New York City is one of the most popular cities to visit in the world. But unfortunately, travel to NYC has been difficult, if not impossible, for most of 2020. Now that we are entering the 3rd quarter of 2021, what is New York City REALLY like for those who are ready to visit the Big Apple. In this New York City Update, I’ll share my honest observations.
New York City Update
Once my husband and I received our second vaccine shots, we knew it was time to get ourselves back up to New York. Over the past ten years, we have travelled there frequently, almost every other month during 2018 and 2019. Our last trip was in January 2020.
Fast forward to April 2021, and we spent a glorious ten days in NYC, spending time with many dear friends, and getting a real feel for how things have changed, or stayed the same.
UPDATE: Our most recent trip was June 2021
If you are planning travel to New York over the next few months, I hope you will find this guide to be helpful. I have divided the information into sections, so you can easily find the travel information you need.
- There are no longer any travel restrictions or quarantine mandates in place.
- Masks are being worn inside shops and museums and the subway at all times. At some restaurants, you are asked to wear a mask until seated at your table.
- Subways are MUCH less crowded. No packed rush-hour train rides to endure.
- Cab availability seems to be about 50% of what they once were. Day time it’s not hard to find one, but evenings are more difficult.
- We only called an UBER once, and had no problem finding a ride.
- I have updated my Manhattan Restaurant Guide. You can get your free copy by clicking here.
- Predictably, there were a few restaurants we loved that did not survive, but for the most part, all our favorites were still open for business.
- The most noticeable change is how many are only open for dinner.
- As of June 2021, capacity is at 100%. Many locations have increased capacity by adding outside seating. Some simply added a few tables on the sidewalk. Others built elaborate structures with decor, carpeting and heat lamps. Outside seats are very popular, regardless of the weather conditions.
- Reservations are very important if you want to ensure a table.
- Almost all museums are open now. I visited several, and each was very careful about keeping exhibits or gallery spaces uncrowded, and patrons spaced apart.
- Timed entrances are very common, so I’d advise planning a specific time to visit, and securing tickets on-line ahead of your visit.
- For a list of my favorite museums, click here.
- There are no live Broadway performances taking place.
- I did not explore the Times Square area on this trip, so I cannot speak to this area.
- Of all the changes I noticed, empty stores was the most pervasive. There’s certainly plenty of shopping available, but even areas like SoHo and Madison Avenue have many empty spaces. Of course I’m a big advocate of shopping all those small locally owned boutiques! They need your patronage now more than ever!
- Check the opening hours. I noticed many of the smaller boutiques had shorter hours, or may only be open certain days of the week.
Let me begin by saying that I have always been careful in NYC. Situational awareness is key, and I never carry big purses and I never wear valuable jewelry.
I’m not going to say I felt unsafe, but in April 2021, I will say that I was very very very careful and observant of my surroundings.
In June, just 5 weeks later, I still watch my surroundings carefully, but there are more people out and about, which is a good thing!
In the evenings, there are fewer people out on the streets. Weekends there are more people out and about at night, but nothing compared to the hustle and bustle that I am used to. But the city is gaining momentum for sure!
There are still many more homeless and mentally ill people out on the streets and on the subway platforms.
In April, there was a noticeable lack of police presence throughout the city. In June, I was encouraged to see police in the subway. Still very few police on the street level.
There’s a lot of trash that is not being picked up as frequently as in the past. So while I loved (to my core) being back, you need to really watch yourself and pay attention to your surroundings.
I had many interesting conversations with local business owners and residents about the changes they notice. Tourists are beginning to return, but not in the numbers of past years.
Because so many corporations are now working remotely, many areas of town, like Midtown, are really deserted. Fewer restaurants are open in those areas, and fewer people on the streets. Empty streets are not necessarily safer streets.
I am hearing that many businesses are beginning to call workers back to the city, even if only a few days a week. I imagine that following Labor Day, there will be a marked increase in workers back in Manhattan.
Would I recommend visiting New York. I think that depends on how much you want your visit to “feel the same” as in the past. Like most things post-2020, nothing really feels the same yet.
But I am encouraged. There is a more positive energy in the city. There is a happy vibe that is palpable, especially in areas like Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and Soho….where there’s a high concentration of restaurants.
New York is coming back….and I’m cheering her on, every step of the way!
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