5 Must-Have Apps for Visiting New York City
Thanks to its incredible history and culture, New York City is one of the largest and most extraordinary cities in the world, not to mention an extremely popular tourist destination. But the Big Apple can also be overwhelming and intense for those new to its avenues (and even for some long-term residents). One of the keys to being in the know, especially on the go, is making sure your smartphone is ready to help you find your way through the alluring streets of NYC’s five boroughs.
Whether you’re in the city to attend the renowned Mercedes Benz Fashion Week or you’re just looking for a good restaurant during your weekend trip with friends, The Recapp has chosen five awesome apps to help you navigate and enjoy New York City. Not only will these apps save you money and protect your sanity in the expensive, fast-paced, anything-can-happen city, but they’ll also ensure your time in the Big Apple is productive, exciting and well-spent—whether you’re just visiting or you’re always in a New York state of mind.
Who better to show you around the city than the knowledgeable staff of the New York Times? The Scoop app provides exclusive, up-to-date lists of current city favorites from Times editors and reporters—specific recommendations for activities beyond your typical tourist traps. You can use the app to spice up your “must do in New York” list with places and events that guarantee a more authentic New York experience—like how to ice skate your way through the city or follow cabbies to their popular late-night food haunts. The Scoop even adds major city events to its essential categories. For Fashion Week, they've included an insider list of the best bars to check out after the runways go dark, if throwing back cocktails with celebrities is your thing. (Be sure to check out our 6 Must-Have Apps for Fashion Week article.)
The Times staff not only shares solid suggestions for the 50 best restaurants you have to try (complete with reviews by the admired Sam Sifton, former restaurant critic and current national editor for the New York Times), but there’s also lists of the best coffee shops, Times-reviewed events and an “Only in New York” guide that will have you feeling like a real New Yorker in no time. (Free for iPhone)
New York is known for its thousands of top-quality restaurants with mouth-watering, eclectic cuisines. And let’s be honest, not being able to pick one is a great problem to have. That’s precisely why Urbanspoon comes in handy. This app is here to help you make an educated decision about where to eat among the infinite culinary options in the city, and it even locates the closest restaurants to you, filtering them by price and cuisine.
Besides helping you choose where to have your next meal, Urbanspoon also provides pictures from restaurants in your area, shares both user and professional-critic reviews, connects you with other hungry friends, and lets you make last-minute table reservations. And for the truly adventurous, you can even “shake” the Urbanspoon slot machine and let it choose a restaurant for you. (Free for Android and iPhone)
With 24 train lines running all around the city, the New York subway system is the quickest way to get around town. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can also be the most confusing means of transportation. Even seasoned New Yorkers get mixed up! Luckily, most public transportation hurdles can be prevented by using HopStop, an app that respects the value of your time and gives accurate, detailed directions to anywhere in the city. It’s truly as simple as that.
Something that makes HopStop especially helpful is that it accounts for construction and delays, then reroutes you immediately if the best train isn’t available during your travel time. It even recognizes prominent tourist attractions and venues if you don’t have the exact address, and there is always a zoomable subway-map option to review when you’re offline. If you want to stay above ground, the app provides directions for your two legs and the bus system. No matter where you’re headed in New York, HopStop is sure to take away the stress of getting there. That alone makes it worthwhile. (Free for Android and iPhone)
When nature calls in the concrete jungle, it’s best to be prepared. The problem is, finding a public restroom in New York City can be quite a tedious challenge. Thankfully, the SitOrSquat app connects you to the closest bathrooms with one quick tap. Each pinpoint on the map provides you with information about the venue’s hours and availability—vital information when you’re in a, well, hurry.
If you have a little more time and want to be picky (for good reason!), you can narrow down the best restroom based on user pictures and reviews. Comments like: “Very clean. You could probably eat your hamburger in here if you wanted to,” is exactly what you want to hear about somewhere you’re about to sit or squat. The app also tells you which bathrooms are handicap accessible or have changing tables. (Free for Android and iPhone)
How would you like to turn your phone into a giant New York City-themed information system? It may seem crazy, but it’s completely possible with NYC Way, the ultimate resource for thriving and surviving in the city, whether for a weekend or for a lifetime. This app is one of the best-kept secrets in New York (well, not anymore), as it brings priorities and possibilities together in a one-stop city reference guide.
With 60-plus mini-apps, the creators of NYC Way literally thought of everything you might need to make the most of your time in New York, from event guides and local Groupons to Wi-Fi locators and lists of free attractions. You can even peak at nearby traffic cameras, read users’ suggestions, make dinner plans, find the closest ATM or grocery store, search Craigslist, book a hotel, check the weather, print coupons, read about family-friendly activities or make a hair appointment. NYC Way is a personal tour guide and concierge, and best of all, it’s free, leaving you more money to spend doing the best things New York has to offer. (Free for Android and iPhone)