While in New York City

There are plenty of ways to get around NYC!
There are plenty of ways to get around NYC!
Photo by Terabass via Wikimedia Commons

Exploring New York City

Many InterExchange program participants will begin and end their trips in New York City. While you’re in the “Big Apple,” you may want to take some time to explore. Below are some of our tips and suggestions.

Getting Around New York City

The subway is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to get around New York City. There are booths at every station where you can purchase MetroCards, or you can use a MetroCard vending machine. MetroCards can also be used on city buses. Free subway and bus maps can be obtained at any subway station, just ask for a map at the booth. If you would like to buy a detailed street map of the city, one can be purchased at most bookstores. The subway is generally safe, however you should use caution when traveling by yourself or at night. For more information, visit the MTA on the web at  www.mta.info/metrocard.

Pay-Per-Ride and Unlimited Ride MetroCards

There are several types of MetroCards. For a few trips around the city, you can purchase a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard. Each ride is $2.75 (subject to change) if you purchase two or more rides. If you put $5.50 or more on your card, you’ll receive a 11 percent bonus. For example, a $20 purchase gives you $22.50 on your card. Refill your card when the balance is running low. Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards are sold at vending machines only.

The MTA also offers a 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard which gives you unlimited rides on all subway lines and buses for $31 (subject to change). The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard is good for one person for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight, seven days from day of first use. Both MetroCards offer free transfers within two hours between the subway and the bus, or between buses.

You can also buy a SingleRide MetroCard for $2.75, but you will not be able to use it to transfer to other subways or to the bus. It is only good for a single one-way trip.

MetroCard vending machines can now be found at most subway stations. You can pay with Cash, ATM (bank card) or credit card. When a credit card is used, the machine will ask you to enter your zip code for verification.  However, if your credit card account has a billing address outside of the United States, you are not subject to the zip code verification requirement.  Instead, type in “99999” when prompted for a zip code.

How to Purchase a MetroCard

Touch the vending machine screen to start.


  • Start
  • Choose your language
  • MetroCard
  • Get New Card
  • Pay-Per-Ride or 7-Day Unlimited Ride
  • Select payment method
  • Cash, ATM card or Credit
  • Your card will come out from the slot labeled MetroCard.

Subway track work is often done on weekends or late at night so be prepared to find alternative routes to your destination during these times. Check the MTA website at www.mta.info for detailed fare information and service updates.

NYC Subway Safety Tips

  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Stay away from the edge of the platform.
  • Never go onto the tracks. Rails carry over 600 volts of electricity.
  • Walk; don’t run. Falls happen and can be avoided
  • Have your belongings in sight at all times.

Big Apple Bargains

New York City is full of money-saving possibilities, including free or discounted tickets to hundreds of concerts, plays and exhibitions throughout the five boroughs. Finding these bargains is a skill you can easily master. Be sure to keep your International Student Identity Card (ISIC) with you, as many places offer student discounts. Time Out New York magazine also has lots of information about how to save money in New York!

Free Events and Attractions in New York City

Big Apple Greeter: Visit NYC neighborhoods with a friendly volunteer who loves the Big Apple. Free community service offers a glimpse of a “New Yorker’s New York” on foot and by subway. 10-days advance notice requested.

Find out who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb National Monument and see exhibitions focusing on the Civil War and the life of General Ulysses S. Grant.
West 122nd Street and Riverside Drive

Watch millions of dollars trade hands at the hustling, bustling New York Stock Exchange during work hours (nowadays you can’t get inside the NYSE due to security reasons but you can take pictures outside)
11 Wall Street

See the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral, St. John the Divine, near Columbia University and explore its Biblical Garden and Children’s Sculpture Garden.
112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

Enjoy the High Line with beautiful views of the city and urban garden spaces.

Take advantage of free or “pay what you wish” nights at the city’s finest museums, including:

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Saturdays: 5:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
89th Street and Fifth Avenue

Museum of American Folk Art
2 Lincoln Square, Manhattan, NY 10023
Free Admission

Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design
Tuesdays 5:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.  (Check hours online.)
91st Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues)
Check prices online.

Museum of Modern Art
Fridays 4:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.
11 West 53rd Street and 5th Avenue

Explore thought-provoking exhibits at the breathtaking New York Public Library.
42nd Street and Fifth Avenue

Enjoy free concerts, outdoor movies and other special events at Bryant Park.
42nd Street and Sixth Avenue (behind the New York Public Library)

The Staten Island Ferry provides spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan for free! Take the 1 train  to South Ferry.

Take a self-guided tour of majestic Rockefeller Center (free, pick up maps in the main lobby). You can also enjoy the summer gardens or ice-skating in winter.
30 Rockefeller Center

Register online in advance to attend free tapings of popular TV shows.

David Letterman
1697 Broadway

Live! With Kelly & Ryan
7 Lincoln Square

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
11th Ave. between 51st and 52nd St

Travel down Mulberry Street and enjoy the outdoor Italian restaurants and cafes of New York’s very own Little Italy. Take the 4, 5, or 6 train to Canal Street and walk north to Mulberry Street.

Take a walk in Chinatown, and explore the thriving district of exotic shops and restaurants along Canal and Mott Streets.

Head uptown toward Union Square. You will find some interesting architecture including the famous triangular Flatiron Building at 23rd Street (between 5th Avenue and Broadway). You can also stop by Union Square Park to rest, watch the local skateboarders or shop at one of the city’s largest outdoor farmer’s markets.

Attractions Under $20 in New York City

Enjoy a panoramic view of New York from the Observation Deck at the Empire State Building. Check website for ticket prices or stop by the InterExchange office during business hours to purchase your ticket at a special discount rate.
8:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m.
34th Street and Fifth Avenue

For another breathtaking view of the city, head to the Top of the Rock in the Rockefeller Center.
Check website for ticket prices.

Watch millions of years of the earth’s existence unfold at the American Museum of Natural History, including the world’s most exciting, extensive dinosaur halls. The museum’s latest addition is the Rose Center for Earth and Space. This is a donation-based museum.
79th Street and Central Park West

Bask in the serenity of the medieval Cloisters (a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art) at Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan.
Check website for ticket prices.

Explore the mysteries of ancient Egypt at the Brooklyn Museum’s world-class collection of Egyptian art and artifacts. Free entrance and parties the first Saturday of every month. Donation-based on other days.
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York

American Museum of the Moving Image. Ongoing exhibits on art, history and technology of film, TV and digital media. Closed on Tuesdays.
35th Avenue at 36th Street, Astoria, Queens

MOMA. Explore beautiful galleries full of modern art and sculpture.
10:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
11 West 53rd Street and 5th Avenue
Check website for ticket prices. Free on Fridays from 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Roam endless galleries showcasing the world’s most extraordinary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pass can be applied to visit the Cloisters on the same day. This is a donation-based museum.
Sun - Thurs: 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Fri-Sat: 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
1000 5th Avenue at 82nd Street
Suggested donation

See history in the making on guided, multilingual tours of the United Nations. All tours start in the UN North Lawn Building located at 47th Street and 1st Avenue. Tickets for tours are only available online and must be purchased in advance in order to enter the premise.
Mon-Fri: 9:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
First Avenue between 42nd and 48th Streets
Check website for ticket prices.

Put on a special headset for the world’s most advanced 3-D movies, shown on a screen more than eight stories high at the Sony IMAX Theater.
68th Street and Broadway

Take a ride on the world-famous Staten Island Ferry, and includes spectacular views of New York Harbor and lower Manhattan. The ferry is free.

Catch the subway to the New York Transit Museum, set in a scenic 1930s station, where you can learn the history of the city’s famous public transportation system.
Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn
Check website for ticket prices.

New York Transit Museum/Gallery Annex (free)
Grand Central Terminal
42nd and Lexington Avenue

Learn about America’s “melting pot” heritage at the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
Check website for ticket prices

Chess players can visit Washington Square Park and sit with some of the greatest players in the world — for a small fee, of course. It’s not a bet, so if you win, don’t expect to get your money back (don’t pay more than $3. and don’t even think about gambling).
West 4th Street in the Village

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Spend part of your day taking a boat tour of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the United Nations, the Brooklyn Bridge and more. Choose from 1-hour, 2-hour and 3-hour tours leaving from pier 16 at the South Street Seaport or pier 83 at 42nd Street.
Check website for ticket prices.

See the city like the locals do on two scenic city MTA bus rides: the M5 from Greenwich Village to Riverside Drive, passing Chelsea, Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center and Central Park South; and the M4 from Madison Avenue through Harlem to the Cloisters.
Check website for ticket prices.

Enjoy some ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink, located between 47th and 50th Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues.
Check website for admission and skate rental prices.

Live Theater: Visit the TKTS booth in Times Square to get same-day tickets to Broadway or Off-Broadway musicals and plays for up to 50% off regular prices. You can also ask about standing-room-only tickets, which may be less expensive.

Street Fairs: From May through October, experience this cultural phenomenon of NYC. Get designer clothes on the cheap, eat some delicious Mozzerepas, and get a massage all on the same block! Various locations. Weekends. Look in Time Out New York magazine for weekly listings.

Rent a rowboat for a scenic paddle around the lake in Central Park in the shadow of Manhattan’s magnificent skyscrapers. You can also enjoy ice-skating during the winter!
Loeb Boathouse, East side 74th Street to 75th Street
$15 an hour (cash only)

Experience wildlife attractions:

Please visit the attraction’s website or call to confirm admission price.​

Bronx Zoo
64th Street and Fifth Avenue 2300 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx
$22.95 adults, general admission is free all day on Wednesdays.

Central Park Zoo
64th St and 5th Ave, New York, NY 10021
$18 adults

Prospect Park Zoo
450 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11225
$8 adults

New York Aquarium
602 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224
$11.95 adults

Nightlife in New York City

You’ll need lots of energy for a night out in The Big Apple, so start out by eating in Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, Times Square or any other area of town that suits your fancy!

If you like rock music, head downtown to Alphabet City’s Mercury Lounge and catch some local bands or maybe world-famous rock musicians.
217 East Houston Street (between Ludlow and Avenue A)

For a more mellow start to your evening, you might want to play billiards at Slate Restaurant and Billiards — you may even bump into a celebrity or two.
54 West 21st Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues)

Relax with live jazz at the famous Blue Note in the Village.
131 West 3rd Street between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street

In Times Square, go to Iridium, an eclectic restaurant/bar with some inspiring live jazz performances.
1650 Broadway and 51st Street

Show off your talent at salsa dancing (or just fake it) at S.O.B.’s (Sounds of Brazil).
204 Varick Street

Enjoy a drink and some Kielbasa at the traditional Bohemian Beer Garden, one of many located throughout all five boroughs. Since 1910, the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden has been a part of New York history. Be careful, the good spirits and friendly atmosphere make it hard to leave!
29-19 24th Avenue. Astoria, Queens

Brooklyn has become known for its cutting edge music scene, and you can hear the latest local bands (and some famous international ones too) at The Knitting Factory, Pete’s Candy Store or the Brooklyn Bowl. More fun nightlife, restaurants and arts events can also be found on www.freewilliamsburg.com.

The Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan Ave.

Pete’s Candy Store
709 Lorimer St.

Brooklyn Bowl
61 Wythe Avenue

If you still have the energy, Webster Hall is the place for you. You’re guaranteed a good time at this four-story disco theme park where you can dance to ’70s music, reggae, hip-hop, techno, rock or jazz.
125 East 11th Street

New York City Internet Access

While in New York, you may want to e-mail your family and friends back home. Most public libraries offer free Internet access. Your hostel or hotel may also have wi-fi a computer with Internet access. There are also many Internet Cafés. While at your job site, there may also be public libraries and/or Internet cafés in your host community. Many public areas also offer free wi-fi: Starbucks cafes, coffee shops, shopping malls and plazas.

New York Public Libraries

You do not need to be a member of the library or have a membership card. Usually there is a sign-up sheet at a desk near the computers if you’d like to use them to access the Internet. Often the wait is about 30 minutes and you can use the computer for 30 minutes at a time. Check www.NYPL.org for your nearest location.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation