Are you planning your first trip to New York City?

I love New York (and I may just be a little biased since I’m from there) so I want you to have the best time on your trip!

That’s why I’m sharing the most common mistakes I see tourists make so you know what to avoid in order to have a great experience in NYC.

These are the top seven mistakes to avoid on your trip to New York:

1. Not Taking The Subway

NYC Subway

One of the biggest mistakes that tourists make in New York is not taking the subway.

You might have heard that the subway is unsafe or you might just feel overwhelmed at the prospect of navigating the subway system.

But I promise you that the subway isn’t that bad! It’s much cheaper than taking taxis or Ubers everywhere, and it’s almost always faster than driving too, thanks to New York’s insane traffic.

Taking the subway is just $2.90 per ride. You can buy a MetroCard in most subway stations and load it up with however much money you want.

If you’ll be in New York for more than a few days, it often makes sense to pay $34 for a 7-day unlimited MetroCard instead of paying per ride.

2. Staying In Times Square

Central Park In Autumn

Another mistake that first-time visitors make in New York? Choosing a hotel in Times Square.

There is so much more to NYC than Times Square. I understand that on your first trip to New York, you probably want to see Times Square, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay in Times Square. It’s the least authentic and most touristy area in the city.

If you do want to stay in Midtown, I recommend choosing a hotel near the southern end of Central Park. This is a great area within easy walking distance of many tourist attractions including Central Park, lots of museums, and Broadway.

If you want to stay in a more hip Downtown neighborhood, Chelsea is a good option because it’s between Midtown and cool neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, West Village, East Village, SoHo, and more.

3. Eating At Chain Restaurants

Man eating pizza in NYC

There’s a running joke about the giant Olive Garden restaurant in Times Square. Don’t come to New York and eat at the same chain restaurants you can find all over the United States!

New York is one of the best foodie destinations in the world, and you can find a wide variety of cuisine for every taste. It truly is a melting pot of different flavors and cultures.

So skip the chain restaurants and instead try some authentic local cuisine. If you aren’t sure where to start, a food tour is a great activity to book in NYC!

You can’t leave NYC without trying a classic New York slice from Joe’s Pizza or a bagel with your choice of toppings from Ess-a-Bagel.

4. Not Observing Proper Sidewalk Etiquette

People walking in NYC

There’s a stereotype that New Yorkers are rude, which I don’t think is quite justified.

If you ever need help with directions or want a recommendation for where to eat or things to do, New Yorkers are actually very helpful and approachable.

But one thing that does irritate New Yorkers? When tourists stop right in the middle of a sidewalk.

This disrupts the flow of foot traffic, and in a city as busy and crowded as New York, that’s a problem. Similarly, you should stick to walking in the correct “lane” on the sidewalk (same sides as how cars drive.)

If you do need to stop to check where you’re going or send a text message or take a photo, step off to the side and don’t block the sidewalk where people are walking.

5. Overpaying For Tourist Attractions

View from Top of the Rock

It’s no secret that NYC is a pricy destination, but you can save money on tourist attractions.

For example, many popular museums in New York have a “suggested donation,” but you can actually pay whatever you want, even if that’s just $1. Some of these museums include the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Many other museums have one day per week where you can enjoy free or pay-what-you-wish admission.

When it comes to Broadway shows, you can often score cheap tickets for shows online by using TodayTix. Or you can try your luck waiting on line (side note, New Yorkers say on line and not in line) at TKTS, a booth in Times Square with deeply discounted same-day tickets.

Another popular (and expensive) thing to do in NYC is visit an observation deck. There are so many to choose from: the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, Edge, and more. You really only need to visit one, though!

I personally recommend Top of the Rock — in my opinion, it offers the best skyline view of NYC, and it’s the only place where you can see a direct view of the iconic Empire State Building.

6. Wearing Uncomfortable Shoes

Snow in Times Square

As I mentioned above, you shouldn’t be afraid of taking the subway in New York!

But my personal favorite way of getting around the city is on foot. New York is very walkable, more than any other city in the United States, and you can get to many places on just your own two feet.

Because you’ll be doing a lot of walking in New York, you’ll want to make sure you have a comfortable pair of walking shoes. I recommend sneakers — even in the summer, I would never wear sandals walking around NYC because you just never know what’s on the streets.

If you’ll be visiting New York from December until March, you’ll definitely want a pair of water-resistant boots and some warm wool socks in case of snow, icy rain, or slush.

7. Not Leaving Manhattan

Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn

Finally, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in New York is not leaving Manhattan.

New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Manhattan is by far the most popular with visitors, but it’s worth getting off the beaten path.

If you have a limited amount of time in NYC, I would recommend spending at least half a day (or a full day) in Brooklyn. You can start off by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan and then stroll around the charming neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights before stopping for a bite to eat in the DUMBO neighborhood right along the waterfront.

In the summer, Coney Island is also a great destination in Brooklyn to visit. This seaside neighborhood has an old-school amusement park, a boardwalk, and beaches.

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