Travel Tips: 6 Tips for a Midwesterner Visiting New York City

New York City: The world’s capital in many people’s opinions and a dream vacation destination to a bored Midwesterner. However, one coming from the land of cows and corn might not know how to navigate the crowded city of suffocation. Here are a few tips I learned after my first time solo in New York City.

1. Don’t bother smiling at people

Yes, you read that correctly. In the Midwest, everyone says “hi” when they pass each other in the street or says “sorry” for accidentally bumping into another person. In New York City my smiles were met with confused glares and haughtiness. Don’t bother wasting your time with kindness on passersby in New York City.

2. The wait to go to the top of the Empire State Building is bogus.

It was 2:45pm a couple days after Christmas 2013. The day was crisp and bright and we were so excited to see the sunset over the New York City skyline. We bought our tickets in advance only to find the line into the empire state building wrapped around the block. Our ignorance made us believe we’d make it up there by 4:30 for the sunset.

Yeah, right. By the time we got up there it was 5:15 and the sun was long gone. It was freezing, windy, and crowded, and we were absolutely exhausted.

If you’re planning on going up the empire state building, I highly suggest getting them at the building itself and upgrading to a fast-pass type thing. It’s worth it if the line is so long!

3. Enjoy being a tourist.

New York City is one of the few places where it’s hard not to be. Thousands of foreigners are all over the city taking pictures outside Rockefeller Plaza, the September 11th memorial, and of course the Statue of Liberty. Don’t feel like you have to hide it when you are overly excited that you found the Seinfeld restaurant. Take that picture and put it all over Twitter – that’s what New York City is all about!

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4. Get a hot dog from a cart.

Ain’t nothing more New York City than a hot dog off the street.

5. Don’t buy the first NYC-thing you find.

There are tourist shops all over the city. You’ll be aching to buy the first post card you see. And there’s nothing wrong with buying the tourist-y stuff. I personally get a shot glass and post card from every city I visit. I love coming home and adding them to my collections. It’s really basic but what are you gonna do?

The best thing is to wait until the end of your trip after you’ve checked out several shops. They all have pretty much the same stuff but I guarantee you’ll find something great after you’ve already purchased one similar in the previous shop. Also, you probably don’t want to drag it all over the city with a full day ahead of you. That stuff gets heavy!

6. Try the subway.

In the Midwest there aren’t many metro-like systems unless you count a few in large cities, like the L in Chicago. You either drive yourself somewhere or walk. Even bus systems in the Midwest exist but aren’t overly popular outside of major cities. For your first time in New York City you probably didn’t even consider yet taking the subway and are willing to fork out tons of cash on cabs. Going underground is terrifying!

Just breathe. Study a map before you head down and circle the stations near the sites you want to visit. Learn how the color system works. If you’re stumped, ask an employee at the ticket counter or look over the map near a corner. Just don’t stand in the middle of an open space or you’ll be knocked over!

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