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New York City cheatsheet

When a man is tired of New York he is tired of work. And thought. And cheesecake.
- David Frost

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Flying in to LaGuardia. Photo by Daniel Schwartz.

Getting In/Getting Out

New York City has three airports: John F. Kennedy (JFK) in Queens and Newark International (EWR) in New Jersey handle domestic and international flights, while LaGuardia (LGA), the smaller airport in Queens, is primarily for domestic flights. A cab from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan is a flat $52 before tolls and tip, while an UberX can range from $60-$90 depending on traffic. Cabs from LaGuardia to Manhattan are metered fare, and an UberX will be from $40-$60. Cabs from Newark to Manhattan are from $50-70 depending on your destination, while an UberX is $40-$60.

All three airports are accessible using more economical transport. For JFK, you’ll want to take the bus, or take the AirTrain and the LIRR for $9-$13 or Subway for $2.75 (but only for the east side of Manhattan and Brooklyn). You’ll want to take the train to EWR as well, using NJ Transit and the AirTrain monorail. Keep your NJ Transit ticket for AirTrain access. For LGA, take the M60 SBS bus (there is no convenient subway option).

Getting Around

Be a true New Yorker and use the subway, which is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Purchase Metrocards at station vending machines and use Google Maps to figure out your most efficient route.

Hail a yellow cab when the light on the roof is illuminated. Drivers are required to take you to any destination in NYC (even if you want to schlep to Brooklyn), except at 4 p.m., when taxi drivers switch shifts.

Uber and Lyft are also easily accessible, and if you’re heading beyond city limits, the Metro-North Railroad at Grand Central Station and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) inside Penn Station are two transport hubs.

Lay of the Land

The city of New York is composed of five boroughs, but when people say “New York” they are often referring to Manhattan, that tiny island in the middle. Get your bearings: New Yorkers like using cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) for the city grid; avenues run north and south, and streets typically run east to west (except in older parts of Manhattan like the West Village). Use your inner compass to discover neighborhoods like NoLItaMuseum Mile, and SoHo, and if you’re up for it, head out to Williamsburg and DUMBO.

Best Time to Visit

New York City is beautiful year round, and there’s always something to do. If you hate crowds and big price tags, skip Gotham during the holidays and summer months.

The city is most temperate in the late spring and fall — Central Park is beautiful, and the hotel rates are accordingly steep. Weather can range from blustery to pure perfection over the course of the year. Depends on your point of view.

Know Before You Go

New York truly is the city that never sleeps — something is always going on, and you’ll always have a backup plan. Don’t stay cooped-up in the hotel room; you’ll want to wake up early and go to bed late to savor every moment in the Big Apple.

A good trip to New York can entail never leaving one neighborhood, or endlessly traipsing all over the city. Bring a backup phone charger so you can Snapchat and Instagram all your adventures.

Local Language

American English is the official language, but this is the melting pot: You’ll hear every language if you listen long enough.

Local Delicacies

Hello, elastic waistband: At the very least, grab a slice of pizza, a hot dog, a bagel, and a pastrami sandwich. New Yorkers are obsessed with the good stuff (we’ve got the lines to prove it!), and after one bite, you will be too. If you’re itching for Shake Shack, there are many locations throughout the NYC area, including JFK’s Terminal 4.


There’s no outfit more ironic than an “I <3 New York” T-shirt from Canal Street with your jeans. Buy a bag of bagels from Eli Zabar for the flight home, Bond No. 9 for New York-themed luxury fragrances for the lasting memories, and ultra chic design objects at MOMA Store. Chelsea Market has a smorgasbord of local foods and goodies.


New York is GMT-05:00.

Money Matters

Credit cards are widely accepted, but bring cash (or prepare to withdraw from an ATM) for a late-night slice or falafel.


A standard rate of 15-20 percent is expected and service, generally, is excellent. Tip cab drivers, bellhops, delivery guys, and the like.


For urgent care, City MD has a variety of locations around the city, and for pharmaceutical needs, many Duane Reade locations are open late or 24/7.


Two or three prongs.

Reading List and Netflix Queue

To get into a New York state of mind, read American Psycho, Let the Great World Spin, New York, and The Goldfinch. Pick up The Great Gatsby, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and The Catcher in the Rye. For coffee table memories, flip the pages of Humans of New York and salivate over Chelsea Market Cookbook: 100 Recipes from New York's Premier Indoor Food Hall, New York Cookbook: From Pelham Bay to Park Avenue, Firehouses to Four-Star Restaurants, and The New York Pizza Project.

Watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Saturday Night Fever, When Harry Met Sally, The Great Gatsby and Wolf of Wall Street. For a different side of New York, stream The Godfather, Goodfellas, Cruel Intentions, and Rent. For sitcom New York, add Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Seinfeld, and Sex and the City to your Netflix queue.

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