Chances are, even if you’ve already been to New York City, you’ve found yourself either trying to squeeze in leisure time around some crazy work schedule or you’ve simply found yourself ill-prepared to appreciate everything the city has to offer.

So we decided to dive in and come out with a solid strategy for tackling one of the world’s greatest melting pots of people, places and eats. Tip 1. If you are going to drive, you’re much better off with something sleek and efficient–like the new Ford EcoSport the brand was kind enough to loan us—than some massive vehicle that’s hard to maneuver in and around all the traffic.

Here are a few other suggestions to keep in mind when planning your next trip to the city that (almost) never sleeps…

1. Know Your Hotel Perks—and Pitfalls
Whether you splurge on some plush $1,000 a night suite or opt for something more practical, don’t just assume the hotel will freely meet some of your basic needs. For example, some properties in NYC charge a fee every time you park your vehicle via valet during your stay. Others charge a daily rate with free in-and-out privileges. The cost difference could amount to an additional hotel night stay, depending on the property.

2. Don’t Be Limited to One Borough
Thanks to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, NYC is literally five cities in one. That’s not to even mention countless cool neighborhoods spread throughout those areas like the West Village and Williamsburg, all of which offer something unique in their own right. Point? Don’t let your hotel location prevent you from experiencing some of the city’s far-flung thrills.

3. Taste Everything You Can
New York City’s diverse population goes hand-in-hand with its seemingly endless food offerings. From Manhattan’s classic pizza pies to restaurants like Lido and LoLo’s Seafood Shack in Harlem, the city is loaded with great spots to delight your taste buds. If you’re looking for a morning or midday boost, you might also want to swing by a Juice Press store. The well-known organic juice spot, which has a few locations in the city where it was founded, is a popular refueling destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.      

4. Take Parking Very, Very Seriously
Nothing spoils a vacation quicker than having to dish out a lot of extra cash for some totally unexpected expense.  Even if you’ve been planning the trip for a while, you’ve still probably accounted for every penny you plan to spend during the getaway, so those unexpected costs can really throw you off your game.  In New York City, one of the biggest culprits of unexpected expenses tends to be parking restrictions, which can end up costing you close to $500 for a ticket after tagging on those hefty towing fees. So study the signs as best you can and when in doubt, garage it!

5. Download a Good NYC Mobility App
Even if you have a car at your disposal, public transportation will likely play a big role in navigating the city. If opting for a taxi or ride-sharing service like Lyft, the routine is pretty simple. However, if you prefer a more economical—and often faster—route, namely the subway, you’ll likely need a good app to keep you on track. Among all the ones we tried during our recent trip, our favorite is Citymapper. Definitely worth a download.

6. Ask Locals for Tips
Let’s face it: There’s nobody better qualified to help you dig into the true gems of a city like those who live there. And despite all the talk of how brash New Yorkers can be, most are still inclined to help. So, don’t be too intimidated to ask. If you do happen to come across someone who seems intent on ignoring your inquiry, move on to someone else—you’ll got nearly 9 million others to choose from, after all.

7. Don’t Get Stuck in Times Square
Nothing quite sucks you into all the touristy madness of New York City like Times Square. The bustling area, smack in the middle of Manhattan, is a magnet for rubes, luring you in with glowing billboards, a gazillion souvenir shops and dozens of chain restaurants. Buried amid it all, you’ll find a few authentic New York City gems, but don’t let the allure of the area’s bright lights waste too much of your time.

8. Enjoy Some of the Arts
As one of the most treasured cultural meccas in the world, NYC prides itself on its broad array of offerings when it come to the arts. Whether it’s a splashy show on Broadway or a hot new band playing an East Village bar, the city presents a plethora of creative works aimed at inspiring and entertaining.  During our visit, we were fortunate enough to have an opportunity to see the excellent “David Bowie is” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, which runs through July 15.

9. Scope Out Happy Hours
You can never get too many restaurant tips in a place like New York City—our new favorite is Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue on Flatbush Avenue—but the tabs from all that endless food sampling can start to tally up pretty quickly. One good way to cut down expenses is to seek out good happy hour specialss as you’re taking in the city sights. There are plenty.

10. Look Beyond the “Traditional” Tourist Traps
Every major city comes with an onslaught of hucksters trying to sell tourists on something. And NYC boasts some of the most skilled in the trade, whether it’s a sandwich-boarded suit salesman or a lady insisting you absolutely need a knock-off Gucci wallet. That said, if you take some time and dig a little deeper, some cool finds do hide amidst the chaos.

11. Pack Comfortable Shoes
Despite all the viable transportation options in NYC, walking is fundamental. So of all the gear you need for a trip to New York, the most essential is quality footwear. For most activities, any cool, clean pair of kicks will do just fine. A nice pair of boots will open doors just about anywhere. Some clubs won’t admit you wearing sneakers but honestly, they often aren’t worth your time. If you’ve learned nothing else from this article, you’ll know there are plenty of other fun things to do.