New York City Cheat Sheet

One of the most glamorous and exciting big cities in the world, New York City offers the best of the best, from world-class theater to fine dining to luxury shopping. Gentrification has diminished some charming grittiness, but now it's much safer. You'll want to take in the tourist options, of course, but don't forget the smaller gems too.

What You Have to See
You can't say you've really visited New York until you've gone to:
  • The Statue of Liberty: It's a symbol of everything great about America. Plus, they even let you inside the crown.
  • Lincoln Center: It's stunning to look at and there's so much to do, like catch plays, concerts, movies or visit the free library and museum.
  • The National September 11 Memorial and Museum: While it can be emotionally intense, it's a moving representation of the city's resilience and an essential history lesson.
Not Worth the Time
The Museum of Modern Art is typically a major stop for visitors, but it's also expensive, crowded and not always compelling. If you want a less hectic and cheaper experience, consider the Brooklyn Museum, which specializes in African works, fashion and pop culture.

Food Essential
What's more New York than a good old-fashioned hot dog? You simply can't go wrong at the iconic Nathan's in Coney Island or Papaya King in the East Village.

Drink Essential
The farther downtown you go, the younger and hipper the crowds tend to be. Also, wherever you drink, don't get suckered into bottle service, which is notoriously overpriced.

What Things Cost
  • Subway ride: $2.75
  • Taxi from airport: $52 plus tolls and .50 surcharge (JFK), $40 (LGA), $60 (EWR)
  • Weekend night in a 4-star hotel: $287
  • Pint of beer (at standard bar): $7
  • Hot dog: $3.95

Best Spot to Instagram
Your friends will get a chuckle out of you "riding" The Charging Bull in Bowling Green, a
bronze sculpture that is a symbol of Wall Street prosperity.

#ChargingBull #Arturo_Di_Modica #Manhattan #NYC #2006

A photo posted by VicnLubna DeGomez (@vicnlubna) on

Local Terms to Know
  • Schlep: This Yiddish verb is often used by locals to describe taking a long trip, as in "I'm not going to schlep out to Queens when I live in Manhattan."
  • Bodega: Ubiquitous deli/convenience stores that are often open all night and usually contain an ATM.
  • Houston: It's "How-ston." Never pronounce it like the city in Texas.
  • Avenue of the Americas: It is the same as Sixth Avenue. The only reason to use it in conversation is if you want to look like a tourist.

Gena Hymowech is a freelance writer (GO Magazine, Lambda Literary) and a lifelong New Yorker. Follow her on Twitter.