Known as “The City That Never Sleeps,” New York boasts a dazzling array of sights, sounds, and flavors. No matter what type of experience you’re looking for, you’ll find it in the Big Apple. Find out how to plan a visit to New York and discover the city’s best places to stay and can’t-miss attractions.

How to Plan a Visit to New York

To plan a visit to the Big Apple, take a look at the city’s busy seasons and typical weather patterns. While New York doesn’t necessarily have an off-season, tourist numbers tend to be lowest during January and February. This is when you’re most likely to score great hotel deals, but you may have to deal with cold weather and the occasional snowflake.

Spring and fall tend to be warm in New York, with high temperatures in the 60s. These seasons are some of the most popular times to visit the city, thanks to the pleasant weather and numerous events. When summer heats up, New York gets even busier, with countless street fairs and festivals.

Though the weather gets chilly in November and December, late fall is still one of the best times to visit New York. The Christmas season can be magical here, with decorated store windows and seasonal events.

John F Kenney Airport
John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in Queens.

How to Get To and From New York Area Airports

Once you land at one of the main New York City airports, you’ll have a few options for getting to town. Whether you land at LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, or Newark International Airport, you can easily take a taxi to virtually anywhere in the area. Just hop in the designated taxi line and tell the driver your destination.

From LaGuardia, you can also take the M60 city bus to Harlem or the Q33, Q47, or Q48 buses to several transit hubs in Queens. From JFK, you can take the AirTrain to connect to the city’s subway system, which will take you to just about any neighborhood in New York. From Newark, you can take the Newark Airport Express to Midtown Manhattan or the AirTrain to a New Jersey Transit hub.

If you plan to get around New York by car, you can rent vehicles at all major airports. Keep in mind, however, that New York City streets tend to be congested and parking is rarely free.

Best Areas to Stay

New York City consists of five boroughs, and you’ll find both accommodations and attractions scattered throughout this massive city. When you’re deciding which neighborhood to claim as a home base during your stay, consider the neighborhood feel and proximity to attractions.

If you want to be in the center of everything, plan to base yourself in Midtown Manhattan. Here, you’ll be near attractions like Times Square, the Empire State Building, and Grand Central Station. You’ll also find countless shopping destinations and easy transportation to anywhere else in the city. Head a few blocks uptown, and you’ll experience a quieter, greener area of the city. Stay on the Upper East Side or Upper West Side for quick access to Central Park, the Museum Mile, and upscale dining.

Central Park
Central Park in Manhattan.

On the southern end of Manhattan, you’ll find stylish neighborhoods like Chelsea, which are ideal for shopping, drinking, and dining. Further downtown, design-heavy neighborhoods like SoHo await, and areas like the Lower East Side offer plenty of hip appeal.

Across the East River, Brooklyn’s neighborhoods also have plenty of allure. Right on the waterfront, Red Hook has an industrial edge with funky warehouses, bars, and cool boutiques. Located next to popular Williamsburg, Bushwick is a great destination for arts-minded visitors and also boasts tons of great coffee shops and bars. For a quieter view of Brooklyn, check out Park Slope, which offers a welcome mix of shopping, dining, and green space.

In Queens, set your sights on Astoria, where you’ll find a lively mix of cultures from around the globe. Start with a classic American brunch, dine on Greek food for lunch, and grab an evening drink at the local Czech tavern.

New York City
Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island with Ellis Island and New York City skyline.

Where to Crash

Since New York City is such a popular destination for leisure and business travelers, there are countless accommodation options to consider. Take your pick from the best New York City hotels, hostels, and private rentals to create your ideal trip to the Big Apple.

Top Hotels

You’ll find most of New York’s best hotels in Manhattan, which has tons of options to suit every price point, style preference, and location demands. Splurge on an upscale stay at the sophisticated St. Regis New York or the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel New York, both of which have unbeatable Midtown locations and well-appointed rooms.

Indulge at one of Manhattan’s many historic hotel properties, such as The Knickerbocker Hotel or The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel. Both have plenty of historic details and stylish appeal that set the scene for a classic Manhattan stay.

For a contemporary getaway to New York, try the NoMad Hotel or the Park Hyatt New York. The former boasts impeccable style with high-tech amenities, while the latter is housed in one of the tallest buildings in Manhattan, where you can sip cocktails while feeling like you’re on the top of the world.

Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village (the Village) in Lower Manhattan.

Best Hostels

If you want to save your vacation budget for excursions, tours, fine dining, or other plans in New York, then you’ll want to spend less on accommodations. Hostels are some of the most affordable accommodation options in New York, which makes them a smart choice for budget-conscious travelers. In addition, many New York City hostels offer dormitory-style rooms, group activities, and community events, making them ideal for those seeking a more social trip.

For an inexpensive stay in Midtown Manhattan, try The New York Budget Inn, which offers both private rooms and shared dorm rooms, along with activity nights for guests. For a more high-tech stay in Midtown, check out The Pod Hotel, which offers discounts for groups staying together. For a stylish and affordable stay in Brooklyn, try the New York Loft Hostel, which offers small rooms and community spaces in trendy East Williamsburg.

Coolest Private Rentals

If you’re traveling with the whole family or a big group of friends or if you just need a little extra space, consider booking a private rental instead. This is also a smart choice if you want to do some cooking or if you just want the familiar feeling of home while you’re away. You’ll have access to an entire apartment and the chance to feel like you live in the Big Apple for the duration of your stay.

Live large with a private apartment in Midtown Manhattan, or go for a bohemian studio in Greenwich Village. If you want to explore what other boroughs have to offer, try booking a private rental in Brooklyn or Queens instead, where you’ll find countless apartments to consider.

Metropolitan Museum
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) in New York City.

Top Things to Do in New York

To make the most of your trip in any season, consider getting a sightseeing pass like the New York CityPASS, the New York Pass, or the New York Explorer Pass. This makes attractions much more affordable and can save you time by allowing you to skip long ticketing lines. You’ll get 40 to 50 percent off admission prices for the city’s most popular attractions, and most passes last for a day or more.

Don’t miss highlights like the Statue of Liberty, which you can access via ferry, and the Empire State Building, where you can climb to the 102nd floor to see an unforgettable view of New York City from above. Stroll through Times Square, where you’ll see lights, billboards, performers, and action in every direction. Enjoy the hustle and bustle and admire the architecture at Grand Central Station. Get tickets for the show of your choice, and enjoy a night on Broadway.

While you probably won’t have time to see all of New York’s dozens of museums, you’ll certainly want to see a few highlights. Head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a comprehensive catalog of art through the ages, or go to the Museum of Modern Art for one of the best modern and contemporary collections in the world.

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.

If the natural world is more your speed, visit the American Museum of Natural History to see dinosaur models and exhibits on outer space. You also won’t want to miss the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, located at the original site of the Twin Towers.

If you’re yearning for some fresh air, get outside and walk the High Line, an elevated park located on a former rail line. Take a leisurely stroll through Central Park, where you can meander through the gardens, sunbathe, or stop and enjoy a picnic. For a truly memorable trek in New York City, cross the Brooklyn Bridge, which offers epic views of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.

Ready to take the trip of a lifetime? Plan and book the best New York City trip ever, from transportation to accommodations and tours to attractions, right here on GoDoTrip.