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One of the best things about being from New York is meeting people from all over the world who are curious about visiting New York City. They always want to know what New York City is like and whether it’s worth visiting New York City as a tourist (or if it’s just all hype!). As a native New Yorker now living elsewhere, I have a few things to say on this topic!
Is New York City worth visiting?
As a native New Yorker, I am biased in saying that New York is definitely worth visiting. What makes New York unique is not easily summed up, but I love the mix of the old and new where skyscrapers sit next to small family-run shops that have been in business more than a hundred years. There is a reason why New York is famous throughout the world for its food. It is truly world-class from the tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants to the bagel shops on the Lower East side to the Michelin starred restaurants.
New York was once the capital of the United States and there’s just so much history here to soak up. If you’re an art lover, you’ll be paralyzed by choice in terms of picking which museum to visit whether it’s the Met, the Whitney, MoMa, or any of the smaller art museums or galleries! Even if you’re not a big history person, you’ll find tons of great eateries, cool shops, rooftop bars, and nice parks with stunning views of a skyline that you won’t find anywhere else. I cannot fail to mention the world-class entertainment available on Broadway, at the Metropolitan Opera, at the orchestra, at Carnegie Hall, and countless other venues throughout the city.
New York can be grimy, but it’s also beautiful in its own way. New York isn’t all skyscrapers and touristy places. To get away from the crowds, I highly recommend visiting Queen (my home borough), the Bronx, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. Even within Manhattan, you’ll find quiet non-touristy neighborhoods full of cute brick buildings, independent shops, and great cafes. Beyond the great museums and the famous neighborhoods, you’ll find countless neighborhoods with diverse populations and food from all over the world. (Click to read about Flushing and Arthur Avenue!)
What I love about New York is that there’s a restaurant or shop for almost anything you’re looking for. Albanian food? Sure, you’ll find it in the Bronx! Filming props? Sure! This is reflected in how large New York City is–and the fact is that it can take over 40 minutes just to take public transit between one borough (there are five boroughs). You will never see all of New York City during your trip, but that’s okay as that’s all the reason to come back!
New York isn’t just new, but it also holds much of the history of the United States with many buildings that have Dutch roots. Recently, I visited Historic Richmondtown in Staten Island, a historic village full of original homes from different periods of American history (and pre-American history) where I learned a lot about the history of the Dutch settling in America. In one of the world’s largest Chinatowns, Flushing, you’ll find traces of the Dutch within this once-Dutch settlement. Even as you walk around Lower Manhattan amidst the skyscrapers, you’ll find a guesthouse where George Washington would regularly dine at.
Some notes about making your NYC trip worth the money spent…
My only caution in recommending New York so strongly is that it’s an expensive place to visit. It’s not to say that you cannot visit New York on a budget (I have a whole post with tips for visiting New York City on a budget!), but accommodation isn’t cheap. You can find some recommendations on where to stay in New York City for an affordable price, but it can add up. Food doesn’t need to be expensive and you can definitely see plenty of things that are free, but it might be worth waiting until you have a bit more disposable income to enjoy New York without worrying about your budget.
I generally recommend five days in New York City to begin with, but you can certainly come for less time. I would recommend avoiding a day in New York as it’s far too little time, but I made an itinerary if that’s all the time you have. A weekend is also a nice taster that will leave you hungry for more of New York and its delicious food.
You really can’t go wrong with the season in my opinion. Spring and fall are definitely my favorite seasons in New York as they’re cool enough that you can walk around without burning up in the sun while enjoying a bit of greenery in New York’s parks. Central Park is beautiful in fall. Summer in New York is always a favorite of mine as the longer days make it easier to sightsee and ending the day with a drink on a rooftop terrace is always nice. Meanwhile, the holiday season in New York (November/December) is absolutely magical due to the many stores that decorate their windows and the magical feeling of the city as everyone prepares for the holidays. (I’m sorry if I’m not helpful, but New York is worth visiting in any season.)
I strongly recommend not going crazy with your itinerary. Many people I know feel that they have to pack in everything possible within their time in New York and go through places as if it’s a checklist. I urge you to just appreciate the various neighborhoods, take history tours of New York City, taste the local food, and soak in the atmosphere. The funny thing is that most native New Yorkers have never been to many of the most touristic attractions (except when people visit us), but most of us will urge you to appreciate the city for what is: a beautiful melting pot of cultures and histories. Enjoy New York truly.
You’ll find many more posts about New York City on this website:
- Your perfect first time NYC itinerary
- Insider tips for visiting NYC
- New York for the holidays
- What to pack for NYC
- Foods to try in New York City
- How to take the subway
- Secret New York
- Where to shop in NYC
- A walking tour of the Lower East Side
- New York City on a budget tips
- Affordable hotels in Manhattan