I had to chance to go to travel to NYC more than once. The first time I came there alone and the second one I went with my wife and both trips were good.
I always try to go to JFK because it’s the biggest and simplest airport to use. The airport is really big and they have a train called Airtrain, that can be used to go from one terminal to another and also connects to the Subway.
The transportation in New York is amazingly practical (but dirty). I was able to use the subway to go anywhere I wanted. There are stations almost everywhere.
I would recommend you to buy a weekly pass for the Subway so you don’t have to keep track of your credit. Believe me, if you’re planning to visit many touristic places, it will worth your money (yes, I do the math every time before buying something). It costs around $30 (as of mid-2019) and if you consider 1 round trip from e.g. Brooklyn and one trip here and there it would be worthwhile.
Be careful with the side you’re going to enter in the subway. Where I live (São Paulo, Brazil) you can enter on whatever entrance and then pick the side you want (e.g. Noath or South). In NYC you have to be sure you’re entering in the right entrance because some stations have one entrance for each side (e.g. one entrace to go to Manhatan & the Bronx, and another one to go to Downtown Brooklyn).
Places to visit
There are some places that are must see (IMO) and others that are nice but OK. Here are the must see and why:
- Statue of Liberty: I almost not went there for the first time because it seemed too crowded and was ‘just a statue’. In the end I decided to go and the whole experience proved me wrong. It’s not just a statue, the whole story behind it is really nice to know. It worth the money you pay to go there. The entrance to the pedestal is still a puzzle for me. I got it the second time I went but not the first, I don’t know why. I would recommend you to ask for it or do some research before. If you want to go to the crown of the statue, you have to reserve it beforehand.
- Transit museum: I really like steam engines and the whole history about trains. The transit museum has a lot to tell about the NYC subway. It was really nice to understand why the subway work that way.
- Natural history musuem: The first time I went there, I was one of the first visitors to enter and left when the museum was closing. It’s a big place with so many amazing things to see. I would recommend going there early and going straight to the dinosaurs room because it’s the most crowded. After that you can enjoy the museum on your own pace.
- Morgan Library: I may be a bit biased because I went there for a exposition about J.R.R Tolkien
And here are some that were good but I’m not sure if I would go again:
- Ellis Island
New York city pass?
It’s not my kind of travel (I didn’t buy it) but does it worth the money? Maybe.
I usually choose the places I want to visit first and then I look into the prices. People who buy the New York city pass tend (trying to avoid generalizations, it’s according to my sample size) to do the opposite. They look into the city pass, read about the attractions there and go visit them.
The transit museum, that is in my “must see” list is not part of the city pass. The Natural History museum is pay what you want, so you may not consider the full price (but at least $10 is worth sparing, it’s a great museum).
Places to eat
(if you really care about food, skip this part because I don’t. This list is for those who just like me wants a list of places to not have to care about looking for places to eat).
I went mostly to quick lunchs, so you will see fast foods most of the time here. I usually don’t eat at big and known places like McDonalds, Burger King, etc. but I look for places where I can quickly eat something and go to the next location.
- Shakeshack: There are many of them and the burger is good enough