New York City is the most visited city in the entire world. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Empire City every year. Some of these visitors don’t enjoy their trip but I think that the vast majority are glad that they got to visit one of the most populated cities in the world.
Whether you did or did not enjoy your trip, it was certainly memorable. There were also probably some things about New York City that surprised you.
This article will discuss 15 annoying things about New York people don't know till they get there and 5 amazing ones. I have mixed feelings about the Big Apple and I think that it is only fair to provide perspective tourists with an accurate depiction of what they will face when they arrive in NYC.
If you can think of any annoying (or amazing) things about New York City that you didn’t realize until you got there, feel free to mention them in the comments section. I am also interested to hear from people who were born and raised in New York, and to see if they think that these entries are a fair representation of the New York experience.
20 Annoying - Taxi Cabs Are Fizzing Out for a Reason
The taxi cabs in New York City are an ironic tourist experience.
You think that you should ride in one at least once because they are such an important part of the New York lifestyle, but at the same time, they are awful enough that you will question why you are riding with them.
After being predominantly an Uber guy for over a year now, I can fully appreciate how dirty and inefficient taxi cabs are. To make matters even worse, taxis tend to cost more than an Uber.
19 Annoying - the City Never Sleeps and Neither Can You
It is strange for someone visiting a city to complain that there are too many things to do but I honestly think that that is a major reason why people decide not to visit New York City.
There are so many attractions and cool things to do that tourist can't possibly see and do everything in a weekend, or even a week-long trip. This can be frustrating and I have even seen it lead to verbal arguments between people who travel there together.
Everyone in the group will come with a set list of things that they want to do but the length of the trip cannot possibly accommodate all of these requests.
18 Annoying - Sub-which way?
Every travel site will tell you that it is impossible to drive in New York City. The same travel sites, however, will tell you that the best way to get around New York City is by public transportation.
The problem is that the New York City subway is incredibly hard to navigate.
There are so many lines and stops that it is very hard for non-natives to know where they are going. Everyone who I've talked to that has visited New York City has a story about how they took the subway to the wrong place and then had to pay an additional fee to get back where they were going.
17 Amazing - The 24-hour city
I have lived in a lot of big cities but I have never been to another place where you can get almost anything, no matter the time of the day or night. You just got out of a bar with your friends at 3:00am and you’re craving some Thai food; don’t worry, there is a place nearby that delivers.
You need a greeting card for your friend's birthday last minute; not to worry, there’s an all-night convenience shop around the corner.
New York redefines the word “metropolitan”and it is pretty awesome to be able to get almost anything you want, whenever you want it.
16 Annoying - Crazy Birds
Some people would call this next aspect of New York City an annoyance but I call it borderline haunting.
I'm not a big fan of birds and if you've ever been to New York City, you know that it is crawling with fat, smelly, pigeons. I don't like birds as a general rule but I'm even less fond of pigeons, which are basically rats with wings. They've been known to carry diseases and the pigeons in New York City have no fear of humans.
Even for people who don't have my fear of birds, having a pigeon sit right next to you on a bench while you're trying to eat can get pretty annoying.
15 Annoying - It's ridiculously Overcrowded
I hear this complaint a lot from people who travel to New York City from more urban areas. If you come from a place where you are used to having some elbow room, it is understandable that you would be slightly annoyed by the hustle and bustle of New York City. The Big Apple is the most populous city in the country and it is amazing how so many people can live, literally on top of one another.
With that being said, city officials have done a good job of making sure that major tourist attractions don’t get too overcrowded, so this is more of an annoyance.
14 Annoying - The Grime of the City
As I talked about in the opener, most people get their impression of New York City from movies and TV shows. The shows tend to show the glamorous side of New York City but they rarely show its dirty underbelly. For the purposes of this entry, I mean dirty in a literal sense. There are so many people crammed into the New York City limits that it is unsurprising how dirty it can get.
I'm talking about the buildings, the sidewalks, and even the people. There seems to be a layer of filth on everything in New York City, which is an awful wake-up call for people visiting for the first time.
13 Amazing - Get on the Grid
Man, you have to love the New York City grid. As someone who now lives in Boston, Massachusetts, I have a special appreciation for how easy it is to navigate the New York City streets. The Boston Street layout is particularly asinine and can be confusing even to people who have lived here their whole lives. New York City is just the opposite.
Most of the neighborhoods are laid out in a perfect grid and parallel streets are named in numerical order. This means that you should always know which direction you are heading, even if you are in an area that you have never been to before.
12 Annoying - The Cost of Tourism
One thing that I was surprised by the first time I visited New York City was that seemingly everything cost money. Even just walking around by Times Square seems to lighten your wallet and by the end of your trip you will look back, wondering where you spent so much money.
NYC is one of the top tourist destinations in the world and there are people and officials who understand how much money there is in tourism. If you have not been to New York before, these hidden charges can get very annoying.
11 Annoying - Big Apple Meltdown
I read a very interesting article earlier this year about how tourists who are visiting a city for the first time get tired because their senses are being overloaded by perceptions that they are not used to. The author used New York City and Las Vegas as his examples and I think that he is right on both accounts.
There are so many strange sights and sounds in New York that it can overload your senses. One look at Times Square and you should realize that there is some truth to this article.
10 Annoying - That New York Hospitality
I have to admit that I have never visited another city where the local residents pride themselves on being rude. It was popular for movies and TV shows in the 1980s and 90s to portray New Yorkers as abrasive a-holes. This depiction isn’t universally accurate but there is some truth to the myth.
You have to fight for everything that you get in New York City, and people who aren’t used to that climate can be offended by the New Yorker attitude. Luckily, NYC is a major migrant city, meaning that a lot of the people who live there are not actually from New York.
9 Amazing - No Tourist Shame Here
I don't know if I've visited another city in the world where the people that live there are so accustomed to tourists. New York City is the number one tourist city in the world and the people that live there know that any month of the year, the person that they run into is likely to be a tourist.
I wouldn’t say that this makes them more helpful, but at least they don't expect you to know things like a local would. Considering how confusing the New York subway system is, the ability to ask people for directions is a huge asset in the Big Apple.
8 Annoying - The City Where Rats Never Sleep
For someone who has not had a lot of experience with big cities, this next aspect of New York City isn’t just annoying, it is downright frightening. The people who live in New York City live closer together than any other people in another part of the United States. Living in such close quarters encourages vermin and the Big Apple has been infested with rats for almost its entire history. Most people know about the rats in New York but it is still unsettling the first time that you see one just chilling on the sidewalk.
7 Annoying-New York Filth...Again
Depending on where you decide to book your hotel in New York City, your definition of clean may be very different from the definition of the housekeeping staff. I have stayed in New York City about a dozen times and at least four of those times, my hotel room was pretty untidy.
These cheaper hotels know that the people that stay there just need a place to lay their head at night, so they don't have impeccable standards about how your room is maintained. Luckily, I haven't had any rooms which were downright disgusting, so this problem is more of an annoyance than an actual crisis.
6 Annoying - Panhandling
I understand that panhandling is a complicated humanitarian issue but it is annoying when a city becomes overrun by people asking for money like New York City has. City officials do their best to limit the number of homeless people roaming the streets but in a huge city like New York, this can be like spitting into the wind.
New York has thankfully avoided using the Draconian measures that other cities use to discourage people from panhandling in popular tourist spots. By following these humanitarian principles, the city of New York has succumbed to panhandlers on its streets.
5 Amazing-Empire State of Mind
I have seen a lot of iconic views in my life but the view of New York City at night might be the best. This is especially true if you go to one of the higher points of the city. For decades, this point was the top of the Empire State Building but now there are a ton of skyscrapers that rent out their top floors for curious tourists.
You cannot understand how many people there are in New York City until you are standing atop the city and looking down on them.
4 Annoying-An Island Not Build for Traffic
The worst thing about the traffic in New York City is that the citizens and public officials have pretty much accepted its dire state. They will recommend that you take the subway or walk to where you are going, and try to avoid the crowded streets altogether. But what if you have no other choice but to drive?
If you live in a rural area, it might be easier to drive to New York City than it is to charter a flight. Even if you choose not to drive around the city, you still have to drive to your hotel when you arrive, which can be annoying.
3 Annoying- Hotel-Motel
If you are staying overnight in New York City, you have two options. You can either splurge on a hotel in the popular parts of the city, which can get extremely expensive, or you can go the cheaper route and stay on the outskirts. If you choose the cheaper method, you will be sacrificing the accessibility that the more expensive hotels provide. In another entry we talk about how tricky the New York Subway system is, so you don’t want to be trying to navigate that into the city every day.
It is an annoying part of the New York City vacation that you cannot find a hotel within the city that is affordable.
2 Annoying-New York Price of Living
When people talk about big cities it seems like they're always talking about the high cost of living. But the high cost-of-living doesn't extend only to the people who actually live there, it can also affect tourists. This is true in New York City, where everything from food to beer to parking, will cost you more than it does just about anywhere else in the United States. For someone visiting the city who has already spent a lot of money on their plane tickets and hotel room, this can get pretty annoying.
1 Amazing - Everything is Bigger in......New York?
My favorite time to visit New York City is around the holidays and one of the coolest things about the city at that time is the larger than life feel that it gives to Christmas and Hanukkah. Many of the famous shops have huge window displays and the city is decorated to the nines.
The toy shops around Times Square are particularly fantastic. They have the coolest toys and they will create gigantic models of the toys for the front of the store. Nowhere else in the world creates a winter wonderland like New York City does around Christmas time.