You've seen it in the movies, in the headlines, and IG vacation photo dumps—and now you're planning your very own getaway to one of the world’s most documented destinations: New York City.
With so much to do, it’s easy to see how “the city that never sleeps” got its nickname. And while rushing from attraction to attraction that made it on your New York City itinerary will certainly make you hustle like a native, making the most of your time here means planning ahead—which is where we come in.
With this New York City Travel Guide, we’re putting you on the fast track to find the pulse of the United States’ best-known city. So ready your New York City Map and find our recommendations for the trendiest neighborhoods, most delectable eateries, and to-die-for sightseeing in NYC below.
Where to Stay: How To Live Like an NYC Local
From the laid-back West Village to the shotgun rhythms of midtown, each New York City neighborhood has its unique vibe.
Let’s set the stage for your journey and look at three gorgeous neighborhoods to make your home base while traveling.
Think of Greenwich Village, or simply “The Village,” as NYC’s Haight-Ashbury district. The area is known for its deep roots in 60s beatnik culture and LGBTQ-friendliness, and as the backdrop for that cultural phenomenon, we know it as F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Today, the Village blends a relaxed, boho vibe with upscale accommodations. If you’re looking for charming nightlife, you’ll find it here, with endless jazz bars, bistros, and restaurants nestled into cul de sacs on winding cobblestone streets.
As the name suggests, Midtown Manhattan puts you smack-dab in the center of the city. When you stay in Midtown, you’ll have access to virtually every borough—most of NYC’s 20+ subway lines converge in the heart of Manhattan.
And while Midtown is ideal for accessing NYC’s endless diversions, this neighborhood has its own list of attractions to explore. Here, you’ll find hotspots like:
- The Empire State Building
- Grand Central Station
- Tiffany & Co.
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Bergdorf Goodman
- Rockefeller Center
- High Line
Located just across the Brooklyn Bridge is Brooklyn Heights, one of NYC’s most sought-after neighborhoods with sweeping views of Manhattan’s skyline. This neighborhood is perfect if you’re looking for cozier accommodations, complete with tree-lined blocks, restored brownstones, and turn-of-the-century carriage homes.
But don’t let the domesticated vibes fool you! There’s plenty to do on this side of the river. Take a long, romantic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, shop on Montague, Henry, or Bergen Street, and watch the sun set on the Statue of Liberty from Brooklyn Bridge Park. Plus, if you have more time to spare, you can visit Prospect Park, just a few minutes away from the bridge. Within it, you'll find Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park Zoo, and the New York Botanical Garden.
What to Eat: Where to Dine in NYC
One of the highlights of any New York City itinerary is finding mouthwatering meals in all corners of the city.
From tourist favorites to local gems, here are three can’t-miss NYC restaurants for every meal of the day:
- Breakfast: Russ and Daughters – If NYC is the bagel capital of the world, then Russ and Daughters might be the bagel capital of the city.1 For over 100 years, this family-owned establishment has been whipping up heritage bagels with over 12 schmears and 30+ types of smoked fish to make any New Yorker’s morning. Trust us—if you’re big on breakfast (or brunch, or food), R&D is a must.
- Lunch: White Bear – Tourists seldom venture into Queens, but White Bear may single handedly bring this borough to glory. At this tiny Flushing restaurant, hungry New Yorkers wait in line to squeeze into one of five small tables and feast on menu item #6: wontons with hot sauce. A single order comes with a dozen, but given the unbeatable prices we recommend saving your leftovers for a late-night snack.
- Dinner: Lombardi’s – If you’re planning a trip to New York, do yourself a favor and grab a slice at the joint that started it all: Lombardi’s. The eatery set up shop in 1905, serving up coal-fired pizzas with their signature thin, crispy, smoky crust.2 Even better—the restaurant is located in Little Italy, which means you’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from some of the best Italian-American desserts you’ve ever had.
What to Do: The Top Must-Sees in NYC
In a megawatt city with so much to do, your best bet is to create a bucket list of absolute must-do’s before you pack your bags. Below, find our top recommendations for activities that deserve a top spot on your list.
Snap Pics at NYC’s Most-Instagrammable Venues
Let’s be honest: if you’re going to NYC, you’d best come home with some iconic photos to add to your collection.
Stock up on some fantastic shots at these picturesque NYC locales:
- The Flatiron Building
- Lincoln Center
- The One World Trade Center Observatory
- Grand Central Station
- The Vessel at Hudson Yards
Immerse Yourself In Storied Spectacles
There are endless attractions to see in NYC, but are those iconic places we’ve heard about really worth the hype?
Not all of them—but we promise the following ones are well worth the hustle and bustle (scout’s honor!):
- Central Park – In all four seasons, Central Park is an NYC oasis with nearly 850 acres of greenspace to enjoy. Within its borders, you’ll find a Nature Sanctuary, the Central Park Carousel, the Central Park Zoo (perfect if you’ve got kids in tow!), and vendors selling NYC soft pretzels to tide you over to your next activity.
- The Met – Whether you know it as a prestigious museum or where celebrities go to swan around in couture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is well worth the trip to admire its 2 million pieces of artwork.3<7sup> If you want to skip the crowds, head straight to the open rooftop. Here, treat yourself to a cup of coffee at the cafe and take in 360º skyline views that could rival the museum’s landscape masterworks.
- The National September 11 Memorial Museum – Located where NYC’s Twin Towers once stood, this museum is a moving monument to honor lives lost on 9/11. The architecture here alone could stop you in your tracks, but above all this museum shows New Yorkers’ compassion, hope, and resiliency and serves as one of the best places to visit in the city.
Scout Out Some Under-the-Radar Attractions
There’s always something new happening in NYC, which means every trip you take can unveil a new layer of the city.
These are our top suggestions for getting off the grid and chasing some unique experiences of your own:
- The Basilica of St. Patrick – This cathedral’s hauntingly beautiful Gothic architecture tends to attract tourists—but what many don’t know is that there are catacombs underneath the basilica. You can hire guides to take you on a tour through the dark, mysterious crypts. As a bonus, you’ll get a coupon to Lombardi’s Pizzeria when you purchase a ticket (score!).
- The Big Onion walking tour – If you like having your cake and walking it off too, put this activity on your NYC itinerary. On this foodie tour, you’ll explore several culturally diverse neighborhoods, learn about their history, and sample staple dishes from Malaysian beef jerky (to start) to cannoli (to finish).
- City Island – Want to tour a side of New York some New Yorkers don’t even know about? Hitch the 6 train and head to City Island in the Bronx. This tiny community has a nautical feel, its very own lighthouse, and some of the best seafood in the city.
Know Before You Go: 4 New York City Travel Tips
Visitors come from near and far to get smitten by one of the world’s most famous cities—but just like our Los Angeles travel guide and Seattle Travel Guide, be sure to brush up on some street smarts specific to NYC to keep you sharp.
Make like the locals and travel with confidence using these NYC travel tips:
Pack weather-appropriate clothes – NYC is a four-season city, so check the forecast beforehand and pack your luggage accordingly. In the summer, it heats up quickly— and when the temperature reaches a fever pitch, it’s not uncommon to get caught in a summer storm!
Wear comfortable shoes – Looking fabulous is key while you’re in NYC, but that doesn’t mean you should forego comfort. Expect to do plenty of walking here, so bring comfortable shoes for daytime and save your heels for nights out (and Ubers home). Feel like you’re on the verge of over packing shoes for your upcoming trip? Have no fear. We’ve got the top tips for those of you wondering how to pack shoes without sacrificing precious luggage space.
Use the subway system – Don’t be fooled by its gritty feel—the subway is usually the quickest, most affordable way to get around, whether it’s rush hour or the wee hours of the night. When you arrive, purchase a Metrocard to use for NYC’s vast network of trains and buses.
- Make reservations – If you’re jonesing to eat out at any of NYC’s well-known restaurants, be sure to book a reservation ahead of time to avoid long lines at the host desk. That said, sometimes the wait is unavoidable. Fortunately, you’ll usually be able to find a bar down the street where you can enjoy some libations while you wait.
Hit The NYC Streets with BÉIS
Now that you have your New York travel guide, it’s time to begin the next phase of your vacation planning: packing your bags.
Find jet-setting designs up to NYC standards with BÉIS’ gorgeous selection of stylish carry-on luggage and check-in luggage, functional travel bags, and travel accessories for your upcoming trip. Whether you’re strolling through the posh streets of the Upper East Side or finding your beach at City Island, BÉIS designs ensure you’ll arrive with confidence everywhere your accessories follow.
Your NYC adventure awaits, so browse the full range today.
- Heasman, Chris. “The Untold Truth of New York Bagels.” Mashed.Com, 17 Dec. 2020, www.mashed.com/150118/the-untold-truth-of-new-york-bagels.
- Solares, Nick. “A Complete Guide to New York City Pizza Styles.” Eater NY, 20 Mar. 2014, www.ny.eater.com/2014/3/20/6261635/a-complete-guide-to-new-york-city-pizza-styles.
- “General Information.” The Met, www.metmuseum.org/press/general-information?st=facet&rpp=10&pg=2.