3 Free Things to Do in New York City for a Weekend Trip

3 Free Things to Do in New York City for a Weekend Trip

New York City is one of the largest cities in the world, and it never fails to dazzle visitors with its iconic skyline, rich history, and diverse culture. While the city is often associated with luxury and extravagance, plenty of free activities allow visitors to experience the essence of NYC without breaking the bank.

From world-class museums to scenic parks and architectural wonders, here’s a guide to the best free things to do in the city that never sleeps. Keep reading to learn more about how to spend a weekend in New York without breaking the bank.

Central Park

The Iconic Central Park in NYC
The Iconic Central Park in NYC by Marta Wave via Pixabay

If you have seen the first Fantastic Beasts film, the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. TV show, or Seinfeld, or even the Christmas Classic Home Alone Lost in New York City, then you have definitely seen New York City’s Central Park already. It is iconic and is a place that you must visit after seeing it on the big screen.

Central Park is one of the most popular places for free walking tours in NYC. It is a verdant oasis amidst the concrete jungle of Manhattan, offering respite and recreation to millions of visitors annually. This sprawling urban park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and a cultural hotspot brimming with history and entertainment.

Winding pathways lead visitors through a diverse landscape of lush lawns, scenic ponds, and wooded trails. From the iconic Bethesda Terrace to the tranquil Conservatory Garden, there’s no shortage of picturesque spots to discover. Nature lovers can observe a variety of flora and fauna, including colorful blooms in the Shakespeare Garden and the resident wildlife at the Turtle Pond.

This location offers a wealth of recreational opportunities for visitors of all ages. From jogging and cycling along the paved paths to picnicking on the expansive Great Lawn, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Adventurous spirits can rent rowboats at the Loeb Boathouse or try their hand at fishing in the park’s lakes and streams.

Suggested post: New York Travel Tips

Amidst the natural beauty of Central Park lie several iconic landmarks and cultural institutions. The Central Park Zoo provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of wildlife, while the whimsical Alice in Wonderland sculpture delights visitors of all ages. At the park’s north end, the striking Gothic architecture of Belvedere Castle offers panoramic views of the skyline.

Central Park is a year-round destination, each season offering its unique charm. In spring, cherry blossoms blanket the landscape in delicate hues, while summer brings outdoor concerts and Shakespearean performances at the Delacorte Theater. Fall foliage transforms the park into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, and winter invites visitors to lace up their skates at the iconic Wollman Rink.

Times Square

Times Square in New York
Times Square in New York

Times Square is an iconic intersection where Broadway meets Seventh Avenue, pulses with energy day and night, drawing millions of visitors from around the globe to experience its dazzling lights, bustling streets, and endless entertainment options.

At the heart of Times Square lies a kaleidoscope of neon signs, digital billboards, and flashing advertisements that illuminate the streets with an otherworldly glow. These displays create a sensory overload that captures the essence of New York City’s vibrant spirit. From the iconic Coca-Cola sign to the luminous screens of the Toshiba and Samsung buildings, Times Square is a dazzling spectacle that never fails to mesmerize.

As the epicenter of Broadway theater, Times Square is synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the stage. The district has dozens of historic theaters where visitors can catch world-class performances ranging from classic musicals to cutting-edge dramas. Whether attending a star-studded Broadway production or discovering an off-Broadway gem, Times Square offers an unparalleled theater experience that will leave you spellbound.

Iconic Hard Rock Cafe in New York City
Iconic Hard Rock Cafe in New York City

This location also includes numerous shopping and dining options to suit every taste and budget. There’s no shortage of retail therapy, from flagship stores like M&M’s World and Hershey’s Chocolate World to upscale boutiques and department stores. After a day of shopping, visitors can refuel at one of the neighborhood’s many restaurants, cafes, and eateries, offering everything from fast food favorites to gourmet cuisine from around the world.

One of the defining features of Times Square is its lively street performers and entertainers who bring the sidewalks to life with music, dance, and interactive performances. From costumed characters and acrobats to magicians and musicians, these talented individuals add to the vibrant tapestry of sights and sounds that make Times Square a feast for the senses. Whether you’re snapping photos with your favorite superhero or marveling at a jaw-dropping street performance, there’s always something new and exciting to discover around every corner.

Staten Island Ferry

On a Ferry in New York City
On a Ferry in New York City

The Staten Island Ferry is not just a mode of transportation; it’s an iconic New York City experience that offers unparalleled views of the city’s skyline and harbor. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this free ferry service shuttles passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island, providing a scenic journey that’s as convenient as it is breathtaking.

As the ferry glides across the waters of New York Harbor, passengers are treated to panoramic views of the city’s most iconic landmarks. From the Statue of Liberty standing tall in the distance to the towering skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan, the ferry offers a unique vantage point from which to admire the beauty and grandeur of the Big Apple.

One of the highlights of the Staten Island Ferry journey is the opportunity to sail past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. As the ferry approaches these historic landmarks, passengers can snap photos and marvel at the symbolic significance of these iconic monuments, which have welcomed millions of immigrants to the shores of America over the years.

While the main draw of the Staten Island Ferry is undoubtedly the scenic voyage itself, passengers also have the option to disembark on Staten Island and explore the borough’s attractions. From the picturesque St. George waterfront to the cultural institutions of Snug Harbor, there’s plenty to see and do on Staten Island for those willing to venture beyond the ferry terminal.

The Bottom Line

While New York City is often perceived as an expensive destination, plenty of free activities allow visitors to explore the city’s rich cultural heritage and iconic landmarks without breaking the bank.

From strolling through Central Park to admiring world-class art at the Met and taking in the breathtaking views from the Brooklyn Bridge, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the Big Apple without spending a dime. So pack your walking shoes, grab your camera, and get ready to discover the best free things to do in New York City.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

15 Best Hidden Gems in the US (That You Didn’t Know About)

15 Best Hidden Gems in the US (That You Didn’t Know About)

Tourist attractions in the USA stretch from one side of the country to the other and include emblematic buildings like Arizona’s Grand Canyon, New York City’s Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, or must-see neighborhoods like San Francisco’s Mission District.

If you don’t feel comfortable having to constantly dodge other people because of jam-packed touristy places, consider traveling beyond the classic destinations. In other words, seek places where holidaymakers are few and far between so your visit has the potential to make a real difference. These are some of the best hidden gems in the US you should visit in 2024.

1) Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, United States
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, United States via Pixabay

California is the number one vacation destination in the USA, both for Americans and international travelers, as it is full of exciting, unexpected, and memorable experiences. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is a must-see amid climate change because it’s where you’ll find trees that have stood the test of time.

Some bristlecone pines and limber pines are more than 4,000 years old; they thrive in one of North America’s most desolate yet uniquely beautiful environments.

You’ll undoubtedly marvel at the twisted and beautifully colored wood standing tall in an inhospitable climate. The strangely beautiful scenery of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest will definitely wow you.

It’s a good idea to keep track of your data usage to ensure you’re not using more than intended. Maybe your friends have asked to receive vacation picks. If you want to use your phone at no additional cost, the Holafly SIM card for USA is an excellent option for travelers looking to roam like home.

Getting to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest requires over an hour of driving. Enjoy the scenic drive but be aware that there’s no gas, food, or water available at the top or along the way.

2) Block Island, Rhode Island

Block Island, Rhode Island - USA's hidden gems
Block Island, Rhode Island – USA’s hidden gems via Unsplash

Located off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island offers a serene and unspoiled natural environment that’s relatively unknown to many travelers. With its pristine beaches, scenic hiking trails, and charming coastal villages, Block Island provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as biking, kayaking, birdwatching, and exploring historic lighthouses. The island’s laid-back atmosphere and untouched beauty make it one of the best hidden vacation spots and a hidden gem worth discovering for those seeking a tranquil escape.

3) Hood River, Oregon

Life in Hood River orbits around water and mountains – it’s for skiers, mountain bikers, and kiteboarders. The town is only an hour away from Portland, accessible by shuttle, bus, and car. Transportation by train is also possible.

Commonly referred to as Portland’s backyard gem, Hood River welcomes art lovers, foodies, and beer and wine enthusiasts, but even if you have other interests, you’re bound to enjoy your stay. The Camp 1805 distillery is the first in the state with a full bar, so you can indulge in clear rum, whiskey, and vodka.

4) Cumberland Island, Georgia

Cumberland Island, Woodbine, United States
Cumberland Island, Woodbine, United States via Unsplash

Cumberland Island offers visitors a unique and unspoiled coastal experience. Accessible only by ferry, the island boasts pristine beaches, lush maritime forests, and historic ruins. Visitors can explore miles of hiking trails, observe diverse wildlife, and even catch a glimpse of wild horses that roam freely on the island.

Additionally, Cumberland Island is home to historic sites such as the ruins of Dungeness Mansion and Plum Orchard Mansion, providing insight into the island’s rich history.

Overall, Cumberland Island’s remote location, natural beauty, and sense of solitude make it a hidden gem for travelers seeking a peaceful and authentic coastal escape.

5) Mackinac Island, Michigan

What makes Mackinac Island unique is its charming atmosphere, historic architecture, and absence of motor vehicles. Visitors to the island can step back in time as they explore the Victorian-era buildings, ride horse-drawn carriages, and cycle along scenic trails.

Additionally, Mackinac Island offers stunning views of the Straits of Mackinac, with opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and enjoying leisurely strolls along the shoreline.

Overall, while Mackinac Island may not be entirely hidden from the public eye, its quaint charm, car-free environment, and slower pace of life make it a hidden gem for travelers seeking a nostalgic and tranquil getaway.

6) Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Located along the picturesque shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore encompasses a stunning archipelago of 21 islands, each offering its own unique blend of natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Pancake ice on Lake Superior Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Bayfield, United States
Pancake ice on Lake Superior Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Bayfield, United States via Unsplash

Despite its incredible natural features and recreational activities such as kayaking, hiking, camping, and lighthouse tours, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore remains relatively undiscovered compared to some other national parks and recreational areas. This relative obscurity adds to its charm, making it feel like a hidden treasure waiting to be explored by those in search of adventure and tranquility.

Visitors to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore can explore sea caves carved into sandstone cliffs, paddle through pristine waters dotted with historic lighthouses, and hike along scenic trails offering breathtaking views of Lake Superior. The park’s remote location and pristine wilderness make it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a peaceful retreat away from the crowds.

Whether you’re embarking on a kayaking expedition to explore the sea caves, camping on one of the islands, or simply soaking in the natural beauty of Lake Superior, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore offers a hidden gem of natural splendor waiting to be discovered, especially for those who love the great outdoors.

7) Half Moon Bay, California

What makes Half Moon Bay special is its charming small-town atmosphere, stunning coastal scenery, and abundance of outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy exploring pristine beaches, scenic coastal trails, and picturesque seaside cliffs. The town itself offers quaint shops, art galleries, and delicious seafood restaurants, adding to its appeal as a hidden gem for travelers seeking a more laid-back coastal experience.

Additionally, Half Moon Bay is home to the annual Pumpkin Festival, which draws visitors from near and far to celebrate the fall harvest season. This event showcases the town’s unique character and sense of community, further highlighting its status as a hidden gem along the California coast.

Overall, while Half Moon Bay may not be entirely undiscovered, its beauty, charm, and relatively quieter atmosphere compared to other coastal destinations make it a hidden gem worth exploring for those seeking a more authentic and relaxing coastal experience.

8) Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico
Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico via Unsplash

Acoma Pueblo is part of New Mexico’s cultural heritage. It’s believed to be the oldest and continuously inhabited city in the USA, managing to survive to narrate its story. The name of this landmark comes from the Keresan Indian language – ako means white rock and ma, people.

The pueblo resides on top of a mesa, which explains why it’s called the Sky City. It’s definitely a fantastic addition to your Route 66 tour, as the views are simply awe-inspiring, and the history is incredible. There are opportunities to interact with local vendors and artists.

9) Yachats, Oregon

Tucked away along the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest, Yachats offers a serene and picturesque escape for travelers seeking natural beauty and tranquility. Despite its stunning landscapes and charming coastal vibe, Yachats remains relatively undiscovered compared to more well-known destinations along the Oregon coast, making it a hidden gem for those in the know.

Visitors to Yachats can explore breathtaking coastal vistas, dramatic sea cliffs, and pristine beaches. The town itself exudes a laid-back atmosphere, with quaint shops, art galleries, and locally-owned restaurants serving up fresh seafood and Pacific Northwest cuisine.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities for hiking, tidepooling, whale watching, and beachcombing. The nearby Cape Perpetua Scenic Area offers miles of trails through old-growth forests, stunning viewpoints, and the famous Thor’s Well natural wonder.

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful seaside retreat or an outdoor adventure, Yachats offers a hidden gem along the Oregon coast where you can unwind, reconnect with nature, and create lasting memories.

10) Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Florida’s Dry Tortugas National Park park is renowned for its pristine coral reefs, crystal-clear waters, and historic Fort Jefferson, which is situated on Garden Key within the park. Visitors can explore the fort, snorkel among vibrant coral reefs, and relax on sandy beaches surrounded by turquoise waters.

While Dry Tortugas may not be hidden from the public eye, its remote and secluded nature still make it feel like a hidden gem to many. The journey to the park, typically by boat or seaplane, adds to the sense of adventure and exclusivity, making a visit to Dry Tortugas National Park a truly unforgettable experience.

11) Petoskey, Michigan

Petoskey, Michigan - Best Hidden Gems in the US
Petoskey, Michigan – Best Hidden Gems in the US via Unsplash

Perched on the shores of Lake Michigan, Petoskey is the place where Earnest Hemingway spent the first summers of his life sailing and fishing. Swimming is a must, but so is taking a stroll through the downtown of the Gaslight District, a joyous place to spend the day with friends and strangers alike.

The lovely red and dark green trolley is a great way to save your legs when you visit interesting places in the area. If you have a love of wine, you’ll be happy to know there are excellent wineries and vineyards across Petoskey.

12) Fly Ranch Geyser, Nevada

Fly Ranch Geyser (or Fly Geyser), located in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, can be considered a somewhat hidden destination. While it has gained attention in recent years due to its unique and otherworldly appearance, it still remains relatively unknown compared to more famous geothermal attractions like Yellowstone National Park.

Fly Ranch Geyser is a human-made geyser that formed as a result of geothermal drilling in the area. Its vibrant colors, terraced pools, and constant eruptions make it a captivating sight for those who are fortunate enough to visit. However, access to Fly Ranch Geyser is restricted, and visitors typically need to arrange for guided tours or special access to view it.

While it may not be entirely hidden from the public eye, Fly Ranch Geyser’s remote location and limited access contribute to its status as a somewhat hidden destination. For travelers seeking unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences, a visit to Fly Ranch Geyser offers the opportunity to witness a natural wonder that few have had the chance to see.

13) Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest-known cave system in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. it doesn’t always receive as much attention as some of the more iconic national parks in the United States and is often regarded as one of the most underrated national parks of the country.

Mammoth Cave offers visitors the chance to explore vast chambers, intricate passageways, and underground rivers within its extensive network of caves. The park also features above-ground attractions such as hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and historic landmarks.

Despite its impressive size and geological significance, Mammoth Cave National Park tends to be less crowded than other national parks, offering visitors a chance to experience its natural wonders in a more serene and intimate setting. For travelers seeking unique underground adventures and a quieter alternative to more popular destinations, Mammoth Cave can indeed be considered a hidden gem worth exploring.

14) Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, United States
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, United States via Unsplash

Located just outside Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, Mendenhall Glacier is easily accessible by road, making it a popular destination for visitors to the area. However, its remote location within the Tongass National Forest and its vast expanse of ice fields, deep blue crevasses, and stunning ice caves make it feel like a hidden world waiting to be explored.

Visitors to Mendenhall Glacier can hike along scenic trails, take boat tours to get up close to the glacier’s face, or even embark on helicopter tours for a bird’s eye view of this magnificent natural wonder. The nearby Mendenhall Lake and Nugget Falls offer additional opportunities for outdoor recreation and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

While Mendenhall Glacier may not be hidden from the world, its remote location and awe-inspiring beauty make it feel like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by those who venture to Alaska’s wild and rugged landscapes.

15) Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota

Last but certainly not least, if you prefer to avoid the crowds, abandon the beaten path and opt for a destination like the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Get an insider’s view into the history and culture of the community. The Rosebud Reservation accommodates Sicangu Sioux, the descendants of the Sicangu Oyate of the Tetonwan Division of the Oceti Sakowin or Seven Council Fires. They’re the last representatives of the Plains Indian culture. Since its founding, the reservation has been reduced in size considerably.

Pay a visit to the Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum if you want to find out more about the local traditions and culture. It’s a major resource for historians, ethnographers, anthropologists, and artists, providing a wealth of information. Of course, travel is incomplete without food, so don’t shy away from sampling the traditional Lakota foods – you can enjoy Wohanpi soup, wasna (pemmican), or Tanka bars. Nutrition is given proper respect because, without food, there’s no life.

Step out of your comfort zone – all you need is a curious heart and the willingness to venture out into the world. Before you leave, get an unlimited data plan to stay connected with your loved ones to keep them at ease.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Florida Travel Tips – 7 Things You Must Know Before You Go

Florida Travel Tips – 7 Things You Must Know Before You Go

Florida travel tips to help you plan your vacation.

Often called the Sunshine State of America, Florida is one of the most famous vacation destinations in America. People arrive here from all over the world to enjoy the beaches, theme parks, and parties.

Florida is the perfect destination for just about anybody from any part of the world. After all, there is a range of options for small children, families, 20-something travelers, and older travelers.

Miami Beach, Florida

Miami Beach, Florida

Florida’s attractions are no secret, and there is a lot more going on when you dig the surface. Families usually head to Orlando for the theme parks. Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, or Busch Gardens – they’re all here.

Party travelers and college kids on a spring break head to Miami or Panama City. Those who seek a quieter time, prefer one of the Florida Keys or Amelia Island. Outdoor enthusiasts love exploring

Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida

With almost endless options of places to see and things to do, it is no wonder to see people coming back year after year.

If you’re planning on visiting this lovely American state, then check out these travel tips for visiting Florida. Here are the things you must know before you visit Florida.

Florida Travel Tips

The Weather in Florida Can be Stormy + Hurricane Info

Weather in Florida - travel tips for visiting

Weather in Florida – travel tips for visiting

As the state enjoys a  subtropical climate, the rainy season is long and covers from May through October. Thus, one can expect a shower almost every day even if visiting in summer.

Weather is typically mild but winters can get chilly and wet. Make sure that you take into consideration extreme weather elements like lightning and thunderstorm. Don’t get carried away by the sunshine state as it is also the nation’s lightning capital.

Please note, that there is a high occurrence of hurricanes in Florida, especially from June to November. Please check the hurricane information before visiting.

Renting a Car for a Road Trip in Florida

To be honest, if you are looking for a low-rate rental car in Florida with good performance and quality, Orlando, Florida airport car rental is rated above all. 

When you look for a rental car for traveling purposes, count the members who will travel in it. Next, you should focus on the quantity of luggage the car has to carry. Luggage and the number of travelers are the main characteristics of every car, so it’s essential to choose your car according to them.

Remember to compare the vehicles of different rentals in Orlando. Do you know the rates per day of rental cars change according to seasons here? During peak seasons, rates go high, while rent is low on other days, such as $10 per day. 

Difference between South Florida and North Florida

North Florida and South Florida to some can seem like two different states. In the southern side of Florida, one finds a Latin American and Caribbean influence. South Florida is also more popular for its nightlife.

On the other hand, North Florida is home to the state’s capital and has a different climate from South Florida. Moreover, North Florida is not so vulnerable to climate change when compared to South Florida which is susceptible to climate change-related events as well as rising sea levels.

Florida’s Theme Parks and Water Parks

Disney World in Orlando, Florida

Disney World in Orlando, Florida

Disney World in Orlando is not just the most renowned theme park in Florida but in the entire world. It is massive and has 4 parks in itself – Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Apart from Disney World, there is the Universal Studios, Legoland, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens.

Love rollercoasters? Some of the top roller coasters are Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando, Aquatica at SeaWorld Orlando, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach.

Prebook your tickets online and you can possibly avoid queues during the busy season. We have handpicked a few tickets and deals for you:

Florida’s’ water parks are world-class and remain open all year long. They shut down only when there are spells of severe weather and extreme cold. So no matter what month you plan to come here, do pack your swimsuits. The indoor water parks remain open year-round.

Florida Beyond Theme Parks: Beaches, Swamps, and Jungles

Naples in Florida - travel tips

Naples in Florida – travel tips

Florida is not just about Disney World at Orlando, but there is a lot more to it. It is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

With more than 4500 islands, and a massive coastline, Florida boasts many kinds of beaches. As a result, one can enjoy swimming, boating, snorkeling, surfing, fishing, and scuba. When in Florida, do not miss the chance to explore the hidden treasures of marine life.

Apart from the beaches, Florida boasts swamps, jungles, forests, and estuaries. Tourists and travelers explore the outdoors and look for iguanas, gators, and pythons. In fact, there is a lot more wildlife, and one often hears about snakes under porches or about egrets and manatees.

Florida is an incredible destination for outdoor enthusiasts as it is made of diverse ecosystems. There are plenty of outdoor options in Florida as you can go padding in mangroves or hike in the Everglades National Park. An increasing number of tourists are discovering the ultimate outdoor recreation destination in Florida because of the myriad of landscapes that comprise saltwater marshlands, bald-cypress swamps, and untouched pinewoods.

Places to stay in Florida

When it comes to looking for accommodations in the Sunshine State, well, you are sure to remain spoiled for choice. You can opt for luxurious resorts, and boutique hotels and these hotels sure know how to do the luxury right.

Florida also offers plenty of rustic places to stay where you can enjoy reconnecting with nature. Stay in one of the many duplex cabins in the middle of the biodiverse places and enjoy the nature around. Nothing could be better than staying at one of the Waterfront Hotels in Florida and enjoying panoramic ocean and gulf views.

It is a must to explore those waterfront hotel beauties when holidaying in Florida. Check out Florida villas holidays for a wide range of accommodation options for your budget and preferences.

Florida Food Guide – What to Eat

Florida’s food has been influenced by many other cultures. You can find a unique and vast range of things to eat in Florida with flavors that are influenced by the Cuban, Caribbean, early Spanish, and African cultures.

You will find the freshest seafood and tropical fruit wherever you go. Some of the most famous as well as the tastiest foods here include Cuban sandwiches, conch fritters, Florida stone crab, strawberry shortcake, Apalachicola oysters, alligator meat, and craft beer.

An all-time Florida favorite is the key lime pie. Be sure to try boiled peanuts from roadside shops.

If you’re visiting in February and March, you can find freshly plucked strawberries at a good price that you’d love to take home. Throughout the year, many places also offer free samples of orange juices because of citrus farming.

Swimming Safely – Sharks, Snakes, and Alligators

An alligator in Florida - travel tips for visiting

An alligator in Florida – travel tips for visiting

When in Florida, think twice before jumping into random lakes or rivers for a swim. Or better, only get inside the water if you see a sign indicating that it is safe to swim.

Florida has its share of freshwater alligators and poisonous snakes. There have been a few cases of alligators attacking humans and the Miami Herald has an article about what to do in such a situation. They can be found in marshy waters, especially after dark. It is best not to take the risk of disturbing them.

Florida’s Volusia County has had a few rare cases of shark attacks. Swim only in areas that are tended by lifeguards. Also, avoid being in the water alone or when it is dark.

Bonus: Don’t leave your child or pet in a parked car

Road-tripping in Florida? Don’t leave your child or a pet in a parked car for even five minutes. Even if the windows are open, the inside of a parked car can get heated up very quickly and can be fatal. Moreover, doing so is a punishable crime.

Have you ever visited Florida and have a few travel tips to share? Let us know in the comments.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

New York Travel Tips: 10 Travel Mistakes to Avoid in New York City

New York Travel Tips: 10 Travel Mistakes to Avoid in New York City

I have loads to say about New York City. I hate big cities but there is something extremely appealing about NYC – it is a city that made my eyes pop!

Seriously, New York City is one of those cities which I can never forget in my lifetime. I felt I was traveling in a place out of a sitcom, I saw not just the world’s most iconic sights but also some super strange things. It is a city that dazzled and shocked me at the same time.

Me in New York City - Travel Mistakes to avoid

New York City is one of the must-see cities to visit at least once in your lifetime, so if you haven’t yet you should write it on your travel list. 

It is a city full of life, lights and wonder. It offers so many different choices suited for all shapes, tastes and sizes. It doesn’t matter if you are a local or a tourist, it is such a big city with a wide variety of places and sites to see during your trip.

You will find many guides that will tell you what to see in Big Apple, but I want to help you avoid some of the travel mistakes I made in New York City. I can easily write close to 30 New York travel tips for you but I will start with 10 first.

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Don’t Stand in the Line for the Statue of Liberty

Yes, I visited the Statue of Liberty in NYC

If you speak to any local New Yorker about visiting the Statue of Liberty, they’d say – no, that’s not something that locals do. It is ok – you’re not a NYC local and you don’t have to pretend to be one and miss out on this. Of course they don’t know if it is worth visiting because they haven’t seen it up close. None of the locals ever visit the Ellis Island that has the statue of Liberty!

During my visit to New York City, one of the biggest mistakes that I made was standing in the line for 2 hours to see the Statue of Liberty. No, not because it isn’t anything special – it is amazing. But I could have totally avoided wasting my time by pre booking.

When you hear or read about New York you (almost) always think about the Statue of Liberty. It is located on Ellis Island, which is 12-acres wide in New York Harbor, and is a national monument that represents a mix of emotions that America experienced such as struggles of the immigrants, financial barriers they had to overcome and freedom from tyranny at the end of the 19th century. 

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French President as a way to commemorate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. Visiting the Statue of Liberty is a definite must, and you should get to know it up close on your tour. 

Instead, pre book your Statue of Liberty ticket to avoid the lines. 

As mentioned before, you can totally avoid wasting your time standing in the queues to see the Statue of Liberty. You can find the best ticket options and more info here.

 

Avoid the Empire State Building During the Day

Empire State Building's Observation Deck, NYC

Empire State Building’s Observation Deck, NYC

Who hasn’t heard of the Empire State Building. This art deco building was once the tallest skyscraper in New York City. It is located in Manhattan’s midtown near Fifth Avenue. Did you know that the Empire State building is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World? It should be a part of everyone’s New York city itinerary.

The famous Empire State Building is on many people’s wishlist because there are observation decks on top. Yes, you can go on the 86th floor and the 102nd floor to enjoy the stunning view. As per me, the view is memorable and shouldn’t be missed. 

Note that due to Corona restrictions, one needs to book a ticket in advance to enter the Empire State Building, and even then the numbers of admissions are limited.

Book Your Time Slot for the Empire State Building

Instead, visit the Empire State Building at Night

Empire State Building - travel tips New York City

Empire State Building – travel tips New York City

Guess what, most of the tourists don’t know that it is possible to visit the Empire State Building at night and end up standing in the long queues during the day. It is open till midnight and even till 2 am during the weekends in summer.  

Book Your Time Slot for the Empire State Building

The above link will take you to a third party booking website called GetYourGuide which is a highly reputed brand all over the world.

Once you click on “Book Now” button for the above activity, you will see a table for selecting your date and based on that it will show you the available time slots. For the best results, book a slot where you can see the sunset or one that’s right after the sunset.

Don’t Do A Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. Or Travel by Bus at all

The USA was my first ever international trip and I wasn’t a seasoned traveler as I am now. During my first hour in the city, I met an extremely smooth talking hop on hop off bus ticket seller who convinced me that it is the best and the most affordable way to see New York, because I anyway will need transport to reach the attractions.

I’m ashamed to say that I believed him.

You see, it is easy to walk from one attraction to another in Manhattan and the Subway is super awesome for visiting the other boroughs. Moreover, the main fun of discovering New York City is by walking around in it, not on top of some touristy hop on hop off bus!

Instead Take the Subway + Walk Around

Subway Station in Manhattan - New York Travel tips

Subway Station in Manhattan – New York Travel tips

Be smart and download an offline map of New York City on your smartphone and walk. When in need, take the subway. It is efficient, quick and affordable. The best part about traveling in an English speaking country is that you can stop and ask for quick help with directions. No, New Yorkers aren’t snobby but they have a reputation of being so. Don’t just stop someone that clearly looks like they’re in a hurry.

Don’t Miss Walking Around in Manhattan + Times Square

On Garment District in Manhattan, NYC - the fashion district

Manhattan is where it all began – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Seinfeld, Friends, Sex and the City and many other things that you may have madly enjoyed on the TV. 

Don’t miss the chance of being a tourist in NYC and staring up at Manhattan’s buildings. Yes, this is really the most touristy thing to do, but doesn’t mean you should skip it – it is really fun to do this. Moreover, as you strain your neck to look up, it is impossible not to get lost, so go ahead and make the most of it.

So which buildings to look at while you’re getting lost in Manhattan? Of course the Empire State Building but apart from that there’s the Chrysler, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Madison Square Garden , 40 Wall Street (The Trump Building), the Trinity Church, One World Trade Centre, the Plaza Hotel and Rockefeller Plaza are just some of the many.

Naked Guitarist in New York City

Naked Guitarist in New York City

Go walk on the most iconic NYC’s streets that are in Manhattan – the Broadway street, the Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, the picturesque Barrow Street, and Central Park West street to name a few. 

Visit the West Village’s Grove Street and Bedford Street to see the exterior of Monica’s apartment building in the Friends sitcom (The actual apartment was a set in Hollywood). Grove Street also has Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment (Sex and the City) and it is actually marked on Google Maps.

Times Square in New York

Times Square in New York

Times Square is in Manhattan’s Midtown and is sometimes called the Centre of the Universe. It is the heart of Manhattan and make sure you walk here because your eyes will literally pop out. Yes, the locals will tell you to avoid Times Square, but if it is your first time then you are going to love the experience! It is surreal.

 

Don’t Eat Only NY Pizza, Bagel, Cheesecake, Hot Dogs 

Typical NY Bagel in Central Park

Typical NY Bagel in Central Park

New York City has a very interesting culinary scene and you should make sure you get to experience it. It is tempting to get sucked into eating NY Pizza, Bagel or hotdogs for all the meals but make sure you do more than this. 

Instead, Explore New York City’s highly international culinary scene

As mentioned earlier, Manhattan’s food restaurant scene is expensive. If you can afford it, then make sure you make your meal reservation weeks in advance because it is hard to find a table. If you want to eat a good meal at an affordable price then you should make your way to Queens or Brooklyn to enjoy delicious international and local food both. 

In Queens, head to Jackson Heights for Indian, Afghani, Mexican, Colombian, Peruvian and Ecuadorian. Eat delicious Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Malaysian in Flushing and Elmhurst. If you love Thai food, get to Sripraphai in Woodside.  Get to Howard Beach for seafood and enjoy shrimps, crabs and fish with beer. Astoria area is famous for Egyptian food.

In Brooklyn, head to Smorgasburg Williamsburg. It is more than just a mouthful to say, it is an artisan food market with about 100 local spots that receive their fair share of people every weekend. 

Smorgasburg Williamsburg has two different modalities outdoors & indoors. The outdoor- more weather friendly- locations are open from April until October, Saturdays in Williamsburg, and Sundays in Prospect Park. The indoor locations have bounced around to different places, the most recent one at the Atlantic Center. There is no charge to enter, but you won’t resist trying the variety of food as you walk your way. It is the ideal place for locals to discover new chefs, restaurants and producers. 

 

Don’t Party in the Pricey Times Square

I feel like I’m stating the obvious but it is my duty to inform you not to party in Times Square. Yes, many tourists do end up here at night for a party. While I did mention that you shouldn’t miss out on walking around in Times Square, but you should not stick around here because there are other areas where you can experience a good nightlife in New York City.

Instead, head to Greenwich village or Chelsea for a good New York nightlife experience

While I was in New York City, I went for a party in a place called Pacha NYC in Hell’s Kitchen. Hell’s Kitchen in NYC is a neighborhood for aspiring actors. The next day, I went to a bar in Greenwich Village, which is the university area. That’s where NYU is. I was so shocked when I saw how low the beer prices were here in Greenwich Village as compared to the other parts of Manhattan. 

When you’re in Greenwich Village, get to Washington Square Park before hitting the bar. Take a stroll down the lanes and find yourself observing an interesting mix of professional chess players, sunbathers, performers and musicians.

Going for a Broadway Show? Get a Seat and no Need to Queue Up

Broadway Street and Wall Street in Manhattan, New York City

Broadway Street and Wall Street in Manhattan, New York City

When in New York City, try your best to go for a broadway show. Broadway tickets can be as expensive as USD 200 per person but you can get them for a discount at TKTS Discount Booths or Mobile Apps. You can sometimes find them for as low as USD 50 per person for a same day discount ticket.

Here’s the thing, when you have your seat number for Broadway then you don’t need to stand in the line. Walk around, get a drink nearby and walk in just before the start time.

Don’t get scammed and buy erroneous Broadway tickets on the streets.

Or Try New York Philharmonic Instead of Broadway

If you are into classical music performances, the New York Philharmonic is the perfect symphony orchestra to see, hear and enjoy for a wonderful and majestic music concert. 

Their primary place of performance is at the world-renowned David Geffen Hall, located in the Upper West Side at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on Broadway. The auditorium can set up to 2,738 people, in a perfectly designed room to better enhance your musical experience. And it is a performance to be enjoyed by everyone, not just classical music experts and enthusiasts. 

Don’t Miss Out on New York City’s Parks

New York City's Central Park - Travel tips

New York City’s Central Park – Travel tips

New York City can be exhilarating and it is good to take some time out in one of the city’s many parks. Most of you know of Manhattan’s Central Park already, after all it is legendary. It is mentioned over and over again in one of my favorite books – Catcher in the Rye. 

You can head to Central Park for a quick stroll or rent a bicycle to explore a larger area. The park is massive and it also has a reservior. Try to check out the seasonal shops in the Columbus Circle. Apart from this, New York City has many other notable parks.

Battery Park is also in Manhattan and is where you can get on to a ferry for Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty or a free ferry to Staten Island. Nearby Hudson River Park is also a good place.

Another amazing park in New York city is the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Get to the Harbor View Lawn on Pier 1 for a memorable view. You can see the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan’s financial district from the park.

If you’re in Queens, visit the famous Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and Gantry Plaza State Park. It has a waterfront promenade with a view of Manhattan’s skyline.

When in the Bronx, visit Bronx Park which also has the New York Botanical Garden inside it. 

 

Don’t Get Stuck in Manhattan 

Yes, I get it – Manhattan is lively and full of bright lights because of which you don’t want to leave this island. Not only is Manhattan expensive but if you stay only in one spot, you will miss out on New York City’s other boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. They all have something unique to offer.

Instead Visit Other the Boroughs

Here’s what you can do in the other Boroughs of New York City:

Brooklyn

Dumbo Brooklyn, New York CityIf you’re in New York City, you really need to walk on the Brooklyn Bridge to walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn – it is an unmissable experience. While in Brooklyn, get to one of the vegan cafes in Williamsburg, spend time in Brooklyn Bridge Park and look for a good bargain in Brooklyn Flea Market. Brooklyn’s restaurant scene is amazing and I have already mentioned it at length in the earlier section. 

The Bronx 

The Bronx has the famous Yankee Stadium and Little Italy! Make sure you come here hungry to enjoy some really good Italian food. If you’re staying in an Air BnB, you can shop for food supplies at Little Italy or Hunts Point Farmers Market in the Bronx.

Queens

I have mentioned Gantry Plaza State Park and Flushing Meadows before but Queens also has China Town. Visit this part to eat a delightful asian meal, the kind you won’t get in the other parts of the city. Not just Asian but Queens is famous for other kinds of international food because this borough is so ethnically diverse.

Apart from just food and parks, Queens also has MoMa PS1 art museum. This is far from your ordinary art museum. It has a setting that has its own character, as well as the wide collection it has on display. It houses over 200,000 pieces of cutting-edge contemporary art, from renowned artists such as James Turrell and Ai Weiwei. The building was once a Renaissance Revival public school that was transformed into a unique art museum. If you’re into avant garde art and enjoy a creative space, then MoMa PS1 is the place for you. 

Staten Island

There’s a free ferry that goes from Manhattan’s Battery Park to Staten Island. There aren;t many free things in New York City and you should take advantage of this. Visit Staten Island’s one of many parks and you won’t feel like you’re still in New York City.

 

Avoid Getting Ripped Off in an Overpriced Hotel in Manhattan

The Hotel Rooms and Hostels are super expensive in New York City and you should prepare to spend a good amount of money if you haven’t planned your trip in advance.

Of course Manhattan island in general is going to be expensive but you can sometimes get cheaper rooms in Greenwich village near NYU. Of course, it is a good idea to look for a place to stay in other boroughs of New York instead of Manhattan.

Instead, get a place in Queens or Brooklyn

Here are some affordable hotels in New York that we recommend:

Bonus: Book Lovers Should Not Miss these below landmarks of New York City:

New York City has some of the most amazing places that are heavenly for bookworms. Here are some of them:

New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue 

New York Public Library on 5th avenue - NYC Travel TipsThere are many public libraries in New York but I’m talking about the New York Public Library on the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 42nd Street, which was also featured in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sex and the City movie. It is a historical landmark which will stun you with its beautiful architecture. It has more than 6 million books. 

The Strand Book Store

Yes, we recommend an old fashioned bookstore to include in your visit. The Strand Book Store has towering stacks, filled with more than 2.5 million titles, and it has been standing for 93 years and counting! It is considered as a global institution. 

The Stand Book Store also has a great staff that help you find exactly what you are looking for, and if you are only just venturing into reading books or browsing they will most likely recommend you with a nice read that you wouldn’t have picked for yourself. They also have several on-site and offline events to share with their audience. 

The Morgan Library & Museum

Because yes, we still love actual printed books and the smell of leather, we recommend you to include a visit to The Morgan. It is a library full of history that belonged to Pierpont Morgan, who was a multi billionaire collectionist, and one of the most influential financiers on the history of the United States. In 924 his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. offered his father’s extravagant and extraordinary library to the public to view and admire.

Once inside you will see more than just books: find yourself admiring rare artifacts that date back to 4000 B.C., paintings, original manuscripts – and unique ones as well – from all over the world. 

 

 

Did follow our recommendations for New York City?

Tag @drifterplanet on Instagram and hashtag it #drifterplanet. We will be happy to share your journey with our audience.

So, have you ever visited New York city? Do you also love any Books, TV Shows or movies that are based in the city? Comment and let me know. Want to read about some of the other famous big cities that I have visited? Check out my posts about:

 

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