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New York Questions™ is a new service we want to introduce to all of the tourists and visitors who come to New York and New York City.

It's all about answering the many of questions that we hear every day. Some of the questions are a snap to answer but others are unique. Regardless of the questions, our role is to provide you with the best set of answers so you'll have the best time visiting New York and New York City.

To make it even more enjoyable, we invite you to email us with anything you would like to know about New York and we'll do our best to answer and get you going. To ask a question, just email us at QandA@newyorkguest.com. If you have something that needs more detail or is urgent matter, call us at 212-302-4019.

To make it the most helpful to the greatest number of visitors, we're going to start with a few of the common as well as not so common questions and then each week we'll add new questions from visitors and from our own team. Our answers will be as best we know and as up to date as possible but there are no guarantees. We will do our best to be fair and complete.

From time to time, the person with the best question or the most interesting or any other reason we can figure out, will receive a gift from us- it could be tickets to a show or tour, or maybe a special lunch or dinner or a special memento of your visit.

Questions

Where is Macy's? What makes it so special?

Where is Rockefeller Center and what can I do there?

How do I get to the Statue of Liberty?

What are the best ways to get to and from local airports?

Can I take public transportation to the airport?

How do I purchase a subway ticket (Metrocard)?

How (and who) should I tip?

Where can I get cheap Broadway tickets?

How much is a Central Park Carriage Ride?

Where do I go to get VAT (value added tax) back on purchases?

I forgot something! Where can I find a drugstore?

Who has the best bagels?

How do I navigate Manhattan?

Where should I go for brunch?

Where is Penn Station?

Where is Grand Central?

Where is Battery Park?

Where is Macy's? What makes it so special?

Macy's is in midtown Manhattan, at West 34th Street and in the middle of just about every travelers trip.

Macy's, which bills itself as the World's Largest Store, is located at West 34th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue. You can walk there easily if you are in Times Square. It will take you 10 minutes at most; maybe 20 minutes from Grand Central. By subway, there are about 10 subway lines that all stop at 34th street and the M4 bus is just one line that brings you to the front door.

When you get there start in the basement, where you can see kitchenware demos and grab a snack, then work your way up the 8 floors. Make sure you see the store within the store by Ralph Lauren. To move between floors, the best bet is to use the escalators if you can. Try to avoid the elevators when it's busy, they can be very crowded. It's a store unlike any other in that you can find discounts, regular prices and very high end items. Their perfume department is a store unto itself.

Across from Macy's are a whole group of stores selling everything from shoes to lingerie; from phones to electronics. Macy's is also world famous for sponsoring the 'Thanksgiving Day' parade on the 4th Thursday of November every year. The parade starts on the Upper West Side near Central Park and goes for several miles until it ends at Macy's front door. It's a parade for everyone. You watch the parade from behind barricades at the curb and if you want an unobstructed view, you need to be there very early -like 7am for a 9am start. Otherwise you just stand in the crowd and watch for the giant floats to go by every few minutes. What a lot of our visitors do is they buy a ticket for the early afternoon Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall and then head out to an early dinner.

You can't mention Macy's without talking about Santaland at Macy's. If you have kids or grandkids this is a must see from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Located on the top floor, Santaland is a delight for children.

While Macy's is certainly a great store, there are other department stores like Century 21 ( for discounts and bargain atmosphere), Bloomingdales(East 59th Street) for sophisticated looks, Saks 5th Avenue (5th and West 49th ), Lord and Taylor (5th and West 38th) and Bergdorf Goodman (West 58th). For the ultimate big volume, big box store you can try Costco in Queens ( must pay for membership) and outside the city a bus trip to Woodbury Commons is a must for many shoppers

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How Do I Get to the Statue of Liberty?

Well, up until Hurricane Sandy hit New York, the answer was easy. You take the City Sights or Grey Line tour or the subway to Whitehall or Bowling Green Station or walk to Battery Park at the tip of Manhattan, go through security after you buy your ticket and take the ferry over to the island. Unfortunately, the hurricane destroyed a lot of things in the harbor including the dock at the statue. Depending on who you ask, the Statue of Liberty will open in the spring, the summer, and the fall or not until 2014.

So for now, here are some options. You can take a Circle Line or City Sight harbor cruise that takes you up and around the Statue of Liberty. They last from 1 ½ hours to 3 hours depending on which you choose. Another way to see the Statue of Liberty is to take a dinner cruise on a yachts like: World Yacht, Bateau, or Spirit Cruises. The prices differ a little depending on which option you choose (one is a buffet, one is a three course meal, one is a glass-enclosed yacht with higher-end meal options) but they generally fall in the $100- 150 per person range (holidays and special events can raise the prices). Some require jackets and most prohibit shorts, t-tops, jeans, flip flops, tee shirts, etc. Finally, you can see the Statue of Liberty for free by riding the Staten Island ferry. It departs from Battery Park, it's free and in about 20 minutes you are in Staten Island. You get off and take the ferry back. It doesn't get as close as the cruises but it's an alternative to save money and still take a picture of the Statue of Liberty .

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Where is Rockefeller Center and What Can I Do There?

Rockefeller Center is located in midtown Manhattan and encompasses an area of several blocks. It stretches from world famous 5th Avenue to 6th Avenue (also known as Avenue of the Americas). The cross streets are West 49th to West 51st. There are several subway stops under Rockefeller Center and the 5th Avenue stops nearby. It's a 5-10 minute walk for Times Square, or 15 minutes from Macy's and Herald Square.

Rockefeller Center is one of the great New York City 'must see' sights. It sometimes gets overlooked by the more frequently visited Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building or Central Park. Our opinion: it's on our top 5 of places to visit in New York City. When visitors tell me they want to see the sights, I recommend they go to both the Top of the Rock and to the Empire State Building. Do one in the daylight and come back to the other at night (but always get your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment and long waits).

Rockefeller Center was named after John D. Rockefeller, who first developed the space in 1930. It represents one of the great architectural and building programs in the city. All the buildings are of a similar, iconic art deco style. 30 Rock is the large centerpiece that soars over midtown and is the home of 'Top of the Rock', a three level observation platform over 80 stories above Manhattan. Right next door is the famous 'Radio City Music Hall' that has the world famous 'Christmas Show' and 'Rockettes', concerts throughout the year and soon the newest stage attraction, a spring show featuring the 'Rockettes'. Radio City is magnificent in itself as it has seats for over 5,000 on 4 levels, has one of the world's great acoustic feels, and is a reminder of what opulent living was in the 1930's. The ceiling are huge, the overwhelming feel is excitement as soon as you get in the door. The good news is that there are daily tours even when there isn't a show at Radio City.

Adjacent to Top of the Rock is the famous Rockefeller Center skating rink, open from November-March. In the warmer months, the ice rink is converted into a café for lunch and dinner and drinks. In the plaza above the rink, is the area where the famous 70 or 80 foot Christmas tree stands every holiday season. From mid November to just after New Years, the tree is a magnificent reminder of the holiday season in New York. While the tree is decorated as soon as it is erected, the tree lighting takes place in the week just after Thanksgiving and NBC television has a 3 or 4 hour show with stars from around the world.

Sometimes forgotten but not to be missed is the mezzanine or arcade level of stores and shops that run under Rockefeller Plaza. There are 75 or more stores and places for casual food all slightly underground. No admission, the area is free and easily reached by stairs and elevators.

Lastly, Radio City and Rockefeller Center is the home of NBC television. On the street level at 49th street, you can see where 'The Today Show' broadcasts every day but Sundays and holidays. In the nearby buildings are some of the TV studios where NBC has studio tours; including the studio for 'Saturday Night Live'.

Here is something that only true New Yorker knows- that one of the best places for a shoe shine is underneath Rockefeller. Down one of the paths, from Monday tom Friday and from 8am to 6pm people line up to get their shoes shined by some of the best in the business. 5 or 6 at a time are shining shoes and the shin seems to be better and last longer than anyone else's. Watch the tourists stop and take pictures to show their friends at home.

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What Are the Best Ways to Get To and From the Local Airports?

There are several ways to get a shuttle to JFK (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA), Newark (EWR) airports.

First, let's start with the fact that unlike in some cities, there are no free shuttles from a hotel to an airport or vice versa. Every method of getting from or to Manhattan from one of our airports involves payment. There are no hotel owned shuttles to and from the airports (but some of the non-Manhattan hotels will provide shuttle service to the nearest subway or commuter line).

Second, for as long as taxis have been in New York, there have been no cabs on call. That may change in the coming months with the advent of several mobile apps but for now, no cabs on call. You cannot call for a yellow cab in New York like many other cities. It is currently illegal. The only way to get a NYC cab is to walk to an intersection, raise your arm and hope for the best. If you do hail a NYC cab, remember to always ask for and get a receipt as it has the cab ID on the receipt. And for those who may not know, the numbers of cabs are regulated and limited by law. That means that they are hard to come by at peak hours, late in the day and during cold, wet or inclement weather. Except at the airports and a few other spots, you will not easily find a cab in the outer boroughs (Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island). If you are in New Jersey or a New York suburb, the cost of a cab is considerably higher.

Third, never ever accept an offer from a black car that stops on the street and asks if you want a ride. These are livery cabs and can ONLY be called. The exception is in the outer boroughs where you can hail a livery cab as well, but check when you get in for a license and the Livery Passenger's Bill of Rights that must always be posted. These cars aren't metered so ask for a fare quote before you go!

Back to shuttles! Almost every hotel in the city has access to a paid shuttle service. Shuttle service, for those unaware, generally means a van with 9-14 seats, run by an independent company, where you share the trip with others going to the same airport (Bus shuttles are quite different). The most popular names in the shuttle business in New York are Go Airlink or Super Shuttle. They both operate about the same but come from different backgrounds. Go Airlink was born for major city transfers and it shows. They know how to pick you up and get you to the airport. Super Shuttle was born from a home to airport model and they are okay but the hotel pickup isn't in their prime DNA.

Airport shuttles are fine for most people but not if you have large or excess luggage as they will charge you for another seat if you have too many or a large bag. They aren't for you if you are running late. Generally there is no requirement to tip on shuttles but if someone helps you with your bags, $1 or 2 is welcome but not required.

With either service, you must pre-book a reservation, at the very least 3 hours in advance. Best is if you book your return as soon as you arrive as there are limits on how many people they can carry at one time and one hour. If you call too late, you may 1) have to leave much earlier then you prefer or 2) you may get shut out and have to use a cab to get to the airport (which can be a real challenge when it is busy or the weather isn't perfect.

The cost varies a little with the airport but typically LGA is about $15-18 while EWK and JFK are $22-25 per person. You can book on line, on the phone, or for greater certainty go to the hotel concierge or guest services agent in the hotel. The concierge will do the work for you and give you a reservation number or confirmation slip. If there is a delay or issue, the concierge will be there to assist you in solving the problem.

As for how much in advance you need to leave for the airport, there are general rules

1. If it's a holiday, inclement weather, between 4-8PM on weekdays, you need more time to get to the airport and through security. If it's a clear day, early in the morning or a non peak time, you can shave time off of the departure from the hotel.

2. JFK and Newark (EWR) leave 3 hours before departure; LGA 2 ½ hours before departure. Be cautious so if there is any doubt, leave earlier and the worst you do is sit in the departure area. Leave late and you miss your flight and end up with extra fees or even having to stay overnight.

The basic recommendation is to leave plenty of time. If you are the cautious type, add in an hour or so; if you enjoy tight deadlines, do so at your own risk.

DO NOT BOOK A SHUTTLE OR A VAN WITH THE BELLMAN OR THE DOORMAN AT A HOTEL. The doorman/bellman are the last individuals to seek assistance in arranging transportation. In far too many instances, they will place you in vehicles with inadequate insurance, poorly maintained and driven by questionable or nonexistent driving licenses. Reports are rampant of driver's virtually high jacking passengers, taking them on roundabout routes, demanding 'extra payments 'for nonexistent services.

Bus Shuttles are available and generally depart from one area of Manhattan adjacent to Grand Central Station. Bus shuttles are really not for everyone since they are less than enjoyable in the way of service. And when you calculate the time and effort to get to where they depart or arrive from, it seems too much for too little savings. The only time I recommend bus shuttles is when you are on a very strict budget and have a lot of extra time to go from your hotel to a central departure spot, wait for a bus and then join 40-50 others as you stop at every terminal.

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Can I Take Public Transportation to the Airport?

Yes, if you are traveling light and don't mind a bit of adventure, it is possible to take public transportation to/from all the local airports.

Let's start with JFK. There are several ways to get there from Manhattan. You can take the Queens-bound E train to Jamaica and transfer there to the Airtrain, which stops at all JFK terminals. Another option is to take the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station to Jamaica where you can make the same transfer. Finally, you can take a Brooklyn-Bound A train to Rockaway and transfer to the Airtrain at a different entrance point from there. Metrocards do not work for the Airtrain, which is $5.50 per person.

Newark is quicker and easier to get to by public transportation than you might think, however it requires NJ Transit followed my Newark's own Airtrain and may not end up being much less than a shared shuttle. Simply take New Jersey Transit Commuter Rail from Penn Station and get off at the Newark Airport stop, where you can transfer to an Airtrain. Peak adult fare for NJ Transit from Penn Station to Newark Airport is $12.50 and the Airtrain is $5.50 person.,

LaGuardia is perhaps the most complicated. Being the smallest airport, they have not set up quite the organized system the other two have. However, it's the only one you can get to without paying an additional fare on top of the MTA standard single ride fare! The best way is to take a Queens-bound N train to Astoria Blvd, where you can transfer to the M60 Bus. The M60 bus stops at the airport, where you may have to transfer to another airport bus (which is free) to get to your terminal.

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How Do I Purchase a Subway Ticket (Metrocard)?

To buy a Metrocard go to the main entrance at just about every subway stop. Just outside the turnstiles here will be 2 or more Metrocard Vending Machines. These machines take American dollars or most credit cards. Some international cards do not work because of the need to enter longer postal codes.

If possible have you cash or credit card ready before approaching the machine and never display money or credit cards openly as that might make you a target for pickpockets.

When buying a subway ticket do your best to avoid buying it at the busiest times 7-9AM or 4-7PM on weekdays as there may be lines. If you are going to a Yankee game make SURE you have your return fare when you arrive as leaving a Yankees game is one of the worst times to buy a Metrocard.

Unlimited passes (minimum 7 days) require each individual to have their own pass, but up to 4 people can share one Metrocard if you have a pay-per-ride card.

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How (And Who) Should I Tip?

Unlike many other countries, tipping is seldom if ever automatically added to a bill in the US. The exception to the rule is when you dine with 6 or 8 in one party; some restaurants will place an automatic 18-20% tip to your bill. This is the exception and when it is added, no further tipping is necessary. If this is the restaurant's policy it will generally be printed on the menu, and will definitely always be itemized on the receipt.

CAUTION

BE AWARE THAT A FEW RESTAURANTS, WHEN THEY HEAR A FOREIGN VOICE, WILL ADD AN AUTOMATIC TIP ONTO A BILL BECAUSE SOME TOURISTS FAIL TO LEAVE A TIP. THIS IS NOT PERMITTED AND YOU CAN AND SHOULD ASK IT TO BE REMOVED AND THEN APPLY THE TIP YOU WANT.

ALWAYS READ YOUR BILL AS THE STAFF SOMETIMES MAKES ERRORS AND CHARGES YOU FOR AN DRINK THAT NEVER CAME, A APPITIZER THAT WAS CANCELLED, OR EVEN GIVES YOU THE WRONG BILL. MAKE SURE YOUR BILL IS YOURS AND IS ACCURATE.

For regular tipping here are some guidelines. Remember that tipping is discretionary and never required. It reflects how you feel about the service. The amount you tip will depend on the service you receive. Also I generally tip on the cost of the item without the tax added in. For example a meal that cost $100 becomes $108.75 with New York's sales tax. I tip based on the $100 amount .

Restaurants - New York servers receive only a small hourly wage usually around $3-3.50 per hour. They depend on guests tips for their livelihood. The amount you tip depends on the level of service you receive. Generally 10-12% is a minimum, 15-17% is standard and 20% is considered good. Over 20% if the experience was exceptional.

At very upscale restaurants, the bill may be presented and allow for tipping separately for the wait staff, the captain and the sommelier (wine steward). Here there are different rules - the wait staff gets 15%, The captain 5% and the sommelier something like $10-12 a bottle (but only if they truly assisted you in selecting).

Doorman and Bellmen - if they assist you with your bags $2-3 should suffice unless you have several bags or large bags, then $5-10 may be appropriate. If two different people help, then go to the one who helps the most. Doorman for hailing a taxi or assisting, then $1-3. Staff who retrieve your car, $1-2.

Taxi/Cab Drivers-I tend to be more generous with this group as they have a very hard task and receive only a portion of the meter amount. However, I do not reward poor performance, rude behavior, taxi's with strong odors, etc. In those cases my tip, if any, would be very minimal like $1-2 regardless of the length. Always, always get a printed receipt from the driver. It may be helpful if you need to lodge a complaint or look for a lost item, as the receipt will have the taxi's unique ID code printed on it as well as a date and time stamp.

Otherwise for a $5-7 fare, I would offer $1.50/2.00; for a $10 fare, something like $2-2.50

Bartenders/ Cocktail waitresses- a $1 or so per drink, again depending on the quality, friendliness, ambiance, etc.

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Where Can I Get Cheap Broadway Tickets?

There are several options for those interested in getting less expensive tickets to a Broadway show. What is important to remember is that one size does not fit all. What might be a good deal for one person will be a pain for another. A complete explanation will follow.

To begin, Broadway tickets are a commodity so the price that a show will cost will depend on the classic factors of supply and demand. If demand is great, the cost of a ticket will rise and rise quickly while when supply exceeds that demand, the price to acquire a ticket will be less.

Part 1 -Ticket Price Background

First, Broadway prices are higher and sometimes much higher than visitors expect. Touring productions of Broadway shows can be as low as $25 per ticket, wheres the same show on Broadway could be 4-6 times that much. The costs are more in New York, the actors are the best in the world, the theatres are spectrular, and a hundred other factors influence the cost.

Second, there are generally three or four seating levels each with a different price. The five (5) general categories are: Balcony, Rear Mezzanine, Front Mezzanine, Orchestra, and Premium (preferred locations in the orchestra and front mezzanine). The least cost will be the balcony while the premium seating will be the most expensive.

Third, the better seats in the house are not always the most expensive. Depending on the show and the theater, seats in the mid mezzanine may be a great option. Other times, the middle of the orchestra is best. Sometimes sitting on the right side is preferred to the left because of the way shows are staged.

Fourth, seats in theatres are numbered differently. Generally in a three section theatre, left, right and center, seats on the left side will be number odd-1,3,5,7, etc; seats on the right will be even - 2,4,6,etc; and seats in the center will be three digits sequentially - 101,102,103,etc. when you purchase seats in a row, the row may begin with "A" or "AA" and proceed to the back of the alphabet. Note some theatres have two or three rows marked "AA,BB,CC" before row "A" begins so just because it says row "B" doesn't mean you are sitting in the second row.

Fifth, to remind you, the best seats are not always the closest. Generally speaking the first 4 or 5 rows are not considered the best while a seat in the second row of the mezzanine is better.

Part 2 - Cost

There are several places to find the least cost seats. Some of the popular choices include the "TKTS" booth in Times Square or Brooklyn, or coupons that are occasionally handed out in Times Square for select shows. Each of these choices has benefits and drawbacks. Let's look at a few things to consider:

TKTS- is a booth located in the heart of Times Square right across from the famous 'red steps'. It has been the home for discount tickets for over 25 years. The number of shows available on any given day will vary from just a few on peak periods, Saturdays, etc to most shows when things are slow like in the middle of winter. Show prices will vary between 20% to 50% discount off full price. The most popular shows are never on Broadway so don't look for a blockbuster like Book of Mormon or a classic like Lion King, they are not going to be there. You are most likely to get the less desirable seats to the less popular shows.

To get a ticket from "TKTS" it takes time and effort to save. Tickets only go on sales for the day of the show (or for the following day's matinee in Brooklyn). There are no presales of tickets for tomorrow or next day. The TKTS booth generally opens at 3PM and lines form as early as 2 - 3 hours beforehand during peak periods (on matinee days it opens at 10 or 11 AM). You often wait on line for hours and there is no shelter from the weather. It's best to select 2 or 3 shows that you want to see as, after waiting for hours, you may find your first or second show is sold out. It's a good way to save some money but it is offset by tying up your day with waiting. Many visitors are trying to get in a lot of sights and activities in just a few days and getting stuck waiting on line just doesn't fit what they want to do with their time. For others, they see it as getting a bargain and that is their hot button. If time and weather are not factors to your enjoyment, TKTS is an option.

Coupons - many shows put out coupons for lower priced tickets. There are two ways to use a coupon, on line or present to the box office. The discounts will vary and can be between 10-40% off. To purchase a ticket online at discount, you will need a valid credit card and many foreign cards are rejected due to their banks restrictions, time differences, charge limits and postal zone problems. When you purchase an online ticket, you will typically pay a service and a handling charge. The service fee will range from approximately $10 per ticket to over $20 per ticket plus a handling charge of $3.50 or more depending on your shipping method. You can also redeem coupons in person at the theater's box office and avoid the service fee, though there is no guarantee that the box office will still have tickets available for your selected performance when you arrive at the theater. Many shows also include blackout dates or performances on their coupons so make sure you read all the fine print.

Hotel Concierges

At many (not all) hotels, the hotel concierge can be a source for lower cost seats. The better hotel concierges recognize that some visitors need to spend less so they look for seats that sell for less than a full price seat would cost. The advantages of using a hotel concierge is that you can still save money off of a full prices ticket get the ticket sale done 5 minutes or less, avoid waiting on line or having to be in Times Square in the middle of the day and you have a reliable source. It's a good safe alternative. Maybe you don't save as much, but the benefits can outweigh the difference.

Street Purchases -never purchase Broadway seats off of a street seller . Never

In the Times Square area there are ticket hustlers who will try to get you to buy tickets from them usually at a big discount. DON'T DO IT. While there are a few reputable sellers, too many street sellers are selling you either altered tickets (they use photocopy tricks to change dates and other data) and sell you a fake ticket. Other times, they take a computer printed paper ticket and sell it to 5 different people; only the person who gets to the theatre first gets in, the other 4 get duped and lose their money. The cliché that if it sounds too good to be true, it's because it isn't true probably started with buying tickets from a street seller.

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How Much is a Central Park Carriage Ride?

Carriage rides through Central Park are one of the most popular NYC experiences. On a slow moving carriage, you get a sense of what it was like to be in Manhattan 100 or 150 years ago. Carriages can carry up to 4 adults (possibly 5 persons if small children) and the prices below are per carriage not per person. Specialty and longer rides with flowers, photography, etc can be arranged for an extra charge.

Carriage rides are available year round from approximately 10AM in the morning until an hour or two after midnight, except on the very coldest or the very hottest of days. These are tame, well trained horses who know their way almost without a driver. The drivers and the carriages are licensed by NYC.

As for costs, they vary depending on the length of the ride and the time of year. Here are some general guidelines (but always confirm the cost before starting to avoid any surprises). The prices do not include the tip. With Walk ups there is no guarantee that you will find a carriage or you may have a long wait at certain times.

20 Minutes - Walk up only - standard ride -$50; $20 for each additional 10 minutes

45 Minutes - Walk up - $110

45 Minutes - Pre-Scheduled - $165

The driver does expect to receive a tip at the end of a ride; at least $10 and more often $20 is the standard.

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Where do I go to get VAT (Value Added Tax) Back on Purchases?

There are no VAT or tax refunds for purchases made in the United States. Unlike many foreign cities where you are charged VAT at the time of purchase but can receive a full refund by showing the receipt and goods purchased at the airport, there are no sales tax or VAT refunds in the US.

Some people will misadvise you to seek a refund at the airport but they are incorrect. There are no refunds. The reasons are many but one reason is that unlike foreign countries, sales taxes are set and collected by each individual state. For example, while NYC has an 8.875% sales tax, New Jersey rates are lower and in Delaware there is no sales tax at all.

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I Forgot Something! Where Can I Find a Drugstore?

The very good news is that when it comes to drugstores in New York you will find that there are a lot of drugstores and they offer everything from medications and pharmacy items to cosmetics to books, souvenirs, groceries, and more. Within 2 -4 blocks of nearly every Manhattan hotel is a drug store. As a matter of customer service many stores are open 24 hours and some even have a 24 hour pharmacy.

The largest but not the only drugstores are chains. You'll find national chains like CVS and Walgreens as well as more regional chains like Duane Reade (the original Duane Reade was on the corner of Duane Street and Reade Street in Manhattan).

To find the closest drugstore, ask the Hotel Concierge if you have one, the Front Desk staff, the bellman or the doorman. If you have a smart phone, of course you can do a search for the nearest drugstore. If all else fails, most New Yorkers on the street are very friendly and will point you in the right direction.

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Who Has the Best Bagels?

New Yorkers are known for their opinions - and everyone definitely has an opinion on this one!

To get a bagel, you can go into just about any corner deli (there is one on just about every block). They will sell you a bagel and it will probably be okay. Do not even consider anything called a bagel if it's sold by a national chain. It's dough and it has a bagel shape but it's not a real bagel - that's one thing all New Yorkers can agree on!

To be good there are a few basic but critical requirements:

ü You need NYC water- its different then other water

ü You need to boil every bagel first before baking ; many bagel makers ignore this step

ü The bagel needs to be freshly baked that very day ( yesterdays bagel is like eating a soggy newspaper)

Now there are two ways to enjoy a bagel - toasted and untoasted. Everyone has an opinion but the # 1 bagel maker by popular demand only serves them untoasted.

The Best Bagel

Not too long ago there were several options for the best but they all got done in by the economy: H&H and Times Square Bagels to name a few spots no longer here.

After an informal survey of the New York Guest crew, friends & family, here are the results:

Best

Murray's @ 14th and 6th (Greenwich Village area) or Murray's @ 22nd/8th (Chelsea)

Honorable Mention

Ess A Bagel on 3rd and 51st (Midtown East) or Gramacy Park (1st Avenue and East 21st)

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How do I navigate Manhattan?

What many people don't realize is that most of Manhattan is on a grid system of streets that run north to south and avenues that run east to west. 20 blocks or 4 avenues is the equivalent of one mile - the exception is Broadway, which runs diagonally through the city and so is closer to the next avenue in some places.

Most of the avenues are numbered and if the numbers are going up, you are going west. There are some named avenues snuck in there just for fun, including York Avenue just next to the East River; Lexington, Park and Madison avenues which are between 3rd avenue and 5th avenue, Broadway which runs diagonally from East to West as you go north, and Columbus and Amsterdarm which are just the new names for 9th and 10th avenue respectively when you get above 65th street.

You'll see a lot of addresses in the format of: 123 East 1st street. It's easy to get a good idea of where an address is based on this. 5th avenue marks the center of Manhattan, so if you are on 42nd street and walk east on 5th avenue, you might see 1 E 42nd Street, and if you walk west you'll see 1 W 42nd street. As you go further east or west, the numbers go up - so for example, 250 West 42nd Street is between 7th and 8th avenues, while 250 East 42nd Street is between 2nd and 3rd avenues. It sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of it you can find any address in midtown pretty easily!

Once you get below 14th Street, you begin to see the presence of named streets and smaller roads. The roads are often shorter and curve. A Street may run for as little as one block. Streets can be one name on the east side of an avenue and change to another on the west side. Greenwich Village and below is still more ideal for horse-drawn carriages than for cars and walking, so be a little more prepared when you get down there. Even some New Yorkers will find themselves a bit disoriented in Soho or TriBeCa! Still, the grid is there - just with more exceptions.

Of course, with technology these days all you have to do is plug the address into your smartphone or google maps and you can get driving, walking or public transportation directions. Just make sure you are looking at the address in Manhattan (or wherever you'd like to go) - there are some of the same avenue and street names in the other boroughs of NYC and that could definitely get confusing!

Walking

Walking in Manhattan is the easiest and least expensive option to get you from point A to point B. Not only is it free of charge (always a plus!), but walking to your next destination gives you a chance to take in some of the sights up-close that you may have missed while whizzing by in a taxi or bus. Having the chance to be in the center of it all as you're walking the city streets is a great way to people-watch as well…experiencing the diverse people of New York City as you're strolling the avenues along with them will leave you with stories to tell for days and memories to last a lifetime.

One thing to be wary of is the time and distance it will take to get to where you'd like to go. There is no way to declare "it takes X amount of time to walk from here to there" as everyone's pace is different and obstacles such as weather, street signals, crowds and traffic are always a factor. Always leave ample time if you are planning to walk - besides, there may be something interesting you happen upon along the way that you'd like to stop and explore further.

From Times Square, some easy places to forgo the taxi and walk to are:

  • Grand Central Station
  • Macy's
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Empire State Building
  • Southern entrance to Central Park
  • Lincoln Center

As you are walking, be sure to be aware of your surroundings at all times. New Yorkers are used to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan's traffic and will often dart across the street when they see an opening. This is not advised for visitors - please be mindful of the traffic signals and always have your eye out for taxi cabs who veer through at the last second.

A word of warning: it's called "pounding the pavement" for a reason. Manhattan sidewalks are made of solid concrete - be sure to wear comfortable shoes (sneakers are always a great choice) and be sure to abandon fashion for comfort. A little inside secret - most New York women wear sneakers to and from work only to slip on their designer shoes once they arrive!

Double Decker Buses

If time is of the essence or the distance is a little too far to manage, a wonderful option for transportation is to purchase access to the hop-on hop-off double decker buses. These buses have stops all over the city for your convenience and the open-air top deck is a great way to see the sights as you're heading to your next destination.

The Subway

There's really no contest - New York City has the best public transportation system in the world. Even if our MTA has its problems, we can still travel 38 miles for under $2.50. There's no reason to be afraid of the subway - especially during the day. Basically the entire population of New York City uses it, so you will never be alone. There are system maps on every train car and helpful smartphone apps (iTrans is the best). Here are a couple of quick tips:

- Map out your route ahead of time. Get directions from a hotel staff member or friendly New Yorker.

- Always (always!) check the platform to make sure you are waiting for a train going in the correct direction. Going in the wrong direction is a real time-waster. Remember, Brooklyn is south, the Bronx is north, and Queens is usually north and then east.

- Keep an eye on your stuff - like with all crowded areas, pickpocketing can happen and you don't want to be a victim.

- Have fun! You never know what you'll see on an NYC subway!

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Where Should I Go for Brunch?

Brunch is as much of a part of New York as the Empire State Building. Many New Yorkers "do brunch" every Sunday and there are so many restaurants that have a dedicated following for their brunch menu. While there are many variations, a traditional New York brunch is on Sunday, includes an alcoholic drink, and good old fashion breakfast. Some of our staff favorites include:

Blue Fin- 1567 Broadway at 47th Street

Located right in the heart of the Times Square, this restaurant's forte is in fresh Atlantic Seafood. Their brunch menu includes smoothies, sushi, and a raw bar with great Atlantic seafood

MexiBBQ - 37-11 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11103

A local favorite - MexiBBQ is located fifteen minutes outside of Manhattan. Their Mexican take on Egg's Benedict (with carnitas) is a must try. They also have the "hangover Bowl", which is pretty much ultimate nachos over eggs.

Kutshers - 186 Franklin Street

This is a classy American brasserie with fantastic Eggs Benedict in the heart of Tribeca. Once you're done with brunch, take a walk around the neighborhood and enjoy the community.

Sarabeth's - Numerous Locations in Manhattan

This small bakery started in a cramped New York City apartment and has expanded to nine restaurants. One of our colleagues swears by the red omelette (red pepper in a tomato sauce with cheddar and sour cream!) and their lemon ricotta pancakes.

Tipsy Parson - 156 Ninth Avenue

This is elegant casual southern cuisine is located in the Cheslea neighborhood. The restaurant is steps from the beautiful High Line Park. We recommend the cheese grits and the biscuit bomb.

Dos Caminos - Multiple Location

Dos Caminos is the place to go for Mexican food in New York. There Mexican brunch is the perfect place to add a little bit of spice to your Sunday. We love the chilaquiles verdes and the lemon blueberry pancakes. Bring on the margaritas!

Cookshop - 10th Avenue at 20th street

Offering the best in New American food, Cookshop is one of the newly popular resturants located in the heart of Chelsea. Awesome cocktails, outdoor seating in the warm weather, seasonal and locally sourced food make this one of the trendiest places to do brunch.

Murray's Cheese Bar - 264 Bleecker Street

Known for their dedication to cheese, Murray's Cheese Bar just started serving brunch. This brunch is not for novices. We recommend for brave brunchers theFrench toast stuffed with bacon and peanut butter.

Turkish Kitchen - 386 3rd Avenue

Love Turkish food and on a tighter budget- come to Turkish Kitchen. They have an amazing buffet brunch for $22 per person. You can't beat that deal!

Kashkaval - 856 9th Avenue

Kashaval has amazing cheese and wine bar. On Sundays their brunch menus offer a variety of thematic plates- Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Dutch, and Balkan. Each plate comes with a cheese, bread, spread, and your choice of beverage.

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Where is Penn Station?

Penn Station is in midtown Manhattan. It spans several blocks but is generally though of as being located at 34th street and 7th avenue. The southernmost entrance is on 30th street, with the northernmost entrances on 34th. There are entrances on both 7th and 8th avenues.

Penn Station is one of Manhattan's main transportation hubs. There are six subway lines that stop there, along with the PATH train to New Jersey and two of New York's primary commuter rail systems - New Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroad. Additionally, it is the only place in New York City where Amtrak trains stop.

Penn Station is also immediately adjacent to Madison Square Garden and you can get from one to the other without even going outside.

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Where is Grand Central?

Grand Central Terminal is located at East 42nd Street between Vanderbilt Avenue on the west and Lexington Avenue on the east. It extends several blocks north to East 45th Street.

Grand Central is home to New York's third large commuter rail service - Metronorth railroad, which goes primarily to Connecticut and Westchester. 5 subway lines stop at Grand Central, including the S and the 7, two of the only subway lines that can be used to get straight across town.

Grand Central is a magnificent classic space and one of New York's finest architectural endeavors, with soaring ceilings and grand halls. The Terminal turned 100 years old this year (2013). It is also home to a wide range of dining and grab & go options. The world Famous Oyster bar is in the basement and a reminder of what old New York once looked like. The Grand Central Market boasts fresh produce and artisanal products, not to mention fine wines and craft beers. There are a number of fine shops within the Terminal and many great events are hosted there. Even if you don't have a transportation need there, Grand Central is a fantastic spot to visit!

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Where is Battery Park?

Manhattan is a long, thin island that narrows as you head south, and you will find Battery Park at the very tip.

Battery Park is where you will find the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as well as the world famous, and always free, Staten Island Ferry. Within Battery Park, there are very nice paths for walking, incredible views of the Lower Harbor and a very nice restaurant, Battery Gardens. Within walking distance is the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street, Trinity Church, the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial and the very popular Century 21 Department Store.

The easiest way to get downtown is via subway - a number of subway lines stop in the area. Some prefer to take the Gray Line or City Sights Double Decker buses and get off at Battery Park.

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