The Beginner’s Guide to NYC: How to Make the Most of Your Time
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There are a whole lot of moving parts happening all at once when you are visiting New York City for the very first time.
NYC is known as "The City That Never Sleeps" for a reason because there are more than enough reasons for you to be wide awake and have the time of your life.
Also fondly labeled Manhattan, this island-shaped urban oasis is "The Big Apple" where people come from all over the world to take a delicious bite out of it to make new memories.
For everyone coming from out of town wishing to experience NYC like a native New Yorker, hopefully, with the help of this beginner's guide, it will feel a whole lot less overwhelming when you are looking to make the most out of your time there.
New York City’s Grid Pattern
One thing that you should be aware of as a newcomer to New York City is that you should avoid traveling with all types of hefty items while you walk, ride subways, and are shopping from shop to shop.
You can give your belongings a temporary home that is safe and secure by using luggage storage in NYC.
What makes Manhattan easier to maneuver through than you might imagine is that it's geographically organized in a grid pattern:
- Manhattan’s streets are horizontal, running from east to west. Most streets are numbered, and the lower the number, the more southern the street is located. Streets south of 1st Street have lettered names like Houston Street.
- Manhattan’s avenues are vertical and stretch from north to south, starting with 1st Avenue on the east side of Manhattan. Counting west comes 2nd and 3rd avenues, followed by Lexington, Park, and Madison Avenues. Next up is 5th Avenue, and from there, it's all numbers again until you reach 12th Avenue on the west side.
- Broadway is an exception to the grid system. Broadway is a vertical street like an avenue, but it extends across the island of Manhattan from northwest to southeast.
Uptown vs. Downtown
The New York City borough of Manhattan is split into three main slices known as Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown, which is a way to make sure you are going in the correct direction when you are riding subways and buses.
- Uptown. The northern section of Manhattan that is located above 59th street is referred to as Uptown.
- Downtown. The southern part of Manhattan below 14th Street is called Downtown.
- Midtown. The middle central section of Manhattan between 14th St and 59th St is called Midtown.
- East vs. West. 5th Avenue is the division point that separates Manhattan into east and west.
Exploring Central Park may sound like a cliche for a reason because it is a central part of any NYC experience, taking in some scenic nature inside the confines of the concrete labyrinth of New York City. Along with many places to take it all in on foot, you can also go on a romantic horse-driven carriage ride.
Largest Outdoor Food Market
During the weekend in New York City, you should head over to Smorgasburg, the largest outdoor food market in the United States, with around 100 local vendors at the market.
Museums of Manhattan
In NYC, you will have access to some of the most incredible works of art in the entire world, split between the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Guggenheim, and the Whitney Museum. Do yourself a favor and avoid long lines by purchasing your tickets in advance.
That Famous Library
The New York Public Library is incredibly memorable to the point where it will feel like you have been there before, most likely because it has been in world-famous movies and television shows such as Ghostbusters, Sex, and The City, Gossip Girl, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Shopping in NYC
What would a trip to NYC be without taking in some old-fashioned shopping inside actually physical, brick-and-mortar stores? Take a break from online shopping and log off the internet to experience shopping in these popular Manhattan locations:
- 5th Avenue. The most famous shopping street in the world. Here you find big chain stores like H&M and Zara, high-end stores like Tiffany’s & Louis Vuitton, and iconic sights like St Patrick’s Cathedral & New York Public Library all in one.
- Greenwich Village. A fun mix of tiny exclusive boutiques, high-end stores & laid back shops, and record stores. Check out Bleecker St & 14th St. Weirdest and coolest shop: The Evolution Store (where you can even buy a real human skeleton). Record stores: Village Music World / House of Oldies / Generation Records. Best high-end vintage shop: Screaming Mimis Vintage.
- Soho. South of Houston Street on Broadway is where you will find common clothing franchises like Victoria’s Secret, Urban Outfitters, Levi’s, and Forever 21. When you head east or west into Nolita, there will be more independent boutiques.
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