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We probably don’t have to tell you that New York City is a hopping place. Did you know that the Empire State Building sees up to 20,000 visitors in ONE day? That’s a lot of people taking in the wonders of this famous building, from its Art Deco architecture and interior decor to the stunning view from the observation decks. Did you know that it held the honor of being the tallest building in the world from the time it was completed in 1931 until 1970?
Times Square is another popular attraction, drawing an estimated 50,000 visitors each day! With that many people passing by, you might be rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s rich and famous and not even know it.
With SO much to see and do in the city, how on earth do you narrow down your options? How do you plan your trip to make sure you’re using your time and resources wisely?
We have some tips to help you make the most of a quick trip to New York City.
Note: Many attractions in New York City are requiring you to be fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative test to participate in activities. Please research the current regulations prior to your arrival.
This post does contain affiliate links.
List your TOP THREE attractions to visit.
There must be a reason you want to visit NYC. Is it to see the city at Christmastime? To walk through Central Park and take a horse-drawn carriage ride? Maybe you want to eat that New York Style Pizza you keep hearing about. Or perhaps it’s simply to tour the top tourist attractions. Plan to see your top three attractions and know that you will find a ton of other attractions to see as well.
If the top tourist attractions are on your list of things to see during your visit, heed one of my top New York City trip tips. Do yourself a favor and check out CityPASS. Not only will you save money over the individual cost of the attractions, you’ll also save time because you get to skip many of the lines you’d be forced to stand in. Learn how to save 40% or more on New York’s 5 best attractions with CityPASS.
Research the area surrounding the attractions you want to visit.
For example, you’ll save time if you explore a single area rather than hopping on the subway and trekking across Manhattan.
Did you know the Metropolitan Museum of Art is directly across Central Park from the Museum of Natural History? You can easily visit all three of those attractions in a day, or less if you rush through the exhibits.
Book your hotel near where you plan to spend most of your time.
This doesn’t mean you need to stay in one borough, but you will save money if you travel on foot versus taking a cab or riding the subway. Plus, it will save your feet. Trust me on this. Touring NYC includes a ton of walking!
Book everything in advance.
The earlier you can book your hotel room, the more money you’ll save. Booking hotel rooms in NYC might be more convenient, but that convenience comes at a price. Prices go up and elbow room shrinks the closer you get to the city.
If money is tight, you may consider staying outside the city. You’ll have a bit more room to rest your tired feet, but the trade-off is that you’ll pay more for transportation expenses. Read reviews on TripAdvisor to find a property that works for you and your travel companions.
We’ve stayed in the city and in the suburbs. We’ve even stayed near Princeton and taken the train in. Just make sure if you decide to venture out of the city that you take in account added transportation costs: train, Uber, cab, bus, etc.
See a lot of the city on a bus tour.
There are several top companies that offer bus tours in New York City. A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tour gets you out of Manhattan and across the river to sample some SERIOUSLY tasty pizza. Along the way, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty as you hear stories from an entertaining Brooklyn local.
In addition to the New York City pizza tour, this company also offers a Chocolate Tour, a Brooklyn Neighborhood Tour and a Christmas Lights Tour where you get the chance to chow down on a Cannoli instead of a slice of pizza pie. They’ve also been rated #1 on TripAdvisor.
It’s a popular tour so if you want to check it out, you need to make reservations in advance.
On Location Tours offer quite a few options for TV and Movie loving tourists. After all, who doesn’t want to see where their favorite TV show was filmed? See where shows like Sex in the City, Gossip Girl, the Sopranos, and even some romantic movies were filmed in New York City.
One of the latest tours to debut with On Location Tours in New York City, and our personal favorite, is the Super Tour.
The Super Tour is a fun tour that takes you to the filming sites of your favorite Super Hero movies.
Have you ever wanted to visit the Daily Planet? Done.
Do you dream about holding Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, in the shadow of the Chrysler Building? Done.
Want to cross that trip to Gotham off of your bucket list? Also done.
This fun 3 ½ to 4-hour tour takes you from Times Square to Battery Park. It’s a great way to cover a lot of ground, see the sites and learn about the city and movies that were filmed here without killing your feet. Jason, the tour guide, does a wonderful job of keeping the tour moving and lively. You can read our full Super Tour Review here.
Thanks to Hollywood and the constant filming of new movies, the tour is always changing so no two tours will be the same. Once again, if you plan on taking a tour remember that they sell out FAST so you’ll want to book your reservations in advance.
What tips do you have for getting the most bang for your buck while exploring New York City?
Looking for more tips on visiting New York City? Here you go: