Is the touristy stuff really worth doing?

30 Mar

I’ve advised before that everyone fortunate enough to live in New York City should never stop playing tourist. And everywhere you turn, there are people telling you what’s worth doing and what’s not. The ultrajaded types will tell you to skip almost everything considered “touristy,” but if you think about it—why do visitors ALWAYS go to the top of the Empire State? Because it’s worth it. Even better, YOU, dear reader, happen to live here! You’re not trying to cram everything into two days. Here are 10 popular stops and my take on them:

1. Pedi cabs: I agree this is a DON’T. Same goes for those black town cars who honk at you when it’s raining and you’re desperate for a cab. Rip-off city, folks.

2. Hot dog carts: I haven’t died yet. That said, the last pretzel and churro I had were cold and stale —and the pretzel guy was out of salt, wtf. Stick to the hot dogs these days!

3. Top of the Empire State: When I last went, the guy at the kiosk was like, “Where are you from?” From here, I said. “Then why are you here?” And I was all, “Wait, what?” Why would I not want to see this view just because I live here? Be prepared to wait in lines no matter when you go, but it’s all part of the fun. Embrace the tourists…breathe…embrace the tourists.

4. Cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery: The quintessential do! They are fantastic. Go when it’s nice out so you can sit across the street on the little park benches. Bring a bottle of water, because you’ll be dying of thirst after all that sugar.

5. Carriage ride in Central Park: Up to you. If you want to spend the money, go for it! This is your life, right? Not a dress rehearsal. And hey, you can always try to bargain with the guy — you never know.

6. Restaurants in Times Square: A probable don’t, with the possible exception of the on-the-rocks margarita from the bar at Applebees. Good view and a good value — you can fill the martini glass like four times (they give you the extra from the shaker). And I’ve always heard that it’s legit fun to hit up the Olive Garden. Aren’t we all a sucker for those breadsticks?

7. Comedy shows: A do if you’re a fan of jokes about grandmas having sex, and poop. Tends to be lowest-common-denominator, overpriced stuff. (Call ahead to find out the minimum food/drink purchase at ANY comedy show. Two $20 tickets can become a $100 evening quickly.)

8. Century 21: Tons of people swear by it. I hated it. Don’t! TJ Maxx and Filene’s are way better, less crowded and in a more convenient location. If you’re in Queens, the Ross out there is good too! Recently scored a $20 J.Crew-inspired dress.

9. The Meatpacking District: Do! It’s gorgeous down there with just the right touch of glamour. Dinner at Paradou followed by drinks and dancing at Gaslight is a perfect evening.

…Wait, a list of nine? What’s that about?

Fill in 10 for me in the comments. GO!

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5 Responses to “Is the touristy stuff really worth doing?”

  1. Free Refills 03/30 at 3:55 pm #

    As far as the Empire State Building goes, I’d say check out Top of the Rock instead. It is cheaper, the lines are WAY shorter and you get a view of the actual Empire State Building. Seems silly, but if I’m paying $20 for a view of the skyline, I’d like the view to include its most famous building.

    • Amber Castro 07/02 at 10:18 pm #

      I think this a fair suggestion. Go to the Top of the Rock instead, especially during the winter when it’s below zero!

  2. Lindsey 03/30 at 3:56 pm #

    Blockheads $3 margaritas or a slice of pizza at Carve in the theater district is just a beat away from Times Square without all the noise. After working in TS for the last six months, I can’t muster up a reason to visit the chain-heavy restaurants.

    There are tons of free weekly comedy shows around the city. Time Out New York usually has the best listings for freebies.

  3. jenhasapen 11/06 at 12:03 am #

    Good to know! I was conflicted about the Empire State Building. I love reading these types of posts.

    • New New Yorkers 11/30 at 4:23 pm #

      By contrast, I’ve also heard amazing things about Top of the Rock. I’ve never been up there, but many people love it because you get to LOOK at the ESB instead of standing on it. Something to consider for sure!

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