New York City is incomprehensibly gigantic. No matter who you are and what you like to do, you’ll be sure to find something there for you! However, a city as big as NYC also has a lot of activities that a disappointment and a giant waste of time or money. Avoid these 12 bad ideas and spend your time in New York City on something much more fun.
1 Don’t rent a car
Don’t do it. You’ll regret it. You see the hundreds of yellow taxis crammed into the busy streets? You’ll be just like all of them, except you don’t have years of expert driving experience in the city. Plus, if you rent a car, you’ll have to park it somewhere, and parking fees are simply astronomical. Instead of giving yourself a headache (and a bad case of road rage) on the streets, take the subways, rent a bike, or walk. Believe it or not, it’s so much faster. In a pinch, you can rent a zipcar by the hour or take Uber or Lyft.
2 Don’t go to Times Square
Seriously, how is this place a good idea? The shopping is supposed to be legendary, but the only thing in Times Square that you can’t find in your own mall is the M&Ms World. And, ok, the Naked Cowboy. You’ll have to deal with prices designed to rip off the tourists, “hip hop artists” forcing “free” cds on you, belligerent costumed characters, drunks, and more. The place is so packed that you can’t even people watch. So go to M&Ms world, get your Instagram selfie in the square, and get the heck out of there.
3 Don’t go to the Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty is awesome, don’t get me wrong. She’s an iconic piece of art, and she stands for America’s spirit of freedom. However, the lines are ridiculous and there’s not a whole lot to see on the island. If you go in summer you risk heat stroke in the packed ferry and, in winter, frost bite is a legitimate concern on the trip across New York Harbor. Rather, get a front-seat view of the Statue of Liberty on the ferry to Ellis Island. You can get great photos of the Statue of Liberty, then explore Ellis Island’s museum and learn about this history that, nine chances out of ten if you’re a multi-generational American, your ancestors were a part of.
4 Don’t ride a carriage in Central Park
It’s unbelievably expensive, folks. And you should be prepared for harassment from animal rights activists who want the whole thing banned, citing dangerous and unhealthy conditions for the horses. Activists have started following the carriages in electric cars, shouting at passengers. So, even if you don’t have an issue with the use of horses, you’re risking a lot of dough on something that may not be the enchanting experience you envisioned.
Unless you’re proposing, which is deliciously romantic, don’t bother with the ponies. Instead, use your own feet and take a walk or a bike ride through the park. You’ll see so much more than you could from a carriage! There are lots of hidden treasures to be enjoyed.
5 Don’t buy high-end brands from street vendors
That Gucci purse is almost definitely a fake. But you probably already know that. There is a difference between counterfeit and knockoff, however. Counterfeit items have the legitimate designer’s tags and insignia sewn in or attached. The sellers are actually trying to pass them off as the real deal. Knockoffs copy the style of popular brands, but don’t include these identifying marks. As a buyer, you’re probably safe from legal issues, at least in the US. If you find a decently-priced knock-off and don’t mind lying to your friends, you might find a purse to boost your cool factor. Otherwise, steer clear.
6 Don’t waste time in lines
Buy all that stuff in advance. Get a CityPass. Make reservations. Almost everything is available online nowadays so you can have all the basics taken care of before you even get to New York. There’s too much to do here; you don’t want to miss it because you’re standing in a line. The only place that might be worth the wait is the TKTS booth, where you can get great deals on same day performances of Broadway and off-Broadway shows.
7 Don’t eat food you can eat at home
What’s the point of going on vacation if you’re just going to do all the same stuff as you do on normal days? Try something new! There are so many people from all over the world who cook fabulous dishes at fabulous prices in NYC. Go try something unfamiliar, or, at least, something that’s not a chain. Beyond the well known Chinese, Jamaican, and Italian, you can find such diverse cuisines as South African, Danish, and Yemni. From street vendors to hole in the wall storefronts to opulent full service restaurants, the melting pot that is New York City delivers with tasty international foods that may be the highlight of your visit.
8 Don’t go where everyone like you is going
Whether that means going where the locals (and not the tourists) party, or eating at a place where you can’t find a single person of your ethnicity, try to expand your cultural horizons. New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world and you should take advantage of that. It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of following the crowd you fit into, but you can and should break out!
9 Don’t depend on the concierge for good advice
Sometimes, those people are hired by outside companies to push a specific attraction. Almost always, the concierge receives commission and/or freebies from the places they recommend. This doesn’t mean it’s not worth asking them or that they’ll steer you to a disaster. The concierge wants to keep a solid reputation; just be aware that they may be a little biased by self-interest. Ask a New Yorker you find on the street, and you’re bound to get more honest recommendations and you might find hidden gems that aren’t on the list of tourist-oriented attractions and restaurants.
10 Don’t wear new shoes
You’re going to be walking. A lot. Try to break in your walking shoes by wearing them regularly before you travel. Make sure that you don’t sacrifice comfort for style; you can always carry your dressier shoes with you and change when you arrive, as many New Yorkers do. Blistered or sore feet are no fun on vacation!
11 Don’t go against the grain
New York is a busy, fast-moving place, as you probably know. Going against the grain—like standing in the middle of the sidewalk or meandering down the bike lane, for example—is just not cool. Not to mention, New Yorkers will have no problem elbowing you aside or running right over you if you’re slowing down the flow.
12 Don’t stay in Manhattan
Manhattan is awesome, and it’s a great place to be a tourist if you love the park, the museums, and the Broadway shows. However, there are lots of other neighborhoods to explore! The Bronx, which is experiencing something of an artistic renaissance, is also home to the New York Yankees and the world-famous Bronx Zoo. Queens is perhaps the most diverse of the five boroughs resulting in an intoxicating patchwork of cultures, languages, and food. Myriad cultural festivals let visitors get a taste of the nationalities represented here. Brooklyn runs the gamut from old time fun at Coney Island to outdoor activities at Prospect Park to upscale hipster bars and restaurants. Staten Island is considered more suburban and out of the way, but can be a great choice for a more relaxed day with visits to the parks, historic homes, and Staten Island Children’s Museum. Get out and see what else New York City has to offer.
New York City is on everyone’s must see list, but it’s easy to make mistakes that will ruin the experience. If you know what not to do in New York City, you can save your sanity, save money, and make your visit a more memorable one.