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There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in New York City. But if you want to blend in, here’s what you need to know.
Step 1: Scan the local papers
Start the day by scanning The New York Times and reading the gossipy Page Six of the New York Post. Forget USA Today – New Yorkers only read that as a last resort.
Step 2: Ditch the map
Ditch the map – it’s a dead giveaway! Get the general lay of the land before you leave your hotel, then only take the map out when you can study it surreptitiously – like in a bathroom.
Step 3: Don’t ask for a toilet
Speaking of bathrooms, there are hardly any public restrooms in New York, so take advantage of 'semi-public' bathrooms in department stores, museums, cafes, and restaurants.
Step 4: Be provincial
Be provincial. If anyone mentions anyplace in the country other than Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago, ignore them.
Pretend to know everything there is to know about New York City. Make sure to reminisce about the good old days when Time Square was riddled with crime and porno shops.
Step 5: Never drive
Never drive a car in the city. Take the subway, a bus, or a cab—or better yet, walk.
Step 6: Walk fast
Walk as fast as you can at all times, even if you’re not in a hurry.
Never stand on the curb waiting for a light. Step off and edge your way into the street until you can cross.
Step 7: Know the cab lingo
Know how to give a cabbie directions: New Yorkers never give an exact, number address. They give the street and the cross streets that border the block, like '50th between 5th and Madison!'
H-o-u-s-t-o-n Street is pronounced 'How-stun,' not 'Hyoo-stun.'
Step 8: Wear lots of black
Wear a lot of black, especially if you’re a woman. It doesn’t matter if Manhattan women are going to work, to a nightclub, or to a two-year-old’s birthday party – it’s always better in black, and it’s always better to err on the side of dressy rather than casual.
If you must buy a souvenir 'I Heart New York' t-shirt, for goodness sake, leave it in the bag. Don’t wear it until you’re home.
Step 9: Eat street meat
Eat from the street. No, not dumpsters – street vendors! Yeah, it’s a little scary, but it’s also cheap, convenient, and surprisingly good. And we can’t remember the last person who died from it.
New York City honors its food vendors with the annual Vendy Awards. Research who won most recently and hit up their cart.
Step 10: Go out late
Eat in restaurants after 8 p.m. – before that, they’re either empty or—horror of horrors— patronized by families with small children. Play it safe; have dinner at 9 and drinks at 11.
Step 11: Always be on your cell
Always be on your cell phone or checking your Blackberry. Is it rude? Yes. Is it the norm in New York City? Yes.
Step 12: Come back
Come back soon! You’re not nearly as annoying now as you were when you arrived.
Did You Know?
Two-thirds of New Yorkers polled said that the holidays are the best time to visit New York City.