A New York minute is the smallest measurable unit of time in the universe, or so the saying goes. So, if you’re planning a visit, how do make sure you squeeze the most out of every single one?
If you’ve ever visited, you know it feels like anything’s possible in New York City, perhaps even that it’s the centre of universes real and imagined. It’s one of those places—the kind of place you could never see in its entirety in a lifetime of visits. Ever-changing and shifting, reinventing itself like a city-sized chameleon, the Big Apple is, for many people, the ultimate urban experience.
This is the kind of place you can visit without an agenda. No-one ever asks why you’re going to New York. It needs no explanation, and long after you’ve ticked the big-ticket items off your New York bucket list, the city will indubitably draw you back.
“New York truly never sleeps”, says Anna McMurtrie from ATAS accredited Wentworth Travel in Woollahra, Sydney. Something of a Big Apple aficionado, Anna has some sage advice for first-timers:
“We typically recommend that New York first-timers stay for 6 or 7 nights”, she says.
“We encourage them to move hotels during this time, so they have a few nights near Central Park and then a few nights around Soho or in another area of their choice. It’s a great way to dive into the city’s distinct neighbourhoods, get your bearings and feel at home in this astonishing metropolis”, adds Anna.
Once Anna’s clients have settled on their preferred New York accommodation mix, they’ll invariably tap into her valuable, personal experiences of the place. So, what’s on her list for first-timers?
- Attending a Yankees Game at Yankee Stadium.
- Visiting Rockefeller Centre—especially great at Christmas.
- Cycling around Central Park.
- Taking a trip to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
- Exploring the shops and boutiques in Soho.
- A visit to the One World Observatory and 9/11 Memorial.
Fabulous experiences all, but truly just the tip of the New York ice berg.
Kerby Hasler from ATAS accredited Sydney-based agency Sanford International Travel, another New York fan, offered some practical nitty-gritty when asked for her top tips for making the most of every New York minute.
To avoid wasting precious time in queues, Kerby suggests pre-purchasing tickets for major attractions like Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building or One World Trade Centre. “The lines for people who don’t pre-purchase are beyond ridiculous”, she says.
Exploring Central Park, New York City.
She’s also a fan of taking New York’s famed Subway, and recommends buying a weekly Metro Card (US$33.00) when you get there. “You can use it on the Subway for 7 days with unlimited trips—the easiest and fastest way to get around”, she says.
For those seeking a quintessential NYC culinary experience or two, Kerby says the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park is a must.
Her tip for another legendary sandwich experience? “Tuck into an iconic pastrami sandwich from Katz’s Deli. But be sure to get there at around 10.30 am to beat the notorious queue! It can be a little intimidating when ordering. Remember to follow the steps to the letter! Take a ticket on your way in, place your order at the counter, eat and then pay on the way out by presenting your ticket again”, she says.
If you want tickets to see Jimmy Fallon, Kerby suggests lining up on 49th St between 5th & 6th Ave no later than 9.00am on the day you want to go.
“I recommend Thursday as he films two shows (Thursday & Friday) so you’re more likely to get tickets. Up to 65 people no-show for every taping so if you’re there before 9.00 am on a Thursday, you’re pretty much as good as gold”, she says.
Lisa Byers from ATAS accredited Sydney-based agency The Travel Authority Resource burrowed deep into the Big Apple recently, seeking out a suite of authentic New York experiences.
“New York is incredible. It’s always changing, but always unmistakably New York”, she says. So, what’s on Lisa’s list?
Something of a foodie, Lisa recommends her clients seek out Russ & Daughters, a 4th generation family business considered the flag-bearer of Jewish food in America. Lisa recommends starting with one of their famous Lox and Bagel boards. Tucked behind a fortune teller’s lair is Employees Only restaurant, a speakeasy in the heart of the West Village.
Employees Only, West Village.
For something completely different, Lisa recommends spoiling yourself in Brooklyn by heading to Paintbucket—sit at the high bar, drink tea, cocktails or prosecco and have your nails done to perfection.
Her number one tip? Buy your Broadway theatre tickets before you leave home!
Whichever way you visit, you’ll write your own New York story. With the experience and expertise of ATAS accredited travel professionals like Lisa, Kerby and Anna in your corner, you might find yourself walking The High Line, exploring Central Park and Chelsea Market, or even popping in to Magnolia Bakery or Katz’s Deli sooner than you think.
Whether you have what Sally had is entirely up to you.
ATAS accreditation—experience you can trust.
Looking for more insights from ATAS-accredited travel agents?
ATAS travel agents recommend that Australia passport holders register for travel alerts before they travel.