Before you leave:
Booking a room: There are a plethora of hotels and from what I could tell they all look the same as anywhere else in the world. We went with an Airbnb and it was fantastic, but keep in mind that New York city is still figuring out if short term residential tenancies are welcome. Technically you are not allowed to rent for shorter than 30 days. We were there for 5 nights and everything was great but the owner of the building was not happy about it.
Flying to JFK or LGA: JFK is at the moment your best choice. LaGuardia is currently under a massive renovation that will hopefully allow me to not question where I sit. There also appears to be no easy way to get to downtown Manhattan. You currently will need to catch a bus to the taxis, and then there is a 35 minute $53 USD cab ride to downtown Manhattan. I am sure that Uber would be cheaper it was just way less convenient for us at the time.
Fine Dining: If you are indulging please make reservations far in advance. You are not getting in off the street unless you are Jerry Seinfeld.
Broadway: This is also a must book far in advance option. If you have a play or musical in mind you will likely have to book months or years in advance and if you want to see something like Hamilton you will likely have to book your vacations dates around the available tickets. However, there is a Hamilton $10 seats lottery. Check out the link. You have to enter two days in advance and who knows, there is always a chance. If you just want to go to a play or musical you could wait in line all day to get a last minute ticket. Go to time square and look for the insanely long lineup and you are likely there. There is also nyc.com/broadway that will do the same thing. Good luck…so many people.
What to do:
Well there is no shortage of things to do. My biggest regret was trying to fit in too much stuff. In five days we put on over 100000 steps. This is insane by any standards and my shoes were not up to the task.
-Natural History Museum: (COST: $25 in advance, pay what ever you want if you wait in an insanely long line) Awesome, if you like museums with a bunch of dead animals in it. Luckily I do! Don’t wait in line (unless you want to take advantage of the pay what you want policy), log on to the official museums website and buy your passes in advance. DON’T log onto a third party site like I did, because you will be paying the full $25 online and waiting in the insanely long line to validate your stupid tickets. I would check out the planetarium again (narrated by Neil Degrass Tyson!) and the taxidermy is fantastic. They have an entire blue whale. Overall I would say it is great for kids and biology/space minded people.
–Central Park: My wife got pooped on by a bird but I cannot guarantee that everyone will have such an authentic opportunity. The best part about the flying fecal matter was that we were bird watching at the time. The park is loaded with tons of great birding spots, food trucks, green spaces, and waterways. Central park also boast easy access to the MET (Metropolitan museum of Art). As far as I am concerned this was the best place to get out of the crazy concrete jungle and relax.
-The MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art): Plan to spend the day here. The collection is immense to say the least. You would need at least a month to fully appreciate all the exhibits on the floor. There is a route maped out in the guide book for people looking to just see the highlights. I don’t know who decided which pieces were highlights because there is a lot of very famous art that is off the highlighted route. There is something for everyone so I am not going to recommend anything just make sure that you check it out.
The Subway– What a way to travel! If you are an underground train aficionado this may just be a highlight for you. The New York tube isn’t as much on a grid system as some European subways but with a little practice you can get most places with ease. Grab a subway map and familiarize yourself with the different colored lines. Also pay attention to express routes or you will find yourself in Queens when you just wanted to go uptown. Oh yeah and don’t use the public washrooms, trust me, I don’t want to talk about it.
Time Square: This is just a place to walk around and stare like a deer in headlights. There are some people in really bad costumes you can take your picture with and shopping.
New York Botanical Gardens: This is another great way to get out of the crowds. At $28 for an adult it is not cheap. The gardens are vast and well labeled. It is especially beautiful when the Cherry Blossoms are in bloom. Head to the Bronx and get off at Bedford Park Blvd. Station (subway)
-Ghostbusters! – See all the sights from everyones favourite supernatural movie. The firehouse, the library (which is still very beautiful but the movie used a different inside). Check out the link below for a free walking tour https://freetoursbyfoot.com/find-the-ghostbusters-firehouse/
-Brooklyn Bridge – Well worth the walk, but stay out of the bike lane. They get cranky.
What to Eat:
Pizza: By far your cheapest and most abundant option. There are pizza places selling pizza by the slice on almost every block in Manhattan. They all were good but Joe’s seems to be a local favorite. People also seem to like to fold there pizza by the slice before they eat it.
Bagels: Apparently the secret is in the water, but the bagels did taste better than at home. We kept going back to Hudson Bagels ( 691 9th Ave, New York, ) They were making the bagels right in front of us. The place was packed everytime, service was fast, and the smells topped it all off.
Burgers: If you are from Canada like I am, getting burgers “cooked your way” is either seen as an abomination that will likely lead to salmonella and trichinosis or as I see it, a layer of freedom and gastro-enlightenment trending towards culinary perfection and ecstasy. I call them “Freedom Burgers.” Every time I indulge in a medium rare burger I ask myself why Canada consistently overcooks and ruins good meat. Anyways, you need to eat at 5 Napkin Burger. After we arrived too close to closing time at our original Freedom Burger joint the server told us that he eats at 5 Napkin burger and we wouldn’t be disappointed. We arrived around 9:30 and still had to wait for a seat. When the juicy, saucy medium rare burger came I declared it the best thing that I had ever put in my mouth. End of story.