Take the stress out of the Big Apple with these expert traveller tips
Time Out Dubai staff
1 Look for the slightly clean areas on the edge of the subway platform. That’s the place where the doors of the train line up, so if you stand there, you’ll be the first in (after people get off, of course) and most likely to get a seat.
2 Buy advance tickets to club and nightlife events whenever it’s possible. It’s amazing and stupid how many people don’t do this and end up standing in infinite lines (and often don’t even get in), while ticket holders breeze right past them. You can often buy tickets on Resident Advisor or Ticketmaster right up until the time of the event. It’s as good as ‘being on the list’.
3 Get tastier, cheaper coffee. Serious java drinker? If you are visiting NYC for a month or more, it is worthwhile downloading Cups App (cupsapp.com). More than 100 independent coffee shops all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens have partnered up with Cups App, giving you unlimited coffee for $120 per month. And, you’ll be doing your bit to keep NYC’s local indie coffee shops in business.
4 Get a table at the best restaurants, even if they’re booked up. Yes! You can now buy reservations from diners who booked but decided to cancel, using the app Shout (shoutinline.com), meaning you’ll never have to pretend to be David Beckham’s cousin or Taylor Swift’s shoe handler again.
5 Ditch the subway for the Path train. If you’re traveling up the west side, the Path train is often less crowded and more pleasant than the subway, which is generally a diabolical experience at the best of times.
6 Find the secret empty bar at that crowded gig. Crowded concert venues (Webster Hall, Terminal 5, Music Hall of Williamsburg and so on) often have an overwhelmed bar on their main floor and a totally empty one on another level (upstairs or downstairs). If you don’t mind being away from the show for a few minutes, the quick jaunt on the stairs is worth it.
7 Timing is everything. Use some common sense when plotting your concert arrival time. For jazz shows and big rock gigs, be prompt – even early. But if you’re hitting a small club or DIY spot, filter the data: the website promises an 8pm start? There’s probably no need to show up before 11 if you’re looking to catch the headliner.
8 Get laughs for free. Were you about to pay to see a comedy show? Well, sure, you could, there are some great ticketed shows. But there’s also an endless parade of awesome free ones, including some of the most respected in the city, like Whiplash, Frantic! and Comedy as a Second Language.
9 Be at the TKTS booth at the perfect time. Yes, everyone knows the TKTS booth in Times Square (as well as its outposts downtown and in Brooklyn) is the place for sweet ticket deals for Broadway shows. But to nab the best seats, show up at around 5pm, after theater box offices have released most or all of their available tickets for the day.
10 Don’t get lost in Central Park. Use the numbered lampposts to get around. Each post has four numbers on it. The first two digits tell you which street you’re closest to – so, a post starting with 7 and 2 is at, roughly, 72nd Street – while the second two determine how far you are from Fifth Avenue; the higher the last two numbers, the closer you are to the West Side. Easy!
11 Get to the flea market early, Cinderella. At least New York-early. Meandering through the city’s most popular markets (like Artists & Fleas) can be as overwhelming as combating crowds inside Penn Station. If you’re on the hunt for unique vintage, hit the scene by noon (or whenever the market opens) at the latest.
12 Sample-sale madness is no joke. If a sale starts at 9am, be in line by 6am. (Fashion requires sacrifice.) But before you spend an entire morning waiting in line for some discounted designer duds, check our sample-sales page for sale price points. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to put down the last pair of Manolo Blahnik’s in your size because they’re still out of your price range.
13 Find a clean toilet in NYC. It may sound impossible, but the dream is real. Use the app Sit or Squat (sitorsquat.com) to see a map of available public bathrooms in your vicinity and look at the photos (if you dare).
14 Carry cash when you’re out partying. Brooklyn warehouse parties are where it’s at these days. Always cash enough money to last you all night; most warehouses don’t have ATMs, and you’ll have to walk blocks upon blocks to the nearest gas station only to find that its ATM isn’t even working. Gah! Bring tissues because the port-a-potties always run out of toilet paper.