The best advice I can give to anyone who is considering coming to New York City, especially for the first time, is to get at least one copy of the weekly entertainment and culture magazine – Time Out New York.
Actually, it’s well worth it to subscribe for a year, but we’ll get to that later. Time Out is a London-based publishing outfit that does weekly guides in over 20 cities worldwide, and they also churn out a reliable group of travel guidebooks. Time Out New York launched in 1995, and the city has never been the same.
You may have seen other “what’s on” magazines lying around hotel rooms, but trust me, this one is a million times better. (I don’t work for them, although one time I did look into it.) Each weekly edition is nearly 200 pages jammed with well-written features, restaurant reviews, and ultra-detailed and complete listings for nearly anything a visitor might ever care about.
- Around Town — lectures, museums, parades, tours, and more
- Art gallery openings and all current displays at the museums
- Book reviews and information on free readings and book signings
- Club listings for all worthwhile public nightclubs (they tend to skip cheesy stuff though)
- Comedy clubs
- Dance recitals and reviews
- Film reviews and listings (loads of art-house info)
- Gay & Lesbian event information
- Kids event information
- Music club listings and CD reviews
- Sports for the week
- Theater listings for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway
- Television highlights (okay, so you won’t need this one)
In other words, nearly everything interesting happening in New York City for the coming week has detailed listings and reviews all in one place. In addition to these features there are listings for hundreds of free events, walking tours, designer sample sales, and loads of other things.
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Where to get Time Out New York
Time Out New York comes out each Wednesday and covers the week from Thursday through the following Wednesday. The cover price is $2.99 (like $3.25 including tax) and it’s available on every newsstand in the city, plus at the airports and everywhere else magazines are sold in the whole region.
Getting a copy in advance
I really wish they sold single copies through the mail because any issue along with a real guidebook (or instead of one) is invaluable for figuring out your game plan once you arrive. Most museums, clubs, and theaters don’t change their offerings very often so you can usually use a 2-month old issue and still do really well for yourself. But it appears they don’t offer single issues at this point, so you might have to ask someone you know who lives there to send you one, check your local library, or…
In recent years TONY (as it calls itself) has lowered their subscription price substantially. At the moment you can get a full year plus 8 bonus issues (59 issues in all) for $19.99. Considering you are going to spend probably 20 times that amount at an absolute minimum on even a 3-day visit, it can be the best $20 you’ll ever spend. The additional feature articles are sometimes about New York, but sometimes just generally interesting things. And the movie and music reviews will apply to you no matter where you are anyway.
The Time Out New York website, unfortunately, only has minimal listings and kind of a confusing navigation system as well. It’s worth a look, but the magazine itself is the main attraction.