10 Tourist Traps to Avoid (in NYC)

Published: November 2, 2014

So you've decided to visit NYC. That's fantastic. As a denizen that has lived in this fine city, I've accumulated some knowledge that might be useful for out-of-towners. These generally fall under 2 major categories - safety and saving money. That's a tune we can all dance to right?

  1. Street Vendors Selling Trinkets

    You'll know it when you see it. Typically this appears in the form of someone hawking very gawdy or kitchy type things near Times Square or other busy areas of the city. Of course there are exceptions - but still, when you see a table selling these for 7 dollars... you do the math. Proceed with caution here. 

  2. Street Artists Selling Pictures

    Like item 1, this is something that are in most cases geared specifically to tourists. There are exceptions, but again... no local is buying this stuff. Take a cue from the locals, and spend your money someplace fun. 

  3. Food Vendors

    A notable exception here is food trucks, where are gem to find in NYC, depending on your likes and such. The ones I refer to are the dirty water dog vendors, an the kebab guys with the pretzels. During the Holiday season, you can find roasting chestnuts. Very nice, and worth trying once in your life, but the dogs are overpriced and will cut into your vacation budget if you let it. 

  4. Times Square Street Performers

    A tourist staple, they've been the subject of some debate lately. This is because some less than reputable characters have donned the Elmo suit ... or et cetera. Worth a gander though, if you have kids... just be prepared to be charged like mad for the photos you will eventually will be forced to buy. Also the therapy for your child you will eventually be forced to buy after they witness two Minnie Mouses in the same universe. 

  5. The Central Park Zoo

    Yes, there's a zoo in central park. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's not much of a zoo. Small geographically and has a poor selection of animals. Take my advice - take the money you were going to spend on this zoo, and go to the Bronx Zoo

  6. "Famous Ray's" Pizza

    In NYC, there are a lot of places that claim to be Famous Ray's. I mean, a ton. There's rumors far and wide as to which (if any) are the original Ray's so, do your homework people. 

  7. Double Decker Bus Tours

    100% of the people riding on these buses are tourists. They cycle through the main areas of NYC, and charge for the privelege. Your call on this one traveler. 

  8. The Empire State Building

    This building is world famous and draws mostly tourists to it like a magnet draws iron shavings. Then again, the observation deck does have a nice view of the city. This one gets included in the list, since the prices are sky-high, and it's a tourist hot spot. 

  9. Madame Tussaud's

    This place gets included in this list, like the last item, for it's exorbitant price tag for looking at waxworks and it's tourist drawing power. 

  10. Eateries in Times Square

    Beware the grub in high traffic areas - it's priced accordingly. You're better of doing your homework beforehand and choosing a great place for dinner, where the price tag is worth it. 

All in all the city is a great place to have a good time. Hopefully this lists helps you make the most out of your visit!