NYC lifehacks: Secret tricks to make New York life easier

Never get stuck in line again: These tips will help make life in New York quicker, easier and less aggravating.



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We’ve all been there: You’re stuck in an interminable line at the passport office, or wait for hours to get cheap Broadway tickets at the TKTS booth. No more: This list of NYC lifehacks will help you figure out how to get through life in New York with as little stress as possible, from getting into New York museums for free to navigating Central Park without a smartphone.

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TKTS booth

TKTS booth

  • If you’re leaving the country in the next two weeks and need a passport, head to the New York Passport Agency (376 Hudson St between W Houston and King Sts, Arrive before the doors open at 7:30am—lines form as early as 6am—to be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. (Appointments are required and can be made via the State Department's website; however, you may still be seen without an appointment, based on one TONY editor's past experience.) Bring your itinerary as proof of your departure, as well as other required materials (listed on the Travel.State.Gov website).

  • You don’t have to dig too deep into your pockets to see some of the city’s best art. Bank of America cardholders receive free admission to eight institutions (see the full list at on the first weekend of every month. Target also offers gratis museum admission (locations are listed at; we recommend taking advantage at lesser-known (but cool) spots like the Studio Museum in Harlem.

  • Want a better chance of getting good tickets at the Times Square TKTS booth? Show up around 4:30 or 5pm—with tickets arriving from box offices all day, it’s possible that better seats have popped up in the afternoon. Or head to the booth in Downtown Brooklyn, where matinee tickets are sold the day before performances.

  • Get behind-the-scenes access to the New York Philharmonic, which allows listeners to attend open rehearsals (which typically begin at 9:45am), offering an inside glimpse of how a concert is put together. Tickets are a mere $18 and can be ordered online ( or in person at the Avery Fisher Hall box office (10 Lincoln Center Plaza, Columbus Ave at 65th St).

  • Lampposts around Central Park double as navigation tools, with letters and numbers painted in white on almost all of the park’s light poles. (No Google map necessary!) The first two numbers indicate what street is nearby; if 80 is displayed, for example, the closest cross street is 80th. Other numbers denote directions: Odd numbers mean you’re close to the west side of the park, and an even number means the east side is nearer.

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New York Passport Agency
New York Passport Agency

Avoid the long line all together-the New York Passport Agency requires that you make an appointment through the National Passport Information Center (NPIC) in order to be seen at the agency. To make an appointment with NPIC call 877-487-2778 or email You must have printed proof that you are traveling within 2 weeks or 4 if you need a visa. For more information, visit