LOCALIKE is at home in New York. Visitors often ask us how to avoid sticking out, so we’ve written down important ten things to keep in mind. These tips will help you experience New York like a local.
1. The sidewalk is really a highway.
New Yorkers are high-velocity creatures. It seems like they’re always in a rush or running late. Because it’s often fastest to get from one place to another on foot, the sidewalks are sometimes comparable to highways (complete with invisible divided lanes). Accordingly, there are several unspoken traffic rules. So that the traffic flow stays consistent, New Yorkers stay to the right. If they have to stop or change pace, they move to the side and make way for the eternally frazzled ones behind them to avoid being trampled. Another unwritten rule is not to walk side by side when traveling in large groups; rather, proceed single-file. This way, the pedestrians in a hurry can still get by and everyone can get to their respective destinations at their desired tempos—and usually in a zig-zag.
2. Choose the right shoes.
New York women are known for their love of high-heeled shoes, but you’ll rarely see evidence of this on the street. Why? New York is a city of pedestrians and many streets are uneven or made of cobblestone. For this reason, women often hide high heels away in handbags and replace them on the sidewalk by flats or sneakers that will get them more comfortably from A to B. As soon as they’ve reached their destination, they change into high heels and restore their trademark New York look. P.S.: if your handbag is too small, we’d recommend taking a taxi or Uber. This way you’ll save yourself both blisters and a stressful trek through the city.
3. Don’t avoid visiting museums on the basis of their entrance prices.
Culture is a high priority in New York, and although it isn’t really publicized, the entrance prices at many of the city’s big museums are only recommendations. That means you can often decide what you’d like to pay (even if it’s only a dollar). Before you decide against visiting a museum because of its high entrance fee, it’s worth doing a little research online (or asking LOCALIKE).
4. Don’t get into empty subway cars.
It’s rush hour on a hot summer day and every single subway car is packed except for one…score? Afraid not! There’s probably a very good reason the car is empty. The air conditioning might have gone off (the least of all possible evils) or there may be something in there causing an ungodly stench. In any case, don’t be seduced by the generous amounts of space—your nose will thank you. Trust us. :)
5. Ask for directions.
New Yorkers can be brash if you get in their way (keyphrase: fast walking), but if you ask them a question they’re usually very friendly and willing to help. Sometimes they’re even proud to show off how NYC-savvy they are, so don’t be afraid to ask for directions or for the best subway connection. Sometimes locals will even come up and offer their help before you even knew you needed any.
6. Become a master of the MetroCard.
Visitors often struggle with the New York subway card. How should you swipe it? How fast should you pull it through? Which side should the magnetic strip be facing? We’d recommend keeping cool and getting your card out before you even enter the subway station. Make sure the magnetic strip is facing inward (or left) and pull the card through the reader at a medium, casual pace—like a local.
7. Exit taxis on the right.
Always exit taxis on the right-hand side, unless you’d like a bicyclist stuck to your open door.
8. Keep your celebrity cool.
New York hosts a high concentration of celebrities in a relatively small space, so the chances of seeing someone famous are quite high. In general, New Yorkers don’t ask for autographs or photos. Smile and walk on LOCALIKE-style. If you’re having trouble containing your excitement, you can always share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
9. Please wait to be seated.
New York restaurants usually have a “please wait to be seated” policy. While in most European restaurants you can go ahead and pick out tables yourself, in New York, guests should consult the host at the entrance before sitting, regardless of how full—or empty—the restaurant is. The host’s tasks are to bring guests to their tables, to make sure that each server has a more or less equal number of tables, and to prevent general chaos. The latter rarely works ;)
10. Don’t rent a car.
New York is not a city for car-driving tourists, at least not when you’d like to be in Manhattan and the surrounding areas—there’s too much traffic and too little parking. What’s more, you’d be surrounded by wild, fearless drivers and unpredictable pedestrians and bike couriers. Do as the New Yorkers do: walk, use public transportation, or flag down a taxi. Finally, try not to spend too much time in Times Square. The “center of the universe” has amazing magnetism and should be a stop for anyone traveling to New York; however, the real city exists in the neighborhoods and on the streets outside of Times Square, in Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, in the restaurants, bars, and parks. Allow yourself to wander away from the crowd. Want to see the real New York? LOCALIKE is a friend away from home. Its on-site experts show you sides of the city that postcards never would. Like a local. www.LOCALIKE.com