Welcome to the Big Apple, home to 8.6 million people in 5 boroughs, each borough larger than most American cities. Even the smallest — Staten Island at 479,458 people — is bigger than Kansas City #35 or Miami #44 while Brooklyn at 2,648,771 would be the 4th largest city in the USA (data).
Roughly half of the NYC population speaks a language other than English at home. With over 800 languages spoken by a significant portion of the population, New York City is the most linguistically diverse city in the world.
According to the New York City Department of Health, in 2017 there were 26,618 restaurants in the whole city. New York City has no landfills or incinerators, yet residents produce 12,000 tons of waste every day; about 10% is recycled with 100% the goal by 2030.
What’s more, there are thousands of attractions, many of them free or low cost, some permanent and others temporary. Some are easy to find and others require a bit of searching. Try the SirChear NYC page using your favorite keywords and the date; for example Jazz Concerts this Saturday October 31; free music this weekend; Greenwich Village walking tours.
On a budget or not, I suggest you check out StubHub.com and Goldstar.com for event tickets. Then hit up some discount deal sites including Groupon, Yipit, and TravelZoo. You can probably save some serious cash and see a show or game.
If you’re in NYC on a Friday and are ready to go, hit one of a dozen museums between 3pm-8pm for FREE! Click here for a great list.
AGENDA: DAY 1
Start your Saturday morning with a NYC breakfast at a fancy place though I suggest you save the cash and find a bodega (deli) or street cart and grab a bialy, bagel or fresh Danish.
If you are in Manhattan, your first stop could be to the American Museum of Natural History on the upper Westside at 81st Street. You should start in the Rose Center for the space and science exhibits, then the top floor for the dinosaurs.
For lunch, walk east across Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and eat at one of their 3 restaurants; then see whatever is special plus the “must see” The Temple of Dendur, Chinese Buddhist Sculptures, and the Washington Crossing the Delaware painting.
After a couple hours, I would suggest moving on in one of three directions. The first, easiest is to hit one or more of the 8 other museums on the Museum Mile. Second option is to hang out in Central Park.
If you want to mix it up and go shopping, walk one block east (even number streets go east, odd west) to Madison Avenue then head south (opposite direction of car traffic). At 59th Street, go back to Fifth Avenue and see the Plaza Hotel, gawk at the Apple Store and visit the Central Park Zoo.
Continue down Fifth Avenue for Tiffany’s, Rockefeller Center Shops, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Empire State Building.
By now, you should be exhausted and ready for a nice meal. There are infinite options in cuisine, price, and experience across all price ranges. My only recommendation is to try something unique that you can’t get at home; almost every ethnic cuisine is available so go online and search, or hit a neighborhood like Koreatown (32nd St./5th), Chinatown (Mott/Canal), Little India (2nd Ave/6th St) or Little Italy (Mulberry/Canal) and let your nose pick.
Beware that cocktails, beer, and wine can get very expensive. Like food, prices range dramatically by venue from rooftop bars with $20 specialty cocktails to some of the greatest cheap dive bars with $5 PBRs and a whisky shot.
AGENDA: DAY 2
On day two in NYC, I would go downtown Manhattan and hit a bunch of places; many have long lines in the summer, so you should buy tickets in advance:
Battery Park (free)
Staten Island Ferry (free)
Governors Island (Summer-only, free/fee for ferry)
Trinity Church (free)
Federal Hall (free)
All of these places are within a 20-minute walk of each other, and there are many other attractions along the way.
I would suggest having food or at least a quick drink at Fraunces Tavern, opened in 1762 and operating ever since.
If you have more time downtown, head north to:
If these downtown sights are not for you, or you have an extra day, I suggest you hop the subway to the other boroughs.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (World’s Fair) includes these 3 sites, all in nearby walking distance:
Queens Museum — see a scale model of NYC
Of course this list is not comprehensive. And there is way too much to do in a short time. And there are many places in between these locations that are interesting to browse. So have fun and just visit often.