First let me just explain that I’m not calling anyone here dumb. Some of these may be a little dumb, some are just perceived as such, and some are just things that can be attributed to lack of information, or having access to the wrong information (guidebooks). I’m sure Mr and Mrs tourist reading this can relate to the many dumb things
American tourists do in their home town. The first one on the list is what prompted this post. Something I witness on a daily basis but never before like the horror yesterday.
Take pictures with SOL. No, not that Statue of Liberty. The ones walking around on 42nd and 7th along with Mickey, Mini and the rest of the characters. It looks like so much fun at first and they look so adorable when they approach you and take the pictures with you. But then the AGONY, the look on the unsuspecting tourist when they learn about the price and those cute characters suddenly turn into a collection agency for the local Mexican mafia. Yesterday I saw one tourist hand in $20!
Eat in Little Italy – Little Italy is in all the guidebooks, and even some local guides like Time Out recommends that people should check it out. But the truth is that Little Italy is nowhere near what it once was. There are no longer Italians living there and its really now just a street in the middle of Chinatown. Its strictly there just for tourists, the definition of a tourist trap. What the guidebooks dont tell you is that some of the best Italian restaurants in the city like Osteria Morini and Rubirosa are just outside Little Italy. Its actually surrounded by some of the best dining in town. You are in the right neighborhood, but the absolute wrong street.
Dont get familiar with the grid – Its quite alright to stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk with your family of 17 and open that giant map to get oriented. But for a young dude, sporting Prada sunglasses, to look for MOMA on 53rd and 11th ave is inexcusable. Twice now, I met tourists who got confused into thinking that 11 or any other low number on 53rd street must mean its close to the water or the beginning of 53rd st, not 5th avenue. Get familiar with Google Maps and find all those places before you visit, not during.
Dont Tip properly – I can start a rant very easily here, but I will just keep it simple. Its not that hard people. And you dont have to think about it too much. Like your service? 20%, Thought the service was a little shaky? 20%. Just do what the rest of us locals do — tip 20%. Check the bill for automatic service charge that may be included, and add to it if needed to make it 20%. Its not rocket science.
Walk the High Line – Ok, I imagine this could raise some eyebrows, as it surely raised my wife’s. The High Line is a park on an elevated abandoned railway track running along the west side. Its a park that due to its history and uniqueness jumped to the top of every tourist must list, who then come back to say “overhyped” “too crowded”. A few days ago I was there with the wife and at some point it felt like a single file of prisoners, getting a fresh air fix. Its a cool idea, great project but at the end of the day its a park, meant to be serene, an oasis for the locals. But now, its a bare museum, filled with selfie sticks and fake monks. Not sure if this was the original intention.
Stay in Times Square – I dont mean “Stay in Times Square”, I mean “Stay in Times Square” (you see the difference?). As in the entire time! Most visitors stay in the vicinity, eat terrible food in the vicinity, and dont leave much. Walk the 5 minutes to Hell’s Kitchen. Go downtown to the village. Visit the outer boroughs. Why come to NYC at all, if you are not gonna see NYC.
Call it Ice Hockey – Its just “Hockey” here. Even when Field Hockey eventually catch on here it will still be hockey (and we’ll come up with another name for field hockey). You are going to a Hockey game, not ice hockey. The “Ice” part simply removes the machoism from the name, and makes it sound closer to ice dancing. “Hey Mordechai did you see the ice hockey game yesterday” is something you will never hear at office water cooler chats and may even result in a punch in the face by Mordechai.
Go by Trip Advisor Restaurant Rankings – Trip Advisor is for tourists, by tourists. Yes, there’s a good chance that you will eat well when going by the rankings. But there’s also a great chance that you’ll have mediocre meals surrounded by other tourists doing the same thing you do, while locals go elsewhere. TA is a great tool, the forum is a great tool, but its restaurants reviews and ranking in NYC are useless.
Must Stay Near the Subway – Ok, another controversial one. Something we always preach on the forums is to try stay near the subway. I may have even done it myself at some point. We strongly advice tourists to visit and explore other neighborhoods, while at the same time escape the area where you stay ASAP. We have a great and reliable subway system, and you should certainly take advantage of it, but walking 10 to 15 minutes to the subway doesnt sound that terrible to me, and the less you take the subway the more you’ll see of New York City. Pass on the hotel breakfast, go eat with the locals at the local cafe, and you are already halfway to the subway.
Take Selfies at the 9/11 Memorial. Nuff said!