Do yourself a favor and visit NYC like a local. Nothing bothers me more than tourists. Generally speaking, all tourists walk slowly, take pictures of things that don’t matter and ruin special for locals on a day-to-day basis. I consider myself to be a cultural chameleon so no matter where I go, I always take great measures to blend into my surroundings as much as possible to limit the risk of being robbed.
Because annoying people deserve to be robbed.
New York City seems to be one of the many unfortunate epicenters for unruly tourists so I’ve compiled a list of easy ways to avoid being “that tourist” or “that guy who got robbed and it was hilarious.”
But is there really a reason to go see all these mundane statues that no one really cares about? Do you really care that Ricky Martin lives in an apartment building opposite Central Park? The biggest problem with tourists is that they fail to recognize authentic New York culture and instead, focus on capturing anticipatory memories on their iPhones.
5 Tips to Visit NYC Like Local
1. Get Around Like a Local: Walk or Take the Subway
Walk: It’s good for you, it’s free, and the city was designed like a grid so it’s nearly impossible to get lost!
Subway: There’s actually no excuse for not understanding how the subway works in NYC anymore now that Google Maps has mapped out every corner imaginable AND there’s service/wifi underground. In the last two years, safety on the subway has improved IMMENSELY and locals will take it up until 3am without blinking an eye. I make no promises for 3:01am.
Uber: While I love the convenience of Uber, beware of surge charges during peak hours at night and during bad weather conditions. Otherwise, it’s a cheap way to go up and down Manhattan in style.
Taxi to/from Manhattan or JFK: Taxis will take you to/from JFK for a flat fee of $52 USD. No need to ask the cabs to confirm. You can just look at the meter! If it doesn’t say “52.00,” jump out of the car and roll. Or call 311 and cause a fuss.
2. Don’t Go to the Hard Rock Cafe
I judge people who go to the Hard Rock Café. The food is crap, the employees hate their job, and since when does the Hard Rock Café accurately represent NYC culture?
Yelp it. Seriously. All you have to do is type in “Dinner/Lunch/Breakfast” and the map will show you what’s in your area. To see what’s most popular, Sort By: Most Reviewed and check out what the locals are raving about.
3. Eat Where the Locals Eat
– My favorite snack/brunch place is Café Mogador because their hummus and Moroccan mint tea inspires me! Trust me… I’ve been to Morocco. Side note, I once saw “Dan” from Gossip Girl there two years ago and while he didn’t realize his love for me, I did get a head nod in my direction.
Notice: Be prepared to wait for a table for up to an hour during weekend brunch times…. Still worth it.
Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
– It’s big. It’s gay. And it’s so delicious.
– A favorite within the stoner community, Pomme Frites is open super late so you can come get your munchies on at any time.
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
– I have a passion for ice cream and I was fortunate enough to be taken to this hidden gem by two locals on a whim. Unfortunately, everyone who worked their was Korean-American so my Chinese was useless.
4. Attend Events & Festivals
Google it. My favorite place to check for NYC events and festivals is TIMEOUT New York…. under Things To Do > Events and Festivals.
Are you sensing a theme here?… Essentially, the secret to doing NYC like a local is just to use the Internet. Or apps. New Yorkers love their apps. This is because the average New Yorker is so rushed and overwhelmed during the day that they tend to dump his or her feelings on the Internet to connect with people on an intimate level at a later time.
Anything and everything relevant about NYC is on the Internet.
5. Take the Big Bus Tour
The Big Bus Tour
– It’s only 50-ish bucks to be chauffeured all over the city and the tour guide will give you a rough breakdown of all “the important sites.” Plus it’s an easy place to pick up other cute solo travelers. Just saying.
Friday 31st of October 2014
All hail the social chameleons! I really enjoyed this, as a psych major I've always been fascinated by the concept of blending in even if you aren't a part of the culture, and it looks like you've got New York down easy. It would be awesome to see a general article about blending, would definitely help some of these newer travelers.
Makes me wonder, have you read Vagabonding by Rolf Potts? His concepts on the differences (or lack thereof) between "tourists" and "travelers" and immersing oneself in a new environment kinda remind me of your article in the kind of a macro sense.
I'm rambling though, awesome article, keep up the great work!