Everyone knows that if you want to experience the authentic side of a city, you need to ask the locals. They know all the secrets, where to avoid and where to check out. If you follow a guide book, you’ll only end up in all the tourist traps, mixing with other visitors. To see the real side of New York City, you can look for hints and tips from people who live here. But if you want to discover the city more independently, there are some things you can do. From choosing leisurely walks over structured sightseeing to taking a chance on a random restaurant, you can ditch the tourist look and blend in with the NYC natives. Try these tips to start seeing the city like a local.
Find the Right Place to Stay
Do you think you’re really going to feel at home in a hotel or hostel? Nope (especially the latter in this city–gross!) You’ll never get rid of that feeling of being an outsider if you spend your time mixing with tourists and backpackers. If you want to fit in, get your own place or stay with a local family. There are plenty of apartments that will make you feel like a real New Yorker, like the ones you can find here. If you stay in a vacation house or apartment, you might get to meet the neighbors, and you can live like it’s your home (a tiny version of your home, but hey! it’s how the locals live.) Cook for yourself, do your laundry in the basement, and lounge in front of the TV, you’ll feel like a NYer in no time.
Ditch the Sightseeing
Sure, everyone wants to see all the sights when they arrive in a new city. Even people who are permanently moving to the city go and check them out. But get all that done on day one, maybe day two as well. After that, concentrate on seeing the everyday side of New York. Instead of a rigorous schedule full of lots of sights, just have a vague plan for what to do each day. Go on leisurely wanders, instead of planned out walking tours.
Get to Grips with Public Transport
NYC has a higher rate of public transport use than many other cities in the US. It’s great taking cabs everywhere when you’re on vacation, but you should use the subway or bus if you want to live like a local. You’ll be rubbing shoulders with city residents (quite literally), and you might get chatting to someone who can give you some great tips.
Take a Chance
When we go somewhere new, we like to check guidebooks and blogs, so we know the best places to go. But even if we get our tips from locals, we could be missing out on some of the best stuff. Instead of listening to anyone else, just wing it and go wherever your heart takes you. If you walk past an intriguing family-run restaurant, walk in and try it. See a group of people flocking toward a particular area? Why not follow them (in a non-creepy way) to see where they’re going? Sure, you could have some bad experiences, but guidebooks and other tip-offs never guarantee you a great time, either.
If you want to experience the city like you live there, allow yourself to get lost. Just make sure it’s lost in the fun, ‘I can find my way back if I want to’ way, not like ‘it’s dark and scary, and I don’t know where I am’. It is NYC, after all.
By: Laura Gatt
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