New York City. More than a place – a mood, a dream, everything! There really is no place like NYC. People travel from all over the world to visit the big apple and take in its many sights, tastes, and wonders. For a first time visitor, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the hustle and bustle that is NYC. It can also be easy to fall into all the tourist traps and miss out on the REAL NYC. Let’s review some of my NYC trip mistakes to avoid so you can have the best NYC trip ever!
NYC Trip Mistakes #1 – NYC is More than Times Square!
If there is anything you take from this article – let it be this. There is more to NYC than Times Square! Say it again with me! Look Times Square is great – don’t get me wrong. It’s one of those places everyone should see at least once. It’s a quintessential part of NYC – the part you see in movies, on Instagram, and in magazines. A lot of Broadway shows are located in or around Times Square. So by all means please go to Times Square. BUT! Don’t let this be the only part of NYC you explore!
Let’s talk boroughs – NYC is comprised of 5 boroughs (think neighborhoods). These are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Manhattan is the home to Times Square, Central Park, One World Trade Center, and much more. Most visitors will spend their whole trip in Manhattan – and that is okay as long as that is a choice! A lot of travelers don’t know much about the other boroughs or what they have to offer. Do some research and make sure you aren’t missing out on something that might interest you! And please, please – if you choose to stay within Manhattan – get outta Times Square and see some of the other sights! Check out my list of NYC parks for some inspiration!
Mistake #2 – Not Embracing the Subway
If you want to avoid another of my NYC trip mistakes – take the subway! If you are not use to a big city or public transportation this might make you nervous. Don’t be! The subway is the easiest and cheapest way to make your way around NYC (and get outta Times Square wink wink).
To make it easy on yourself download an NYC subway map before your trip and familiarize yourself with it. I suggest the official MTA app. This will show you the different lines and the stops along them. It might be confusing at first but don’t give up.
Here’s a crash course. There are 5 main lines running North-South in Manhattan – these are shown in colors: Blue, Red, Yellow, Orange, Green. Each of these lines carries multiple trains – either numbers or letters. For example on the Red line you can catch the 1, 2, or 3 train. Each stop on the line is marked with a dot – either filled or not. The dot will show which train stops there in text beside it. Dots that are not filled mean it is an express stop. Express means a train that skips multiple stops (the filled dots) to get to others (non filled) faster.
NYC trip mistakes #3 – Eating at Chains
This one hurts me as much as the Times Square thing. Please do not go to NYC and eat at Olive Garden or McDonald’s. No hate to Olive Garden or anything – but please just don’t. NYC is home to some of the best and most diverse food around. Name it and you can not only find it – but it will likely be authentic and delicious. It doesn’t even have to be expensive! The NYC street cart vendors are a must! Go for the gyros. They are amazing!
If you are looking for inspiration check out yelp or google reviews. Nothing is easier than crowdsourced information. I also suggest going to different neighborhoods to find new and delicious meals. Have brunch on the Upper West Side (hint: Jacob’s Pickles, Good Enough to Eat) and dinner somewhere else entirely (maybe Chelsea Market?)! If you have time and are visiting during the right season check out Smorgasburg in Brooklyn! Try something new and let your taste buds live their wildest dreams.
Mistake #4 – Limiting Your Bucket List
Kind of like the food mistake – don’t limit yourself to the same NYC bucket list as everyone else. Of course, there are some universal must-dos in NYC – like Times Square. But don’t spend all your time on the tourist checklist. NYC offers a variety of amazing experiences and events. Use this to tailor your trip to your own personality and desires. For example, if Broadway just isn’t your thing but you still want to embrace the theater while in NYC check out something like Sleep No More – an interactive theater experience. Before you freak out, just check it out – I promise you don’t have to get on stage and sing. It is one of the most interesting and unique experiences available.
Whatever your thing is just do a quick google and you will find it in NYC. History, comedy, Sex and the City – NYC has it all and in as many different venues and presentations as you could want.
NYC Trip Mistakes #5 – Being Scared of New Yorkers
Alright let’s be honest here – NYC residents get a bad rap sometimes. You might have heard the stereotypes – short mannered, always busy, and unfriendly. But I promise New Yorkers are just normal people (I lived there myself for 4 years, trust). While they might appear busy – they are really just going about their day trying not to disturb anyone else. When you live in a city with millions of others (literally) you tend to appreciate privacy and personal space. But don’t let this deter you from asking for directions or suggestions if you need it! When I lived in NYC I was very happy to help someone who was lost on the subway or point out my favorite coffee shop (Joe’s holla!). Don’t be scared to approach a local New Yorker – they will be happy to share their city with you (and if they aren’t – just ask another of the 1 million Manhattan locals!).
I hope this list of NYC trip mistakes to avoid helps you plan the best NYC trip ever! Let me know about your favorite NYC experiences!