New York City is a helluva town, especially for tourists and city dwellers. While New Yorkers are not known for being polite to tourists, that is because most tourists do not know the proper etiquette for big cities such as Gotham. It really is not so difficult. Just follow some simple rules of conduct and use some common sense. Here are some helpful tips for tourists and newcomers in New York City.
New York City is a walker’s paradise. In fact, the majority of city dwellers do not drive or even own cars, so the sidewalks serve as streets, with the same type of ‘traffic’ laws. As with driving, do not stop dead in the middle of the street (sidewalk) to take pictures or consult a map. Instead, ‘pull over’ to the side so that pedestrian traffic can pass without incident.
Other helpful tips for tourists in New York City involves proper subway etiquette. The NYC subway system is an enormous and intricate source of public transportation. Respect the other travelers and move into the center of a subway car when boarding a train. Do not gather near the doors and block other people’s ability to enter and exit the train. People will move and let others off when their stop is indicated.
Another helpful tip to keep in mind when traveling via subway is to avoid entering an empty subway car. That train car is usually empty for a reason such as broken air-conditioning, offensive odors, and/or spilled bodily fluids. It is best to avoid such situations for various health and safety reasons.
Another helpful tip for groups of tourists in New York City walking around and enjoying the sights is to avoid traveling together in massive groups. Do not walk in large groups and block the entire sidewalk doing it. New Yorkers are speed-walking pros and they have places to go. In most cases, walking is the best way to reach a destination fast and inexpensively. It is understandable that tourists want to walk slowly and take in the scenery, but use common sense while doing so. Walk on the right side of the sidewalk in small groups. That way, tourists will not take up the entire sidewalk and slow everyone down behind them.
Most people are familiar with the phrase: “There is a sucker born every minute.” Do not get sucked in and waste money on the expensive boat cruise that goes past the Statue of Liberty. Instead, check out the Staten Island ferry, which is totally free and goes past most of the same sights. The ride takes about an hour round-trip and there is food and beverages available for purchase onboard. This is a terrific alternative for budget-conscious tourists, as well as those under time constraints.
Another helpful tip for tourists and newcomers in New York City is to not neglect the other four boroughs of NYC. Manhattan is what most people think of when visiting ‘The Big Apple’, but it would be a shame to miss out on the other boroughs when planning a trip. The other four boroughs, which include Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx, have their own unique charms and are definitely worth a visit. They are all easily accessible via the subway and/or Staten Island ferry. In addition to easy accessibility and additional tourist attractions, the restaurants and shopping are usually cheaper in the outer boroughs than in Manhattan.
Another helpful tip for tourists is “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Most tourists and newcomers came to NYC in order to experience the city. Try to think outside the box and patronize local restaurants instead of chains. If someone is a newcomer to the metropolis, it could be great to expand their horizons and try something new. These new experiences could become regular haunts in no time.
An invaluable tip for tourists in New York City is not to let the admission prices for many attractions potentially drive people away. While this little known fact is not always advertised, the admission prices at many museums and other similar attractions in the NYC area are actually just suggested contributions. Meaning that people can simply pay whatever they can afford, even if it is only a dollar donation. If a tourist is budget-conscious, there is a listing of New York museums and other similar attractions where tourists pay what they wish. This listing can be obtained and consulted when making plans for a trip to NYC.
One of the most helpful tips for tourists in New York City that is often underutilized is to ask for help when stranded. There is a common misconception that New Yorkers cannot be bothered. It is true they might be rude to someone if a person blocks their way, but generally, most New Yorkers are more than willing to help if asked nicely. Most locals pride themselves on their directional and navigation skills, which is a sign of how well they really know the city, so a tourist should not be afraid to stop and ask which direction is Fifth Avenue or how to get to Times Square. In most cases, New Yorkers really are friendly and happy to help out tourists as well as newcomers.
By Leigh Haugh
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