One of the world's greatest cities, New York (known as "The Big Apple", "NYC," and often called "New York City") is a global center for media, entertainment, art, fashion, research, finance, and trade. The bustling, cosmopolitan heart of the 4th largest metropolis in the world and by far the most populous city in the United States, New York has long been a key entry point and a defining city for the nation.
From the Statue of Liberty in the harbor to the Empire State Building towering over the Manhattan skyline, from the tunnels of the subway to the riches of Wall Street, from the bright signs of Times Square to the naturalistic beauty of Central Park, and from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York's landmarks are quintessential American landmarks. The city's neighborhoods and streets are so iconic they have become ingrained into the American consciousness. Here the power, wealth and culture of the United States is on full display in one of the largest and most iconic skylines in the world, in the food and music to be found around every corner, and in the diverse population of immigrants who come from every corner of the globe to take part in what this city has to offer.
Lying at the mouth of the Hudson River in the southernmost part of the state of the same name and at the center of the Mid-Atlantic region, New York City has a population of approximately 8.3 million people. The New York Metropolitan Area, which spans lower New York, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut, has a population of 18.9 million, making it the largest metropolitan area in the U.S.
New York City consists of five boroughs, which are five separate counties. Each borough has a unique culture and could be a large city in its own right. Within each borough individual neighborhoods, some only a few blocks in size, have personalities lauded in music and film. Where you live, work, and play in New York says something to New Yorkers about who you are.
The five New York boroughs are:
|Manhattan (New York County)|
The famous island between the Hudson and East Rivers where most of the skyscrapers are, with many diverse and unique neighborhoods. Manhattan is home to the Empire State Building in Midtown, Central Park, Times Square, Wall Street, Harlem, and the trendy neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and SoHo. It is also home to One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, which is the largest skyscraper in the western hemisphere as of 2021.
|Brooklyn (Kings County)|
The most populous borough, and formerly a separate city, south and east of Manhattan across the East River. Known for artists, music venues, beaches, and Coney Island.
|Queens (Queens County)|
U-shaped and located to the east of Manhattan, across the East River, and north, east, and south of Brooklyn. Queens is the home of the city's two international airports, the New York Mets professional baseball team, the United States Open Tennis Center, and New York City's second-largest Chinatown (in Flushing). With over 170 languages spoken, Queens is the most ethnically diverse region in the United States, and one of the most diverse in the world.
|The Bronx (Bronx County)|
North of Manhattan Island, the Bronx is home to the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Gardens, and the city's beloved New York Yankees professional baseball team.
|Staten Island (Richmond County)|
A large island in New York Harbor, south of Manhattan and just across the narrow Kill Van Kull from New Jersey. The borough has the unfortunate nickname of The Forgotten Borough, due to the fact that it lacks a subway connection and has a weaker political influence compared to the other boroughs. Unlike the rest of New York City, much of Staten Island has a somewhat suburban or even rural character.
New York City is a major global center of international finance, politics, communications, film, music, fashion, and culture, and is among the world's most important and influential cities. It is home to many world-class museums, art galleries, and theaters. Many of the world's largest corporations have their headquarters here. The headquarters of the United Nations is in New York and most countries have a consulate here. This city's influence on the world and all its inhabitants is hard to overstate, as decisions made within its boundaries often have impacts and ramifications around the globe.
Immigrants (and their descendants) from over 180 countries live here, making it one of, if not the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Travelers are attracted to New York City for its culture, energy and cosmopolitanism.
The first human settlers are believed to have arrived in the area at around 7000 BCE, though this settlement was later abandoned. A subsequent wave of settlers, known as the Lenape people, would then arrive at around 1000 BCE. Although they have been largely wiped out from the area since the days of European settlement, many of the thoroughfares used by them, such as Broadway, continue to be in use to this day.
The first Europeans to settle in the area were the Dutch in 1609, who named the colony New Amsterdam (Dutch: Nieuw Amsterdam). The colony was conquered by the British in 1664, who re-named the colony New York. Columbia University, the most prestigious in the city, and one of the most prestigious in the United States, was founded during the British colonial period in 1754.
For much of the War of Independence, New York City remained a British stronghold. The British only withdrew from the city in 1783, allowing George Washington's troops to march in and claim it for the United States of America. New York City became the first capital of the United States of America in 1789, though this status was short-lived as the capital was transferred to Philadelphia only a year later. Nevertheless, during that period, the first United States Congress was convened at what is now Federal Hall on Wall Street, and George Washington was also inaugurated as the first President of the United States on the steps of Federal Hall. The Supreme Court of the United States was first convened at the now-demolished Royal Exchange Building, which was adjacent to Federal Hall.
The borough of Manhattan is a long, narrow island nestled in a natural harbor. It is separated from The Bronx on the north east by the Harlem River (actually a tidal strait); from Queens and Brooklyn to the east and south by the East River (also a tidal strait); and from the State of New Jersey to the west and north by the Hudson River. Staten Island lies to the south west, across Upper New York Bay.
In Manhattan, the terms “uptown” and “north” mean northeast, while “downtown” and “south” mean to the southwest. To avoid confusion, simply use “uptown” and “downtown.” Street numbers continue from Manhattan into the Bronx, and the street numbers rise as one moves farther uptown (however, in the Bronx, there is no simple numerical grid, so there may be 7 blocks between 167 St. and 170 St., for example). Avenues run north and south. In Brooklyn, street numbers rise as one moves south. Queens streets are laid out in a perpendicular grid – street numbers rise as one moves toward the east, and avenues run east and west. Staten Island's grid system is small and insignificant, only covering one neighborhood.
The term “the city” may refer either to New York City as a whole, or to the borough of Manhattan alone, depending on the context. The other boroughs - Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens - are sometimes referred to as the "outer boroughs.”
|New York City|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
New York City has a humid continental climate and experiences all four seasons, with hot and humid summers (Jun-Sept), cool and dry autumns (Sept-Dec), cold winters (Dec-Mar), and wet springs (Mar-Jun). Average highs for January are around 38°F (3°C) and average highs for July are about 84°F (29°C). However, temperatures in the winter can go down to as low as 0°F (-18°C) and in the summer, temperatures can go as high as 100°F (38°C) or slightly higher. The temperature in any season is quite variable and it is not unusual to have a sunny 60°F (16°C) day in January followed by a snowy 25°F (-3°C) day. New York can also be prone to snowstorms and nor'easters (large storms similar to a tropical storm), which can dump as much as 2 feet (60 cm) of snow in 24–48 hours. Although snowstorms are a regular occurrence during the winter months, the snow rarely lies more than a few days before it partially melts. Major snowstorms can happen as early as Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) and as late as the second week in April, though this is not the norm. Tropical storms can also hit New York City in the summer and early fall, and with climate change occurring apace, they can bring truly torrential rains.
The diverse population runs the gamut from some of America's wealthiest celebrities and socialites to homeless people. New York's population, formed by millions of immigrants, has been diverse since the city's founding by the Dutch, and successive waves of immigration from virtually every nation in the world make New York a giant social experiment in cross-cultural harmony.
The city's ethnic heritage illuminates different neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. Manhattan's Chinatown remains a vibrant center of New York City's Chinese community, though the very large Chinese community in Flushing, Queens, has rivaled if not eclipsed it in importance, and three other Chinatowns have formed in New York City: the Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park; the Elmhurst Chinatown in Queens; and the Avenue U Chinatown in the Homecrest section of Brooklyn. Traces of the Lower East Side's once-thriving Jewish community still exist amid the gentrified neighborhood's trendy restaurants and bars, but there are Chasidic communities in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Harlem has been gentrifying and diversifying and remains a center of African-American culture in New York. East (Spanish) Harlem, though also significantly gentrified, still justifies its reputation as a large Hispanic neighborhood. Little known to most tourists are the large Dominican neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. Brooklyn's Greenpoint is famous for its formerly large and vibrant Polish community, of which only a bit remains, and the Flatbush section - once home to the Brooklyn Dodgers - is today a huge and thriving Caribbean and West Indian section. Queens and Brooklyn are known for being home to many of New York's immigrant groups, which since 1990 have included large numbers of Russians, Uzbeks, Chinese, Irish, French, Filipinos, Yugoslavians, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Africans, Arabs (from throughout the Middle East and northern Africa), Mexicans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Brazilians, Colombians and Jamaicans. Queens is the single most diverse area on Earth, having the most languages and ethnic groups living in one place.
New York City is home to 46 of the Fortune 500 companies. Its gross metropolitan product of $1.7 trillion is the largest of any American city and represents roughly 9% of the American economy. If it were a nation, the city would have the 16th-highest GDP in the world.
New York is the national center for several industries. It is the home of the three largest U.S. stock exchanges (NYSE, NASDAQ, and AMEX) and many banking and investment firms. Though these companies have traditionally been located in the area around Wall Street in the Financial District, many have offices in other parts of the city, such as Midtown. New York is the hub of the country's publishing, fashion, accounting, advertising, media, legal, theater, and art industries. The city boasts several top-tier hospitals and medical schools, which train more physicians than those in any other city in the world.
English is the primary language spoken by most New Yorkers, although in the many communities it is common to hear other languages from around the world. There are many Spanish-speaking neighborhoods with large Latino populations, and it is possible, albeit somewhat difficult, for a non-English-speaking tourist to get by in New York speaking only Spanish. Many establishments in the main commercial and tourist areas have Spanish-speaking staff on duty. Many municipal government services in New York City are also available in Chinese (Cantonese & Mandarin) and Spanish, and most federal and state government services are available in the latter as well. Yiddish is widely spoken among Chasidic Jews. Cantonese is the main language among New York City's Chinese community, though a significant minority are immigrants from Fuzhou and hence speak the Fuzhou dialect.
Traditionally, English in New York City was spoken with distinctive accents, with specific ethnic groups within the boroughs having unique accents. Some of these accents are notable for being among the few non-rhotic American accents. You may still encounter the traditional accents when talking to older working-class New Yorkers, though they are gradually dying out in favor of a more nearly general American accent. Due to its large Ashkenazi Jewish population, many Yiddish terms have also made their way into local English slang.
New York City (NYC IATA for all airports) is well connected by air with flights from almost every corner of the world. Three large airports, and several small ones, serve the region. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK IATA) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR IATA) are large international airports, while LaGuardia Airport (LGA IATA) is a busy domestic airport. All three airports are run by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
- Bus/subway - Connections between airports using the bus/subway/PATH trains are the cheapest option, but will require many transfers. Set aside a minimum of 2 hours for travel time.
- NYC Airporter bus - Provides services between JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airports for $24. Buses depart every 20–30 minutes. A bus transfer is required to the Newark Airport Express Bus at the Port Authority Bus Terminal for Newark Airport to and from JFK and LaGuardia Airports.
- Shared ride van services - Some companies as ETS Airport Shuttle and All County Express run very infrequent shared ride van service between airports. The cost of the ride between LGA and EWR is $32, $10 between LGA and JFK, and $29 between JFK and EWR.
- Taxis - the fastest option when changing airports. A taxi between JFK and LGA will cost about $25–29 and should take 30 minutes. A taxi between LGA and EWR will cost about $78 + tolls and should take 60–75 minutes. A taxi between JFK and EWR will cost about $85 + tolls and should take 60–75 minutes.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
- Main article: John F. Kennedy International Airport
1 John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK IATA). New York's main airport and a major hub for American, Delta, and JetBlue, as well as other domestic and international airlines. If you are arriving into New York by plane from overseas, it is likely that JFK will be your point of entry.
If you arrive at this airport from overseas, be prepared to wait in line at Customs & Border Protection, often over an hour if you are not a permanent resident of the United States. As cellphones are not allowed in waiting lines, you may want to bring a book or other non-digital entertainment. If you are departing from this airport, beware that it's a huge and congested airport with six terminals. Make sure you know what terminal you're leaving from before you get to the airport, and it's recommended that you arrive 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international ones, to check in and pass through security without a huge increase in blood pressure and/or a last minute dash worthy of the Olympics, but without any of the medals.
If you're going to Manhattan, you can get there by taxi for a flat fare of $52, bus plus subway for $2.75, or the AirTrain—a 24h people mover system that takes passengers to the nearby Jamaica subway and rail stations for $8 (AirTrain + subway card). From Jamaica you can take the NYC subway lines E, J or Z further into Brooklyn, Queens and the island of Manhattan, with travel time being between 50 and 60 minutes to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. A faster option is the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train to Penn Station taking 35 minutes and costing $4-8 from Jamaica Station.
Newark Liberty International Airport
- Main article: Newark Liberty International Airport
2 Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR IATA). In the state of New Jersey, west of Manhattan, serves as New York's second major international airport, New Jersey's primary airport, and a major hub for United Airlines. It is also the starting point of the world's longest nonstop commercial flight; the flight from Newark to Singapore on Singapore Airlines that takes a whopping 19 hours to cover a distance of 9,521 miles (15,323 km)
You can get into New York City by taxi for $50-70. Other taxi companies that run cabs to different destinations are also available from the airport. For a cheaper option, take the train: the NJ Transit commuter rail to Penn Station takes about 30 minutes and costs $15 each way.
The AirTrain Newark functions very similarly to its sister system at JFK, although the Newark system predates JFK's by a few years. The cars of the monorail are very small compared to other airport transit systems, so please make as much free space as possible. The monorail runs between the terminals, and to the parking lots, rental car facilities, and the Newark Airport station along the busy Northeast Corridor Line. From P4, shuttles are available to airport hotels. A bus is also available to the nearby Jersey Gardens outlet mall in Elizabeth.
Newark Airport's station along the Northeast Corridor gives it a major advantage over JFK and LGA, as long-distance Amtrak trains going as far south as Virginia, as far north as Massachusetts, and as far west as Harrisburg also stop at the station.
- Main article: LaGuardia Airport
3 LaGuardia Airport (LGA IATA). The smallest of the New York Metropolitan Area's three major airports, but also the closest to Midtown Manhattan. Almost all direct flights from LGA are to destinations within 1,500 miles. Most flights are domestic; however, there are international flights from LGA to Canada, Aruba, the Bahamas and Bermuda. The Marine Air Terminal, used by Delta Air Lines for services to Washington D.C. and Boston, is one of the oldest, still-in-use, airport terminals in the world. In 2009, LGA ranked last among major U.S. airports in both on-time arrivals and customer satisfaction.
- Long Island MacArthur Airport (Islip Airport) (ISP IATA) is 45 miles east of midtown Manhattan in Ronkonkoma in the Town of Islip on Long Island. The airport is served by Southwest Airlines, a major discount carrier in the US. American Airlines has a minor presence at the airport. To travel between the city and ISP:
- A shuttle bus (10 minutes, $5) operates between ISP and the Ronkonkoma Long Island Railroad station. From there, you can take a train to Penn Station in Manhattan. (1.5 hours, $12.75 off-peak hours or $17.50 peak hours). The Long Island Railroad offers a discount package for MacArthur Airport travelers.
- Hampton Jitney operates bus services from Ronkonkoma to Manhattan costing $25; the bus stop is a short cab ride away from ISP.
- S57 bus operates to/from the airport to Ronkonkoma for $1.50. However, it isn't coordinated with the trains like the shuttle.
- Westchester County Airport (HPN IATA) is 25 miles northeast of midtown Manhattan near the town of White Plains and is served by American, Cape Air, Delta, JetBlue, and United, mostly for flights on the East Coast. To travel between the city and HPN:
- Bee-Line Bus #12 (fare $2.75; ☏ for details) operates service to the White Plains Metro-North station. From there, you can take a Metro-North train ($9.75 off-peak and $12.75 peak) to any of various points in the Bronx, or 125th St/Park Ave and Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. Trains run roughly every half hour for most of the day and take approximately 40 minutes to an hour.
- Stewart International Airport (SWF IATA) is 75 miles north of midtown Manhattan, near Newburgh. It mainly serves flights to/from Florida on JetBlue Airlines. To travel between the city and SWF:
- A shuttle bus ($1, 40 minutes, Mon-Fri only) connects SWF with the Beacon Metro-North Railroad Station. From there, you can take a train into Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan ($17.50 off-peak, $23 peak, approximately 90 minutes).
- Shortline operates bus service ($20, 90 minutes) between the airport and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. Buses are timed based on arrivals and departures of Norwegian Airlines flights.
- Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN IATA) is 63 miles southwest of Midtown Manhattan and offers limited commercial service on Frontier Airlines. Passengers flying into Trenton can reach Manhattan by taking a taxi to the Trenton train station and then taking the Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor Line or Amtrak to Penn Station.
- Teterboro Airport (TEB IATA) is the most popular choice for general aviation and business jet travelers out of New York City. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Private Jets Teterboro. The Early Air Way, Monarch Air Group, Mercury Jets and Jetset Charter fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstream's down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals.
- See also: Rail travel in the United States
Amtrak, ☏ , operates from 4 New York Penn Station (NYP IATA), directly under Madison Square Garden, between 31st and 33rd St between 7th & 8th Aves. Popular trains leaving during rush hours can fill up quickly; it is a good idea to make reservations online, or via phone, and pick up your ticket using a credit card or your confirmation number at one of the electronic kiosks throughout the station. On some of the non-business routes, for example New York to Montreal, Amtrak actually takes more time and costs more money than taking the bus or renting a car. Check and compare schedules and prices before booking.
Amtrak's Acela train provides regular 150 mph (240 km/h) intercity service between major points along the east coast such as Washington, D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Haven, and Providence. The Northeast Regional provides the same service only marginally slower for much lower prices (although the Acela has a slightly nicer interior). Amtrak services are also available to points along the East Coast down to Florida, across the southeast to New Orleans, to points between New York and Chicago, including Pittsburgh and Cleveland, to New York state including Albany, Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and to Toronto and Montreal in Canada. Service to California takes 3 days and requires a change of train in Chicago.
Amtrak's ClubAcela Lounge, near the big security desk in Penn Station, offers complimentary drinks, wi-fi access, newspapers and magazines, and clean bathrooms. Access to the club is granted to travelers with sleeper tickets, First Class Acela tickets, or Amtrak GuestRewards SelectPlus membership.
New York City is served by three commuter railroads:
- Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) operates between New York Penn Station or 5 Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Long Island with New York City stops at Jamaica Station. The LIRR also serves Atlantic Terminal station in Brooklyn. LIRR tickets can be purchased online or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
- Metro-North Railroad (Metro-North) operates between 6 Grand Central Terminal and points north and east of the city all the way to Connecticut. Trains also stop at the Harlem station on 125th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan. The New Haven line serves cities along the coast with branch lines to Danbury and Waterbury. The Hudson Line serves points along the Hudson River like Tarrytown, Croton-Harmon, Peekskill, and Cold Spring, and terminating at Poughkeepsie. The Harlem Line serves Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties to White Plains, Brewster, and Southeast, the station that provides shuttle service to Wassaic. At New Haven, passengers may transfer to Amtrak or to the Shore Line East providing local service between New Haven and New London, Connecticut. Metro North tickets can be purchased online or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
- New Jersey Transit operates between New York Penn Station or 7 Hoboken Terminal in Hoboken, New Jersey and points in New Jersey. It is the only commuter railroad in New York City that isn't owned by the MTA. The Northeast Corridor line goes to Princeton and Trenton. Services are also available for points along the Jersey Coast via the North Jersey Coast Line, and to north-central suburbs like Summit, Peapack-Gladstone, or Morristown via the Morris & Essex Line, which is divided into the Morristown Line and Gladstone Branch. It also services the town of Montclair via the Montclair-Boonton line. With a transfer in 8 Secaucus Junction. or a PATH or ferry connection in Hoboken, to points north of the city (in New Jersey and New York State west of the Hudson), via the Pascack Valley and Bergen/Main/Port Jervis lines. The Raritan Valley Line serves some western suburbs, and is accessed via a PATH connection in 9 Newark Penn Station. , which is in Newark, New Jersey. Connecting service is available from Trenton to Philadelphia via SEPTA or to Camden (New Jersey) via RiverLINE. Connecting service to Newark Liberty International Airport is available from some Northeast corridor trains. NJ Transit tickets can be purchased online or inside stations prior to boarding the train. Tickets are also available for purchase on the train but are significantly more expensive. The cost of the ticket varies based on the distance of the ride.
PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) is a subway system connecting New York City to Hoboken, Newark, and various points on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River. Two lines pass under the Hudson and enter the city, one terminating near the World Trade Center site downtown, the other at 33rd Street in midtown (see map). The PATH station at 33rd Street is not connected to, nor part of Penn Station.
PATH costs $2.75 per ride. An RFID-type stored value card called Smartlink affords PATH users discounts: $21 for 10 trips; $42 for 20 trips; $84 for 40 trips. However, the card itself must be purchased ($5, $24 including 10 trips). The PATH system accepts the MTA system's Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard (but not Unlimited Ride MetroCard). For the visitor traveling from New Jersey daily, it is more convenient and possibly cheaper to purchase the MetroCard to travel on both the PATH and the MTA systems. However, there is no free MetroCard transfer between PATH and MTA subways/buses.
Some buses offer wi-fi, outlets and even business-class style luxury. Buses serve New Jersey, New York suburbs west of the Hudson River, and all cities along the east coast of the U.S.
With the cheap "Chinatown" or "curbside" buses in New York City, "you get what you pay for." Most buses are safe; however, bus companies that offer very low fares are often riskier in that their drivers are not as cautious on the roads and often speed. Also, the level of service is frequently somewhat less. If you have to transfer between buses using these discount buses for example, their drivers may speak limited English and be less able to assist you in making the transfer. There are exceptions to this, but it is a consideration when choosing a bus company.
In New York, there is a central bus station for Greyhound, Coach USA, NJ Transit, Peter Pan, Trailways, Lakeland, and others at the:
- 10 Port Authority Bus Terminal, 625 8th Ave (Along 8th Ave between 40th & 42nd Sts, near Times Square), ☏ . Open 24 hours a day.
There are also other bus companies that do not serve the Port Authority Bus Terminal, but rather have curbside stops in different places surrounding the terminal, Penn Station, the nearby Times Square, and/or elsewhere in Manhattan or the adjacent boroughs. The so-called "Chinatown companies" may have a small "hole in the wall" storefront for a bus station or just a curbside stop in Chinatown in Manhattan and/or Brooklyn. Check their websites.
From Upstate New York, East Long Island, Toronto and Montreal
Also see BoltBus, Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan under "From other locations".
- Coach USA Shortline, Port Authority Bus Terminal @ 625 8th Ave. In addition to Megabus, Coach USA also operates the Shortline as a commuter bus from Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan Counties, NY; Bergen County, NJ; and Pike County, PA to Midtown, Downtown, the East Side, and Wall Street in Manhattan, and over longer distances from Monticello, Binghamton, Ithaca, Owego, Elmira, Corning, Alfred, etc.
- Fox Bus Lines, (bus stops) 152 E Broadway and 6th Ave btwn 31st & 32nd St. Goes north to Schenectady and Albany, NY and south to Philadelphia.
- Trailways of New York (Adirondack, Pine Hills, New York), Port Authority Bus Terminal @ 625 8th Ave, ☏ , toll-free: . Largest intra-state bus operator serving multiple cities and towns throughout New York (state) on multiple routes.
- Hampton Jitney, ☏ . Goes to various places in eastern Long Island from stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
- Ocean Bus Lines, 3 Allen St; 3 Bowery St (Corner of Bowery & Division); and 194 Canal St (Btwn Mott & Mulberry St), ☏ . Goes up towards Buffalo via Liverpool (near Syracuse) and Rochester.
From New Jersey and Pennsylvania (beyond Philadelphia)
Also see BoltBus, Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan under "From other locations". A list of additional bus services to Philadelphia and nearby areas in southern NJ are under "From Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Delaware and/or Virginia" heading in the below.
- Academy Bus, Port Authority Bus Terminal, Wall St and other places throughout Midtown Manhattan, ☏ , toll-free: . Operates commuter services from New York to Burlington, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey. They also operate a separate Casino Express to Atlantic City from the Port Authority Bus Terminal & 85th St Candy Store at E 85th St between 3rd & 2nd Ave.
- Coach USA, Port Authority Bus Terminal @ 625 8th Ave. The parent company of Megabus offers commuter routes, university express, airport shuttles and casino shuttles from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to New Jersey as:
- Community Coach scheduled service from Morris and Essex Counties to New York City.
- Olympia Trails operates commuter services across the Hudson between Manhattan and northern New Jersey. They also operate local services in Essex County, NJ as the Orange Newark Elizabeth Bus (ONE Bus); between mid-town Manhattan and Plainfield, NJ as the Westfield Commuter; and the Newark Airport Express between Manhattan and the Newark Airport. They also operate select Megabus routes out of New York to Boston, Washington, Baltimore, Albany, Ridgewood NJ and Toronto.
- Rockland Coaches operates commuter bus service between New York City and points in Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, NY. They also provide local bus service in both locales.
- Suburban Trails offers commuter, casino, and charter services in Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties, NJ.
- DeCamp, Port Authority Bus Terminal @ 625 8th Ave, ☏ . Commuter buses between NY Port Authority Bus Terminal and Nutley, Caldwell, Bloomfield, Montclair, Roseland, Kearney and Orange in northern New Jersey
- Lakeland Bus Lines, Port Authority Bus Terminal @ 625 8th Ave, ☏ . Commuter buses between NY Port Authority Bus Terminal and northern New Jersey
- Martz Group (Martz Trailways), ☏ . Martz Trailways offers commuter & intercity routes between New York City, Hackettstown, Panther Valley Mall, Atlantic City, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Stroudsburg, Poconos and Philadelphia (NJ, NY and PA).
- New Jersey Transit, ☏ . Operates service between destinations in New Jersey and Manhattan's Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Ave & 42nd St.
- Susquehannas Trailways. Travels across Pennsylvania from Williamsport PA to Elmira NY; Harrisburg PA; Lock Haven University and Hazelton in several directions on multiple routes. Another route travels between Sunbury and Lehighton. From Hazelton and from Lehighton the routes diverge to New York and another to Philadelphia.
From Boston, Hartford and Cambridge
The trip normally takes 4½ hours, there are at least 82 buses daily in each direction. Also see BoltBus, Go Buses/Academy Buses, Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan under "from other locations"
- Coach Run, (bus station) 47 Chrystie St and a stop at 136-04 Northern Blvd in Flushings Queens, ☏ . Goes up to Boston via Newton, Framingham and Malden. Bus also serves Natick and Quincy (north and south of Boston proper).
- Lucky Star, (office) 145 Canal St (Canal & Bowey in Chinatown Manhattan). 6AM-11PM and at 2AM. Runs from Boston to their Chinatown office at least hourly 6AM-11PM and at 2AM. Wi-Fi provided on some buses. From $1 online, $20 walk-up..
From Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Delaware and Virginia
Also see BoltBus, Greyhound, Megabus, and Peter Pan under "from other locations"
- BestBus, (Bus stop) 314 W 31st St (Btwn 8th and 9th Ave on the south side of the post office near Madison Square Garden and Penn Station), ☏ , toll-free: . Service to Union Station and Dupont Circle in Washington DC; Silver Spring in Maryland; Manassas, Vienna, and Springfield in Virginia; and summer weekend service to Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach in Delaware. Buses offer free Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, and free water. $20-50 from Washington, DC and Maryland, $25-50 from Virginia, $46 from Delaware.
- Focus Travel Bus, (Bus Depot) 87 Division St; additional stop at 35 W 31st, ☏ . Connects New York to Washington DC via Philadelphia and Baltimore. $21 from New York City, $15 from Philadelphia.
- Hola Bus, (Bus depot) 28 Allen St; (stop) Bank of America @ 7th Ave & W 33rd St, ☏ . Bus services between New York City, Rockville, MD; Baltimore, Washington DC and Richmond, VA.
- NY Tiger, (office) 59 Canal St (Corner of Canal & Orchard St in Chinatown Manhattan), ☏ , , . Daily bus services from New York to Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton and Salisbury. There's a "NY Lion Bus" that runs the same route from the same station and can be affiliated.
- Today's Bus, (Bus stop) 13 Allen St (Allen St & Canal St in Chinatown Manhattan). Daily bus between Colonial Heights, VA; Newport News, VA; Virginia Beach, VA; Richmond, VA; and New York City.
- 1 Tripper Bus, (Bus stop) 254 W 31st St (NE corner of 31 St between 7th and 8th Ave, (outside of the Penn Station) closer to 8th Ave, the opposite side of Brother Jimmy’s BBQ.), toll-free: . Travels to Bethesda, Maryland (4681 Willow Ln at the corner of Wisconsin Ave., opposite side of Panera Bread, the same side of Bethesda’s Farm Women’s Market.) and the Rosslyn Metrorail station in Arlington, Virginia (1901 N Moore St @ city bus stop at Moore & 19th Ave N ). Power outlets on board. Select a Tripper Elite bus and receive luxury amenities and comfort including wider leather captain’s chair reclined seating offering more leg room. Fares start at $30 each way or from $1 online..
- Vamoose, (Bus stop) NE corner of W 30th St & 7th Ave across from Bravo Pizza, ☏ , . Travels between New York; Bethesda, MD; Arlington, VA; & Lorton, VA.
- Washington Deluxe, (bus stop) Pig n' Whistle Pub @ 202 W 36th St (btwn 7th & 8th Ave); Chinatown @ 72 Allen St (Btwn Grand & Broome St); Brooklyn @ 40 Empire Blvd (Btwn Flatbush & Washington Ave, in front of Popeye's), toll-free: . Service from Washington DC. Wi-Fi. From Washington D.C. ($21) some to Brooklyn.
From other locations
Buses from all of the above (everywhere between Boston, Hartford, Newark, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC and Virginia) and beyond:
- BoltBus, (bus stops)1st Ave btwn 38th & 39th St (BOS); 230 W 36th St (BOS); 11th Ave & W 36th St (BAL, DC, PHL); 6th Ave btwn Grand & Watts Ave (DC, PHL) (Check tickets for the stop locations.), toll-free: . The 'Bolt Bus' brand has temporarily suspended operations in the northeastern part of the country. All Bolt Bus services between Boston, New Haven, Baltimore, Greenbelt, MD; Cherry Hill, NJ; Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia are operated by Greyhound Lines. Wi-Fi, electrical outlets provided. Check tickets for pick-up/drop off points. Bolt Bus is/was a subsidiary brand of Greyhound Lines to compete in the 'Chinatown' bus markets. $1 if lucky; up to $30.
- C & J, Port Authority Bus Terminal @ 625 8th Ave. Goes up to Tewksbury, MA; Portsmouth, NH; and Ogunquit, ME
- Concord Coach Lines, (bus stop) 373 E 42nd St (Transit bus stop (Rt M42 & X21) on E 42nd St between 1st & 2nd Ave, next to Tudor City Place Overpass (bridge).), ☏ , toll-free: . Express bus to Portland, ME on one route and to Concord, NH via Nashua on another.
- Flixbus (operated by Eastern Bus Co), (bus depot) 28 Allen St and another station at 103 Canal St (Wanda bus). Connects Richmond to New York through Baltimore, Rockville & Washington DC and goes to New York from Boston. They also connect New York to Atlanta through Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro and Greenville. Service to Atlanta is operated by Wanda Coach Lines whose vehicles are not re-branded as Flixbus and they board at 103 Canal St. Check tickets and reservations to be sure.
- Go Buses (operated by Academy Bus Lines), (bus stop) W 30th St btwn 9th & 10 Ave, opposite 450 W 30th St, toll-free: . Boston, Cambridge, Newton, Providence, Hartford and/or New Haven to NYC on multiple route combinations. Washington DC & Alexandria to NYC and Vienna/Fairfax and Manassas to NYC. Mt Holly to NYC. Fares start at $10.
- Greyhound Lines & Bolt Bus, Port Authority Bus Terminal @ 625 8th Ave, toll-free: . Offers connections from across North America (45 states & 2 Canadian provinces) to the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue & 42nd Street. Wi-Fi, electrical outlets and the works on some buses. Fares vary depending on destination.
- Megabus. Frequent service from Newark, DE; Georgia (Athens & Atlanta); Massachusetts (Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth); Hartford, CT; North Carolina; New Jersey; (upstate) New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania; Columbia, SC; Burlington, VT; Virginia, Washington D.C.; Chicago, IL and Toronto. Most buses arrive on the west side of 7th Avenue just south of 28th Street (nearest subway station is 28th Street on the line) and depart from the south side of 34th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues, across the street from the Javits Center (nearest subway station is 34th Street—Hudson Yards on the line). Services to Binghamton, New Brunswick, Princeton and Atlantic City arrive and depart at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue & 42nd Street. They can also be in different locations from the above, depending on destination, so check with their website. Wi-Fi and electrical outlets available on each bus. From $1 online. Cash-less pre-booking only online or by phone.
- Omnibus la Cubana, 4149 Broadway (middle of block between W 175th & W 176th St in Washington Heights), ☏ . Comes up from Miami to New York through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington, DC; Elkton, MD; Philadelphia and New Jersey.
- Our Bus (Operated by different bus companies on contract to Our Bus), New York Port Authority Terminal or a stop on Madison Ave between 26th & 27th St, ☏ . Operates service to/from Boston, Washington DC and to/from multiple cities in upstate New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Stops in the Port Authority Bus Terminal, JFK International Airport, on Madison Ave between 26th & 27th St, or elsewhere. Check tickets & reservations to confirm pick-up/drop-off locations. Fares range from $11 if purchased in advance on the internet to $45 on the departure date.
- Peter Pan/Bonanza Bus Co.. Operates between cities in the Northeast U.S. (in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Philadelphia, PA; Albany, NY; New Jersey, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Washington, DC) and the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue & 42nd Street.
- Akai LLC, Pandora Bus Station @ 19 Allen St, ☏ , . Goes from New York towards several cities in Alabama and Georgia via Baltimore MD; Richmond VA: Charlotte NC; Greenville SC and Atlanta GA.
- D & W Bus, (bus depot) 3 Allen St. Connects New York to Chicago via Maumee OH; South Bend IN and Portage IN (nearest stop to Gary IN).
- East West Bus/Horserun, (bus depot) 47 Chrystie St (Chrystie St at Canal St in Chinatown Manhattan). Connects New York to Orlando through Anderson, Atlanta, Greenville, Durham, Baltimore, Greensboro, Gastonia, Richmond, Charlotte, Spartanburg, Columbia, Fayetteville, Florence, Raleigh and Lumberton
- Jaguar Inc (formerly Skyhorse), (Bus stop) 59 Canal St (Corner of Canal & Orchard St in Chinatown Manhattan), ☏ , . Bus tickets are available from New York to Louisville, KY via Columbus, Springfield, Vandalia, Cincinnati, and Dayton, OH,
- Pandora Bus (Eagle Bus), 19 Allen St. Connects New York to towards Atlanta, Augusta GA, Savvanah GA, Orlando FL, Columbia SC and points in between via Raleigh NC on multiple routes.
- Panda NY Bus, (bus station) 19 Allen St, ☏ . Connects New York to Richmond via Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington. From Richmond their buses continue towards Huntsville, Atlanta, Orlando, Nashville and points in between on multiple routes. They also have another route to Buffalo through Binghampton, Syracuse and Rochester in upstate New York. They also have another stop location at 127 E Broadway.
- Starline Express, (bus station) 95 Canal St, ☏ . Connecting New York to Tampa via Battleboro, Brunswick, Charleston, Fayetteville, Florence, Hardeeville, Jacksonville, Lumberton, Manning, Savannah, Wilson, Summerville, Rocky Mount, Orlando, St.George, Roanoke Rapids and Weldon.
New York City has always been one of the world's most important passenger sea ports, and arriving by ocean liner or cruise ship still remains an extraordinary and stylish method of arrival. In addition to passenger service from the Cunard Line, many cruise ships start or end their voyages in New York City.
- The Cunard Line operates regularly scheduled passenger service between the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and Southampton, United Kingdom as well as Hamburg, Germany aboard the RMS Queen Mary 2, the grandest, largest ocean liner ever built. The trip takes 6–7 days and costs $800–6,000 depending on the cabin and season.
- More mundane arrivals can be had from New Jersey via NY Waterway and SeaStreak, two fast ferry services.
While most people would advise against entering New York City by car (see the "Get around" section below), it is accessible by a number of highways:
From New Jersey there are three Hudson River crossings: The George Washington Bridge (on I-95, US 1 and US 9) in Fort Lee drops you off in Upper Manhattan, the Lincoln Tunnel (on NJ Route 495) in Weehawken will bring you to Midtown Manhattan, and the Holland Tunnel (on I-78) in Jersey City leaves you in lower Manhattan. Depending on where you are heading to in New York City and the time of day, you'll want to take advantage of the different crossings, but if you have the time and are looking for the most scenic of the three, take the George Washington Bridge's upper level for spectacular views of New York City; Hudson County, New Jersey; and the Hudson River. If you are heading to Staten Island, Queens or Brooklyn you can also take the Goethals Bridge (on I-278) in Elizabeth; the highway cuts across Staten Island and continues over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn. The other routes into Staten Island from NJ are the Outerbridge Crossing in Perth Amboy, which puts you in Tottenville near the southern tip of the island, and the Bayonne Bridge, which leaves you in extreme northern Staten Island.
From Upstate New York, you can take one of several highways into the Bronx, including the New York State Thruway, which becomes the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx (both roads are I-87). The Connecticut Turnpike/New England Thruway (I-95) and the Merritt Parkway/Hutchinson River Parkway are good routes from Connecticut and areas of Westchester County near the Long Island Sound. From Long Island you can take the Long Island Expressway (I-495) or the Northern State Parkway/Grand Central Parkway for access to Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. The Southern State and Belt Parkways are useful for Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.
Because of security concerns, there are very few left luggage, storage lockers, or coat-check service at any New York train station. This includes Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal; however the Amtrak checked and left luggage point at Penn Station is still operating, but only for ticketed passengers. There are left luggage services in the Arrivals area of Terminals 1 and 4 at JFK Airport. The left luggage office in Terminal 4 is open 24 hours. There is also a luggage storage at Building 4 of JFK, which will require photo ID. Schwartz Travel & Storage, with three locations in Midtown Manhattan close to Penn Station is one of several left luggage services; the price per day is $7-10 per bag. Most left luggage services will only accept cash but a few of them include a lounge where users can watch TV and use the Wi-Fi services. Some hotels will store luggage for customers who have checked out of the hotel.
For shorter distances, there is no better way of getting around New York than hitting the sidewalk. If you use the subway or buses, you will almost certainly need to walk to and from stations or stops. In all areas of New York a traveler is likely to visit, all streets have wide, smoothly-paved sidewalks. For long distances, walking is also fine and a great way to see the city.
Public transit – buses and subways
To ride the buses and subways in New York City, it is most likely that you will need a MetroCard. The Metropolitan Transit Authority, or MTA, sells MetroCards for use on the New York City bus and subway systems. While it is possible to pay bus fare using exact change (coins only), you must have a MetroCard to enter the subway system. Cards can be bought at station booths, at vending machines (no more than $9 given in change and no $100 bill or pennies accepted) in subway stations, and at many grocery stores and newsstands (look for a MetroCard sign on the store window). The vending machines in the stations accept credit cards; however, MetroCard vending machines will require that you type in your 5-digit zip code, or your regular PIN on international cards.
The MTA is replacing the MetroCard with OMNY and completed rolling it out on all subways and buses in 2020. This works by tapping in your contactless card or your smart device that accepts Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Fitbit Pay. To use OMNY, tap your device (using the above payment methods) or contactless card on the OMNY Reader. If you don't have a card that is contactless, you can also link one to your OMNY Digital wallet but it must be used with your smart device. You must choose the card you want to use before you tap at an OMNY reader; otherwise, it will only use the default card linked in your digital wallet. If you carry more than one contactless card in your wallet, the cards may clash; take out the card you want to use and place it on the OMNY Reader.
The PATH rapid transit rail system between New York and New Jersey has a separate fare structure. PATH accepts payment by MetroCard, but no free transfers are available to or from MTA subways or buses. JFK AirTrain also accepts MetroCard, but again there are no free transfers are available.
Metro-North Commuter Railroad, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), New Jersey Transit (NJT), and Amtrak trains do not accept MetroCards, but Westchester Bee Line Buses, Roosevelt Island Tram, and NICE Bus (Nassau Inter-County Express) do accept them. OMNY is accepted on all subway stations and MTA-operated buses. It will be accepted in Metro-North and LIRR in 2021; however it will not work on NJ Transit as NJT will be using a different fare payment system.
Up to three children 44 inches (112 cm) tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult.
MetroCards generally expire 1 year after purchase; the expiration date is printed on the back of the card at the upper left.
A $1 fee is charged for each MetroCard purchased at station booths and vending machines. This fee does not apply when buying a card from neighborhood merchants, who may insist to be paid cash only (even if they otherwise accept credit cards with displayed logos), and if so, buy a lowest available pre-valued $11.00 card that may be later refilled at MetroCard vending machine with credit card. However, expired MetroCards can be exchanged at station booths and vending machines free of charge, and the remaining balance will also be transferred to the new card. Most vending machines accept cash, but only return up to $9 in change. Debit and credit cards are accepted at vending machines; international card users need to input '99999' on the keypad when the ZIP code is requested. However, staffed station booths only accept cash, and no $50 bill if buying less than $30 or $100 bill if buying less than $70.
- Single Ride MetroCard – costs $3 and is good for one use. It allows no free transfers between the subway and bus, and it is only valid for two hours after purchase.
- Pay-Per-Ride (Regular) MetroCards – are available in amounts from $5.50 to $80. Each local bus or subway trip deducts $2.75 from your card; each express buses trip deducts $6.75. Usage of the PATH system deducts $2.75, and usage of JFK AirTrain deducts $5. You can add more money to your MetroCard at a later time.
The amount you should add is (number of rides × $2.75). Regular MetroCard is the best option if you are spending a few days in New York and plan to use the subway or bus fewer than 12 times.
- Additionally, a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard allows for one free transfer during a two hour window immediately following a paid fare:
- From subway to local bus
- From local bus to subway
- From local bus to local bus (but not to any bus on the same route as the first)
- From express bus to subway
- From express bus to local bus
- From express bus to express bus (but not to any bus on the same route as the first)
- A Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard may be used to pay for up to four fares at one time at a subway turnstile or bus.
- You can transfer from subway to subway as often as you like, provided that you do not exit the subway system by leaving through a turnstile or gate. Many subway connections are possible in this way, by using in-station connections between the various lines. Indeed, the Guinness Book of World Records tracks the fastest times of groups that have tried to ride every single New York City subway train line on one fare - some have spent over 24 consecutive hours riding in the subway! Just remember that if you leave the subway and re-enter, you will be charged a second fare.
- Additionally, if you board a local bus and pay the $2.75 fare with a MetroCard, you can transfer to an express bus for the reduced price of $4.00 (instead of the standard $6.75 express bus fare).
- Unlimited Ride MetroCards – are available in 7-day ($33) and 30-day ($127). They are valid from the time you first use them until midnight of the 7th and 30th day, respectively. Do the math; these cards may work out to be cheaper if you plan on using public transport frequently during your stay. For example, the 7-day pass is worth it if you take at least 12 rides. It works out to roughly two trips every day for a week, so those who commute round-trip within the city every day for one week can benefit from this. Unlimited Ride MetroCards may not be used in rapid succession at the same subway station or on the same bus route. Once used, 18 minutes must elapse before it can be used at the same station (or on the same bus route). This is to prevent a group of people from sharing a single Unlimited Ride MetroCard. Hence, each member of the group will require their own Unlimited Ride MetroCard. Unlimited Ride MetroCards are NOT valid on express buses, JFK AirTrain, or PATH trains to New Jersey. If you are arriving at JFK Airport and take the AirTrain, the machines at the station do not sell Unlimited Ride cards. You should pay for the AirTrain ($5) and buy an unlimited card at the subway station.
- 7-Day Express Bus Plus – costs $62 and allows unlimited use of not just local buses and subways, but also express buses. If you are staying in Staten Island, Queens, or Westchester county and plan to commute to the city during your visit, this pass may be advantageous to you.
- Also available are two passes good only for unlimited use of the JFK AirTrain: a 30-day unlimited AirTrain pass for $40, and a 10-trip pass for $25.
You can also get discounted tickets to certain events by showing your MetroCard when purchasing tickets. Current promotions are listed on the MetroCard website
OMNY only supports full-fare and pay-per-ride options and has free at OMNY-enabled subway stations and bus routes. There will be additional fare options to be available in the future.
Despite a reputation for being dirty, the subway, which operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week, is the fastest and best way to travel around four boroughs of the city. Unfortunately for people who live there, it hasn't reached Staten Island, which is instead served by a separate railway. Fares are $2.75 (unless you use Single Ride MetroCard, which is $3), regardless of distance traveled. The much-feared subway crimes of the 1970s and 1980s are for the most part a thing of the past, and it is usually completely safe. Just remember to use common sense when traveling late at night alone. Try to use heavily-traveled stations, remain visible to other people, and don't display items of value publicly. While violent crime is rare, petty crime - especially theft of iPhones and other expensive electronics - is very frequent, so be aware when using your phone on the train.
- To enter the subway, you will need to swipe your MetroCard through the slot on the right hand side of the turnstile that greets you at the subway entrance. Hold your card with the logo facing your body and black magnetic strip down. Then slide it forward through the slot at a moderate speed. You'll know you succeeded when the display flashes "Go" in green and you hear a click sound. Only once you hear the click is it OK to walk through the turnstile. Swiping the card improperly or moving the turnstile incorrectly could mean the forfeiture of your fare (for Pay-Per-Ride cards) or a lockout of 18 minutes (for Unlimited Ride cards). If this happens, go to a station booth and explain the problem. The agent will ask for your MetroCard, confirm that it was just charged, and let you go through.
- In 2019, the system gained a new method of payment: "One Metro New York" (OMNY). OMNY allows riders to directly pay for their trips via ether an NFC-enabled contactless credit or debit card, or a card saved to a mobile wallet. As of Mar 2021, only Pay-Per-Ride single fares are available and while transfer rules are still the same, the same method of payment must be used. If you tap in with a physical card the first time, you can not use that card on a mobile wallet for the second tap: you must still use the physical card. OMNY uses a large reader module with an LCD display mounted to the front of the turnstiles. Plans are to have other fare options, such as unlimited and discounted fares, by the end of 2021.
- Overhead signage next to each track indicates the trains that stop at that particular track and the direction they are heading. In addition, the trains themselves are marked by signage that indicates their route. Subway stations are ventilated to the street, so they can be quite cold in the winter. In summertime, the stations can be much warmer than the outside temperature. The trains themselves are air-conditioned and usually quite comfortable, but keep the temperature of stations in mind when planning your trip.
- Some stations, especially local-only ones, have entrances which provide access to trains headed in one direction, not both. Read the signage outside the entrance to know which direction the train heads toward. If it heads in the opposite direction of where you need to go, enter across the street.
- Wait for riders to disembark before getting on the train. Exiting passengers will push past you if you are in their way when the train opens its doors. Like New Yorkers.
- Some trains are express, meaning that they skip local stations to provide faster service. Wherever there is an express train, there is also a local train that makes all stops. Local and express trains often use different tracks, so be sure to board the correct train. For example, the 2 and 3 are the express trains for the Broadway–7th Avenue Line between 96th Street and Chambers Street in Manhattan, while the 1 runs local alongside them. Some express trains run local or do not run at all late at night, and there are some lines in which there is an express train only during rush hours, in one direction. These trains either use a diamond-shaped icon instead of a circle-shaped one or are the Z train.
- During weekends and late nights, certain trains do not operate or operate on a limited schedule or route, many express trains make local stops, and some subway entrances are closed. Detailed information is available on the MTA website. Additionally, maintenance work is usually concentrated on weekends and overnight. Notices of maintenance are posted at stations and on the MTA website, so check online to avoid unpleasant surprises. Remember, if you do feel confused, ask for help. Construction-related service changes confuse many New Yorkers, so the best person to ask is a subway employee. The entire subway system is massive and interconnected, so do not fear — there will almost always be another way to get to your destination without spending hours on the train.
- A free subway map can be found online, or obtained at staffed station booths. Station agents can also assist you with directions, although agents may not always be easy to find. Free bus system maps for each borough, which are also available on the MTA website and from most bus drivers and some subway station booths, double as fairly good street maps that show the exact location of every subway station. Additionally, for convenience, subway maps are displayed in every station and on every train. Some stations also have touchscreen information panels that feature route planners.
- If you accidentally skip your destination, don't panic. Get off at the next station and do not go out onto the street to try to get to the opposite platform. Doing so will not count as a transfer and you will be charged for the MetroCard swipe. Instead, navigate underground to get to the other platform, following the signs. As mentioned above, some stations do not have passage between the platforms; in this case, ask a subway employee which station ahead does let you cross over, wait for the next train there, then cross over. Tell them which station you are trying to get to, because they may suggest a different subway line that can get you there faster; since you are coming back, it does not matter which line you take if you transfer back to your original line.
- If you don't feel completely safe, such as if you are traveling very late at night, look for the black-and-white striped bar mounted on the wall or hanging from the ceiling of the station which marks the location of the conductor's car, and board there. Generally, every car will be equally safe, but you may feel better with another pair of eyes nearby.
Every subway route is identified by either a letter or a number, not by a color like in Boston or Washington, D.C.. Therefore, if you ask where the "green line" is, a New Yorker will look at you like you're insane, since the green line is really three different lines. The only reason why some lines are the same color is because in Manhattan, they use the same set of tracks as the other lines colored in that specific color. It may be possible for trains from one line to be diverted to a platform normally intended for another line, especially during weekends and other periods of maintenance work.
- The Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line ( ) serves Broadway above 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue below 42nd Street, and is useful to get to the West Village, Chelsea, and Tribeca neighborhoods as well as the Staten Island or Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty ferries (1 to South Ferry station) and Columbia University (1 to 116th Street station). In Manhattan, the 1 train is local, while the 2 and 3 trains are express.
- The Lexington Avenue Line trains ( ) were essentially the only trains on the East Side above 23 Street until the construction of the Q Second Avenue Subway (see below). Useful to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (4, 5, or 6 to 86th Street station or 6 to 77th Street station), Guggenheim Museum (4, 5, or 6 to 86th Street station), and other East Side museums. Also useful to get to the Statue of Liberty (4 or 5 to Bowling Green station), Chinatown (6 to Canal Street station), and the Stock Exchange (4 or 5 to Wall Street station). The 4 also runs uptown through Spanish Harlem to 161 Street–Yankee Stadium and other destinations in the Bronx. In Manhattan, the 4 and 5 trains are express, and the 6 train is local. However, the 6 train does offer express service on rush hours.
- The Flushing Line ( ), dubbed the "International Express", runs crosstown along 42nd Street (making a good late-night alternative to the upstairs Shuttle – see below) and out to Queens, making stops in Filipino, South Asian, Hispanic, and Chinese/Korean neighborhoods, as well as to Citi Field and the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center near Flushing. A 2015 one-stop extension lengthened the terminus to the new Hudson Yards neighborhood on the West Side. The 7 train is local, as it is the only route that operates on that line, however, it does offer express service on rush hours.
- The Eighth Avenue Line (Harlem. Between 50th and 59th streets, the E branches off to Queens, and the B and D trains join the A and C trains for the journey uptown along Central Park West (the B and C make local stops). This section is useful to get to the Museum of Natural History (B or C to 81st Street station), and the Cloisters Museum (A to 190th Street station). Take an uptown E train or Rockaway-bound downtown A train for access to JFK Airport. In Manhattan, the A train is express, while the C and E trains are local. ) serves Eighth Avenue/Central Park West between 14th and 116th Streets, then St. Nicholas Av., Broadway, and Ft. Washington Av. starting at 125th St. in
- The Sixth Avenue Line (
) runs on 6th Avenue from West 4th Street to 47th–50th Streets, and is useful for accessing the New York Public Library Main Branch (42nd Street station), Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and St. Patrick's Cathedral (47th–50th Sts. station). In Manhattan, the B and D trains are express, and the F and M trains are local. However, the F train does offer express service on rush hours.
- Going downtown below West 4th Street, these trains go on their own separate ways. The D goes down 4th Avenue in Brooklyn to Coney Island. The F goes to Coney Island on its own route. The B ends at Brighton Beach alongside the Q train, which also goes to Coney Island. The M goes east alongside the Nassau Street line (see below), but then branches again up Myrtle Avenue to Middle Village in Queens.
- Going uptown, the B and D trains branch west and join the A and C trains (see above). They branch again toward the Bronx after 145th Street (which is the way to get to the 161 St–Yankee Stadium stop). The M train branches east and joins the E along 53rd street for the Museum of Modern Art (5 Av/53 St station), then heads off to Queens. The F train makes one more 6th Avenue stop at 57th Street before turning east to Queens, making a stop at Roosevelt Island and joining the E, M, and R trains.
- The Nassau Street Line ( ) starts in Broad Street, goes along Nassau Street in Lower Manhattan, before making stops along Fulton Street Brooklyn and terminating in the Jamaica area of Queens. It's useful if you are transferring from a train that doesn't serve Lower Manhattan, but also if you are going to part Queens or Brooklyn. The J train is local, and the Z train is a skip-stop train that only operates during rush hour.
- The Broadway Line (Astoria, Queens. The R also goes up past Astoria to Jackson Heights and beyond, and is joined by the W down through the Financial District and South Ferry (Whitehall St). Like the D and F trains, the N and Q trains also provide service to Coney Island via their own separate routes: The N goes solo, and the Q runs alongside the B (see above). In Manhattan, the N and Q trains are express and the R and W trains are local. However, the W train only operates on weekdays. ) runs down Broadway below 42nd Street and on Seventh Avenue and 59th Street above Times Square. The Broadway Line trains are useful for accessing Chinatown (Canal St), SoHo/NoHo (Prince St), NYU area (8th St), Union Square (14th St), the Empire State Building (34th St), Times Square (42nd St), Carnegie Hall (57th St–7th Av station), Central Park (57th St–7th Av and 5th Av/59th St stations) and the southern end of the Upper East Side (5th Av/59th St and Lexington Av/59th St stations). The Q train goes further uptown through the Upper East Side via the new Second Avenue Line, while the N and W trains head out to
- The Canarsie Line (Williamsburg and Bushwick and eventually to Canarsie in Brooklyn. The L train is local, as it is the only route that operates on that line. ) also runs crosstown along 14th Street in Manhattan, then through
- The Crosstown Line ( ) runs along most of Western Brooklyn and into Long Island City in Queens. At no point on its route does it stop in Manhattan. The G train is local, as it is the only route that operates on that line.
- There are three Shuttles () throughout the system. The 42nd Street Shuttle connects Times Square on the West Side with Grand Central Terminal on the East Side. The Franklin Avenue Shuttle in Brooklyn makes four stops – at Fulton Street (transfer to C), Park Place, Botanical Gardens (transfer to 2, 3, 4, and 5), and Prospect Park (transfer to B and Q). The Rockaway Park Shuttle connects with the A train at Broad Channel before branching off toward Beach–116th Street on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. As stated earlier, These are all shuttles, so of course they are local between the stations they run between.
The PATH can be used to travel within Manhattan, from 33rd St along 6th Ave to Christopher Street. It covers a small territory, but in theory, you can use it if you have to travel its exact route. Unlimited Ride Metrocards cannot be used on the PATH. PATH also accepts the SmartLink Card (similar to the MetroCard, but the SmartLink Card cannot be used on the subway). The PATH train can be a great way to get around lower Midtown along 6th Avenue. Like the subway, PATH operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. PATH trains usually arrive every 5–10 minutes (based on the time of day), but overnight, they may only come every 35 minutes.
By the Staten Island Railway
The Staten Island Railway, true to its name, is a railway line that serves Staten Island. It is owned and operated by the MTA. It is free except at the Tompkinsville and St. George stations. There, the price is the same as the subway ($2.75), and is payable by MetroCard (free transfers from MTA buses work, just as is the case with subways). SIR departure times from the terminal at St. George are usually coordinated with those of the Staten Island Ferry. The SIR consists of one line that travels along the East Shore of Staten Island, ending at Tottenville. A full timetable with other information can be found here.
By commuter rail
Commuter rail lines are mostly used for traveling between the city and its suburbs, owing to the vast existence of the Subway; however, they can be used for intracity transit as well. A handful of destinations are closer to commuter rail stops but far from the subway. MetroCards are not accepted on commuter rail; separate single or period tickets must be bought. When purchasing commuter railroad tickets, it is advantageous to purchase them online or in railroad stations prior to boarding. While tickets are available for sale on trains, there is an on-board surcharge that makes them significantly more expensive.
The Long Island Rail Road, often called the LIRR runs from Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn, and has limited rush hour service to Long Island City, Queens. The Port Washington Branch goes to Northeast Queens which, aside from Flushing and Citi Field, is not served by the subway system. The Main Line, which contains most of the branches to the different parts of Long Island, goes to Southeastern Queens, including Jamaica, Laurelton, and Rosedale. The Atlantic Branch, which ends in Downtown Brooklyn, goes to East New York and Bedford-Stuyvesant, both in Brooklyn. This branch is not accessible from Manhattan, however. The LIRR is also the fastest way to get from JFK to Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, and also runs to many popular getaways in Long Island, such as Long Beach, Port Jefferson, and Montauk. The LIRR has a somewhat deserved reputation for poor on-time performance, however this is more of a problem in the farther eastern reaches of the railroad and not so much a problem in New York City and its immediate suburbs.
The Metro-North Railroad provides services from Grand Central Terminal. Trains go to the Bronx and the northern suburbs of the city. The Hudson Line covers several parts of the Western Bronx, while the Harlem Line goes through the Central Bronx — an area with no subway service. It is the best way to get to Arthur Avenue and the New York Botanic Gardens. The Hudson and Harlem Lines are also your gateway to Westchester County and beyond, with the Hudson Line running all the way to Poughkeepsie. The New Haven Line runs to Connecticut, terminating, logically enough, in New Haven.
However, the other commuter railroad, NJ Transit Rail Operations only operates between Penn Station or places like Newark and Hoboken (both in New Jersey) to other points in New Jersey. Hence the name, NJ Transit.
Even in Manhattan, with its dense subway network, buses can often be the best way of making a crosstown (i.e. east-west) journey — for example, crossing Central Park to go from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Museum of Natural History. And outside peak hours, a ride by bus from the tip of Lower Manhattan at Battery Park to Midtown is a good and cheap way of taking in the sights.
- Bus lines are identified by letters followed by numbers. The letters indicate the borough in which the line mostly operates (M=Manhattan; Bx=Bronx; B=Brooklyn; Q=Queens; S=Staten Island). Collectively, the letters and numbers make up the route (examples: M31, Bx9, M15). Signage at each bus stop indicates which buses stop there. Signage on the front of each bus indicates the route and destination of the bus. Bus maps for each borough can be found at the MTA website.
- Express buses travel between Manhattan and the outer boroughs, usually to areas where the subway doesn't operate (such as eastern Queens, the eastern Bronx, southeast Brooklyn, and Staten Island). They cost $6.75 but offer comfortable cloth seats and Wi-Fi, and are less crowded than the subway and local buses. Most express buses are identified by the borough they connect to Manhattan. Therefore, express buses to and from the Bronx would be labeled BxM (Bx for the Bronx, M for Manhattan; BxM11, BxM18), to and from Brooklyn BM (BM1, BM2), to and from Queens QM (QM1, QM2), and to and from Staten Island SIM (SIM1, SIM2). A few Brooklyn and Queens express buses are labeled with X (X27, X64). Express buses have a slightly different appearance than normal buses, with only one entrance/exit in the front of the bus.
- The times posted on bus stops are often very unreliable, and may have nothing to do with the times the buses actually arrive. You can check the positions of the buses and their distance from a given stop online using MTA Bus Time. Each stop also has a QR code, with a link to that stop's entry.
- At night, there is a much longer wait time between buses. If you anticipate riding the bus at night, plan an alternate route, probably via subway or taxi.
- When boarding a bus with a MetroCard, insert the card vertically, with the pin hole down, the black stripe to the right, and the word "MetroCard" facing towards you, into the card slot in the top of the fare box next to the driver. You should be able to read the word "MetroCard" from bottom to top when inserting the card in this manner. The fare box will swallow the card, read it, and return it to you. This is different from the procedure to enter the subway described in Subway Basics.
- Bus fareboxes also accept coins. However, they will not accept pennies, half dollar (50-cent) coins, or bills. As a safety precaution, drivers do not handle money. Change is not given, so exact fares must be paid. If you pay with coins and require a free transfer, you will have to ask the driver for one after you have paid.
- Certain buses contain a small orange and purple card in the window that says "Limited." These limited buses do not make all local bus stops, stopping only at major cross streets. They are similar to express buses in some ways, but only cost the standard $2.75 to ride. If a Limited bus skips your stop, you can wait for a local bus which will arrive soon. On some avenues served by multiple bus routes, some buses may operate Limited on the entire avenue or at least until they branch off. For example, with the M1, M2, M3, M4, and M5, the M2 and M5 provide limited-stop service on 5th Ave & Madison Ave during the day.
- Select Bus Service (SBS) routes also make limited stops and cost the standard $2.75 fare. These include the M14A, M14D, M15, M23, M34, M34A, M79, and M86 in Manhattan, the M60 in Manhattan and Queens, and several more routes in the outer boroughs. SBS routes can be identified by a special blue wrap around the lower half of the bus. However, these buses operate on a very different payment system. To board these SBS buses, fares must be paid before boarding using machines on the sidewalk at a special SBS bus stop, which is typically quite close to the local bus stop. Follow the instructions at the machine to pay. Once the fare has been paid, a receipt will be printed; take it and keep it with you. If you have an unlimited (daily, weekly, monthly) metro card, you can use it to get a ticket at no cost. Once the bus arrives, you can enter through any door, but if you paid with cash, remember to use the front door if you need to ask the driver for a transfer. Fare inspectors will occasionally check for your fare receipt as proof of payment; show it to them if they ask. If you don't have a valid receipt, you will be forced to pay a fine of up to $100, so it is wise to always pay the fare. However, if you cannot buy the ticket successfully, such as due to a malfunctioning machine, note the machine number and report the problem to the bus driver near the front door at once. If the SBS skips your stop, wait at a local bus stop for a local bus.
- Transfers bus-to-bus, bus-to-subway, subway-to-bus transfers are automatic with metrocard payments within two hours of a swipe (i.e., within two hours of entering the subway or boarding a bus). If paying with coins on a bus, ask the driver for a bus-to-bus transfer (a single use metrocard). Transfers to and from the subway to a bus are not available if you pay cash or use a single use metrocard.
- Yellow Cabs cruise in most of Manhattan and are available at dispatcher lines at airports, but are harder to find in the other four boroughs. Real NYC taxis are yellow, have a metal seal on the hood ("medallion"), a light with a taxi number on the roof, a meter for billing, stickers on the windshield for various licenses, special taxi license plates, and a divider inside the car. The fares are $2.50 plus a $0.50 state tax to start, plus $0.40 for each 1/5 mile traveled. There is a night surcharge from 8PM to 6AM of $0.50 and a rush hour surcharge of $1 from 4PM-8PM M-F. In addition, as in the rest of the United States, tipping your taxi driver is expected in New York. For more information, see Tipping in the United States. Info on fares, flat fares, group rides and rules are online. All yellow cabs accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express for payment. In the unlikely event that the card reader is broken, the driver will let you know before you get into the taxi. To hail a taxi, stand visibly near the street (but away from moving traffic) with one arm raised over your head. The medallion numbers on the roof of the taxi will indicate the status of the taxi:
- If the medallion number is unlit, then the taxi is already occupied or otherwise unavailable.
- If the medallion number is lit, then the taxi is available for hire.
- Borough Taxis were introduced in 2013 to address the shortage of yellow cabs outside Manhattan. Unlike yellow cabs, they are light green and have no medallions on the hood. These cabs are barred from picking up passengers in Manhattan south of West 110th St or East 96th St and may not enter the airport dispatcher lines. They can, however, pick up passengers in northern Manhattan and the other boroughs, and can drop off passengers anywhere. Fares and rules are otherwise identical to yellow cabs.
- Livery or Black Cars, known as car services or livery cabs, may only be called by phone, and are flat rate rather than metered. In most areas, they are not allowed to cruise the street or airports for fares, although sometimes they will do so anyway. Ask for the fare while on the phone. Their license plates will say either "Livery" or "TLC" on the bottom.
- Ride Hailing Smartphone App Services, such as Uber, Lyft and Via are extremely popular. Many drivers of black livery cars also use them to secure passengers when their own dispatchers are idle, so it's often possible to get a car from them in under ten minutes even in outer neighborhoods. Beware that most such services use variable-rate (aka "surge") pricing, and even small local increases in demand such as a concert letting out can trigger a 1.5x to 3x fare increase: always provide a destination address when hailing a car via an app, and examine the estimated fare carefully! Using these apps requires a smartphone with a working data connection (potentially expensive if you are roaming on an international account), and a credit card which you have entered into the app: you cannot pay the fare in cash.
In some areas, livery cabs can be flagged on the street. Though this is not legal (the driver, not you, could get into trouble), it is useful in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs and is accepted practice, though this has mostly been replaced by the Borough Taxis and ride hailing apps. The minimum fare in these cabs is about $7, and it is advisable to negotiate the fare before you get inside (again, tipping your driver is expected). Since yellow cabs are hard to come by in the outer boroughs, these cars are particularly useful for getting to the airport (your hotel can arrange one, or look up car services in the Yellow Pages).
- All licensed taxis (yellow for in Manhattan and Green for outside of Manhattan) and sedan limousines are authorized to take 3 passengers in the backseat and 1 in the front seat for a total of 4. However, some of the newer minivan and SUV yellow cabs can seat more passengers and may take more than four passengers (even though the licensed limit is posted in the cab). Larger than sedan limousines can be reserved, also useful for airport trips with lots of luggage, by calling any of the dozens of companies in the yellow pages.
- Licensed taxis apply surcharges (in addition to the metered fare) depending on the time of day. From 6AM–4PM, the surcharge is $0.50; from 4PM–8PM, the surcharge is $1.50; from 8PM–6AM the surcharge is $1. For all cabs, you must pay tolls for bridges, tunnels and highways. Be careful of being overcharged by drivers for toll crossings—on some bridges and tunnels (like the Queens-Midtown Tunnel) rates are not posted in plain view. So, a crossing which actually cost the cab driver $4 is easily passed onto the unsuspecting passenger as a $5 charge. Outside the city, other than flat fare destinations (such as JFK Airport)and Newark Airport), meter rates are doubled (when going to Westchester or Nassau County). Tipping your driver is expected. The customary amount is 15% of the total fare, or more if you need to transport luggage or are going to a remote area of the city (where the cab driver will have a difficult time getting a return passenger). If you chose to use the credit card machine that is found in most taxis (it doubles as a TV screen, the default tip will be 20% or 25% but you can adjust this if you resist feeling pressured and punch in the desired amount.
- Be wary of unlicensed cars (known derisively as "gypsy cabs") cruising for passengers, especially near the airports or in areas not well served by yellow cabs. While drivers may claim to offer you a cheaper rate than an actual taxi, your chances of actually getting this rate (not to mention getting to your destination safely and quickly) are slim. If you're willing to negotiate and know what you're doing, you might be okay, but you're better off asking an airport staffer for help finding a cab or cabstand. Major airports have taxi information cards for passengers. Always settle on a price before getting into the car.
- There are also van and shuttle services in different parts of the city. You will have to ask where it is going and how much it costs. Usually, you will see people lining up and a van will appear and they will board. There are services between Chinatown and Queens (you won’t have to make any transfers if it goes where you need to go!), and also there are separate services in Brooklyn, and Queens. Many of these services are branded as "Dollar Vans" (actually costing $2.00), and follow major bus routes along major avenues in these boroughs and will drop you off and pick up at any corner along the avenue. Some are legal while most aren't and usually compete with each other for customers and may cut some other van drivers off. This is an accepted practice in these boroughs and at times are faster than MTA buses. The illegal vans may not have insurance so you ride at your own risk. Most drivers of these vans have heavy West Indian accents. Some may seem sketchy but for the most part are people just trying to make a living. They are usually are helpful with directions. It is rare that incidents occur with them.
- While there are pedicabs in New York, they are generally used more for entertainment than for transit and are priced accordingly. They are rare to nonexistent outside of midtown Manhattan. Fares are usually posted on the vehicle.
- One may have heard of the NYPD using undercover taxis in policing. Despite concerns, these undercover taxis do not engage in taxi business.
- The Staten Island Ferry, runs from Battery Park in southern Manhattan to Staten Island. The ferry carries passengers and bicycles only, runs every 15-20 minutes during rush hours and every 30 minutes at most other times, and is free (so don't be fooled by con artists trying to sell "advance tickets"). Not only does the ferry provide a means of transport, but it offers an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor on its way. Even if you don't want to visit Staten Island, taking this trip is highly recommended. It is very popular with tourists. Ride on the starboard side of the ferry (right side facing the front) from Manhattan and the port side from Staten Island for the best views (to the west). If you want to take good photographs, try to get on the ferry as soon as the gates open and walk briskly to an open window (few windows are open to the air and will populate quickly). The Manhattan-to-Staten Island route passes slightly closer to the Statue of Liberty than the return route. For security reasons, all passengers must exit the ferry upon reaching the terminal. Passengers intending to make an immediate return trip must exit the ferry, walk through the terminal to the waiting area, then board the next departing ferry. While the Staten Island Ferry also used to carry vehicular traffic, it no longer has since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for security reasons.
- NYC Ferry operates a network of ferries primarily along the East River connecting Manhattan with Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island. There is also one route along the Hudson River connecting Midtown West with Staten Island. These ferries cost the same as a bus or subway at $2.75 per ride (30 day passes are also available), with free transfers between ferries for 90 minutes. Tickets are available for purchase from vending machines or through the NYC Ferry app. There is an extra $1 surcharge to bring a bike. Children under the height of 44 inches ride for free when accompanied by an adult.
- New York Waterway, operates ferries that connect the city with the New Jersey Hudson River Waterfront. One-way fares vary in price depending on the route. For example, the ferries from Hoboken, Lincoln Harbor and Port Imperial to Midtown cost $9.00 each way, with an additional surcharge for carrying a bike. Reduced fares are offered for children and seniors.
|“||No one in New York drove; there was too much traffic.||”|
—Philip J. Fry, Futurama
A word of advice about driving in New York City: don't. A car is inadvisable — street parking is practically nonexistent near crowded areas and tourist attractions, and garage parking rates range from very expensive to plain extortion. Traffic is almost always congested, parking rules are confusing, and many drivers are infamously aggressive. Public transportation options are many, and are quicker, cheaper and more pleasant. That's why many New Yorkers, particularly in Manhattan, don't own cars. If you think of staying in a suburb and commuting to the city by car, better to do as the locals do. Drive to one of the commuter rail stations (see above) or ferry docks. Parking fees at the station, fare, and MetroCard combined are usually much cheaper than parking downtown. Many stations have secure parking areas, however it’s wise to investigate beforehand. Some suburban stations limit their parking to local residents, with enforcement by license plate camera and aggressive ticketing of unregistered vehicles. In Staten Island, parking near the ferry terminal and using the ferry will save you money and time.
If you do choose to drive, a smartphone with GPS support and a mapping application with turn-by-turn directions and live traffic conditions support (such as Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze) is invaluable: New York's eternal cycle of road, bridge and tunnel maintenance, not to mention the daily changes created by accidents, festivals and police activity mean that a published paper map may be catastrophically inaccurate, even if it's been published comparatively recently. Note that many rental cars may not have a USB power port and even those that do will not provide a charge cable: bringing your own car power adaptor is a must if you're renting.
In Queens, numbers identify not only avenues and streets, but also roads, places, crescents, and lanes, all of which might be near each other. Read the entire street sign. Outer borough highways are confusing and often narrowed to one lane, the potholes could trap an elephant, the signs are sometimes misleading, exits which should appear do not, and signs directing a highway approach drag you through miles of colorful neighborhood (in the wrong direction) before finally letting you onto the highway with a stop sign and a hand's width of merge space.
Traffic in New York City roughly follows a hierarchy of precedence, which it is unwise to challenge. Fire engines, ambulances, and police cruisers are given priority, followed by other public service vehicles such as buses, road crews, and sanitation trucks. Beneath them are taxi cabs and delivery trucks. Below those are other cars. Driving a car with out-of-state license plates (save for perhaps Connecticut or New Jersey) will instantly mark you as an outsider, sometimes resulting in other drivers being more aggressive around you than they would with a local. Suffice it to say, driving in New York is not for the timid or emotionally fragile.
However, driving can be an exciting adventure, particularly on the parkways, with their numerous twists and turns. (Just watch out for other drivers, as noted above.) Also, since buses don't serve some of the parkways, driving or taking a taxi might be a workable option for those. Nonetheless, try to use bicycles or walk on the pedestrian trails near those parkways, where they exist; trails are less harrowing and you'd probably enjoy the scenery better.
The major car rental agencies have offices at all three airports as well as throughout the city. Smaller agencies are also well represented. Be warned that car rentals in New York are generally more expensive than elsewhere in the United States, especially on weekends, when the locals rent cars to get out of the city. Rentals may require a deposit of up to $500 if you do not have a credit card. New York state law caps rental car collision damage waiver at $9 per day ($15 per day for premium cars), which is quite a bit less than in most other states. At that price, it's not a bad idea to add it to your rental, even if you have another source of coverage. (For more on rental car insurance in New York, check out the New York Attorney General's page on the subject. http://www.ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/car-rental-tip-sheet) Unlike most other states in the U.S., New York state law requires rental companies to rent to anyone at least 18 years of age, but there are hefty fees for those under 25.
Car-sharing services like Zipcar and Hertz 24/7 are very well represented.
Gas stations can be found along main streets in the outer boroughs, but are sparse in Manhattan where only a handful exist around the perimeter of the island and in neighborhoods north of Central Park. Avoid filling your gas tank on highways within city limits—these charge a lot more compared to neighborhood gas stations.
Points of entry
There are several points of entry/exit into the city from the New Jersey side: the Lincoln Tunnel (midtown/41st Street), the Holland Tunnel (downtown/Canal Street), and the George Washington Bridge (way uptown/178th Street) — all are accessible from the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95). I-78 east will also feed directly into the Holland Tunnel (US-1/9 is also a popular route). I-80 east will terminate at an I-95 junction, the north route of which will lead directly to the George Washington Bridge. The bridge is also directly accessible from US-46 east. With all of these options, many commuters choose to listen to 24 hour traffic reports on AM stations 880 (every ten minutes on the 8s) and 1010 (every ten minutes on the 1s) to find the least congested route at that time. Weekend traffic delays can easily exceed 60 minutes at some of the tunnels, so plan accordingly!
The Midtown Tunnel under the East River is convenient for Long Island travelers, as it becomes the Long Island Expressway. The Queensborough Bridge (aka The 59th Street Bridge) also crosses the East River into Queens, is toll-free, and lands near the mouth of the Midtown Tunnel but requires some automotive manipulation to get onto a highway. Other routes head north and east out of the Bronx, including Interstates 87 (north to Albany) and 95 (northeast to Boston) and the Henry Hudson Parkway, which is along the Hudson River.
Rush hour traffic
Traveling at off-hours makes sense to avoid rush hour traffic, but highways and roads are still generally packed any time of day. The Cross Bronx Expressway, which is part of I-95 and leads to the George Washington Bridge, is almost always choked with traffic. The Long Island Expressway has heavy eastbound traffic between the morning and evening rushes. The Holland and Lincoln Tunnels are 10-minute waits on a good day. The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) is notorious, and an accident on the Verazzano Bridge without shoulders can cause a backup all the way through the northern part of Staten Island into New Jersey. It is a good idea to check radio traffic reports, especially before crossing a bridge or tunnel. Three different stations have reports every 10 minutes around the clock: 880 AM (on the 8's), 1010 AM (on the 1's), and 1130 AM (on the 5's).
Driving cross-town (east-west) in Manhattan during rush hours is especially troublesome because the traffic lights are optimized to move traffic along the north-south roads. Your best bet is to avoid driving in Midtown Manhattan (between the 30s and 50s) whenever possible. If you do drive in Midtown Manhattan crosstown on weekdays, consider using "Thru Streets"—these streets restrict turns onto major avenues at certain intersections and may reduce delays. They are indicated with purple and white signs at intersections.
Traveling with a commercial vehicle
If you are traveling with a commercial vehicle (defined as any vehicle designed to transport property with two axles and six tires, or three or more axles) remember that commercial traffic is prohibited on many roadways throughout the city. Commercial traffic is permitted only on roadways designated as Through and Local Truck Routes. Commercial traffic is prohibited on all multiple-lane roadways designated as "parkways" (such as the Grand Central Parkway, Cross-Island Parkway, or Henry Hudson Parkway) with frequent low bridges. Unfortunately, the majority of fast-moving roadways are designated as parkways in New York City. Commercial traffic is also prohibited on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Drive in Manhattan. Before traveling anywhere in New York City with a commercial vehicle, refer to the New York City Truck Route Map.
Parking in garages or outdoor lots is usually very expensive, costing as much as $40 per day in Manhattan, although cheap or free lot parking is available at some times at certain locations. Street parking can be free or much cheaper than garage or lot parking, but can be extremely hard to come by. In Manhattan, self-park (or "park-and-lock") is extremely rare. The overwhelming majority of parking facilities in Manhattan have mandatory valet parking, so you must set aside a few dollars for tips, and anticipate the time it will take for a valet to retrieve your vehicle. Self-park garages in Manhattan near major tourist attractions include the Battery Parking Garage in Lower Manhattan, Manhattan Plaza Parking in Midtown Manhattan, and the public parking garage underneath the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In the case of parallel parking on the street, "bumping" cars in front of and behind of you to get into and out of a parking spot (known to some as "Braille Parking") is common. If you choose to park on the street, don't be surprised if you find a few new scratches and scrapes on your bumper.
As a general rule, hotels in New York do not supply garage parking. The few that do will charge you handsomely for the privilege.
There are several websites and mobile apps that can help you find and book parking, including: ParkMe.com, SpotHero, PrimoSpot.com, ParkFast.com, ParkWhiz.com, BestParking.com, Parkopedia.com, IconParking.com, ParkFast.com, NYC Parking Authority, and Parking Panda.
Street parking - rules and penalties for violation
- Check all parking signs carefully. Parking meters demand constant feeding, and are hungry late into the night in some areas. In some parts of Midtown Manhattan, there are pay-and-display meters which are only in effect from 6PM to midnight on weekdays and all day on weekends. In these areas, parking is prohibited during the workday, except for commercial trucks. It is a good idea to keep a roll of quarters in your car, as not all meters accept credit cards. Parking is permitted at broken or missing meters for the time posted on the signs. Parking is illegal at ALL bus stops and within 15 ft (4.6 m) of fire hydrants. Yellow lines on the curb have no legal meaning in NYC, so they cannot be relied upon to tell you if you are parked far enough from a hydrant. That said, in most areas the seams in the sidewalk are roughly five feet apart, so leaving at least three "squares" of sidewalk between the hydrant and your bumper is a smart move. Many motorists simply pay garage fees to avoid the anxiety of finding a parking spot and the risks of expensive parking tickets.
- New York has "alternate side of the street" parking rules, which may require street parkers to move their cars at different times of the day (such as early morning, or overnight in a few business districts) so that street sweepers can clean the roads. Alternate side rules are suspended on many obscure holidays, while parking meters and other weekday restrictions are only suspended on a few major holidays (not even on all Federal holidays). The current state of parking enforcement can always be found on the "NYC 311" service: dial 311 on any phone, visit their website or install the 311 application on your smartphone.
- Trying to leave a car parked illegally for very long will often end with a $150 fine, and a vehicle illegally parked in an overcrowded place is very likely to be towed away and face a $300 fine. The New York Police Department operates the tow pounds.
Important rules while driving
- The speed limit throughout the city is 25 mph (as of November 7, 2014).
- Unlike other places in the United States, right turns on red are illegal, except where otherwise posted. While some entrances to New York City have signs alerting motorists that it is illegal to turn on red, other drivers from out of town may not know this rule.
- As in the rest of New York State, talking on a cell-phone (without a hands-free device) or texting while driving is illegal. Even if you do have a hands-free device, minimize your talking and prioritize driving.
- There are red light cameras at 100 intersections in New York City. A camera will take a picture if you run a red light and a fine disputable on the web will be issued in 30 days. However, since the camera does not identify who is driving the vehicle, no points will be issued against your drivers' license.
- Some bus lanes have video cameras. A camera will take a video if you drive illegally in the bus lane other than to turn right and a fine disputable on the web will be issued in 30 days.
- If there is an emergency vehicle trying to get through with its siren blaring, pull over to the side and move forward as necessary. On many one-way streets (avenues in particular), the middle lane is designated as the "FIRE LANE" so that motorists can pull over to either side lane.
- Some avenues and many streets have only one-way traffic. Thankfully, one-way streets generally alternate direction, so if your destination is down a one-way street going in the wrong direction, go another block and double-back. A handy mnemonic is "Evens go East," meaning that, for the most part, streets (in Manhattan) with even numbers will head east, and vice-versa. The best gauge to determine a one way street's direction is to check the direction parked cars face.
- Be wary of your surroundings when you park your car. While NYC is a safe city for its size, it's not necessarily safe for your car as well. Make it as unworthy to steal as possible.
Using a bicycle in New York City is common among New Yorkers and tourists alike. Bike paths can be found in every borough of the city, in three forms: bike lanes (road lanes specifically for bicycles), shared lanes (lanes shared between cars and bicycles), and greenways (roads solely designated to bicycles and pedestrians). Greenways are highly recommended for those wishing to go on a recreational journey. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway circles (almost) the whole of Manhattan, and protected bikeways exist on some major avenues. However, most destinations will require some street biking. A map of bike paths in New York City can be found here. Bike shops give out free maps provided by the City. They show bike routes and shops, and indicate the ones that offer rentals.
The city has a bike share program called CitiBike. The program has over 750 stations in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. A map can be found here. To access a bike install the app. You can also visit one of the locations and pay for a pass. A single ride costs $3.81 to unlock plus $0.18 per minute. Return your bike to a station (remember to place it securely in a dock–you will be further fined if the light on the dock does not turn green). CitiBike is good for short trips to a known destination and not recommended for using a bike for a prolonged period of time.
Cycling in Manhattan can often be quicker than taking the subway or a taxi, but it isn't for the fainthearted. The borough's tumultuous traffic makes biking difficult. Aggressive cab drivers, jaywalking pedestrians, potholes and debris on the roads create a cycling experience that might just as well have been taken from Dante's Inferno. If you do venture into the concrete jungle on a bike, make sure you wear a helmet and have sufficient experience in urban cycling.
Cycling in Brooklyn and The Bronx can be more rewarding, or not, depending on the neighborhood. There are few bike paths in Queens; however, the roads are bike-friendly for the most part.
Cycling is not recommended in Staten Island. Access is difficult, with the main way to get in being the Staten Island Ferry. There are only a handful of bike paths on the entire island, mostly on the south shore. This is unfortunate, as Staten Island has beautiful displays of nature in some of its parks, most of which are accessible only on foot or by bicycle. If you are looking for scenery, by all means, take your bike with you on the ferry, but do not rely on it for transportation on the street.
Like most of the great world cities, New York has an abundance of great attractions - so many, that it would be impossible to list them all here. What follows is but a sampling of the most high-profile attractions in New York City; more detailed info can be found in the district pages.
A general word of advice on sightseeing in New York: Tourists often spend their entire vacation in New York standing in line (or as New Yorkers say, "on line"). This is often unnecessary; there are usually alternatives. For example, one can choose to avoid the Empire State Building during the day (it is open, and much quieter, late, until 2AM), skip the Statue of Liberty in favor of the Staten Island Ferry, and stay away from the Guggenheim on Monday (it is one of the only museums open that day). Also, there is no reason to stand in line for a Broadway show if you already have a ticket with an assigned seat. If you prefer, get a drink nearby and come back closer to curtain time, when you can walk right in. The lines for bus tours can be absurd because tourists all seem to have exactly the same itinerary - which is get on a bus in the morning in Times Square, get off for the Statue of Liberty, and finish on the East Side in the afternoon. Why not go downtown in the morning, and save Midtown for the afternoon? You will thank yourself for avoiding the crowds. Also, understand that buses are the slowest way to go crosstown in Midtown Manhattan during peak hours, and taxis are not much better. You are often better off on foot. Additionally, New York rush hour (especially in Manhattan) puts much of the city in gridlock––all subway lines and roads will be much busier from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.
A number of multi-attraction schemes give reduced prices and line-skipping privileges.
- Explorer Pass. Allows you to choose 7, 5 or 3 top attractions to visit. Cardholders have 30 days to use the card after visiting the first attraction. Attractions to choose from include Top of the Rock Observation, Rockefeller Center Tour, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NBC Studio Tour, movie tours, cruises, and more. Also included with the card are shopping, dining, and additional attraction discounts.
- New York CityPASS. Grants admission to 6 New York attractions within 9 days of first use for a much reduced rate. The attractions are the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art & same-day admission to The Cloisters, the American Museum of Natural History, Top of the Rock or the Guggenheim Museum, Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry or Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum or the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. $132 adult, $108 child ages 6–17.
- New York Pass. Grants access to over 50 top attractions with line skipping privileges. Passes are available for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 days. Remember, you must obtain a ticket in each attraction. You can visit as many attractions as you want in the time period - the more attractions you visit, the more you save. Also includes a free 140 page guide book, but is much better to organize your visits previously, via internet. Prices are given as adult price/child (ages 4-12) price. 1 day: $134/$99; 2 day: $199/$159; 3 day: $274/$199; 4 day: $299/$224; 5 day: $339/$244; 7 day: $379/$259; 10 day: $469/$299.
See also the district pages for detailed information about attractions. Detail is gradually being moved from this page to the district pages.
Naturally, Manhattan possesses the lion's share of the landmarks that have saturated American popular culture. Starting in the Financial District, perhaps the most famous of these landmarks is easy to spot - the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the nation standing atop a small island in the harbor, and perhaps also the most difficult attraction to access in terms of crowds and the long lines to see it. Nearby Ellis Island preserves the site where millions of immigrants completed their journey to America. Within the Financial District itself, Wall Street acts as the heart of big business being the home of the New York Stock Exchange, although the narrow street also holds some historical attractions, namely Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States. Furthermore, there is a large statue of a bull that tourists often take pictures with. Nearby, the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Site commemorates the victims of that fateful day. Connecting the Financial District to Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge offers fantastic views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.
Moving north to Midtown, Manhattan's other major business district, you'll find some of New York's most famous landmarks. The Empire State Building looms over Midtown, with the nearby Chrysler Building also dominating the landscape. Nearby is the headquarters of United Nations overlooking the East River and Grand Central Terminal, one of the busiest train stations in the world. Also nearby is the main branch of the New York Public Library, a beautiful building famous for its magnificent reading rooms and the lion statues outside the front door; and Rockefeller Plaza, home to NBC Studios, Radio City Music Hall, and (during the winter) the famous Christmas Tree and Skating Rink.
Still in the Midtown area but just to the west, in the Theater District, is the tourist center of New York: Times Square, filled with bright, flashing video screens and LED signs running 24 hours a day. Just to the north is Central Park, with its lawns, trees and lakes popular for recreation and concerts.
Museums and galleries
New York has some of the finest museums in the world. All the public museums (notably including the Metropolitan Museum and the American Museum of Natural History), which are run by the city, accept donations for an entrance fee, but private museums (especially the Museum of Modern Art) can be very expensive. In addition to the major museums, hundreds of small galleries are spread throughout the city, notably in neighborhoods like Chelsea and Williamsburg. Many galleries and museums in New York close on Mondays, so be sure to check hours before visiting. The following is just a list of highlights; see district pages for more listings.
Arts and culture
New York City is home to some of the finest art museums in the country, and in Manhattan, you'll find the grandest of them all. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park has vast holdings that represent a series of collections, each of which ranks in its category among the finest in the world. Within this single building you'll find perhaps the world's finest collection of American artwork, period rooms, thousands of European paintings including Rembrandts and Vermeers, the greatest collection of Egyptian art outside Cairo, one of the world's finest Islamic art collections, Asian art, European sculpture, medieval and Renaissance art, and antiquities from around the ancient world. As if all that wasn't enough, the Metropolitan also operates The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, which houses a collection of medieval art and incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters and other monastic sites in southern France in its renowned gardens.
Near the Metropolitan, in the Upper East Side, is the Guggenheim Museum. Although more famed for its architecture than the collection it hosts, the spiraling galleries are ideal for exhibiting art works. The nearby Frick Collection houses a smaller though well-regarded collection of paintings by the old masters. In Midtown, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), holds the most comprehensive collection of modern art in the world, and is so large as to require multiple visits to see all of the works on display, which include Van Gogh's Starry Night and Picasso's Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, as well as an extensive industrial design collection. Midtown is also home to the Paley Center for Media, a museum dedicated to television and radio, including a massive database of old shows. The Whitney Museum of American Art, with a collection of contemporary American art, can be found in the Meatpacking District.
In Brooklyn's Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum of Art is the city's second largest art museum with excellent collections of Egyptian art, Assyrian reliefs, 19th-century American art, and art from Africa and Oceania, among other things. Long Island City in Queens is home to a number of art museums, including the PS1 Contemporary Art Center, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of the Moving Image, which showcases movies and the televisual arts.
Science and technology
In New York City, no museum holds a sway over children like the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan's Upper West Side. Containing the Hayden Planetarium, incredible astronomy exhibits, animal dioramas, many rare and beautiful gems and mineral specimens, anthropology halls, and one of the largest collections of dinosaur skeletons in the world, this place offers plenty of stunning sights.
Near Times Square in the Theater District, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum takes up a pier on the Hudson River, with the aircraft carrier Intrepid docked here and holding some incredible air and space craft, including a former British Airways Concorde.
Over in the Flushing district of Queens, on the grounds of the former World's Fair, is the New York Hall of Science, which incorporates the Great Hall of the fair and now full of hands-on exhibits for kids to enjoy.
Another standout museum is the New York Transit Museum in an abandoned subway station in Downtown Brooklyn. The old subway cars are a real treat and the museum is a must if you're in New York with kids (and well-worth it even if you're not).
Until the mid-20th century, New York was a predominantly industrial city. While most factories have been torn down, some neighborhoods, such as SoHo and the Meatpacking District, remain as a heritage of manufacturing. See the American Industry Tour.
Like all great cities, New York is made up of distinct neighborhoods, each of which has its own flavor. Many of the neighborhoods are popular with visitors, and all are best experienced on foot. See individual borough pages (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island) for a comprehensive listing of neighborhoods.
Though the image many people have of New York is endless skyscrapers and packed sidewalks, the city also boasts numerous lovely parks, ranging from small squares to the 850-acre Central Park. There are worthwhile parks in every borough, more than enough to keep any visitor busy. These include Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, which boasts grand views of the New Jersey Palisades, the grand Pelham Bay Park in The Bronx, the popular Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the famous Flushing Meadows Park in Corona, Queens, site of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, and the wondrous Greenbelt in Staten Island, a collection of beautiful parks and protected forests unlike any other park in the city. New York City is also home to portions of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Almost any park is a great spot to rest, read, or just relax and watch the people streaming past. To find out more about New York City parks, go to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website and the guide pages for each borough. Except for special events, all NYC parks are closed 1AM–6AM. The exception to this rule is parks affiliated with schools, which are closed for the entire time the sun is down.
Theater and performing arts
New York boasts an enormous amount and variety of theatrical performances. Most of these are concentrated in Manhattan, particularly the Theater District around Times Square, where you'll find the major musicals and big-name dramatic works of Broadway. These are the most popular with visitors, with tickets for some shows running to $130 a seat, though discounters make cheaper seats available. And if you're in town in early June (and willing to spend a lot of money), it's possible to purchase tickets to the Tony Awards, Broadway's biggest award ceremony and the culmination of the theatrical season in the city. However, you can also find "Off-Broadway" shows (and even the dirt cheap and very small "Off-Off-Broadway" shows) throughout Manhattan that play to smaller audiences and are far less expensive. Playbill.com is a good resource for current and upcoming Broadway and Off-Broadway info and listings. See the Manhattan page for more detailed info on theater offerings.
Some of New York's (and the world's) most high-profile music and dance halls include the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Downtown Brooklyn, Carnegie Hall - the premier venue for classical music in the United States - in Manhattan's Theater District, Radio City Music Hall - home of the Rockettes - in Midtown, and the Lincoln Center in the Upper West Side, home to the prestigious Chamber Music Society, the Metropolitan Opera ("the Met"), the New York City Ballet, and the New York Philharmonic. There are also numerous small companies putting on more idiosyncratic shows every night of the week.
Film and television
New York is one of the world's greatest film cities, home to a huge number of theaters playing independent and repertory programs. Many major US studio releases open earlier in New York than elsewhere (especially in the autumn) and can be found at the major cineplexes (AMC, United Artists, etc.) around the city. As with everything else in New York, movies are quite popular, and even relatively obscure films at unappealing times of the day can still be sold out. It's best to get tickets in advance whenever possible. As many films premiere in New York, you can often catch a moderated discussion with the director or cast after the show. Sometimes even repertory films will have post-screening discussions or parties. Check listings for details.
In addition to the many commercial multiplexes throughout the city, some of the more intriguing New York film options include the several theaters in Greenwich Village and the East Village which play independent and foreign releases, many of which are screened only in New York. The Film Society at Lincoln Center in the Upper West Side puts on a terrific repertory program and shows a wide variety of experimental and foreign films, and also hosts the prestigious New York Film Festival in October. Another major film festival is the Tribeca Film Festival, held each May and a prominent event in New York's film calendar. The Museum of the Moving Image in Long Island City in Queens puts on a terrific screening program, with films showing continuously throughout the day, while MoMa in Midtown Manhattan puts on a terrific repertory program (and compared to other New York movie theaters, tickets to films at MoMA are a steal).
Virtually every major national television network has studios in Manhattan, particularly the Midtown area, and many well-known programs are open to viewers. Rockefeller Center is home to NBC Studios and its flagship shows, including Saturday Night Live and Today, and is open for tours. Lincoln Square boasts programming produced for ABC, such as The View and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, at the network's West 66th Street facility. More examples of popular programs you can see in person can be found on the Manhattan page.
New York City hosts many parades, street festivals and outdoor pageants. The following are the most famous:
- New York's Village Halloween Parade. Each Halloween (October 31) at 7PM. This parade and street pageant attracts 2 million spectators and 50,000 costumed participants along Sixth Avenue between Spring Street and 21st Street. Anyone in a costume is welcome to march; those wishing to should show up between 6PM-9PM at Spring Street and 6th Avenue.
- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The morning of each Thanksgiving on Central Park West, this parade attracts many spectators and is broadcast on nationwide television.
- St. Patrick's Day Parade. The largest St. Paddy's parade in the world! Route is up 5th Ave from 44th Street to 86th Street and lasts from 11AM to about 2:30. Celebrations in pubs citywide happen the rest of the day and night until the green beer runs out.
- Labor Day (aka West Indian Day Parade or New York Caribbean Carnival).
A number of professional and collegiate teams play in the New York metropolitan area.
- The New York Yankees play Major League Baseball at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx (East 161st Street and River Avenue. Subway: 4, B, D to 161st Street-Yankee Stadium). One of the most storied and lucrative sports franchises in the world, the Yankees have won 27 World Series championships in all.
- Citi Field in Flushing Meadows (126th Street and Roosevelt Avenue. Subway: 7 to Mets-Willets Point) is home to the New York Mets, who also play Major League Baseball.
- In addition to its many concerts and the annual Westminster Dog Show, Madison Square Garden hosts the New York Knicks of the NBA and New York Rangers of the NHL, plus annual postseason college basketball for the Big East Conference and the National Invitation Tournament. It had been home to the New York Liberty of the WNBA through the 2017 season, but that team now shares Barclays Center with the Brooklyn Nets. (Pennsylvania Plaza. Subway: 1, 2, 3, A, C, E to 34th Street-Penn Station)
- Long based in New Jersey, the Brooklyn Nets basketball team moved to the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn (Vanderbilt Yards. Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q, R to Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center) in 2012. The aforementioned New York Liberty has now been purchased by the owner of the Nets and will move to Barclays Center for its next season in 2020.
- Other NHL teams are the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. The Islanders now split their home games between Nassau Coliseum (in Uniondale, a bit less than 30 miles east of midtown Manhattan) and the Barclays Center, the latter shared with the Nets. The Islanders had played at the Coliseum for more than 40 years before moving in 2015 to Barclays Center, returning to the since-renovated Coliseum on a part-time basis in 2018. The Devils skate at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, 12 miles west of midtown. The Islanders have announced plans to return to Nassau County in 2021 at a new arena to be built next to the Belmont Park horse racing track in Elmont, just outside of Queens (a little less than 20 miles east of Midtown).
- Two National Football League teams play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, 10 miles northwest of midtown Manhattan. The New York Giants in the National Football Conference have won four Super Bowls, while the New York Jets of the American Football Conference have won one.
- Brooklyn Cyclones. Play Minor League Baseball (High A East- North Division) at MCU Park. They are a High Class A affiliate of the Mets, one of the surviving Short Season A teams that moved to full season play in 2021.
- The Knicks and Nets both field teams in the NBA G League, the official minor league of the NBA, with both playing in the suburbs. The Westchester Knicks play at Westchester County Center in White Plains, while the Long Island Nets play at the Nassau Coliseum.
- There are three top-level soccer franchises, two men's and one women's, in the Tri-State area. The New York Red Bulls (Major League Soccer) play home matches at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, 11 miles from midtown Manhattan. New York City FC (partially owned by the Yankees) became the Tri-State's second MLS team in 2015; they are playing in Yankee Stadium until they can build a new stadium of their own. Sky Blue FC, a member of the National Women's Soccer League, will share Red Bull Arena with the Red Bulls starting in 2020.
- James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, New York is home to the New York Lizards of Major League Lacrosse.
- MCU Park also hosts Rugby United New York, which began play in Major League Rugby (rugby union) in 2019.
- NCAA Division I athletic programs around New York City include the following:
- St. John's Red Storm (St. John's University) in Jamaica, Queens. Higher-profile men's basketball games are often played at the Garden.
- Seton Hall Pirates (Seton Hall University) in South Orange, New Jersey (20 miles west of midtown). Men's basketball games are played at the Prudential Center.
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights (the main campus of Rutgers University) in New Brunswick and Piscataway, New Jersey, with most of the athletic facilities in the latter (40 miles southwest of midtown).
- Army Black Knights (United States Military Academy) in West Point, New York (50 miles north of midtown).
- Columbia Lions (Columbia University) in Morningside Heights, Manhattan.
- Fordham Rams (Fordham University) in Fordham, Bronx.
- Manhattan Jaspers (Manhattan College) in Riverdale, Bronx.
- LIU Sharks (Long Island University), with some sports (most notably basketball) in Downtown Brooklyn and others (most notably football) in the Nassau County community of Brookville (25 miles east of midtown). The Sharks started play in the 2019–20 school year following the university's decision to merge the sports teams of its two main campuses.
- St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers (St. Francis College) in Brooklyn Heights.
- Wagner Seahawks (Wagner College) in Grymes Hill, Staten Island.
- Iona Gaels (Iona College) in New Rochelle, New York (20 miles northeast of midtown).
- NJIT Highlanders (New Jersey Institute of Technology) in Newark, New Jersey (9 miles west of midtown). A few men's basketball games are played at the Prudential Center.
- Saint Peter's Peacocks and Peahens (Saint Peter's University) in Jersey City, New Jersey (9 miles southwest of midtown).
- Stony Brook Seawolves (Stony Brook University) in Stony Brook in Suffolk County (55 miles east of midtown).
- The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows (Corona Park. Subway: 7 to Mets-Willets Point) is the site of the US Open tennis tournament, held yearly in late August and early September.
- Part of horse racing's Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes are run in June at Belmont Park in nearby Elmont, 20 miles east of midtown Manhattan. (The exact timing is five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, a race that is always held on the first Saturday of May.)
Unsurprisingly, New York City, the largest city in the United States, is home to many colleges and universities. Among these universities, Columbia University and New York University (NYU) are undoubtedly the most prestigious (but also the most expensive). Another notable university is Rockefeller University, at which several significant biomedical discoveries were made, though unlike the other two, it does not have undergraduate programs and only admits graduate students. And the city also has its very own system of public colleges, City University of New York, with every borough represented among its numerous branches.
New York City has a reputation for being one of the world's most expensive cities, and it can be, particularly when it comes to accommodation. That being said, there are ways to limit the damage; food is available from many halal food trucks for $5, which will get you rice with meat, vegetables and a soft drink, and you can still find $1 pizza slices at many of the hole-in-the-wall pizzerias throughout the city. Supermarkets and convenience stores generally also sell basic items at reasonable prices (by Western standards). New York's public bathroom infrastructure is lacking, so buying an item at a facility with a bathroom is generally advisable if you are far from your accommodation.
New York is the fashion capital of the United States, and is a major shopping destination for people around the world. The city boasts an unmatched range of department stores, boutiques, and specialty shops. Some neighborhoods boast more shopping options than most other American cities and have become famous as consumer destinations. Anything you could possibly want to buy can be found in New York, including clothing, cameras, computers and accessories, music, musical instruments, electronic equipment, art supplies, sporting goods, and all kinds of foodstuffs and kitchen appliances. See the borough pages and district sub-pages for listings of some of the more important stores and major business districts, of which there are several. New York state has a sales tax exemption on all clothing items that cost less than $100.
The popular place to begin is Manhattan, most notably Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, where the iconic flagship stores of many major department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman are located. Other notable department stores in Manhattan include the world-famous Macy's at Herald Square, Bloomingdale's on 59th Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues, and Nordstrom on Broadway at 57th Street. Of course, for dirt-cheap knockoffs, the various Chinatowns in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn respectively are the place to go.
New York City is not known for budget shopping, but during major sales, such as the Black Friday sale after Thanksgiving, prices of some out-of-season items have been known to be slashed by as much as 50%, meaning that it is possible to find good deals for genuine luxury brand-name items if you are there at the right time. Savvy New Yorkers shop after Christmas and especially after New Year's.
Anyone can freely create, display, and sell art, including paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, DVDs, and CDs, based on freedom of speech rights. Thousands of artists earn their livings on New York's streets and parks. Common places to find street artists selling their work are SoHo, the Financial District and near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
New York City has a number of retail outlet locations, offering substantial discounts and the opportunity to purchase ends-of-line and factory seconds.
Convenience stores, pharmacies, and supermarkets
Basic food, drinks, snacks, medicine, and toiletries can be found at decent prices at the ubiquitous Duane Reade (owned by Walgreens), CVS, and Rite Aid stores. For a more authentically New York experience, stop by one of the thousands of bodegas/delis/groceries. Although some of these stores have a somewhat ramshackle appearance, they are reliable though often not the cheapest places to purchase groceries, water, flowers, coffee, and cooked food, typically 24/7.
There are several local and regional chains of supermarkets represented all over the city, including Associated, C-Town, D'Agostino's, Foodtown, Gristedes and Key Food, and Fairway and West Side Market have a few locations. There are also chains such as Hong Kong Supermarket and H-Mart, which cater primarily to Chinese and Korean customers, respectively. National chains selling food include Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market, Costco (mostly in bulk) and Target.
Shopping in airports
Most shops in New York-area airports are chain outlets, the same as can be found in most large airports in the world, so it's pretty difficult to feel the spirit of the fashion capital if you only have 2 hours waiting for a connecting flight. At JFK, JetBlue Airways' new Terminal 5 is populated with modern, cutting-edge restaurants and shops, but terminals 4 and 8 are also relatively good places for retail and duty-free shopping.
In New York City it is common for street vendors to set up tables on the sidewalk, close to the curb, and sell items. They are required to obtain a permit to perform this activity, but it is legal. Purchasing from these vendors is generally legitimate, although buying brand name goods from them (particularly expensive clothing and movies) is generally ill-advised unless you want cheap imitation products. It is considered safe to buy less expensive goods from these vendors, but most will not accept payment by credit card, so you will have to bring cash. Be particularly wary of any street vendor that does not sell from a table (especially vendors who approach you with their merchandise in a briefcase), as these goods are almost certainly cheap imitation products.
New York has, as you might expect of the Big Apple, all the eating options covered and you can find almost every type of food available and every cuisine of the world represented. There are literally tens of thousands of restaurants, ranging from dingy $0.99-a-slice pizza joints to $500-a-plate prix fixe sushi. Thousands of delis, bodegas, and grocery stores dot every corner of the city and do it yourself meals are easy and cheap to find. Street food comes in various tastes, ranging from the ubiquitous New York hot dog vendors to the many middle eastern carts at street corners in Midtown. Fast food is as plentiful and as diverse as you can imagine. Fruit stalls appear at many intersections from spring to fall with ready to eat strawberries, bananas, apples, etc. available at very low cost and vegetarian and vegan options abound throughout the city.
Don't leave without trying
New York pizza
A peculiarly New York thing, a true New York pizza is a plain cheese pizza with a very thin crust (sometimes chewy, sometimes crisp), and an artery-hardening sheen of grease on top. From just about any pizzeria you can get a whole pie with a variety of toppings available, or a "dollar slice" if you just want a piece of plain cheese pizza. Just fold in half lengthwise, be sure to grab a lot of napkins, and enjoy. Or pick up one with pepperoni - the quintessential meal on the go in New York. Dollar-slice places can be found all over the city, and include the many different variations of "Ray's Pizza", all of which claim to be the original thing. However, perhaps the most respected of the corner joints is the wildly popular Joe's in Greenwich Village.
But while pizza in New York is generally considered a fast food, the most respected pizzerias in the city are those that act like sit-down restaurants, and some of them serve whole pies only, no slices. Except for DiFara's, all the following pizzerias use a classic New York style of coal-fired, rather than gas-fired ovens, which allows them to bake their pizza for a very short time at very high temperatures, producing a unique style of crispy, slightly charred crust that makes their output quite different from the average corner slice shop. Every New Yorker has their own personal favorite, but several routinely make it to the top of the list. Lombardi's in Little Italy is regarded as the oldest pizzeria in town and continues to draw in big crowds of tourists, but Patsy's in East Harlem has long been regarded by connoisseurs as serving perhaps the purest example of plain New York-style coal-oven pizza (don't order any toppings, though). Greenwich Village is the center of pizza on Manhattan, home to not only Joe's but also the classic John's and the popular Arturo's. In Brooklyn, Grimaldi's in DUMBO is hugely popular with lines that go down the street, while Totonno's on Coney Island and Di Fara's in Midwood remain mainstays with the locals. There are also excellent brick-oven establishments serving Neapolitan or other styles of pizza that are not classic New York but well worth having.
New York hot dog
Nothing represents New York street food like the almighty hot dog. Affectionately called "dirty water dogs" by the locals, a New York hot dog is typically all-beef, served in a plain bun, and topped with mustard, ketchup, relish, or any combination of the three. You can get one from pushcarts on seemingly every street corner and park in the city. Just wrap the dog in a paper napkin and walk along the sidewalk trying not to let the toppings slip and slide all over your hands. And of course, both ballparks make sure to keep their fans' hot dog needs satisfied.
However, there are a few places that go a step beyond the typical dirty water dog, with better cooked dogs and a much greater variety of toppings available. Many hot dog enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to the original hot dog stand, Nathan's on Coney Island, although locals generally view it as a tourist trap. In Manhattan, Papaya King (on the Upper East Side) and Gray's Papaya (on the Upper West Side) are favorites, so-named because they also serve tropical drinks with their frankfurters. In addition to their sandwiches, Katz's on the Lower East Side is also reputed for an excellent deli dog. In the East Village, Crif Dogs draws people in for their deep-fried, beef-and-pork (and often bacon-wrapped!) dogs. Dominick's food truck commands a fiercely loyal crowd, who flock to a quiet side of Queens to get a taste. People looking for a good bratwurst should try the Hallo Berlin cart on 54th and Fifth in Midtown, while Chicago purists should head to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.
New York bagel
There is no bagel like the New York bagel anywhere else in the world. Bagels are a doughnut-shaped round of boiled dough that is then baked until it has a distinctive, chewy, sweet interior and a leathery outer crust. They arrived from the Old World with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and have become utterly New York in character. You can get bagels anywhere in the city, but for the best bagels you may have to trek away from the main tourist sites. The key point, though, is get them when they are hot (and that does not mean reheated in the microwave). Some places actively discourage toasting; try them fresh out of the oven. Good bagel shops will offer a variety of cream cheese spreads and sandwich stuffings, like lox, salmon, tofu spreads, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Many bagel shops are extremely generous with their cream cheese; locals will order "just a schmear" to get a more reasonable amount.
On Manhattan, many people swear by Ess'a Bagel in Midtown, with their giant bagels and huge variety of toppings, although bagel purists respect Murray's in Greenwich Village and Chelsea for their refusal to allow toasting. Other places in Manhattan which command fiercely loyal followings are Brooklyn Bagel, also in Chelsea, and Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side. In Brooklyn, Bagel Hole in Park Slope is a no-frills place with smaller bagels, and is often ranked as one of the top bagels in the city, while over in a quiet section of Queens, Bagel Oasis is regularly considered among the very best.
New York pastrami sandwich
Another delicacy brought over by Jewish immigrants, pastrami sandwiches are another specialty of New York City. A "Reuben", a grilled sandwich piled high with corned beef, Swiss cheese, dressing and sauerkraut between two slices of rye bread, is always a good choice. A good deli sandwich doesn't come cheap: be prepared to spend upwards of $15 for a good sandwich, due to the fact that these meats are prepared using natural methods now outmoded by artificial flavorings and mass production. Many delis also serve other Jewish specialties, such as matzo ball soup.
If you want pastrami, your best bet is Katz's Delicatessen, an institution on the Lower East Side that's been serving up excellent sandwiches for over a century. 2nd Ave Deli in Murray Hill is a famous kosher deli that's a real throwback to the Jewish delis of old. And if you find yourself over in East Brooklyn, Mill Basin Deli is known for some of the best pastrami in Brooklyn.
New York desserts
Another New York claim to fame is the New York cheesecake, which relies upon heavy cream, cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks to add a richness and a smooth consistency. It was made famous by Junior's, which still commands a loyal crowd with two locations in Midtown, although the original is in Downtown Brooklyn. Other favorites are Eileen's in NoLiTa, Lady M and Two Little Red Hens in the Upper East Side and S&S in the Bronx (whose cheesecake is also sold at Zabar's on the Upper West Side).
Another dessert of New York origin is the egg cream, also often referred to as a "chocolate egg cream", a blend of chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer water (note the curious absence of either egg or cream). Though not often on the menu at many diners, many will still prepare one for you if you ask for one. You can also find them in surprising places, like the tiny Ray's Candy Store in the East Village.
Maybe it's the size of New Yorkers' tiny kitchens, or perhaps it's the enormous melting-pot immigrant populations, but either way, this city excels at every kind of restaurant. There are fancy famous-chef restaurants, all ethnic cuisines and fusion/updates of ethnic cuisines (second-generation immigrants tweaking their family tradition), plus all the fashionable spots, casual bistros, lounges for drinking and noshing and more.
It's only a slight exaggeration to say that virtually every type of cuisine is available in New York. And in some neighborhoods you'll find many national and regional styles represented. However, certain neighborhoods, particularly those in Queens, really shine in terms of the sheer variety available to visitors. Where Manhattan's high rents often result in expensive restaurants and sometimes watered-down, unnaturally sweetened food, Queens' vast array of cuisines are often served primarily to patrons from the country where it originated. Not that Manhattan is completely bereft by any stretch, however: a wide variety of Chinese options can be found in Chinatown and the East Village, there's the small Koreatown with some very good (but not necessarily cheap) restaurants, Washington Heights is the center for Dominican food, the East Village is full of Japanese eateries of various types, and part of Murray Hill is known as "Curry Hill" for its proliferation of Indian restaurants. But in Queens, Flushing offers a vast and diverse array of Chinese (including Northeastern, Sichuan, Hunanese, Shanghainese, etc.), Korean, and Indian eateries; Jackson Heights includes a prominent Indian section among a vast Latin American neighborhood whose eateries span the American continents from Chilean to Mexican and almost everything in between; nearby Elmhurst features various Southeast Asian (for example Vietnamese and Thai, with a couple of Indonesian and Malaysian restaurants thrown in) and Chinese cuisines, Long Island City has locally well-known halal restaurants among a very diverse set of good establishments; nearby Astoria is best known for its Mediterranean food; and Rego Park has Uzbek dining halls. In Brooklyn, Brighton Beach is noted for its Russian eateries, while Sunset Park is home to a third Chinatown as well as plenty of Malaysian and Vietnamese options. Italian options can be found in virtually every neighborhood, although a higher number appear in Staten Island, the East Village, Greenwich Village, heavily Italian parts of Brooklyn like Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge, and the area around Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. (Italian restaurants in Manhattan's "Little Italy" are mostly for tourists only, and New Yorkers generally avoid Mulberry St. between Canal and Broome. Likewise, you would be hard pressed to find locals eating in the chain restaurants [including chain pizzerias] around Times Square.)
Due to the higher cost of living, you are in general expected to tip more in New York City than in other parts of the U.S. As a general rule, tips should start at 18% of the cost of the meal for adequate service, and may go up to 25% for service that goes above and beyond what is expected.
Restaurants with entrees under $35 are unlikely to have any preference about what their customers wear. Of course, like most major cities, New York has some expensive, extremely fashionable restaurants that care about, and enforce, a certain level of dress among their customers - but "jackets only" restaurants are very uncommon nowadays to the point at which the restaurant's reputation would make the fact known.
If you're from elsewhere in the US and wish to "pass" as a local within Manhattan, pay attention to your shoes and coat. Most local exclusiveness is pretty understated, but where it exists it's generally to distinguish locals from nightlife commuters from New Jersey and Long Island that supposedly threaten to rob bar-filled neighborhoods of their local color. Therefore, if your style doesn't fit in but is obviously from outside the US, you may find yourself welcomed as graciously as any local, if not more so.
Vegetarians and vegans will find New York to be a paradise with hundreds of vegetarian-only restaurants and good veggie options in even the most expensive places. There are many vegetarian-only restaurants with offerings varying from macrobiotic food to Ayurvedic thalis or Asian Buddhist food. But, more importantly, almost every restaurant at every point on the price scale has vegetarian dishes that are more than an afterthought. Even Per Se, one of the most expensive and sought after restaurants in the city, has a seven course vegetarian tasting menu well worth the expense. DIY vegetarians will have no problem finding fresh vegetables, a wide variety of cheese, bread, and prepared vegetarian foods in New York supermarkets.
Nothing differentiates New York more from other American (and European) cities than the astonishing amount of food cooked and served on the streets. Starting with the thousands of hot dog stands on almost every street corner, the possibilities are endless. People trek to Jackson Heights in Queens for a nibble of the famous arepas of the Arepa Lady. Freshly cooked Indian dosas are served up for a pittance at the NY Dosas stand in Washington Square Park. The Trinipak cart on 43rd and Sixth in Midtown serves delicious Trinidadian/Pakistani food. Danny Meyer, the famous restaurateur, runs the burger stand Shake Shack in Madison Square Park as well as several other locations throughout the city. The halal offerings in Midtown are legendary (Kwik-Meal on 45th and Sixth; Halal Guys on 53rd and Sixth and many others). Most carts serve lunch from about 11AM to 5 or 6PM in the evening and disappear after dark, so look for a cart near you, smell what's cooking, and enjoy a hot and often tasty lunch for a few dollars (a meal costs anywhere from about $2 to $8). Mornings, from about 6AM to 10AM, the streets are dotted with coffee carts that sell coffee, croissants, bagels, and Danish pastries and are good for a cheap breakfast: small coffee and bagel for a dollar or so. From 10AM to 7PM, many vendors sell lunch and dinner choices, including hot dogs, hamburgers, gyros, and halal. Other street vendors sell Italian ices, pretzels, ice cream, and roasted peanuts. Also, look around for the coffee truck (often found in Union Square), dessert truck, and the Belgian waffle truck that roam around the city.
Do it yourself
New York's many markets and grocery stores make preparing your own food interesting and easy. Almost every grocery store, deli, or bodega has a prepared foods section where you can make your own salad (beware, you are charged by the pound!) or buy ready to eat foods such as burritos, tacos, curries and rice, lasagna, pastas, pre-prepared or freshly-made sandwiches, and many other types of foods. Any supermarket will have enough to take away to the park or your hotel room for a low cost meal. Whole Foods has five New York City locations, all with a variety of foods and a clean place to sit and eat. Zabar's on the Upper West Side is very famous, with a huge selection of foodstuffs and expensive foods as well as cooking supplies. There is also a Trader Joe's at Union Square and in 6 other locations every borough but the Bronx for cheap but delicious supermarket buys, and Western Beef supermarkets offer more foods from different ethnicities than average supermarkets.
If you have a place to cook, you'll find almost any kind of food in New York though you may have to travel to the outer boroughs for ethnic ingredients. Most supermarkets have Thai, Chinese, and Indian sauces to add flavor to your pot, and many, especially in Upper Manhattan, have the ingredients necessary for a Mexican or Central American meal, but go to Chinatown for the best Chinese ingredients, Little India in Murray Hill for Indian ingredients, Flushing for all things Chinese or Korean, Jackson Heights for Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and South Asian, Flatbush and Crown Heights for Jamaican, Williamsburg for Kosher, and Greenpoint for Polish. Ask around for where you can get your favorite ethnic ingredients and you'll find traveling around in local neighborhoods a rewarding experience.
Last call can be as late as 4AM, although many establishments will let you stay beyond that, especially in the outer boroughs. It is not uncommon to be locked in a bar after 4AM so people can keep drinking. Wine and liquor are sold at liquor stores, and are not sold at delis or supermarkets. Beer cannot be bought between 4AM and 8AM on Sunday morning (although if you look hard, you can get around this).
As in most American cities, drinking alcoholic beverages on the street is illegal. The law is flouted openly in many areas, but bars will not generally let you take your drink outside.
Popular nightlife neighborhoods
The only thing about New York City that changes faster than the subway map or the restaurants is the bar scene. While some established watering holes have been around for decades or centuries, the hot spot of the moment may well have opened last week and could likely close just as quickly.
On Manhattan, Greenwich Village is probably the best neighborhood to go if you are in town for just a brief period, full of locals of all ages, especially students attending NYU. Chelsea has lots of clubs and a thriving gay scene, and if you are European and looking for a discothèque, this is where you want to be. The Meatpacking District holds trendier bars and clubs and some expensive restaurants. The Lower East Side, formerly the dingy alternative to the West Village, has become trendier today, with an influx of hipsters. The East Village also has lots of bars, as well as a sizeable cluster of Japanese bars. Nearby, Alphabet City, once a dangerous drug-addled hell hole, has since cleaned up and is loaded with bars. Murray Hill is more hip with the 30-year-old crowd, with many Indian restaurants and plenty of watering holes, including a couple of fireman bars and an all Irish whiskey pub. Times Square is a very touristy area with a few classy hotel rooftop bars, although very few New Yorkers would be caught dead at these places.
In Brooklyn, Williamsburg is the capital of NYC's hipster scene, and many of New York's small music venues are here. Bay Ridge has one of the highest concentrations of bars in the city in a neighborhood that has been generally Irish/Italian and does not have the hipster/yuppie scene common in New York. Park Slope, however, is the yuppie capital of New York and you are more likely to find a tea house serving soy milk than a bar here. There is some low-key nightlife, although this has been on the decline. A number of lesbian bars are in this area.
Queens is home to Woodside, an Irish neighborhood great for happy hour and drinking festivities before a Mets baseball game. Astoria is home to Queens' Bohemian Hall Beer Garden, which covers an entire city block, is walled and filled with trees, indoor and outdoor tables and a cool crowd, and serves great Czech and German beer. And on Staten Island, St. George has a few bars located south of the ferry terminal, with good live music.
NYC has a pretty confident claim to be the world capital of jazz. It exerts a brain drain influence on the rest of the country's most talented jazz musicians, and the live music scene is simply thriving. This goes for all styles of jazz, (except pre-swing trad jazz, which safely belongs to New Orleans): Latin, modern, fusion, experimental, bebop, hard bop, you name it. The Blue Note in Greenwich Village is probably the most famous extant jazz club in the world, with nightly headliners and cover charges to match. The Village Vanguard is a legendary hole-in-the-wall (also in Greenwich Village), having played host to most of the greats going back to 1935. Other top (i.e., famous—there are fabulous lesser-known places to hear jazz throughout the city) clubs include Birdland in the Theater District and the Cotton Club in Harlem. If the high cover charges in this expensive city are giving you the blues, look at Smalls and Fat Cat, which are within a block of each other in Greenwich Village and keep the covers as low as possible, so that musicians can actually afford to come!
Would it be too provocative to declare New York the home of salsa? Possibly, but there's a reason to consider it. Salsa originated in Cuba, but its second home was New York (especially the Bronx), where it truly exploded and developed into a global phenomenon, driven by innovations from Cuban and later Puerto Rican immigrants. Latin dance, particularly salsa (danced on the two) and other Afro-Caribbean varieties, remains enormously popular, although it's now centered more on a semi-professional ballroom-dancing crowd rather than Latino communities. The Copacabana near Times Square dates back to 1940, and is probably the city's best known Latin dance club. Other well known options include Club Cache also near Times Square, the very Dominican El Morocco in Spanish Harlem, and Iguana in west Midtown. Many venues in the city hold a salsa night once a week, so poke around the city papers for event listings.
New York has some of the most expensive accommodations in the world. Expect to pay $100–$200 for a budget room with shared bath, $250–$350 for a mid-range hotel with a decent room and a restaurant and/or room service; and much higher in a high end hotel. Most accommodations below $200 in Manhattan are a small room with space only for a bed, a TV, perhaps a sink, and little else. Cheaper accommodations may have communal bathrooms (although many will have a sink in the room). Be warned that the quality of hotels varies significantly and, in many cheap hotels away from the center such as along the West Side Highway or in the outer reaches of Queens, you may share the premises with hourly customers! As New York is a popular destination throughout the year, it is necessary to make reservations well in advance. If you plan to be in the city during the height of the tourist season, booking months in advance would be wise.
Expect to pay up to $50 for a hostel. There are several hostels in Manhattan including two Jazz Hostels (located at 36 West 106th Street and 184 Eleventh Avenue) and one official Hostelling International hostel (located at 891 Amsterdam Avenue--between 102nd and 103rd Streets--in Manhattan), there are many places that call themselves "hostel" and offer accommodations below $100 a night. Some cater exclusively to students. You are strongly advised to make reservations months in advance.
Room rates are typically quoted excluding taxes, so expect your actual bill to be materially higher than the quoted rate. Taxes include New York State and New York City sales tax (8.875%), a New York City Hotel Occupancy Tax (varies but, for rooms above $40, $2 + 5.875%), and a surcharge of $1.50. For a $100 per night room, expect to pay $117.75, after taxes are taken into account.
Alternatives to Manhattan accommodations
You don't have to stay in Manhattan. There are many hotels just outside Manhattan in Long Island City, Queens, Brooklyn and New Jersey that are cheaper than hotels in Manhattan. Also, due to the high accommodation prices and insider knowledge of the locals, you may want to consider a hospitality exchange.
Lower accommodation prices are also generally available in January and February, the end of August, and on Sunday nights.
Find free wireless wifi & hotspot across the city online at openwifinyc, NYC Wireless, and WiFi Free Spot. Wireless is available in city parks and quite a few public libraries. The Apple store has dozens of computers set up and doesn't seem to mind that many people use them for free internet access, but they can be pretty busy at times. Easy Internet Cafe and FedEx Office are just some of the internet cafes which offer broadband internet at reasonable prices. Finding a store with an open power outlet may be difficult so be sure your device is fully charged and its battery is working properly.
Public phones are less and less common, but there are now some free phone charging stations on the street if you are running out of power. Remember to include the 1 and area code when dialing from any phone in New York City - including private "land line" phones in buildings - as 11-digit dialing is always in effect, even when dialing locally. However, you don't need to dial 1 from a cell phone.
New York was through 2019 statistically the safest large city in the United States, and its crime rate per person was lower than the national average and the crime rate of many small towns, but 2020 saw a frightening jump in shootings, people being pushed onto the subway tracks and bias crimes, with those against people who are or look Asian increasing at the greatest rate, and the violence has continued in 2021. That said, the spike still leaves the city much safer than it used to be in the 1980s and 90s. You can be assured of a high police presence in Times Square, public transportation hubs and other major crowded places. For the most part, the legendary subway crimes of the 1970s and 1980s are now a thing of the past, and it is generally safe to travel around at night in the subway as long as you use common sense and keep a moderate level of vigilance.
The most common crime against tourists (not including being overcharged!) is bag snatching. Never let go of your handbag (putting other bags down is OK, as long as you guard them carefully), especially in the subway but also when eating at a restaurant. Take special care if you are sitting outdoors or in a crowded self-service restaurant. Leave your passport and other valuables that you don't need to carry in a hotel safe or hidden in your suitcase. Don't flaunt a wad of money if you can help it; if you want to be safer, count your money in your room before you go out and take only what you think you may need. Unless you have protective outer wear, consider not wearing expensive jewelry, and hide valuables like cameras when you're not using them.
While muggings are rare, they do happen. Take a tip from seasoned New Yorkers and always try to be aware of who's walking near you in all directions (especially behind you), at all times. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you find yourself on a lightly traveled or poorly lit street. Certain neighborhoods that are off the tourist path should be avoided in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Riverside Park and Central Park can be dangerous at night. If you go to an evening outdoor concert at one of the parks, follow the crowd out of the park before heading toward your destination.
Airport-style security is common at buildings, museums and tourist attractions, even the Main Branch of the New York Public Library. Generally you can expect to have your bags checked (either manually by a security guard or through an x-ray machine) and walk through a metal detector. Unlike their counterparts at JFK and LaGuardia, security screenings at building entrances are surprisingly quick and efficient - and you can even leave your shoes on!
If you think you've inadvertently wandered into a dangerous area, hop into a cab, if available, or into the nearest subway station and go elsewhere. If a subway platform is deserted, stay within sight of the station agent if possible.
New York has its share of odd people: talkative pan-handlers, lonely people just wanting a chat, religious preachers, people with psychological disorders, etc. If you prefer not to speak with someone who approaches you for a chat, do what most New Yorkers do: completely ignore them or say "Sorry, gotta go" while continuing to walk at a brisk pace.
Watch out for cyclists and even motorcyclists riding, sometimes at high speeds, on the sidewalk or the wrong way on one-way streets. This has become a constant in some neighborhoods. Also, you will notice that New Yorkers routinely jaywalk, but don't do it yourself unless you have good sight lines and can do so safely.
Despite the stereotypes, many New Yorkers are nice people and don't mind giving out directions (time allowing), so don't be afraid to ask! If you ever get into trouble, approach the nearest police officer. You'll find them to be friendly, polite, and very helpful.
English is the primary language spoken by most New Yorkers, although in many communities, it is common to hear other languages that are widely understood within the neighborhood. In many neighborhoods, there is a large Spanish-speaking Latino/Hispanic population. There are also many neighborhoods that have a high concentration of Chinese immigrants who speak Cantonese, with knowledge of Mandarin in certain parts. You can expect to hear Russian spoken on the streets in parts of South Brooklyn, and Yiddish or Hebrew in other parts. In some of these neighborhoods, some locals may not speak very good English, but store owners and those who would deal frequently with tourists or visitors will generally speak English. Most municipal government services in New York City are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian.
The upside to this linguistic confusion is that, while you can find a restaurant or other establishment for nearly every culture somewhere in Manhattan, catering to English-speaking tourists, more adventurous travelers may be able to find a more authentic experience for less money among an ethnic community somewhere in the outer boroughs.
The quality of tap water in New York City is considered to be among the best in the world (unless you are in an old building with outdated plumbing). There is generally no good reason to drink bottled water in preference to New York City tap water. Lower-end restaurants will simply place glasses of ice water on your table (and refill them constantly - for free). At nicer restaurants you will be asked “what kind of water” you want. Asking for tap water is completely acceptable in any restaurant; your other choices are “bottled” (mineral water, such as Fiji or Evian) or “sparkling” (which almost always means Pellegrino).
- Citizen Service Center, ☏ 311 (lines open 24/7). New York City's official non-emergency help line, available in 171 languages for questions (parade hours and routes, parking restrictions, transport problems) and complaints (litter, noise pollution, access).
- Baby Sitters' Guild, ☏ . Bookings 9AM–9PM daily, cash payments only. For stressed and busy parents visiting New York, round-the-clock baby-sitting is available short- or long-term from $20 per hour (4-hour minimum) and cab fare (approx. $10). Multilingual sitters are also available.
Smoking in public places is highly restricted. It is prohibited in indoor sections of bars, restaurants, subway stations and trains (all transit system property), public parks, public beaches, pedestrian malls, both indoor and outdoor stadiums and sports arenas, and many other public places. If you light up in any of these places, you are subject to a summons and fine, ejection, and/or indignant reactions from residents. There do remain a small number of legal cigar bars that are exempt, as are the outside areas of sidewalk cafes and the like, but these are very much the exception. If you need to smoke while eating or drinking, be prepared to take a break and join the rest of the smokers outside, whatever the weather; many establishments have large space heaters.
There is also some vaping on the streets of New York.
Cannabis/marijuana and other drugs
As of March 2021, cannabis and marijuana are legal in New York for those 21 or older. Adults may possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana or up to 24 grams of cannabis concentrate and consume it anywhere tobacco smoking is permitted —— it is the only jurisdiction in the USA where public marijuana smoking is legal. You will smell it walking down the street with some frequency.
Regulated retail sales are not scheduled to begin until 2022 or later, but New Yorkers are embracing legal weed with typical impatience and irreverence, and as of summer 2021 cannabis sales occur openly in every tourist-dominated area of the city, including Times Square and most Manhattan & Brooklyn parks.
Because NYC law only prohibits driving under the influence of cannabis and possession thereof by minors/children, you'll be hard-pressed to find a cop who'll lift a finger to stop open cannabis sales (they have bigger fish to fry), though unfortunately the way a dealer is treated by police often depends on skin color. Purchase cannabis at your own risk, but only the dealer commits a crime.
Purchasing hard drugs in New York City is dangerous. Penalties for possession are draconian, including long prison sentences, and legal representation is expensive. Fake hard drugs and hard drugs laced with poisonous fentanyl are common.
New York City is home to diplomatic missions from virtually every country on Earth due to the presence of the United Nations. Most countries have consulates here that double as the permanent mission to the United Nations, even if a country may otherwise not have diplomatic relations with the United States.
Locals would ask why you ever want to leave, but New York is a great jumping-off point to other locations in the metro area (including New Jersey and Connecticut) or anywhere in the Boston-Washington Megalopolis corridor.
Despite being a constant target of mockery and jokes from New York, the densely-populated Garden State has plenty of great attractions to offer nearby:
- Hudson Waterfront — The portion of New Jersey that directly faces Manhattan along the Hudson River. The region is traversed by the 18.5-mile-long (29.8 km) Hudson River Waterfront Walkway that runs, albeit discontinuously, from the George Washington Bridge down to the city of Bayonne and offers clear views of the Manhattan skyline.
- Jersey City — Directly across the Hudson River from the Financial District is New Jersey's second largest city. Jersey City is a diverse city with lots of multicultural shops and restaurants, and it is often referred to as New York’s "sixth borough". It can be reached from Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel, the PATH trains (the bi-state subway), or the many ferries that zip passengers across the Hudson River.
- Hoboken — Directly across the Hudson River from the West Village and Chelsea is the alleged birthplace of baseball (most erroneously believe that the birthplace is Cooperstown, NY) and actual birthplace of Frank Sinatra. Hoboken is a small city in area with a great assortment of prewar buildings and conspicuous lack of many corporate establishments. The piers have great views of Manhattan, a large selection of bars, restaurants, and clubs, and are a good place to walk around. Hoboken can be reached from Manhattan by the PATH train or by bus from Port Authority as well as by NY Waterway ferries.
- Fort Lee — Occupying the western end of the George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee is home to the site of the eponymous Revolutionary War fort, as well as a high concentration of Korean and Japanese restaurants that spill deep into the neighboring towns. Fort Lee is easily reached by walking, biking, or taking a bus/jitney across the George Washington Bridge from the adjacent bus terminal on the Manhattan side of the bridge.
- Jersey Shore — The Jersey Shore starts just a few miles south of New York City. It stretches for almost 130 mi (210 km), and along it are private and public beaches. There are numerous activities along the Jersey Shore. Sandy Hook, part of the National Gateway Area and home to one of the few nude beaches around New York, Gunnison Beach, can be easily accessed using the SeaStreak ferry from Manhattan. The service operates during the beach season and goes directly to the Hook. A convenient train ride on the NJ Transit trains from Penn Station will get you to several more of the towns on the Jersey Shore, including Asbury Park, Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach. Buses from Port Authority also take passengers to other spots along the Jersey Shore not served by train from New York, such as Seaside Heights.
- Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson — An 80-minute drive from Manhattan sits the largest regional theme park in the world. Six Flags Great Adventure features 12 monster roller coasters and is next to the Wild Safari (one of the largest drive-through safaris in the world). Kingda Ka is the tallest rollercoaster in the world, stretching taller than the Statue of Liberty, and the attached drop tower is also the tallest of its kind as well. There is also Six Flags Hurricane Harbor right next door (the largest water park in the Northeast). New Jersey Transit provides bus service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan when the park is open (May–October).
- Princeton — Also an easy train ride on New Jersey Transit, Princeton offers a quiet, tree-lined town, good for strolling or for visiting the Princeton University campus. Take the Northeast Corridor line to Princeton Junction, then transfer to the shuttle train (known locally as the "Dinky") to ride directly into campus.
- Newark — Although most tourists only come here to arrive or depart in the city’s international airport, Newark is also home to Branch Brook Park, which contains one of the largest collections of cherry trees in the nation and makes for a great day trip during cherry blossom season in the spring, and the Ironbound, a district full of Portuguese, Brazilian, and Spanish restaurants and cuisine. Newark is a major transport hub in the New York area, with NJ Transit and PATH trains frequently operating to/from Midtown and Lower Manhattan.
New York State
- Long Island — When you travel to NYC in the summer, a great idea is to check out Long Island. With its beautiful long white sand beaches you can have it all: the big city and the summer holiday. Many New Yorkers do that every Friday, Saturday and Sunday if it is hot. Take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Long Beach ($9.00 off-peak or $12.50 peak), and from there go south to the beach itself. Another option is to take a long day trip on the Hampton Jitney from various stops in NYC to the East End, where Long Island wine country is on the North Fork and The Hamptons are on the South Fork.
- Fire Island — an all-pedestrian summer-resort island off the coast of Long Island. Fire Island is home to many vacation communities on the western part of the island (Ocean Beach being the most populous, with the most restaurants and bars that make an excellent day trip). The eastern part of the island is home to the largely gay communities of Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines. Western Fire Island is reachable by ferry from Bay Shore on Long Island. Bay Shore is about an hour's train ride on the Long Island Rail Road from Manhattan, and the ferry ride from Bay Shore is another 30 minutes. Ferries to Ocean Beach from Bay Shore run about once every hour during the summer. Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines are reachable by ferry from Sayville. The easternmost community, Davis Park, is reachable by ferry from Patchogue.
- The Palisades — On the western bank of the Hudson River, there are cliffs that rise sharply. These cliffs are known as the majestic Palisades. They range from 300 to 500 feet. They start in the northern portion of Jersey City and stretch all the way to Nyack, New York. There are numerous viewpoints, trails and campsites along the Palisades. The Palisades can be easily reached from Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge. Palisade Interstate Park and Parkway start north of the bridge.
- Westchester County and the Hudson Valley — Home to the country's only government-operated theme park - Rye Playland - as well as beautiful neighborhoods. There are pretty communities along the Long Island Sound and inland, and the Hudson Valley (which extends north of Westchester) is truly beautiful; the train route (Metro North Hudson Line to Poughkeepsie or Amtrak to Albany) along the Hudson River is one of the loveliest in the country. Westchester County starts just north of the NYC borough of the Bronx.
- The Adirondacks are the largest state park in the United States, and are only a 3- to 4-hour drive away on I-87. The area is home to mountains, small villages, and winter sports.
- Western New York is the land of the Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls, Thousand Islands, and nice towns. Up to an 8-hour drive on the Thruway.
- Woodbury Commons, in Orange County — This is one of the largest outlet chains in the Northeast, with over 200 stores. Take exit 16 (Harriman) on I-87. If you don't have a car, there are several bus alternatives from Manhattan like Gray Line New York, Hampton Luxury Liner and Manhattan Transfer tours.
- New Haven, Connecticut — 75 miles (121 km) away, New Haven is a 1-hour-45-minute ride from Grand Central Terminal via Metro North Railroad, and home to Yale University. Megabus, Greyhound and Amtrak also provide transportation.
- Cape Cod is a 5-hour drive from New York north on I-95. Cape Cod is home to nice towns, restaurants, beaches, shopping, and entertainment. Also accessible by Peter Pan Bus Lines.
- Boston, Massachusetts — Beantown, home to the Freedom Trail, incredible seafood, Harvard University in nearby Cambridge, and the Boston Red Sox (who are the most hated sports team of most New Yorkers), is 4 hours north on I-95 ($15–20 one way by bus on Greyhound, Peter Pan, Bolt Bus or Mega Bus), with a bus from Port Authority Bus Terminal every hour around the clock or $60–80 one way on Amtrak from Penn Station.
- The rest of New England has a lot to offer, including national parks, beaches, mountains and skiing.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — The second capital of the United States is 1 hour 20 minutes away by Amtrak, very feasible for a day trip or side trip from New York. A cheaper but somewhat slower method of getting there is to either take the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor Line to Trenton and change for SEPTA or take a bus from Midtown or Chinatown.
- Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States and a four-hour train ride on the Acela Express. The National Mall, the White House, and the Lincoln Memorial are just a few of the numerous attractions that D.C. has to offer.
- There are more beaches to check out in Delaware and Maryland, such as Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach
- Montreal is a 7-hour drive away, plus time to go through the checkpoint at the border. Also accessible by plane, Greyhound and Trailways.
For routeboxes with commuter rail trains, see Manhattan or other borough articles.
|Routes through New York City (by long-distance train)|
|Washington, D.C. ← Newark ←||SW NE||→ Stamford → Boston|
|Albany (Rensselaer) ← Yonkers ←||N S||→ END|
|Philadelphia ← Newark ←||W E||→ END|
|END ←||N S||→ Newark → Philadelphia|
|Philadelphia ← Newark ←||W E||→ END|
|Albany (Rensselaer) ← Croton-on-Hudson ←||N S||→ END|
|Philadelphia ← Newark ←||SW NE||→ New Rochelle → New Haven|
|Philadelphia ← Newark ←||SW NE||→ Stamford → New Haven|
|END ←||SE NW||→ Yonkers → → Toronto|
|END ←||S N||→ Yonkers → → Montreal|
|Routes through New York City (by car)|
|Allentown ← Jersey City ←||W E||→ END|
|Albany ← Yonkers ←||N S||→ END|
|New Haven ← New Rochelle ←||N S||→ Fort Lee → Philadelphia|
|Linden ← Elizabeth ←||W E||→ Merges into N|
|Weehawken ← Becomes ←||W E||→ Plainview → Riverhead|
|Albany ← Yonkers ←||N S||→ Fort Lee → Cape May|
|New Haven ← Mount Vernon ←||N S||→ END|