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It’s no secret New York City is one of the most popular destinations worldwide. In fact, the city expects to welcome 64.5 million tourists in 2024 alone. Visitors are drawn to NYC’s vibrant culture and diversity, renowned museums and galleries, and iconic landmarks and attractions. No matter how many times you’ve visited, you’re sure to have a unique, memorable experience. However, there’s nothing quite like visiting NYC for the first time. Before your trip, there are a few tips for visiting NYC for the first time you might want to consider.

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Plan When to Visit

Most tourists flock to the city from late May through early September and November through Christmas. April through mid-May and September through October still see an uptick in vacationers, but crowds are more manageable during this time than during the high season. The low season begins just after January and continues through late March.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

While this might be a given, it’s crucial to have comfortable shoes with good arch support and cushioning packed when visiting NYC for the first time. You’ll be spending many hours each day exploring neighborhoods, navigating the subway, and standing in lines. Without a good pair of shoes, you could end up with blisters, aches, or foot fatigue that will dampen your trip.

Download a Public Transportation App

Even if you’re familiar with other public transportation systems, NYC’s is very complex. Its metro operates 24 hours a day and has five different service patterns depending on the time of day, including rush hour, midday, evening, weekend, and late night. An app like Citymapper is a must for first-timers looking for a no-fail approach to taking the train, bus, or airport shuttles.

Get a Metro Card

Speaking of the metro, one of the first things you should do once you arrive in NYC is purchase a 7-day unlimited pass. Single-trip passes will add up fast; each cost between $2 and $3. The 7-day unlimited pass costs more upfront, but it enables you to use the metro all over the city as many times as you want for less than $35.

Check Your Bags at Your Hotel

Another tip to take advantage of when you arrive is to look into checking your bags early at your hotel. Most NYC hotels will hold your bags before check-in or after check-out. If you arrive early to the city before standard check-in or aren’t leaving until later, check your bags and explore the surrounding area. Even though many hotels participate in this service, it’s a good idea to call ahead or talk to your travel agent about your plans.

Visit Different Boroughs

Many tourists end up spending most of their time in Manhattan when visiting NYC for the first time. However, the city’s four other boroughs–Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island–offer their own charms and intrigues. We recommend planning your trip to include spending one to three days per borough that you want to visit to see as much of the city as possible. This keeps you from being overwhelmed by the crowds in Manhattan.

See Lesser Known Attractions

The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Times Square are undoubtedly iconic attractions worth seeing. However, these landmarks also come with big crowds that could limit how much you can do and see on your trip overall. NYC is chock full of cool things to see and do, especially aside from its main points of interest.

Lesser known but worthy experiences include The Cloisters, the Tenement Museum, Washington Square Park, Prospect Park, and Roosevelt Island. Your metro card will cover trips on Roosevelt Island’s famous Tramway, which offers a fantastic aerial view of the city. If you still want to see NYC’s iconic landmarks, a boat tour on the East River scores you beautiful sights of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and the full Manhattan skyline.

Get Rush Tickets for the Theater

NYC’s theater district is second to none. Both Broadway and off-Broadway shows draw in tourists from all over the world. However, scoring tickets for these productions can be expensive. If you want to save on show tickets, consider getting rush tickets. These are discounted tickets sold on the day of performances. These tickets are usually for less popular seats but offer you the chance to see fantastic productions at a fraction of the price. They will be sold at the theater box office starting at box office opening times. Be prepared to wait in line and expect a limited number of options.

Plan Your Escape

Begin your adventure by filling out the form below or calling 1 (800) 245-8326 to contact one of our dedicated travel experts.

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