New York can be quite a daunting place if you’ve never been before, or aren’t used to large cities. It’s busy, like really busy and you have to walk with purpose and not wonder aimlessly otherwise you will get people barging into you/ tuting your way. With four trips under my belt now I’m by no means an expert but I’ve learnt a few things which might help those of you heading there.
Other than for one initial set of photo taking try to avoid time square anytime after about 11am (especially between 9pm and midnight). The entire area is ridiculously busy and there’s almost always some kind of work going on meaning sidewalks are limited in space. If your route home is meant to go through time square head a block or so either side and you’ll save time (and sanity)! If you walk through allow yourself at least triple the amount of time as generally a ten-minute walk will take you about half an hour battling through people.
If the next place you want to do is 10, 15, even 20 or so blocks away it really isn’t that far. A block sounds like a lot but it really isn’t and even 20 blocks can be walked in less than half an hour. You don’t need to take the subway or a taxi to get from location to location, heck I even walked from about 93rd to 35th one day.
For those of you planning to head to Sephora I’ve been to a huge amount of them and the best ones are always 34th street (between 7th and 8th Avenue), it’s reasonably busy most of the time but it’s huge (two stories) and I’ve rarely ever gone in there and not found what I want. The Columbus Circle Sephora is also amazing, especially if you want a more relaxing look as it’s quieter. Avoid the Broadway and Time Square ones as they’re always super packed, messy and missing so many products as they can’t restock quick enough. If you need inspiration on what to buy check out my massive haul.
Where possible avoid using the subway. Yes it is a great system and runs all night but it can be confusing with multiple entrances to the same station and different lines, but most of it’s bloody hot. Regardless of the time of year you go the stations themselves are boiling and sweaty and if you’re waiting 15 minutes for a train it’s so not worth it.
If you do use the subway be wary not to bend your ticket (or MetroCard) in any way, even the smallest bend will mean the barriers will not accept it and not every station has an advisor on there to help out. Once my nan had to pay twice as the machine wouldn’t accept her slightly bent ticket and there was no one there to talk to so she had to buy another ticket. Once you are through though you don’t need them to exit the other side.
If you have a plan for your trip, or even a rough idea of where you want to do, add notes to your phone of where things are such as Madison Square Garden (34th Street between 7th and 8th) so you can quickly navigate to places without constantly having to pull out a map. The streets are crowded enough and if you have the notes on your phone which you can quickly glance at you’ll get to places quicker and have less hassle.
Book as much as you can beforehand to avoid super long queues at destinations such as One World Trade Centre Observatory, Empire State Building/ Rockefeller and things like exhibitions and museums (MoMa especially). By doing this you can print them off before and head straight in without the ticket buying queue and you’ll know exactly what time to go.
If you’re going to go up the Empire State/ Rockefeller (of which I’d recommend the later way more so) do it either first thing (pre-10am) or really late (post 11pm) otherwise you will experience long queues. Sunset viewings are very popular and anywhere between 8 and 1030pm you will be hanging around queuing forever, opt for a slightly later ascent and you’ll walk in a lot quicker.
In the same way you shouldn’t walk through Time Square try to avoid eating anywhere within a few blocks of it. Queues will be longer and the food won’t be as great. Look further out to find some places that you could find locals in as opposed to just tourists. Check out my food diaries for some food based inspiration.