There are more than 8.6 million citizens of New York City, and they’re pretty much all in a hurry. They’re also shrewd, outspoken, and proudly able to survive in a metropolis that tends to punish the meek. The buzzing subway system alone is a symbol of how this city works: part ballet, part battlefield.
Residents and visitors alike can see why New York is considered the greatest city in the world, and well worth the effort of learning its idiosyncrasies to better enjoy its mystique. Here’s a rundown of common mistakes to avoid, all while moving through town like an ace. Let find out These Things Not to Do in New York City below.
These Things Not to Do in New York City
Never, Ever Block the Sidewalk
It seems simple: Sidewalks are shared public space, so you can do almost whatever you want. But in NYC, sidewalks are more like highways. And absolutely no savvy New Yorker would stop in the middle of one. Not to check a map, not to text, not to take a picture, not to tie a shoe. The golden rule is to step aside.
You can stop near the curb, beside a mailbox, under an awning literally anywhere but the middle of the sidewalk. For those walking in a group, never walk shoulder to shoulder and block the entire sidewalk. Those in non compliance risk the dreaded elbow knock, evil eye, or something worse. What can we say, rushing everywhere makes us crabby.
Don’t Be Shy About Asking for Directions
It’s true that New Yorkers may come across as brusque or even rude, especially if you’re not following the city’s implied or explicit rules. But we are very proud of knowing our way around this mighty metropolis. So visitors shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help with directions, subway suggestions, or other navigation planning. In fact it’s favored because it likely means they’re clearing the way faster than a tourist stuck only with a map.
Don’t Spend Money at a National Chain
Don’t let the all too familiar big box stores and fast food chains distract you. In NYC, one of the best features is our abundant independent restaurants and shops. Stroll through SoHo, the West or East Village, Williamsburg, and basically any other neighborhood to discover unique wares, handmade goods, distinctive menus, and countless other exclusives found only in this particular city, at that specific spot.
Don’t Rely Only on Credit Cards
NYC operates with a true old fashioned streak when it comes to money. Cash only restaurants and bars are surprisingly common, and often you’ll find a high fee ATM in the corner instead of a credit card machine at the register. Cash tips and taxi fare also will guarantee you some gratitude. Even more peculiar: NYC Transit buses do accept cash, but only in coins, and as long as they’re not pennies.
Don’t Only Stick to Big Tourist Attractions
On the first visit to NYC, you’ll need to check off certain sights from your must see list, like the Statue of Liberty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Carnegie Hall. Firstly, know that you’ll never get to all of them no matter how long your trip. Secondly, there are so many ways to dig deeper. Start by consulting local event calendars. Time Out NY, New York Magazine, and VillageVoice have good ones. Then enjoy roaming around less touristy neighborhoods. Or plan an outing further afield, perhaps to Governors Island, Fort Tryon Park uptown, a Staten Island Yankees baseball game, or the Bronx’s New York Botanical Garden and Arthur Avenue’s Little Italy. In other words, let your best urban explorer discover what’s so gloriously dynamic and diverse about NYC.
Don’t Eat Only Standard NYC Fare
There is no doubt that this city serves the very best of some foods, from bagels and matzo ball soup, to hot dogs, pizza, and New York strip steaks. International cuisine, however, is almost as authentic here as in its homelands. And it’s best enjoyed in neighborhoods representing particular ethnic communities. Everyone expects to find solid pasta in now teeny Little Italy and reliable Asian cuisine in Chinatown. Far more exciting are the flavors of Indian fare in Curry Hill, Greek in Astoria, Russian in Brighton Beach, Chinese in Flushing, and other specialty delights across our rich global city.