Do’s and Don’ts for Navigating New York City

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Photo from Time Out

Whether you’re a native or just visiting, there are some tried and true tips and tricks for getting around the city that anyone can utilize.

Do

Consult a guidebook or online guide

Even if you live in the city, pick up a copy of Time Out or check local blogs and niche sites like Eater to see what’s going on on any particular day. One of the best parts of living in or visiting New York is that there’s always something exciting going on, even if it’s a tame Tuesday night. Take advantage of it!

Give yourself extra time to wander

Though this city isn’t geographically that big, there is a lot to see. Instead of rushing off where ever you’re going with you headphones in and blinders on, instead give yourself some extra time. Even if it’s only 15 minutes, walk around a block you’ve never explored, take the long way to work or just take a stroll. You’re bound to find a new coffee shop, cute restaurant or trendy boutique you didn’t even know existed.

Check out underrated neighborhoods

There’s the popular spots in the city that everyone wants to see: Museum Mile, Central Park, the poppin’ spots in Midtown. But that doesn’t mean that the other areas don’t have a ton to offer. Head to the Upper West Side and discover Riverside Park, or to the Bronx and explore the Cloisters. NYC has got so much to offer, don’t forget to uncover the hidden treasures—they’re there if you look.

Learn the grid

In most of Manhattan, the streets are a numbered grid. Starting downtown with 1st Street, each block going uptown goes up – a.k.a. the further north, the higher the street number. As you move west, the avenues increase (though Lexington, Madison and Park Avenue throw a bit of a wrench into the system). Study the map and have a handle on the grid, and it will quickly help you figure out which way you’re headed if you get disoriented. But if all else fails, that’s why God invented Google Maps.

Always pack an umbrella

I’ve learned my lesson the hard way many times. The NYC weather is much more temperamental than you may think. Even if the sun is shining when you leave the house, stash an umbrella in your bag. When an afternoon shower is soaking everyone else around you, you’ll be happy you aren’t one of them.

Don’t

Only take cabs

While cabs are great, there are some other cheaper and faster ways around NYC. Try the subway – it’s oftentimes much faster than a cab, and only $2.75 per ride. There are also many ridesharing apps like Uber Pool or Lyft Line that are more affordable than cabs.

Get stuck at tourist traps

Beware of Times Square. While some tourist hotspots are definitely worth the hassle of the crowds, a lot of them aren’t. Avoid places like Times Square, Fifth Avenue and the Empire State Building. Instead, hit up equally awesome but less crowded spots like the High Line, the Top of the Rock and Central Park.

Freak out if you get on the wrong subway

It’s happened to the best of us. You look up and realize you’ve gone uptown instead of down, are in Brooklyn instead of Queens, or got on the local when you needed the express. If you’re really lost, chances are people on the subway will help you out. Or

hop off at the next stop, reevaluate, check the map and get going to your destination.

Stop in the middle of the sidewalk

Biggest pet peeve: do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk. I get that there’s a lot to take pictures of, tons of Snap-worthy locations and a lot of people that you’ve gotta text. But please, please for the sake of everyone else behind you take a step to the side and check your phone or open your camera. It’ll save everyone a lot of stress.

Only stay in one neighborhood

Every neighborhood in NYC has its fair share of charm. But don’t fall too far down the rabbit hole in one particular spot and forgo exploring any of the others. If you’re staying in Midtown, try wandering towards the Upper East or West side. If you’re downtown, check out the grungy-yet- cool Lower East Side. This is an easy habit to fall into, even if you’re a NYC resident. There’s always somewhere new to explore even if you live here, so go out of your comfort zone.

 

About The Author

Hannah is a New York City transplant. A Pittsburgh native and Boston University alumni, who moved to the city in the summer of 2014 to pursue her writing career. In an effort to learn more about her home, she started her blog, “The Naturalized New Yorker” as an excuse to try out new restaurants, bars, shops and any fun other places around the city. Check out more about Hannah on her blog and instagram.

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19 comments

    1. I agree! It takes a while to really learn NYC so if you’re visiting for a short time it’s definitely good to have some help!

  1. Great tips!!! I cant wait to go back to NYC!! I will be taking your advice the next time I go!

  2. These are such great tips! NYC is crazy expensive. We learned the subway system vs. taking cabs…it will save you TONS of money!

    1. It really does! Taking the subway is that “real” new york experience and $2.75 a ride is way better than a cab any day!

  3. I’m hoping to go up to NYC with my sister in October! She is mostly nervous about transportation so I’ll show her this to hopefully change her mind!

    Tori

  4. I love walking the city and refuse to take cabs. Never go to to the crazy tourist sports. you have to go to those small unknown gems!

    1. Those are the best parts of NYC if you ask me. When you’re just walking along and you stumble upon something beautiful