21 tips for Aussies travelling to New York

There’s no denying us Aussies have a love affair with New York. And with good reason. From the culture and famous landmarks to the amazing restaurants and shopping, they don’t call it the city that never sleeps for nothing 😉

Here, in no particular order, are 21 tips to help make your next NYC trip even more amazing.

1. Choose your season: If you’ve ever watched a TV show or movie set in New York (we both know you have), chances are you already know the Big Apple is a city of weather extremes. Your experience is going to be very different in cold and snowy winter compared to hot and steamy summer. If your dream is to go ice-skating at Rockerfeller Center, lock in those US winter/Aussie summer travel dates. My trips have been in spring and autumn (keep that in mind with some of these tips) and as Goldilocks would say, the weather was “just right”.

2. Get your airport right: Like many of the world’s big cities *cough, cough, not Sydney* NYC has more than one airport. When booking your flights, it pays to check which one you’re flying into. JFK is the biggest of the three.

Bonus tip: Don’t stress if you’re caught in traffic going from the airport taxi queue (highly likely) to the city. It’s a flat $52 fare (plus any applicable tolls and surcharges) from JFK to anywhere in Manhattan – another potential pro of flying into there instead of LaGuardia or Newark. Just remember to tip the driver an extra 15% to 25% on top (see tip #13 for more info on tipping).

3. Pick your digs. There are soooo many hotel options that it can become a bit overwhelming. For a room with a view – and just a hop, skip and a jump from the largest urban park in NYC – you can’t beat 1 Hotel Central Park.

4. Or let your love of a cocktail drive your hotel choice. Rooftop bars are oh-so-New-York, but they can be an exclusive affair. Unless you’re a savvy hotel guest. At the Refinery Hotel, your room key grants you access to the uber cool Refinery Rooftop bar, complete with Empire State Building views.

Hotel guests also skip the queue to The Roof, PUBLIC hotel’s rooftop bar. Make sure you nab a shot with the fun lighting displays on the way up 😉

5. Bring your best walking shoes: Everyone talks about how easy NYC is to navigate by foot, but until you’re actually there, you probably won’t realise just how much walking you’re going to do. It really is the best way to soak up the sights, sounds and smells of the city. Speaking of which…

6. Remember to keep right! Nothing says ‘I’m not from around here’ like walking on the left side of the footpath.

7. Embrace the subway: Of course, another great way to get around is the subway. If you plan on traipsing from one side of the city to the other, your legs will only take you so far.

Bonus tip: If you’re in town for a few days, consider getting a 7-Day unlimited pass ($32 USD). With a casual Metro pass, you’ll pay $2.75 USD each time you go through a gate, on top of the $1 USD charge for buying the card itself. With so many different subway lines going all over the city, you could easily go through three or four gates a day, which would cost you $11 USD (or more). After just three days of sightseeing, the 7-Day unlimited pass will pay for itself.

8. Go to Times Square: But only to tick it off. My two cents: it’s the most touristy of tourist spots in the whole city and a little bit goes a long way.

Good night from the Big Apple 🍎✨🌃

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9. If you’re a foodie, book waaaay ahead: NYC is home to plenty of high-end restaurants – including five that have achieved the coveted three-Michelin-stars status – and if you have your stomach set on one, it pays to plan around it before you go. Eleven Madison Park, for example, opens its reservations on the first of every month for the following month, at 9am local time. If you do miss out, put your name on a wait list – you might get lucky!

Bonus tip: Remember, memorable food experiences don’t need to be expensive. Bagels. Hot dogs. Pizza by the slice. All must-dos. My favourite, though? The Momofuku Noodle Bar pork bun ($13 USD for two) is pure happiness on a plate. Put your name down on the wait list, have a vino at the wine bar on the corner, then return for this famous dish – no Michelin stars required.

10. Visit Magnolia Bakery, made famous in Sex and the City, but order the banana pudding instead of the famed cupcakes. Trust me.

11. Invest in a New York CityPASS: If you’re planning on hitting a few of the landmarks – and chances are you are – the CityPASS ($126 USD per adult; $107 USD per 6- to 17-year-old; prices vary per attraction for travellers younger than six) is a great option. Attractions include the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Not only will you save up to 42%, you’ll also skip the queues at a lot of the attractions. Winning.

Just a couple of tourists 👫❤️

A post shared by Nicole Redfern (@nic.redfern) on

12. Get your Broadway on. Would it even be a trip to the Big Apple without seeing a show on Broadway? If you have your eye on the prize of the hottest show in town, consider booking your tickets before your trip. If you’re a bit more flexible about what you see, you can nab a bargain at the TKTS Ticket Booths, which sell same-day show tickets at up to 50% off.

A very funny way to spend a Tuesday evening ✨✨✨

A post shared by Nicole Redfern (@nic.redfern) on

13. Understand the world of tipping. Not sure who to tip and how much? As a simple guide, you should always tip service workers. At a restaurant, 15% to 20% of the total bill is a good guide. Others to remember… $2 to $5 for hotel doormen who hail a cab, $1 to $2 per bag for hotel porters, 15% to 25% of the fare for taxi drivers, $2 per day for hotel maids, $1 to $2 per drink at a bar.

14. Get your nature hit at Central Park. We do parks in Sydney, but this is on a whole different scale. Escape the concrete jungle and stroll, run, cycle or even horse-carriage-ride your way around a green oasis.

15. Fall in love with Whole Foods. Warning: shopping at Coles or Woolies will never be the same again. It’s not unique to NYC, but when you want a healthy lunch to balance out all the pizza and hot dogs, Whole Foods Market’s salad bar is where it’s at. Stroll the aisles while you’re there and stock up on all your snack needs/wants.

16. Embrace your Aussie-ness. There’s no shortage of Australian cafes in the Big Apple. When you need an avo-toast hit and a decent coffee, Little Collins NYC, Citizens of Chelsea, and Two Hands will all deliver the brekkie goods with a friendly Aussie accent.

17. Don’t forget your taxes. Unlike in Oz, sales tax is typically on top of the amount on the price tag and applied at check-out. So that cute $50 jumper you see is going to cost you a little extra.

Bonus tip: International visitors can score 10% off at Macy’s – just print or show a digital version of the Visitor Savings Pass. You’re welcome. Nobody does big department store shopping better than our US friends. Okay and maybe our UK friends.

18. Eat the best lobster roll of your life in the Meatpacking District. You will be tempted by other options at Chelsea Market, one of the best indoor food halls in the world, but make a beeline straight for The Lobster Place. You won’t regret it.

19. Sail the Hudson at sunset. This is the #1 tip I give to all my friends heading to NYC, delivered with some not-so-subtle pushiness. Onboard the Adirondack, a classic yacht, the peace and quiet on the water is a welcome (and amazing) reprieve after a day of hustle and bustle.

Bonus tip: Drinks are complimentary but it’s BYO food. Chelsea Markets are right near the dock. You know what to do. It starts with ‘lobster’ and ends in ‘roll’.

20. Make like a tourist and walk the Brooklyn Bridge. Yes, it’s crowded. But yes, it’s worth it. There’s a whole other side to NYC beyond the bright lights of Manhattan, and Brooklyn is just one part you should venture to.

Bonus tip: Time your visit to venture to the Smorgasburg food market for gourmet heaven!

21. Laundry made easy. Okay, this is a practical one, but worthwhile all the same. Given the distance, us Aussies don’t tend to fly to the US just for a night or two. So chances are laundry is going to be on your boring to-do list at some stage. Laundromats are soooo cheap in NYC that I highly recommend dropping off a bag of your dirty laundry and picking it up the next day. Or if you’re feeling particularly indulgent and organised, do it just before you fly back to Oz so you don’t have to face it when you’re home and fighting the post-holiday blues.




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