Ever wondered what the secret is to having the most enjoyable trip possible? Welcome to my “Be Invisible” series – your ultimate guide for how to NOT look like a tourist on your next adventure and guaranteed to boost your entire travel experience.
Bursting with helpful tips and tricks, I’ve asked locals from particular cities around the world to share their insider knowledge on the best ways travellers can become “invisible” when visiting their city and enjoy it like a local. If you’re ready to challenge travel stereotypes, overcome language barriers and embrace what I like to call Invisible Tourism, you’ve come to the right place!
This local’s guide for how to not look like a tourist in NYC was written by Kelly from Girl With The Passport. As one of the most awesome city break destinations ever, I am very excited to share her top 8 tips for how to best blend in with New Yorkers so you can make the most of your time and experience the city like a local, written by a local!
Here’s how to NOT not look like a tourist in NYC
Welcome to New York City, an urban oasis filled with fast talkers and fast walkers that never sleep and that are forever in a rush to get somewhere, even if they’re not.”
And while we may seem rather unfriendly with our eternal impatience and headphone driven, self-imposed isolation, once you get to know us, we’re actually totally awesome. So have a look below and see how you too can look like a mildly cool New Yorker like me.
Look like a local in NYC with these 8 simple steps
Fold your pizza down the middle
I cannot stress this enough because eating your pizza in any other way will immediately indicate that you are NOT a native New Yorker; and yes, eating your pizza with a fork and knife is a sin against humanity.
So to properly eat your slice of New York style pizza (no other style is acceptable here), you will fold the slice down the middle. You will start eating your pizza at the non-crust end. This end will droop slightly towards your plate and a bit of grease will drip on your plate. This is normal and is totally fine. Continue eating your pizza until it is finished, leaving the crust if you are not a fan of this part of the pizza.
Do not wait for the crosswalk sign to walk
This one is HUGE. If you want until the crosswalk sign says walk, we will immediately know you are NOT a New Yorker because New Yorkers are always in a rush. We don’t have time to wait for the light to change. Instead, you will want to blend in by standing as far in the street as humanly possible without getting hit by an oncoming car. As soon as you can safely dart across the street, do so. Yeah, it feels kind of like you’re in a real life game of Frogger but that’s what we do here in New York.
NOTE: Please be careful and if you need to, wait for the light. I don’t want you getting hit by an oncoming cab!
Walk quickly, with your head down
To avoid looking like a tourist in NYC do not lollygag along the sidewalk, taking pictures and looking at a map because if you’re a New Yorker, you are always in a rush. So even if you have no where to go, you should still walk with purpose and move quickly along the sidewalk.
Additionally, you should keep your head down and headphones in if you have them because we are busy and don’t have time to talk to anyone. Do all of this and we might accept you as one of us.
Do not get in an empty subway car, especially during rush hour
New York City is an insanely crowded city so If there’s an empty subway car, it’s there for a reason. Usually it’s because the air-conditioning is broken or because there is some icky bodily fluid lurking within. Either way, you don’t want to find out. Just stay far, far away.
Also note that if you are travelling to the suburbs via train, DO NOT take the last train. This is commonly known as the “drunk train” and is filled with annoying, drunken hooligans who are projectile vomiting everywhere. It’s like the Exorcist come to life in there so avoid this train at all costs.
Do not eat at a chain restaurant or in Times Square
New Yorkers don’t do chain restaurants, besides Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin’ Donuts. There is so much good, low cost food around that there is really no need to eat at a place like Applebees or TGI Fridays. Therefore, if you are eating at one of these places, we generally assume that you are a tourist.
Also avoid eating in Times Square or going there altogether because New Yorkers hate it there. It is crowded, overpriced, and filled with stereotypical tourists who have no idea where they are going. So generally speaking, we avoid anything and everything related to Times Square.
Avoid eating in Little Italy
Real New Yorkers don’t get their Italian food in Little Italy. It is overpriced tourist trap that serves mediocre food. If you want your Italian food fix, head over to Arthur Avenue. This area of the Bronx is filled with a bunch of locally owned restaurants that are not only delicious but are priced so that locals can actually afford to eat there.
Do not wear a ‘scrunchie’ or an ‘I ❤ NY’ T-shirt
What else can you do to not look like a tourist in NYC? We may wear yoga pants to the grocery store and roll out of bed in our college sweatshirts, but we do not wear scrunchies. If you need to put your hair up, a hair tie is the acceptable way to do so.
I also suggest that you skip the I ❤ New York City shirt. We love our city but do not show New York City pride by wearing souvenirs. If you must show your undying love for New York City, then wearing a Yankee hat, or any other New York related, sports paraphernalia, that way you’ll avoid looking like a tourist in New York.
Refer to New York City as, “the City”
We do not refer to New York City as New York City. To native New Yorkers it is simply the City because it is the only city that really matters to us. We love our city and think it’s the greatest city in the world, so we don’t feel the need to call it by it’s full name. So always say the City and we’ll think you’re a local.
So there you have it, a local’s step by-step-guide to becoming an Invisible Tourist in New York City. So leave the ultra white, high top sneakers at home. Instead, throw on a pair of Timberland boots (Tims) and a Yankee hat with a straight rim, with the sticker still on, and you’ll be good to go.
Ready to be invisible in New York City?
Now you’ve discovered the best secrets for how to not look like a tourist in NYC, perhaps you’re ready to make the trip! Why not compare hotel prices here?
If you’re visiting this awe-inspiring city for the first time, you may want to find out about city passes and if they’re worth your while. Check out this comprehensive guide: Is the New York Pass worth it?
Do you have any extra tips to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope you enjoyed the first instalment in my Be Invisible series! If you found this helpful, please share it or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram for more!
Until next time,
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