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How to Beat the Crowds in New York City

Learn these advanced NYC travel tips to escape the crowds

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Hi, I'm Madigan!

Madigan Talmage-Bowers is a writer based in Denver, Colorado. She has also lived in Italy, San Francisco, and New York City, where she studied media theory at the New School. She loves introducing her kids to ancient history, local art, hiking trails, and new foods on adventures around the globe.

New York City is home to more than 8 million people. Add more than 60 million visitors a year, and the Big Apple can start to feel a bit crowded. With some creative ideas, however, you can spend more time exploring and less time waiting in line. Here’s how.

Snag skip-the-line tickets

A woman photographs the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
A woman takes photos round Midtown Manhattan.Foto: AboutLife / Shutterstock

No need to wait in long lines when you plan ahead.

Even if you decide on a popular spot at the last minute, you still have a shot at walking right in. You can book skip-the-line tickets to the One World Observatory, the Statue of Liberty and a variety of museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National September 11 Museum, and the Guggenheim.

Explore beyond Manhattan

Friends walk The High Line in New York City.
Friends walk The High Line in NYC.Foto: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Head to boroughs beyond the obvious.

Many visitors never leave central and lower Manhattan on a trip to NYC, but each of New York’s outlying neighborhoods and boroughs has its own distinct culture, without the concentrated crowds of Times Square, Midtown, and Wall Street. Hop on the subway or join a guided tour with transport to explore the musical heritage of Harlem or Brooklyn’s global food scene.

Rise above the crowds

A woman views New York City from a helicopter.
A woman takes a helicopter sightseeing ride over NYC.Foto: MexChriss / Shutterstock

Take a sightseeing tour in a helicopter.

To truly escape the throngs, soar above the skyline on a helicopter tour. Most tours are private, so you have aerial views of Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn Bridge all to yourself.

Tour by water

A cruise passes by the Statue of Liberty in New York City.
A cruise takes place near the Statue of Liberty.Foto: Sergii Figurnyi / Shutterstock

Take a cruise along the Hudson.

Another way to appreciate New York in peace is on a sightseeing cruise. As you glide down the Hudson River and through New York Harbor, there’s no standing in line, no packed train to catch, and no jostling on crowded sidewalks. Opt for a dinner cruise to see the skyline and Brooklyn Bridge lit up at night—plus, you forego the competition for a dinner reservation.

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