NYC travel tips for first-time visitors by Ari KellenAs a New Yorker, it’s hard for me to realize that many people have never been here, and don’t know about everything that it has to offer.  It’s a city that everybody from the Congo to Nebraska has heard about, it’s been in countless movies, so visiting can feel a bit overwhelming.  To make sure that you get the most out of your visit, however, here are some great tips that I found from a blog post by the excellent Tracy Kaler:

Don’t spend all your time looking at the tourist stuff: The touristy stuff in New York is so popular because it’s so great: Rockefeller Center, the World Trade Center, Central Park, etc.  But that doesn’t show you how unique New York truly is.  Try picking several big sights, scheduling them into your itinerary and then spend the rest of your time shopping, eating, wandering and visiting more off-the-beaten path places.  There are plenty of fun, unique places in New York that aren’t too out of the way.  Fun, easy-to-reach neighborhoods with lots to do include Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, East Village/Alphabet City, Williamsburg and Greenpoint (more on those last two later).

Avoid Times Square: Times Square is one of those things you do once in your life, but then never again.  It’s incredibly touristy, expensive and unbelievably crowded.  While a lot of hotels are located around there, you want to avoid the most congested area (on the 40s near Broadway and 7th Avenue), where you won’t be able to walk down the street, but rather shuffle and get pushed while people ask you for money, which isn’t fun for anybody.

See a show: Theater is just one aspect of the entertainment that you can get in New York City.  If you’re a theater buff, go to a couple performances, but you don’t want to center your entire visit around it.  There are all other kinds of performances you can check out: comedy shows, concerts of all kinds, improv shows, etc.

Explore the outer boroughs: While Manhattan has got so much to offer, the outer boroughs, particularly Brooklyn and Queens, do as well.  If you’re planning on more than a couple days, you’ll want to check them out.  Just east of Manhattan in Brooklyn is Williamsburg and Greenpoint, home to amazing bars, fun things to do and some pretty great parks.  In Queens you’ll want to visit Astoria, home to the Museum of the Moving Image, one of the oldest beer gardens in the country and all sorts of excellent restaurants.

Be comfortable: New York’s a fashionable place, so you want to look good, but you also want to be comfortable!  Think practically: you’ll be walking a lot, so wearing stilettos isn’t a great idea.  Dress for the temperatures as well: New York gets cold in the winter and very hot in the summer, and the weather in the spring and fall is unpredictable to say the least.

Cut costs: It’s very easy to spend a lot of money in New York, and it’s certainly a very expensive city, but there are still ways to save money.  By simply skipping the taxis and riding the subway, you’ll save a ton of cash.  There are also plenty of free things to do around the city: museums, parks, ferry rides, etc.