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Friday, June 7, 2013

When is the best time to visit New York City?

There really is no best time to visit New York City. Visitors fill New York in pretty equal measure year-round — to the tune of more than 48 million in 2010. Winters can be cold but there usually isn’t much snow and there’s nothing like ice skating in Central Park. The city is usually very crowded during the holiday season with people coming to shop and see the big tree in Rockefeller Center. There’s nothing like Central Park during autumn or spring, and summer is a good time to visit if you want to see the city when it’s less crowded (and don’t mind the humidity).You’ll find the streets a little quieter on summer weekends, when locals do their best to escape to the beaches and mountains.

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What are some things to know before visiting New York City?
There used to be a time when venturing into certain parts of central Manhattan at any time of the day, but especially at night, were be considered huge no-no's. Nowadays, there aren't very many areas of the city where that is the case, even the infamous Hell's Kitchen neighborhood (next to the Times Square area) is but a shadow of its former self. Filled with trendy restaurants and bars (appropriately named Restaurant Row), and within walking distance from many tourist attractions, as well as the Hudson River pathway, this once dangerous neighborhood is a wonderful place to meet friends, or even stay in.

New York is a walking city, so you should be prepared to do a lot of it (it's the best way to see the city) and there are always tons of tour options as well if you would rather have a guided experience. Eating in NYC can be expensive, but there are also really great options where you don't have to spend a lot of money. Each neighborhood is different, so I always encourage visitors to venture out by train to outter boroughs such as lower or upper Manhattan areas, or even Queens (for great ethnic food) and Bronx for great parks.
Be ready to take advantage of free or discounted museum days, free events at the parks (especially during warmer months) and city passes for discounted access to major attractions and tours. Most of the information is on each attraction's website, but it's also a good idea to coordinate with the concierge at your hotel for passes and discount options. Make sure to grap one of the city's free subway maps (most tourist shops sell them, but you can get them for free at the kiosks in the subway platforms).

Lastly, New Yorker's have a reputation of being rude. We aren't really - but we are always in a hurry and have somewhere to go. We love sharing our city with others, but don't ever really appreciate having them block our way as we are running through (so if you are admiring those awesome skyscrappers and taking pictures, please step to the side of the sidewalk). Our pace if always hurried, even when it doesn't need to be, but we are happy to give directions and share our favorite spots for anything and everything. The hard part will be identifying who is the New Yorker and who is the visitor, meaning you might have to ask a few people before finding someone who knows, especially in a touristy area.

Enjoy the city. Walk as much as you can (pack comfortable shoes), and venture out of your hotel area.

What should I pack for a trip to New York City?
Deciding what to pack for New York City can be tough — it is the fashion capital of the world, after all. But don’t let that intimidate you. Well, not too much anyway. Instead, focus on being prepared for extreme weather (humid summers and freezing winters) and a lot of walking. Even though the subway is efficient and generally reliable, you will find yourself walking a lot because there is so much to see and do on every block.

As for fashion, you can bring a few stylish outfits — or shop for new ones — or you can always fall back on all black. In Manhattan, wearing all black is always in fashion.

Airport Taxi Fare:

Standard City Rate $2.50 upon entry $0.50 for each additional one-fifth of a mile
JFK-Manhattan $52 + toll + tip
LGA-Manhattan $45 + toll + tip
EWR-Manhattan $55 + toll + tip
Shared Shuttle service: $15 - $20 to Manhattan
Bus Express Ride: $16 to Manhattan
Subway: Airtrain $5 + Subway $2.50 to Manhattan

NYC major attractions & tours:
9/11 Ground Zero Tribute Center  
American Museum of Natural History
Atlantic City Excursion on Academy Bus  
Bike and Roll NYC Bike Rental
Blazing Saddles
Body Worlds: Pulse
Bronx Museum of the Arts
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Children's Museum
Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn Museum  
Carnegie Hall Tours
Central Park Bicycle Rentals & Tours
Circle Line Downtown
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
City Sightseeing Cruises
Clipper City Tall Ship Cruises Manhattan By Sail
Dwyer Cultural Center
Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
El Museo del Barrio
Empire State Building Observation Deck
FDNY Fire Zone
Food on Foot Tours
Fraunces Tavern  
Grand Central Terminal Audio Tour
Hallelujah! Gospel Wednesday
Harlem One Stop Cultural & Heritage Walking and Step-On Group Tour Packages  
Historic Richmond Town  
Inside Broadway Tours
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum  
Jewish Children's Museum  
Lets Take a Village... A Greenwich Village Walking Tour  
Madame Tussauds New York
Make Mine Music... A Musical Walking Tour
Museum at Eldridge St.
Museum of American Finance
Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA)
Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Museum of the City of New York  
NBC Studio Tour
New Museum
New York Botanical Garden
New York Hall of Science
New York Historical Society
New York Insider’s Shopping Tour
New York Skyride
New York Transit Museum
New York Water Taxi
Noble Maritime Collection  
On Location Tours Central Park TV and Movie Sites
On Location Tours UPTOWN New York TV and Movie Sites    
Queens Museum of Art  
Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour
Real Brooklyn Tour
Rockefeller Center Tour  
Shearwater Sailing Manhattan By Sail
Slavery and Underground Railroad Tour
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Staten Island Botanical Garden
Staten Island Children's Museum
Statue of Liberty Harbor Cruise  
The Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO neighborhood tour
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
The Cloisters Museum and Gardens
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Museum of Sex
The Paley Center for Media
The Skyscraper Museum
The Studio Museum in Harlem
Top of the Rock
Tour at Lincoln Center  
Van Cortlandt House Museum
Walkin’ Broadway
Wall Street Walks
Wave Hill
Weeksville Heritage Center
Where It All Began... A Lower Manhattan Walking Tour
Whitney Museum of American Art
Yankee Stadium Tours

Save up to 65% on admissions to New York City's most iconic attractions & tours?

New York CityPass 
New York CityPASS includes admission to NYC’s top 6 attractions. Skip ticket lines and save 42%. Includes: Empire State Building Observatory, The Met, American Museum of Natural History, MoMA, Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim, and Statue of Liberty OR Circle Line Cruises. Valid for nine days from first day of use.
Price: $106 ($79 for children ages 6-17)
Save: 42% off admission prices
Great for: Anyone who wants to hit all the biggies and skip ticket lines.

New York Explorer Pass
The Explorer Pass is perfect for those who want to see NYC at their own pace. Choose 3, 5, 7 or 10 attractions from 50 top sites and tours, and visit them any time you want in 30 days—including the Hop-on/Hop-off double-decker bus. Skip ticket lines and feel like a VIP. Each purchase includes a 52-page, multi-language guidebook. Get the New York Explorer Pass today!
Price: $79.99–$209.99 ($57.99–$139.99 for children ages 3–12)
Save: 45% off admission prices
Great for: Tour lovers and visitors in NYC who wish to see it all at their own pace

The New York Pass
The New York Pass can be customized according to number of days you’re here (up to seven) for access to over 80 NYC attractions. Passes also entitle bearers to discounts on Broadway shows, shopping and dining, and are accompanied by a pocket-sized guidebook published in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Mandarin. You can also package your 2 to 7 Day Pass with a Hop-on Hop-off Bus tour.
Price: $85–$230 ($60–$165 for kids ages 4–12)
Save: Savings varies according to number of attractions visited; potential savings of over $400
Great for: The fast mover who wants to do it all. There is no limit to the number of attractions you can visit with the New York Pass.

Downtown Culture Pass
The Downtown Culture Pass gives you three days of unlimited admissions to eight downtown museums, gift shop discounts, plus a walking tour.
Price: $30 ($15 for children ages 13–17; $5 for children ages 6–12; free for children 6 and under)
Save: 67% off admission prices
Great for: Visitors who wish to experience the diverse cultural attractions of Lower Manhattan, all within walking distance

Bargains galore in the Big Apple!

New York is a shopper's paradise! You can find anything and everything in the many stores throughout the city-and now you can shop TAX FREE in NYC on clothing and shoes priced under $110. There are thousands of shops, so whether it's upscale Madison Avenue or the bargain-friendly Lower East Side, the Big Apple offers everything for everybody!

The New York Pass, CityPass and Explorer Pass adds something to your shopping experience as well. Some places will have a special gift waiting for NYC Pass holders. Others like Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s will offer you 11% discount. Also, don’t forget to visit the Century 21 Department Store. They sell designer merchandise at 40% - 70% off retail prices.

Another huge shopping experience are the world-famous Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, where you can enjoy everyday savings of 25% to 65% from Dolce & Gabbana, Gap Outlet, Nike Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Salvatore Ferragamo, Timberland and many more. With the New York Pass upon your arrival you will receive VIP Coupon Booklet worth hundreds of dollars of additional savings at participating stores.

Macy's visitors shopping pass 
Sample Sales Calendar
Sample Sale Avenue  

What are the best souvenirs to buy in New York City?
Souvenir shopping in NYC can be fun and these shops are everywhere! If you wanted to go beyond the basic "I Love NY" mug or t-shirt (though those are fun too), check out these options:

My favorite are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The MoMa gift shops. The kinds of unique gifts you find here make perfect tokens for any occassion. And because these museums are such NYC icons, it's like bringing a piece of NYC art with you.

The Transit Museum also has a wonderful gift shop with posters, and other items displaying the famous NYC subway map (from mugs, to shower curtains, to underwear!) as well as toy NYC number and letter trains. There are two locations: the main museum is located in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn and the other, much smaller version (mainly gift shop) is in Grand Central Terminal.

Another great option is purchasing NYC themed gift baskets from Chelsea Market Baskets. The shop itself in located inside one of my favorite markets in the city, Chelsea Market and the baskets are filled with high quality, high end treats displaying the best of the best in the NYC food scene to take home (or ship).

But of course, nothing beats the age old practice of saving the Playbill from your night out in the theater, or that perfect photo in Times Square or while up on the Chrysler Building. Those are always the best.

What are the best food gifts to buy in New York City?
When looking for the perfect food gift, NYC is not a bad place to be in. This food mecca has so much to offer that the problem isn't where to find a unique food gift, but rather where to start looking. In warmer months, the city’s farmers markets are a treasure trove of foodie gifts. But NYC also has one-stop shopping food destinations worth checking out, like 
Bleecker Street, home to many artisan food shops such as:

Murray's Cheese for artisanal cheese, perfectly aged for any palate. A gift certificate for one of their cheese classes is also a great treat.

Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat is a family-owned butcher shop that has been serving the best steaks and cuts for over 100 years.

Amy’s Bread is celebrated for her organic, whole-grain bread options, as well as baked sweets and pastries.

O & Co. has a huge selection of olive oil and vinegar products, many available for sampling. They also have wonderful spreads and crackers, as well as a few olive oil based beauty products.

Porto Rico Importing Co. offers coffee lovers a wonderful selection of organic beans that are environmentally friendly and support family-owned coffee farms. Just walking into the shop is a treat for the senses.

Of course, one of the best ways to experience it all at once is to gift a NYC food tour, where you learn both the history and taste along the way.

Another stop to check out when in town is the Chelsea Market. Here you will find many shops and eateries, as well as the Bowery Kitchen Supply store to appeal to the foodie in your life.

If looking for a gift with more of a European flair, a cooking class at Eataly is the way to go, along with any one of the many Italian food products and literature.

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