The following is adapted and expanded from a list that first appeared in programs given out at many of the HOPE conventions, written by the HOPE staff. Reprinted and expanded with permission.
If you know of a location we should add to this list, let us know!
New York City is easier to get around than most cities in the world. It’s also one of the most friendly. Forget what you see on TV and in the movies. People here will look out for you and help you if you have a question, as long as you’re not annoying or overly naive. In other words, if you made it here you should be fine.
Subways are by far the most efficient and cheapest way to get places that you don’t want to walk to. (We really do encourage you to walk as much as you can if you really want to take in the sights.) You can ask for a free subway map from any station attendant, or find one in any number of commercial maps and guidebooks. You can also download the official map from the MTA, or any of several free maps from Wikimedia.
The 1, 2, and 3 lines form the 7th Avenue line that goes to the West Village (downtown, meaning South) and the Upper West Side (uptown, meaning North.)
The A, C, and E lines are on 8th Avenue. All three of these trains go to the West Village (downtown) while on their uptown runs the A and C go to the Upper West Side and the E loops through Midtown before heading to Queens.
The B and D lines run uptown to the Upper West Side and the Bronx and downtown to the Lower East Side and Brooklyn.
The F, N, Q, R, and W lines on Broadway all go up to Midtown and (except for the Q) wind up in various parts of Queens. Downtown they all go through various parts of the East Village, Lower East Side, and Chinatown before heading to Brooklyn (with the exception of the W.)
More info on the mechanics of actually using the subway can be found on our NYC transit page.
Here are some popular destinations and how to get there by subway. Directions assume the Midtown/Penn Station area as a starting point.
Bleecker Street: Same as the East Village (below.) Just go one more stop downtown on the 6 to Bleecker. Walk west and hook up with the West Village. Echoes of Dylan can still be heard.
Broadway Theater District: Walk east to Broadway, make a left, and it will unfold in front of your eyes.
Central Park : For the east side of the Park, take an uptown A, B, C, or D to 59th Street/Columbus Circle. The Park is what keeps New Yorkers sane. There’s always something happening whether it’s Shakespeare in the Park, free concerts at the Summerstage, or just the everyday kite flying, dog walking, bike riding, jogging, and lying in the sun. You too can bask on a field, climb a rock, or visit the zoo.
Citigroup Center: The longtime home of the NYC2600 meetings, and 45th tallest skyscraper in the world, can be reached by taking the uptown E or 6 trains to Lexington Avenue station, which is directly underneath the building. Exit the station and you’re already at Citigroup’s welcoming glass doors.
Chinatown: Take the N, Q, R, or W southbound to Canal Street and walk east. You can also transfer at 14th Street/Union Square to a downtown 6 train and get off at the other Canal Street station which is slightly further east. The best street to walk down in Chinatown is Mott Street which intersects Canal. Chinatown is also adjacent to Little Italy.
Coney Island: Take a long ride on the Brooklyn-bound D, F, N, or Q to Stillwell Avenue, which is right across the street from the best beach in town. Listen to The Warriors soundtrack on headphones for extra effect.
East Village: Take the N, Q, R, or W to 14th Street/Union Square, transfer to a downtown 6, and take that one stop to Astor Place. (You can even walk downtown from Union Square and skip the 6 if you prefer.) Head east on St. Mark’s Place towards Tompkins Square Park. That street alone will provide you with all sorts of places to check out for an entire night. Lots of Indian food is on 6th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. There are 24 hour Ukrainian restaurants on 2nd Avenue. The neighborhood is filled with plenty of fun places that are open late extending all the way to Avenue C (east of the park.)
Empire State Building: If you’re already anywhere near the west side, on a street from the upper 20 through the lower 40s in Midtown, you’re probably already too close to take a subway there at all. Look up and around, you should really have no difficulty spotting it. If you really must use a train, take an A, C, E, 1, 2, or 3 to 34th Street/Penn Station and walk west toward 5th Avenue.
Fifth Avenue: Either take an uptown E or an uptown N, R, or W. The N, R, and W will drop you right on the southeastern corner of Central Park.
Ground Zero: Site of the past and future World Trade Center and location of the biggest terrorist act ever to occur in the United States. There are still memorials up, but the site is slowly moving forward as construction is underway on the new tower. Much of the infrastructure has been restored with a temporary train station now open for New Jersey commuters. This “PATH” station is worth a visit for its displays, massive amount of escalators, and unusual (for New York) architecture. Plus, it’s the closest view you can get of the WTC site. Take the E southbound to the last stop, which is still called World Trade Center.
Koreatown: On 7th Avenue just south of the 34th St/Penn Station stop (A/C/E OR 1/2/3) you will see a whole bunch of Korean businesses, including places where you can get Korean food around the clock. If you’re really adventurous, try the Korean barbecue where you cook your own food at your table.
Little Italy: See “Chinatown,” above. Little Italy is the bit of the neighborhood which stops being Chinese and starts being Italian.
Midtown Tourist Trap: To see Rockefeller Center, try to get into the Letterman show, get ripped off at the Carnegie Deli, jump up and down like idiots outside the Today Show, or any of the other touristy things people in Midtown do, just take an uptown B, D, or F to 47th-50th Street and go nuts.
South Street Seaport: To walk on one of the last cobblestone streets in town, stroll down the boardwalk, enjoy the refreshing breeze off the East River, marvel at the historic tall ships in port, gaze across at Brooklyn and her Bridge, learn about 19th-century New York at the Seaport Museum, spectate at the eclectic mix of street performers, and shop in a real live mall, take the 2 or 3 to Fulton Street station, and walk east on Fulton Street.
Times Square: It’s probably close enough to most points in the area to be worth the walk up 7th or 8th Avenue to 42nd Street. Besides, if you’re interested in the sorts of sights there are to be seen in Times Square, than the walk is sure to take you past even more of those sorts of sights. But if you insist, take the 1, 2, 3, A, C, or E uptown to Times Square Station.
Wall Street: Take the downtown 1 or 2 to the money capital of the world. You may even see soldiers with machine guns protecting all that money from the likes of you. Soon to be renamed Armed Barricade Street.
West Village: Depending on how far west you want to go, either take the A, B, C, D, E, or F to West 4th Street (not so west) or the 1 or 2 to Christopher Street (more west.) This is the heart of the gay district so if you’re coming from a red state, you may find yourself going into shock. Don’t panic. And don’t forget to check out the meat packing district (no jokes please, that’s what it really is) south of 14th Street for a strange looking neighborhood with lots of clubs and cobblestone streets.