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Tourist traps to avoid on your trip to New York City

Posted by mandyf on February 5, 2012

There is nothing worse than planning and then going on what you think is going to be a dream vacation only to find it was way more hype than substance. Travel guides sometimes do a phenomenal job of selling a location or activity that in all honesty makes you wonder if the reviewer actually ever went to the location review. You know the feeling; you get all worked up to see something expecting an awesome memory, but what you walk away with is the bad kind of amazement. You are amazed you ever wasted your vacation time on something so boring. While it is to be sure there are many overrated vacation activities in New York City beyond what will be outlined here, and overrated is in the eye of traveler, these are a few that you things you can skip doing.

For travelers to New York City the good news is that it is a blast! It is a great vacation destination any time of the year. The bad news is there are some things people fall into the trap of thinking they have to do in order to really “experience” NYC. When you get to New York City here are a few things you can skip to save yourself some time and money, because quite frankly, they aren’t worth it.

The Carnegie Deli used to be the in place to stop by for a bite to eat. Everyone has most likely read about it or heard of it on TV. With all they hype people assume a visit to the Carnegie is one of those things you have to do. Think again. What you’re most likely to find is that you’re fighting other tourists to get through the line so that by the time you do eat there is no way the food can be good enough to seem worth the effort. The prices are inflated beyond being reasonable, even by New York City standards, and to be honest, even under the best of conditions they haven’t served anything all that great for years. They realized, perhaps, that the name of the deli was more important than the food, and that they could cut corners while raising prices just to suck in out of towner’s willing to overpay for a pedestrian sandwich with a catchy name. If surly service in a shoebox that presses you shoulder to shoulder with a stranger for the privilege of over paying for a sandwich called “50 ways to love your liver” sounds like fun then by all means donate a couple hours of your vacation to this folly. If not go to McDonald’s, it’s really not that much of a difference anymore.

Like the Carnegie Deli, Little Italy used to be the only place for real Italian food in the city. You were darn near guaranteed to get a good meal anywhere you went in Little Italy in fact. Nowadays little Italy is a shadow of what it once was and has little business even calling itself that. Ask any Manhattanite that has spent there whole life in the borough and they’ll tell you it nothing like it used to be. In fact all Little Italy is anymore is most of on block on Mulberry Street. That’s it. Little Italy is now a tourist trap that exists in name alone because like the Carnegie there are plenty of people that don’t know better. They stop in expecting a taste of true Italian food only to find they just spent $10 on a plate of pasta with what tastes like Ragu smothering it.

Serendipity has always been high on the to-do list for travelers with kids, but what was once a very charming place has turned into a tourist trap of near mythic proportions. In fact if you ask most native new Yorkers they won’t even go there anymore because it’s become so overrun with tourists. It has recently been described by impartial reviewers as loud, rude, and filled with bratty kids that border on obnoxious. It is hard to agree kids are obnoxious, but after fifteen minutes or so of standing in line listening to kids that sound like they came out of Willy Wonka central casting droning on “I want!” every other sentence, and screaming if they don’t get it, the point is taken. Worst of all in peak hours it can take three hours to get a table, and reservations are treated more like loose estimates, so plan on waiting beyond your scheduled time. While at you’re at, plan on overpaying as well.

Times Square is another example of a tourist trap. Estimates point towards about 35 million visitors to this location each year. What they expect to find is anyone’s guess. What they do generally find is wall to wall to people, a ton of overpriced stores and restaurants, and maybe a throng of screaming teens that feel compelled to constantly yell ” I love you___” at the top of their lungs from the sidewalk hoping whatever musician MTV’s TRL show is pushing as the next big thing will hear them. If that is your idea of New York City then you’ll be pleased, otherwise don’t waste your time. Incidentally, Dick Clark is only there on New Years to drop the ball, not every day.

Finally any business with a sign that says “Going out of business sale” is just aimed at the tourists. Real New Yorkers avoid these like the plague, but tourists somehow convince them self day in-day out that they are getting a deal. What they usually get is discontinued merchandise that isn’t covered by a warranty they are overpaying for. Everyone loves the idea of replicating the story some friend told of how they got product “X” for half off and what a great deal it is. It sounds great in theory, but the reality is that anything you get in the city is already marked up a little higher, the discounts aren’t really as great as they sound most times, and you’re going home with an overpriced out of date reminder of a moment of poor judgment. This isn’t true of everyplace in the city, but if it’s electronics or some clothing designer you never heard of the sales clerk insists is all the rage, chances are you’re getting the short end of the stick.

Again, many people will disagree with these New York City tourist trap picks. Some folks love these places and think they are great. Some feel Ground Zero is a tourist trap as well, but aside from some pushy vendors it is a moving place, as is the Statue of Liberty. In the end it all boils down to how much you are willing to deal with, and how much disappointment you can handle when discovering the romanticized view of the city based on movies and television is pretty different from the reality.

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