port Washington Branch goes to Northeast Queens which, aside from Flushing and Citi Field, is not served by the subway system. The Main Line, which contains most of the branches to the different parts of Long Island, goes to Southeastern Queens, including Jamaica, Laurelton, and Rosedale. The Atlantic Branch, which ends in Downtown Brooklyn, goes to East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant, both in Brooklyn. This branch is not accessible from Manhattan, however. The LIRR is also the fastest way to get from JFK to Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, and also runs to many popular getaways in Long Island, such as Long Beach, Port Jefferson, and Montauk. The LIRR has a somewhat deserved reputation for poor on-time performance, however this is more of a problem in the farther eastern reaches of the railroad and not so much a problem in New York City and its immediate suburbs.
The Metro-North Railroad provides services to/from Grand Central Terminal. Trains go to the Bronx and the northern suburbs of the city. The Hudson Line covers several parts of the Western Bronx, while the Harlem Line goes through the Central Bronx — an area with no subway service. It is the best way to get to Arthur Avenue and the New York Botanic Gardens. The Hudson and Harlem Lines are also your gateway to Westchester County and beyond, with the Hudson Line running all the way to Poughkeepsie. The New Haven Line runs to Connecticut, terminating, logically enough, in New Haven.
Even in Manhattan, with its dense subway network, buses can often be the best way of making a cross-town (i.e. east-west) journey, for example, crossing Central Park to go from the Metropolitan Museum to the Museum of Natural History. And outside peak hours, a ride by bus from the tip of Manhattan at Battery Park to Midtown is a good and cheap way of taking in the sights.
A word of advice about driving in New York City: don't. A car is inadvisable — street parking is practically non-existent near crowded areas and tourist attractions, and garage parking rates range from very expensive to plain extortion. Traffic is almost always congested, parking rules are confusing, and many drivers are aggressive - as you will find out, Manhattan reverberates to the near constant sound of car horns being blown. The public transportation options are many and offer significant advantages and savings over driving a car. Many New Yorkers, particularly in Manhattan, don't own cars for this reason. If you are staying in a suburb and commuting to the city by car, think twice — driving to one of the Long Island Railroad, Metro North, or New Jersey Transit stations and taking the train into the city is a better option, and the parking fees at the station, train fare, and MetroCard combined are usually much cheaper than parking downtown. There are often secure parking areas in many stations. In Staten Island, parking near the ferry terminal and using the ferry will save you money and time.
If you do choose to drive, get a map, especially if driving outside of Manhattan. Good maps to use, if you are not driving, are the free bus maps which have each street, though the subway map can work in a pinch (also used for small boat navigation). In Queens, numbers identify not only avenues and streets, but also roads, places, crescents, and lanes, all of which might be near each other. Read the entire street sign. Outer borough highways are confusing and often narrowed to one lane, the potholes could trap an elephant, the signs are sometimes misleading, exits which should appear do not, and signs directing a highway approach drag you through miles of colorful neighborhood (in the wrong direction) before finally letting you onto the highway with a stop sign and six inches of merge space.
Traffic in New York City roughly follows a hierarchy of precedence, which is unwise to challenge. Fire engines, ambulances, and police cruisers are given priority, followed by other public service vehicles such as buses, road crews, and sanitation trucks. Beneath them are taxi cabs and delivery trucks. Below those are other cars. Note also that driving a car with out-of-state license plates (save for perhaps Connecticut or New Jersey) will instantly mark you as an outsider, sometimes resulting in other drivers being more aggressive around you than they would with a local. Suffice it to say, driving in New York is not for the timid, fearful, or otherwise emotionally fragile.
The major car rental agencies have offices throughout the city. Smaller agencies are also well represented. Be warned that car rentals in New York are generally more expensive than elsewhere in the United States, and frequently require a deposit of up to $500, if you do not have a credit card. Insurance rates also tend to be higher in New York than in most other cities.
Gas stations are few and far between, especially in Manhattan, where only a handful exist around the perimeter of the island. Be prepared to up to $0.50 more per gallon than in the surrounding suburbs or New Jersey. Therefore, if you have the option, it is best to fill your car while you aren't in NYC, as long as you have enough gas to last!
Points of entry
There are several points of entry/exit into the city from the New Jersey side: the Lincoln Tunnel (midtown/41st Street), the Holland Tunnel (downtown/Canal St), and the George Washington Bridge (way uptown/178th St) — all are accessible from the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95). I-78 east will also feed directly into the Holland Tunnel (US-1/9 is also a popular route). I-80 east will terminate at an I-95 junction, the north route of which will lead directly to the George Washington Bridge. The bridge is also directly accessible from US-46 east. With all of these options, many commuters choose to listen to 24 hour traffic reports on AM stations 880 (every ten minutes on the 8's) and 1010 (every ten minutes on the 1's) to find the least congested route at that time. Weekend traffic delays can easily exceed 60 minutes at some of the tunnels, so plan accordingly!
The Midtown Tunnel under the East River is convenient for Long Island travelers, as it becomes the Long Island Expressway. The Queensborough Bridge (aka The 59th Street Bridge) also crosses the East River into Queens, is toll-free, and lands near the mouth of the Midtown Tunnel but requires some automotive manipulation to get onto the Long Island Expressway. Other routes head north and east out of the Bronx, including Interstates 87 (north to Albany) and 95 (northeast to Boston) and the Henry Hudson Parkway, which is along the Hudson River.
Toll charges are very expensive for some crossings – mostly to New York from New Jersey, and to Staten Island from New York. The Port Authority  has increased the tolls for New York/New Jersey crossings to a whopping $15, and it's cheaper if the toll is paid by E-ZPass (which is an electronic toll collection system used throughout the Northeastern/Midwestern US). Eventually, it will increase until 2016 and there was some criticism for how that money was used. The MTA  is more different. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge cost $15, and most crossings cost $7.50 or less. Be advised that there are traffic delays as well, sometimes lasting up to an hour.
Keep in mind that many toll roads, bridges, and tunnels in New York (particularly those operated by the MTA and the New York Thruway Authority and some operated by the Port Authority such as the Queens-Midtown Tunnel (I-495), Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel (I-478), Triborough Bridge (I-278), Verrazano–Narrows Bridge (I-278), Goethals Bridge (I-278), Outerbridge Crossing (NY 440), Bayonne Bridge (NY 440), Bronx–Whitestone Bridge (I-678), Throgs Neck Bridge (I-295), New York Thruway (I-87), and New England Thruway (I-95), etc) have switched to an all electronic system in 2017 for all toll roads, bridges, and tunnels. Users who do not have an EZ-Pass have a picture of their license plate taken and are sent a bill in the mail. Visitors who do not have an EZ-Pass or are renting a car are recommended to set up an invoice account. Those who wish to pay tolls in cash are recommended to visit a MTA customer service center.
On the other hand, many of the crossings (in particular all three Hudson River crossings) are only tolled going into New York City.
Rush hour traffic
Traveling at off-hours makes sense to avoid rush hour traffic, but highways and roads are still generally packed any time of day. The Cross Bronx Expressway, which is part of I-95 and leads to the George Washington Bridge, is almost always choked with traffic. Expect traffic jams at 1-2am. The Long Island Expressway has heavy eastbound traffic between the morning and evening rushes. The Holland and Lincoln Tunnels are 10 minute waits on a good day. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) is notorious, and an accident on the Verazzano Bridge without shoulders can cause a backup all the way through the northern part of Staten Island into New Jersey. It is a good idea to check radio traffic reports, especially before crossing a bridge or tunnel. Three different stations have reports every 10 minutes around the clock: 880 AM (on the 8's), 1010 AM (on the 1's), and 1130 AM (on the 5's).
Driving cross-town (east-west) in Manhattan during rush hours is especially troublesome because the traffic lights are optimized to move traffic along the north-south roads. Your best bet is to avoid driving in Midtown Manhattan (between the 30s and 50s) whenever possible. If you do drive in Midtown Manhattan cross-town, posted Midtown Thru Streets  may reduce delays.
Traveling with a commercial vehicle
If you are traveling with a commercial vehicle, such as a moving truck, remember that commercial traffic is prohibited on many roadways throughout the city. Commercial traffic is permitted only on multiple-lane roadways designated as "expressways" (such as the Long Island Expressway, Cross-Bronx Expressway, or Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) and the surface streets unless marked otherwise. Commercial traffic is prohibited on all multiple-lane roadways designated as "parkways" (such as the Grand Central Parkway, Cross-Island Parkway, or Henry Hudson Parkway) with frequent low bridges.  Unfortunately, the majority of fast-moving roadways are designated as parkways in New York City. Commercial traffic is also prohibited on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Drive in Manhattan. The only viable option for traveling with a commercial vehicle in Manhattan is the surface streets, but always look out for low vertical clearance. Commercial vehicles have exclusive metered parking in Midtown Manhattan and are prohibited from parking overnight on any city street.
Parking in garages or outdoor lots is usually very expensive, costing as much as $40 per day in Manhattan, although cheap or free lot parking is available at some times at certain locations. Street parking can be free or much cheaper than garage or lot parking, but can be extremely hard to come by. In Manhattan, self-park (or "park-and-lock") is extremely rare. The overwhelming majority of parking facilities in Manhattan have mandatory valet parking, so you must set aside a few dollars for tips, and anticipate the time it will take for a valet to retrieve your vehicle. Self-park garages in Manhattan conveniently located near major tourist attractions include the Battery Parking Garage in Lower Manhattan, Manhattan Plaza Parking in Midtown Manhattan, and the public parking garage underneath the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the case of parallel parking on the street, "bumping" cars in front of and behind of you to get into and out of a parking spot (known to some as "Braille Parking") is common. If you choose to park on the street, don't be surprised if you find a few new scratches and scrapes on your bumper.
As a general rule, hotels in New York do not supply garage parking. The few that do will charge you handsomely for the privilege.
There are several websites and mobile apps that can help you find and book parking, including: ParkMe.com, SpotHero, PrimoSpot.com, ParkFast.com, ParkWhiz.com, DiscountNYCParking.com, BestParking.com, Parkopedia.com, IconParking.com, ParkFast.com, NYC Parking Authority, and Parking Panda.
Street Parking - Rules and penalties for violation
Important Rules While Driving
New Yorkers have been using bikes more and more over recent years. The city is equipped with bike lanes in some places, of which you can find a map here.
You can check the official NYC recommendations for cyclists here.
Like most of the great world cities, New York has an abundance of great attractions - so many, that it would be impossible to list them all here. What follows is but a sampling of the most high-profile attractions in New York City; more detailed info can be found in the district pages.
Many tourist attractions in New York City offer free or discounted admission on certain days, eg Museum of Modern Art's Free Friday, or Museums on Us® program by Bank of America.
A number of multi-attraction schemes give reduced prices and line-skipping privileges:
See also the district pages for detailed information about attractions. Detail should be moved from this page to the district pages.
Manhattan possesses the lion's share of the landmarks that have saturated American popular culture. Starting in Lower Manhattan, perhaps the most famous of these landmarks is easy to spot - the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the nation standing atop a small island in the harbor, and perhaps also the most difficult attraction to access in terms of crowds and the long lines to see it. Nearby Ellis Island preserves the site where millions of immigrants completed their journey to America. Within Lower Manhattan itself, Wall Street acts as the heart of big business being the home of the New York Stock Exchange, although the narrow street also holds some historical attractions, namely Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. Nearby, the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Site commemorates the victims of that fateful day. The 1776 foot tall One World Trade Center is the spiritual successor to the fallen Twin Towers and is now the tallest skyscraper in both New York and the United States. Connecting Lower Manhattan to Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge offers fantastic views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.
Moving north to Midtown, Manhattan's other major business district, you'll find some of New York's most famous landmarks. The Empire State Building looms over it all as the second-tallest building in the city, with the nearby Chrysler Building also dominating the landscape. Nearby is the headquarters of United Nations overlooking the East River and Grand Central Terminal, one of the busiest train stations in the world. Also nearby is the main branch of the New York Public Library, a beautiful building famous for its magnificent reading rooms and the lion statues outside the front door; and Rockefeller Plaza, home to NBC Studios, Radio City Music Hall, and (during the winter) the famous Christmas Tree and Skating Rink.
Still in the Midtown area but just to the west, in the Theater District, is the tourist center of New York: Times Square, filled with bright, flashing video screens and LED signs running 24 hours a day. Just to the north is Central Park, with its lawns, trees and lakes popular for recreation and concerts.
Head down to Tribeca to see one of the most unique New York City landmarks, the Staple Street sky bridge. Located on one of New York City's smallest streets, the Staple Street sky bridge dates back to 1907, when it was built to connect two buildings that were part of New York Hospital. After the hospital moved, the bridge remained. Today, the bridge connects two lofts, with separate addresses, but are being sold together to create the most unique 5 bedroom, 5 bathroom, 1 sky bridge loft in New York City! Listing price? A cool $35 million.
Museums and galleries
New York has some of the finest museums in the world. All the public museums, which are run by the city, accept donations for an entrance fee, but private museums, especially the Museum of Modern Art, can be very expensive. The Metropolitan Museum of Art no longer accepts donations from visitors who are not residents of New York State. In addition to the major museums, hundreds of small galleries are spread throughout the city, notably in neighborhoods like Chelsea and Williamsburg. Many galleries and museums in New York close on Mondays, so be sure to check hours before visiting. The following is just a list of highlights; see district pages for more listings.
Arts and culture
New York City is home to some of the finest art museums in the country, and in Manhattan, you'll find the grandest of them all. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park has vast holdings that represent a series of collections, each of which ranks in its category among the finest in the world. Within this single building you'll find perhaps the world's finest collection of American artwork, period rooms, thousands of European paintings including Rembrandts and Vermeers, the greatest collection of Egyptian art outside Cairo, one of the world's finest Islamic art collections, Asian art, European sculpture, medieval and Renaissance art, antiquities from around the ancient world, and much, much more. As if all that wasn't enough, the Metropolitan also operates The Cloisters, located in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, houses a collection of medieval art and incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters and other monastic sites in southern France in its renowned gardens.
Near the Metropolitan, in the Upper East Side, is the Guggenheim Museum. Although more famed for its architecture than the collection it hosts, the spiraling galleries are ideal for exhibiting art works. Also nearby is the Whitney Museum of American Art, with a collection of contemporary American art. In Midtown, the Museum of Modern Art(MoMA), holds the most comprehensive collection of modern art in the world, and is so large as to require multiple visits to see all of the works on display, which include Van Gogh's Starry Night and Picasso's Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, as well as an extensive industrial design collection. Midtown is also home to the Paley Center for Media, a museum dedicated to television and radio, including a massive database of old shows. Unknown to some Harlem, previously known as the black mecca of the Americas, is the home of important landmarks of New York City such as the Apollo Theater and 125th. You will also find the Studio Museum and contemporary art galleries such as Tatiana Pagés Gallery.
In Brooklyn's Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum of Art is the city's second largest art museum with excellent collections of Egyptian art, Assyrian reliefs, 19th-century American art, and art from Africa and Oceania, among other things. Long Island City in Queens is home to a number of art museums, including the PS1 Contemporary Art Center, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of the Moving Image, which showcases movies and the televisual arts.
Science and technology
In New York City, no museum holds a sway over children like the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan's Upper West Side. Containing the Hayden Planetarium, incredible astronomy exhibits, animal dioramas, many rare and beautiful gems and mineral specimens, anthropology halls, and one of the largest collections of dinosaur skeletons in the world, this place offers plenty of stunning sights.
Near Times Square in the Theater District, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum takes up a pier on the Hudson River, with the aircraft carrier Intrepid docked here and holding some incredible air and space craft.
Over in the Flushing district of Queens, on the grounds of the former World's Fair, is the New York Hall of Science, which incorporates the Great Hall of the fair and now full of hands-on exhibits for kids to enjoy.
Another standout museum is the Transit Museum located in an abandoned station in Downtown Brooklyn. The old subway cars are a real treat and the museum is a must if you're in New York with kids (and well-worth it even if you're not).
Like all great cities, New York is made up of distinct neighborhoods, each of which has its own flavor. Many of the neighborhoods are popular with visitors, and all are best experienced on foot. See individual borough pages (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx , and Staten Island) for a comprehensive listing of neighborhoods.
Though the image many people have of Manhattan is endless skyscrapers and packed sidewalks, the city also boasts numerous lovely parks, ranging from small squares to the 850-acre Central Park, and there are worthwhile parks in every borough. From the views of the New Jersey Palisades from Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, to the grand Pelham Bay Park in The Bronx, and the famous Flushing Meadow Park in Corona, Queens, site of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, there is more than enough to keep any visitor busy. And almost any park is a great spot to rest, read, or just relax and watch the people streaming past. To find out more about New York City parks, look at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website and the WikiTravel pages for each borough.
Note that except for special events, all NYC parks are closed 1AM–6AM. Also, as a reminder to youngsters, it is illegal to climb trees in the park in New York City.
A general word of advice on sightseeing in New York:
Tourists often spend their entire vacation in New York standing in line (or as New Yorkers say, "standing on line"). This is often unnecessary; there are usually alternatives. For example, one can choose to avoid the Empire State Building during the day (it is open, and empty, late, until midnight or 2AM on weekends during summer), skip the Statue of Liberty in favor of the Staten Island Ferry, and stay away from the Guggenheim on Monday (it is one of the only museums open that day). Also, there is no reason to stand in line for a Broadway show if you already have a ticket with an assigned seat. If you prefer, get a drink nearby and come back closer to curtain time, when you can walk right in. The lines for bus tours can be absurd because tourists all seem to have the exact same itinerary - which is get on a bus in the morning in Times Square, get off for the Statue of Liberty, and finish on the East Side in the afternoon. Why not go downtown in the morning, and save Midtown for the afternoon? You will thank yourself for avoiding the crowds. Also, understand that buses are the slowest way to go crosstown in Midtown Manhattan during peak hours, and taxis are not much better. You are often better off either on foot or taking the subway.
Two tips for smart tourists, who realize that subway and foot tours are the way to go:
First, before you even leave your hotel, download a Google Map of New York City, including subways. This will let you keep track of your subway progress and make changes on the fly, even when you are without cell service on the subway.
Second, rather than sit on a bus going 3 MPH throughout New York City, take the subway to your preferred neighborhood and take a walking tour. There are a plethora of walking tour companies that will get you to all the spots you want to see within 2-3 hours. And since there are multiple walking tour companies, the prices are low! You shouldn't expect to pay any more than $30 - $35 for a 2-3 hour tour.
Theater and Performing Arts
New York's Broadway is famous for its many shows, especially musicals. You might want to visit TKTS online, which offers tickets for shows the same night at discounted prices, usually 50% off or visit BroadwayBox.com or NYTix.com, both community sites posting all recent Broadway discounts. TKTS has two offices, one at Times Square with lines often hours long, and a much faster one (sometimes minutes) at South Street Seaport (Corner of John St, just south of Brooklyn Bridge). Only cash is accepted at South Street. Show up at opening time for best selection. Tickets to most Broadway shows are also available from the Broadway Concierge and Ticket Center, inside the Times Square Visitor Center. They offer restaurant and hotel recommendations, parking help, and other services in addition to ticket sales, available in several languages.
New York boasts an enormous number and variety of theatrical performances. These shows usually fall into one of three categories: Broadway, Off-Broadway, or Off-Off-Broadway. Broadway refers to the shows near Times Square that usually play to theaters of 500 seats or more. These include the major musicals and big-name dramatic works, and are the most popular with visitors. Tickets for Broadway shows can run to $130 a seat, though discounters like TKTS (above) make cheaper seats available. Off-Broadway indicates performances that are smaller (less than 500 seats) and usually of a certain intellectual seriousness. Some of these theaters are located around Times Square in addition to different locations throughout Manhattan. Tickets to Off-Broadway shows tend to range from $25–50. Off-Off-Broadway refers to those shows that play to very small audiences (less than 100 seats) with actors working without equity. These can be dirt cheap and often very good, but some may be sufficiently avant-garde as to turn off conservative playgoers. Off-Off-Broadway Theaters worth checking out are Rising Sun Performance Company, Endtimes Productions, and The People's Improv Theater.
For current and upcoming Broadway and Off-Broadway info and listings, visit Playbill.com. This site also has lots of articles on what's going on in the NY commercial theater scene. Broadway.com and Newyorkcitytheatre.com also has plenty of info, as well as some videos and photos. Theatermania has many discounts to the bigger shows, and also provides listings for the Off-Off scene. If visiting in the summer, brave the huge lines and attempt to get tickets to the Public Theater annual "Shakespeare in the Park," which often features big-time stars of stage and screen. Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Natalie Portman, and Liev Schrieber are just a few of the actors to have appeared here in recent years. Oh, and it's free. Just get to one of the box offices ridiculously early, especially the one at the Park.
It's possible to purchase tickets to The Tony Awards, Broadway's biggest award ceremony and the culmination of the theatrical season in the city. These aren't cheap, but if you're into the theater scene and know something about the various performers being honored, it can be an exciting night. In any case, the performances are always fun, and you can catch moments that aren't in the broadcast. Always the first or second Sunday night in June, visit The Tony Awards website for the most current details.
New York has a wide variety of musical and dance companies, including several that are among the world's most renowned. There are also numerous small companies putting on more idiosyncratic shows every night of the week. The following are just a few of New York's most high-profile music and dance options.
Subway: N, Q, or R to 57th Street-7th Avenue.
Subway: 1 to 66th Street-Lincoln Center
New York is one of the world's greatest film cities, home to a huge number of theaters playing independent and repertory programs. Many major US studio releases open earlier in New York than elsewhere (especially in the autumn) and can be found at the major cineplexes (AMC, United Artists, etc.) around the city. As with everything else in New York, movies are quite popular, and even relatively obscure films at unappealing times of the day can still be sold out. It's best to get tickets in advance whenever possible.
As many films premiere in New York, you can often catch a moderated discussion with the director or cast after the show. Sometimes even repertory films will have post-screening discussions or parties. Check listings for details.
In addition to the more than 15 commercial multiplexes located throughout the city, some of the more intriguing New York film options include:
Subway: N or R to Prince Street.
New York City hosts many parades, street festivals and outdoor pageants. These are some of the most famous:
New York is arguably the fashion capital of the United States, and is a major shopping destination for people around the world. The city boasts an unmatched range of department stores, boutiques, and specialty shops. Some neighborhoods boast more shopping options than most other American cities and have become famous as consumer destinations. Anything you could possibly want to buy can be found in New York, including clothing, cameras, computers and accessories, music, musical instruments, electronic equipment, art supplies, sporting goods, and all kinds of foodstuffs and kitchen appliances. See the borough pages and district sub-pages for listings of some of the more important stores and major business districts, of which there are several.
Anyone can freely create, display, and sell art, including paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, DVDs, and CDs, based on freedom of speech rights. Thousands of artists earn their livings on NYC streets and in parks. Common places to find street artists selling their work are SoHo in Lower Manhattan and near the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 81st Street.
New York City has a number of retail outlet locations, offering substantial discounts and the opportunity to purchase ends-of-line and factory seconds. Century 21 in Manhattan is one of the largest stores where New Yorkers get designer clothing for less.
Basic food, drinks, snacks, medicine, and toiletries can be found at decent prices at the ubiquitous Walgreens/Duane Reade, CVS, and Rite Aid stores. For a more authentically New York experience, stop by one of the thousands of bodegas/delis/groceries. Although sometimes dirty-looking in apparent need of repair, you can purchase groceries, water, inexpensive flowers, coffee, and cooked food – typically 24/7.
Shopping in airports
Most shops in NYC airports are chain outlets, the same as can be found in most of large airports in the world--so it's pretty difficult to feel the spirit of the fashion capital if you only have 2 hours waiting for a connecting flight. At JFK airport, JetBlue Airways' new terminal 5 is populated with modern, cutting-edge restaurants and shops, but terminals 4 and 8 are also a good place for retail and duty free shopping.
From Newark, the best shopping can be found in United Airlines' main hub in Terminal C which has a massive selection of restaurants and shops with the offering from Terminal B being pretty poor in comparison (although the Port Authority is making improvements as of 2012), and almost non-existent from the domestic Terminal A.
In New York City it is common for street vendors to set up tables on the sidewalk, close to the curb, and sell items. They are required to obtain a permit to perform this activity, but it is legal. Purchasing from these vendors is generally legitimate, although buying brand name goods from these vendors (particularly expensive clothing and movies) is ill advised as the products being sold may be cheap imitation products. It is considered safe to buy less expensive goods from these vendors, but most will not accept payment by credit card, so you will have to bring money. Be particularly wary of any street vendor that does not sell from a table (especially vendors who approach you with their merchandise in a briefcase) as these goods are almost certainly cheap imitation products.
For most, a trip to the Big Apple isn’t complete without some memorable gifts and souvenirs to take back. There is a wide range of gifts and souvenirs that fits the needs and wants of every traveler or visitor to the city. For traditional types of souvenirs such as shot glasses, t-shirts etc, there are numerous shops that cater to these types of products in Manhattan. I Love NY Gifts has stores in Times Square and Herald Square and sells products with I Love NY logo and other products related to NYPD and FDNY among others. Other Independent shops also sell traditional gifts and souvenirs around said areas. In Chinatown, you can find similar products for much lower prices.
New York hosts many small/independent companies that design and/or produce gifts and souvenirs that in turn commission local NYC artists for the products. Many of theses items can be found in shops in certain neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. One of the best places to shop for local products is Chelsea Market, where it is worth a visit for the food alone. Another noteworthy mention in NYC-2U, an online shopping store for NYC-related and locally produced NYC products. NYC-2U offers free delivery to visitors and travelers who are staying in hotels or addresses in the city, notably for Airbnb, Vrbo etc.
New York has, as you might expect of the Big Apple, all the eating options covered and you can find almost every type of food available and every cuisine of the world represented. There are tens of thousands of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, ranging from dingy $0.99-a-slice pizza joints to $500-a-plate prix fixe sushi and exclusive Michelin-starred eateries. Thousands of delis, bodegas, and grocery stores dot every corner of the city and DIY meals are easy and cheap to find. Street food comes in various tastes, ranging from the ubiquitous New York hot dog vendors to the many carts with Middle Eastern cuisine on street corners in mid-town. However in Midtown be wary of restaurants and bars both immediately on and around Times Square, within the Theater District or near the Empire State Building - many are tourist traps cashing in on travelers' gullibility and lack of local knowledge. New Yorkers wouldn't dream of eating out in such places; you shouldn't either! It pays to be adventurous therefore and reach out into the individual neighborhoods for a true authentic NYC dining experience. Even within Midtown, going a couple of blocks away in any direction from a major tourist street can make all the difference. Instead of eating on Times Square for example, venture two blocks to the west onto 9th Avenue to find a plethora of much more reasonably priced eating and drinking options.
One "must do" while in New York City is a slice of New York style pizza. Whether it's your first time to New York, or you are a seasoned New York visitor, getting a "slice of pie" is a tradition every visitor should make time for! But before you do, it might be fun to learn the history of New York pizza and why it's so famous.
Fruit stalls appear at many intersections from Spring to Fall with ready to eat strawberries, bananas, apples, etc available at very low cost. Vegetarians will find New York to be a paradise with hundreds of vegetarian-only restaurants and good veggie options in even the most expensive places.
Delis & Street Food
Maybe it's the size of New Yorkers' tiny kitchens, or perhaps it's the enormous melting-pot immigrant populations, but either way, this city excels at every kind of restaurant. There are fancy famous-chef restaurants, all ethnic cuisines and fusion/updates of ethnic cuisines (second-generation immigrants tweaking their family tradition), plus all the fashionable spots, casual bistros, lounges for drinking and noshing and more.
While most restaurants accept credit cards, some smaller restaurants, particularly in Chinatown and Williamsburg, do not. Others have required minimum purchase amounts for credit/debit purchases. Most establishments will prominently display this requirement, so keep your eyes open if you typically pay for meals with plastic.
As in the rest of the United States, tipping is expected in New York restaurants. New Yorkers often calculate the base tip by doubling the tax. For more information, see Tipping in the United States.
Restaurants with meal courses under $20 are unlikely to have any preference about what their customers wear. Of course, like most major cities, New York has some expensive, extremely fashionable restaurants that care about, and enforce, a certain level of dress among their customers - but "jackets only" restaurants are very uncommon nowadays.
If you're from elsewhere in the US and wish to "pass" as a local within Manhattan, pay attention to your shoes and coat.
New York is a friendly place for vegetarians and vegans. There are many vegetarian only restaurants with offerings varying from macrobiotic food to Ayurvedic thalis or Asian Buddhist food. But, more importantly, almost every restaurant at every point on the price scale has vegetarian dishes that are more than an afterthought. Even Per Se, one of the most expensive and sought after restaurants in the city, has a seven course vegetarian tasting menu well worth the expense. DIY vegetarians will have no problem finding fresh vegetables, a wide variety of cheese, bread and prepared vegetarian foods in New York supermarkets.
Nothing differentiates New York more from other American cities than the astonishing amount of food cooked and served on the streets. Starting with the thousands of hot dog stands on almost every street corner (try Hallo Berlin on 54th and Fifth for the best rated sausages), the possibilities are endless. People trek to Jackson Heights in Queens for a nibble of the famous arepas of the Arepa Lady. Freshly cooked Indian dosas are served up for a pittance at the NY Dosas stand in Washington Square Park. The Trinidadian/Pakistani Trinipak cart on 43rd and Sixth. Danny Meyer, the famous restaurateur, has a burger stand ("Shake Shack") in Madison Square Park as well as a new location on the upper west side. The halal offerings in midtown are legendary (Kwik-Meal on 45th and Sixth; Chicken Guy/Halal Chicken on 53rd and Sixth and many others). Most carts serve lunch (from about eleven in the morning to five or six in the evening) and disappear after dark, so look for a cart near you, smell what's cooking, and enjoy a hot and often tasty lunch for a few dollars (a meal costs anywhere from about $2-8). Mornings, from about 6AM-10AM, the streets are dotted with coffee carts that sell coffee, croissants, bagels, and danish pastries and are good for a cheap breakfast: small coffee and bagel for a dollar or so. From 10AM to 7PM many vendors sell lunch and dinner choices, including hot dogs, hamburgers, gyros, and halal. Other street vendors sell italian ices, pretzels, ice cream, and roasted peanuts. Also, look around for the coffee truck (often found in Union Square), dessert truck, as well as Belgian waffle truck that roam around the city.
Do It Yourself
New York's many markets and grocery stores make preparing your own food interesting and easy. Almost every grocery store, deli, or bodega has a prepared foods section where you can make your own salad (beware, you are charged by the pound!) or buy ready to eat foods such as burritos, tacos, curries and rice, lasagna, pastas, pre-prepared or freshly-made sandwiches, and many other types of foods. Whole Foods has five New York City locations, all with a variety of foods, and a clean place to sit and eat but any supermarket will have enough to take away to the park or your hotel room for a low cost meal. If you have a place to cook, you'll find almost any kind of food in New York though you may have to travel to the outer boroughs for ethnic ingredients. Most supermarkets have Thai, Chinese, and Indian sauces to add flavor to your pot, and many, especially in upper Manhattan, have the ingredients necessary for a Mexican or Central American meal, but go to Chinatown for the best Chinese ingredients, Little India in Murray Hill for Indian ingredients, Flushing for all things Chinese or Korean, Jackson Heights for Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Indian, Flatbush and Crown Heights for Jamaican, Williamsburg for Kosher, Greenpoint for Polish, or Brighton Beach for Russian & Eastern European. Ask around for where you can get your favorite ethnic ingredients and you'll find traveling around in local neighborhoods a rewarding experience. There is also a Trader Joe's at Union Square for cheap but delicious supermarket buys. Western Beef Supermarkets offer more foods from different ethnicities than average supermarkets.
The only thing about New York City that changes faster than the restaurants is the bar scene. While some established watering holes have been around for decades or centuries, the hot spot of the moment may well have opened last week and could likely close just as quickly. The best way to find a decent bar is to ask the advice of a native dweller with trustworthy taste.
The following is a general overview of the popular neighborhoods for a night out. For more specific suggestions, see the relevant district pages.
Last call is 4AM, although many establishments will let you stay beyond that, especially in the outer boroughs. It is not uncommon to be locked in a bar after 4AM so people can keep drinking.
Travelers from abroad should always follow local tipping customs when it comes to drinking at a bar. New York bartenders expect $1 for each drink served, even if it is a simple can of beer. The reason it's expected is that it represents the overwhelming majority of the bartender's wage. The bar owner typically does not pay the bar staff, with the exception of a symbolic "shift pay," which can be less than $5 an hour before taxes. The result is that on a slow night a bartender may make close to nothing, whereas on a busy Saturday they can walk out with a great deal of cash.
Seasoned bartenders will not hesitate to remind the drinker of this custom, and it is sometimes assumed that non-tipping foreigners are consciously withholding tips despite knowing better. A customer who does not tip may find the level of service drop precipitously.
While those not accustomed to this system may object to essentially bankrolling the salary of the staff, note that many bartenders will "buy back" your 3rd or 4th round (i.e. you get it for free), which can balance it out.
In short, happy bartenders make happy customers, and your generosity will usually be rewarded.
In New York State (this includes NYC), wine and liquor are sold at liquor stores, and are not sold at delis or supermarkets. Beer cannot be bought 4AM-8AM on Sunday morning (although if you look hard, you can get around this).
Liquor, wine and beer are almost always sold to you with a paper or plastic bag. Keep this bag on the alcohol. It is frowned upon to carry alcohol openly in the streets, as it is assumed you might be consuming it.
There are various local beers to try. Chelsea Brewing Company, Flagship Brewery, Heartland Brewery, and Brooklyn Brewery are worth a visit.
In New York, as in most of the US, the legal drinking age is 21. Even if you're well over 21, make sure to keep your driver's license (sufficient for US & Canadian citizens), national ID card (usually sufficient for European citizens) or passport (sufficient for everyone else) at hand. Especially in touristy neighborhoods, it's not uncommon to be asked to prove your age as a matter of policy or court order - even at a restaurant. Outside of the touristy areas, and especially in Brooklyn, people tend to be more relaxed. However the State of New York allows under-age drinking provided that it is on private premises that do not retail alcohol and has parental consent. Under-age drinking is also allowed for religious purposes.
The costs of hotel accommodation in New York City is generally higher than the American average. Manhattan in particular has some of the most expensive accommodation in the world, although some bargain hotels can still be found. Expect to pay up to $50 for a hostel, $100-200 for a budget room with shared bath, $250-350 for a mid-range hotel with a decent room and a restaurant and/or room service; right up to world famous luxury hotels such as the Waldorf Astoria or The Plaza, where a stay in the top suites can run into thousands of dollars a night. There is no shortage of choice and all of the major international hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and Holiday Inn each have multiple properties in Manhattan. Most rooms below $200 in Manhattan are small with room for a bed, a tv, and little else, and may be located in less attractive areas of the island - for instance along the West Side Highway, or on the northern reaches beyond Central Park.
Alternatives to Manhattan accommodations
You don't have to stay in Manhattan. There are many hotels just outside Manhattan in Long Island City, Queens, Brooklyn and New Jersey that are cheaper than hotels in Manhattan. Also, due to the high accommodation prices and insider knowledge of the locals, you may want to consider a hospitality exchange!
Lower accommodation prices are also generally available in January and February, the end of August, and on Sunday nights.
Room rates are typically quoted excluding taxes, so expect your actual bill to be higher than the quoted rate. Taxes include New York State and New York City sales tax (8.875%), a New York City Hotel Occupancy Tax (varies but, for rooms above $40, $2 + 5.875%), and a surcharge of $1.50. For a $100 per night room, expect to pay $117.75, after taxes are taken into account.
Wi-Fi is available in city parks and quite a few public libraries. The Apple store has dozens of computers setup and doesn't seem to mind that many people use them for free internet access, but they can be pretty busy at times. Easy Internet Cafe and FedEx Office are just some of the internet cafes which offer broadband internet at reasonable prices. Finding a store with an open power outlet may be difficult so be sure your device is fully charged and its battery is working properly.
Public phones are found all over the city so carry quarters if you plan to use them. Remember to include the 1 and area code when dialing from any phone in NYC - including private "land line" phones in buildings - as 11-digit dialing is always in effect, even when dialing locally.
For choosing a mobile network OpenSignal provide crowdsourced cellular coverage maps of New York for comparing the carriers. Note, in US English "carrier" means "network" or "mobile network operator. Be aware that some operators (such as Sprint and Verizon) use CDMA, this means you cannot get a SIM from these carriers. In addition, operators may use different network bands to those your phone uses, make sure you check this. You can also find information on network bands used by each network on OpenSignal's network specific pages (e.g. T-Mobile network coverage, AT&T network coverage).
If you are traveling from overseas, you may need to unlock your cellphone before it can be used with a local carrier. One store that specializes in this service is New Wave Inc., located in Midtown Manhattan. (New Wave Inc.)
New York is statistically the safest large city in the United States and miles away from its situation during the 1990s when it was considered the "murder capital of the United States". Its crime rate per person is lower than the national average and many small towns and there is high police presence almost everywhere in the city today. However there are some things to watch out for such as:
Law Enforcement in NYC- The New York Police Department has full police powers within the 5 boroughs. NYPD marked cruisers are white body with blue decals and lettering. New York Sheriff also have jurisdiction. The NYPD is the largest police force in America. The NYPD invested in sophisicated techonology and equipment to deter crime and terrorism. CCTV cameras are in use in several areas of the city and NYPD has special units in the city that is strategically placed to ensure that the city is safe. NYPD police vehicles have bulletproof shielding on their vehicles and bulletproof glass inserts on the driver and passenger side doors. New York State Police Troop NYC divison also assists local police and troop NYC division have jurisdiction in NYC. The port authority police department which is a bi-state agency between New York and New Jersey have police powers in both states. The Port Authority Police provides law enforcement services to all airports- John F Kennedy, La Guardia, Newark Liberty, Teteroboro and Stewart Airports. They also provide law enforcement services to all sea ports, bridges and tunnels in and out of city, Bus Terminals,Port Authority Trans Hudson and World Trade Center, however they can arrest and question anyone in NY and NJ.
Scams - New York City can be considered a scammer's paradise due to the large variety of scams found all around the city. Probably the most famous one is the "pay here for the ferry to Staten Island"; never fall for this one because the Staten Island ferry is completely free! In Times Square avoid people selling fake CDs and especially the costumed characters. These characters are waiting for tourists to get pictures with them and then ask for a heavy tip. Don't take photos of them without their permission and be careful as they sometimes jump in front of your camera, without you having invited them, and then demand a tip for their "appearance". If they persist just notify the police and they will take care of the situation. There are also many fake "monks" in the area trying to lure people into giving them money for a good cause. All around the city there are many stores selling fake products directly aimed at tourists (locals know about them so they avoid them) such as bags, necklaces, rings, mobile phones, iPads etc. Finally, don't give money to beggars in the metro as most of them are lying and just trying to trick passengers.
Traffic - New York City's traffic especially in central Manhattan can be chaotic at times. Traffic jams are frequent, signs can be confusing and due to the fact that pedestrian streets are very crowded there have been many fatalities. Keep in mind that car break-ins are unfortunately not infrequent in the city; don't leave anything valuable inside your car that can be seen from the outside. If you decide to move by taxi don't enter unmarked cabs as these cabs aren't monitored by the central authorities responsible for taxis. Stick to the professional yellow ones that have a sign above them saying the driver's name and license plate.
Subway - The NYC subway has always suffered from a bad reputation due to the very high amount of crimes that happened during the 1990s. The truth is though that, despite the fact that tourists still need to exercise caution, the situation has improved a whole lot since then. Always be careful of your belongings as pickpockets run rampant inside the trains. Don't take the subway late at night and if you do avoid empty cars and preferably sit in the middle one (the conductors department). Stay alert in deserted stations outside the city center.
Nightfall - After nightfall stick to the main avenues, beware of your surroundings and don't enter dark, deserted alleys (as you would do in any other city). Females will usually have no problems if they stay in crowded places but it's always better to go out with other people and not solo. Don't enter public parks after the sun has set.
Don't be afraid to ask New Yorkers about directions or anything that concerns you. Despite stereotypes, most people here are friendly and no matter how busy they are always happy to help tourists.
Despite the fact that crime in NYC has been decreased by 80% since the turn of the century there are still many areas that can still be considered dangerous. Most of them however are out of the city center and have little to no things for tourists to see. Here are some neighboorhoods:
New York is, along with San Francisco, by far the most expensive city in the United States in which to both live and visit, although from a tourist perspective, you can expect the costs to be comparable to other major "world cities" such as London, Paris and Tokyo. One of the biggest expenses when visiting New York is accommodation - the median rate for a decent hotel room in Manhattan seldom dips below $200 a night for example, although there are techniques (see the "#Sleep" section above) to lower the cost. On the flip side, eating out in restaurants - is relatively inexpensive given the massive amount of competition and choice on offer. As with most major tourist destinations, New York has its fair share of "tourist traps" in terms of eating and drinking options, which can trap the unwary.
Smoking in public places is highly restricted. It is prohibited in indoor sections of bars, restaurants, subway stations and trains (all transit system property), public parks, public beaches, pedestrian malls, both indoor and outdoor stadiums and sports arenas, and many other public places. If you light up in any of these places, you are subject to a summons and fine, ejection, and/or indignant reactions from residents. There do remain a small number of legal cigar bars that are exempt, as are the outside areas of sidewalk cafes and the like, but these are very much the exception. If you need to smoke while eating or drinking, be prepared to take a break and join the rest of the smokers outside, whatever the weather; many establishments have large space heaters. As in most US cities, drinking alcoholic beverages on the street is illegal, so bars will not let you take your drink outside.
Not a complete list.
Locals would ask why you ever want to leave, but New York is a great jumping-off point to other locations in the metro area (including New Jersey and Connecticut) or anywhere in the Boston-Washington Megalopolis corridor.