Why Women Should Go To New York City, New York (From a Local)

by | May 14, 2024

brooklyn bridge on a sunny day new york city
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Featured image: The view from Brooklyn to Manhattan/ Photo from Karen Gershowitz

First-hand advice from a local in New York

by Karen Gershowitz

Wherever I travel in the world and people learn I’m a New York City (NYC) native, they will say, “I’ve always wanted to see New York City!”

There are many reasons for their enthusiasm. NYC is an international centre for the performing arts, sports, finance, fashion, and so much more. Two useful sources for information about what’s going on in the city are NYC Tourism and Time Out New York.

Things to know about New York City

  • Visas: Visitors to New York City from outside the United States may need a visa to enter the country. For details, visit the US Department of State’s website. Canadians require a valid passport to enter the US, even if you have a Nexus card.
  • Insurance: If you are traveling from outside of the United States, you will need travel insurance to visit New York City. Check insurance here. 
  • Geography: Five boroughs make up New York City. Manhattan is where most visitors choose to stay and explore, but there is a lot to see and do in the other boroughs. Public transportation, as well as bridges, tunnels and ferries link all the boroughs.
  • Accessibility: Travelers with disabilities should check out NYC Tourism’s Accessible NYC Guide, which includes information on accessible dining, museums, festivals, and other attractions in the city. The site allows you to search activities by category, neighborhood, or type of accessibility (audio description, braille, assistive listening system, adaptive activity, sign language, neurodiverse programming, etc.)
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new york city garden on a rooftop

The view from a rooftop garden in Brooklyn/ Photo by Karen Gershowitz

What makes New York unique?  

As a woman in my seventies, I can attest that New York City offers a unique blend of opportunities and experiences tailored to our demographic. Here are some compelling reasons NYC, my hometown, is a fantastic destination for solo women travellers 50+, including museums, world-class performances, foodie events, shopping and architecture. 

If you appreciate the arts, the city is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. There are over 170 museums in the five boroughs highlighting history, art, science, and more, from the well-known like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, to lesser-known museums like the International Center for Photography, the Tenement Museum, and the Museum of Broadway. Find tickets here! 

On any night (and Wednesday and weekend matinees) you can choose from many dozens of world-class performances—Broadway shows, off-Broadway productions, dance performances, and concerts. There’s something to suit every taste. During the summer months, many of these are outdoors and free. Be sure to check the TKTS booth (at Times Square and at Lincoln Center) for discounted day-of tickets. 

For foodies, NYC is a culinary paradise. The city boasts a diverse dining scene, with cuisines from around the world represented in our restaurants, food trucks, and markets. Whether you’re craving authentic pasta in Little Italy, dim sum in Chinatown, barbeque in Koreatown, or Peruvian, Indian, Ethiopian or food from just about anywhere, you’ll find it all here. Be sure to try iconic bagels, hot dogs, and New York-style pizza!

And don’t just go to restaurants in Manhattan. Queens is the largest and most diverse borough and has some of the best food in the city. You find can Bhutanese, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Greek, and Thai food within a few blocks. During the summer, head to the Queen’s night market. Over 100 independent vendors sell merchandise, art, and food from around the globe.

From luxury boutiques on Fifth Avenue to eclectic vintage shops in the East Village, New York City offers endless shopping opportunities. If you’re a shopper, you’ll appreciate the city’s diverse retail landscape, where you can find everything from high-end fashion to unique artisanal goods. There are also many outdoor markets and flea markets where you can indulge in some retail therapy.

No visit to New York City is complete without seeing some of its famous architecture and monuments. Most visitors want to see the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Empire State Building and World Trade Center. But those are just the beginning. When I have out-of-town visitors, I always arrange for a cruise around Manhattan offered by the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) NYC chapter. Standing on the teak decks of their elegant 1920s style yachts, you will enjoy the spectacular views and the narration provided by architects, which will give you great insights into the city.  Find an architecture tour here!  

Nearly every weekend, and many weekdays, a festival is going on somewhere in the city. Some of my favorites are the River-to-River Festival in June and July that features a plethora of performances, many outdoors and free. I also love the Chinese New Festival with its fabulous costumes, parades, acrobats, and food.  Winter JazzFest showcases some of the best jazz artists—over one hundred sets take place at venues around the city. Because it is near my home, I always try to go to the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival for a weekend of feasting. In December, Winters’ Eve, a festival featuring free performances, art installations and lots of food tastings from local restaurants transforms the area around Lincoln Center. For a partial list of events, check out https://www.nyctourism.com/annual-events/

Amid the city’s hustle and bustle, there are plenty of opportunities for relaxation. Central Park is well-known for good reasons, but there are hundreds of other parks in the city.  My favourite is Riverside Park. I live near the entrance at 72nd Street and Riverside Avenue. At that location, there is a pier that stretches into the middle of the Hudson River. Summer months a beautiful outdoor café, Pier 1, serves drinks and meals. You can sit, watch passersby, boat traffic on the Hudson River, and take in the sun.

women together in Distillery District Toronto Ontario Canada

The Gilder Center at the American Museum of Natural History / Photo by Karen Gershowitz

Safety in New York City

Thanks to its robust law enforcement and safety measures, NYC is one of the safest major cities in the United States and the world, ranked 12th on a recent list of the world’s safest cities for travellers.  Despite its negative reputation, the subways are also safe. I use it often, as well as the many buses. In mid-2022, there was about one violent crime per one million rides on the subway, according to a New York Times analysis.

Still, visitors should use common sense to protect themselves and their property. Be aware of your surroundings, and make sure to always use licensed, reputable businesses for any services you need. For example, don’t accept rides from livery cabs (as opposed to taxis) at the airport. 

 How to get to New York

Because NYC is a central hub, it’s an easy city to get to.  The city is served by three major airports and two major rail stations.

John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in Queens serves both domestic and international flights. If you take a metered taxi into Manhattan from JFK there is a flat fare of $70 plus tolls and tips. There is also an air train that will connect you to the subway for $8.50 plus $2.90 for the subway. Newark Airport (in New Jersey) also serves domestic and international flights. It also has an air train that will get you to NJ Transit for a train into Manhattan. LaGuardia (in Queens) serves domestic flights only. You can take the M60-SBS from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan. Lyft and Uber serve all three airports, the cost will vary by day/time. Find a flight here. 

Amtrak arrives in Manhattan at the Moynihan Station at Penn Station and Grand Central Station. Find a train here. 

New York City is one of the most accessible cities in the world, with an extensive public transportation system and a pedestrian-friendly layout. You can explore the city with ease, by subway, bus, taxi, ride share, or on foot. It’s a very walkable city, mostly flat, with something to grab your attention on almost every block. I highly recommend spending time in some of the residential neighborhoods, away from the tourist magnets. Stop in a coffee shop and engage with the locals, New Yorkers are super friendly.

For an inexpensive, fun way to see the city, take a ferry to Staten Island or Governor’s Island in New York’s harbour. The views of lower Manhattan are spectacular. Or check out the ferry service that goes on the East River between Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. Find a ferry here. 

toronto mimico bridge

Just behind the New York Public Library, Bryant Park is one of the prettiest parks in New York City / Photo By Karen Gershowitz

Where to stay in New York City

Hotels in New York City tend to be expensive. Here are a few reasonably priced options in interesting neighborhoods that you may not have heard of.  My favourites are: Hotel Scherman—near the theater district and Times Square, Hotel Beacon—Upper West Side near Central Park, the MOMA and Museum of Natural History, and The Draper Hotel—Midtown, near Bryant Park. 

Editor’s note: Consider staying in Park Slope, Brooklyn, just across the river. Not only it is a wonderful neighbourhood (I commuted from Park Slope for more than 10 years), it’s very accessible and less expensive than Manhattan. 

Do you have a New York City hotel to suggest? Share it in our Women’s Travel Directory here.

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Karen has been traveling solo since age seventeen, when she flew to Europe and didn’t return to the US for three years. She got severely bitten by the travel bug and since then has traveled to over ninety countries and has visited all fifty states -- many of them multiple times. In her career as a marketing strategist she traveled the world conducting thousands of meetings, focus groups and interviews. Her skills as an interviewer have persuaded total strangers to talk candidly about the most intimate of subjects, personal bankruptcy, illness and religion. When traveling for pleasure, those same skills helped her to draw out people’s stories. Karen’s first book of travel stories, Travel Mania: Stories of Wanderlust, explores the confluence of travel and life events, and how travel has changed her beliefs and life direction. Wanderlust: Extraordinary People, Quirky Places and Curious Cuisine continues those stories, addressing memorable food, people and places she experienced in her travels.

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