With more than 61 million visitors expected to visit New York this year, this holiday season might be the most crowded you've ever seen in the city. If you are one of the millions visiting the city on vacation, rather than as a business traveler, here are 10 hacks that will give you an "in" to the greatest city in the world:
1. Plan a curated trip:
Journy is an online travel service for planning tailor-made travel. You start by answering a short survey of AI-backed questions, followed by a one-on-one conversation and, voila, Journy will curate and book the perfect itinerary for your travel style.
2. Walk the city free of luggage:
Here is a nifty new service to enjoying New York -- minus your luggage or shopping bags. Knock Knock City has 40+ local shops where you can securely and instantly store your bags and luggage for only a $1/hour. Perfect if you're staying at an Airbnb where there is no concierge to hold your bags before check-in and after check-out or if you just want to be bag free at the end of a shopping spree.
3. Work in style:
If your travel includes some business hours, you can use Breather to instantly book a meeting room (without a monthly membership), or get day passes from Croissant to make any co-working space your workspace for the day.
4. Book last minute:
For last minute planners, Hotel Tonight has your back. They offer same-day deals at hotels that are rated based on customer experience-- Hip, Solid, Luxe, Basic, Charming or Highroller.
5. Shop for books:
To find favorite local bookstores of New Yorkers, go to Indie Bookstore Locator. Mine is Kinokinuya, the Japanese bookstore across from Bryant Park on 6th Avenue. With branches in New York and Tokyo, it has the best mix of fiction, non-fiction and art books in English, with a whole floor of Japanese mangas, and another floor of Japanese gift items. Without forgetting Strand Book Store, New York's landmark with its "18 miles of books."
6. Explore side streets:
Manhattan Sideways lets you explore the hidden gems of the side streets--like Bola's International Boutique for African clothing and fabrics in Harlem; Love Thy Beast for all things dog-related on 5th Street; Turks and Frogs said to be Manhattan's first wine bar on West 11th Street.
7. Eat with locals:
Eatwith connects foodies with local chefs who will invite you over for a meal they cook. Discover the underground food scene and connect with like-minded New Yorkers and in-the-know travelers.
For all other meals, make sure you make reservations on Resy. Alternatively you can wait in line at Danny Meyer's fast food joints, Shake Shack, for a great burger and milkshake, no reservations required. Read Meyer's Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business for the back story on Shake Shack, as well as other fascinating stories about the New York restaurateur.
8. View public art:
As you walk the streets of New York, use CultureNow, an app for public art found throughout the city beyond the museum walls--for your Instagram-able moments.
9. Shop sample sales:
Part of the advantage of being in New York is getting fabulous fashion at sample sale prices. ShopDrop has a comprehensive list of designer sample sales in New York City with exact dates and addresses.
10. Ace the NYC meeting place:
The Ace Hotel's lobby is my go-to meeting place, with a great vibe and conveniently located in midtown. You can people watch while you wait for your friends or charge your phone. The lobby is a hub to multiple restaurants and stores, either in the hotel or next door--Stumptown Coffee Roasters is dangerously good, try The Breslin for breakfast and John Dory Oyster Bar for drinks and its sea food menu, Project No. 8 is for gifts to take home, Yeohlee next door is one of the chicest boutiques in town, Le Labo has the best perfumes. Note that you're right next to the New York Flower District, where the flowers for all the beautiful arrangements all over New York's hotels and restaurants, even films and photo shoots, originate.
11. (Bonus for New Yorkers) Make money while out of town:
If you're a New Yorker leaving the city for the holidays, check out Metrobutler. They can list it on Airbnb for you and take care of all the logistics and cleaning, so you can make money while you're away.