Ahh, New York City. The home of Sinatra, the championship collecting Yankees, and the $1 slice of pizza. You’re about to step foot in what millions have called “The Capital of the World.”
Last year, a record 49 million people came to visit New York, spending a combined $31.4 billion in their time here. As a business traveler arriving in New York, the sheer number of possibilities for food, transportation, and entertainment may seem overwhelming. Fortunately for you, we’ve prepared this guide for you to get the best out of NYC on your business trip.
Important Definition: Ask any New Yorker, and they’ll tell you that there is only one “The City” in the world, and that’s Manhattan. So throughout this article, anytime “The City” is mentioned, we’re talking about Manhattan, even though New York City is actually comprised of 5 boroughs (all excellent in their own way)-Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.
Airports to Fly into New York City
There are 3 major airports around New York City.
John F. Kennedy is the largest and most popular, especially if you’re coming in from an international location. Located in Queens, it hosts over 53 million passengers every year. The best way from JFK into Manhattan would be the AirTrain, which drops you off right in Penn Station (34th street and 8th avenue) and costs $5/ride. If you’re feeling fancier, or need to head right to a meeting or your hotel, you can always take a yellow cab or order an Uber, which will run you about $55.
La Guardia Airport is also in Queens, and most often used for domestic flights. The only way to get into the city is a $50 cab/Uber/Lyft ride, but it’s the closest airport to the city and should yield the fastest transit times into Manhattan.
Newark is an option if you’re looking for something with faster immigration clearance (or if the flight is substantially cheaper). Though you should plan for delays, with 74% of flights arriving late. The cab into Manhattan will cost between $50 – $70, depending on destination. But to be honest, you’re best off just coming into JFK or Laguardia.
Getting around the city
Before we get into the technical options, you’ve got to remember that Manhattan is a beautiful city to walk through. It can get hot in the summer (and reaaally cold in the winters) but for much of the year, it’s a great walk.You’ll see plenty of other suit-wearing professionals strolling to lunch, walking to work, and even hosting meetings in the many parks.
The NYC Subway serves all 5 boroughs and with almost 2 billion annual riders, it’s the 7th most used subway in the world. You can get just about anywhere for just $2.75, so this is a great option if you want to travel like a real New Yorker.
The famous yellow cab of New York City is as effective a method as it ever was. If you want to catch a cab, just stick your thumb out on any curb, and you’re bound to get one quickly.
Business travelers on a budget should take note: You want to wave down an on-duty cab, which you can recognize by the numbers being lit up as opposed to dim. Also, try to catch a cab in the direction that you’re traveling. Most streets in NYC are one way, and if a cab needs to make a few turns to swing around the other way, it can cost you an extra $10.
If you’re looking for a way to make your Per Diem last, ride sharing is big in New York City and a very popular, easy, and often cheaper way to get around. You can, of course, order yourself a Lyft or an Uber. Though a new guy on the block that has been dominating the rideshare scene is Via. This company is built for cities, picking you up on the corner to be more efficient, always sharing a ride to be cost effective, and paying drivers an hourly wage to combat any ethical questions other companies may face.
Where to Stay for your business trip to New York City
Where you should stay depends on where most of your work will be, plus your company policies. The hotels are plentiful and range from $50/night to north of $500. Don’t feel limited though. As the birthplace of Airbnb, NYC has hundreds of private apartments available for rent. Concur actually, estimates NYC to be the 3rd most popular Airbnb city in the world for business travelers.
For a helpful breakdown of neighborhoods by price, check out this graphic created by Zumper.
You’ve got some of the most famous and beautiful hotels in the world situated all through Manhattan. If you’re looking for class and style, check out The Mark, The Mandarin Oriental New York, or The Iroquois New York. Each of these features your share of spacious rooms, cozy and classy bars, and a museum-like feel of excellence. They’re beneficial to business travelers looking for a quiet, peaceful sanctuary to relax in after a long day’s work. Plus with business centers and printers, fast internet, and any resources you might need (and a bar to worthy of your top clients), top hotels attract top business executives for a reason. Want to browse or drool a bit at some of NYC’s finest, costing up to $10,000/night? Check out this post by Time Out Magazine.
Where to do a day’s work in NYC
If you have a break in between meetings and need to get some work done, NYC offers plenty of options.
Co Working Spaces
Co working spaces are areas where lots of freelancers join small teams to put out their day’s work. There a long list of great co-working spaces by Uncubed, or you could go with one of our recommendations below.
As 30STF covered in this piece, werk.place allows members of high-profile organizations like YPO and Alumni groups to rent office space from each other. You can learn more about werk.place on their site.
A popular trend in co-working is restaurant based spaces, combining unique NYC architecture, an existing real estate infrastructure, and lots of space. If you’re looking for a day’s work emailing, finishing up spreadsheets, and running Skype calls, and you are okay being out by 4 or 5pm, you can check out the options from Kettlespace or Spacious for just $49-95/month.
Perhaps the most famous co-working space in the world, the $20 billion company WeWork was born in NYC. With 35 locations across the city, the cost of a desk for a day is $45 and you’ll be with some of the most hardworking and passionate entrepreneurs and freelancers in the city. This fraternal environment can be motivating for the weary business traveler, inspiring himself through jet lag. Plus, free coffee, tea, snacks, and tons of other services mean you’re not spending valuable expense dollars on $7 coffees!
The classic coffee shop move should never be forgotten. NYC has hundreds of them, including 220 Starbuckses (more stores than any other chain in Manhattan). Almost all of coffee shops are internet enabled (though some purposefully turn their internet off) and are good places to work. We can recommend a few, like any ThinkCoffee of Madman Espresso spot, or if you hit the streets in a mad-dash search for wifi, you’re sure to bump into one within a block or two.
For a quiet space perfect for a meeting, creative brainstorming session, or private work, check out Breather. This NYC startup makes it easy to rent one of 150 available rooms through NYC, filtering for attributes like size, whiteboards, and TVs. For as low as $25/hour, you’ll get a room with a table, chairs, and blazing fast wifi connection. Plus, all Breather spaces have a window, letting you look out onto the city as you plan your conquering of the world.
Nightlife in New York City
You’re in the city that never sleeps, so no going to bed before midnight ever! Bars are always a great spot for a business meeting, a night out with the team, or a way to meet some of the funky and powerful of NYC. With over 1,500 of them across the city, it’s a list too extensive to get into here, but you can find a great write up by Time Out NY and we’ll take a look at other options.
Any of these – from bars to Broadway – can be a great way to spend your evening off of work, or to use as an opportunity to bond with a client. So choose wisely, and enjoy!
Broadway and Off-Broadway Shows
Nathan Lane in the Producers. Luis Manuel Miranda in Hamilton. Billy Chrystal in 700 Sundays. The greatest performers in the world have spent their lives training and working to make it to Broadway. Any given night has dozens of options and each is an unforgettable experience.
While Broadway gets all the love, there is a ton of talent performing every night at smaller theaters off Broadway. From one-woman shows to full cast oddities, and with cheaper tickets and less demand, this is a simpler way to enjoy theater in New York.
Check out shows and buy tickets at broadway.com
Catching Comedy in New York City
If we’re talking nightlife, we’d be remiss not to mention the birthplace of stand-up comedy and the home of late-night. The world’s most legendary comedians – Louis CK, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock – all call The Big Apple their stomping grounds. Or, if you’re looking to check out the best up and comers, any night at the legendary clubs The Comedy Cellar, The UCB Theater, or Caroline’s on Broadway will leave you crying in all the best ways. There are often tickets being sold at the door, but it’s better to buy online to make sure you get in. And bring a notebook – you can use some of these around the water cooler upon your return.
Plus, late night television has been built and defined in New York City, and checking out The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Life, or The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (all filmed in the late afternoon) is a great weekday activity. You can check out each show’s website to apply for a free ticket (just do it early – they sell out fast!) You might miss a few work deadlines, but you’ll have some great joke material for your next client pitch!
How to Spend an Afternoon in NYC
For an enormous 9 million person city, New York has a wonderful respect for the outdoors. You’ve got great walkways like The Highline, the 11-mile long Hudson River Greenway, and the Brooklyn Bridge. So if you’re coming to the city from a more suburban country area, worried you won’t get your dose of fresh air, be not afraid!
The Parks in NYC
By some counts, Manhattan alone has over 70 parks and playgrounds, so the city has no shortage of green space. Here are two of our favorites.
Central Park is one of the most visited urban parks in the world and spans over 1.3 square miles of greenery. Wake up early and jog the paths, find yourself a cozy spot on the lawn for a nap and a picnic, or check out the Central Park zoo. You can live in NYC your entire life and not see half of this huge park, so if you’re just coming to visit, you can easily fill an afternoon wandering the green jungles encased within the concrete jungle.
Bryant Park, located in the easily accessible midtown of NYC, is a great spot to hang out any time of year. During the summers, it’s got food stands, a concert series, and a free collection of board games to play with your friends or coworkers. In the winter, enjoy free ice skating through the middle of the park.
Where to eat for a business dinner in NYC
Ahh, but the food! We’re not even talking pizza and bagels (the true journeyman’s subsistence), but the more experiential stuff. At last count, there were 3 trillion restaurants in the city (that’s an approximation). And you can’t go wrong at any, but here are three classics (and you can find more business meeting spots compiled by Business Insider and fun eating experiences from Guest of a Guest.)
Balthazar, Downtown. If you’re looking for a power lunch to broker the deal, impress the client, or use business expense (we won’t tell…), you’ve got to put Balthazar on your list. With fiercely good food and a professional aura, this spot makes deals happen.
Blue Smoke’s Jazz Standard, Midtown. With a menu and ambiance curated by Danny Meyer, one of the most legendary restaurateurs in the city, and award winning jazz, this is a great spot for a good food and a great show.
Brooklyn Grange, Queens. Yes, yes. We said we wouldn’t leave ‘the city’. But here we are, in the borough of Queens. But it’s worth it, and sort of counts because the view of the Manhattan skyline is mesmerizing, as is the food and fun at this rooftop farm.
I Heart NY
As a business traveler arriving in New York, the sheer number of possibilities for food, transportation, and entertainment may seem overwhelming. Hopefully, this guide helps you navigate the city and have a productive experience. So have a very successful business trip to NYC, and enjoy your stay!
I’m a Brooklyn-born vagabond with a proud Russian heritage. I’m into startups of all kind, and anytime we can talk about the future of humanity’s interaction with robots, or just gab about good comedy and literature, I’m there. I also host the Adriel’s Curious City podcast, interviewing thought leaders about the future of their industries.