Getting Around in New York: Subways and Walking

Pro Tip...if you are going to be walking and standing a lot, don't wear your worn out Steve Madden flats with no inserts when it's raining. It's not going to be a fun day. Alex and I made a quick trip to New York City during our trip to Philadelphia. It was a short train ride and we figured why not? Plus I have a friend that moved there about a year ago and I was dying to see her and catch up.

We knew we were going to get in well before check in time, so we dropped off our bags at the hotel and then headed out to the MET, which was all the way Uptown. We were staying at a hotel in Midtown. This is where the New York Adventure starts!

We asked the concierge to give us instructions on  how to get to the MET via the subways so we could get going as soon as we were done eating lunch (which she also set up for us at great Italian restaurant that had a GF menu for me). I didn't want to take taxi's, too expensive and traffic in New York looked horrible too, so the METRO is was!

This is what we used for the 3 days we were in New York, the subways are great! Sure, they can be a little intimidating and overwhelming. But once you wrap your head around it it is the most useful thing you can use to maximize your time in the city.  So between the concierge, my friend in the city and our just wandering and studying the maps, Alex and I had a really easy and fun time!

Here are a few tips for the subway:

  • Get a METRO card. You can buy them from the kiosks at almost any station and you can use cash , debit or credit to load money on them.
    • If you will be using it for more then a few days, thing about getting an unlimited card. You can use it as often as you need with no worry about the balance.
    • If you are traveling with a companion (Like Alex and I), get 1 card for the both of you. Load it up at the station (a new card will cost you $1 plus what ever money you put on).  To use, have the 1st person swipe the card at the turnstile and go through and then pass back the card for the other person. Alex and I used about $40 total in fare over the course of 3 days.
  • MOVE fast through the turnstile. I got stuck once or twice because I was waiting to see the reader accept the card and check the balance, which means I had to swipe again and pay the fare again...classic tourist move.
  • Get a map, and study it! Colors, Numbers, Letters, learn what stops are close to where you are staying.
  • If your hotel has a concierge, use them. Make them your new best friend. They know everything, and can make just about anything happen. So be nice and ask questions.
  • Be mindful of local vs express, and downtown vs uptown.
    • Local will stop at just about every station but an express train may blow past the stop you need, and the next one.
    • Be sure you are getting on the right direction, uptown or downtown, you don't want to have to turn around and double back. They should all be clearly marked, but if you need help, there are police officers and customer service people you can ask.
  • Be aware. PAY ATTENTION. Its a big city and there are dangers, so be mindful.

New York has a lot of ground to cover. I made a lengthy itinerary for the 3 days, and we didn't even get to a quarter of it! Things are pretty spread out, so even with the subways, you'll be walking a bit. So as I mentioned, wear better shoes then I did on the first day. Especially in the rain.

  • When you come out of the subway and get to daylight, try and re-orinatate yourself.
    • Don't try to not look like a tourist. Most of the people around you are tourists too, and if they aren't, they are used to people doing this, so just embrace it.
  • Wear comfy shoes! I have knee and back issues, I should have known better then to wear flats with no support. Know your body and support it!
  • Be prepared for blisters and being tired. If you see a bench and you are even the littlest bit tired, take a break.
  • Don't get mad if someone pushes past you while you are gawking at the buildings or something else. New Yorkers have places to be and people to see! They aren't on vacation, they need to get somewhere. Be aware and try and stay out of the way.
  • People jaywalk. You don't have too, but in this case, going with the flow and following the crowd isn't the most horrible thing.
  • Have your phone or camera ready. There are tons of buildings with amazing architecture to photograph, historical places and if you are like me, food to make Alex try for #alexeats and #alexeatsNYC
    • Be ready to snap a quick pic on the fly and keep moving if there are a lot of people.

Enjoy your time in the city! I'm a person who strolls, I try not to rush myself and I'm not a fan of being in a hurry. So I love to take my time and relish everything I see, even when I have a destination.

New York is very unique. I've been there before when I was much younger, so in all honesty it was almost like I had never been there! A whole new experience and we loved every second of it. On the train back to Philly all I can think about it what I didn't get to see, what I need to see again and when I can make it back.