Best NYC Travel Guide Reviews 2023

Sing along: “You’re going to New York! Its streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you. Hear it for New York!” But before you go to New York, you need a travel guide. There’s so much to do and you just decided to take your annual leave to see the sights. In that case, you need to know the best NYC travel guide brands to help you maximize your time in this intriguing city, rich in history and awe-inspiring architecture. But which travel guides should you go for? We have five of them right here in this well-researched review, and they are all from recognized authors and publishers. So, keep your appetites whetted, you’re about to take a huge chunk of the Big Apple!
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Best For
Our Top Choice
DK Eyewitness New York City Travel Guide
For over two decades, DK has helped enrich its readership with highly visual, photographic literature for adults and children alike in over 87 countries and 62 languages.
Itineraries and “don’t miss” places at a glance. Free, color pull-out map. Guided walking tours. Full color photographs, illustrations, and custom maps. Hotel and restaurant listings.
Can become a little too bulky after a while.
Paperback, Kindle
440 pages
Locations guide
Fol lam pa edition
Maps, 3D drawings, highlights
Best Value
Frommer’s Easy Guide to New York
Pauline Frommer is a widely traveled and widely published travel guide author who has also created weekly travel segments for major News studios such as CNN for years.
Highly personal narrative. Quick read. Handy pull-out maps included. Subway directions and prices for all listings. Walking tours included. Tips for saving money included. Not bulky.
Does not come with too many pictures.
Paperback, Nook book
304 pages
Walking tours
Fol pap/ma edition
Maps, discussions, photo guide
Justin Davidson Magnetic City
Justin Davidson, a Pulitzer-winning author, has been explaining the fast-paced New York for years now, giving a historical and cultural perspective to its architecture and layout.
Historical, architectural and personal approach. Vibrant and thought-provoking narrative. Walking tours through Manhattan, Brooklyn, and The Bronx; plus theme tours included.
Does not feature many illustrations.
Paperback, Nook book, audiobook
. 256 pages
Walking tours
Info not provided
Maps, photographs, architecture
Lonely Planet New York City Travel Guide
Since 1973, Lonely Planet, a world-leading travel media company, has supplied travelers with beautifully prepared guides to almost every destination in the world.
Covers popular as well as offbeat places. Highlights and itineraries to tailor your trip to personal interests and schedule. Free pull-out map. Routes for walking tours included.
Book comes with few illustrations.
Paperback, ebook, hardcover
452 pages
Locations guide
10th edition
Maps, highlights, tips, reviews
Kelsey Fox Kids’ Travel Guide – New York City
After teaching children for many years, Kelsey Fox got inspired to tell stories, and these stories have received a warm, wide reception from her target audience: kids.
Colorful and interactive. Spots best site attractions for kids. Space to write and paste pictures. Large and thick-leafed. Fun facts and engaging activities for kids.
Features little that is geared to include parents or entire family
46 pages
Kids’ travel
Premium edition
Coloring pages, quizzes, fun facts

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Watch Our NYC Travel Guide Review

What is the Best NYC Travel Guide?

You should, by now, be well-versed in matters of New York City travel guides and hopefully, our advice helped a lot with useful information that will help you in picking just the right one for your travel pleasure. Go through our reviews now and check out the one that best suits your travel expectations.
Our Top Choice
New York is large and you sure can’t see it all in one visit. But you could come close with The DK Eyewitness New York City Travel Guide. It offers you detailed itineraries and don’t-miss sights with everything available at a glance! Will the kids be in tow? The DK Eyewitness New York City Family guide outlines nearest conveniences and playgrounds, and also features a section for kids’ activities.

DK Eyewitness New York City Travel Guide - Paperback or Flexibound Options, Free Walking Tour App Available

Founded in London in 1974, DK has grown tremendously over time to become one of the leaders in the niche of illustrated reference publishing. With offices in parts of Asia, Europe and North America, DK supplies highly visual and photographic non-fiction books to both adult and children readers in over 87 countries and 62 languages. It aims to inform as well as entertain its readership with every work it publishes, be it print or digital. Combining words and pictures, DK explains concepts in an exceptionally clear manner to create a spectacular effect. Of its many widely recognized works, some of the best are its Eyewitness Travel Guides, without which many travelers find impossible to travel to any destination.

You’re all packed and set to visit the Big Apple but you have no idea how you intend to get around the big city and see all the sights in the short time you have. So, what to do? Get the DK Eyewitness New York City Travel Guide. As its name suggests, this guide gives you solid insider info on everything and every sight in NY so you can maximize your stay in the city.

So, what are the deets on this travel guide?

First off, to get the best of any tour, everyone knows you need an itinerary. Mankind is insatiable – we have lots of ideas on things we want to do and places we need to see, and that can sometimes become our undoing because, more’s the pity, we’re bound by time. The first things this travel book offers you by way of benefits are detailed itineraries and don’t-miss destination highlights. Let’s face it, it’s a big city and you can’t see it all in one visit, but this travel book helps you catch the places you cannot afford to come to NY and not see. With this book, you get all the bases covered.

Touring also means exploring great food options, so this book features area maps marked with restaurants and local dining and drinking specialties that you just have to try before you leave the city. It even gives you the author’s suggestions on the best places for food, and that’s nice because you’ll need an expert’s opinion on food here. Just try not to get too obese with all the sumptuous food options – there’s life after NY, lol!

This travel guide also features guided walking tours that take you round major and important sights. It even gives you a distance chart for estimating walking times. This becomes especially important after you’ve finished eating. You know how you can ask some kind strangers how to get to a particular place you’re dying to see and they tell you, it’s just over there, and over there just keeps going beyond and beyond and beyond? And you’re walking this entire distance on a really stuffed belly – not the greatest feeling in life!

From floor plans of museums, to guided visitor information, to insights into the history and culture behind the sights, this travel guide is rich in information. And yet, it’s never boring. It’s got a free, color pull-out map tucked inside, well illustrated cutaway 3D drawings of important places, and tons of full color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations and customs maps on every page!

PS: You might hear one or two folks complain about not finding certain sights in the guide that ought to be there but here’s a tip: check those places using their full names, e.g., look for American Folk Museum instead of Folk Art Museum or World Trade Center instead of its now defunct name, Freedom Tower. Thank us later. Enjoy your trip!
Best Value
The Frommer’s Easy Guide to New York is written with a highly personal and down-to-earth narrative style. The author, Pauline, takes you around her birth city with candid advice on sights to see and those to skip. There’s another that’s great for a short-time visit with 1-3 day itineraries and thematic tours to suit your interests and schedule – see the Frommer’s New York City Day by Day.

Frommer’s Easy Guide to New York 2017 Edition – Paperback and Kindle Options

Pauline Frommer is an author obsessed with all things travel – well, what else would one expect from someone who’s traveled all her life with her travel guide-writing parents? From her first job at the website, to her award-winning 14-book series ‘The Pauline Frommer Guidebooks,’ Pauline has lived, breathed and slept travel information, making her a well-respected authority on the matter. You’ve likely seen her on TV as she’s talked travel on many shows such as The Today Show, ABC news and FOX news, and has even created weekly travel segments for CNN. Pauline is a widely read and widely published author whose love for travel has led her to help many people enjoy theirs too. She is married with two daughters.

If you need a friend who knows NYC inside out to travel with you on your trip, you need to take the Frommer’s Easy Guide to New York along with you. The language is simple, narrative is powerful and the style is conversational and direct without being pushy. There’s rarely been a travel guide so personally written.

With this book, you get practical, as well as tour-relevant, deets. Some practical info you can find in this book includes how to snag the best deals, featuring bargains on lodging, meals, attractions, and entertainment. She equally has something for those of us with the means to splurge.

Now here’s why you can depend on Frommer’s Easy Guide to New York to really show you everything: It’s annually researched and updated, so you can be sure whatever development occurs in a year will be featured in new editions. This even applies to details like subways prices and expected incidental costs.

Breaking the city into sections in order to allow you see more in a short time, this travel book also features handy pullout, and bulleted maps, and self-guided walk tours. If you’re one to quickly get bored with lengthy reads, then firstly, we apologize. Secondly, you can chillax cos this book is quick to read. It’s not bulky, and comes with a number of pictures to complement its personal narrative style and practical tips and tricks for surviving in NY during your stay.

You don’t have the luxury of time, even if you’re based in the city, so Pauline in her usual, straightforward, but jovial manner gives you the blunt, uncensored truth on what she thinks you should see and what’s a total waste of time. And from someone who’s been in this business since she was an infant, her word is kinda law. So, you might want to take it seriously.
If you’re taken by architecture and buildings, then you should check out the Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York. It offers insider information on the architectural history behind the planning and layout of the city. You can also add this book about China and its urbanization and immigration issues, told in a powerful prose style: Factory Girls: From the Village to a City in A Changing China.

Justin Davidson Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York – Available in Paperback, Audio Book and Kindle Form

Growing up in Rome and graduating from Ivy League Harvard, Justin Davidson is a seasoned scholar with an unabashed obsession for architecture. In fact, he is the architecture and classical music critic at New York magazine. He earned a doctoral degree in music composition in Columbia University and won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for criticism as a classical and cultural critic in 2002. All these, however, never outshone his love for architecture. As a New York local who lives on the Upper West side in Manhattan, he writes about a broad range of urban, civic and design issues over at the New York magazine.

Especially for those who are deeply fascinated by architecture and buildings and the likes, the Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York is the Holy Grail. It contains nearly everything you need to understand and appreciate New York’s architecture and rich cultural history.

With this book, you get guided walk tours throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx, three of the five boroughs of New York. That’s a good score, considering how much you’ll be seeing in a short time – these aren’t exactly small places! You also get a guided tour around the financial District, the famous World Trade Center, the Seaport and the Brooklyn waterfront, Chelsea and the High Line, 42nd Street, the Upper West side, the South Bronx and Sugar Hill. Whoa!

We aren’t even traveling with you and we can already see your itinerary is so full! There’s the temptation to pack up our bags and travel with you but somebody’s got to stay back and hold the fort, so you go on ahead and catch all the magical sights you can. Just don’t forget to take pictures.

This guide takes you on a historical time machine, so you don’t just see a building or even a drive-in or walk ways, you see the reason behind why it is built in that way. This will definitely lend you a fresh pair of eyes when viewing and understanding New York and where it has come from to where it is today. It includes themed tours to various landmarks in the city, a good example being the City of Towers Tour. Davidson goes beyond explaining the history of the towers and the urge to build higher structures, plus the technologies available that made that dream realizable, to delving into the psychology of it all. He explains how living in that space with so many towers has affected the ordinary New Yorker, and the social cultures that have developed from living in such an environment.

As you’d expect from a Pulitzer winner, this book’s a page turner, with an entertaining, vibrant, and thought-provoking narrative that’s sure to engage both the erudite and the layman alike. Let Justin Davidson show you around New York’s scenery in a way only he knows how to.
Tour the popular sights and walk the paths less traveled with the Lonely Planet New York City Travel Guide as chaperone. It features relevant, up-to-date advice on must-see’s and hidden discoveries at offbeat places. Would you also like something that’s great for single day tours, with itineraries for top morning, afternoon and night sights? See the Lonely Planet Make My Day New York City.

Lonely Planet New York City Travel Guide – Available in Paperback, Hardcover and Kindle, Published August 16, 2016, 10th Edition

Owned by Tony and Maureen Wheeler, Lonely Planet was born after the couple took an epic trip across the continent of Asia. The brand puts travelers at the heart of everything it does, ensuring they stay informed and inspired with the trusted content they produce – either in print or digital format. These contents are put together by only the best and most informed experts who visit every destination prior to writing. This unique qualifying criterion has put Lonely Planet’s tour books ahead of its competitors in that information compiled is always relevant, up-to-date and firsthand. This ultimately means travelers can trust this brand to furnish them with all the information they need to enjoy their vacation without any nasty surprises springing up along the way.

So, you want to see all the popular sights in New York, but also walk the paths less traveled? Then welcome your travel buddy: Lonely Planet New York City Travel Guide. It gives you juicy deets on how to get to all the popular sites and even the offbeat places that other guides will not tell you about, all in one delicious book.

Coming with a free, convenient pull-out map plus over 45 other color maps (now that’s a lot!), this travel book takes you through Lower Manhattan, SoHo, Chinatown, Lower East side, Greenwich village, Chelsea, Meatpacking District, Midtown, Upper Westside, Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens. Wow!

With so many different places come avenues for rude culture shocks but this travel book saves you the blush by informing you beforehand of certain practices to expect in certain areas. This way, you can appreciate the uniqueness without being offended by the strange.

Of course, you’ll have an itinerary packed full with activities that match your personal interests and needs. And yes, there are routes for walking tours included but there are still other insider tips Lonely Planet furnishes you with in its travel book – tips like how to save time and money and even how to get around the city like a local, avoiding trouble spots.

This travel book gives the most relevant, up-to-date advice on “must-sees” and “don’t-even-bother” sights in an honest manner, the same way it does with its reviews of sleeping, eating, sightseeing, and shopping plans to suit your budget. This way, you enjoy a rewarding trip and you still come back solvent. Nothing worse than the guilt trip after the realization you’re broke from having a good time.

PS; This book also offers essential info like hours of operations of different establishments and phone numbers, websites, etc. You’ll arrive in New York knowing almost as much as a local!
Get the kids off their devices and into the touring spirit with the Kelsey Fox Kids’ Travel Guide – New York City. The guide keeps them engaged and involved with interactive, kid-friendly activities and fun facts. How about another kid travel book that also offers info on the entire United States in addition to a guide on New York? See the Kelsey Fox Kids’ Travel Guide – U.S.A and New York.

Kelsey Fox Kids’ Travel Guide – New York City: The Fun Way To Discover New York City Paperback

Kelsey Fox started out as an elementary school teacher following her graduation from the Oakland University with a degree in Elementary Education. As time went on, she developed a keen interest in children’s books. With accumulated years of experience, she got inspired and started penning her own children’s stories. Her stories center around kids, each character being inspired by one lovely child or another in her life. With an active imagination and an unbridled love for writing, Kelsey incorporates her experiences into the writing of her books to make them more relatable to her readers. The Kids’ Travel Guide is one of her many notable works.

You remember your last family vacation that didn’t quite feel like one because your kids wouldn’t look up from their devices for even a second to spare a glance at the beautiful scenery you brought them out to see? Well, all that’s about to change with the Kelsey Fox Kids’ Travel Guide – New York City. This travel book practically puts your kids at the helm of affairs for the tour while you relax and just follow their lead. You know you want that!

This guide is large but not bulky, and has lots and lots of fun facts, challenging tasks, useful tips, coloring pages, exciting quizzes and even a space to document thoughts, experience, and pictures. Your kids will definitely carry their travel book all around and when it gets lost, if it gets lost, finding it won’t be too difficult cos it comes in a large, easily found size.

We all know travel guides come with relevant details on history, culture, systems and other interesting facts. This book retells these same details to your kids but in a creative and interactive way that will be oh so easy for them to understand and interesting enough to keep them engaged. In fact, it’s so interactive that it actually gives children a chance to think up ways they plan to get to a particular place, the people they’re going with, and create a checklist of things to pack and things to do at an iconic destination.

It appears that your kids will be learning a whole lot beside the story of New York. They’ll leave better thinkers and more responsible kids with all that planning! But, of course, all planning and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and that’s why this book also points out best site attractions for kids such as: Central Park, Empire State Building, Times Square, magnificent bridges and museums – plus all the fun things y’all can do together while you’re there.

Take it from us, your kids will never forget that vacay where you guys trusted them enough to plan and create all the fun that they enjoyed so much.

How Do I Choose the Best NYC Travel Guide?

Alicia and Jay-Z got it right with that song. New York’s a jungle. New York makes dreams. New York entices you. New York inspires you. There’s hardly anyone who’s lived in New York who has not come to love a part of it, at least, even if it’s not the whole – and there are countless reasons why.

Take it from us, the peeps who complain the most about NYC are the ones who love it the most. Or haven’t you noticed how most of them just won’t move no matter how much they claim to “tire” of the city?

If you haven’t ever been to the Empire State, then you should totally pack up your vehicle, your bike, and your walking shoes and take a guided tour around the city right now. And even if you’ve lived there all your life, a tour would do you some good too. There are so many rich, deep, historic and architectural gems of stories behind every part of the city that we miss daily. If only we knew, we would all be more enamored about this charming city and never leave home without our cameras. So many things to capture!

To prove our point, we will now give you a quick rundown of 9 fun facts that you miss daily while walking the streets of New York:
  • You’re actually not supposed to use your car horn except in an emergency. It’s illegal but we know you’d still do it anyway.
  • New Yorkers can be a little beastly at times. They bite more people than sharks every year. Ten times more! That’s cold, dude…
  • Manhattan actually means the Island of many hills, and it’s a Lenape (whatever that means) word. Well, you won’t see the hills anymore cos they all had to be flattened out for urbanization’s sake.
  • We are still reeling in shock after reading this. New York City has no Walmart! How?! How do they even survive?!
  • Compared to any other place in America, New York drinks 7 times more coffee. It’s no wonder the city never sleeps. It stays lit and the peeps stay awake!
  • And because they stay awake, they work hard, so this next fun fact might not be so fun for you – more like intimidating. Did you know that 1 out of every 21 New Yorkers is a millionaire? This is where you pack your bag and move to New York so you can catch the millionaire bug too!
  • There are tiny, harmless shrimp living in NYC’s water supply. Err... hard pass, harmless or not; we will still purify our water before drinking. Thanks for the heads-up.
  • Einstein’s eyes are locked in a vault somewhere in the city. Eessh! New Yuck! Those are eyes! Of a dead man! Genius or not, that’s just morbid.
  • And finally, we gathered the probable reason that New York is referred to as the Big Apple. Well, apparently, it was first used by a certain Martin Wayfairer to describe the city in 1909. It was supposed to describe, metaphorically, how New York received a disproportionate share of the sap that flowed from the country’s tree of wealth located in Mississippi valley – of the apples growing on the tree of the state, it was the largest.
And we bet you’ve heard about J. Fitzgerald’s story a million times, so we won’t go into that. There are still a thousand, more detailed inside stories behind New York City and a great travel book can lead you into all of them. So, if you have a minute, keep in step with us and let’s show you how to get a travel book that will help you taste all parts of New York in the limited time you have.
NYC Travel Guides are relatively affordable. Some can go for as little as $5 while others can go as “high” as $20 or more. It all depends on the kind of tour you want to undertake and how comprehensive you want it to be. A travel book that’s made for a comprehensive week-long tour will definitely cost more than a pocket guide for a day out on a walk tour. It’s hard to really call an NYC travel guide cheap as many of them are as affordable as they come but what we would tell you is not to go for a cheap NYC travel guide at the expense of the purpose of your trip in the first place.
Just before you rush off to order that travel book, here are some features that you might like to consider before you purchase, so that you can make the most out of your trip:
  • Type
  • Overall quality of print
  • Maps
  • Illustration and pictures
  • Size
Let’s get into the details already!
Construction and Design
Quality of Paper

Let’s talk about the quality of paper. First off, most travel guides do not come in hard covers for obvious reasons. You’re going to be carrying it around all the time, and hard cover will hurt your palms after a while and add to the bulk of the book. Also, hardcover is a lot less convenient to flip through compared to paperback. So, paperback it is.

Now to the quality of the paper that make up the leaves, you want something magazine-quality, with the glossy finish perfect for pictures and illustrations. But if you’re buying something for kids, a fairly thick leafed, non-glossy kind of paper will do better, because they’re going to be writing, and coloring all sorts on it. It should be thick-leafed for the same reason but, in addition, so the book lasts and doesn’t tear with the pressure of all that concentrated coloring, or develop dog ears.


Now, to the binding. Whatever bind your publisher of choice goes with, just be sure to check it’s something that will last a long time. We can’t emphasize it enough you’re going to be holding and handling this book for long and regular periods, turning and flipping and all. The bind has to be heavy duty to take all that “punishment”.


Finally, in this section, we will talk about size. It might not seem like a big deal to you until the day you decide on a walk tour and you’ve been carrying your book for hours, even if you sometimes keep it in your sling bag. The size of a travel guide should be slim and not bulky – it’s not an encyclopedia. It’s just something to help you gain better insight not give you the entire story of New York. By the way, no book can conveniently cover everything you need to know about anything. That’s why we have the internet.
Performance and Ease of Use
Maps and Illustrations

Please don’t be too serious with life. It’s okay for your travel guide to come with enough pictures and illustrations and splendid graphics to delight as well as inform. It doesn’t make you look less erudite. It even enhances your reading experience because as you know, a picture speaks a thousand words. So, the more the illustrations and pictures and the more compelling the graphics, the more you’ll get out of your travel book.

Of course, your travel book should feature maps, and lots of them. Obviously, there’s the compulsory map of New York (if it doesn’t come with that, it’s a worthless guide – avoid), but then New York is large. You need other, area-specific maps to help you find your way around specific places.

Your Personal Interests

Now, finally, ask yourself, what do you want to do on this trip and what fascinates you or holds your interests? Because many authors write travel guides with different central themes. Some write for those on a budget, some write for an extensive tour, some write for a short-time tour, others write thematically (architecture, cuisine, etc), while some others write for kids. There are many types of travel books. So, sit down and do some simple math. Know what it is you want out of your trip and keeping that in mind, look for a travel book that’s a perfect fit.

PS: Most travel book authors also generously include practical tips that come in handy when touring a new city like where the best lodgings, restaurants, shops, etc are; subway prices and directions, estimated walking distances and lots more. Some even go as far as arranging them into budget and lifestyle preferences. This way, you can live according to your means, and not come back broke. You might want to take advantage of that.

Get the Best NYC Travel Guide of 2023!

That’s all folks! We hope you enjoyed traveling the lands of NYC travel guides with us as much as we did. Run along and order your own copy. The city beckons!

Our Top Choice
DK Eyewitness New York City Travel Guide
Best Value
Frommer’s Easy Guide to New York
Justin Davidson Magnetic City
Lonely Planet New York City Travel Guide
Kelsey Fox Kids’ Travel Guide – New York City