New York City. It’s big, it’s wonderful, it’s crowded, and it’s filled with millions of things to see, to do and to eat. But the important thing to remember is that not all New York tourist attractions are created equal. Some things, like the Museum of Modern Art, The High Line and Zabar’s deserve all the time you can spare. Other things deserve only a passing glance if that. Here are a few things you can cross off your list right now, so you can move on to the good stuff:
Don’t get me wrong. Times Square is totally amazing. They don’t call it the Crossroads of the World for nothing. And the neon lights are bright on Broadway. But the sad fact is that Times Square is really just a photo op — a terrific, mind-blowing, sparkly, spinning, blinking neon photo op — but a photo-op all the same. The traffic is always terrible, the sidewalks are always crowded with other visitors who look just like you, and the shops are mostly discount tourist traps. New Yorkers avoid this place like the plague unless they have tickets to Hamilton. So please, do yourself a favor: take some amazing pictures, buy some discount same-day theatre tickets at TKTS and get the hell out of there.
So you left your guidebook in the hotel and you wanted to see the famous New York City train station. You know, the one with the restaurant where Don Draper sat at the oak bar reading poetry and eating oysters. Well, this isn’t it. Be warned: all New York City train terminals are not created equal. Penn Station is absolutely nothing like its glamorous cousin Grand Central Station. Grand Central is an art deco masterpiece with its elegant lobby, glorious painted ceilings complete with twinkling lights, iconic restaurants, and interesting shops. Penn Station is strictly utilitarian. It’s filled with real live commuters and other assorted transients who, on balance, would rather be someplace, anyplace else. Unless you are going to visit your mom in Philly, Grand Central is the place you really wanted to visit.
Canal Street Knock-Off Joints
As an avid shopper and owner of many cute purses and bags, I can tell you that most knock-off bags are ugly, poorly made and not worth the money. As a reporter who also moonlights as an attorney, I can tell you that knock-offs of luxury brand goods like purses are also illegal and violate all sorts of trademark laws. This is why, when you head down to a Canal Street knock-off shop, you will find yourself being led deep through a maze of shady back rooms by a questionable character who wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of “The Sopranos.” New York City is home to some wonderful shops and boutiques where you can buy all manner of unique souvenirs at good prices. Why waste your time buying a fake Prada bag you can probably buy online with a lot less effort. But as long as you’re in the area, why not check out the fun collections of unique and affordable Asian goods at Pearl River Mart.
Yankee Stadium, The Bronx
I’m talking to you right now, Boston Red Sox fans (and other baseball fans ill-disposed toward the Bronx Bombers.) As you know, this is the House that Ruth built. (Well, not really,– it’s actually a new stadium built in 2009, but you know what I mean.) And I’m sure your mother told you that when you are a guest in someone else’s house, you should be polite and respectful. Do not wear your “Yankees Suck” t-shirt. Put your Red Sox cap in your pocket while riding the subway to the game. Do not ostentatiously high-five your companions when a Yankee strikes out or pops up to end the inning. If you don’t think you keep your vitriol under control — and I know many of you can’t — please head out in the opposite direction to Citi Field and take in a Mets game. You’ll have a great time here, too — and a lot more anti-Yankee sympathizers to hang out with