Traveling to the Big Apple this summer? Whether you’re a first time visitor or a frequent flyer to NYC, it can be tough to sort through all the nitty gritty details. Here are a few of our favorite New York Vacation Tips to help you get through planning the perfect trip. From searching for hotel discounts to skipping the line at attractions and beyond, these tips are sure to come in handy. Don’t forget to pick up a New York Go Select Pass to save on all your attraction visits!
Getting to NYC
Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll need to book a flight to NYC. Unless you have some frequent flier miles stocked up, or an unshakeable loyalty to one particular airline, sites that compile most possible flight prices for your comparison are your best bet. Some of the most popular sites include Kayak (which compares prices between all the different discount sites), Expedia, Travelzoo, Hotwire, and the bid-oriented site Priceline. You can’t find every open flight on these sites (remember that affordable carrier Southwest does not post fares on these sites), but they’re a great place to start. Students of all ages should also check out Student Universe for some steep discounts. You need to pay a membership fee to use their site, but if you travel even semi-regularly it’s definitely worth the significant savings.
You should also keep in mind that all of the NYC area airports require a significant drive from the airport to reach the heart of Manhattan. JFK is the most popular airport, although many find better fares flying into nearby Newark, NJ (which does offer train service into NYC – a much better deal than a taxi or town car). Be sure to factor transportation costs to and from the airport into your budget.
Finding a Place to Stay
If you’re not staying with a friend or family member during your vacation, you’ll have to book a hotel. Hotels.com remains the most reliable and comprehensive booking site for hotels in the US, and they frequently offer special discounts on pricing only available through their site. Priceline and Hotwire are also solid, and newcomer trivago is quickly gaining popularity. As with flights, many frequent travelers prefer to begin with Kayak because of its flexibility, although you should be aware that their initial pricing can often be misleading in a market like NYC where hotel prices fluctuate dramatically over the course of a week and season.
Choose the location of your hotel carefully. In addition to reading a bunch of reviews before booking, you should also scope out a map of the area to see what’s around. It’s always tempting to stay in Midtown in the heart of things (which is a great option, but is also going to be the priciest option), but there are plenty of other great choices when looking to stay in New York – even more if you’re willing to hop a train for your sightseeing and come from New Jersey or Brooklyn.
Getting Around NYC
This is pretty much a no-brainer. Even if you’ve driven to the city, find some cheap long-term parking and leave the car there. Between NYC traffic, impossible parking near attractions, and the stress and confusion that comes with driving in a strange city, it’s not worth it to try to drive yourself around. Taxis are solid for late night trips (home from dinner or a club, for example), but your best bet during the day is going to be the subway system. The MTA is a sprawling system that covers the entire city and beyond. If you include the regional rail networks that come into Penn Station, you’re also able to get to Long Island and New Jersey without much trouble. The system can seem overwhelming at first, so we recommend acquiring a subway map and consulting it discreetly in advance. (The MTA website’s trip planner service can be a big help here.)
Depending on how long you’re in the city for, you have a few options for purchasing your MTA passes. MetroCards are good for both bus and subway and are refillable, so if you run low you can easily add more money on the same card. The MTA website estimates that if you’re planning on taking 13 or fewer trips during your visit (that’s only six round trips), then you’re better off just paying for your fares by adding money to a MetroCard. If you think you’ll be taking the subway or bus more than that, then the 7-Day unlimited pass is best for you. It costs only $30 and is good for an entire week. Keep in mind when deciding that your base fare for a round trip is $5. (Note: the initial purchase price of a MetroCard includes a $1 new card fee)
The best way to enjoy the best tours, museums, and activities a city has to offer is by picking up a discount attractions pass. The New York Go Select Pass is a great option for travelers that love to plan ahead. Pay for only the attractions you want to see, and don’t feel constrained by an either/or choice. You can take up to 30 days to visit all of your chosen attractions, which means that this pass can potentially be used for more than one trip. The New York Pass also includes extra VIP benefits like skip the line privileges at top attractions (a must-have for places like the Empire State Building) and included admission to some special exhibits and shows.
With more than 60 different options to choose from, you’ll save on practically everything you want to do in New York with a New York Pass. From helicopter tours and scavenger hunts to top museums and historical sites, the New York Go Select Pass can be custom-built to create your perfect itinerary. With Smart Destinations’ exclusive digital delivery option, the New York Pass is easy to obtain and even easier to use. Display on your smartphone for admission or print it out if you prefer. If you have less of a definite idea about what you want to see, consider the New York Explorer Pass, which allows you to choose the attractions you want to see as you go along. It’s also available for your mobile phone, so you don’t need to worry about keeping track of tickets or paper booklets. Both the New York Explorer Pass and the New York Pass are invaluable savings resources on any New York vacation. Happy Traveling!