New York City, the city that never sleeps, has become the center of the world. From Broadway to a rich history in the development of America and consumerism as we know it today, New York City is one of the most visited cities in the world. Some of the best television shows and movies are set in this great city for good reason; it is packed full of people, it is beautiful, and there is always something new going on in the street. Thousands of people are visiting the city everyday, and the tourism market is thriving more than ever. Even the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, made the city even more special and memorable, becoming a symbol of strength and resilience over evil deeds.
However, even as New York City grows as one of the most popular cities to visit, there are clearly tourist traps all over the place. There are stores that overcharge their products, and the stereotypical experiences in New York can actually be replaced with more fun activities that don’t require waiting in long lines or paying a massive amount of money. But many tourists don’t even realize that most of New York City, especially in places like Times Square, have become massive tourist traps. Vendors and merchants have discovered the cash cow that is NYC tourism, and they aren’t afraid to milk it for all its worth.
In this article, you’ll find out what tourist traps to avoid, as well as alternatives to still give you that “NYC experience” so that you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.
10. The Meatpacking District
The Meatpacking District has become well known for having some of the hottest night clubs in the world. There, you can party it up like a rock star and even find yourself dancing and canoodling with celebrities. But it comes with a price, and it is very crowded since everybody is partying it up in the same place.
If you still want to experience the NYC nightlife without feeling like you’re in a can of sardines, Williamsburg has a great alternative to night life and it’s much more relaxed and chill.
9. Empire State Building
For a period of time, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world. It was a representation of American commerce and the progression of the economy and architecture. It is still a functioning office building and one of the most identifiable images in the New York City skyline. However, it is also a major tourist trap.
To get up to the top of the building, you have to buy a ticket, which is pretty pricey. But that’s not the worst of it. The Empire State building wasn’t built to accommodate a large amount of people comfortably, so you’re also dealing with long lines. Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a great alternative for amazing views.
8. Central Park
Central Park is one of the largest spots of green land in the vast city of New York. Locals and tourists alike can gather in this large park and go for a walk, enjoy a meal, go roller skating, see street performers, buy souvenir, take pictures, just to name a few activities.
Lately, Central Park has become crowded with heavy tourist traffic, and there isn’t much peace in the park for that little break from the city. If you still want to enjoy some peace and quiet in a park, head on over to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, where it isn’t so commercialized.
7. Little Italy
Little Italy is the place where tourists will go to get legit Italian food and explore Italian culture without having to fly across the Atlantic. However, Little Italy has become comparable to an attraction at a theme park, and the true culture of Italy is being lost over the commercialism.
The food has become more expensive, and the souvenirs are also overpriced. Basically, Little Italy has become a tourist trap. If you want the Little Italy experience without paying the price and still have a genuine Italian experience, head over to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
6. Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium is of course the location where the New York Yankees play baseball. It is one of the most legendary go-to places for sports fanatics. The location is both historical and iconic in the world of baseball.
Unfortunately, in recent years, it has also turned into a major tourist trap. The cost of tickets are going up every year, the food is expensive, and the Yankee merchandise price is out of this world. For a cheaper experience that is just as fulfilling, locals recommend going to the Mets stadium instead – this of course doesn’t apply to die-hard Yankee fans, but to tourists who want to enjoy a baseball game experience.
5. Knock-Off Merchandise
We’re not talking about the “I Heart NYC” shirts that you get off of the street corners of the Big Apple. There are vendors all over the major tourist spots like Central Park and Times Square who are selling knock off merchandise like purses, jackets, and other handbags.
Sometimes the vendors are honest in the fact that they’re selling knock offs, while others are not so honest and are instead deceitful in their business practices. If you meet a vendor selling designer bags with prices too good to be true, do a thorough check on the quality before paying $100 for a $10 bag.
4. Rockefeller Center Ice Skating
It’s a perfect picture that can be both romantic as well as an outing for families: ice skating at Rockefeller Center. It’s one of the most popular tourist locations in New York City during the winter time and holidays. But the harsh truth is that ice skating at this hot spot is both expensive and a pain in the butt.
You have to wait in a long line, waiting for space on the ice to clear. You also have to share the ice with a ton of other people, making the ice congested and hard to navigate through. Finally, it’s also very expensive.
You see them in cities all over the world, with men and women ringing bells asking if you want a ride. The idea behind pedicabs is rather genius, and we’ve probably fantasized sitting in one of them while the driver gets a massive leg workout. But pedicabs are one of the most expensive tourist traps out there.
You might see a reasonable rate for the distance, but there are also “sitting” fees that can add up to the hundreds. It’s best to avoid pedicabs all together and take the NYC subway instead.
2. Cupcake Shops
Cupcake shops or boutiques have become a major tourist trap thanks to shows like Sex and the City where people want to be like Carrie Bradshaw munching on a cupcake in Central Park. But the truth is that these cupcake shops, especially the ones near major tourist attractions, are a major trap to attract those who don’t know any better.
The cupcakes are overpriced to the extent that the profit on the shop’s part is extraordinary. If you want to get the same experience, but pay a smaller price, go to the hole in wall shops that are filled with locals and not tourists.
1. Times Square
Times Square seems like it is the center of New York City, and therefore, the center of the world. However, the glitz and glam of the area cause it to be one of the biggest tourist traps in the world; it is suggested that you avoid it at all costs.
Why? There are little tourist traps around every corner where you’ll overpay on souvenirs that you can get for much cheaper in other parts of the city. Plus, it has become overcrowded with tourists anyway, leading to congestion on the streets and sidewalks.