The 5 Worst Tourist Traps in NYC
By: Jonas Barnes
Moving here as a transplant, I was a prime target for the infamous “tourist traps” when I arrived. NYC is the greatest city in the world, no doubt, but it’s also the most opportunistic as well. You can make money in so many ways here and one of the most lucrative ways is fucking over tourists with everything from overpriced fake jewelry to a $25 street hot dog. I’m not kidding at all about that last one. Tourists are inevitable so, rather than fight it, I’ve decided to help you by dropping some knowledge about the tourist traps to avoid in NYC.
1. Taking An Elevator Ride
Want to visit The Empire State Building or The Top Of The Rock? Of course you do! Well, I’m here to tell you: Don’t do it. Both are highly disappointing and the elevator ride alone is over $30 a person. Top Of The Rock provides a worthless view of Manhattan and the Empire State Building has “suicide prevention” glass around it that inhibits any good views. I say let the people jump so I can get my cool picture.
2. Anyone With A Costume
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Immigrants in NYC dress (poorly) like superheroes and children’s characters to take pictures with you. And, afterward, they aggressively demand tips. It’s a total sham. And they smell like sadness and stale sweat. In fact, I’m reasonably sure the Elmo suits are made of bed bugs and those shitty fleece blankets that always shock you with static electricity. Ironman is always a fat dude and it is not uncommon to see Minnie Mouse beating the shit out of Fiona from Shrek. And, just so you know, real monks don’t walk around giving you shitty necklaces in exchange for donations. Avoid at all costs. Run for your lives!
3. Times Square
Go and take your pictures. Don’t avoid the place completely. See the lights, hear the sounds and smell the piss filled goodness of the neon hellscape that which is Times Square at least once in your life. But do not, under any circumstances, buy anything there. All of it is overpriced by a lot. Especially don’t buy anything from the street vendors or “artists” that try to fuck you over. And do not buy comedy tickets from ticket hawkers. I’m a comic and I am telling you that. Do you get the urgency here? Don’t do it, buy the tickets at the box office. Tina Fey isn’t performing no matter how much they tell you she is.
4. Bus Tours Around The City
These are such a ripoff. You pay $30+ for a couple blocks around Manhattan. But that’s just the big red buses. You can pay even more money to get fucked worse if you do a special one like “The Ride”, which promotes itself as some interactive tour of NYC. It’s a bus with special seats, a slightly better tour guide yet a more obstructed view of everything. And it’s like $50 a pop. Just get a weekly metro card and take actual transit buses all over if you like seeing NYC from the discomfort of a bus. Or just stop being a jackass and walk around the city and see stuff. Busses are gross and uncomfortable and you almost always get a free, bonus homeless person masturbating at no extra cost.
5. Street Meat
Okay, this is an interesting one because I love Halal Carts. I’ll eat the hell out of a good lamb salad or kabob. But the key is where to go to get them. Avoid any and all heavily trafficked tourism areas like Rockafeller Center and Times Square because prices hike and quality plummets. No joke, there was a vendor over by the 9/11 Memorial site that was charging people $30 for a hot dog because people were buying them. A regular ass, dirty water, run of the mill street hot dog for $30. And he did it for the better part of a year. Do your research and google the best street carts in the city to find some gems. Halal Guys is stellar street meat, for example.
That’s a small sampling of the most common traps to avoid. This article would be so long if I included them all but I think you get the picture. Use logic, people! Guys giving away their album are scamming you because nobody uses CD’s anymore, walk away fast. Walk away so fast that you plow into an Elmo. Go explore NYC, not the tourist traps. See the city, it actually has a lot to offer. Go to Brooklyn, check out a street fair, see a Broadway show or check out some of the history in this great city. Hopefully, the knowledge that I have given you will allow you to enjoy yourself rather than get swindled and screwed out of every dollar you have. Have a great vacation!