NYC, the city that never sleeps, city frequently compared with Mumbai and Shanghai, the place which lives and breathes finance and money and yeah.. Where there is the Trump tower! It’s always tricky to be a tourist in such a city where millions of people flock in for the same reason.. Tourism. New York City has something for each type of person. If you are a kind who loves nature, there’s central park, for the kinds who are into museums, there are tons of museums like Natural history and Madame Tussauds. If you are into tall buildings and great views, you have Trump Tower… oops sorry I meant Rockefeller or Empire State. If you like water, you have cruises and if you are from the remaining group, you have an exquisite nightlife and off-the-grid places which I won’t mention here!
So, in short, visiting this city for limited period requires planning. I had visited NYC twice before as a tourist and hence had a lot of confidence in my planning… which in hindsight turned out to be over confidence. Hence, here are some tips for all those of you who will be visiting the city for the first time.
Be sure who your companion is!
My first mistake was comparing this visit with the other two. The prior visits were with friends, today I had my wife with me! With wifey you need to allot time for romance and cut down time with your camera! With wifey, you need to be at the lunch/dinner places at the right time (with friends, meal is the least important aspect of the trip! ). Having good food at the right time trumps everything else, and wife’s happy! Happy wife, happy life!
Start Early and avoid driving if you can.
We woke up on a Saturday and decided to drive down to NYC for the weekend. Big mistake! We started at 8am in the morning from Boston. My wife is into museums and hence had decided to go to Natural History museum on Saturday and rest of NYC on Sunday. GPS said 3 hrs so my calculation gave us 6 hrs in the museum before it closed. Plenty of time huh?! Yes, but just on paper. Tackling food, traffic, wrong turns and time spent to find parking, we reached the museum at 2pm just to stand in an hour long line for tickets. So effectively we got to see the museum for just 2 hrs before we were kicked out. That evening we headed to central park, spent some nice moments and headed back to the place where we had planned to stay.
So, plan ahead, start early and to make most out of your visit, make sure you are on the streets of NYC by 8am. If you end up driving, there is tons of parking in uptown Manhattan and oh yes.. tickets to Natural History are a donation.. meaning you can pay “whatever you like”
Long Weekend + Day Pass! AVOID
The next mistake was to get a day pass. This is a $100 pass which gives you admissions to hundreds of attractions. So if you see more than $100 worth of places, you are in business! It had worked before, and hence I assumed it would work this time! The caveat was that it was a long weekend with huge lines everywhere. This is not a “fast pass” so you still have to stand in line to get tickets. Its just that you don’t have to swipe you credit card, that’s it!
Line to get to the top of empire state was 2 freaking hours, line at Liberty was similar. Half of the fun in visiting any place was gone by just standing in lines and looking at the wrist watch. We then took the hop on hop off bus just so that we could see more in less time. But by the time we finished Empire state and Liberty, it was past 6pm and these busses run only till 6. Of course, after 6, there is extra charge not included in the pass. NYC is designed to empty your pockets! It’s a city of money anyways! So now, we were walking from one place to another and taking subways in between.
So, avoid visiting NYC over a long weekend (4th July, 31st dec.. forget it!) and if you do anyways, do not buy a pass! It will be a total waste of money. Pass is a great deal on some odd day not over a long weekend. If you get a pass, then before starting your day, finalize 6 attractions totaling more than $100 and knock them off first. Then the rest of the day (if you still have some time) is a bonus.
Have plenty of time!
NYC is not a city you can check off your list in two days. So plan accordingly. First time visitors, knock off Empire state, Liberty, 9/11 and Wall Street. You will have all you need for your facebook and snapchat!
If you are going there just for a weekend, plan two to four top attractions from your list and then spend rest of the time on the streets. The streets and subway is where all the fun is. In addition to Manhattan, go to Queens, Brooklyn and Bronx. Absorb the city, eat good food, participate in street performances… after all that’s living life, not standing in line and spending $30 to go to a tall building to look down!