How to Plan a New York City Vacation in 10 Easy Steps

  1. Airfare – the three closest airports are JFK, LGA and EWR. When searching for airfare online, you can type “NYC” in almost every online search box and it will check all three major airports and return the lowest fare. A NYC travelers’ advantage is you can arrive and depart from two different airports if there is a financial benefit. No car rental to worry about! Make sure to check the extra cost of traveling from Manhattan to Newark, NJ (EWR). It may not be a savings to fly or stay there.
  2. NYC Hotels from $25 – To be in Manhattan, use a zip code such as 10019, and do not search further than 2 miles, or you will be outside Manhattan. The BEST hotel deals are for Military Personnel and their eligible dependents and spouses. If you fall into one of these categories: Military Personnel of the United States and its Allies (Active Duty, Reserve, Guard, Veterans and Cadets, and members of the Police Department, Fire Department, and Emergency Medical Services), you can stay in a lovely hotel, in a GREAT location for rates ranging from $25 (per person per night) to $125 for a VIP Room.
  3. Statue of Liberty – there is only way to enter the Statue of Liberty Museum. Do not confuse reserving Statue of Liberty tickets with taking a Ferry to Liberty Island to walk the Liberty Grounds. You must reserve your ticket directly with the Statue of Liberty and it is FREE. No tour, attractions pass or discount pass includes entry into the Museum (the base or to climb Lady Liberty’s Crown). Reservations are usually booked 3 or more months in advance and are accepted up to one year in advance.
  4. Tickets – Some tickets are worth getting in advance, especially if you want tickets for the kinds of things to which New Yorkers go every day, such as Broadway Shows, TV Shows, Yankees Baseball or Giants Football. Except for some very exclusive tickets, almost everything can be purchased with a discount or coupon. Make sure you know how to get half price Broadway tickets every day.
  5. New York City Bus Tour – these are very popular amongst NYC Tourists. There are pros and cons, but overall, most NYC tourists really seem to like them. Many of the Bus Tours prices also include admission to attractions and sightseeing. If you plan on visiting a lot of attractions with admissions prices, then a Bus Tour may be a great deal for you. Possibly even more cost-effective than taking the subway.
  6. Attractions Passes – As a lifelong New Yorker, I was skeptical when analyzing the New York City sightseeing passes. The short answer, is in MOST cases, they can offer a savings. You have to make sure you are evaluating the passes correctly and reading into any hidden costs. See ” New York City Discount and Attractions Passes – Are They Really a Savings?” for considerations.
  7. More Things to Do in NYC – check into additional sightseeing, museums, attractions and/ or events while you are in town. Empire State Building or Top of the Rock? Is it Restaurant, Spa or Fashion Week? Are TV Shows being taped? What’s going on at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and Lincoln Center? Can you see any of the Museums during their free days and times?
  8. NYC Subway – navigating and using the subway is easy once you get the hang of it, but is not done on typical internet map programs. We use sites like HopStop and the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) website to get from point A to point B in NYC. Mapping out some of your itinerary in advance will save you a lot of time and money and improve your NYC vacation. You don’t want to go from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Wall Street to the Guggenheim to the Statue of Liberty. Make your time efficient and buy the right Metrocard (the pass needed for the subway) for your trip.
  9. Arriving in New York City – Upon arriving in New York, you can use public transit, taxi, shuttle or NYC Limos to get to Manhattan. A limo (car service) can be reserved just before you arrive, however, it is not always advantageous to reserve a car. Shuttle buses charge per person and taxis are one rate for up to 4 people. If you really want to sound like a New Yorker and not a tourist, know your cross streets. When you get in to the car, make sure to say, “Park Central Hotel. 56th and 7th, please” and not “Park Central Hotel, 870 Seventh Avenue.”
  10. New York City Coupons – Stop at the two official visitor centers in NYC with hundreds of coupons. The New York City coupons are good for discount Broadway tickets, discount tours, discounts off attraction prices, coupons for bus tours, private tours, bike tours, museums, admission prices and hundreds of other things to do in NYC. The two centers are about a five minute walk apart.
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