Having worked in NYC for the past 10 years, as well as being a tourist in the city on several occasions I’ve noticed some things that tourist do that you’ll want to avoid when visiting. These are some tips to keep you from acting too much like a tourist, since I know most of you are trying to blend in at least a little bit.
1. Ask where Times Square is when you’re in Times Square. I was standing on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue and someone asked me where Times Square is. If all the bright flashing lights don’t give away Times Square I don’t know what to tell you.
2. Ask where a Broadway show is by the name of the theater. Believe it or not I have no idea where the Minskoff Theatre is, I wouldn’t even know where it was if I was standing in front of it. But ask me where the Lion King is and I’ll point you in the right direction. Even better, tell me the street address, that’s the easiest way for a NYer to tell you where something is located.
3. Wait to cross the street until the the light changes. They seem to do this in other cities, but not in NYC. It’s a sure sign that you’re not a local. I don’t suggest doing what a lot of locals do though, stick your baby carriage into a lane of traffic to see if it’s safe to go.
4. Drive, this isn’t just about looking like a tourist, but for your sanity and safety. Parking is expensive and while the driving isn’t nearly as bad as in other cities I’ve visited, it’s not for the feint of heart. If you do, watch out for the people sticking the baby carriage out into the street to see if you’re there.
5. Leave valuables unattended.. Putting your bag on the back of your chair at an internet cafe or at a restaurant and then not pay attention to it. People do this all the time and have their stuff stolen. Anyone who has lost their passport can tell you that you want to be even more careful when your stuff is valuable, like a passport or a camera. People are always losing cameras, passports, drivers licenses and usually you will find that the person left it unattended or just wasn’t paying attention.
6. Not know the name and address of the place you are staying. So you’re out having some dinner, drinks and in general enjoying yourself and now it’s time to find your way back to your hotel. But was the hotel on East 42nd Street or West 42nd Street, hmmmm. Know where your hotel is, maybe take a business card from the hotel. When you’re too drunk to remember where it is you can hand the business card to a cabbie and they’ll take you home. Otherwise, you’ll be wandering around the city for a while…
7. Travel in packs with matching outfits/backpacks/hats. This is a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist and you’re generally considered on the more naive end of the tourist scale making you a good candidate for pickpockets and scams. The good thing is you’re in a big group and hopefully looking out for each other.
8. Go to see the Christmas Tree lighting in Rockefeller Plaza. I plan to do a post on this when the event is closer. But this is a made for TV event and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see the actual tree, but don’t expect to see anything else.
9. Take a Livery Cab. ALWAYS, ALWAYS take a yellow Taxi. Unless of course you previously booked with a livery service. This is particularly important when arriving at the airport, you will find men trying to entice you to hire them. They will typically overcharge you, may not drop you off where they are supposed to and may try to scam you along the way. If they do try to scam you, call the police. The threat might get them to do things right, if not the police will help sort things out. Taxi’s either use the meter or if picking up from an airport use a flat rate depending on where you are going. I will cover this topic in another post in more depth.
10. Stay at the Marriott Marquis. I know this sounds crazy, but I stayed here once and unless I got a really good price, I wouldn’t do it again. It’s a nice hotel with some great amenities, but the elevators are AWFUL! Possibly the worst I’ve ever dealt with and we have bad ones at work. Any time I am there and need to visit any of the pre-lobby floors (the lobby is on the 8th floor) I take the escalators. There are other nice hotels in Times Square consider some of them first.