Entry requirements: International travelers from 27 countries may enter the U.S. without a visa through the Visa Waiver Program; however, you must have a machine-readable passport. Visitors from other countries must obtain a visa from an American embassy or consulate abroad.
Getting around: Having a car in the city makes no sense. Garages and parking lots are expensive, street parking is infuriatingly limited, and police are quick to ticket. Walking is the best option, followed by subway, then bus and cab.
Getting there: Three major airports service New York City: JFK International Airport (about 15 miles from Midtown), LaGuardia Airport (about 9 miles), and Newark Liberty International Airport (about 16 miles). Cab fare from airport to city runs about $20-45 plus tolls and tip. Other options, depending on the airport, include bus, shuttle, subway (see TripMarks).
Money: The currency of New York is the U.S. dollar. For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter.
Phone calls: The main area code for Manhattan is 212; a second code, 646, was added in 1999. Area codes for the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island are 718 and 347. 917 is the standard cellular/page/voicemail phone area code for all city boroughs. For phone calls to New York from within the U.S., dial 1 + the local area code + seven-digit phone number. For phone calls to New York from outside the U.S., dial the international access code of the country from which you are calling, then + 1 + the local area code + seven-digit phone number.
Time difference: New York follows U.S. Eastern Standard Time.
When to go: The New York's a true four-season town. Summer can be hazy, hot—into the 90s F (32-37 C)—, and humid; fall sees a welcome cool-down, with average temperatures in the 50s and 60s F (in the teens C). Winter winds can make an average 35-41 F (1.6-5 C) day seem much colder; spring is a time of happy rebirth, with temperatures edging up into the 50s and 60s F (10-20 C) .
What’s playing on and off Broadway, plus latest theater news and entertainment feature stories.
Gone are the days when New York artists and designers headed the 42nd Street library to check out images; the stuff is online now—hundreds of thousands of prints, vintage posters, maps, photographs, and more.
Hours, fees, addresses, and more for over 80 New York City museums.
New York City Airport Guide
How to get from the airport to the city and back.
New York City Transportation
Detailed information on the city's subways and buses.
New York Past
City history vividly communicated in lectures, discussions, and exhibitions at the Gotham Center for New York City History (part of the City University of New York's Graduate Center).
Songs and underground-performance talk from one of the many skilled subway musicians who play for commuters.
The Great Outdoors Official NY City Parks
Department site, with info on programs, attractions, and an excellent FAQs section. Bicyclists will find all they need to know re pedaling the city.
Virtual Central Park
Maps, tours, photo galleries, and more from the Central Park Conservancy.
Welcome to Midtown
The Times Square Cam captures the people, the traffic, the weather.
Weekly magazine mainstay of the city, with strong feature stories, restaurant reviews, voluminous cultural listings, and a killer crossword puzzle.
New York Daily News
A tabloid read for its gossip, sports, entertainment, and wham-bang headlines.
New York Observer
A witty, irreverent weekly newspaper in business since 1987. Candace Bushnell (Sex and the City) is among the name writers.
New York Post
Another tabloid, more politically conservative than the Times and News. Its Page Six is a must-read gossip roundup.
New York Times
Still the city’s most highly regarded news source. Published daily, with a Sunday edition rich in entertainment and events.
Time Out New York
This events, entertainment, and dining guide leaves virtually no performance/fab restaurant stone unturned.
York magazine’s edgy, up-to-the-minute culture and entertainment blog.
The most listened-to public radio station in the United States, a trove of news and culture programming. Entertaining coverage of local news and events.
The New York City metropolitan area is served by three major airports: John F. Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA), and Newark Liberty International (EWR). Smaller airports in the suburbs handle both commercial and private planes. At non-rush hours, the fastest route into Manhattan from any of the airports is a taxi or shuttle, although more thrifty options include the airport shuttle train or the A-line subway from JFK, city bus service from LaGuardia and coach buses from Newark.
Pennsylvania (“Penn”) Station on West 34th St. in Manhattan is Amtrak’s New York City stop. Long-distance trains travel to Philadelphia and points south; parallel to Interstate 95 to Boston; west to Chicago and beyond; and through upstate New York into Canada. Commuter trains to New Jersey (New Jersey Transit) and Long Island (Long Island Rail Road) originate at Penn Station; Metro-North trains serve upstate New York and Connecticut and originate at Grand Central Station, on East 42nd St.
Buses to and from New York go through the Port Authority Bus Terminal on West 42nd St. Greyhound offers long-distance service to points all over the U.S., and several coach bus lines serve other major cities in the Northeast (BoltBus, MegaBus, Fung Wah).
Manhattan is a particularly pedestrian-friendly. The streets are laid out — mostly — in a grid. Sections of other boroughs are easily walkable too.
Operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New York City boasts an extensive system of subways and buses. While the MTA is operational 24 hours a day, every day, individual routes may vary. Construction work may cause re-routing; affected stations will post signs to alert passengers to any changes.
Two kinds of taxis operate in New York: yellow cabs and livery cabs. Yellow cabs are common in Manhattan and at the airports; they are metered, can be hailed on the street and can accept credit cards as payment. Livery cabs, known as “car services,” are arranged via phone, and prices are negotiated in advance; they range where yellow cabs are infrequent (the outer boroughs).
The Staten Island ferry runs at no cost between lower Manhattan and Staten Island. Commuters use it, but the ferry is a popular tourist attraction as well, since the route offers views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Other ferries travel between Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey.
Driving in New York is generally a frustrating experience marked by congestion, one-way streets, restrictions and parking headaches. A car in New York City is often a hindrance.
New York City offers an inexhaustible list of things to do for visitors and residents alike. World-famous art museums dot the landscape of Manhattan and Brooklyn; landmark shrines to nature, science and technology are located in Manhattan and Queens; and history comes alive on Ellis Island, the Lower East Side and dozens of other neighborhoods. There are sites and activities appropriate to visitors of any age, in any season.
Skyscrapers in Manhattan offer panoramic views; meticulously designed green spaces and busy waterways are equally famous as elements of the landscape. Visits to zoos and botanical gardens, and participating in walking tours (or watching parades), are popular ways to take in the city while outdoors.
New York is a hub for cultural activity. Broadway offers the best in musical theater. Music of all kinds, dance, drama and the visual arts are well-represented, both in the mainstream and in the avant-garde. Films of every genre are screened in New York; premieres are common and often include opportunities to meet the cast or crew.
Many visitors take advantage of the shopping opportunities in New York — apparel, jewelry, art and housewares are found in quantity. Macy’s, Toys "R" Us and many clothing companies maintain flagship concept stores in New York.
New York has some of the country’s most sought-after (and expensive) restaurants, but there is something for every taste and every budget. Anything can be found. Everyone’s dietary needs can be met in a city as large and food-happy as New York: vegan, kosher, gluten-free or other.
Many foods that are now equally popular elsewhere are strongly associated with New York: bagels, pizza, New York-style cheesecake, deli sandwiches, hot dogs and egg creams. But the classic incarnations still exist in the city and may be worth seeking out.
Food trucks offering everything from gourmet hamburgers to fanciful ice creams travel the city’s streets (some of them can be tracked via the internet). Inexpensive but excellent ethnic food — literally from around the world — can be found at food carts that pop up each morning and retreat in the evening.
Ethnic specialties can be found in various enclaves of the city. The especially diverse population of Queens is reflected in the restaurants there. Manhattan has the lion’s share of fancy restaurants, but also plenty of moderately priced places, cheap food joints, and clusters of ethnic restaurants within a few blocks — Indian in the east 20s, Chinese in Chinatown and Italian in Little Italy.
Every neighborhood has its favorite haunts, and the bar scene is known to evolve rapidly. The best way to find a hotspot for a fun evening over drinks is to ask a local or check out a free local paper like Time Out New York or the Village Voice.
Especially popular neighborhoods for bars or clubs include Greenwich Village (full of students, bohemians and tourists), Chelsea (a slice of the gay scene), Times Square (largely businesspeople and tourists, so bars may have dress codes), the Meatpacking District, the Lower East Side, the East Village, Williamsburg (a hipster's paradise) and Bay Ridge (Irish/Italian) in Brooklyn, and Astoria (home to a beer garden) and Woodside (happy hour) in Queens.
Because of New York’s large percentage of people from abroad, watering holes catering to the international set too — Irish bars, British pubs, Brazilian gastropubs, Japanese bars, European-style discotheques and more. It’s also always possible to find bars broadcasting important sports events from elsewhere in the world—even if it’s the middle of the night in New York.
Accommodations in New York City are extremely expensive. There are limited options for hostelling, and even very basic hotel rooms in the safer neighborhoods of Manhattan can be pricey. If money is no object, there are ritzy or boutique hotels to match every whim.
Staying further from Manhattan, near the airports or in New Jersey (at commuting distance) may offer significant savings. The city is currently developing a pocket of more affordable hotel choices in Long Island City, Queens — more than a dozen are already operating there — a convenient subway ride to Manhattan.
The best option for a shoestring budget may be staying in someone’s home, either through in-person contacts or using internet matching services for travelers.
New York’s rich history and resiliency is worth its weight in gold, from a humble 17th-century birth to the Gilded Age and on to present-day, enduring episodes of rampant crime, war, massive fires, and terrorist attacks—all the while incubating some of the world’s most celebrated personalities and industries, from baseball to Bloomingdale’s. Though modern New York dates to 1898, when the city’s five boroughs were consolidated to form the heaving city we know today, eponymous bridges span Manhattan’s early history. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is named for the Florentine explorer who first sailed into New York Harbor in 1524, while the Henry Hudson Bridge pays tribute to the English explorer who anchored off the northern tip of Manhattan while sailing for the Dutch in 1609. Fifteen years later, New York’s first immigrants arrived to the spot they dubbed New Netherland, wondrously comparing the harbor to the utopian Garden of Eden. These colonists purchased Manhattan from the native Lenape Indians in 1626. Europeans continued to arrive over the next few decades, and the settlement bounced between Dutch and English proprietorship, changing names multiple times until becoming New York in 1664. More than a century later, George Washington dropped anchor off Manhattan to hastily build fortified walls in anticipation of the coming British invasion. Even so, British troops controlled the city for seven years until retreating in 1783. New York was named the young United States’ first capital two years later, and by 1820 was the country’s largest city, a rank it holds today with more than eight million residents. From 1892 to 1924, more than 22 million immigrants caught glimpse of the 152-foot-tall Lady Liberty, an 1886 gift from the French.
Perhaps no street is more famous than Wall Street, the historic center of the world’s financial market. Named as a throwback to the 17th century, when a fortification along the current street protected the northern boundary of the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, Wall Street is a narrow road that runs just seven blocks east from another famous thoroughfare, Broadway Avenue, to the East River. In 1792, 24 of New York’s earliest stockbrokers and merchants gathered under a tree outside 68 Wall Street to sign the Buttonwood Agreement and trade five securities. And thus, the New York Stock Exchange was born. The American Stock Exchange came second, dating back to the 1800s when traders met at a market at the Broad Street curbstone, and was officially founded in 1921. Stand at the intersection of Wall and Broad Streets, the historical axis of the financial world. Snap a photo at nearby Bowling Green plaza’s bronze, charging bull—a symbol of a Bull Market, business-speak for when investors are optimistic and trading securities fluidly. Artist Arturo Di Modica installed the 3.5-ton sculpture as an ironic jab following the 1987 Stock Market Crash. Watch type-A traders steal a moment of escape from the market’s frenzy on the steps of Federal Hall, the very site where George Washington took his presidential oath of office in 1789, commemorated by a bronze statue in his likeness. Peek into the Federal Reserve Bank for a free tour to see the impressive vault’s gold, which is said to be more abundant here than at Fort Knox. And for a truly authentic New York minute, take time to get a traditional shoeshine on Maiden Lane, where you just might rub shoulders with the Financial District’s super traders. After all, your shoes will surely need some TLC after all that dirt and grime kicked up pounding the city’s pavement.
Distinctive geography has undoubtedly shaped New York’s influence and temperament. But as you take in the urban grit, it’s hard to imagine that 500 years ago, around 5,000 Lenape Indians grew corn, beans, and squash on the land that is now the 305 square miles of New York City. When Henry Hudson anchored off the tip of Manhattan in 1609, he ushered in a new era of settlement that effectively uprooted its native agriculture. At the mouth of the Hudson River, New York Harbor’s deep waters and sheltered bays helped the city emerge as an important trading hub. By 1789, the seaport of New York had grown to a bustling 33,000 residents. When the Erie Canal opened the New York port to the Great Lakes in 1825, the harbor’s significance extended to reach international markets. The city’s population swelled throughout the 19th century thanks to immigrants and businessmen who flocked to the area for Gilded Age prosperity. Manhattan’s street system dates to 1811 and ignored the island’s topography in place of instituting a grid, an idea made popular by other cities. Critics of the angular design legendarily claim city planners devised the grid after placing wire mesh over a map of Manhattan. To satiate New York’s concrete-weary citizens, landscaping for Central Park began in 1857—making New York home to the country’s first landscaped public park. By the year 1868, elevated train tracks started being installed. Though the original railway line only ran a few years, much of the modern subway system dates back to 1913 to 1931, an era that saw a burst of construction. In 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge opened after 14 years of construction. The city’s population explosion reached a critical mass in 1898 with more than three million residents, inspiring New York to initiate a new form of government called the borough system, in which the city’s five sections were united to form one consolidated metropolis. Today, the borough system remains unique to New York and includes The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. The city’s electric-powered subway system opened in 1904, and current stats figure around seven million people ride New York City Transit each day.
Wandering the City that Never Sleeps, it’s easy to see how New York’s eclectic streets have spawned many of American culture’s most significant movements, from hip-hop and punk to Broadway theater and abstract expressionism. Maverick New Yorkers have time after time pioneered new ways of thinking in all corners of the city, often in the most humble of birthplaces and almost always intertwined with the topics of the day. One of New York’s most famous cultural contributions—Broadway—originated with the dawn of elaborate theatre productions on Broadway Avenue, which followed the invention of electric lighting in the late 19th century. Modern dance emerged on other stages in the early 20th century. In the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance stirred among African American writers like Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman living in Harlem and evolved to become one of the preeminent literature movements of the 20th century. Later, in the 1950s, the Beat Generation took root among counterculture legends Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, who met as students at Columbia University. Meanwhile, around the same era, the vanguard style of Abstract Expressionism—distinguished by its emphasis on nonrepresentational form and color—was brewing as a new way for Americans to paint, led by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, quickly followed by pop art, courtesy of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Then in 1973, two hugely contrasting music styles were developed across town from each other: A young D.J. introduced hip-hop to party-goers in a West Bronx community room; while downtown, punk rock was born in a new, grungy nightclub called CBGB on the Bowery. You’ll find careful documentation of the Big Apple’s cultural boons in the city’s world-renowned institutions and museums such as the Museum of the City of New York and the Museum of Modern Art; but don’t forget to pay close attention to the on-the-cusp creativity developing all around you.