How to Visit NYC Without Being a Total Tourist

New York City serves over 56 million tourists each and every year, foreign and American. However - only 8.4 million people actually live in New York. With that in mind, you can assume that most of the people you see walking those NYC streets and avenues are from out of town.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with being a tourist in the big apple, it can be quite a disruption for not only the New Yorkers, but for you. There are so many more efficient ways to get the most out of your trip.

  1. Don’t waste too much time in Times Square.
    This is the first thing I say to anyone visiting New York for the first time. Sure, it’s pretty - but when you really think about it - it offers everything your average city would. Oh look, a Mcdonalds! A Forever 21! Is that Toys R Us? H&M? Woah, this is all too much! Not only that, but it’s a really stressful atmosphere. I think everyone should experience Times Square at least once, but please, don’t spend an entire day there.
  2. Take the subway and avoid cabs.
    Save your money while educating yourself and experiencing real New York life. Although most of your favorite TV shows and movies based in NYC show people taking cabs, this is beyond unrealistic. It costs way too much money and is actually less efficient. The subway is the fastest way to get around. I only take a cab or uber if I’m going to the airport or something.
  3. Get cheap pizza and overpriced coffee.
    99 cent pizza hands down is the best thing about the city. Overpriced coffee with fancy latte art is the second best thing about the city. There are hundreds of thousands of food options in the city, so choose wisely.
  4. Venture beyond Midtown Manhattan.
    This may be scary for someone coming from out of town, but it’s worth it. Go to Coney Island. Downtown Brooklyn. Spanish Harlem. Chill in Queens.
  5. Use airbnb instead of a hotel.
    Ever since I lived in New York, staying in a hotel seems like a total downgrade. Airbnb gives you the opportunity to stay in residents apartments. If you’re trying to travel on a budget, this is a must. Thanks to airbnb, I’ve gotten the opportunity to see what it feels like to live in every borough.
  6. Go to local events.
    Warning: You will meet unforgettable people and you might never want to leave. I recommend local concerts, flea markets, release parties, seasonal events, and so on. You’ll actually feel like you’re apart of something.
  7. Just chill and take it all in instead of trying to fit too much into one day.
    Literally, just walk around Central Park. Take the subway to the East Village and get coffee and chinese food. Wander around and just observe everything. When you try to fit too much into one trip and don’t give yourself time to relax, you won’t have any time to enjoy it. And who would want that?
  8. Don’t waste your money on lengthy guided tours.
    This is such a timesucker! So many tourists make the mistake of spending a whole day on tours of Ground Zero, Empire State Building, 30 Rock, etc. I can promise you this: you will get the most out of your trip by visiting these places yourself. 

    Overall - Do your research!
Google exists for a reason. It could be the very reason you found this article. Go into your trip with some knowledge, but be open-minded. You never know where your trip will take you.