My name is Jennifer C. Smith-Parker. I’m a born-and-bred New Yorker and live in Fresh Meadows, Queens.
New York can best be described in these five words: exciting, safe, unique, convenient, and neighborhoods.
Women should consider visiting New York City because it’s impossible for anyone to get bored. From local performances to Broadway shows, to shopping and dining, to ice skating and sunbathing, to art museums and historical museums, New York is bursting with activities.
And that’s not just Manhattan proper!
The boroughs such as Queens (where I am from) and Brooklyn have all of the aforementioned activities with strong neighborhood identities…
New York City Guide
How do you get to New York City?
Beside planes flying into JFK and LaGuardia airports, buses and trains are the most convenient means to get into the city.
Citibikes’ bike-sharing stations have also cropped up all over the city in recent years to zip across the boroughs.
And of course, one can always do the iconic walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, or walk across other NYC bridges!
What’s the best way to get around New York City?
Buses, trains, bikes and walking. NYC is a very walk-friendly cityscape.
What’s the best time to visit New York City?
May and June and then September and October; also around Christmas to see the lights and decorations.
What are the different areas of New York City?
- Harlem and Spanish Harlem – Two areas that have seen massive gentrification and revitalization in the past few years; old brownstones and high rises that still maintain faded beauty after years of neglect; the legendary Apollo Theatre is here as is the under-the-radar Central Park Conservatory Gardens; now a mix of college kids, longtime residents and a growing middle class.
- Upper East and West Sides – One of the more beautiful parts, architecturally, with a mix of “old-school” NYers, Columbia University students, young professionals, and parents with young kids; “Museum Mile,” hosting such gems as The Met and the Guggenheim, and less-known but still stellar museums like El Museo del Barrio; abuts Central Park.
- Midtown – The domain of office buildings, boutique and name-brand stores and some architectural favorites such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
- Murray Hill – The delicious “Curry Hill” hosts a slew of Indian restaurants around Lexington and 26-27th Streets; many other places to eat and drink; lots of young professionals live in the neighborhood; walking distance to Grand Central.
- Garment District – A grittier, business-oriented area known for fashion and clothing wholesalers.
- Chelsea – A high concentration of restaurants, bars and clubs in this area stereotypically known for its gay-friendly environment.
- Flatiron District – A heady mix of office buildings, local and big-box stores, eateries, the famed Flatiron building and the lovely Madison Square Park with lots of benches and a packed Shake Shack.
- Union Square – A longtime site for demonstrations and citizen protests; has a great farmer’s market Monday, Wednesday and Friday; site of Whole Foods, Best Buy and other big-name retailers.
- Greenwich Village – The former hub of the Beatniks and the bohemian lifestyle; Washington Square Park is its landmark, formerly home of drug pushers and shady characters but now known for random street performers, old-time chess players, a dog park and the site of NYU’s commencement; NYU is a long-established, although not particularly well-liked, community denizen; tons of restaurants and nightlife spots.
- West Village – Cobblestone streets, beautiful brownstones and a quieter atmosphere lend the West Village its genial atmosphere; the deeper parts are not that subway-accessible; lots of restaurants and little bars tucked away; celebrity spottings.
- East Village – The bastion of alternative and out-there lifestyles has become gentrified although pockets of defiance remain; a grittier atmosphere than the West Village, with lots more hookah shops, vintage clothing stores, and vegan-focused cuisine; a nightlife hotspot.
- Soho – Once the domain of poor artists, Soho has burgeoned into a shopping mecca; the gorgeous loft apartments and impressive buildings have been converted into fashion studios and name-brand designers; cobblestone streets retain their charm and Broadway has turned into shopping for the masses.
- Tribeca/Noho – A more polished area of warehouses now converted into small businesses, eateries and condos; quieter than Soho and often serves the neighboring Financial District.
- Financial District – The center of US commerce; towering office buildings mixed in with remnants of NYC’s past such as Federal Hall, where George Washington gave his inaugural address, and the African Burial Ground, where thousands of African slaves are remembered as buried under the city they helped build; site of WTC Memorial.
- Chinatown – The center of the immigrant Chinese community in Manhattan; excellent dumplings and dim sum galore; tends to be grittier and dirtier than other parts of the city.
What should women pack for their time in New York City?
Pack a little of everything: jeans, pumps or strappy heels and a nice shirt or dress for going out; shirts and sweaters; and make sure you have comfortable walking shoes!
What is the most common misconception about New York City?
That people are rude. NYers are not inherently more rude that others; we are brusque, which can be expected in a city of more than 8 million people. Dig a little deeper and you will find NYers are eager to help out on directions and things to do in this great metropolis.
Is there a gender divide in New York City?
Women can expect to get around easily and for the most part to not be bothered. As in any large city, it not smart to overtly showcase flashy jewelry or wave around electronics.
Are there any culture shocks women should expect in New York City?
In some parts of the city, depending on the time of year, women might experience catcalls or whistles. That being said, the same can be said for any large city.
What are three things every woman must do in New York City?
- Go to the (free) Conservatory Gardens in Central Park
- See a Broadway show; go to the box office early on the day you want to see a performance for rush tickets that are nearly ¾ of the price of full-fare tickets
- Go to the Brooklyn Promenade for an inspiring view of the NYC skyline at sunset
What are some don’ts in New York City?
Do not walk on the sidewalk and then stop suddenly to stare at the buildings. Move off to the side please!
Women, ignore any catcalls or whistles if you get them (or give the finger and walk way!). Confrontations are never a good idea.
What’s the most over-rated thing to do in New York City ?
Times Square – avoid it like the plague.
What should women eat in New York City?
A slice of PIZZA! A thin-crusted, cheesy slice is a traditional NYC experience. Adding pepperonis is optional. Make sure to never use utensils.
What’s your favorite restaurant AND bar?
Brindle Room in the East Village- delicious hot mulled wine and “donkey punch” cocktail, kale salad and pumpkin gratin.
Mother’s Ruin in Nolita- cool bartenders serving strong, excellently mixed cocktails.
Where’s the best photo opportunity in New York City?
The Brooklyn Promenade and from the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Where’s the best place to go shopping?
For clothes I would say Broadway in Soho has everything on one long strip. For souvenirs, I think a cool book, ornament or writing instrument from a NYC museum is the best way to go.
What’s the best outdoor activity in New York City ?
Running in Central Park. The running paths and people watching are unbeatable.
What’s the best indoor activity in New York City ?
Eating and drinking! There’s so many places to choose from and so many bars and pubs to go to!
What do you do to get off the tourist trail?
I wander around the different neighborhoods, walking around blocks I haven’t gone down before. I stop in random eateries to pick up food I haven’t seen or tried before.
What other advice or tips can you give women considering visiting New York City ?
I would advise women to download apps such as Find.Eat. Drink, Groupon and ScoutMob for great deals on food and drink.
Avoid the empty subway car, especially during rush hours. It’s empty for a reason.
Any other thoughts or advice for our women readers?
Be alert, keep an open mind and have fun! NYC is a wonderful adventure and those of us lucky to live here are always happy to offer suggestions for things to see and do.
What did you think about this city guide?
Join the discussion and leave your comments, tips, and personal experiences in the comments below.
Jennifer C. Smith-Parker is a journalist and Queens native who has lived around the US and traveled throughout the US and world. She came back once she started dreaming about pizza and Central Park strolls. Follow Jennifer on Twitter.