HomeNYC Vacation ItinerariesFive Day NYC Vacation

Five Day NYC Vacation

Broadway, Restaurants, Skyscapers, Central Park and Tons of Tips!

This is a fantastic Five Day NYC Vacation Trip report that includes tons of tips, like the NYC Subway App, OMNY, free soda refills at Broadway shows, the best way to see the 9/11 Museum and Statue of Liberty and so much more.

Just back from 5 lovely nights in New York. Thought I’d post some tips to help others traveling. Please note this was just our ideas! Not saying it’s all the best things to do.

NYC Subway Tips

Traveling when there – best thing we did was download and sign up to OMNY. Once signed up you can have it synced up with your bank account (Revolut for us) on your phone or Apple Watch and you simply scan watch to enter any subway in New York. It was so easy! No tickets or messing about just scan and go. Subway was $2.75 for a journey no matter where getting off. Was great for going to 9/11 Museum or the harbor for the Statue of Liberty. Best thing about OMNY is it’s capped at $30 a week so once you hit that amount, the rest of journeys that week are free. I would strongly recommend getting OMNY. It’s free and easy.

More Info: NYC Subway and OMNY

Airport Travel

Traveling to and from airport – from airport (JFK) to hotel we used a cab. It has a set fee plus tip so we paid around $80. It took over an hour as the roads were very busy. If doing this, once you collect your bags go right and the queue for taxi is there. On way back to hotel we did it cheaper way and easier! Subway to Jamaica Station for $2.75 (around 11 stops for us) then air train to your terminal airport for $8 (like us, if you don’t have a metro card it’s an extra $1). Tip – if you don’t have a card queue on left side it’s much quicker and only for those not with cards). Full trip was $11.75 and same time as taxi. Plus takes you to your terminal – real money saver. If I go back I’d do this both journeys to save cash, plus it’s very hassle free.

More Info: NYC Taxis, Town Cars and Ride Shares and NYC Airport Guides.

Hotel Hilton Midtown

We stayed at Hilton Midtown and loved it. The hotel itself is big and rooms very spacious for New York. The best bit is location, it’s so close to everything but also far enough away from Times Square which can be a little seedy at times. Best tip, you pay $35 a night resort fees but they give you the equivalent to use in bar. We got 2 meals for this which saved us money on eating out twice! The menu is limited, but the burger was one of best I’ve had. Be aware, they will charge you $5 a bag to hold your luggage on last day so if you want to save some cash consolidate your bags/luggage! We were $20 just to have bags held for 3 hours so we could walk about on our last day.

Book it: New York Hilton Midtown.

Dining in NYC

It is expensive to eat in restaurants. One night at Bond 45 (high end Italian in Times Square, catering to the Broadway crowd) we paid $140 for a meal for 2 and that included no alcohol! Food was lovely, but after that we used the hotel vouchers and street food. The street food was great, a kebab at Halal Food was $8 and lovely. I suppose it’s what you want, but for us we saved a fortune by not eating in restaurants all the time. Another tip is use Google maps and search for your nearest 99c Pizza. You get 2 big slices of pizza and a can of soda for $2.75! Not the best pizza you’ll ever eat, but was absolutely fine and as lunches go and a real saver. We did this a few times and just took it to Central Park, grabbed a chair and had a nice outdoor lunch.

More Info: NYC Restaurant Guides

Is the Subway Safe?

Heard lots of mixed things before I went but it was absolutely fine. Get the OMNY. We saw not one bit of hassle but we only used in morning and afternoon only. It was great, aircon and very big carriages. Just keep your belongings close by like anywhere. We like to walk most places but 9/11 was about an 80 min walk so subway best and cheaper option. Only $2.75 for the 11 stops. My advise – use your Google maps on phone it will keep you right on platforms, direction and letters of which subway to get.

More Info: NYC Subway Map and Guide

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9/11 Museum Tips

The 9/11 museum was amazing. Would recommend pre-booking this for 9am before you go. You get a 1 hour tour with a headset for around 30 people before it opens to public. Then you can look at all the other parts once opens. Means you’re there when it’s very quiet and you get lots of additional information too. Strongly recommend.

More Info: 9/11 Museum

Statue of Liberty Tips

I’d recommend pre booking this before you go. We did, with Statue City Cruises. You get taken to island on boat then can go inside the statue. 3 big tips,

  1. When on boat everyone goes to top deck. But best views of statue are on first floor and go to the FRONT of boat. It’s quiet. When there go on the RIGHT side (you will view the port queue lines). Boat goes past statue in that side so great photos plus not busy. On way back go on left side!
  2. Pre book! If you want access to the statue itself you can’t turn up on the day to enter. We overhead the staff telling people who wanted to buy tickets that you need to book 2 weeks before date of arriving. So pre book before you go!
  3. In museum (really good) you can watch a video that’s 10 minutes long and tells you about how the Statue came to be. Loads did it wrong! There are 3 screens in 3 different rooms – but the screens are in order so screen 1 shows first 3 mins then you move to next room for screen 2. Almost everyone went to screen 3 so only saw last bit of video. Start in first room and move along when it tells you to see the whole thing otherwise it won’t make sense! Only about 5 of us did this right.

More Info: Statue of Liberty Tickets

Times Square

Great seeing all the big screens but just be mindful it is a little seedy. You will have people trying to sell CDs to you. DO NOT take a CD. Trying to give back without buying is not easy. Best advise just politely say no thank you and keep walking. They don’t bother or pester you. You will smell weed. I believe it’s legal in NY so just accept it’s part of life there. Good thing is there are always police men/woman there so I always felt safe.  You will see people homeless and people clearly under influence of drink or drugs (like zombies). But they don’t bother you at all just be mindful. Just beware if you don’t like crowds or are very easy intimidated I would advise against spending too much time there.

Download Your Free Guide: Times Square Guide NYC


We saw 2 shows and I cannot recommend Moulin Rouge The Musical enough! Amazing production in modern setting. We also saw Chicago which is very ‘old school’ in terms of theatre and production. Some will love it, we found it average. I much preferred Moulin Rogue! Tip – go to the bar early. If getting soda, it’s a refillable mug you get which was €10. Refills $5 in MR and free in C. Advise for ladies – if using toilet at Chicago, I’d advise going 5 mins before interval. During interval it’s such a small venue the queue was incredible and took forever. most couldn’t use before show recommenced.

Read More: List of Broadway Shows and About NYC Broadway Shows

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Everyone has different things they want to see but one thing I’d say is don’t have a list of every tall building and book it. Once you’ve been in one viewing gallery you’ve seen them all! You’ll end up spending loads on same type of thing. My advise is do one during the day (I’d recommend either SUMMIT or One World Trade) and one at night to see lights (Top of the Rock was good – and it has no queue if pre booked). Don’t do them all will cost lots and they were very similar.

Sightsee from the Sky

Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, One World Observatory, Edge or Summit? Which is best and, if we have to choose, which should we visit? There is no easy answer, but here are some facts to help guide your choice.

Edge NYC Observation Deck

  • Empire State Building - (86 and 102 floors) Best for patient movie and history buffs who need to check it off their bucket list. Recently redone indoor 102nd Floor Observatory
  • Top of the Rock - (67-70 floors) Best for sweeping 360° vista views, including of the Empire State Building and Central Park. Shorter lines and cheaper than the ESB.
  • One World Observatory - (100-102 floors) Best for homage to the Twin Towers. Modern and high tech, with phenomenal views
  • Edge - (100-101 floors) Highest outdoor observation deck, glass bottom floor, deck extends 80 feet away from building (photo)
  • Summit One Vanderbilt - (91-93 floors) Opens Oct 2021, all glass elevator, indoor and outdoor decks and glass terraces off the side of the building

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Central Park

I’d say a bike ride tour at Central Park is well worth it. It’s expensive (around $160 without tip) but 2 hours of seeing the park with loads of facts. We did with Frankie leggs. Search on Facebook and read reviews, you’ll see what I mean! The day you do that have a non-restaurant meal and it will balance out budget wise!

More Info: Central Park offers 843 gorgeous acres to explore and 100s of things to do, which is why we consider it an unofficial neighborhood. Central Park draws 38 million visits a year and is home to the Central Park Film Festival, SummerStage, Shakespeare in the Park, Ice Skating, Central Park Zoo, Bow Bridge, biking, playgrounds, the Carousel and much more.

  • Explore: Central Park Guide
  • To Do: Central Park Zoo, Carousel, TV and Movie Sites, Ice Skating, Loeb Boathouse

Central Park Guide

All in all we loved New York. We felt super safe there too, even on the subway during day. Yes, you walk in bits with rubbish lying about etc and Times Square is a little different to what you see on tv, but that’s case in every city. We found the city very friendly and in lifts etc locals would ask how you are. It’s expensive but I say much less than I thought by getting cheaper lunches and not eating in restaurants every night. Suppose it’s your choice how much you spend, but it can be done cheaply! For those still to go, you will love it. It’s an amazing place, full of life, big buildings and beauty.

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NYC Insider Guidehttps://www.nycinsiderguide.com
Welcome! I'm Melissa, a fourth generation New Yorker, who has been lucky enough to live in New York for over 30 years. I love just about everything in New York City, the very reason I started this web site, and I look forward to sharing it all with you. Please explore the New York City Insider Guide at your own pace. I hope it helps you plan your New York City Vacation, so you not only go home as a NYC Insider, but plan to visit us again soon.


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