How to Navigate Manhattan When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing


There’s no doubt that getting around New York can be daunting, to say the least, if you don’t know what you’re doing. Everyone seems to be rushing around so much, how do you even know where the closest subway stop is? Lucky for you I’ve compiled a little list to help you navigate the city a little bit better, maybe even seem like you know what you’re doing.

  1. Avenues go the length of manhattan and streets go the width
  2. The lower the street number the farther downtown you are (and vice-versa)
  3. Lower the avenue number the farther to the east side you are (and vice-versa)
  4. Traffic on avenues that are odd numbers go downtown even numbered ones go uptown. This if really helpful with orienting where is uptown and where is downtown quickly
  5. Make the Google Maps app on your phone your best friend
    • I will go into further detail of how exactly to utilize Google Maps at the end of the list
  6. If you get lost or want to double check on directions go into a hotel they will be the most helpful and happiest to help

Using Google Maps to Navigate the Subway System 

        Google Maps is especially useful for taking the subway when you don’t know the subway system yet. I’ve always found the subway map a pretty hard to figure out, especially when I was first learning it so even now I like to do this to make sure I’m not messing it up. Google Maps has a public transport option (the little bus looking thing in between the car and walking options) if you didn’t already know. Here’s how to use it to your advantage:

  • Put in your location and where  you want to get to
    • I’m going to use Gotham West Market to Washington Square park in the example photos
  • Change the travel type to public transport (it will look like the second picture) and select the fastest or most direct (if you don’t want to deal with switching trains as much) option. It will then look the same as the third picture
  • Google Maps will tell you how to get to the right subway entrance if you aren’t already at one and when the next two trains will be leaving
  • If there are any stops between when you get on and off it will say so under how long the ride will be
  • In my example pictures above it says A, C or E trains, you can take any of these. Usually, there is more than one train you can take. As long as it’s one of the options they give you and is going in the direction you are going (up or downtown) you will get where you’re trying to go with ease

Using Google Maps to navigate the subway in Manhattan helped me a ton. I would definitely recommend taking screenshots of your route before getting on the subway because there is no service once you’re underground.

I would say to always try to take the subway because it is significantly cheaper than taking a cab but if you genuinely don’t feel comfortable Google Maps can also help when taking a cab to ensure that you aren’t being driven in circles and racking up  cab fair, (this rarely happens but as an out of towner it’s good to be safe)



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One Comment Add yours

  1. Therese Ledwith says:

    This is so helpful. I’ve been going into NYC for decades and didn’t know many of these tips. Thank you Bridy!

    Liked by 1 person

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