There’s so much to see when visiting New York City that it can be difficult to squeeze it all in during one trip. Let me help you narrow down your to-do list by giving you permission to skip these five popular tourist attractions:
1. Times Square. Bright lights, billboards, tall buildings… It’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Except maybe for the Naked Cowboy (a local institution), who’s just as naked in online photos. As big a tourist attraction as Manhattan’s (or as we like to argue, the world’s) epicenter is, any New Yorker will tell you—Times Square is really just an over-stimulating, anxiety-inducing eye sore. So unless you’re looking to wait an hour for overpriced Po’ Boys at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., or to embarrass your wife with a scarily accurate caricature, skip it. There are plenty of places around the city to find better food and quality entertainment, sans sweaty tourists and badgering comedy club promoters. And besides, you’ll inevitably catch a glimpse of it when your cabbie drives you right through during rush hour.
2. Carriage ride through Central Park. I’m not saying you should skip Central Park— it’s a must. But it’s much more interesting on foot. The carriage only takes you through a sliver of the sprawling 843-acre people watching haven, and the driver will charge you $30 plus tip for a measly 20 minutes (although they’ll swear 30 have gone by). You’ll discover much more on your own– the live concerts, the zoo, the memorials, the reservoir, the impromptu rollerblading dance-offs– and still have enough money left over to buy a round of ice cream cones (or hot chocolate, depending on the season) for the whole family.
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3. The “best pizza shop” of them all. New Yorkers will fight to their deaths over their favorite slice of pie. While Grimaldi’s (which famously sits under the Brooklyn Bridge), has been a top contender since the early 1900’s, and Artichoke (a relatively new East Village establishment) boasts a consistent line around the corner, the truth is that it’s all pretty darn good. With the signature thin, foldable crust, light layer of tangy tomato sauce, and mounds of mozzarella (traditionally), you’ll be hard pressed to find a slice in the city that doesn’t tickle your taste buds.
4. Madame Tussauds Celebrity Wax Museum. Really? You were actually considering this one? There’s the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the Guggenheim, MoMA, the Met, even the Museum of Sex. Please, just say “no” to the balmy statues of Obama and Beyoncé.
5. Top of the Rock. The Top of the Rock “Observation Deck” is literally just that. And after you spend a minute taking in the view, all that’s left to observe are your fellow travelers disappointed faces… Totally not worth the claustrophobic elevator ride and seriously unfunny audio tour. If you’re going to go to the top of something, make it the Empire State Building. Or even the top floor of FAO Shwartz. But you’re better off at the bottom of the Rock, where you can skate on the famous ice rink or take a tour of NBC studios.