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New York City Tips from a Local

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Many NYC travel tips circulating the internet would make a local cringe. Read on for some travel advice from a New Yorker.

1. Don't Go to the High Line

For the past few years, every single guide to NYC has raved about the High Line - abandoned tracks converted into a park overlooking the streets of Manhattan. And, I'll admit, the High Line is truly unique and beautiful and all that. One little problem: everyone is reading these guides and hightailing it to the High Line, resulting in ridiculous tourist traffic. Last time I ventured over there, it was literally the human version of cars standing bumper-to-bumper at rush hour.

Don't do this to yourself. Instead, look for less-recommended, more out-of-the-way places. Sites that cater to specific interests are perfect too, as not all tourists will want to check out, for example, the Museum of the City of New York, and you'll almost never find it crowded. And large sites, like Central Park, can accommodate tourist crowds. But the relatively tiny High Line? Not worth it. 

Crowded High Line

This could be you...

2. Stay Out of Times Square

Okay, Times Square has pretty billboards. Great. It's also crowded, gross, trafficky, completely devoid of good food, lacking any real sights, and full of dudes with criminal records dressed up as Elmo. You can do better, tourists. 

Go, for example, to the Upper East or Upper West Side. Stroll the wide avenues, eat at one of the restaurants, play in the parks by the East or Hudson rivers. Check out the awesome museums on either side of Central Park. Or, for a more hip experience, explore downtown - bars, trendy eateries, boutique stores, historical sights like the Tenement Museum or the Merchant's House Museum. Seriously, go anywhere but Times Square.

There is one legitimate reason to pass through Times Square - if it is on your way to a Broadway show. Make your way to the theater quickly. A few photos of the billboards allowed. There, that's your Times Square experience - now go see the actual city. 

And one other thing. If you decide to spend a substantial amount of time in or around Times Square during your visit to New York, and then dare to say something like, "Oh, well, New York is fun to visit, but I could never live there, it's way too crazy," I just might slap you. 

 

Elmo Arrested

Here's your friendly Elmo getting taken into custody...not an unusual scene in Times Square.

3. "New Yorkers are so..."

"New Yorkers are so- ". Stop right there. There are way too many of us for you to decide that we're all rude, nice, fashionable, always in a hurry, rich, poor, whatever... You may have heard a lot about the city and its inhabitants in movies, articles, from friends who've visited here. Assume that what you've heard is only partially true, at best. 

Say you walk into a restaurant for dinner and the waitress informs you it's going to be a 2-hour wait while the other patrons give you disdainful looks. You could head to the bar and complain about how terrible New Yorkers are -- or you can try a more casual neighborhood joint, and make reservations at the fancier place for another night. 

The awesome thing about New York is that you can find whatever you want here. High culture? You bet. Snobby investment bankers? Of course! Struggling artists? Ethnic communities of every hue and geographical origin? Starry-eyed new arrivals? Yes, yes, and yes! If you aren't enjoying your NYC experience, just visit a new neighborhood, and you'll enter a whole new world. 

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