On Foot. The best way to explore New York is on foot. No matter what neighborhood you're headed to, you'll get a better sense of it by wandering around; you can check out the architecture, pop into cool-looking shops and cafés, and observe the walk-and-talk of the locals. And if you get lost, New Yorkers are surprisingly helpful with directions.
By Bike. Since Citi Bike’s bike sharing program rolled out in 2013, there have been glitches but ridership has been steadily increasing and New York City’s program now boasts the largest fleet of bikes in the nation. The city is slowly acclimating (its bike lanes and attitudes) to the popular new mode of transportation but it’s no Copenhagen... yet. Ride off-peak if possible, stay out of midtown, and stay alert!
By Public Transportation. New York's subway system is probably the most efficient and cost-effective way to get around, and it runs 24 hours a day. The subway is safe, but be smart; try to avoid riding alone—especially late at night, and avoid riding in empty cars. Rush hour is crazy crowded, train floors can be sticky, stations are sweltering in summer, and platforms are grimy year-round, but this all just adds to the "charm" of riding on a system that is more than 100 years old.
If you prefer to stay above ground, and—unlike everyone else in New York—you’re not in a rush, consider taking a bus. They're especially good if you need to travel cross-town—between the East and West sides of the city. What a city bus lacks in efficiency (especially at rush hour), it makes up for in people-watching and city views.
By Taxi. If you'd rather be comfy than thrifty, hail a yellow cab (the new apple-green "Boro Taxis" serve the outer boroughs and won't make pickups south of East 96th Street or West 110th). A taxi is available if the center panel of the roof light is lit and the side panels are dark. It's best to give your destination address using cross streets: ask to be taken to "55th and Madison" rather than "545 Madison." Avoid trying to hail a cab between 4 and 4:30 pm, when drivers change shifts. And remember that the subway is often faster than a cab, especially during rush hour.