First Time Visitor Guide to New York City

How can anyone talk about the sophistication, creative energy, and wily history of New York City without cracking a smile? For someone who has never seen the Big Apple, this is civilization at its finest, a metropolis that will keep surprising, delighting, and challenging you at every turn. Consider the street in Greenwich Village which has not one, but two, full size stores dedicated to selling chess pieces and sets. Or the innumerable bakeries, delis, and small corner stores crouching without complaint at the foot of granite and glass skyscrapers. Perhaps you'll happen upon a Peruvian pan-piper outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, his cascading harmonies complimenting the hazy light of mid-afternoon.

No visit to the city is the same. NYC flights from London are about the only scheduled part of the trip; once you step off the plane, into a cab, and down into the heart of the city, you are immersed in a place that is constantly reinventing itself without discarding some of the most beautiful architectural monuments of the past three hundred years. Whether you spend the day in the Cloisters or in newly revamped Chelsea, ogling the fashionable new condo towers designed by the latest crop of starchitects, your brain will be inundated by the sheer density and elegance of the city. This is a place designed to astonish you; it will not fail.

Of course, any visitor to New York will be impressed by the seemingly unending variety of cultural events and activities. From the Lincoln Center to Broadway to spontaneous street performances, the city is a fountain of entertainment. Hundreds of luminaries from the arts have made the city their home. Planning a literary or musical tour of the city will keep visitors busy for days. Thanks to a few civic-minded mayors, the city has reclaimed and refined its main entertainment centers, making both Times Square and Central Park relatively safe areas for out of towners to enjoy.

From sidewalk dining to penthouse drinks, the cityís restaurants offer every cuisine and every atmosphere for the discerning foodie and the hungry visitor alike. However, while diners should always tip their server, they should never patronize them. Restaurateurs take their professions seriously. If you donít like the food, donít pretend like you doóbut donít expect to be allowed back in. City dwellers prefer honesty to diplomacy, but they abhor poseurs. Be warned.

Perhaps the best way to see New York is to simply choose a direction and walk around. The small, personal moment is worth a dozen big-name destination tourist snapshots. From brownstones to recessed office towers to charming little hole in the walls, the city offers up its secrets to the intrepid. While neighborhoods such as Alphabet City should probably stay off the itinerary, most boroughs in the daytime provide plenty of safe and walkable urban intrigue. Stroll on the elevated park of the new High Line for iconic views of the shoreline. Face it: finding flight deals is only the first part of a very worthwhile trip.

New Arrivals

Area Overviews

Money & Costs



Daily Life

Having Fun

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