What To Do As A First Timer In New York

Saturday, July 06, 2019 New York, NY, USA

As I visited New York for the first time just over a year ago, I have been giving my friend who is going this year some tips, so I thought while thinking of some I could turn this into a blog post! There is so much to do in New York that it can feel overwhelming the first time you visit - I know it did to me!


Spend Enough Days There

I really recommend, if you're planning on booking your first New York holiday, spend as many days there as you can. It's popular to go for a three or five day break, but I would recommend going for a week if that is possible. We went for a week and were still totally rushed off our feet trying to fit everything in! I can't imagine how rushed I would have felt spending even less time there.

Book a Hotel in a Central Location

While next time we go we're thinking of booking a hotel further downtown, I think going for the first time it's great to be located centrally, near everything that makes you typically think of New York. Our hotel was just off Times Square and it was the perfect location for our first visit. It was in walking distance of all the big attractions and you really feel immersed in New York life.


Try A City Pass

If you want to do all the usual tourist attractions, which going for the first time I imagine you do, a City Pass is the best option! There are a few on the market of different price brackets, but we went for the CityPass and I really recommend it. It includes 6 attractions - 3 you have to do (Empire State, MET and Natural History Museum), and your other 3 you have a choice between two for each option. It includes a real variety of New York's best attractions with HUGE savings.

Research Resturants Before Hand

This is one I don't think we did enough of... it came to it and we were eating for eatings sake, near whatever attraction we were at rather than really benefitting from everything New York has to offer. While I think some spontaneity is great, I wish I had a bit more of an idea of where the best places to eat were.

Read Itineraires Online

If you google 'New York Itinerary' there are loads - my favourite place to look is Pinterest. There's so many for different lengths of trips and even if their plan doesn't suit you, it will give you lots of inspiration of what attractions are nearby each other, and how much you can generally get done in a day - although I have read so many itenaries that are way too packed!

Plan Your Own Itierary

Don't make a hour by hour, detailed plan that you will feel pressured by, but do have a general idea of what you plan to see each day - this could be an attraction, or an area of the city. Nothing should be set in stone, you can always swap your days depending on the weather. Don't jam pack it - leave time for casual exploring and wandering, don't pack three days worth of activities into one because you will become knackered!


Get To Attractions Early

Particuarly the observatories - Empire State and Top Of The Rock, I would really recommend getting up early and getting there near opening time, between 9-10am. You will save loads of time queueing, and plus the observatory isn't as packed so it's much more enjoyable!

Walk Everywhere (At Least Almost Everywhere)

In this point I will kind of contradict myself, because on one day we walked from Times Square, over Brooklyn Bridge and back, which my phone says was equivalent to half a marathon worth of walking and I still can't get over how tired I felt! But I genuinely think, for your first visit in New York, maybe don't go crazy like we did, I would definitely get the subway some places in future, but do walk as much as possible because that's the only way you properly get to experience New York. Although the walking we did on that day was crazy, it was the day we saw the most of the city.

Head To The Smaller Parks

Okay, this might be because two days I went it was either Memorial Day (packed) or raining, but I was kinda disappointed by Central Park. However, what I was surprised by was the little parks dotted around the city. Bryant Park, near my hotel on 42nd Street had lots of seating and was perfect on a warm day and Madison Square Park, near the Flatiron, has a Shake Shack which proves the perfect refreshing break on a long walk.

Visit Times Square When It's Less Busy

It's kind of a no brainer that Times Square is always busy... but there are definitely better times to visit when it's going to be less crowded, and I seriously recommend that. Visiting in the evening is always popular, but going midweek is a bit less busy than the weekend. I would also recommend visiting early in the morning, perhaps on the way to an attraction.

Don't Forget Free Attractions To Visit

Often forgotten about are some of New York's gems that are actually free to visit, a prime example of this is the New York public library, located on 42nd Street. I almost forgot to visit this one myself until my very last day, and had to rush my visit! I could have spent much longer there, it was such a lovely building - I recommend visiting the Rose Reading Room with it's gorgeous ceiling!

Fit Shops In Around Attractions

New York's shops are fabulous, and for a shopping lover like me, they really are attractions themselves. However, unless you have a specific shop in mind, I would recommend fitting them in between attractions or other activities. There are shops everywhere, so whether you're downtown or midtown you'll probably find the same sort of shops.

Although as a first timer in New York, you must visit all the classic attractions to get the typical NYC experience, it must be remembered that the city's charm equally lies in it's villages and little parks you can relax in. If you're going to visit New York for the first time or are planning to, I hope you have the best time! Let me know if you would also like me to post an itinerary, or you can read my two diary posts! If you've already visited yourself I would love to hear your own tips, as I am already planning another visit in the future!

EG x


  1. New York is just the best place ever. I definitely agree with going for as long as you can - there will always be new things to see and do. I definitely would recommend the high line, it's free and you can see so many cool angles of the city x
    Amber | www.amberatlanta.blogspot.co.uk

    1. Definitely! I totally forgot to talk about the high line so thank you for mentioning it, it was great to get a different view of the city! x

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  3. These are great tips! I visited New York for the first time just over a month ago and I already want to go back! There are definitely some things that I would do differently next time like staying in a more central location x


    1. Absolutely, I think staying in different places gives you a really different feel of the city! Thanks for commenting x