Planning Your Trip to New York City

NYC Skyline

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Preparation is key, or so they say anyway! For my first trip to New York I wanted to make sure I was maximising my time in the city that never sleeps. What should you do before your visit? Here’s what I recommend for planning a trip to New York.

Click here to read my post on how to spend three days in New York.


New York CityPASS

First of all, I’d buy the New York CityPASS. We got our CityPASS for around $122 (£92 / €103) each and it includes entry to up to six of the best tourist attractions in NYC. You get access to the Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then you have three choices to make: Top of the Rock Observation Deck OR Guggenheim Museum, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises and finally, 9/11 Memorial and Museum OR the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Quick Tip: The sweet point for saving money is to visit four attractions. Only buy the New York CityPASS if you know that you’ll have time to go to at least four places.

For the three choices you have to make you do have the choice of paying a small additional fee to upgrade your ticket to both. The price of upgrading to both options differs depending on which one you choose to go to. I was in the fortunate position of not having to do that but I did manage to hit the four attraction ‘saved money’ point.

Statue of Liberty

Take the ferry out to see the iconic Statue of Liberty


I’m a big fan of checking out Groupon before visiting a new destination, see my tips for Dubai here. With the cost of activities in NYC there should be no surprise that it features here too! A few months before I went to New York I registered myself for the Groupon NYC newsletter. Every day I’d receive information on the best deals in New York. There are tickets for bar tours, bus tours, cruises, museums, so many options! You will also receive regular 20% and 50% off vouchers after signing up.

We opted for Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour tickets through Groupon. The tickets we bought were for both the Uptown and Downtown routes and it also included entrance to Gulliver’s Gate for just $98 (£74 / €83) for the two of us. Normally this would cost $59 (£44 / €50) per person, per tour so it gave us a fairly hefty saving. More money to spend on Broadway or sports tickets! Definitely a great tip for planning a trip to New York.

Broadway / Sports

I’d recommend researching what’s on at the time of your visit and booking tickets quickly. You’ve got the option of watching a show on Broadway, watching the New York Knicks or New York Rangers at Madison Square Gardens, wearing your Yankees hat to a game or watching the New York Giants play American Football. Here’s my visit to Miami Dolphins to give you an idea of what it’s like to visit an NFL match.

Due to the tourist attraction of most of these events it definitely pays to book tickets as early as possible. Try and avoid ticket tout websites unless you really, really have to. Most of the tickets can be purchased through the official websites. Also check Groupon just in case! They regularly run deals for sports matches in New York. The cost of tickets for musicals and sports can vary from $10s to $100s, especially if it’s a more popular event.

Wicked, Broadway NYC

My first trip to Broadway and I actually enjoyed it!

Download Some Apps

I’d recommend walking and seeing more of the city but for those longer journeys then using Uber is the best way to get around. The price of travelling around NYC can be quite expensive but the cost of Uber is so much cheaper than the yellow cabs. To get your first ride on Uber for free (up to £5), register using this link.

Another app to download before you visit NYC is Urban Daddy. This app finds you places to eat and drink in New York. You can enter what kind of place you’re looking for, who you’re with and what area you want to go to amongst other criteria. There are also a few really nice rooftop bars that the app recommends. However many of these places have a dress code so take dressier clothes. You won’t get in with shorts on!

That should be you set for your trip to the Big Apple! Let me know if there’s anything else you’d recommend doing for planning a trip to New York.

Planning a trip to New York

Get to the Empire State Building early and get up straight away

Planning Your Trip to New York City

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  1. November 29, 2017 / 9:32 am

    I always struggle to find a decent, not so touristical place to eat when I’m abroad, this app is a great idea, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • David
      November 30, 2017 / 11:51 am

      It’s so useful! I was in exactly the same boat, seeing so many places but not wanting to eat in the usual places. This app helped so much

  2. November 29, 2017 / 10:59 am

    New York is one of my favourite cities, one that requires planning. I will never forget watching the Lion King on Broadway when we were there!. 🙂

    • David
      November 30, 2017 / 11:50 am

      I would love to see Lion King actually, I love that film! Maybe next time…

  3. December 4, 2017 / 7:59 am

    I’m so stoked that you saw Wicked! I’ve seen it twice at my local Broadway stage, but would love to see a Broadway production in NYC. Last time I was in NYC I simply didn’t have the time, so that’s definitely on my bucket list. Also love your suggestion about the CityPass a great way to save some money!

    • David
      December 4, 2017 / 8:34 am

      I have to say I did enjoy Wicked! Not as much as my girlfriend who has seen it 12 times now… It was her first time seeing it in NYC so obviously that was the highlight of her trip!

        • David
          December 4, 2017 / 8:46 am

          Haha she wholeheartedly agrees with Wicked booked here for Edinburgh already! As much as I enjoyed it, I couldn’t watch it 12 times… haha

  4. December 4, 2017 / 8:44 am

    Very useful info for NYC newbies. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been to NYC over the years and still discover new things each time. Actually went a couple weeks ago for a broadway weekend – packed in 3 shows in 3 days. As an FYI to your readers, you can get great deals on TodayTix. Only catch is, tickets are only available 30 days in advance.

    • David
      December 4, 2017 / 9:00 am

      There’s just not enough time when you go to NYC! Ohh, 3 in 3 days? Which shows were ‘must sees’? Wow, that’s a great tip, thanks a lot for that! I’ll be sure to check it out again when I next go!

      • December 4, 2017 / 9:32 am

        The more popular shows we saw were the Tony Award Winners – Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away. Hamilton is also the shoe at the moment – but tix are pricey. 🙂

        • David
          December 4, 2017 / 6:27 pm

          Ahh interesting, Hamilton was also on our show shortlist due to its reviews

  5. December 4, 2017 / 9:47 pm

    The citypass is definitely worth it I guess since its inclusive of 6 major attractions.
    Thanks for the tip about the price difference between Uber & Yellow Cab.

  6. December 5, 2017 / 6:42 am

    Hey never been to New York before this tips would be great use to anybody who is planning a visit especially the apps. I would love to watch a show, sounds like its a winner!

  7. stylishtravlr
    December 5, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    Those are fabulous tips! Ive been in New York many times but Iv always check websites like groupon just to see if there is any great deal for something I haven’t done yet. I hope lll get to find some coupon for Lion King one day as its my dream and the tickets are always so expensive!

    • David
      December 5, 2017 / 9:38 pm

      They really are! I’d love to see Lion King so I’ll seep my eyes out too 😉

  8. karyld2016
    December 5, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    These are great tips! I always check out Groupon and Living Social before visiting a city, to look for deals. It’s amazing how many discounts you can get with just a little bit of legwork

    • David
      December 5, 2017 / 9:40 pm

      I know! Not enough people check out Groupon etc. before they go somewhere new. You can get some really good deals on there

  9. December 5, 2017 / 1:11 pm

    NYC is my dream destination and I found your post so inspiring, David! Using Groupon seems like a great idea. When would it be the best time of the year to explore NYC?

    • David
      December 5, 2017 / 9:40 pm

      Thanks Agness :). I check out Groupon whenever I go somewhere new now! I really liked October, the weather was really hot for that time of the year so that helped! New York at Christmas would be amazing though with the ice rink and Christmas tree etc. up at the Rockefeller Centre

  10. Followingtherivera
    December 6, 2017 / 5:29 pm

    You’re quite right on the thinking about buying the NY pass. Most people buy it, only to realise the time goes by so quickly and they haven’t had a chance to use it. I’m re-visiting some time next year, but have never done the hop-on bus before; maybe 2018 is finally the year to do it!

    • David
      December 6, 2017 / 8:22 pm

      That’s exactly it. We had to make sure we could do everything we wanted and planned around those. The bus was good! We had a guide at the top so it was a lot more personal

  11. December 7, 2017 / 10:02 am

    New York is my dream destination and this post has raised my curiosity level.

  12. December 10, 2017 / 9:08 am

    New York is on my bucket list. I really appreciated this post, simple and clear, I think it will be helpful for my first visit to the city. (I’m a Groupon fan too, especially when I travel!) 🙂

  13. December 10, 2017 / 5:38 pm

    We have been discussing plans to visit NYC lately and the CityPASS looks like the right deal for both of us to save money while traveling. Bookmarking for later reference.

  14. December 11, 2017 / 6:30 am

    Not yet made it to New York yet, and these are invaluable tips to help us when we do get there. I think the New York Pass is a great idea, only thing is we should do justice to it. I remember we had taken the Paris Pass, and due to time constrains could not completely utilize it.

  15. December 12, 2017 / 7:52 pm

    Fantastic post for anyone wanting to travel to New York! I absolutely love using Groupon. I always find some great deals on things to do etc. Great tips!

  16. August 12, 2019 / 9:12 am

    Great Blog with so much of useful information and truly New York city is the best to explore.