Whether you are a tourist visiting for a short amount of time, or planning to move there, some things take a while to learn. Below you will find a list of tips and tricks covering everything from operating the MetroCard machines to getting cheaper attraction tickets.While New Yorkers are extremely friendly and helpful, there are a few things we think you need to know for the perfect stay in NYC.
Figure out where you are in Central Park
Central Park is one of the most beautiful places in the city and you will no doubt find yourself taking a stroll through it sooner or later during your visit to New York. Its winding paths offer a nice change of pace to the straight and noise roads in the city.
If you’re anything like us however it won’t take you long to get lost. You might be able to see one or two buildings over the tree tops, but which ones are they and which way is back to Midtown?
Don’t worry; with this little NYC life hack you will always know where you are. Central Park has its own navigation system built right in! On each of its 1600 lampposts there is a small silver sign with a code on it. The first two numbers tell you the street you are closest to. The final two numbers are there to tell you if you are closer to the East or the West border of the park. Even numbers (E for east) are closer to the eastern border. If the final two numbers make an odd number, you are closer to the West side of the park.
If the first two numbers are 7 and 5, you are on the hight of 75th St. If the final two numbers are 4 and 9, this would signal walking West is your quickest way out. If they were 0 and 3, you should walk East.
When to get Broadway tickets at the TKTS booth
With this NYC life hack you wont have to worry about paying full price for broadway shows. At any time of day the TKTS booth will have lots of people waiting in front of it for discounted tickets for the evenings Broadway shows and musicals. The best time to show up is around 5pm however, as all of the after shows will have released all of their available tickets. Not many people know this and even line up early in the mornings just to hear there are barely any tickets available.
Skip the Statue of Liberty
One of the most time saving NYC life hacks we can recommend is skipping the Statue of Liberty. The best views of the Statue are (due to its impressive height of 305 feet) actually experienced from the water. We recommend you skip Liberty Island which gives you no added value and take some amazing pictures from the ferry.
We do however recommend you visit Ellis island, which is one stop further on the ferry. The immigration museum here is truly worth the visit and tells a great story about the beginnings of NYC.
Get a free subway map
While most of us have smartphones nowadays, it doesn’t do any harm to have a printed map of the subway stations to conserve battery or for emergencies. Find one at the manned booths inside the stations – all you have to do is ask! Such a simple NYC hack but definitely worth including on this list.
Another small subway tip: Once you’re on the platform, look for the slightly cleaner areas at the edge. This is usually where the subway doors will be! Knowing this can secure you a seat as well as save you time.
Load up your subway card the smart way
If you don’t already have a MetroCard you will first need to purchase one at the machines in the subway. We have a video for you below on how to do this. Note: the machine will ask you for a postcode – you can just enter 0000.
Secondly, a really useful survival tip for the subway. The preset amounts to load on your subway card always leave you with a little bit of money on the card as it doesn’t divide evenly into the cost of one ride. Press the other amounts button when choosing how much to pay and use the amounts below to make sure you can leave your subway card on a $0.00 balance.
5 rides: $13.75
10 rides: $27.50
15 rides: $41.25
20 rides: $55.00
Get free laughs
Comedy shows are something you shouldn’t miss out on when you are in NYC. We have been to many ourselves and they have always been great. We have even met some of the comedians after the shows for a drink and had some of the best nights after being invited into a free comedy show after walking by on the street.
The free comedy shows are also often some of the most respected in the city. Check out Frantic or Whiplash for example.
No yellow cabs around?
One life hack for NYC not many people know about is to pay attention to the yellow cab shift changes. Many times we have just walked out of a meeting or a shop at 4pm just to realize we need to get a cab. Unlucky. Around 4 pm is when the NYC yellow cab shift change takes place. This means, for approximately half an hour there will be a noticeably less amount of taxis around. Try to avoid waiting for a cab at this time of the day!
Skip the Empire State Building for a better view
This one is another NYC life hack for those of you wanting to tick of all the attractions the city has to offer. The Empire State Building is no doubt one of the most famous attractions in the city, which also makes it one of the busiest and overrun sightseeing spots. If you don’t have the time to wait in line for more than an hour, or would rather be up on the observation deck with less people, go to the Top of the Rock observation deck on the Rockefeller Centre. Not only is it much less busy, you will receive a time when buying a ticket meaning you don’t have to wait in line, but can keep exploring until your designated time has come. You also spend significantly less time waiting to get up there once you get into the building.
Another advantage of the Top of the Rock observation deck is the fact that you will get one of the most iconic views of NYC. Pictures like the one beneath of the Empire State Building or Central Park have made NYC famous – don’t you want to take your own?
Cheaper attraction tickets (up to 70%!)
If you’re looking to save some money (and its not an insignificant amount!) this NYC life hack will definitely be to your liking. If you want to visit a load of NYC attractions but want to do so for a cheaper price, check out the NYC attraction passes. After paying once you can visit countless New York City attractions for free. Due to essentially buying the entrance tickets in bulk, you can save up to 70% on regular prices of separate ticket. To check out the small, medium and large passes, check out our comparison here!
Gourmet restaurants on wheels
NYC has many amazing restaurants but some of its best are actually on wheels. The growing amount of food trucks in the city have created some serious competition which has seen the quality of food rise to amazing levels yet prices staying at the foot truck level. Check out this website to find the nearest food truck near you!
All in all we hope these life hacks help you survive NYC and feel more comfortable during your stay. If you need any help, have any general questions about the city, or would like some recommendations on what to do, just send us a chat message and we’ll get back to you!
We’re here to make you fall in love with NYC just as we did, so don’t be afraid to get in touch! ?