New York is one of the most loved and hated cities in the United States. I lived just outside of it for the first 28 years of my life, and I didn’t appreciate what I had. I was on, what some, consider a farm on Long Island. A) for the record, it wasn’t a farm (it was Suffolk County) B) I will not be turning in my accent. Whether it is activities in NYC, New York food or New York sightseeing I feel I have done it all while simultaneously not scratching the surface. One thing is certain, moving to Charlotte made me long for the city like the summers of my youth..
The Good: New York Food
New York food is the best in the country. I say that without having visited about 50% of the U.S, but I own my bias. First, I want to point that I am well aware that I revolve a lot of my travel around eating. My most recent trip to NYC was no different; I ate like a pregnant Hippo that just broke up with her boyfriend. I am not going to go through everything I ate in New York, that deserves its own posts. On my last trip back to New York I relived my high school days and ate better than I did in recent memory. It was the kind of feast that makes you look at yourself in the mirror the next morning and shake your head in shame. Rolling over with a headache and the remains of a cheesecake slice on my pillow, I rinsed and repeated the madness the remaining days..
The Good: New York Sightseeing
For those who haven’t been, New York sightseeing is better than the most cities. Yes, there is the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Wall Street bull that is about to trample a little girl. Yet there is so much more. I find the best sites in New York to be the unexpected things you run into while roaming the streets. I have seen dudes dressed in all metal, the Ghost Busters car pull up randomly, celebrities, and have heard singers that could have won American Idol. All this while eating a the dirtiest of dirty water hot dog. When it comes to New York City Sightseeing just start walking (don’t walk into Jamaica Queens at night or anything) just wander the streets. Go to Chinatown, gawk at the RULEX watches or Louie Vatune bag for $50. Take in the sights, sounds and the…well just the sights and sounds, avoid the smells.
The Good: Activities in NYC
New York excels in the activities department. The museums particularly, are some of the best in the world. When living in New York I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art numerous times, the place is huge and I always get drawn into it. The Egyptian exhibit especially is spectacular with one problem: by the time I get through the whole thing, I am too tired to spend the five days needed exploring the rest of the exhibits. I have been to museums in Barcelona, Rome and Istanbul , this is right up there with the best in the world. One Note: If you are a Bank of America card holder, the museum is free on the first weekend of every month (along with many others).
Moving on to the MOMA, a place I never actually visited when living in the area. I will admit I had mixed feelings about this museum. The forth floor was amazing, showing classics from Van Gogh, Picasso and Salvador Dali. Some of the other pieces outside the classics (it is the modern museum of art after all) were interesting to say the least. Maybe I just don’t understand modern art, but a lot of it looked like Nick Moores garbage art from Family Ties. (Yes, that is an obscure reference, you are probably over 35 if you got it…)
There really are plenty of unique activities in New York, more than I can list. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, Speakeasies, the Chelsea High Line, Grand Central Station, Central Park Boathouse and a thousand other things, New York is a place, either when visiting or living, you should never be bored in. I haven’t even mentioned the two greatest sports teams in the world, The New York Giants or The New York Yankees.
The Questionable: Prices in New York
Is New York Expensive? Yes and no. Living in New York is extremely difficult, therefore I don’t. A six figure salary is not always enough to live comfortably, and I certainly couldn’t afford to travel like I do if I lived there. This is why I moved to the seventh layer of hell (Charlotte, NC). The main culprits here are taxes and housing. I am not including car costs because if you live in Manhattan you probably won’t have one.
If you are visiting New York, it won’t be as expensive as many will have you believe. Hotel rooms are smaller and you won’t get a lot for your money, but it is still cheaper than places like Charleston. Any NYC visitor needs to do his/her research when it comes to food and activities in NYC. These expenses can vary greatly. If you know what you’re doing food and alcohol are very reasonable. Happy Hour is a great way to get well fed and wasted before 5PM for cheap. If you eat like a normal person (I do not), you can grab a lot of quick meals for under $10. If you only eat three a day, that is not that expensive. One note, your stomach space is valuable real estate when visiting NYC, use it wisely. This means do not walk into a TGI Fridays.
The Questionable: The People
New Yorkers are the best, toughest, and smartest people around…just ask them! I can say this, because even though I am from “the farm” I still consider myself a New Yorker. Of course, people born in Manhattan don’t always consider Long Island part of New York, but I digress. I have met some nice people in New York. I also dealt with more shade than a Brazilian rain forest. The city just makes people hard, unfriendly, and void of manners at times. It is tough living there and New Yorkers have no tolerance for stupidity. One thing, they are is genuine, even if it is genuine rudeness. I will take that over the phony smile and the knife in the back I received in other places.
New York is truly a melting pot, I know that is cliché, but it is accurate. As mentioned New York sightseeing is some of the best in the country. Part of New York sightseeing is looking at all the different people that make up the city.
The Bad: New York is Still Dirty
If you have never visited New York expect your nose to go places it has not gone before. I will say this; the city is a lot better than it was when I was younger. The problem is, with 8.5 million people sharing a space, it is going to get dirty. The summer heat brings about the worse of the stench, with a mix of garbage and street meat..
No New York sightseeing tour would be complete without viewing the giant rats that roam the streets. Last time I was there I swear one was so big it had a bike rack attached to it. As one of your activities in NYC, you can strap a carriage to them near Central Park, and give the horses a break.
New York is an older city; a lot of the buildings look and feel ancient. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does contribute to the grimy feeling.
The Ugly: Times Square
No place in the country encompasses as many things that I despise as Times Square. What is even more frustrating it is the epicenter where every slack-jawed tourist needs to take their selfie. The neighborhood is abysmal, extremely overcrowded and full of awful tourist traps. Who are these people that go Sbarros or Ruby Tuesdays when visiting the best foodie city in the country? Of all the activities in NYC, please do not feel bad about missing out on the M&M store in Times Square. I assure you, they taste just as bad as the ones you find in CVS. I loathe tourist traps all over the world, but Times Square is the worst of the worst. To me Times Square is the complete opposite of the rest of the city, it is an over- engineered light constellation ..in a city built on authentic, organic, grit.
Final Word for a NYC Visitor
Whether you are interested in New York sightseeing, New York food or any of the thousands of activities in NYC, this city should be on the top of your “must visit places in the United States.” New Yorkers may be arrogant about their city, but they have a right to be; in the city that doesn’t sleep there are plenty of opportunities to get a bite of the Apple..