Category: New York
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Published

[2024] Is New York City Worth Visiting? Well, That Depends...

At least once, even if only for a couple hours, yes.
A mural in Manhattan, New York City outside a Robin Ruth store.

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Personally, New York City-- a.k.a The Big Apple, the City That Never Sleeps-- is my favorite city in all of the U.S.!

That being said, would I recommend that anyone visit New York City? Well, that depends on a few things!

I won't be the first to tell you that New York City is one of the world's most romanticized cities. Countless films, television series, books, plays, and songs have been set and/or written about New York City.

When New York City is depicted in the media, it is most likely showcasing the boroughs of Manhattan or Brooklyn. Since a vast majority of tourists only visit these two out of five boroughs, it is Manhattan and Brooklyn I will be referring to when I say 'New York City'.

With all the hype that's endured about New York City for several decades, you may wonder if New York City is actually... overrated? Is the city still that amazing in 2024?

Unlike cities such as Detroit, where I just presented all the positives, I'm going to tweak the format for NYC. I will do my best to be objective and present a list of pros and cons.

Discover for yourself if, in 2024, New York City is worth visiting!

PROS...
CONS...

Is New York City worth visiting in 2024? Here are the pros and cons...

You won't need a car to get around New York City

A large subway entrance for the MTA Subway system near Times Square in Manhattan, New York City.
Millions of New Yorkers and visitors take the subway to get all around the city!

I've heard very mixed reception on the quality of New York City's subway.

However, from the perspective of a tourist who was raised near Detroit, a.k.a. The Motor City, where public transportation is not that abundant and you need a car to get around, I consider this a huge plus when visiting New York City!

New York City is one of the most walkable and public transit friendly cities on the planet. Entrances to the subway are everywhere and they go anywhere a tourist would want to go!

Passengers riding inside a subway cart in Manhattan, New York City.
An MTA subway entrance at W 34th Street & Penn Station.

Furthermore, as someone who spent four years living in downtown Portland, I can testify that one of the best aspects of visiting and living in a major metropolitan area is the option to walk everywhere.

Besides, when you see and hear the traffic in Manhattan, you wouldn't want to drive in it anyways! To say it'd be stressful and chaotic is an understatement!

Inside Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, New York City.
Grand Central Terminal, off E 42nd Street, is one of the world's most gorgeous and famous train stations.

In 2024, thanks to Apple Maps or Google Apps, learning the subway system has never been easier! The map apps will give you clear instructions on which train(s) to take and even give you real-time updates as to where the trains are!

In addition to the technology from our smartphones, there are signs everywhere to help guide which direction you need to go!

Passengers riding inside a subway cart in Manhattan, New York City.
Riding the subway. A passenger giving me a little side-eye as I take this picture!

There is no need to rent a car here and, worst case, if you don't want to use the subway, you can use rideshare & taxi apps like Lyft or Curb.

The New York City landmarks are worth seeing at least once in your life

Times Square in Manhattan, New York City.
One of the most visited destinations in the world is Times Square in midtown New York City.

No matter how many times you've seen images of New York City landmarks such as Times Square or the Statue of Liberty, there is absolutely nothing like indulging your senses of vision and sound by visiting these spots in real life.

For one, television and film rarely convey how large many of these landmarks actually are! You don't know just how tall the Empire State Building is until you stand on W 34th Street and arch your neck back to see the whole skyscraper.

Central Park was another location I had no idea just how damn huge it is. The word 'park' makes it sound much smaller than it actually is! Unlike Byrant Park in midtown Manhattan, which spans a block, Central Park is 840 acres wide!

Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, New York City.
Central Park near Bathesda Fountain. The sun glare is not added.

What other landmarks are there? This is nowhere close to an exhaustive list but some of the more famous ones are:

The Empire State Building, the Broadway district, the Wall Street Bull, the re-built World Trade Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge, Madison Square Garden, and the famous Manhattan Bridge view in DUMBO.

Lesser known NYC landmarks include Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Chinatown, The MET, the Guggenheim, Washington Square Arch, the Ed Sullivan Theatre, Little Island (a pretty new NYC landmark!), the Plaza Hotel, the Wollman Rink, and Trump Tower.

Ed Sullivan Theater, where the Late Show hosted by Steven Colbert, is filmed in midtown Manhattan, New York City.
A picture back from when I revisited in 2021 of the Ed Sullivan Theatre.

Even lesser known NYC landmarks: the diner from Seinfeld, the apartment complex from the (inferior and far less funny sitcom) Friends, and the Beehive in Hudson Yards.

And there's still more!

Wall Street Bull in Wall Street.
I only had like 1-2 seconds to take a picture of this without people standing by it.

But why is it worth it to visit these spots?

The next time you watch a movie or TV show that was filmed in New York, you'll get an added jolt of enjoyment when you see a spot you physically stood in yourself!

One of my favorite movies set in New York City as a kid was Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. I recall rewatching the movie shortly after I returned from one of my visits to the city and was so stoked that I too had seen the outside and inside of the Plaza Hotel.

In the movie, Kevin McAllister also passes by Radio City Music Hall, Battery Park, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, and stands on top of one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center prior to the events of 9/11.

Ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York City at nighttime.
Lit up ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center at nighttime.

What if you visit on a day it's raining really bad? As most of the most iconic landmarks are outside, does this mean your trip will be ruined? No! There are still great places to visit for when the weather does not cooperate!

For things to do indoors, you can see a show on Broadway! Even an off-Broadway show! Also, check out the Morgan Library, Madame Tussauds, the MET, and the Guggenheim.

You can also enter and explore the Empire State Building (though it costs north of $50) and shop in the world's largest Macy's. There is also a gigantic H&M in Times Square.

St Patrick's Cathedral near Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York City.
A room inside the Morgan Library & Museum.

Something I'll provide my budget travelers who want to see the Statue of Liberty for free: you can do so by taking the 24/7 Staten Island ferry which departs from Whitehall Terminal. You'll be able to see the statue a little close from the ferry.

Because of the plethora of landmarks to see in New York City, you will not run into a problem of not having enough to do, nor will time be much of an issue, which serves as a perfect segue into the next point...

There is always something to do 24/7

Ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York City at nighttime.
Times Square, at nighttime.

New York City has rightfully earned the nickname 'The City That Never Sleeps'.

The city is so well lit at night. Some of my best photographs during my last visit were taken at night. Since there are people on the streets pretty much any hour of the day, you'll be able to see a lot in the brief time you visit here!

St Patrick's Cathedral near Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York City.
St. Patrick's Cathedral. Its gothic architecture really stands out amongst the other builings surrounding it.

Count how many landmarks I listed earlier. Even if you visit for three or four days, there's a very good chance you still will not see everything I listed-- even with the city running 24 hours a day!

There are countless food options, like pizzerias, food carts, and restaurants in Chinatown that are open past 2:00 a.m.

So, why is there always something for a tourist to do 24/7? It's because of the incredibly driven people who live in New York City. People move to New York City from all around the globe with big dreams and will hustle their hardest, day and night, to achieve them!

You can find just about any kind of restaurant in New York City

Entrance to Little Italy in Manhattan.
Little Italy, in Manhattan.

Source: Shutterstock

New York City is a mecca for many industries: fashion, theater, comedy, finance, and it's likely to no surprise the culinary sector is no exception!

Like Ann Arbor or Portland, New York City is undoubtedly an excellent city for foodies!

Pretty much any type of South American, African, European, or Asian cuisine, you'll very likely find a restaurant somewhere in New York City who makes it!

I once read a metric that said if you ate at one restaurant every day in New York City, it would take you nearly 23 years to try every single one!

Often, when I've been in New York, I like to just grab a quick bite and be on my way. That's what's great about grabbing yourself a slice of New York style pizza: not only will you have some food the city is known for, but it'll be quick and you can find places at 3 or 4 in the morning!

Joe's Pizza is one of the most famous spots for New York style, especially because it was featured in the first Spider Man film. That being said, the location on Broadway near Times Square always has a line out the door.

There are many, many other pizzerias in New York that are just as good and have much shorter lines.

New York City is safer than you might think

Entrance to Little Italy in Manhattan.
View of Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry.

Back in the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s, New York City had a deserved reputation of being a grungy and generally unsafe city. Even in 2024, I still feel this infamy has hungover into some people's perception of the city, where many still assume the city is dangerous.

Furthermore, since I feel New Yorkers today still have a reputation of being ruder and less friendly people, people may assume this coldness can easily lead to violence.

While, of course, no city is without crime, the website 24/7 Wall Street looked at FBI crime data and compiled a list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the US-- of which New York City is not even listed in the top 50!

Granted, the report I am citing was updated last in early 2020.

The Empire State Building in the back of other buildings at night The top of the skyscraper is lit up in red.
At night, the top of the Empire State Building will change colors! I love the red!

One reason I personally feel this data is still accurate in 2024 is because when you visit New York City, you are surrounded by lots and lots of people! So, worst case, if someone did wish to carry out a violent crime, your odds of being the victim are still very low due to how many people are around you.

While there are more valid reasons to not visit New York City (which I will explore more later), don't let safety be the reason to deter you. In 2024, New York City is seriously one of the safest and most fun cities in the United States you can visit!

New York City has beautiful art and beautiful people

A mural outside an apartment complex in Brookyln, New York City.
Did you think I was going to forget about art!? Nonsense!

New York City is the sixth city I am covering in my "Is X Worth Visiting?" series and for every article except Salt Lake City, I always make the argument that the cities have amazing art-- usually both in the form of art museums and street art.

It shouldn't surprise you that New York City has both!

Brooklyn has more of the murals and street art than Manhattan.

A mural outside a cafe in Brooklyn, New York City.
Street outside a cafe in Brooklyn.

On the topic of art museums, New York City has an art museum that can rival the Detroit Institute of Arts: the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, a.k.a 'The MET'. The museum features of the most exquisite paintings and sculptures ever created by man.

Below is some of the artwork:

A painted wall inside the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, aka The Met.
A painted wall inside The Met. I forget the artist who did it. Maybe you know?
A statue of the Greek mythical character Perseus beheading Medusa in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art aka The Met.
Statue of Perseus beheading Medusa.
A statue of the Greek mythical character Perseus beheading Medusa in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art aka The Met.
A beautiful dimly lit hall near the entrance of The Met. I wish all places were lit like this!

While there are other art museums in Manhattan like the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art, aka MoMA, I feel both pale in comparison to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Last, notice I said 'and beautiful people'. Like the European cities of London, Paris, and Milan, New York City is a staple in the American and worldwide fashion industry. In fact, 7th Avenue's second name is 'Fashion Avenue-- and you will see it on the street signs!

As a result, you'll find yourself walking among many of the country's most well dressed and attractive people. Even average people who aren't models still look good, as millions of locals walk everyday and are far less reliant on cars than in other U.S cities.

In addition, you'll often be around some of the world's most handsome and gorgeous tourists, as well!

The world's largest Macy's department store off 34th and Broadway in Manhattan, New York City.
The world's largest Macy's, at 34th and Broadway.

New York City itself is just beautiful and is filled with beautiful people and beautiful artwork.

This wraps the section of where I present points in favor of visiting New York City. Now, I will provide four points as to why some people may not want to visit New York City.

There are people everywhere and the city is very loud

Lots of people gathered in Times Square in the evening.
Lots of people gathered in Times Square in the evening.

If you are shy and timid, having lots of people around you all the time may be overwhelming. The picture of Times Square I posted above is not an outlier. When you take pictures throughout New York City, there are bound to be people in them because the human traffic never eases up.

Below is a picture I took of Rockefeller Center at nighttime. Illustrating again how people in your pictures is quite unavoidable.

Flags of Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.
Flags of Rockefeller Center.

You don't walk in a straight line on the sidewalks of New York City. As people walk at different speeds, you'll find yourself constantly swerving to either pass other people and avoid walking into other people.

There are sirens, car beeps, and people engaging with one another on the streets 24/7. When I stay in New York City, I stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Times Square. If you absolutely need peace and quiet to fall asleep, avoid hotels in the city.

On the subway, depending on which route you take and what time of day, you may find yourself standing very close to lots of people on a subway car. Claustrophobics, beware!

All this being said, albeit being surrounded by so many people, nearly all of them are focused on themselves and will not bother you. Everyone is focused on where they need to be, not you. I rarely have made chit-chat with a stranger in New York City.

If anyone has ever tried to start a conversation with me, it was either a street performer in the subway or someone trying to sell me a guided tour. Which, by the way, these people will come up to you the most! Far more than homeless people, in my experience.

A lot of things cost more in New York City

We all know rent is really high in New York City. Even as a tourist, you'll find that prices for food, bottled water, and other miscellaneous daily supplies are generally higher. While it's not impossible to travel New York City for cheap, it's really easy to find yourself spending more than you alloted.

Visiting in the summer and you're really thirsty for some water? There will be lots of street vendors who'll sell you bottled water-- for $3-5. Want a quick slice of New York style pizza? $4-7.

Just like an airplane or movie theater, people will charge you higher prices because of convenience. Hungry and thirsty tourists are far less likely to look elsewhere so they'll pay more to get what they want.

Eating at a simple diner? Don't be surprised if one order of pancakes that you may pay $8 for back in your little suburban town runs you over $20 in New York City.

New York City can be rather dirty

Compared to other big cities around the globe like Tokyo, New York City can be dirty at some parts, depending on which streets you walk around in Manhattan or Brooklyn.

Some subway stops might reek of urine. Certain streets may have several large bags on garbage outside. And while I personally have never seen the rats, I've heard the rats in New York City can be larger than one might expect.

Overall, I've never experienced the filth in the real tourist-y parts of the city. Of the many, many subway stops I've been in, only one or two smelled bad.

The subway can be unbearably hot in the warmer months

I'm not sure if this one would be reason alone to not visit, but I do recall when I visited New York City last July in 2023, the underground tunnels of the subway were really damn hot. They felt about 15-20 degrees hotter than it was outside.

Conclusion

As much as I personally love New York City and would love to live there, even if for only 3-12 months, I can admit the U.S's largest city is not for everyone.

That being said, if you do find yourself in New York City for some reason and big cities are not your thing, I still think it's worth it to, at least once in your life, see some of the landmarks, like the Statue of Liberty and Times Square.

Have I inspired you to visit New York City in 2024? Let me know if I have! As always, thank you so much for reading!


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