Visiting New York City for the first time can feel like a whirlwind. The lights, colors, and speed of Midtown Manhattan are a lot for anyone to take in, let alone a first-time visitor.
Fortunately, the sense of overwhelm you might feel on your visit is generally a positive one, full of excitement and inspiration. Like any city or community, New York operates based on its own set of simple but unspoken rules. Once you’re privy to the city’s basic norms, you’ll feel right at home. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your very first visit.
If you need help, ask.
There’s a common misconception that New Yorkers are rude, but this usually isn’t the case. New Yorkers are generally quite friendly, but they’re also very busy and usually caught up in their own world. Most are more than happy to give you directions or help you out, but they’re not likely to notice that you need assistance unless you ask for it. So don’t be shy. If someone’s not running to catch a train or speeding to work, ask them for help. They’ll probably be glad to point you in the right direction.
Walk on the right side of the sidewalk.
New York City sidewalks are like pedestrian superhighways, and most commuters get from place to place on foot. Walk on the right side of the sidewalk and keep pace with your fellow pedestrians. If you need to stop walking, “pull over” to the side, out of the way of passing crowds.
Don’t forget to eat the NYC staples.
New York City cuisine is world-class. As exciting as it can be to try all of the city’s fantastic restaurants (and you totally should try them), you should also be sure to grab the quick and easy staples New York is famous for. Don’t leave the city without trying New York style pizza and bagels. (You may want to try Mister Softee and street vendor hot dogs too while you’re at it!)
When you board the subway, walk into the center of the car.
It can be tempting to stand near the doors if your stop is coming up soon, but walking into the middle of the subway car allows more people to board the train and for everyone to fit more comfortably. If you’re on the subway platform as a train arrives, step aside when the doors first open to let departing riders get off before you board.
Wear comfortable shoes.
You’ll likely be walking more than you usually do, so be sure to keep your feet comfortable above all else. Pack your favorite step tracker, too—you’ll be amazed at the distance you’ll walk in a single day in Manhattan.