For information before you leave home, your best source is the New York Convention Visitors Bureau(now NYC and Company) - 810 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.

You can call the bureaus 24-hour hotline at tel. 800/NYC-VISIT (U.S. and Canada) or 212/397-8222 (elsewhere) to order a Big Apple Visitors Kit, detailing hotels, restaurants, theaters, attractions, events, and more.
It costs about $6 to receive the packet (payable by credit card), which will arrive at most U.S. addresses within a week or two.



If you dont want to pay the six bucks, theyll send you the guide thats the heart of the kit for free, but expect it to take 4 to 6 weeks to reach you.
The bureau also has a terrific website at http://www.nycvisit.com

To speak to a travel counselor who can answer specific questions, call tel. 212/484-1222 Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm EST (multilingual counselors are available).

FOR BRITISH VISITORS - In late 1998, an NYCVB Visitor Information Center opened in London at 33-34 Carnaby St (tel. 0171/437-8300).
The new center offers a wealth of information and free one-on-one travel-planning assistance to New York-bound travelers.
Its open Monday through Friday from 10am to 4pm.

SITE SEEING: THE BIG APPLE ON THE WEB - The NYCVBs www.nycvisit.com is a terrific online resource offering tons of information on the city, from trip-planning basics to tips on where to take the kids.
But theres much more to be learned from the web than the official line. Sure, theres a lot of junk out there in cyberspace but the net boasts some terrific sites on the city, the best of which can supply up-to-the minute news, current events calendars, information for those of you with special interests, or just another point of view.

Here are our favorite general information sites (well also recommend lots of subject-specific sites in the chapters that follow):

www.newyork.sidewalk.com The Microsoft-backed Sidewalk is an excellent source for up-to-the-minute information on whats happening in the city. Its particularly good for the latest nightlife information--youll find reviews of current theater, music, and other performing arts events, and most club listings even feature day-to-day schedules. I also like Sidewalk for the latest restaurant dish and sample sales, but competitor Citysearchs (see below) shopping listings are more comprehensive. Be patient, because Sidewalk can be a bit slow to download at times, and it may take wading through a few pages to get where you want.

www.newyork.citysearch.com Done in cooperation with the Daily News and Time Out magazine--hands down the best weekly magazine source for whats going on in the city - Citysearch is much more well organized than Sidewalk, with the home page directly linking you wherever you want to go, and much quicker to load. Theyre also all over current happenings, with direct links to recommended events. The listings are as comprehensive as Sidewalks, sometimes more so, but new stuff almost always hits Sidewalk first. I suggest checking them both out--thats what I do!

www.nytoday.com The New York Times created this site as a gift to those of us who wanted access to the Times cultural coverage without having to wade through the main site (www.nytimes.com), which requires you to register and pay archiving fees on past articles. Set up in an easy-access daily calendar format, the site is an expanded version of the papers cultural coverage. Youll find even more events listings and critics reviews in this electronic version, including museum schedules and sports events, plus the Times definitive restaurant reviews.

www.papermag.com The online version of the glossy alterna-monthly Paper serves as good prep for those of you who want to experience the hipper side of the city. Theres opinionated coverage on clubs and bars (including extensive gay scene coverage)--virtually all downtown, of course.

www.panix.com/clay/nyc Commonly referred to as New York City Reference, this handy site is a virtual hyperlink index of New York-related sites. Begun in 1995, its regularly updated, and at press time there were about 2,000 links covering every subject area from "The Best Public Toilets in New York City" to "Webcams: Live Pictures of New York City."

www.TheInsider.com/nyc This straightforward site presents an archive of features ranging from New York survival tips to the citys best coffee bars. I find both Sidewalk and Citysearch to be more authoritative, but the photo links offer an exciting visual preview of your Gotham visit.