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New York 101: How to Experience the City Like a Local

New York

The Big Apple is more than a city; it’s a little nation with its own character, citizens, and unique atmosphere. Visiting New York City as a tourist can be fun, but you’ll certainly miss some of the more unique and iconic elements of this bustling metropolis.

Instead, you can visit New York City like a local, provided you know what to do, what to see, and how to act. If you don’t feel like living in New York City and paying exorbitant rent prices, read on for information you can use to experience the city like a local on your next visit.

No Taxis – Walk or Take the Subway

If you really want to experience New York City like a local, you won’t take the taxis, which are overpriced and liable to scam you if they figure out that you are a tourist. Instead, travel by walking or taking the subway (sometimes called the Metro).

Both of these transportation methods will get you where you want to go, plus keep you in good shape as you chow down on delicious New York bites.

Pick Smaller, Hole-in-the-Wall Eateries

Speaking of food in New York City, stay away from chain restaurants that you can find anywhere. Instead, look for local, hole-in-the-wall diners, bars, and cafés that you can only patronize when you are in NYC itself.

If you don’t know which places are worth your time and money, take a peek inside. If they’re full of average-looking folks, odds are that a diner or café is a locally loved place you should try.

Visit Museums Slowly

Lots of people visit New York City specifically for the museums. If that’s your objective, good luck – the truth is that there are too many museums to visit in a single trip, and each museum has so much to see and absorb that odds are you won’t be able to really enjoy it in a single visit, either.

Take the Met. This monumental, gargantuan museum has multiple levels and hundreds of artifacts and art pieces. Instead of trying to absorb a museum in its entirety in one day, visit museums slowly so you can take them in properly.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Google Maps

Even New York locals can get confused in New York City’s crowded streets from time to time. So don’t be afraid to use Google maps when you get lost. It’s much better than asking for directions (most locals will just give you a weird look or grunt gruffly as they shuffle past).

Visit Thrift Shops and Markets

Just like you should stay away from chain restaurants, don’t do all of your shopping at major retail brands you can find anywhere. Instead, check out the local thrift shops and markets like:

  • The thrift shop in East Village
  • The consignment shops in NYC, such as Real Real, A Second Chance, and 11 Consignment Boutique
  • The Union Square Greenmarket, an outdoor market that sells fresh fruits and veggies plus other homemade goods and produce

Stay Away from Times Square

Whatever you do, do not visit Times Square under any circumstances! Not only is this arguably the world’s most famous tourist trap, but it’s a true nightmare to navigate through, even if you live in New York City as a local.

There’s nothing in Times Square you can’t find elsewhere in the Big Apple, so do yourself a favor and opt for the side alleys or other streets that lead away from this metropolitan cornerstone. Locals avoid Times Square for good reasons; trust them!

Remember that Each Neighborhood Has its Own Character

Last but not least, tour the different neighborhoods in New York City while keeping their character in mind. Nicer neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Soho, and the Upper West Side are perfect for retail shopping experiences, while Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, and Brighton Beach are more down to earth and ideal for experiencing the middle-class lifestyle New York City is known for.

You can even use this information to pick your accommodations or lodgings. For example, if you want to live away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you might consider a hotel in a place like the upper West side or Greenwich Village. These nicer neighborhoods are perfect for tourists who want to absorb the character of New York City without putting their luggage at risk. Alternatively, check out New York luggage storage solutions for short-term luggage storage while you find a good place to stay.

In the end, touring New York City like a local will help you get more of the natural character of this metropolis and fully understand just what makes it so attractive to so many. Be sure to keep these tips in mind for your next NYC visit so you can enjoy even more of what the city has to offer!

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