Times Square was named after New York Times after the headquarter to the Times Building in 1904.
New York runs on Eastern Standard Time (EST.) NYC is 3 hours ahead of Los Angeles, 1 hours ahead of Chicago, 5 hours behind London, and 12 hours behind Hong Kong.
The United States offers a Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) that allows visitors from certain countries to stay for up to 90-days. Click here to apply for the ESTA Visa. The process takes 10 minutes and is a good option for those seeking to work or study in the U.S.
For tourism, all countries are allowed entry into the United States except for the following:
- North Korea
For visits that are less than 90-days, there are options for leisure and work.
The B-1 Business Visa is specifically for coming to the States for meetings and/or conferences that are not for immediate employment in the U.S for a U.S company.
The B-S Tourism Visa is for leisure tourism for a stay of less than 90-days.
The DS-160 form must be completed to apply for these visas, and an interview with the U.S Embassy or consulate must be done. After the documents are submitted, and the interview is reviewed, the embassy or consulate will notify the submitter of whether or not their visa was accepted.
There are three major airports:
- John F Kennedy International Airport, located in Queens, NY.
- Laguardia International Airport, located in Queens, NY.
- Newark International Airport, located in Newark, NJ
To get from the airport to the metro, JFK airport offers an AirTrain, which allows riders a smooth passage from the airport to Jamaica Station. From there, you can choose to ride the Metro to Penn Station and/or transfer to another subway line to arrive at your destination. Penn Station offers transfers to the A, C, or E subway line. Subway entry costs $2.75 per person, however, children 44 inches (3’6”) and under ride for free when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
For travelers who do not want to brace the NYC subway system just yet, taxi and Uber options are available at the lower level pick-up area after baggage claim.
Just like JFK, Laguardia Airport offers Uber and taxi pick-up area after baggage claim.
Shuttles from Laguardia can be called via the Ground Transportation desk, but keep in mind that you will be traveling with other passengers.
Laguardia Airport has direct access to the Q70 (limited service) MTA bus. The bus fare is $2.75 per person and will take you to the Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Ave Subway station. From there, take either E, M, F, R, or 7 trains to get to either Manhattan or Brooklyn.
Newark Airport has its own AirTrain rail line that allows passengers access to the Newark Airport transit system, leading to the NJ transit system. You can take the NJ transit system all the way to Penn Station and follow the A, C or E subway lines to your destination. Tickets for the NJ transit system are $15.25, for riders 12 and over tickets are $3.50; for those under 11 and free for children 4 and under.
The New York City Subway system is the mecca of all travel when touring NYC. The MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) is affiliated with keeping the subway and the bus systems in operation. To ride any public transportation in NYC, you’d first need to purchase a Metrocard. I recommend buying a 7-day unlimited Metrocard for $33. The price for one swipe entry to the subway is $2.75 per person, and the 7-day unlimited MetroCard is a money and time saver.
Click here to see public transportation pricing and other Metro Card options.
The Subway System in NYC is the seventh most busy-subway system in the world. Specific lines for the subway all lead to locations in Manhattan as well as 4 other boroughs (except Staten Island.)
Click here to see all of the subway lines as well as information about each.
New York City is safe for solo traveling if you keep your wits about you. Remember to be cautious about your surroundings and realize when someone is trying to scam you, especially in dense tourist locations.
Be cautious about your drinks at bars, try not to “flash” your money around, and do not engage in other people’s business. You will be fine traveling in New York City!
As a point of reference, the safest neighborhoods in NYC are: SoHo, Hell’s Kitchen, Tribeca, NoHo, Greenwich Village, Flatiron District, Meatpacking District, Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Gramercy Hill, and the Financial District (to name a few.)
NYC climate is tricky; depending on the month, the weather can be virtually unpredictable. Normally, New York is subject to cold winters and humid summers. The average temperatures during the wintertime (Dec-March) range from 29-44 Fahrenheit, and the average summer (Jun-Sept) temperatures run from 61-84 Fahrenheit.
Snow is common in the winter and sometimes has a tendency to freeze, so I would be careful next time you go take your family to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree!
The best times to visit NYC are: June-September and Sept-Nov, due to the warm (not sweltering) weather, and cool nights. Though that is roughly right around tourist season, the bulk of tourism happens in the wintertime for Christmas and the annual New Years’ Eve Ball Drop.
English is the most popular language spoken in NYC. With 51% percent of the population communicating using English on a daily basis, any tourist must know a few sayings just in case. A new map, however, showed that there may be up to 640 languages spoken in NYC! The Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Italian, and French languages also make up a large part of the demographic. Because NYC is so culturally vast, you will 100% meet someone who speaks your native language, so don’t be worried if you don’t speak English fluently!
The typical “New Yorker” stereotype is constantly misinterpreted as a mean, rude, uncaring person; however, average New Yorkers only really care about one thing: public decency / common sense. To live in New York is to understand that every space is a shared space. Whether it be a subway cart, a Starbucks, or an apartment elevator; courtesy is the only way to gain respect from New Yorkers. While yes, some stressed businessman might accidentally bump your shoulder on his way to work, keep in mind, the city is always moving, and so are its people. Don’t stand or walk slowly in the middle of the sidewalk, move to the side. Everyone there is going about their day, and doing so quickly. Be mindful of oncoming pedestrian traffic, be aware of your space/how much you take up, and just be consciously aware of everything.
Be kind to service workers! Those working in retail, or the food service industry will show you respect as long as you do the same. When eating at a restaurant, do not snap, yell or obnoxiously wave at your waiter/waitress. A simple hand raise and smile will get their attention.
The United States currency is the US Dollar ($ USD,) nothing else is accepted in New York restaurants. Luckily, currency conversion is available in multiple locations within the city. From banks to private currency exchange businesses, it will not be difficult for you to find somewhere to convert to USD.
Tipping. Is. Essential! If you do not leave at least a 15% tip after your meal, it would be seen as a lack of respect towards the waitstaff. It is considered improper to not tip when eating out. Also, it is customary to tip your taxi driver when taking one, while this is different with Ubers, taxis have a different set of “rules.”
NYC’s standard voltage is 120 volts, with a two or three-pronged plug. For those traveling internationally, you should be prepared to bring an adapter. Here is what yours should look like:
NYC has some of the cleanest and safest tap water in the country. While it is unfiltered, the water is cured by ultra-violet and chlorine light to kill off any bacteria. Coming from a reservoir in the Catskill Mountains, the water is rich with over 125 minerals! A recent study found that NYC tap water has micro-shrimp copepods inside, creating the sweet and quenching taste all New Yorkers are familiar with. While the addition of the shrimp amebas might be off-putting at first, they are actually very healthy for consumers. Although it has been argued that with shrimp inside the water, NYC’s tap water is not considered Kosher. So, if you are strict about keeping Kosher, or don’t like the idea of micro-shrimp friends floating around in your water. I would suggest sticking to bottled water.
Fun fact: The reason NYC Pizza and bagels taste so good is the water in the dough!
There is free Wi-Fi, basically everywhere in NYC. As payphones became obsolete, the city sought to change with the evolving times, from a need for modernized communication and Wi-Fi’s importance – LinkNYC was born. The city replaced all of the unused payphones with LinkNYC ports. These Links gave everyone free access to maps, phone chargers, emergency 911 buttons, free Wi-Fi, and the latest advertisements. Link’s innovative inclusion onto the NYC sidewalks has allowed the city to maintain a level of interconnectedness with the city’s population. LinkNYC offers two Wi-Fi networks to connect to “LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi” and “LinkNYC Private.” You can read more about the systems and LinkNYC’s other offerings here.
NYC’s yellow cabs have been a staple in the city’s history since its inception in 1907. Calling one from the curbside is an art form, however, not impossible for the average tourist. The most common way to grab a taxi driver’s attention is by standing at the curb, with one hand in the air. To those braised enough to whistle, it needs to be loud enough to pierce through city noise.
Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare apps have become increasingly popular among New Yorkers. Ridesharing apps are different from the regular taxi in that you could call a car at will and know your fare before you even step foot in the car. But ride-sharing apps have also caused a sharp decline in the income of traditional cabs.
NYC has been held as a “gay metropolis” since the 1890s. With the 1969 Stonewall Riots kicking off the LGBTQ Rights Movement, NYC is the mecca for LGBTQ acceptance for the East Coast. For the last Sunday in June Pride month, NYC holds Pride Week, where the iconic LGBT Pride Parade is held in Manhattan. Pride Week celebrates sexuality with 50+ events dedicated to understanding and appreciating LBGT History, NYC Pride Week is for all those that love. Head to Chelsea for fun bars and LGBTQ+-friendly hotspots!
New York City is making great strides for eco-friendly activities. Citi Group partnered with NYC in May of 2013 to install rental bikes all over Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Jersey City, creating a greener alternative to travel. Subways, busses, and taxis that dominate the city’s travel industry, the inclusion of bikes have created a positive change to New York and have offset carbon due to so many New Yorkers opting to ride bikes instead of taking a taxi.
A great way to reduce your carbon footprint is to avoid buying from fast-fashion businesses. NYC has a plethora of different thrift/second-hand stores. From high-end consignment to the salvation army, these stores allow you to find loved, unique pieces and rehome them, rather than go into the nearest Forever 21 and buy a cheaply made, mass-produced item.
GrowNYC is the operator for all of NYC’s Greenmarkets that operate in all 5 boroughs year round! The Farmers Market offers fresh and locally grown produce, local businesses selling their food, and more. These markets are popular among New Yorkers due to the easy access to fresh produce at a good price.
The High Line
The High Line is a 1.4-mile park renovated from an old railway track, into a luscious green park above the streets of Manhattan. The non-profit group, “Friends of the High Line,” helped to renovate the railway and make it more beautiful to look at for the surrounding residents and create a much needed green area of the Meatpacking District. The High Line now bodes 8 million visitors annually. It’s green, clean, and the best way to get your daily steps in.