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Whether it’s the lure of Times Square’s city lights, the captivating talent on Broadway, the divine taste of the black and white cookies, or the inviting gaze of Lady Liberty, New York City has an undeniable charm that attracts visitors from around the world. New York City, New York welcomes vacationers to plant themselves in the fervor of the fast-paced city and experience The Empire State’s magnetic pull.
The City is divided into five unique boroughs, all of which offer cheap hotel deals in NYC. Manhattan, one of the more popular boroughs, features New York hotels located near must-see destinations, including Central Park, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, and Times Square. These New York City hotels in Manhattan range from cozy affordable inns to ritzy high-rise accommodations to match any traveler’s preference and budget.
Another alluring borough, Brooklyn, which is home to the Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, and Prospect Park, is packed with inexpensive New York hotel deals as well. The other New York City boroughs, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens all provide an additional wealth of NYC hotels in the heart of the city’s magic, too.
Travelers to the Big Apple have the convenience of booking flights to New York on Expedia into one of the city’s three airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and LaGuardia Airport.
John F. Kennedy International Airport is roughly 15 miles outside of Manhattan. Travelers who don’t mind forking out a potentially hefty fare can hop into a cab from the airport, while others who prefer cheaper transportation often choose to take the much cheaper city bus or AirTrain JFK, which stops at the subway and the Long Island Rail Road.
Newark Liberty International Airport is located 16 miles from Manhattan, and cab rides from here can quickly rack up, especially if there’s traffic. Some travelers jump on the affordable AirNewark, which offers transportation to the NJ Transit and Amtrak, while others take shuttle buses.
As for transportation from LaGuardia Airport, which is only eight miles from Manhattan, visitors often opt to ride the city buses or shuttles, but cab rides from this airport are generally cheaper from than those from the other two airports.
In addition to convenient airports, New York City also boasts bus transportation from major cities, especially Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.
While visitors can reserve car rentals in New York City, do realize that driving through the city is not for the faint of heart. Taking the wheel in the city may mean facing aggressive drivers, perpetual traffic, and difficult street parking.Because of these deterrents, locals and visitors alike often choose to walk, ride the subway, or hail taxis instead.
Walking is a common form of getting around the city, but pedestrians will want to stay alert. At all hours of the day, the streets are jam packed and the sidewalks are crowded, so remain mindful of the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
New York City subway is an intricate system and one of the most popular ways to get around in the Big Apple. It runs 24/7 offering service to areas all over the city from the Broadway line stopping at Chinatown, Times Square, and Central Park, to the Six Avenue Line arriving at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, and Radio City Music Hall. To ride the subway, travelers must purchase a MetroCard from the station or at one of the various local grocery stores or newsstands.
The famous yellow taxis in New York City feature another way of traveling around in the city, especially Manhattan, but taxi fees are pricier than the subway fares. To hail down a taxi, stay clear of traffic on the side of the road and raise one hand in the air.
Things to Do
The blinding lights and gigantic video screens illuminate the 4-block strip of Times Square, attracting worldwide visitors to this brightly lit tourist spot. The fast-paced, noisy, crowded, and chaotic portion of Manhattan has a lure and charm quite unlike any other city. For an especially spectacular experience, wait to visit after the sun sets to see the city lights in all their glory. From the larger than life billboards and LED displays to the dazzling luxury hotels and entertainment galore, Times Square is a brilliant must-visit attraction for every first-time New York City vacationer.
Rockefeller Plaza is another prominent attraction for the city trekker on vacation in New York. Book tickets to a show at the perpetually popular Radio City Hall, which was once the largest theater in the world in 1932, and go behind the scenes of TV studios at the NBC Studio. Worldwide vacationers visit the plaza to lace up their skates and glide around on the famous ice skating rink, while others wait to visit during the winter to stand in awe of the brilliant holiday lights and massive Christmas Tree display. No trip to the concrete jungle is complete without a visit to this city hot spot.
Attending a performance on Broadway belongs on every things-to-do list for NYC vacationers with a few days to leisurely explore the city. The top theaters on Broadway, closest to Times Square, present famous performances and musicals with venues accommodating large audiences. Mamma Mia!, Chicago, The Lion King, and Wicked are just several popular productions with secured spots on Broadway for the past several years. Visitors can also land discount tickets to Off-Broadway shows, which generally feature more experimental productions performing to smaller crowds.
After indulging in some of the more flashy attractions in New York City, spoil yourself to an afternoon in the calm and quiet Central Park. Invite the kids and Fido along and let loose at a number of the park’s 21 playgrounds, or take a spin on the Central Park Carousel, which is among the largest carousels in the country. The 840-acre public park additionally features the Central Park Zoo, two ice skating rinks, rowboat rentals, and horse-drawn carriage rides. Spend all day exploring the park, and then head back to your pet friendly hotel with your kids and four-legged friend to kick back and relax.
Arts & Entertainment
You’d be pressed to find a city with more charm, culture, and pizzazz than New York City. As a result, it’s no wonder why NYC receives global recognition as the cultural capital of the world. After all, more than 800 different languages are spoken in New York City and various cultural movements trace back their roots to the big city. And due to the city’s major cultural influences, New York City established Carnegie Hall and The Metropolitan Museum of Art to further showcase its artistic elements. Carnegie Hall is a world-famous concert venue, while the Museum of Art is the largest art gallery in the U.S featuring more than two million works of art.
New York City certainly gains worldwide attention for Broadway, and rightfully so, considering the city is home to 40 theaters in the “Great White Way.” However, Broadway aside, New York City is a prominent hub for performing arts, as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts alone houses prestigious organizations, such as the New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, and the distinguished Juilliard School. Good luck finding anything more special than a reservation at a romantic hotel and box seats at the opera in the world’s cultural hub.
The Lenape people originally inhabited the New York City territory before European settlers arrived in 1609. Long before the creation of the now famous concrete jungle, during the early European settlement, the New York City area was regarded as a major trading post with an expansive slave industry. Years later, the settlers discontent with British rule, organized the Stamp Act Congress, which was one of the first moves against the British, contributing to the onset of the Revolutionary War. After the revolution, New York City became the temporary capital of the states where the founders drafted the Articles of Confederation and Bill of Rights, and inaugurated the country’s first president: George Washington.
New York City quickly became a hub for international growth during and after the Civil War, as it was a popular spot for immigrants to settle. Into the early 20th century, the city expanded, gaining attention as a hot spot for industries and commerce. Although like many major U.S. cities, NYC struggled through the Great Depression, but it gained resilience following the World War II. In modern days, New York City is perhaps remembered most for the September 11, 2001 attacks, which crippled the city, but reinstated the country’s national pride. The city is now a place of remembrance, but also a popular home to businesses, Starbucks on every corner, and none other than The Naked Cowboy.
The New York Yankees are one of the best things to come out of New York, perhaps only second to New York style pizza for some and Broadway for others. Holding the Major League Baseball record with a total of 27 World Series titles and 40 World Series appearances, the New York City team holds a monopoly over the MLB world. While the Yanks may play hardball, they aren’t NYC’s only baseball team, as the New York Mets represent the borough of Queens in the MLB. However, the Yankees often overshadow the Mets, as the latter has only taken home two World Series titles.
With two baseball teams playing for New York City, of course there had to be more than one football team. NYC features two NFL teams representing the metropolitan area, the New York Jets and the New York Giants. The New York Jets have only gone to the Super Bowl once, in which they won the championship, but they are only one of three NFL teams who have only won their sole Super Bowl appearance. Meanwhile the New York Giants, fee-fi-fo-fum and all, stomped out the competition and won all four of their Super Bowl appearances. Sports fans, treat yourself to a five star hotel and cheer on your favorite NYC sports teams while vacationing in the city.
The New York City nightlife scene is as eclectic as the weird and wonderful folks you see wandering the streets. Venture into the Lower East Side for cabaret-style venues and Bettie Page, 50’s pinup inspired lounges, or brave East Village for some liquid nitrogen infused cocktails and Gothic saloons. Or for an especially memorable evening, join the other night owls in the city which never sleeps and hop aboard the cruises from New York City to the harbor for partying and dancing on private charters.
Dress to the nines and receive VIP treatment at the trendiest and sexiest upscale clubs hosting world-class DJs or cozy up in the corner of a hole-in-the-wall dive bar with poetry readings or live music. New York City has a nightlife scene for every walk of life, so adventure into the various hot spots from the Meat Packing District, Williamsburg, to Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side to find your nightlife niche.
The New York City culinary scene is undoubtedly as eclectic and diverse as the city dwellers and tourists themselves. When a Yemeni cuisine craving hits, head to the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, while those fancying Guyanese, Bangladeshi, or Polish fare can swing by Queens for a variety of options. From Italian, Hungarian, Chinese, and Jamaican cooking, to Sri Lankan, Japanese, and Irish delicacies, the New York City neighborhood restaurants serve it all.
While foodies alike will delight at this gourmet New York City playground, visitors won’t want to miss the famous grub associated with this city hot spot. New York-style pizza, for example, with its huge, thin slices, is symbolic of the city’s cuisine. In fact, the nation’s very first pizzeria, Lombardi’s, opened up in Little Italy in 1905, and it still serves up hot pies today. Take a bite out of the Big Apple with other common treats, such as New York-style cheesecake, Manhattan clam chowder, black and white cookies, and Waldorf salad, among countless other Empire State goodies.
Shopping till you drop is no understatement in New York City. This shopping destination is a serious forerunner in the fashion realm with shops and boutiques galore in close vicinity to the hottest New York City hotels. Though some big brand names and commercial stores have taken over some of the quaint and artsy boutiques in certain neighborhoods such as Soho, various chic and vibrant shops still stand, attracting international fashionistas and trendsetters.
New York City is a treasure trove for bohemian jewelry, funky fashion, and strange souvenirs, and trinkets. Soho, Nolita, West Village, and East Village are alluring hunting grounds with unrivaled boutiques, while St. Marks Place serves up a perpetual street market with one-of-a-kind vendors. For more mainstream shopping, visitors walk the Fifth Avenue stretch between Rockefeller Center and Central park for the department stores and chain stores. And for those in search of the finer things in life, Madison Avenue is the mecca for high-end retailers and luxury designers.
The first rule to being a tourist in New York City is not to act like a tourist. Though this metropolis has recently welcomed roughly 50 million annual visitors, you want to avoid looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. In order to do so, refrain from further blocking the already congested city sidewalks and don’t take out an intricately folded walking map. When you stand still in the middle of the walkway to marvel at the skyscrapers or take advantage of a photo op, you’re only infuriating the others who are sharing the sidewalk with you. And when you pull out your enormous map, it not only labels you as a tourist, but it may also make you a target for pick pockets. Plan out your route ahead of time and use a map on your smart phone instead. As for those photo and aweing opportunities, remain aware of your surroundings and avoid congesting pedestrian traffic.
Although you may feel inspired by Fashion Week and the trendy celebrities who strut their stuff in six-heels in New York City, stilettos and fashionable footwear have no place in the sightseer’s attire. From circumnavigating Central Park, strolling Times Square, and browsing Fifth Avenue, to exploring the museums and touring Ellis Island, your feet will want the softest, coziest pair of shoes you can find. Leave your stylish shoes back at the New York City resort and save them for an evening where you can hop in a cab instead.
Personalities & Culture
New Yorkers have earned quite the reputation for being loud, outspoken, fast-paced, blunt, and often times impatient. Though these stereotypes certainly don’t characterize every New York local, these tendencies sometimes do reign true when it comes to tourists overtaking their city. To maintain peace with the locals, begin with mastering the pedestrian etiquette. For starters, jay walking is a perfectly acceptable form of crossing the street, so do so as you wish, but if you prefer not to, don’t block others from engaging. Keep with the flow of traffic, and stay to the right when standing on escalators or if you’re a slower walker. Walking through the streets of New York is much like driving on a busy street, so stick to your manners, and avoid stopping in the middle of the sidewalk or cutting off others.
Also be mindful of all the diverse cultures and ethnicities, which mix and blend to create this alluring eclectic cultural hub. This city welcomes diversity and immigrants from all around the world, with a huge population of Chinese, Jamaican, Russian, Italian, Polish, and Indian residents, among countless others. Keep an open mind and be respectful of different cultural customs, cuisine, music, and traditions you’ll find waiting for you just outside your boutique hotel.
Weather & Climate
Although New York City may be located in the northern part of the United States, don’t underestimate its summers. This city hotspot can experience temperatures in the high 90s and even low 100 degrees Fahrenheit with extreme humidity to boot, though the temps tend to generally hover between the 70s and 80 degree F mark. Winter, in contrast, can see temperatures around 20F with the possibility of snow. Nothing is quite as magical as the sight of the city’s first snowfall, when the snowflakes create a white blanket across the streets and structures. Though you might have to brave the chilly temperatures, during January through April you can usually land some of the most inexpensive New York hotel deals.
For less extreme temperatures and weather, a visit during spring or fall may be your ideal time to visit. During this time of year, the weather is much more mild, and perfect for catching the flowers blossoming in spring or the foliage changing colors in the autumn. The mornings and evenings can still be cool during these seasons, so it’s best to pack some layers to feel prepared against the unpredictable weather.
Regardless of whether the temperatures are soaring or plummeting in New York City, the massive skyscrapers, indulgent shopping destinations, and famous attractions are sure to distract you from whatever weather rolls through the city on your vacation.
Need some more ideas for your next trip here? Our Expedia Viewfinder bloggers have recommendations for your next visit. See some of their latest blog posts below about what to eat, where to drink, what to see, and what to do.