The Big Apple has long been known as one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. From around the globe, tourist flock to NYC to experience its rich cultural diversity, visit world-famous landmarks, catch some Broadway shows, enjoy the best of 5-star dining, and dive head-first into an endless array of activities not found elsewhere. NYC plays host to approximately 55-million tourists per year.
The typical visitor to NYC arrives fully armed with travel brochures depicting where they need to go and what they need to see. The travel industry has a habit of steering their customers in the direction of what they think they will most enjoy. The problem is, many of those working in the industry have never experienced what they are recommending. Their suggestions are based on hearsay and there is no way they can advise their customers on what they perhaps should not do when visiting NYC.
Since NYC is a world unto its own, it is equally as important to know what to avoid so as not to ruin what was intended to be the trip of a lifetime. One or two bad experiences could have you hightailing it for home swearing you’ll never return. Then again, it could be everything you had hoped for if you’ll simply pay attention to this list of things not to do.
Do Not Visit the Statue of Liberty
It probably seems odd suggesting to not go see perhaps the most famous landmark in America. The Lady in the Harbor has long been a symbol of America’s freedom as she welcomed the huddled masses yearning to be free when they poured into Ellis Island seeking hope in the new world. Standing at 305 ft and 1 inch and weighing in at 225 tons, the statue looms over the harbor. But, despite its historical importance, don’t go.
This is not to say everyone should not experience the thrill of seeing the statue. This is only to say there is a better way of doing it than how the typical tourist goes about it unless you prefer a chaotic madhouse. Many visitors go there with the intent of climbing its 354 steps to the top only to be incredibly disappointed. Less than 300 people per day are allowed to climb them and tickets must be purchased far in advance.
The best way to get a good glimpse of the statue is to view it from Battery Park or to take the Staten Island Ferry. You’ll still be able to revel in all its glory without all the hassle.
Do Not buy Food From Street Vendor Carts
As with any major city, NYC attracts foodies who are hungry for a real taste of the city. Every imaginable type of cuisine can be located at hole-in-the-wall diners to 5-star establishments. No craving goes unanswered. City sidewalks are full of street vendors pushing Italian ice, soft pretzels, hot dogs, and all sorts of food and drinks to grab while on the go. Buying food from street cart vendors is tempting. To not do so would be to pass up something the city is known for and who wants to miss out?
Street cart food is not routinely monitored, if monitored at all, by the health department. Hot dogs are lackluster, pretzels are generally stale, kabobs include mystery meat probably stored at improper temperatures, and those roasted chestnuts have roasted a bit too long. Breakfast carts serve weak coffee and day-old bagels. Avoid them at all costs.
However. NYC has an increasing number of food trucks which are the total opposite of food carts. The trucks are all competing with one another to serve the best and freshest food available, and they are doing a great job of it. Don’t think twice about ordering a meal from a food truck, just do it. The only way you should ever order from a cart is if there happens to be a long line in front of it waiting to be served. This is a good indicator this one is the exception to the rule.
Do Not Take an Overpriced Bus Tour
Tour bus guides are out in full force all over mid-town. They can be spotted approaching “obvious tourists” when trying to hawk tickets for seats on their big red buses. The tickets are overpriced and nine times out of ten they are a total ripoff. Passengers will catch fleeting glimpses of important landmarks as their bus zooms on past, and the guides will offer no information concerning the history or story behind anything they are driving past. You may as well wad up a twenty-dollar-bill and toss it in the wind.
The best way to avoid wasting time on one of these bus tours is to find an area of town that is appealing and find a company offering walking tours, of which there are many. This is the absolute best way to get a better look at what you want to see while learning about it at the same time.
Do Not Climb the Empire State Building
First of all, nobody just walks through the front door of the building and heads for the stairway. In fact, with the constant horrendous long lines, it’s going to take quite some time just to get to the front door. Unless you have $50 that is. Money talks. This is what it will cost you if you want to skip to the front of the line.
A much better view of the city is available at the Top of the Rock. It won’t cost anyone fifty bucks and the lines are way shorter. Of course, there is yet another way to grab a terrific view with skipping the lines altogether. NYC is chock full of rooftop bars where it’s easy to relax with a cocktail while viewing the same sights others are standing in line to see.
If you decide to take a trip to the Big Apple, know in advance what interests you the most and do a little research before going. You’ll end up saving yourself time and money and you’re more likely to have the wonderful experience you planned on.