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New York City: your guide to the Big Apple

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They call New York the city that never sleeps, and for good reason, because you can find something to do at any time of day or night. Whether you're planning a shopping weekend, have tickets to the Metropolitan Opera House, or are hunting down the latest dining craze, New York City's 5 boroughs - Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island - offer a virtual smorgasbord of international culture.

Best time to travel

 

A typical Mid-Atlantic climate means New York has 4 distinct seasons. Winter is cold and snowy, summer is hot and humid, autumn is cool and crisp, and spring is temperate and drizzly. Although New York is a popular year-round destination, October through December is peak travel season. The cheapest time to visit is January through March, although this is also when the weather is at its coldest and most unpredictable.

Not to miss

 

World-famous attractions abound in New York, from the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge to Times Square and Central Park. You shouldn't pass up a chance to see the Statue of Liberty up close, especially since the ferry ride also gives you a panoramic view of the city's skyline. Chinatown and neighboring Little Italy provide a colorful look into New York's rich immigrant history, and Midtown Manhattan offers dazzling displays of art and theater.

 

Getting around

 

LaGuardia (LGA), John F. Kennedy International (JFK), and Newark Liberty International (EWR) are New York's major airports. You can travel into the city by train from JFK via the Long Island Rail Road or by subway, and from Newark via the NJ Transit line; all 3 airports offer taxi and shuttle bus services. New York's streets are mostly organized in a numbered grid pattern, making navigation easy. The subway system is comprehensive and user-friendly, while taxis are plentiful and affordable.

 

Cuisine

 

Whether you crave pizza, ocean-fresh sushi, hot and spicy Caribbean food, or a good ol' American cheeseburger, you're sure to find it in every neighborhood. For a more upscale dining experience, there's a bevy of Michelin-starred restaurants to choose from, though you may want to book your table at least a month in advance. Be prepared to tip 15 to 20 percent.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

New Yorkers are friendly and proud of their city, so don't hesitate to ask a stranger on the street for directions. This is a cultural melting pot where all races, religions, and creeds mix freely, and the marriage equality law has further advanced pre-existing liberal attitudes toward sexuality. While dress varies largely from casual street clothes to conservative office attire, New York is a fashion capital, so New Yorkers are attuned to the latest trends.

 

Fast facts

 

  • Population: 8492000
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  • Spoken languages: English
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  • Electrical: 120 volts, 60 Hz, plug type A, B
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  • Phone calling code: +1 212, 646, 917
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  • Emergency number: 911