With so many things to do in New York City, it can be easy to miss out on the things not to do that can actually help your trip be that much more awesome.
Here’s a list of 10 things NOT to do in New York City based on hiccups made by friends, family, and tourists.
1. Don’t eat at McDonald’s, Olive Garden, or other large, corporate fast food establishments.
You’re in the foodie capital of the world. Get the full New York City experience by eating anywhere but large, corporate fast food establishments.
If you don’t know where to go, then pull up Yelp or TripAdvisor, and find a place with 4+ stars near you. You can find a ton of places that fit your budget.
2. Don’t go to Times Square in the middle of the day or even in the evening.
The best time to go to Times Square is after 11PM. You’ll have Times Square (almost) to yourself without the sardine picked mess you have to deal with during the day.
It’s even better at 3AM after a night out at the bar. This is when Time Square is at its quietest making for a surreal scene with its bright lights shining solely on you!
3. Don’t hang out or walk slowly on the left side of the sidewalk or escalator.
If you want to spread your arms wide and circle around with glee as you take in the New York City scenery, do it on the right side of the sidewalk. The right side is for standing or slow pedestrians while the left side is for passing.
Sounds familiar? It’s because the same rules for driving applies to pedestrians to help 9 million people flowing around the city as smooth as possible.
4. Don’t rely solely on credit cards and debit cards.
There’s a lot of mom and pop shops in NYC, and more than you would expect take cash only. Don’t miss out on the good spots to eat just because you don’t have cash.
Also, you never know when you’re going to need to pull out a single for soul singing street performers. Cross your fingers, and hope the barbershop quartet finds its way to whatever subway you’re riding on!
5. Don’t make plans all over New York without considering travel time.
Even though visiting New York sounds like it’s easy to get around ’cause you’re in New York (mentally, one place), the travel time to multiple places can be unexpectedly consuming.
Try planning a few things in the same borough, same neighborhood, or at least on the same side of town (west side vs. east side) to cut down on traveling time.
6. Don’t forget to use the toilet when you can.
Convenient public toilets aren’t readily available in New York City like they are in Europe or elsewhere. You either have to go in a restaurant or bar that you’ve already bought something in or have to pretend you’re a customer to go to the bathroom.
This is such an apparent issue that some McDonald’s have bouncers at their bathrooms (but you wouldn’t know that because you’re not going to step into a McDonald’s while in NYC), and there’s app called AirPnP where you can pay someone to use their toilet just like you would a place on AirBnB.
7. Don’t tip 15%.
15% might be standard tipping etiquette in other parts of the United States, but in New York City where the rent prices are ridiculously high, one subway ride costs $2.75, and a cocktail can cost $15, the standard tipping rate is a minimum of 18% but on average 20%.
8. Don’t accidentally go on the express subway.
There are express subways and local subways. The express ones go to the more significant stops and skip a few of the local stops so if you’re trying to get to a local stop, but end up on an express, you’ll miss your stop!
If you don’t know which one to take, there are clear signs in the subway, but asking someone for help is always a good idea. New Yorkers love helping people with their destinations, which allows them to show off their street cred.
9. Don’t forget to tip the street performers.
If a street performer made you smile, laugh, dance, or question your life in mysterious ways, help them help others out by tipping them. It’s the nice thing to do.
10. Don’t assume that people in New York are cold hearted grinches.
Yes, New Yorkers have a reputation for being cold-hearted and mean just like Los Angeles has a reputation for being superficial and materialistic, but guess what? They’re stereotypes!
Here’s what I think. If you go into a situation assuming people will be cold and mean, then most likely you’ll get the same energy you put out there.
For all my warm-hearted, life-loving friends who’ve visited in New York, they always share their stories about how the nicest New Yorkers helped them find their way or gave them excellent recommendations on things to do. They got back the loving and happy energy they put out.
So love and be loved, and enjoy New York City!