How to act like a native
Resist the urge to stop in the middle of a crowded sidewalk and stare at the skyscrapers. They are indeed impressive, but find a quiet spot away from the crowds to contemplate these giants. Study the map in your hotel room or at the restaurant, but not on the street, and certainly not while your wallet is hanging out your back pocket and your camera strap slung over your shoulder. Be alert; that keeps pickpockets away. And yes, that $20 Rolex or Kate Spade handbag really is fake.
What to wear
Comfortable clothes and shoes are great. But matching track suits mark you as a tourist, as does the combination of faded blue jeans, white t-shirt and white sneakers. If you make a slight attempt to blend in, you might just succeed. Also check out our section on weather
and when to go
, because summers can be very hot and winters very cold.
How not to get dissed
While you want to be comfortable wandering around this huge city, just don’t expect that every fancy restaurant and bar will have a table for you if you’re wearing the casual tourist outfit. Making the effort to blend in doesn’t mean you have to wear all black or Gucci shoes, but it sure does help if you’re not wearing off-the-rack from WalMart. Dress smart for success.
New York is one of the world’s greatest city’s for staring at people, except on the subway. Follow subway etiquette by either reading, staring at the advertisements or down at the ground. Making extensive eye contact is generally a bad idea. As for celebrities, New York is not L.A. and we tend to leave them in peace. So if you see one, do what New Yorkers do...ignore them. You'll be surprised at how New York this makes you feel!
Crossing the street
Go with the flow, follow the crowds. But just remember: most New Yorkers cross so many streets each day they tend to have street sense you haven’t got. So do look in both directions, even when crossing a one-way street, because chances are good a bike messenger or delivery boy might be approaching from the wrong direction. And just to set the record straight: when the orange hand starts blinking on the pedestrian signals, you’ve still got at least 5 to 10 seconds to cross before the light turns red, and even then a few more seconds before oncoming traffic roars out into the intersection. Well, make that theoretically
you have that time!
City that never sleeps?
It’s true, while New Yorkers don’t run around whistling "New York, New York" 24/7, they do indeed stay out late. So enjoy our late-night restaurants
, bars & music
Where you @?
doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. Some great places are Kinko’s with numerous locations; various Midtown mom-and-pop Internet places like Internet Café at 3 East 33rd Street with its famous $1 access; and the free public library
(sign-up in person and wait your turn…New Yorkers can reserve on-line).
Hi, it’s me!
Ran out of minutes? Cellphone battery died? Need to call Tanzania, Albania, or Pennsylvania? You’ll find great deals on cellphones, accessories, pre-paid calling cards and wireless just about everywhere. Want to know more about calling cards and pay telephones
? If you buy a calling card or SIM, make sure to read the fine print carefully to ensure you’re paying for exactly what you want. Some intrepid travellers swear by Skype, others wouldn't be caught dead without their own cellphone from home. Also check our section on shopping tips
about deals that sound too good to be true.
I am so wasted
might be an important component of your trip here, keep your limits in mind. Let's just say you ain't in Kansas anymore, and it would be unwise to stumble around this city drunk. Fortunately, with around 12,000 yellow taxis
, drinking and driving are an uncommon mix here. But do remember to drink plenty of water after your big night out on the town if you want tomorrow to happen. We are proud of our nightlife but more proud of our amazing culture. So don't miss all our world class Attractions
Why can’t I smoke here?
The short answer? Health laws now forbid it. And please do not put the bartender or waiter in the position of playing cop. The establishment they work for risks steep fines if caught with patrons smoking, so they have no choice but to enforce these laws. If you smoke in a bar or restaurant in New York City, you are almost certainly breaking US law; do keep that in mind. Many American cities have smoking bans, and New York forbids smoking in restaurants
, with a few exceptions. The biggest (and best) exception is outdoor seating at restaurants, where you can feel très European and puff away. However, do expect at least one or two passersby to frown at you or comment—that’s part of NYC’s vibrant life!
My room is too small!
Many NYC hotel rooms
, just like many NYC apartments, are indeed small and costly to boot. In a vertical city like this, we are all challenged to maximize use of space. But if you are deeply unhappy with your room, a polite chat with the reception desk or concierge might just get you a better room. Then again, it can indeed depend on the rate you paid. While checking in, if you have specific needs or preferences, it’s best to make that known right away. (“I need to be on the third floor” or “I want to be at the end of the hall.”) But if you’re here during United Nations
General Assembly week in September, then forget about your demands; you’ll be happy to have any room at all.
How do I do it all?
You don’t! Plan well in advance, and set forth each morning from your hotel with the stuff you need to get through the day. You might spend half a day in one area (or museum) before heading somewhere entirely different. Having a plan helps you strategize. On the other hand, wandering around with no set destination can be great fun too.