What are you in the mood for today?

Would you enjoy a wide-ranging, free-wheeling, once-in-a-lifetime experience? Something to energize and excite? Times Square, Broadway and other tourist attractions? The Guggenheim? Ellis Island? Or perhaps you’d prefer something a bit more subdued, like a little TLC for your mind, body and soul? Whatever you seek, the city that never sleeps is sure to have it … as long as you know where to look.

Planning a New York adventure can be a mind-bending adventure all its own. After all, the city offers a smorgasbord of activities and options, each able to satiate the day’s desires. What you seek depends on your particular tastes, which can change with the seasons. And trying to take advantage of too many wonderful options could cause you to miss out on those that are likely to be the most meaningful. So simplify the process, and start by putting first things first.

Here are three time-tested tricks travelers have used forever to prioritize and plan their New York adventures:

1) Listen to the locals

Quantity doesn’t always equal quality. Keep this in mind as you plan your adventure and you might just find yourself in the midst of something unique. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with Times Square, Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building. But you’re probably not going to connect with the true soul of the city surrounded by tourists. Instead of following the masses down the road most traveled, listen to the locals. Ask them what they love about their city; where they dine, drink, dance and get their cultural fixes. Then, your adventure won’t be just like everyone else’s.

2) Pay the professionals

Shh…Not everyone knows it, but there is a secret society that specializes in taking people behind the New York City’s shiny, shimmering veneer to show visitors things few others know about. It is the New York Adventure Club. They don’t advertise it, but these fine people are quite welcoming to people who are visiting the city. They offer tours of historic sites and hidden spots. They can take you to amazing restaurants that are hiding in plain sight. And they can even introduce you to the joys of Happy Hour in Midtown Manhattan! Sometimes it makes sense to pay the professionals. After all, they make it their business to keep you happy.

3) Keep it close

Sometimes you’re a lot closer to your next adventure than you realize. This is especially true when you’ve got Bryant Park right outside your window. Whether you’re interested in excitement, arts, music or something to surprise and delight your taste buds, the park that’s known as Manhattan’s Town Square can certainly be the straw that stirs your drink. And you don’t have to travel far to find it. Maybe planning your next New York adventure doesn’t have to be so difficult, after all. Maybe everything you need is waiting right in front of you.

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