There are so many exciting sightseeing spots to visit in New York City. You’ll want to see the Statue of Liberty, listen to musicians perform around Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, sit on the steps of the MET, and grab a slice of pizza at John’s. If you’ve put some thought into planning your trip, your itinerary will almost undoubtedly include these things, but in the rush to plan a vacation to the Big Apple, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are six of the biggest mistakes that tourists make when they come to New York and how to avoid making them.
Mistake #1: Staying exclusively in Manhattan and not visiting the other boroughs.
Some of the most iconic sights in New York are in Manhattan: Central Park, Times Square, Macy’s on 34th Street, and so on. But there’s so much more to NYC outside of the main island. You’ve got DUMBO and a growing arts scene in Brooklyn, the many breweries in Queens, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, and even Staten Island has things to offer — the free ferry ride from Manhattan offers one of the best views of the skyline, unobstructed by bridges.
Mistake #2: Avoiding the subway system and taking cars everywhere instead.
The public transportation system here may not be as clean or simple to navigate as London, but it does run 24/7 and will take you literally everywhere you could possibly want to go. We New Yorkers may complain about it, especially when there are delays, but there’s no denying how convenient and affordable it is compared to a cab or Uber. Locals are comforted by the fact that they can go on an all-night bender and still avoid a $50 car-service charge by taking the subway from a bar in the village to their home on the Upper West Side at 4:00 AM. Some tourists are wary of the subway system, and most of their reasoning has to do with the fact that it seems confusing with all the “uptown” and “downtown” business and the sheer volume of train lines. But taking the subway here is just like anything else; it gets better with practice. Once you take it that initial time, you’ll soon understand the difference between directions and come to love how many lines there are. If you need help, ask around — we don’t bite. Car services can get expensive, a ride on a train will cost you a flat $2.75, and honestly, it’s just faster.
Mistake #3: Walking slowly.
If there’s one thing New Yorkers hate, it’s people that walk slowly. We can usually tell who’s born-and-bred or a long-time resident from the visitors by the speed of their step. We always have someplace to be (even if that place is just home), and our ire is a side effect of living in a city that never stops — we really don’t like to be held up. Even worse is when slow walkers stop in the middle of a sidewalk to gawk at something or take a photo. Yes, the skyscrapers are that high. If you’d like to take time to look at something, just step to the side so we can get by. And when you’re walking on the sidewalk, please stay to the right.
Mistake #4: Not preparing for our weather.
Being on the East Coast means we get all the seasons here, as well as their extremes. During winter, temperatures can and will eventually go into the negatives. The biting cold is enough to make us stay home and order takeout for an entire season rather than risk losing limbs outside. In the summertime, temperatures easily rise to the 90s, and on worse days, they head into the 100s. The humidity makes the heat worse, and the combination of the two makes the season unbearable on some days. Visitors seem to think we joke about how cold or hot it can get and don’t pack proper clothing. Pack light for the warmer months and have snow boots ready for the winter — you’ll need them.
Mistake #5: Thinking that scoring a cheap Broadway ticket will be easy.
Yes, there are discounts available. But whether it’s the TKTS booth, student rush, regular rush, lotteries, or day returns, the theater scene here has a large following so everyone, and I mean everyone, has the exact same ideas. The experience of rushing something on the day you want to see a show is an experience in itself, but don’t automatically assume that you’re going to get these tickets. You might show up at the Broadhurst Theatre at 8:00 AM thinking that you’ll nab a pair of $42 tickets to Anastasia when the box office opens at 10:00 AM, but you’ll end up seeing a line of people who’ve been there since six in the morning. If you can spare the time, then go for it, but it won’t be easy and will require some effort — and forget about seeing really popular shows like Hamilton on the fly. If you don’t want to chance missing a show you really want to see, you might be better off buying it online.
Mistake #6: Assuming that things close early and planning your day around that.
A lot of places around the world have stores, restaurants, and sights that close before the night’s hour hits the double digits, so it’s an honest mistake when visitors come to NYC and assume it’ll be the same as everywhere else. But here, there’s no reason to call it quits at 7:00 PM because there’s an equal amount of things to do at night just as there are during the daytime. Museums frequently have late night days where they extend their usual hours. For a night out, there are tons of bars and clubs that don’t close until long past 3:00 AM. And if you’re hungry, there’s always something open, whether it’s the local corner store, fast food, or somewhere you can sit down. It’s called the City That Never Sleeps for a reason.