Firstly just wanted to say what an amazing place NYC is and cannot wait to return!
If you are anything like me and have made lots of lists of this bit of information and of that and have spent hours searching and looking through the forum, then hopefully some of the information I have listed below will help you find it all in one place.
Having just returned I wanted to share some of the tips and information I found along the way with you.
1. People -, Never have I been to a city where the people are so friendly and I mean everyone, they really go out of their way to help, be it a shop assistant, policeman or passer by.
2. Directions - Don't be afraid to ask anyone, everyone I asked was very helpful and made sure I understood where I was going, everyone went out of their way to help.
2.1 Airport Transfers - This was one thing I didn't plan or book and I am glad I didn't. My flight was to JFK. I was going to get a taxi but after asking someone they said it would be $60 plus toll and tip. Then a gentleman in a grey and green coat came up to me and ask if I wanted get the coach,
it cost $16 per person and made four stops, Times Square, one opposite Bryant Park, one to the Port Authority and another one to which I cannot remember the name. It took an hour as it stops at all the terminals first but I was so glad that I took him up on it, you saw your first sights to the city and really helped me with my bearings in days to come.
3. Cabs/Taxis - Cabs drivers only work on street names and not the names of restaurants or shops. So make sure you have both the name of the place and location i.e. Ellen's Stardust Diner, you would say 51st and Broadway. Always make sure you tip.
4. Subway - Once you have been on it once it is really easy to follow. You can purchase a metro card for $2.75 which is valid for two hours. I used this quite a lot as I would walk somewhere and get the subway back. You purchase these from a machine and are really easy to follow, machines take both notes and coins. Once on the subway train the destinations are lit up so you can never get lost and you will know exactly where to get off.
5. Circle Line Cruise - I would definitely recommend this to anyone. At this time of year there is one cruise a day that leaves at 4pm. You leave in the daylight and start the return of your journey as the sun is setting, I got some amazing pictures of the Statue of Liberty with a beautiful orange sky and night shots of the skyline. Had commentary all the way around which was brilliant. Make sure you get there early though because if you haven't pre ordered your tickets online it is a first come serve basis, so I would get there a least before 3.15. One trip def worth doing. Very good value for money.
6. Empire Statue Building - I would definitely recommend to see this in the evening. I was very lucky as there were no queues and went straight up. Brilliant information and staff very friendly and happy to take pictures of you. Views were spectacular!!!!!! Amazing scenery and you can walk all the way around. With the skyline light up def one for the evening, also the barrier is wrought iron railings so easy to take night shots, whereas the TOTR has a glass barrier and was told the flash at spoils the pictures.
7. Top Of The Rock - I would say it is def one for day, great views of central park and the surrounding area but not as impressive as the Empire States Building for night views. You also can only view the views from two sides and cannot walk around the entire floor. Again I bought the tickets online before I went and saved a lot of time queuing.
8. Central Park - Went for a carriage ride round the park. My horse 'Duncan' was in very good condition and had plenty of food and there was a water bucket nearby which he stopped at to have a drink. This was one thing I didn't know whether I was going to do as I was worried about the condition of the horses, but from what I saw they all looked in very good condition and food and water was on hand. My ride was $50 for 20 mins plus tip. Well worth it and had a lot of photos taken by the driver.
9. Christmas Spectacular - Brilliant! One very impressive show, boy do they know how to put on a show. You can purchase cheaper tickets for that day from the 'big red stairs' in Times Square or there are leaflets around giving discounts off a lot of the shows. I went to the 2pm showing and got a ticket for $60 and it was well worth it. I did notice though that no one dresses up over there and most people were in jeans.
10. Bryant Park - Lovely little park close to Grand Central Station where there is a Christmas market and skating rink
11. Ellen Stardust Diner - Set in Times Square, a definite must! This is a diner with a twist, all the waiting staff are singers and hoping to make it big! They sing as you eat, with them walking on the back of the chairs and or surprise you with them singing for you. Brilliant evening out.
12. Woodbury Common - Went through a lot of postings for this one and most reports stated that the shops in the city were just as good. I myself found the outlet very very good value for money. You take the bus from the Port Authority and takes roughly an hour, I would strongly advise on getting the 9am bus as the journey takes an hour and you will there just as the shops open. It costs $37 per person for the bus. Please state that you only want the ticket for the bus and not for the coupon book as you can get this for free by joining the VIP club on the Woodbury Common website, you then print off the coupon and exchange it at the information centre for a coupon book full of discounts. There are very good savings to be had, i.e. Adult converse worked out to be £15 a pair, I would recommend this shop first as they have a clearance section at the back which had a variety of sizes but as everyone was picking up at least 5 pairs stock was going very quick and once it has gone they do not restock it until the following day. Levi 501's worked out to be £25 if you purchased two or more pairs. Gap sweatshirts were £10 each. Large Yankee candles were £10 each and Kate Spade handbags were the bargain of the day which were going for £65 each, I would also recommend printing off the map on the website and marking which shops you wanted to visit as it is a very big place and you will be there until at least after lunch and that is with making a list of shops . One word of advice though was that the bus took two hours to get back due to rush hour and it is a first come first serve basis, I couldn't get on the first bus and had to wait 20 mins so remember to take layers, hat and gloves as the temperature does seem to drop there very quickly. One last thing remember to take a SUITCASE, yes I now it seems silly but everyone does it and believe me once you start you wont know when to stop and the bags soon get very heavy, also with a suitcase you can place it under the bus, with bags you have to have them with you and there were a lot of people piled high with bags and after two hours they were not comfortable.
13. Macy's - Don't forget to sign up for your 10% discount for overseas travellers.
14. Bloomingdales - Again the same thing with the discount for Macy's.
15. Smoking - This wasn't a problem and yes you can smoke in the streets.
16. Toilet - This is ask for by asking for the restroom.
17. The Bill - You ask for the cheque and don't forget to leave a tip.
18. Crossing the road - You will see a red hand that will change to a figure of a person light up in white, this sign means that you can cross the road, this sign will then change to a red hand and '15' written next to it, this will count down in seconds the amount of time you have left to cross the road. Please be aware though that this seems to go out of the window during rush hour, where you will find cars trying to drive across the crossing while the person is light up, so please be careful.
These are just a few of the things that I got up to and I hope all or some of the information helps you.
Have a wonderful time and most of all enjoy!!!!!