New York City is often referred to as the greatest city in the world and we can see why. Just the energy alone is magnetic. With over eight million residents and over fifty-four million tourists visiting annually, there’s never a dull moment in the “Big Apple.” Five boroughs are waiting to be explored, each with their own unique charm and character. But before you consider yourself an NYC expert, check out these 13 things you should not do in New York City. Follow these tips and you’ll blend right in with the locals.
1. Buy a Sandwich from Subway
New York City offers some of the best fresh delicatessens in the world. So avoid chains like Subway and try a local eatery like Artie’s Delicatessen on Broadway and 82nd street or 2nd Avenue Deli on 33rd street. Katz’s is one of the most famous delicatessens in the city but it’s turned into a huge tourist trap, so we recommend you avoid it.
2. Get into an Empty Subway Car
If you’re visiting the city and it’s the middle of rush hour, do not get in an empty subway car. There’s a reason that it’s empty, either the air conditioning isn’t working or there’s spilled bodily fluid or something is up. Trust us, it’s better to be safe than sorry so never go in an empty subway car.
3. Stop on the Sidewalk
Over eight million people call New York City home, so as you can imagine the sidewalks are constantly filled with people hustling and bustling to and from their intended destinations. Do not be that tourist that stops in the middle of the sidewalk to look at a map or to take a pictures. Please remove yourself from the walkway before you pull out your camera. Also, avoid walking in big groups that take up the entire sidewalk. New Yorkers are speed-walking professionals so don’t impede the flow.
4. Make Small Chat
We recommend avoiding small talk with strangers on the street or in the subway. New York is not necessarily one of the friendliest cities in the world, so its best to refrain from useless chatter. If you have a question, most store-owners and taxi drivers will be happy to help. But NYC residents are too busy living their lives to engage in stranger banter. Some may enjoy giving directions but only to prove how well they know the city.
5. Eat at a Chain Restaurant
With thousands of local eateries to choose from, why would you want to eat at Applebees? Locals avoid Times Square like the plague for this reason. The area is a tourist trap with lots of national restaurants and visitors wearing “I LOVE NY” t-shirts (oh, yeah avoid this too). Patronize the myriad of local restaurants to really experience the flavors of the city.
6. Avoid the Outer Boroughs
Sure Manhattan is an exciting place to visit and it’s usually what most people think of when they visit New York, but there are also four other boroughs to explore too. Take the subway to Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn or Staten Island and discover the unique charm of greater New York City. Restaurant and shop prices will be much less expensive in these outer areas as well.
7. Pay for a Statue of Liberty Tour
Avoid the outrageously priced State of Liberty tours and take the Staten Island ferry instead. The 50 minute round-trip ride passes most of the same sights and is completely free of charge. There’s even food and beverages available on board for purchase.
8. Skip a Museum Because of the Entry Fee
It’s not always overtly advertised, but the entry fee that you see for most of the New York City museums is just a suggested amount. You actually only have to pay what you can afford. So, don’t be discouraged by a high admission price. Just check around to see which museums allow you to pay what you like before skipping it all together.
9. Use an ATM Inside of a Store
Some store owners that don’t accept credit or debit cards provide an ATM inside their shops. However, these machines usually charge a ridiculous fee for users. There is sure to be a bank that does not charge a $5 withdrawal fee within a 2-block radius.
10. Assume It’s Safe to Cross the Street
Never assume it’s safe to cross the street because you see someone else doing it. Many tourists aimlessly wander across the street because they see groups of other people doing so. New Yorkers walk faster than you and they will make it safely to the other side. You might not be so lucky. We suggest following all of the crossing walk signals to avoid being run over by a speeding taxi, police car or other vehicle. Don’t walk in the bike lane, either.
11. Tell the Cab Driver Where You’re Going
It’s best not to tell the cab driver where you’re going before you get into the car. This is especially true between 4-5pm on a weekday. This way taxi drivers will not be able to tell you they’re not going that far or that they have some where else to be. Hail the cab, hop in and then explain to the driver where you’d like to go. We recommend using underground public transportation as much as possible, because taxis will most likely just end up stuck in traffic.
12. Be a Scam Victim
There’s going to be plenty of people trying to rip you off in the “Big Apple,” but don’t fall for their scams. Don’t buy any blank CDs from aspiring young rappers or be fooled by the man dressed in a suit asking for bus fare. Avoid playing shell and card games on the street – those pros know how to fleece you. Always be vigilant of your wallet, especially in large crowds or during group street performances. Just be smart and you’ll save your money.
13. Assume a Hotel Is Above Your Budget
There are plenty of affordable accommodation options in New York City away from pricey Manhattan. Why not look into staying in one of the up and coming boutique hotels in Brooklyn? Another great spot is Long Island City, easily accessible and rooms for under $100 per night. Just do some research and find something that suits your needs.