1. Make plans for every day of your trip while at home. The latest time to plan is at night before the next day. Do not go to bed if you do not know your plan for tomorrow (what activities you will be visiting and in what order, the means of transportations for the whole day, and the clothes appropriate for the weather.
2. Buy a Pass if you are a tireless walker and your main goal is to see as many paid tourist attractions as possible and you are willing and capable to do it from early morning till late at night. Get the Guide Book when you are still at home. The book has all the necessary information on 55+ attractions. If in the book it says “call the number”, call. If it doesn’t say that call anyway to get the latest information.
3. Make a reservation only if it is absolutely necessary, otherwise you will be under pressure, will not be able to make other plans or be limited in what you can do, and you may end up paying more unnecessarily.
4. Buy the ticket to the Top of the Rock sunset observation as soon as you arrive to NYC for the clearest day in the forecast. SAY to the ticket assistant that you want to see SUNSET, they know better what time to reserve. Personally prefer the view from the Top of the Rock to the Empire building observation view.
5. Reserve the NBC studio tour as soon as you arrive in the city for day you wish to visit it. It may require to call the ticket desk the first thing in the morning.
6. During tourist season the Fast Track that the Pass provides may help you. It may not be necessary in the off-season. It may not help to get faster in the long line to board for the boat cruise (not to the ticket desk!) to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. If you have a Pass, keep reminding about it everywhere to get faster in line.
7. Depending on time you want to invest, money you want to spend, personal preferences (to see the Statue of Liberty and the southern Manhattan skyline or the skyline from both rivers or the skyline from just the one river), pick either the water taxi, or one of three boat cruises or ferry. On the boat tour on your way to the Liberty Island you see the Statue of Liberty from the right side. Then when you continue your way to Ellis Island the best view of the Statue of Liberty will be from the left side.
8. Comfortable light shoes are the MUST!!!
9. Have a hat and the gloves for the double deck tours and for the boat cruise as well.
10. If you are buying a Metrocard with a credit card from outside the US, don’t enter anything when asked for your zip code; just press “OK” or “Enter” to go to the next screen. Do NOT BEND the Metrocard!
11. The best time to see the most NYC attractions is Tuesday-Saturday. On weekends museums start late and may not be open long. On Mondays and Sundays they may be closed or do not have tours.
12. A piece of advice on tour guides. Do the tours with the volunteer guides wherever possible. Most of them are very very very good.
13. Check out the current exhibitions at Discovery Times Square for kid-friendly, educational, and historical experiences.
14. Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MoMA may keep your interest during the whole day. Arrive by the opening. They have numerous free tours every hour and a number of exhibitions that are renewed often. The earlier you start, the more you see. Do not save on the audio tours narraited by the Director .
15. At the museums, Grand Central Terminal, and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the audio tours are worth paying 7-8 dollars. They can keep your and your children’s interest for 45-60 minutes.