Experience The Best Of NYC In 72 Hours
Whether you have two days or two weeks to travel, our NYC city guide covers the must see sites, local food recommendations, where to stay, how much the city will cost, an example itinerary, and how to get around the city - including how to get to and from the airport.
Welcome to New York City, one of the few places in the world where there is, literally, a little something for everyone. Whether you’re a world class foodie wanting to eat at Michelin’s number one restaurant in the world (Eleven Madison Park, 2016), or spend $5 on fifteen mind blowing soup dumplings in Chinatown, New York has got you covered. We’ve got the Statue of Liberty for the history buffs, the museums and Broadway Theatre for the artistically inclined, and Central Park for all you bird watching freaks (...I’m sorry, you’re not freaks). In Brooklyn you can make a reservation at AXED to hone you’re axe throwing skills or go have tea and crumpets in the Alice In Wonderland themed cafe “Alice’s Tea Cup”. New York truly is a mecca of all things human. With a population of 8.5 million and an average of 60.5 million tourists per year, the experience can be daunting, but I’m here to tell you it’s as easy to manage as your family thanksgiving dinner. A little stressful? Sure. But it’s worth it, and you WILL end up having a good time.
Getting To & From The Airport
When you arrive in New York, chances are you’re flying into either JFK or LGA (LaGuardia). For those in the USA, I recommend LGA, but everyone else flying internationally will be at JFK. You have a number of options to get into the city from either airport.
Take the AirTrain to the E train, and that will take you straight into Manhattan. It will cost you about $7 and take about 1 hour. It’s simple, quick, and runs 24 hrs a day.
There are no subways that go to LGA, so you’re best bet is bus. I recommend taking the M60 cross town to 125th St and transferring to either the A or 1 train, depending on where you’re going. Roughly $3.50 with a free ticket transfer.
You can also take a cab from either airport for a rate of about $60. If you have time though, I would advise against it, because NYC yellow cabs are known for being less than honest, especially to tourists - they may jack up the price.
First Things First - Where/What To Eat?
Alright, now that the logistics are out of the way, let’s get down to one of my favorite parts of New York. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD.
Seriously, there is so much food in New York. More than you can ever hope to navigate. A few rules about New York Food:
1. CHEAP does NOT mean BAD. CHEAP does NOT mean BAD. CHEAP does NOT mean BAD.
2. EAT OFF OF THE FOOD TRUCKS. There is SO much culture on every corner and you’d be mad not to try it (NO. YOU WON’T GET SICK. STOP BEING SCARED. THE FOOD IS SAFE)
3. If you eat pizza with a fork and knife you will be publicly shamed.
4. Brunch only exists on Saturday and Sunday, every other day it’s just breakfast, and they are NOT the same thing.
CHEAP & EASY FOOD FINDS:
Dollar Slices. That’s right. $1 pieces of pizza. Dollar slices are a great delicious way to give you a little pick me up and they’re all over the place. Walk into any one of them and for $2.75 you can usually get 2 slices and a soda. They are a must have while in New York.
HALAL TRUCKS. Also everywhere. Walk up and order a quick chicken and rice with hot sauce and it will run you around $5-10, depending what fixins you like. Again, these are all over the place, so don’t be afraid to walk up to any one of them and get yourself a quick fix.
For the more health inlined, JUST SALAD is another great option. You can order from their website on your phone and pick it up at any location across the city for about $10.
Must-See's Of NYC
Exploring The Big Apple On Public Transportation
While you’re in the city you’ll be riding the subway a lot, and walking, A LOT. Doctors recommend 10,000 steps per day for a healthy person, but most New Yorkers average 15-20,000 steps per day. Get those feet ready.
Take The Subway!
You’re going to be riding the subway a lot. I recommend buying a week long unlimited metro card. It’s $33, and it may feel like you’re wasting those extra days not using it, but at $2.75 per ride the card will pay for itself in 12 rides. That’s 4 rides per day, which you’ll most certainly do if you’re getting out there and exploring. The subway runs 24hrs, but the late night train schedule can get super wonky. Make sure to read all advisories posted in the station daily so that you don’t end up in the middle of Bronx at 3am on a Thursday night….like I have.
NYC: The City That Never Sleeps
New York is known for its theatre, art, culture, and food. It’s everywhere, and your options are literally limitless. You can go to museums, see plays, musicals, burlesque shows, dancing and live music. Deciding what to see is the only hard part.
Where We Stay
Hostels or AirBNB are the way to go. DO NO STAY NEAR TIMES SQ. Honestly, I would get a spot in Astoria (Queens) at The Local NYC Hostel, or AirBNB’s in The East or West Village, Greenpoint (Brooklyn) or the Upper West Side. Much cheaper than hotels and you can explore the local areas outside of the city itself.
We choose to stay at the best hostels located in Astoria called The Local NYC Hostel. The Local has great guest rooms - all of the rooms have ensuite bathrooms, luxury linens and towels included, reading lights, bed dividers, large windows and locked storage space. Even better is the common space- a roof terrace to relax and take in the sunset over NYC's breathtaking skyline, a computer lounge to get some work done, book future travel or catch up with people back home, an event space where we show movies, display local art work, and host other events, a bar to grab a gourmet snack, coffee, local beer or signature cocktail and meet other guests and neighbors.
($50-$65 per night/per person depending on the time of year for a 4 person dorm)
Travel Tips & Helpful Hints
Do I need a visa? More than likely, yes you WILL need a visa. Check all the requirements here.
What is the power voltage? Historically 110 V, 115 V and 117 V have been used at different times and places in North America. Mains power is sometimes spoken of as 110 V; however, 120 V is the nominal voltage.
What about smoking weed or drinking in the streets? Drinking in the streets is generally acceptable, but be discreet. No obvious bottles (i recommend putting you booze in water bottles) but you should be fine. Smoking weed in public is best done at the park or you can do it on the street, but again, discretion. Just don't smoke in front of cop and you’re fine. No one is going to call the cops on you. The locals won’t care, and may even want to blaze with you.
Cell phones: Your iPhone will work just fine if you talk to your carrie beforehand about rates, otherwise there are TONS of shops in the midtown where you can get a burner phone for 30$. You can by “X” amount of minutes, and as much data as you think you’ll need. I HIGHLY recommend being able to use a smart phone, if for no other reason that GPS purposes.
What is the currency and its value? The dollar! Also America is weird in the sense that tax is almost never listed in the price of things. So a 1$ bottle of water may be 1.36$. New York is expensive. It just is. I’m sorry. I wish I could make it cheaper.
Tipping: TIP YOUR SERVER. TIP YOUR BARTENDER. TIP. TIP. TIP. DO NOT FORGET TO TIP. TIP THEM. 20%. ALWAYS. This may be the most important advice on here. In America, waitstaff and bartenders make their living off of tips. They don’t get paid a live-able wage and service charge is NEVER included on the bill. Their income is their tips. Whatever the total is, take 20% of that and add it on. EXAMPLE: Your check is 200$, so you should leave their having paid 240$. 200 toward the total, and 40$ toward tip.
Public Bathrooms: Public Bathrooms are a pain in the ass to find. Starbucks has an open door (hopefully not literally) policy on bathrooms, and so do most Whole Foods. If you’re really in a bind, just walk into a restaurant with confidence and head for the bathroom. If you have to, ask a server/bartender/host, and most likely they’ll let you in.
New Yorkers are NOT assholes: Ask any one of them any question and they will gladly help you. Everyone just has resting grumpy face, but don’t let that deter you from talking to them. And if they are an asshole, then just walk away. Easy.
48 hours in NYC Example Itinerary:
Grab a coffee and a bacon egg and cheese sandwich at the nearest bodega (corner store) and a variety of snacks for the day and hop on the train
Ride the ferry to the statue of liberty and spend some time on Ellis Island
Once finished, walk up to the 9/11 memorial, and then find a place to grab lunch(or eat packed lunch)
Hop on the subway and head to the East Village to explore bars and quirky shops (start getting your buzz on)
Go to a theatre show (hopefully SLEEP NO MORE) and take in some art (the wine at these shows is about 20$ PER GLASS. Pack your own for much cheaper, but don’t let them catch you). Afterwards you can see Times Square at night.
Find a nearby bagel place and get DOWN ON IT.
Spend ½ the day exploring central park. Bring a blanket, beers, books, and have yourself a boozy midday picnic
Head to chinatown and try unique street foods, as snacks, and get dinner at a soup dumplings joint.
Go to the Slipper Room at night. Get drunk and weird.
Wake up late and go chill in a coffee shop with some pastries
Head to Washington Sq Park, watch some street performers, and check out the bars in the area (its your last day of vacation, you’re not NOT drinking)
Head south and walk The Brooklyn Bridge (and explore the Brooklyn Promenade for amazing views) and take pics. Get some pizza
Treat yourself to a nice dinner head over to beer culture for night caps. You might even run into some Broadway stars there (I ran into a Jonas Brother there once...we think)
So What's It Going To Cost?
Food: Breakfast: $15 USD each morning.
Lunch: $5 USD each day (lots of pizza by the slice).
Dinner: $40 USD each evening.
Total for Food = $60 USD each/per day.
Beer: Between the beer we bought from the convenient store, from the hostel, and at the bars we spent anywhere from $4 -$10 per beer.
Total for Beer = $20 USD each/per day.
Accommodation: The Local NYC Hostel
For 2 people to stay 3 nights, we spent $300 (total).
Transportation (Including getting to and from the airport): We took the bus to and from the airport (LGA) which cost $3.50 per person, each way. In order to get around the city, we bought a week long unlimited metro card. It’s 33$, and it may feel like you’re wasting those extra days not using it, but at 2.75$ per ride the card will pay for itself in 12 rides. That’s 4 rides per day, which you’ll most certainly do if you’re getting out there and exploring.
Total for Transportation = $40 USD each.
Activities: We visited all the must-see sights and saw Sleep No More.
Total for Activities = $160 USD each.
So, What Did We Spend In 72 Hours?
$196 USD per person, per day.
*If you do not see Sleep No More, the cost per day would be about $150 USD per person, per day.
Where's Your Money Going?
This city guide was contributed by one of our SMP Ambassadors. Chris Berghoff is originally from Denver, Colorado. He has lived in New York for three years and is a professional actor and creative writer. "What I love about New York is that anyone who lives here wants to be the best in whatever their field is. The hustle and energy of the city is intoxicating."