New York City’s Top 10 Tourist Traps (5 to 1)
5. Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island. Another place packed with people. Kids are running around screaming and the statue does not seem that tall in person. If you want to make it to the top, good luck, you will be waiting in line for hours. Even so, I will go and make it to the top one day, ideally by stairs. Alternative: Ellis Island. The same boat visits both Liberty Island, home of the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. Get off on Ellis and explore the old Immigration center. Take the free guided tour to learn the true history of those who came to America and helped shape the nation.
4. Empire State Building, Midtown. Tourists from all over the world come to view from the Empire State Building Observation Deck. Lines are ridiculously long. Alternative: If you are determined to see the views from atop one of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, try the Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Center, 1250 Avenue of the Americas. Not so well known and not so crowded. Otherwise, take the Staten Island Ferry to see spectacular views of Manhattan. Few tourists know about the ferry or take the ride.
3. Times Square, Midtown. This is the largest tourist location in New York City. Tourists come to see the lights, the giant signs, the stores, and the shows. Corporate America reigns supreme here. Tourists experience New York by eating Sbarro’s pizza and going to the giant Toys R Us. If you must eat in this area try Ruby Foo’s intimate sushi restaurant setting for dinner or Carnegie Deli for lunch. Alternative: Visit more authentic parts of the Manhattan including SoHo, TriBeCa, the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, or Chinatown, where there are less crowds of tourists and better food.
2. Battery Park, Downtown. Battery Park is large and the docking place for several ferries. It also is home to the 9/11 World Trade Center damaged outdoor scuplture. It is a nice park but can get crowded and is full of tourist junk salesmen. Fake perfume, fake bags, fake watches, boot leg movies, a hawkers paradise. Large sidewalk crowds and open markets are the the norm. Alternative: The Brooklyn Heights Promenade in Brooklyn for views of the Manhattan skyline or Washington Park for a mix of culture in Manhattan.
1. Little Italy. Little Italy is slowly being swallowed by Chinatown and has long ago lost its luster. Most of the Italians who once lived here moved to Brooklyn or other parts of the country. Every shop and restaurant in Little Italy is geared towards tourists and does not reflect the best of Italian food in New York City. Still, it is fun to walk through on the weekends as they often have a street fair or festival and it is one of the few places in the city where the street is shutdown for pedestrians. Alternative: For real Italian culture and cuisine, visit Bensonhurst and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn. There you will find authentic Italian food, markets, and churches.