With so many opportunities for students in New York City, planning a trip to the Big Apple can be daunting. While building an itinerary that keeps your students occupied is never an issue in NYC, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the size and scope of the city and all its offerings. Be aware of cramming too much into your itinerary -- that’s sorta like trying to eat an apple in a single big bite! If you do that, you'll miss the flavor, the texture, and the crunch; and if you aren't careful, you may end up choking!
So, when looking to tour NYC, work with your Director’s Choice travel consultant to research your options. Consider the length of your trip, your budget, and the experience you want to walk away with. That way, you take a single, perfectly planned bite, and get the most out of it! Remember, they don't call it the Big Apple for no reason. NYC is HUGE, so if you don't get to everything that’s fine because I promise, the lure of the Big Apple is strong, and you’ll be back.
HOW TO GET AROUND
New York is a walking city, so wear good walking shoes. There is no better way to experience the city than taking a stroll, witnessing New Yorkers in their native concrete habitat, and keeping step with the symphonic beeping of traffic and occasional %$#@#!
Also, don't be afraid of public transportation. Over 4 million people use the transit system every single day, and it goes everywhere in all five boroughs. For those of us not used to public transportation systems, it might take a minute to figure out where you need to be to get where you need to go, but once you do, you’ll be glad you gave it a try. Remember that the subway system has rush hours, just like other big cities, so if you are on a schedule, account for that.
WHERE TO STAY
Midtown is the most popular location for student groups to stay. Being in the center of Manhattan provides easy access to many attractions and activities and using public transportation makes sense. Other options include a stay just across the river in New Jersey. Often this is a more economical choice. Plus, if you’re performing, trucking in instruments or already have a motor coach, it often makes the most sense to stay in New Jersey. Inside or outside the city, we have vetted and partnered with dozens of hotel properties (many new or recently updated) that are able and willing to accommodate large groups.
I would definitely check out One World Observatory in lower Manhattan. On your ride to the top, you'll climb 102 stories in 47 seconds, plus you get a history of the transformation of New York City from forest to concrete.
Next, you must experience the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Yes, it emotional, and even though your students weren't born yet, it’s a powerful piece of our modern history that is still shaping us today.
Visit American Museum of Natural History, if for nothing else than the museum’s fourth-floor dinosaur exhibit with fossil skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus, and Triceratops. Especially of interest to us Texans… The Glen Rose Trackway, a 107-million-year-old set of dinosaur prints excavated from a Texas riverbed in 1938, is also on display.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art gives you the most bang for your museum buck. At 2 million square feet, it is the largest art museum in the world existing under one roof!
Don’t be afraid to get out of Manhattan. Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo, Flushing Meadows Park, the Brooklyn Museum, Jane’s Carousel, Coney Island - they’re all outside of Manhattan.
There is so much that doesn’t cost a dime. Walk the High Line, take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, check out Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Plaza, Bryant Park, the Public Library, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Battery Park and the historic ships docked at South Street Seaport.
OTHER INSIDER TIPS
- There’s no way to see it all in one trip, so don’t try to.
- Allow for small group sightseeing so your group can get out and explore.
- Get out of Times Square.
- Include a guided city tour early in your trip.
- If there’s a huge line at Shake Shack, get in it anyway. They really are all that.
- Try a cuisine you’ve never tried before. New York has all of them. “Even [fill in the blank]?” “Yes, even [blank]."
- If you plan on visiting a museum, see what special exhibits will be there when you are, and add that to your admission.
- New Yorkers move fast and talk fast. That doesn’t mean they’re unfriendly.
- Do your research before you go to see what shops and eateries are in the areas where you’ll have free time.
Is New York right for your band, choir, orchestra or dance group? There are countless benefits to student travel, whether you go to New York or somewhere else. Take a look at your travel goals and let us know how we can help.