New York has so much going for it, the good overwhelms the bad. But there is bad, and I’m not talking about the obvious. I'm talking about experiences that might be perceived as good, but take my word for it: They are not. So, despite what you have heard, the following are a few experiences you can avoid:
- New Year's Eve in Times Square: You see it on television every year, and now you’re here. This is your chance to be one of the thousands of revelers packed together in the frigid cold to watch the ball drop. Don’t do it! Despite the happy faces you see on TV, the whole thing is a miserable experience and not worth the forced elation of blowing on a noisemaker at midnight with half a million others. You won’t find many New Yorkers here; we know better.
- Three-Card Monte: When you see a crowd gathered around a cardboard box with one man flipping cards, madly enticing innocent rubes into his game, while another guy scans the crowd for undercover cops, keep on walking. Don't stop and listen to the dealer's spiel or think you can be the one to beat him at his game. You can't. Buy a lottery ticket instead; your odds are much better.
- Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides: Pity those poor beasts of burden. They get dragged out in the heat (though not extreme heat) and cold (though not extreme cold) with a buggy attached just to give passengers the feel of an old-world, romantic buggy ride through Central Park. But the horses look so forlorn, as if it’s the last thing they want to do. And they don’t even get a cut of the generous take: It's generally $50 for a 20-minute ride, excluding tip. There is also a periodic effort to totally ban these rides, but it hasn’t taken hold—yet. If you want a slow, leisurely ride through Central Park, minus the ripe and frequent smell of horse poop, consider an alternative called Manhattan Rickshaw Company (www.manhattanrickshaw.com). The beast of burden has two legs, and pedals you and a companion in the back of a pedicab, where the rate is negotiable but is usually $15–$30 for a street hail ride; call to arrange a guided tour.
- Chain Restaurants: Oh yes; they're here, probably to stay—and most likely with more to come. I'm referring to those restaurants with familiar names like Olive Garden, Applebee's, Red Lobster, and Domino's. When you begin to feel the pangs of hunger, ask yourself: Did I come to New York to eat what I can eat in every city or town in this country? Or did I come here to experience what makes New York so unique? Well, that includes the amazing variety of unchained restaurants, from the coffee shops and diners to the bargain-priced ethnic cuisine and higher-end dining experiences. So bypass the old standards, and try something different and exciting. You won't regret it.
- Driving in the City: Do you really want to have to maneuver your car in heavy traffic, battling yellow cabs, and searching fruitlessly for a legal parking spot? With its subways and buses (and your feet), New York has the best and fastest public transportation. A car is a luxury you want no part of.
- Waiting on Lines for Breakfast: (And please note, New Yorkers wait on line, not in line.) Sometimes New Yorkers can be masochistic—and silly. They hear about a restaurant that serves a great breakfast, and they begin lining up on weekend mornings to eat. Sometimes they wait for over an hour, standing outside, winter or summer, to order pancakes, omelets, or whatever else the breakfast menu offers. They do this even though many coffee shops and diners are serving patrons the same foods at much less cost and without more than a minute's wait. Now what would you do?
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.