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Everything Vancouver travellers need to know about visiting New York

The Big Apple is brimming with unique attractions and things to do.
Find out everything you need to know about travel from Vancouver to New York, including how to get the cheapest flights from YVR to JFK.

Travellers looking to make the most of their trip from Vancouver to New York should plan their itinerary in advance. 

The City that Never Sleeps offers a seemingly endless array of places to explore, with several of the world's most recognizable attractions located within walking distance of each other. 

Visitors can visit the iconic Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, on the same day they soak in larger-than-life, glowing signage of Times Square. 

They can also enjoy massive slices of foldable pizza in Brooklyn before attending a taping of their favourite late-night talk show; there are also sprawling marketplaces offering trinkets and treasures you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world. 

Nestled in a sea of shining skyscrapers, sprawling Central Park welcomes city dwellers to explore its grounds and attractions like the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, the Bethesda Terrace, and many others.

Find out everything you need to know about planning your trip to New York from Vancouver.

What airlines should I fly with to New York?

From Vancouver International Airport (YVR), travellers can fly directly or via a connection(s) to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), or LaGuardia Airport (LGA). 

Airlines that fly to or partially to New York via one of their airline partners include: 

  • Air Canada
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Flair Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Porter Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • Tap Air Portugal
  • United Airlines
  • WestJet

Why would I fly to New Jersey if I'm staying in Times Square? 

Booking flights into New Jersey's EWR airport may save hundreds of dollars off the cost of your flight and not take any additional time to reach your final destination. 

While it is in a different state, it doesn't take long to travel from the airport to New York and there are several options to get there, including by bus, shuttle, train, or car. It takes roughly 40 minutes to an hour to get from the airport to Times Square, depending on what mode of transportation you choose. In comparison, it takes about the same time to travel from John F. Kennedy Airport, despite that airport being located in New York. 

When should I book my ticket to New York?

Tickets for flights during peak travel times should be booked as far in advance as possible, particularly for the winter holidays. However, ticket prices for New York are fairly stable throughout the year. 

Flights should be booked at least two to three weeks in advance because prices surge for ones booked too close to the departure date. You can track prices by setting up a Google Alert in Google Flights to monitor specific dates for a price drop.

Why might I be interested in flying to New York with JetBlue?

JetBlue operates flights between YVR and JFK daily and is the only airline offering a non-stop flight between the airports. The flight departing from Vancouver is a red-eye option while the New York departure is in the evening. 

The carrier also offers sales that reduce the cost of a round-trip, direct flight on the popular route to as little as $370. 

When is the best time of year to visit New York? 

New York offers endless things to see and do year-round but visitors should brace for extreme winter weather. The state often experiences bone-chilling cold and plenty of snowfall, resulting in flight delays and cancellations. You might not feel comfortable walking with a light jacket to a New Year's Eve party, either.

The summer can also feel scorching hot and humid, particularly during heat spells. 

When is the best time of year to visit New York? 

While the winter holidays often occur alongside inclement weather, many people flock to the Big Apple to enjoy its magical-themed attractions. From the soaring, Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to whimsical holiday markets and a popular Gingerbread Lane, there are multiple places to check out to make the season brighter. 

Spring and fall are also popular times to visit New York since these months tend to have milder temperatures. Autumn is particularly popular because the leaves are changing colour. Tours visit multiple places across the Eastern United States to view the changing foliage, including popular regions like New England. 

Is it safe to visit New York? 

The Canadian government gives travellers the green light to visit the United States, advising them to take "normal security precautions" south of the border. But as with any travel advisory, there are a few caveats. 

Never leave your drink unattended and be wary of accepting food or drinks from strangers. New York has a vibrant nightlife scene but many people have been unknowingly drugged in packed clubs and entertainment venues. 

There is also an ongoing threat of terrorism in the U.S. but big cities are considered at a greater risk. Busy tourist centres, airports, and transportation networks are primarily targeted. Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. 

Many U.S. citizens possess firearms. There have been incidences of mass shootings and they often result in casualties. Familiarize yourself with how to respond to an active shooter situation.

Be careful about "robbery ploys targeting visitors," which could include distraction tactics or getting you to pull over on the side of the road. 

Do I need to get any special travel vaccines ahead of visiting New York?

You don't need to get any special travel vaccines to visit New York but you should visit a travel medical clinic before booking a ticket.

The health-care professionals will inform you about what vaccinations you require and what you can expect on your trip. 

What kind of activities can I enjoy in New York?

Many of the best activities to enjoy in New York are free, including exploring Central Park, soaking in the lights of Times Square, and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Many other popular New York City attractions don't cost much money, including multiple impressive museums and art galleries, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Natural History. You can also join guided tours of these attractions or get passes to skip the line.

One way to save on admissions to some of New York City's most iconic attractions is with preset passes. Each offers a different experience but provide significant savings for visitors who want to see multiple places in the city. 

The New York City Pass, for example, offers 40 per cent off admission to the Empire State Building Observatory, and the American Museum of Natural History, plus your choice of three of the following attractions: Top of the Rock Observation Deck, ferry access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Circle Line sightseeing cruises, Intrepid Museum, and Guggenheim Museum. 

The total cost of the pass is $146 for an adult (value $244). 

Tourists looking to explore the city's neighbourhoods can purchase The NYC Borough Pass. They will hear "authentic local stories" with access to attractions such as the New York Botanical Garden, MoMA PS1, Alice Austen House Museum and Kings County Distillery and enjoy "one-of-a-kind musical and theatrical experiences" at Apollo Theater and Repertorio Español, plus Harlem gospel and jazz performances. 

Visitors who choose the Borough pass can pick a duration that suits their travel — one day, three days, seven days or 90 days — with prices starting from $79.

Do I need a visa to visit New York?

Canadian passport holders do not require a visa to visit New York. Canadian visitors can typically stay in the United States for six months without a visa.

How much money will I spend on accommodation?

New York accommodations range in price depending on how you book it. Some Airbnb options cost under $150, while hotels booked through third-party suppliers start between $175 and $200 a night. 

For example, the Pod 51 hotel costs $208 for a one-night stay in April, while a stay on the same night at the five-star, luxury The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel, starts at $1,589. 

Numerous options range in between, with most one-night stays averaging between $250 and $350 in the Manhattan area when booked about a month in advance.

Find more information about exciting destinations in B.C. and across the globe, as well as travel deals and tips, by signing up for V.I.A.'s weekly travel newsletter The Wanderer. Since travel deals can sell out, find out the day they are posted by signing up for our daily Travel Deals newsletter.

Want to learn more about a specific destination or simply have a travel concern or idea that you would like V.I.A. to write about? Email us at elana@vancouverisawesome. Send us stories about recent holidays that you've been on, or if you have any tips you think our readers should know about.