What Is Best Way To See New York City?

Are you planning a trip to the vibrant city of New York and wondering about the best way to explore all its iconic attractions? Look no further! In this article, we will guide you through the various options available to make the most of your visit to the Big Apple. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll through Central Park, a captivating boat ride along the Hudson River, or a bird’s-eye view from atop the Empire State Building, we’ve got you covered. Get ready to discover the best way to see New York City and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Table of Contents

1. Exploring by Foot

Discovering the city on foot

When it comes to exploring New York City, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in its vibrant atmosphere than by exploring on foot. By walking through the city streets, you have the opportunity to discover hidden gems, stumble upon local shops and eateries, and truly get a sense of the city’s unique character. From the bustling streets of Manhattan to the charming neighborhoods of Brooklyn, there is so much to see and experience by simply putting on a comfortable pair of shoes and setting out on a walking adventure.

Walking tours and self-guided routes

If you prefer a more structured approach to exploring the city on foot, you can join one of the many walking tours available. These guided tours offer valuable insights into the city’s history, culture, and architecture, led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides who can provide fascinating anecdotes and insider tips. Alternatively, you can also create your own self-guided route using the city’s extensive network of sidewalks and parks. By using a map or a smartphone app, you can easily navigate your way through iconic neighborhoods, landmarks, and parks at your own pace.

Exploring iconic neighborhoods

One of the highlights of exploring New York City on foot is the opportunity to explore its iconic neighborhoods. From the buzzing streets of Times Square to the artistic haven of Greenwich Village, each neighborhood has its own distinct personality and charm. By walking through these neighborhoods, you can soak in the energy and diversity that makes the city so unique. Whether you’re exploring the trendy boutiques of SoHo, taking a leisurely stroll through Central Park, or admiring the historic brownstones of the Upper West Side, each neighborhood offers a different perspective and a chance to experience the city from a new angle.

Taking in the city’s vibrant street life

One of the greatest advantages of exploring New York City on foot is the chance to soak in its vibrant street life. From the street performers and artists in Washington Square Park to the food carts and market stalls in Union Square, the city’s streets are alive with activity and energy. By walking through the city, you can witness the diversity of its residents, engage in conversations with locals, and truly feel like a part of the bustling metropolis. Whether you’re people-watching in Times Square or grabbing a hot dog from a street vendor, the streets of New York City offer endless opportunities for exploration and connection.

2. Exploring by Bike

Renting a bike in New York City

If you’re looking for a fun and efficient way to explore the city, renting a bike is a great option. New York City has a robust bike-sharing program that allows you to easily rent a bike from various docking stations throughout the city. With the convenience of bike lanes and an extensive network of bike-friendly routes, biking through the city is a breeze.

Exploring the city’s bike-friendly routes

New York City has made significant efforts to promote cycling and create bike-friendly routes throughout the city. From dedicated bike lanes to greenways that hug the waterfront, there are plenty of options for cyclists to navigate the city safely and efficiently. Some popular bike-friendly routes include the Hudson River Greenway, the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, and the Central Park Loop. These routes not only offer beautiful views of the city’s skyline and waterways but also provide a unique perspective on the city’s neighborhoods and landmarks.

Cycling along the waterfront

One of the most enjoyable ways to explore New York City by bike is to cycle along its waterfront. Whether you choose to follow the East River or the Hudson River, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the city’s skyline, bridges, and parks. Along the way, you can make stops at waterfront attractions such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, Battery Park, or the South Street Seaport. Cycling along the waterfront not only allows you to experience the city from a different angle but also provides a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the streets.

Bike tours and group rides

If you prefer a more guided experience, there are numerous bike tours and group rides available in New York City. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who can provide insights into the city’s history, architecture, and hidden gems. Whether you’re interested in exploring Central Park, discovering the street art of Bushwick, or visiting iconic landmarks, there is a bike tour to suit every interest. Group rides are also a popular way to explore the city with fellow cyclists, providing a fun and social way to discover new routes and make new friends.

3. Exploring by Bus

Taking a hop-on hop-off bus tour

If you want to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time and get an overview of the city’s top attractions, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is a fantastic option. These tours allow you to board and disembark the bus at various designated stops, giving you the flexibility to explore at your own pace. With informative audio commentary available on board, you can learn about the city’s history and landmarks while enjoying the comfort of a guided tour.

Enjoying a guided sightseeing bus tour

For a more immersive sightseeing experience, you can opt for a guided bus tour. These tours are led by experienced guides who provide live commentary throughout the journey, offering fascinating insights into the city’s history, culture, and architecture. As the bus traverses the city, you can sit back and relax while taking in the iconic sights and landmarks that make New York City so famous. Whether you’re cruising down Broadway, passing by the Empire State Building, or crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, a guided bus tour allows you to see the city’s highlights from the comfort of a spacious bus.

Using public buses for convenient travel

New York City’s public bus system offers a convenient and affordable way to get around the city. With an extensive network of routes covering all five boroughs, buses allow you to easily travel between different neighborhoods and attractions. By using a MetroCard, you can hop on a bus and explore the city at your own pace. While public buses may not offer guided commentary like tour buses do, they provide an authentic and immersive way to experience the city like a local.

Nighttime bus tours and city lights experiences

For a different perspective on the city, consider taking a nighttime bus tour or a city lights experience. These tours allow you to witness the city come alive after dark, with its dazzling lights illuminating the skyline and landmarks in a whole new way. From the glitz and glamour of Times Square to the peaceful beauty of Central Park at night, these tours offer a unique and enchanting way to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife.

4. Exploring by Subway

Navigating the extensive subway system

The subway system is a vital part of New York City’s transportation infrastructure and offers a quick and efficient way to navigate the city. While it may seem intimidating at first, navigating the subway system is relatively straightforward once you understand the basics. With a map in hand or a smartphone app for guidance, you can easily determine which trains to take and how to reach your desired destination.

Using the subway to easily reach different areas

One of the biggest advantages of exploring New York City by subway is its ability to connect you to different areas of the city quickly. With an extensive network of lines and stations, the subway allows you to easily reach iconic neighborhoods, landmarks, and attractions. Whether you’re heading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side, catching a Broadway show in Times Square, or exploring the trendy boutiques of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, the subway provides a convenient and efficient mode of transportation.

Taking express trains for faster travel

If you’re looking to cut down on travel time, consider taking express trains when available. Express trains skip certain stops and make fewer stops overall, allowing you to reach your destination more quickly. While local trains stop at every station along the route, express trains are a great option for long distances or when you’re trying to cover more ground in a limited amount of time. However, it’s important to double-check the train’s destination as some express trains may not travel to certain stops.

Avoiding peak hours for a more comfortable experience

To make your subway experience more comfortable, it’s advisable to avoid peak hours when the trains are crowded with commuters. Mornings from 7:30 am to 9:30 am and evenings from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm tend to be the busiest times on weekdays. If possible, plan your subway rides outside of these hours to have a more relaxed and spacious commute. Additionally, weekends and evenings generally have fewer crowds, allowing for a more stress-free journey.

5. Exploring by Boat

Cruising around Manhattan Island

Exploring New York City from the water offers a unique perspective and the chance to see the city’s iconic skyline and landmarks from a different angle. One popular way to experience this is by taking a boat cruise around Manhattan Island. These cruises take you along the East River and the Hudson River, allowing you to admire the city’s skyline, bridges, and waterfront attractions. As the boat glides through the water, you can witness the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the One World Trade Center up close, creating unforgettable memories.

Taking a scenic ferry ride to Staten Island

For a more budget-friendly option, consider taking a scenic ferry ride to Staten Island. The Staten Island Ferry offers breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline as it shuttles passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island. Best of all, the ferry is free, making it a popular choice for both tourists and locals alike. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast capturing the perfect shot or simply enjoying the refreshing sea breeze, the ferry ride provides a memorable and picturesque way to see the city.

Exploring the city from the water

New York City is surrounded by beautiful waterways that offer endless opportunities for exploration. From the Hudson River to the East River, there are various boat tours and rental options available. Whether you choose to kayak along the waterfront, take a sunset cruise on a sailboat, or rent a paddleboard and navigate the calm waters, exploring the city from the water is a peaceful and serene experience. As you glide through the waves, you can marvel at the city’s iconic landmarks and enjoy a unique perspective on the bustling metropolis.

Enjoying a dinner cruise or yacht tour

For a special and luxurious experience, consider treating yourself to a dinner cruise or yacht tour. These experiences allow you to enjoy a delicious meal while sailing along the city’s waterways, offering stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and landmarks. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, enjoying a romantic evening, or simply looking for a unique way to see the city, a dinner cruise or yacht tour provides an enchanting and unforgettable experience.

6. Exploring by Helicopter

Seeing New York City from above

For the ultimate bird’s-eye view of New York City, exploring by helicopter is the way to go. Helicopter tours offer a thrilling and unparalleled perspective of the city, allowing you to see its iconic landmarks, bustling streets, and sprawling parks from a breathtaking vantage point. As you soar through the sky, you can marvel at the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and the Manhattan skyline in all their glory. The aerial views are truly awe-inspiring and create a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Experiencing breathtaking aerial views

The experience of flying above New York City in a helicopter provides an opportunity to witness the city’s impressive skyline and landmarks like never before. From the high-rises of Manhattan to the expansive green spaces of Central Park, the aerial views showcase the city’s immense grandeur and architectural wonders. As you hover above the city, you’ll be able to capture stunning photos and have a unique perspective on the city’s layout and iconic attractions.

Helicopter tours and sightseeing flights

There are several helicopter tour companies in New York City that offer a range of sightseeing flights. These tours vary in duration and can be tailored to your preferences, whether you want a comprehensive tour of the city or a shorter flight focusing on specific landmarks. From exhilarating doors-off flights to more relaxed sunset tours, there is a helicopter tour to suit every adventurer. The experienced pilots and guides provide informative commentary throughout the flight, giving you insights into the city’s history and landmarks.

The Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline from the air

One of the highlights of exploring New York City by helicopter is the chance to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline from a unique angle. As you fly near the Statue of Liberty, you can appreciate its magnificent size and beauty up close. The aerial view of the Manhattan skyline is equally impressive, showcasing the city’s renowned skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center. This bird’s-eye view provides a whole new appreciation for the city’s iconic attractions and landmarks.

7. Exploring by Car

Renting a car for flexibility and convenience

If you prefer the freedom and flexibility of having your own transportation, renting a car in New York City may be the best option for you. Renting a car allows you to explore the city and its surrounding areas at your own pace, without having to rely on public transportation schedules or tour operators. Whether you’re planning day trips to nearby attractions or venturing out to explore the outer boroughs, having a car gives you the flexibility to see the city on your own terms.

Driving across iconic bridges and roadways

New York City is home to several iconic bridges and roadways that are worth exploring by car. The Brooklyn Bridge, with its stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, is a must-drive for any visitor. Crossing the George Washington Bridge provides panoramic views of the Hudson River, while the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge offers a scenic route to Staten Island. Driving along the FDR Drive or the West Side Highway allows you to admire the city’s waterfront and take in the breathtaking views.

Exploring outer boroughs and beyond

While Manhattan may be the heart of New York City, there’s so much more to explore beyond its bustling streets. Having a car allows you to easily venture out to the outer boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, where you can discover vibrant neighborhoods, cultural institutions, and beautiful parks. From the hipster paradise of Williamsburg in Brooklyn to the bustling ethnic enclaves of Flushing in Queens, each borough offers its own unique flavor and attractions.

Planning for parking and traffic

Before embarking on your car exploration adventure, it’s important to plan for parking and traffic in New York City. Parking can be challenging and expensive, especially in popular areas like Manhattan. It’s advisable to research parking garages or consider street parking regulations to avoid unnecessary stress. Additionally, New York City is known for its traffic congestion, particularly during peak commuting hours. Planning your routes and avoiding rush hour can help ensure a smoother and more enjoyable driving experience.

8. Exploring by Horse Carriage

Enjoying a nostalgic horse carriage ride

For a romantic and nostalgic way to explore New York City, consider taking a horse carriage ride through Central Park. Horse-drawn carriages have been a beloved mode of transportation in the park for decades, offering a leisurely and picturesque way to experience this iconic green oasis. Snuggle up with your loved one, listen to the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves, and let the enchanting atmosphere of Central Park transport you to a bygone era.

Exploring Central Park in a romantic way

Central Park is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and iconic attractions in New York City. Exploring it in a horse-drawn carriage adds an element of romance and charm to your journey. As you leisurely ride through the park’s winding paths and lush greenery, you can take in the park’s picturesque landscapes, tranquil lakes, and famous landmarks, such as Bethesda Terrace and Belvedere Castle. A horse carriage ride allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience Central Park’s magic in a truly unique way.

Experiencing the charm of horse-drawn transportation

Taking a horse carriage ride not only allows you to experience Central Park in a special way but also offers a glimpse into the city’s history and traditions. The horse-drawn carriages have become synonymous with the park, attracting visitors from around the world who are eager to partake in this charming and nostalgic experience. The carriage drivers, often dressed in traditional attire, can provide interesting tidbits about the park’s history and sights, further enhancing your journey through Central Park.

9. Exploring by Tour Bus

Joining organized sightseeing tours

If you’re looking for a convenient and comprehensive way to see New York City’s top attractions, joining an organized sightseeing tour is a fantastic option. These tours typically operate on buses equipped with comfortable seating and large windows, allowing you to enjoy unobstructed views of the city’s landmarks and neighborhoods. With informative commentary provided by experienced guides, you can learn about the city’s history, culture, and architecture while sitting back and relaxing.

Choosing from a variety of themed tours

New York City offers a wide range of themed tours to cater to different interests and preferences. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a movie enthusiast, or an art lover, there is a tour that will pique your interest. From Harlem gospel tours to food tasting tours in Greenwich Village, these specialized tours offer a deeper dive into specific aspects of the city’s culture and heritage. Exploring the city through a specific lens can provide a unique and enriching perspective on New York City’s diverse offerings.

Enhancing the guided tour experience

To enhance your guided tour experience, consider choosing a tour company that offers additional amenities. Some tour companies provide audio headsets, allowing you to hear the commentary clearly even in noisy environments. Others provide interactive elements, such as quizzes or trivia games, to engage participants and make the tour more enjoyable. Additionally, some tours offer the option to visit attractions like museums or observation decks as part of the itinerary, providing a well-rounded and immersive experience.

10. Exploring by Combination

Mixing different transportation methods

The beauty of exploring New York City is that you can mix and match different transportation methods to create a personalized and diverse itinerary. By combining walking, biking, public transportation, boat rides, and other forms of exploration, you can experience the city from various perspectives and make the most of your time. For example, you can start your day with a walking tour of a neighborhood, hop on a bike to explore the waterfront, take the subway to another part of the city, and end the day with a relaxing boat ride to see the city lights.

Creating a personalized itinerary

With so many transportation options available in New York City, you have the freedom to create a personalized itinerary that suits your interests and preferences. Whether you want to focus on cultural attractions, outdoor activities, or culinary experiences, you can customize your exploration journey to align with your passions. Consider including a mix of iconic landmarks, hidden gems, local hotspots, and off-the-beaten-path attractions to create a well-rounded itinerary that showcases the best of what the city has to offer.

Combining walking, biking, and public transportation

A popular combination of transportation methods for exploring New York City includes walking, biking, and using public transportation. By incorporating these different modes of travel into your itinerary, you can cover a lot of ground while also enjoying the unique experiences each method offers. Start your day with a walking tour to discover the city’s neighborhoods and landmarks up close. Then, rent a bike to explore the waterfront or traverse the city’s bike-friendly routes. Finally, hop on a subway or bus to easily navigate between different areas, allowing you to see more of the city in less time.

In conclusion, New York City offers a multitude of transportation options for exploring its vibrant streets, iconic landmarks, and diverse neighborhoods. From walking tours and bike rides to boat cruises and helicopter flights, each method of exploration provides a unique perspective and an opportunity to create lasting memories. Whether you prefer the romance of a horse carriage ride through Central Park or the thrill of soaring above the city in a helicopter, there is a transportation method to suit every preference and style of exploration. So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the Big Apple and discover the best way to see New York City, one mode of transportation at a time.