UncategorizedWhat NOT to Do in NYC: Tourist Mistakes to Avoid

What NOT to Do in NYC: Tourist Mistakes to Avoid

New York City—the place where dreams are made, and nightmares can happen if you don’t know the ropes. It’s a wild, vibrant city that whispers sweet nothings of adventure into your ear. But let’s be real: NYC can chew you up and spit you out if you’re not careful. That’s why we’re here to save you from rookie mistakes with this guide on what NOT to do in the Big Apple. Buckle up; it’s going to be a fun ride.

What NOT to Do in NYC

But for all its glitz and glamour, NYC can be a minefield of tourist traps and rookie mistakes. Buckle up, folks! Here’s your no-nonsense guide to what NOT to do in NYC.

Tourist Mistakes to Avoid in NYC

Let’s dive into the top NYC don’ts to help you avoid tourist traps and wasted dollars.

Don’t Wear Open-Toed Shoes

Listen up. New York City is a stylish beast, but she’s also a grimy one. People throw cigarettes, gum, trash, bodily fluids (yes, you read that right), and who-knows-what-else on the streets. Wearing open-toed shoes? That’s like signing up for a foot filth fest. Protect those toes and go for close-toed shoes instead. Your feet will thank you.

Don’t Go to the Statue of Liberty

One word: overrated. The Statue of Liberty is iconic, sure, but do you need to waste hours of your precious time for a closer look? Nope. Glance at Lady Liberty from Battery Park or, better yet, catch her while cruising on the Staten Island Ferry. Dreaming of climbing to her crown? Newsflash: less than 300 people get to do that each day, and tickets sell out months in advance. Save yourself the hassle and enjoy her from afar.

Don’t Spend All Your Time in Times Square

Times Square is a sensory overload on steroids. New Yorkers avoid it like the plague, only braving its chaos for work or a Broadway show. It’s okay to visit once—gawk at the massive signs, snap some pics, and get out of there in 10 minutes flat. Unless you have a strange affinity for oversized Elmo and Buzz Lightyear impersonators hustling for tips, there’s no reason to go back. NYC is huge. Explore beyond the neon lights.

Don’t Take Yellow Cabs

Yellow cabs are as NYC as bagels and lox, but here’s the deal: they’re expensive, and the drivers don’t always know where they’re going. Plus, if you’re late, you’re guaranteed to hit the worst traffic. Instead, hop on the subway. It’s cheaper, faster, and pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. If you must take a car, try Uber. It’s about 20% cheaper than taxis and uses geolocation to get you where you need to go.

Don’t Take a Bus Tour

Those huge red buses clogging up Midtown? Hard pass. Look, they might show you a lot, but it’s all from a distance and usually fleeting. Want a richer experience? Pick a neighborhood and take a walking tour. No walking tours? No problem. Design your own. Or grab a Citi Bike and roll through the streets. Trust me, you’ll get way more interaction and insights than any bus tour could ever deliver. 

(Quick confession: I fell for the bus tour trap once. Never again. You can easily hit all those spots on your own, and public transport is your friend.)

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of the Right Shoes

New Yorkers walk—a lot. Blink, and you’ve hit 10,000 steps. Comfort is key, so ditch the stilettos and opt for fashion sneakers, flat boots, or sporty sandals. Your feet will be your best friends for the duration of your trip. Trust us; blisters are not a cute souvenir.

Don’t Eat Italian Food in Little Italy

Little Italy is charming and colorful, but it’s also a tourist trap when it comes to food. You’ll find delicious cannolis and pasta, but you’ll also encounter sky-high prices and long lines. For authentic Italian eats, venture outside Little Italy. Your taste buds and wallet will thank you.

Don’t Pay for Circle Line Sightseeing’s Cruises

Sure, you could shell out $30 or more for a Circle Line cruise. But why? You can soak in those iconic skyline views without breaking the bank. Enter the Staten Island Ferry—your free ticket to breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan, Ellis Island, and Lady Liberty herself. And if you’re feeling fancy, hop on the East River Ferry for a nominal fee. You’ll see Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more. Plus, it’s a breeze to get between neighborhoods that the subway just doesn’t connect smoothly.

Don’t Take a Horse Carriage Ride

Yes, the idea of a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park sounds romantic. But in reality, it’s not fair to the horses who have to navigate honking cars, cyclists, and crowds. Plus, there’s ongoing debate about banning these carriages altogether. Do yourself—and the horses—a favor, and skip this outdated activity. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy Central Park.

Don’t Miss the Chance to See a Broadway Show

In a world dominated by screens, live theater is a breath of fresh air. Whether you’re into musicals or plays, there’s something on Broadway for everyone. Don’t let ticket prices scare you off. Websites like Broadway Box offer discounts, and you can snag same-day deals from TKTS in Times Square or Lincoln Center. You might even get lucky with a Broadway lottery. Get your cultural fix and make it a night to remember.

For Safety (and Taste) Concerns, Don’t Buy Food from Street Carts

Ah, street carts. They’re everywhere, especially around tourist hotspots like Times Square—cue the Jaws theme. Sure, grab a bottled or canned drink. But food? Hard nope. Hot dogs are meh, pretzels are forgettable, knishes are dry, chestnuts are over-roasted, and those meat skewers? You’re braver than I am if you try one. And breakfast carts? Don’t even get me started. Weak coffee and calorie-wasting bagels. However, food trucks? Absolutely. They’re the culinary gems of NYC street food.

Don’t Go to the Top of the Empire State Building

Iconic? Yes. Worth it? Not so much. The lines are soul-crushing, and skipping them will cost you a cool $50. Instead, head to Top of the Rock. The views are just as stunning, the lines are shorter, and guess what? You can actually see the Empire State Building from there. Plus, if you’re into cocktails with your views, NYC’s rooftop bars have got you covered.

Don’t Drive

Thinking of driving around NYC? Think again. Traffic is a nightmare, and parking? Forget about it. You’ll waste hours and test your sanity. And even if you momentarily lose your grip on reality and consider driving, remember: no restaurants, bars, shops, or attractions have parking for customers. None. Zilch. Bottom line? There’s no good reason to drive in NYC.

Conclusion: What NOT To Do in NYC

There you have it—a foolproof guide to avoiding the common pitfalls that can turn your NYC adventure into a series of unfortunate events. Stick to these tips, and you’ll navigate the city like a pro, leaving the rookies in your dust. 

I believe that you can travel the world without quitting your job. I believe that you can experience all the magic, the foodies and the cultures of the world while having a normal life. And, perhaps, two dogs. This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 15 years. This is exactly what my blog is about. Love, Lilia

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