Our Guide to New York City!

17 minutes

NYC skyline
NYC skyline

New York, New York: "The Big Apple."  To help you get to know "the city that never sleeps" a bit better, here's a list of places the Career Training USA team likes to go. While we won't attempt to encompass the whole NYC experience (that would be impossible), this list should be a good starting point for a city that can seem overwhelming at first. 

How to Get There

As a transportation hub, there are infinite ways to arrive in NYC.


  • Amtrak: If you're coming from the Northeast Corridor (Washington, Baltimore, Philly, Boston), the most relaxing way to get here is by train. The trains arrive at Penn Station, which is located on 33rd St and 8th Ave in Midtown West. Tickets are available at www.amtrak.com. They usually cost around $100-$200 roundtrip.
  • NJ Transit: The NJ Transit has many different train routes that arrive at Penn Station. Ticket costs vary by how far of a trip it will be from your station of departure. For more information on NJ Transit routes and tickets, visit: http://www.njtransit.com/
  • Metro North Rail Road: If you are coming from Northern New York or Connecticut, then you can take a Metro North Train into the city. All Metro North Trains arrive at Grand Central Station in NYC.


A much cheaper (though longer and less comfortable option) is taking one of the many buses in the Northeast Corridor. The tickets usually cost around $20-$40 each way. For further information, please read our blog about bus travel. Some of the most popular bus services are Bolt Bus, Megabus, and Greyhound.


There are three main airports that serve the NYC area:

  • La Guardia Airport: This is the closest airport to Uptown Manhattan and is located in Queens (about 15 minutes by taxi to get into Manhattan). The taxi fare is metered and can run anywhere from $25 for Uptown Manhattan to $50 for Downtown. Or you can take one of the many bus services from La Guardia into the city. 
  • JFK Airport:  JFK is also located in Queens, but further from Manhattan. If you are travelling to Brooklyn, JFK may be a more convenient airport. The flat fare from JFK to Manhattan is $45. Alternately, you can take the Air Train to the subway. The Air Train is $7, which includes a one-way trip on the subway. You can take the A, E, J, or Z train into Manhattan. The train can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to get you where you want to go. The taxi is usually around 30-45 minutes to your destination in the city.
  • Newark Airport: This airport is located in New Jersey. The cost to travel from Newark to Manhattan varies depending on where you are going in the city—just tell the attendant at the taxi stand where you are going and they will tell you the price. The price is usually between $50-$75 to Manhattan. There are also shuttle services to Manhattan. This is when you share a ride with other passengers to the city. Two of the more popular options are Newark Liberty Airport Express ($15), which takes you to Midtown or Super Shuttle ($15-$19), which will take you to your destination of choice. Finally, you can take the train from Newark using NJ Transit or Amtrak. This option is often the fastest and costs as little as $15. Please note that in NYC it is customary to tip your taxi driver. The tips usually range between 10-20% of the fare (before tolls).


A driver offering to take you to your destination while leaving the terminal may approach you. These are not licensed taxi drivers and they will most likely severely overcharge you to reach your destination. You will find all licensed cabs at taxi stands at all three airports. These licensed NYC taxi drivers drive yellow cabs and have their name posted in the cab. DO NOT take unlicensed taxis under any circumstances. 

Things to Do in NYC

There are endless choices for things to do and see in New York. Countless museums, parks, shopping, theater, and much more- there is something for everyone. In terms of cultural activities, bars, restaurants, and even the great outdoors, the choices are endless. Here's what we recommend you do in the City.

Governor's Island

A free ferry will take you from Downtown Manhattan to an uninhabited island just across the way from the hustle and bustle of the city. The island provides a tranquil respite from the madness that is Manhattan. On the island you can rent bikes/kayaks, enjoy the picnic areas, go to Water Taxi Beach (Bar!), and take National Park Service Guided Tours.


Central Park

The Park offers plenty of activities and is the only reason that anyone in NYC is even remotely sane. Whether it be hiking through The Rambles, playing softball on the Sheep's Meadow, or visiting the artwork of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Park has a little bit of something for everyone.


Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island/Battery Park

From Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan, you can catch a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Tickets are $12. The ticket allows you to visit both the Statue and Ellis Island. If you want to visit both islands, you should arrive in the morning. Oftentimes if you arrive later in the afternoon, you are only permitted to visit one of the islands. Currently the Statue of Liberty is closed due to damage from Hurricane Sandy. The island plans to reopen on July 4th, 2013.


The Museum of the City of New York

The museum is dedicated to the history and development of New York City. Located in Uptown Manhattan (103rd St), it's an ideal place for a newcomer to gain a further comprehension of the origins and growth of NYC.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art & the Cloisters

This is preeminent museum of art in the United States. With two million pieces of art, the Met warrants a visit by even the most museum-phobic travelers.  If you are not an art fan, there is plenty more to do and see. There is a rooftop bar open until late fall! The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan located along the Hudson River in beautiful Fort Tryon Park. Pay once and enjoy both the main building and the Cloisters in the same day! The entry price is "suggested" which means you only have to pay what you can afford.


Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

According to their website MoMa "is a place that fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration." It is the finest collection of Modern Art in the United States. Admission is $20 for adults and $12 for students with valid ID, but free from 4-8 pm on Friday nights!


Rockefeller Center

If you have ever walked past a television set, you most likely have seen a film with the famous ice rink located in front of Rockefeller Center. Now you can visit for yourself! The ice rink opens in October (www.patinagroup.com). After that, you can get a stunning view of the city from the Top of the Rock. Tickets to the top are $27. If you're afraid of heights, don't worry: There is glass encasing the entire deck.


Empire State Building

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan met and fell in love here. Wait…that was just a movie? Tickets to the top cost $25. The lobby has also just undergone a multi-million dollar renovation. It's open at the top and very windy, so this is a destination best visited in the warmer months.


American Museum of Natural History

If skeletons of large, dead animals are your thing, this is the place for you. There is a skeleton of a prehistoric turtle that will blow your mind. The IMAX theater and planetarium are especially popular as well.


Chelsea Piers

Located on the west side of Manhattan along the Hudson River, Chelsea piers is a sports and entertainment complex that has something for everyone. They have bowling, golfing, fitness centers, spas, and much more. No joke: You can even learn the art of the trapeze.


Times Square

If there were a heart for NY, this would be it. Located in Midtown, you can find just about anything in the few blocks around Times Square. This is also where you will find MTV studios and a man wearing nothing but his underwear, a cowboy hat, and a guitar. You will know that you have become a New Yorker when you avoid coming here at all costs. But, you gotta see it at least once! And while you're there, visit the TKTS booth to get discounted Broadway show tickets.


The Whitney Museum of American Art

Focuses on 20th and 21st Century American art. Pay what you wish on Friday nights from 6:00-9:00 p.m. General admission is $18 or $12 for students with valid ID.


Guggenheim Museum

Modern and contemporary international art. General admission is $18 or $15 for students with valid ID. Pay what you wish on Friday nights from 5:45-7:45 p.m.


The Frick Collection

A mansion that has been transformed into a museum for European art. Pay what you wish Sundays from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. General admission is $18 adults or $5 students with valid ID.


The High Line

The newest addition to New York, the High Line is an old elevated train platform that has been transformed into a free park on the west side of Manhattan between Gansevoort and 34th Streets and 10th and 11th Avenues. It opened to generally rave reviews.


Circle Line Cruise

From 42nd St along the Hudson, you can take a boat tour of Manhattan. We recommend the Semi-Circle cruise, which takes you around the bottom half of Manhattan.


South Street Seaport

Located Downtown, this is the closest you will get in Manhattan to the classic American mall experience of shopping and dining. In actuality, it does provide an enjoyable place to eat and drink near the water. There are often concerts, street performers, and other sorts of entertainment—you never know what you'll find down here!


Theater District

If you're looking for a Broadway fix, there are two places you should know about for reduced-price tickets. TKTS is a company that sells reduced price tickets near the South Street Seaport and in Times Square. HipTix sells reduced-priced tickets to Roundabout Theater shows.




There are countless bars and clubs in New York City. Here are some we recommend, organized by neighborhood.

Greenwich Village

1849 (Bleeker St between MacDougal and Sullivan)

A Career Training USA Staff favorite! If you're on a budget and are hungry/thirsty, this is the place to go. Happy hour specials are the best in the city. Also, the best nachos in town (for the price).


Village Lantern (Bleeker St between Sullivan and Thompson)

Cheap cheeseburger/fries and beer.


Comedy Cellar (MacDougal between West 3rd and Carmine St)

More well known than the Gotham. A good place to catch famous comedians performing in an intimate atmosphere.


Dove Parlour (Thompson St between Bleeker and West 3rd)

Victorian-style lounge with specialty cocktails.


Fat Cat (75 Christopher Street at 7th Ave)

An underground jazz lounge with live music, pool tables, ping pong, and other games!


East Village

Blue Owl (2nd Ave between 12th and 13th St)

Excellent meat/cheese plate and specialty cocktails.


Coyote Ugly (1st Ave between 9th and 10th St)

Do you like being yelled at through a megaphone by attractive women as they pour tequila shots down your throat? If you don't, this might not be the place for you. Tip: Don't wear a tie. They will cut it off.


Bowery Bar and Grill (East 4th St and Bowery)

Great spot for outdoor drinks during the summer.


McSorely's Old Ale House (East Village: 7th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave)

One of the oldest bars in New York. Be abused by old waiters who want nothing but your money. Somehow that ends up being fun.


Dempsey's Pub (2nd Ave. between 3rd and 4th St.)

Laid back pub with great bartenders. Traditional Irish music on Tuesdays, trivia on Wednesdays, happy hour, and a pool table.



The Ear Inn (between Greenwich and Washington Streets)
An InterExchange after-work favorite!  One of the oldest bars in the city, hipsters and business people come here to relax near the Hudson River.  It's especially fun on a warm summer's evening as the crowd spills out onto the rustic sidewalk benches.  Great cheap food and beer.



Chelsea Brewing Company (11th Ave and 20th St)

Brew pub on the Hudson River and connected to Chelsea Piers.


The Frying Pan (West 26th St and Hudson River Park)

An old barge floating in the Hudson. A good bet on a nice day.


Gotham Comedy Club (West 23rd St between 7th and 8th Ave)

Large comedy club with a quality line up of comedians.


Upper East Side

Brandy's Piano Bar (84th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave)

Very fun. Sing along with American music.


Baker Street Pub (1st Ave between 63rd and 64th St)

Laid back, fun Irish pub. Lots of different beers on tap, fun crowd, and pub quizzes on Wednesdays. Also, high-quality bar food.


Uptown Restaurant and Lounge (3rd Ave between 88th and 89th St)

A good after work spot for dinner and drinks.


Genesis (2nd Ave between 88th and 89th St)

An Irish bar with superior pub food. Also has a patio in the back that is the last known spot on Planet Earth where you can smoke cigarettes legally in public.


Brother Jimmy's BBQ (6 Locations: Upper East Side (2), Upper West Side (1), Midtown (2), and Murray Hill (1))

Good BBQ, cheap drinks, fun music/crowd. Watch out for the Fishbowl Drink Special!


Upper West Side

Boat Basin (West 79th St and Riverside Drive. Follow the signs)

Outdoor seating along the Hudson River. A great place to meet up on a nice day. Typical bar food but, hey, you're here for the view. Open during the summer and early fall.



Sutton Place (Midtown East: 2nd Ave between 53rd and 54th St)

Good for happy hour or anytime of day for that matter. This after work hangout has bars on 3 different floors (including a rooftop lounge) usually with different music on each floor. Could be described as "Suit-y".



Crocodile Lounge (East 14th St between 2nd Ave and 1st Ave)

Free pizza with every draft beer.



Loreley Restaurant and Biergarten (Rivington between Bowery and Chrystie)

German beer garden. Outside area with picnic tables.


The Vig Bar (Spring and Elizabeth St)

A discobar that is great some nights, miserable on others. It is always crowded however there is a backroom that gives you a bit more space.


Sweet & Vicious Spring (Between Elizabeth and Bowery)

Laid back atmosphere with a garden out back. No food, but you can order Lombardi's pizza and they'll deliver to you!


Little Italy

The Spring Lounge (Mulberry and Spring St)

A nice spot for an after work drink. If the bartender is rude to you, don't worry. They are rude to everyone.


Lower East Side

Fat Baby (Rivington between Ludlow and Essex St)

Apocalypse-like bar/club. Fun, but don't go there 'til late.



No matter what kind of cuisine you are craving, you are sure to find it in NYC!


Mexican Radio (Cleveland Place, which Lafayette/Centre St turn into, between Spring St and Kenmare)

This place serves up great Mexican food. The margaritas will start your night off correctly.


Pepe Rosso (Sullivan St between Prince and Spring St)

A cheap take-out place for Italian. This is not for a sit-down dinner, but if you're on the run and need some pasta, this place is great.


Peep (Prince St between Sullivan and Thompson St)

Another cheap option. This time for Thai food. They're also known for their bathroom, where you can see the rest of the restaurant.


West Village

Taim (Waverly Place between West 11th St and Perry St)

A take-out joint. If falafels are your thing, check this place out.


Molly's Cupcakes (228 Bleecker Street)

An InterExchange favorite and one of the best cupcakes in NYC!


East Village

Momofuku Milk Bar (East 13th St between 2nd and 3rd Ave)

Go here for your dessert needs.


ChikaLicious (East 10th St between 2nd and 1st Ave)

If you gone to Momofuku Milk Bar for your desert needs, but are still feeling needy, check out this place for more dessert.


Caracas Arepa Bar (East 7th St between 1st Ave and Avenue A)

A good spot for arepas (A traditional Venezuelan food). Hence the name.


Abraco (East 7th St between 1st and 2nd Ave)

An espresso bar that also offers homemade desserts.


Artichoke Basille (East 14th St between 1st and 2nd Ave)

A pizza joint that Keith Richards gives a thumbs up. 'Nuff said.


Sala (Bowery between Great Jones St and Bond St)

Good tapas on the Bowery.


Yuca Bar (Ave A between 7th and 8th St)

Latin fusion bar/restaurant. The food is tasty and the happy hour is one of the best in the city.


Little Italy

Lombardi's (Spring St and Mott St)

The first American pizzeria. Packed with tourists but a great slice of Italian-American pizza.


L'Asso (Kenmare St and Mott St)

If Lombardi's is packed, just around the corner is a more authentic Italian pizzeria with a wood oven. Get the D.O.C. version of your pizza for a little more. It uses imported Italian ingredients.


Greenwich Village

Mamoun's Falafel (MacDougal between West 3rd and Bleeker)

Cheap/quick, but outstanding qualify falafel and Mediterranean gyros, kebabs, etc. Far better than what you can find at a sit down restaurant (good for when you want a quick lunch or at 3AM after a long night in the Village).


La Lanterna (MacDougal between West 3rd and West 4th St)

The best cheese plate in the city and a cute garden out back that's enclosed during the colder months.


Union Square 

Dukes (Murray Hill, Union Square)

Good BBQ and great drink specials every day. You can even join their dining club and get great discounts (2 for 1 entrees).


Maoz (Upper West Side, Union Square, East Village)

Cheap and delicious (think hummus, falafel, and a toppings bar!). This place is great for vegetarians.



Bianca's (Bleeker St between Elizabeth St and Bowery)

Good, cheap Italian. There is a nice bar next door. If there is a wait, you can chill there and the owner will come and get you when your table is ready. Try the Gramigna con Salsiccia.



Shake Shack (Madison Square Park, and other locations in NYC)

Have a burger the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park!



Little Pie Company (Midtown West: West 43rd St between 9th and 10th Ave)

Absolutely AMAZING pie. Must have a Mud Pie if a chocolate fan.


Thalia (Midtown West: 8th Ave between 50th and 51st)

Un-touristy gem in Midtown (which is nearly unheard of). Beautiful décor and reasonably priced considering the quality.


The Halal Guys (53rd St and 6th Ave)

Hands-down the best halal cart in NYC. Definitely worth waiting in line.


Blockheads (Midtown, Upper East and Upper West Side)

Delicious, inexpensive Mexican food. Cheap drinks and a great atmosphere.


Asia de Cuba (Midtown East: Madison Ave between 37th and 38th)

Some of the best fusion food in the city. Eclectic and classy décor.


Woorijip Korean Restaurant (32nd Street between 5th and 6th Ave)

Tasty, quick Korean food open until 3am everyday!


The Cutting Room (32nd Street between Park and Madison Ave)

Artsy, hip and original music spot.  Beautiful venue!


Hell's Kitchen

$1 Burger, $2 Shot, $3 Beer (10th Ave and 50th St)

Exactly what it sounds like.


Upper East Side

Pinocchio's (1st Ave between 90th and 91st St)

Cozy Italian place. Try the penne with sausage, onions, and peas or the salmon. Ignore the review at the link below. It's good!


Maz Mezcal (86th St between 1st and 2nd Ave)

Prompt service and good Mexican food.


Uva (2nd Ave between 77th and 78th)

Outstanding wine selection. Great ambiance. A good place for a date.


Upper West Side

Absolute Bagels  (Broadway and 108th Street)

Arguably one of the best bagels in NYC! Be prepared for a line on the weekend.


Crepes on Columbus (109th St and Columbus)

An excellent brunch option! Crepes, eggs, sandwiches and more!


Gray's Papaya (72nd St and Broadway)

Cheap, delicious hot dogs and juices.


Thai Market (Amsterdam between 107th and 108th St)

A popular Thai restaurant with an extensive menu.


Further Resources

Time Out New York

You can look online or pick up the weekly magazine for new restaurants and bars, cultural events around the city, movie reviews, etc.



A guide to free/cheap events in NYC.



Offers info about travel, hotels, deals and special offers in NYC and reviews of restaurants/bars.



Helps groups with similar interest in planning meet ups.


Event Me

Connects subscribers to social, culinary, and professional events in NYC.



Restaurant/bar reviews.



Restaurant/bar reviews.



The easiest way to find a restaurant in an unknown NYC neighborhood.



NYC is known to be brutally cold in the winter and painfully hot in the summer. The months to avoid, if possible, are August, January, and February. The most pleasant months, weather-wise, are often May, June, September, and October where the average high temperature usually hovers between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. NYC around Christmastime is also popular among tourists.

Where to Stay

Unfortunately, NYC is a very expensive place to visit. This can be overcome if you have the right strategy. Namely, if you have a friend who will let you crash on their couch. For those less fortunate, here are some budget hotels, hostels, and dormitories:

If you are looking for something a little bit more upscale than hostels, check out these links that list midrange hotel alternatives in NYC:

You can also check out our Housing Resources page of our website, which has lot's of tips for participants looking for housing in NYC!

Sarah Wadlinger Sarah Wadlinger

A Pennsylvania native, Sarah Wadlinger has a B.A. in International Studies and served as the Participant Services Coordinator for InterExchange Career Training USA from 2011 to 2013.

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