New York City is one of the most exciting places in the world. There’s always something to do, whether you’re looking for culture, nightlife, or just a good meal. However, it can also be overwhelming and confusing, especially for first-time visitors.
In this post, we’ll give you some tips on what to avoid doing in New York City. Follow these simple guidelines, and your trip will be more enjoyable and hassle-free.
by David Stone
Don’t hail a taxi on the street – use the Uber or Lyft app instead
Have you ever tried to hail a taxi from the street? It can be a stressful experience, especially during rush hour or if it’s raining.
My friend Anthony used to shake his head because even New Yorkers didn’t understand what the lights on the top of taxis meant. He watched them wave frantically at out-of-service cabs. The city’s at fault because it set up the system with a word about what the lights say.
Hint: There are five yellow lights strung across the top of taxis. Only when the middle three are lit is the cab available. The other configurations mean something else, but who cares?
Fortunately, there’s an easier way – download the Uber or Lyft app on your phone and call a taxi directly from there. A little-known secret is that most of the cars for hire are both Uber and Lyft, answering calls for both.
Having the taxi come to you is extremely convenient, no matter where you are.
You can also check out reviews of drivers before summoning them so you know exactly who will pick you up. And the major apps include photos of your driver and his license plate number.
You can even get an accurate estimate of how much the ride will cost and how long it will take before committing. Mapping software takes current traffic into account, making for an efficient and stress-free taxi ride that won’t break the bank. At least not without your seeing it coming.
Don’t eat at tourist traps – do your research and find the best local spots
Eating at tourist traps when you’re traveling is something many of us have done before. You know what it’s like. So, why settle for mediocre tourist grub when you can get the really good stuff?
Instead of just popping into the first tourist trap you see, do a bit of research and seek out some local spots for a tasty meal. (Eater is a good place to start.)
Not only will benefit from the advice of locals and their favorite places, but you’ll also be experiencing genuine local cuisine. (Personal favorite discovery: Kubeh on Sixth Avenue at 11th Street. It’s in one of the city’s best walking-around neighborhoods, too.)
Do your research ahead of time and make sure to dine at some truly authentic places – your taste buds won’t regret it.
Don’t overspend on New York City souvenirs – you can find plenty of cheap but unique items elsewhere
Souvenirs represent an exciting way to remember a place, but don’t get carried away with overspending.
While souvenirs found in tourist hotspots are often pricey, it isn’t necessary to pay big bucks for something special. Instead, get creative and look beyond the souvenir shops—flea markets, souvenir shops off the beaten path, vintage shops, and secondhand stores are great places to start.
There’s bound to be something unique that captures your experience without emptying your wallet. Let souvenirs be a fun memento of your travels instead of a thrill followed by buyer’s remorse.
Avoid New York City’s packed Times Square unless you’re really into crowds and bright lights
If you love crowds and want your entire sensory system to be bombarded all at once, Times Square is the place for you.
It’s always a madhouse of bright neon lights, characters in costume, tourist-grabbing offers, and streets jammed with people wanting to take it all in while cars struggle from light to light.
The most famous intersection in the world, times square is known for its glitz and glamour. But anyone looking for a tranquil stroll should avoid Times Square like the plague.
Steer clear of Central Park at night – it’s not as safe as it is during the day
Central Park is a stunning oasis right in the middle of Manhattan, but that doesn’t mean you should wander around there at night.
The park is much more dangerous and unpredictable after dark, so it’s best to steer clear and save Central Park for your daytime sightseeing.
With the sunlight comes more police presence, more joggers and walkers, and more activities surrounding the park – all of which make Central Park much safer during the day than at night.
So if you’re looking for an easy stroll in Central Park at any time of day, stick with the daylight hours.
Now that you know what to avoid in New York City, indulge
If you’re looking to save money and have a better overall New York City experience, heed our advice and avoid the traps.
Instead, do your research and find the best local spots for food, entertainment, and shopping. With a little bit of planning, you’ll be able to navigate the city like a pro and enjoy all that it has to offer – without breaking the bank.
Have you been to New York City before? What tips would you add?