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New York City For Beginners

- Pauline

My cousin visited us last week; he is from Indonesia and has never been to the United States before. He was not here for fun; he was on a business trip, and had back-to-back meetings in Manhattan almost every day he was here. When my cousin does return, I hope he will have time to explore New York City. He likes what he saw in Manhattan, and can’t wait to return with his family. When he does, and if he asks me for my advice on what to do, I will share the following suggestions with him.


Manhattan is where most tourists start. It’s as if New York City was set up for all newcomers to visit this most popular borough first. When most people think of New York, they think of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, Broadway, and other notable landmarks that are constantly used in movies, television, and all other forms of media. For those who don’t know where to start, Manhattan stands out from the rest, and beckons all new tourists with a wide variety of tourist options.

Want to get your bearings? Try a bus tour. There are so many to choose from, and they most originate in Midtown Manhattan. One of the most popular of these bus tours is Gray Line New York Sightseeing, which offers the Classic New York Double-Decker Bus Tours, and many other single and multi-day options. It’s up to the tourist, but if there is limited time, it might be good to take a bus tour around Manhattan to become visually familiar with its most popular areas. If you have time afterwards to explore certain areas you liked best during the tour, you can do so afterwards. Or you can move on to something else. Many tourists buy The New York Pass, which is a convenient way to see up to 80 tourist attractions cash-free. These work best for anyone who has at least two or three days to spare for sightseeing, and want to concentrate on popular sites only.

Walking tours are fantastic. Personally, I love a good walking tour. The best way to explore Manhattan is on foot, and there are many options for tourists with sturdy walking shoes and good luck with the weather, especially if they are interested in specific neighborhoods. I took the Greenwich Village Food Tour, which I absolutely loved. Sure, we scarfed down thin-crust pizza and cookies as large as my face, but all of us on the tour burned quite a few calories walking from place to place. There are also tours that cover other neighborhoods and popular landmarks, and highlight other Manhattan attractions, such as shopping and television/film. Depending on what you like, the options are endless.

New York City’s public transportation system is worth checking out. If you want to avoid using The New York Pass because of budget constraints, then buying a MetroCard is the way to go. You can buy a pay-per-ride or unlimited ride MetroCard, depending on how much time you have to explore the city’s most popular borough. You can use the card on the buses and subways, and can check out the schedules on the MTA website. I actually think the M42 bus would be a great option for those interested in seeing the United Nations near 1st Avenue; just take the bus from 8th or 9th Avenues (near Port Authority Bus Terminal) and travel east crosstown to the very last stop, which is the United Nations area. The bus cuts through Times Square and past Grand Central Station on its way to and from the United Nations.

Bottom line: No one can explore all of New York City in one visit. Even most New Yorkers only know certain neighborhoods and boroughs, and may have little or no knowledge of other areas around the city. The best thing for newbies to do is to hit some of the most popular spots first, and then make specific explorations solo, or in small groups. You can never see New York City the same way more than once. I think that’s why it remains one of the most popular cities to visit in the world.




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