NYC Guide: 10 Ways to Not Look Like a Tourist

Just for fun, here are 10 handy tips on how not look like a tourist (since my mom always asks:)…

From my friend Shoko:

1. Don’t stare. Even if a woman wearing a tiger costume sits down next to you on the subway (which happened to me once), act like nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Seasoned New Yorkers are always unfazed.

2. Beauty/hair: Less is more! Try a pop of bright lipstick on a bare face, or a low ponytail. Bedhead is totally acceptable.

3. Confidence is key. One thing I love about New York women is that they flaunt their quirks. Got a head full of curls? Let them fly free. Six feet tall without heels? Wear them anyway. Want to wear all electric blue? Go for it. In this city, it’ll only make you cooler.

4. One exception: the wrong footwear will give you away. You almost never see a New York woman walking around in actual running shoes when she’s not running, or tennis shoes when she’s not playing tennis. Stylish yet functional footwear (think: ballet flats) or basic sneakers (Bensimon, Converse) are a total New York must.

From my friend Nora:

5. New Yorkers imagine that there’s an invisible line down the middle if the sidewalk, and that to keep the flow going, you keep to the RIGHT. New Yorkers also walk at a brisk pace, and if they stop or even slow down, they step out of the way.

From my friend Sharon:

6. Tourists always get overwhelmed when swiping their metro card. There’s a lot of fumbling. Just be cool–get your card out while walking down the stairs, make sure the black strip is facing inward, and swipe it like a credit card.

7. Anytime I hear, “Oh, my, that’s so expensive!” I know it’s a tourist. Also, “You’ve got to be kidding me! It costs what?!” and “That’s all I get for XX amount of dollars?” New York is expensive! New Yorkers know this and have stopped talking about it. Or at least they pretend not to notice.

8. One thing tourists have on us: They look up! They noticed the grandness of the city. The skyscrapers! The churches! The bridges! If you want to look like a New Yorker, look down and keep moving. But you’ll miss out.

9. New Yorkers fold their pizza.

10. If you spot a celebrity, you’re not supposed to ask for their autograph. You’re also not supposed to ask for a picture with them. But it’s ok to smile as you pass them and then brag about it on Facebook, twitter AND your blog. :)

Something that is NOT faux pas in New York, from Quora: Talking about how much rent you pay. New Yorkers are obsessed with real estate and won’t think it rude if you ask personal questions about their apartment, their neighbors, their rent, their building, their realtor’s fee, etc. Isn’t that funny? But it’s so true.

What do you think? Obviously, this is all for fun–anything funny to add? I would love to hear!

P.S. Remember this? :)

And the full Cup of Jo Guide to NYC.

(Photos from Annie Hall)

  1. Other sure signs you’re a tourist:

    You ride a horse-drawn carriage & carry a caricature drawing of yourself while wearing an I <3 NY t-shirt with Uggs, & squeal & loudly laugh when the subway starts moving because you’re not holding on & bonk your head on the other Ugg wearing tourist next to you.

    I <3 NY.

  2. Rocio says...

    This should be handed to every tourist before they step foot in the city!!! Number 5 and 6 are the reasons New Yorkers tend to get frustrated at tourists, especially when we’re on the way to work. I’d like to add one too, don’t wear a pastel windbreaker or coat with the sneakers from number 4 or at all for that matter!

  3. These are all so true of NYC, but a few of them I think can apply anywhere. For example, I’ve never understood why people don’t think that walking is just like driving. You drive on the right, (unless you live in a country where that doesn’t happen) so why not walk there? Also, you should never really point or stare at anyone.

  4. Anonymous says...

    We complain about New Yorkers to no end in Maine/New Hampshire/New England as they are easy to spot and obnoxious. Therefore I think that it is only fair that the tables be turned when we are tourists in the city.

    ALL TRUE!!!

  6. I love the tip about “confidence”. It’s totally true! When I first moved to NYC, I had this idea that everyone dressed like models all – the – time. But in reality, New Yorkers pick a look and ROCK it. Even if it’s PJ’s in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. Just go for it. No apologies!

    Now, I live in LA and even just the mention of pizza makes me homesick for NYC. True: fold it. Also true: savor every bite because there is nothing in the world like it…

    ;) – Lauren

  7. I believe there is no way of escaping the tourist look. Because it does not have to do with the clothing but with the attitude. Tourists always look happy, relaxed and curious, and that is hard to avoid. Last year I got an apartment for rent in buenos aires and the neighbour knew at the firt moment I was a tourist!

  8. I once was walking across TS and a guy who was selling tickets said: Oh who am i kidding you are a new yorker!!! best compliment ever! as a european we are obsessed about NYC and trying to fit in! the thing about looking up is so true! Another one: walk fast, walk really fast! You can recognize a tourist when they are walking slow! Oh and make sure you know the cab rules, calling a cab when it is taken or off duty is pretty ridiculous! So learn the signs! But above all, understand the tipping! It must be very frustrating for a New Yorker if you don’t know the tipping rules! As a European we don’t tip in restaurants or in a hotel! But this is so crucial!!!

  9. It is really a nice post, its always great reading such posts, this post is good in regards of both knowledge as well as information. Thanks for the post.

    dog walking

  10. A great post.. rent the movie form the 70’s the Out of Towners with Jack lemmon and Sandy Dennis… its wonderful!

  11. Can your friend Nora please spread the word?!? My biggest pet peeve is when people are walking down a busy street and they just stop! Drives me bonkers!

  12. good tips and really fun. i’ve been traveling a lot since i was a teenager and these are definitely things that you start to learn and realize once you start to travel more and more. made me giggle.

  13. I must also take exception to Elle Vee’s assessment of New Yorkers.

    Whenever someone says how cold or unfazed New Yorkers are, I think back to the blizzard of 1993, when the city basically shut down. I was walking to work through the West Village, and so much snow had piled up that the plows just couldn’t keep up. The streets were deserted; it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. But every single time I encountered someone along the way, we smiled and said hello.

    It made me realize that it’s not that New Yorkers are mean or unfazed by anything, it’s just that there are so many people in one place at one time, you can’t possibly interact with them all. So you do create your own space/bubble, as Joanna said, and stay within it to get through your day, but when you’re in a one-on-one (or one-on-less-than-a-few-hundred) situation, it’s a completely different thing.

    And I love the Annie Hall pix, but don’t forget about Woody Allen’s Manhattan…a must-see love letter to NYC (if you can get past the 17-year old girlfriend… scary foreshadowing, no?).

  14. Love it, these apply on the tube, too. I’d even go so far to say tourists, stay off the tube at rush hour!

    And leave those wheelie suitcases at home, too. People trip over them. And if you are wheeling one, don’t stop dead to pick it up – people will walk into you.

    I’m always totally lovely to tourists though, I want them to love London as much as I do. :)

  15. These are great tips.
    I feel sort of sad that the world has become a place where you are supposed to try to blend in and not act upon your extincts. I think tourist worry so much about looking like a tourist that they miss all of the fun of visiting a place (not talking just NYC).
    It makes you feel sort of numb thinking about how you’ll look out of place just because you get excited about being somewhere and seeing new things.

  16. I will never forget my first visit to New York. I lived in a tiny town and went to visit a friend who lived just outside the City.

    We went in to the city for a day to shop and sight see and after several episodes of really creepy guys trying to engage us she realized that I was looking everyone in the eye and saying hello to people who made eye contact back. This is what you do in small towns! She scolded me and I learned my lesson and hopefully didn’t look too touristy after that!

    Love this series you are doing!

  17. Loved this, and am bookmarking it for my friend who just moved there :)

  18. Isabelle says...

    That sounds a lot like “pretend you’re not a tourist while you’re in paris” :) The same rules seem to apply (including, unfortunately, about the mad price of everything…!)

  19. Z says...

    Thanks Joanna for making me proud to be a multi year visitor to this city! I love being a ‘tourist’ everywhere, but for me that means to follow the flow and LISTEN. Keep yourself to yourself (yeah I’ve been living in NY for 10 years, so this is just normal behavior) and listen to what’s around you. Being really observant teaches me so much more about the city I’m visiting than anything else.

    I think the biggest difference between city dwellers and non city dwellers is the feeling of being ‘one with the millions’ which is why city dwellers step out of the way to check directions etc, watch traffic both on the sidewalk and the street, help where we can – as long as everyone keeps moving! Non city dwellers have a more insular car related relationship to their surroundings and just don’t see their fellow man’s armpit on the train all the time so therefore don’t think as much about how to make sure you’re not the smelly armpit dude.

    And NY’ers are helpful, but in our own way. Last night I saw a teen with the headphones, underwear showing and everything step out to ‘help’ a lady in a wheelchair move into the subway car. I say ‘help’ since he didn’t let her know he was helping and just pushed her chair onto the train. Boy she gave him a piece of her mind. Ha!

  20. Fabulous advice – love the tiger story and especially love the Annie Hall photos. The ‘it’s so expensive’ advice is spot on too – I live in a city smaller than NYC but whenever my Mum visits from the country she is exclaiming how expensive cafes are, parking etc.

  21. Yay Nora!

    And, by the end of a long trip to NYC last week, I started wearing my running shoes out and about. I knew it was bad, but well, this confirmed it!

  22. Jo says...

    There is such a massive obsession with not being a ‘tourist’ these days, especially in cities like NY, London, Paris (even when one blatantly does not speak enough French to get around without asking for help). I think everyone should be a tourist in their own city for the weekend and find out what they are missing whilst they make a beeline to work, the underground and the coffee shop from Monday to Friday. The reason people visit these cities is because they all have something amazing to see – and we’re missing it!!

  23. wooow, beautifully described:) I visited New York this spring and I behaved like a typical tourist:) Except for one day, when I departed from my group and enjoyed the city in heels, in a hat like I was NY. I send greetings from Czech Republic Lenka – Beaute

  24. I second Paisley Petunia about how to pronounce Houston Street. Before I moved to NYC over a year ago, my friends in Colorado gave me the heads up to say “Howston” not “Hueston” :) Fun post! (I wish I had known the rest of these before I had moved here, too!)

  25. I totally agree with these! I live in Texas but go to NYC for work a lot, and pride myself on appearing like a New Yorker (whenever someone asks me for directions, I get so excited). I have to say never looking up and appearing unfazed are my two habits when I’m there. I err on the side of looking bored and jaded. But I still occasionally snap a pic of the ESB, totally blowing my cover.

  26. wear tory burch flats in spring, hunter wellingtons in winter, carry a chanel 2.55 (black of course) or a Louis Vuitton and a cute-as-pie dog… and you’ll fit right in!!

  27. These are all great JO! I also get annoyed when tourists walk down the sidewalk with 5 five people side by side blocking the whole sidewalk! Grr! Also, on the train, dont try to balance while standing up. Leave that to the pros and hold onto the darn POLE!

  28. during the fall/winter, boots are an absolute must in this town! and a good coat + scarf :)

    love all the tips!

  29. Anonymous says...

    This is a hilarious (and useful) post. Totally love it! I will sporting a low ponytail and ballet flats this weekend!

  30. I’ve loved reading your posts on NYC!! They have got me itching for a return trip soon. I’m from Dallas, and the last time I was in the city was almost 2 years ago wedding dress shopping for a friend! After reading a few posts, I sent her a text (she lives in Atlanta) and told her we need a New York trip — maybe for the holidays! I can’t wait to go to some of these spots!!!

  31. Jo, I love what you said about the bubble thing being about respecting privacy, but I’m sure you’d agree that the kind of things I mention aren’t about privacy… some things cross the line and demand that people actually pop the bubble for a second.

    Yes, of course there are lots of nice New Yorkers (we were there once with our son when he was 7 months old and you’d think we had with us the Baby Jesus). But I’m not referring to whether or not New Yorkers can be nice. It’s the *unfazed no matter what* ethos that just doesn’t always make sense contextually.

  32. Anonymous says...

    This is great! The same rules apply here in San Francisco.

    The less is more is definitely true. Women usually go natural or minimal make up. Then you see the girls with the caked on heavily painted face with the coiffed hair during the daytime (like Kim Kardashian) and I automatically know they’re not from here. Or they’re from the suburbs.

    And yes the slowing down the sidewalk thing is ANNOYING. The busier sidewalks are pedestrian “streets”. Just as you would expect the car in front of you to continually go so your flow isn’t ruined the same goes for the busier sidewalks.

  33. The shoes thing … so true. Also: don’t act scared. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

  34. When I would visit my New Yorker grandma as a kid, she would always tell me to be mindful of my purse (she was a big fan of crossbody purses!), don’t make eye contact with the comics/street salespeople/homeless people that approach me and don’t dawdle when it’s time to cross the street.

  35. The first time someone asked how much I pay in rent, I was stunned! I thought she was so forward! Then another person asked…and another…and I realized it’s totally the norm here. But I still get flustered by it :)

  36. The is fantastic!!! So interesting!!

  37. Ha! Your brother is awesome. And Prescot (Hey dude!) is right about it being a “slice” not a “piece” and dollars being “singles” not “ones”.

    Seeing sneakers on tourists kills me. It annoys me as much as tourists who stop dead in the middle of the sidewalk.

    To Elle Vee Re: public toddler vomiting – the only acceptable response is to pretend you don’t see or hear. If I were the mom, I would not appreciate anyone doing anything else, unless it was to offer me a handful of napkins if some got on me, all while not making eye contact. Otherwise, NOTHING TO SEE HERE THANK YOU.

  38. God, it’s so strange how London is so much like New York. That metro card thing always happens with tourists in London and during rush hour – you DO NOT want to be stuck behind one of them.

    Although, I do wish everyone observed the invisible line rule. It seems like everyone, tourist or not, will walk at their own pace wherever they want on the sidewalk.

    Maria xx

  39. Ha ha I love this!
    The metro card thing is so true. Now that I’ve been to New York several times, I’ve finally mastered it!

    Also, I almost always carry my camera with me, even in my own city of Montreal…. so basically I’m pretty used to looking like a tourist everywhere I go!

  40. Anonymous says...

    I think Rule #5 applies to all cities. I’m in Boston and you can definitely tell a tourist from a Bostonian by their sidewalk etiquette. However, I feel like the rules are different across the bridge, going into Cambridge ;)

  41. Nicole says...

    I had to laugh about the sneakers thing because I’ve been living here for over 4 years and about every other day, I wonder why half the women are wearing tennis shoes to work instead of a flat that goes with their outfit! And they’re definitely not tourists:)

  42. Nicole says...

    I had to laugh about the sneakers thing because I’ve been living here for over 4 years and about every other day, I wonder why half the women are wearing tennis shoes to work instead of a flat that goes with their outfit! And they’re definitely not tourists:)

  43. This post makes me dreamy… I want to go to NYC :)

  44. LOVE THIS. i tried to follow all of these long before i moved here.

  45. More tips from me:

    1) Don’t walk around carrying your wallet or clutch in your hand.

    2) Plan to stay out late. Dinner at 8 or later to see the real NY!

    p.s. Nick- please leave comments every day.

  46. good point everyone who mentioned that lights don’t matter for pedestrians, but an important thing to note about crossing the street is to always look both ways, regardless of the lights or if it’s a one way street. Bikers think the rules don’t apply to them and you’ll be run down by a bike going the wrong way through a red light. i want our tourist friends to look cool AND be safe!

  47. number 5, YES. please dear visitors to our fantastic city, just stay to the right & don’t stop dead in the middle of the sidewalk. a lot of us live and work and have places to be!

    also? number 10. so true. =)

  48. Mean but true, in my NYC days some friends and I would occasionally entertain ourselves after brunch by….looking up. At nothing. Just keep looking up for a minute or two and you will be ASTOUNDED at how many people stop and look up, trying to figure out what you’re looking at.

    What can I say, we were easily entertained and tourists were such easy marks. :)

    Not that I would ever do that now……….

  49. Claire says...

    anytime i go somewhere i do act like a tourist. in other words, i completely enjoy myself and i don’t care what other people think! travel time is too short to play it cool. when i went to new york with my boyfriend we had the best time, and i probably did do all the things on the list. leave acting like a new yorker to the new yorkers!!!

  50. Ven says...

    Joanna, I’m wondering which celebrities you have seen in New York. I wouldn’t mind running into Ryan Gosling :)

  51. Thank you for sharing. Just loved it all.

  52. i should have read this before i went to new york!

  53. I’ve got to agree that most New Yorkers are actually very friendly! I know my way around the city pretty well now since I typically find myself there at least once a month for something or another. But despite living only an hour away for my entire life, my first visit to New York wasn’t until I was 12. My mom and I had noooo idea how to to find our way around, and we’d probably have gotten hopelessly lost, but so many people were willing to stop and help us!

  54. Fun post!

  55. Hi Joanna. I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. :)

  56. I’ve been to NYC once (from Toronto) and the funniest thing was sneezing on a street corner somewhere on the East Side and someone in a passing car rolling down their window to yell “BLESS YOU!!!” I bring that story up every time someone says people in NYC aren’t friendly. It isn’t that they’re unfriendly, they’re just a bit more direct/abrasive about their niceness (hah).

    And yes, it became a game to count how many women on the street were wearing black head-to-toe.

  57. This comment has been removed by the author.

  58. Anonymous says...

    When I moved to Dallas from the city, my friends would laugh when I would step on to the escalator and immediately move to the right and stand. Left side is for walking, right side is for standing. If you’re not going to walk (fast), move out of the way! P.S. In Texas, everyone stands on the escalator.

  59. i love this! i moved to barcelona 8 months ago from california, and i was self-conscious about looking like a tourist every day. i’m finally feeling like a local (and only on some days). i used to smile at people on the metro and feel bad when they didn’t smile back! then my mom (who has lived in nyc) said, “jessica – people are tired or are just trying to get from one place to the next.” now i get it. walking down crowded streets trying to maneuver around tourists can take a lot out of you. :)

  60. these comments are hilarious and awesome! i’m laughing out loud. nick, you are insane, hahaha.

  61. Melanie says...

    I have not been to New York since 2002 (live in Sydney, Aus) but after reading this, want to go back and share it all again with my husband, especially the folding the pizza in half, yum.

  62. elle,

    i *totally* agree with you — people should help with baby strollers, kids, all of that. definitely. i hope they always do! :)

    about acting like you’re in a bubble in public — i read this interesting thing the other day on kottke: “this NY tip is absolutely vital — don’t interfere with others’ privacy. New York is a very crowded place. The way people deal with it is to create their own space. Thus, what outsiders often see as aloofness and isolation is, in fact, a sign of community; there is a shared ethos that everyone respects others’ privacy and expects others to respect his own. This is chiefly communicated through eye contact. If you stare at someone on the subway: if you linger in looking out your window into someone else’s bedroom; if you react to or interrupt a celebrity; or if you seem to be intentionally listening in to another’s conversation, you are violating one of New York’s most sacred unwritten rules. Keep yourself to yourself, and let others do the same.”

    fascinating, right? xo

  63. yes, i agree, i think new yorkers can be so nice! :) i’ve been really surprised by how lovely new yorkers are. when i was pregnant, EVERYONE helped me, it was such a wonderful surprise.

  64. some of these are hysterical, but i have a suspicion that none of the contributors are actually native new yorkers!

    I’d suggest to get out of Manhattan, because NYC has far more to offer than just what’s on the island :)

  65. I think a good tip is not to base your trip on the assumption that New Yorkers are rude. I think a lot of tourists kill themselves trying to figure out maps because they don’t want to ask for help, but most people are glad to help. And I have never been on the subway with my baby without someone offering to help carry my stroller. Trying to do everything yourself can give you away as a tourist, but more importantly it will make your trip more stressful!

  66. Julia says...

    Another issue that should be addressed is Times Square. No tourist (or anyone) should ever set foot there.

    That’s not to say they shouldn’t go. It is amazing at night. This is how to do it: take a cab from your midtown hotel to your downtown dinner. Admire it from the cab while someone else is handling the dirty work of navigating the streets.

    And, for god’s sakes, don’t eat at Olive Garden or Chevy’s or any of those places. There are plenty of good NY restaurants where you can get comfort food.

    You can drink all the mudslides and eat all the jalapeno poppers want at home. Don’t bother with that here.

  67. Anonymous says...

    I know i could be possible few rare few who don’t mind the tourist tag..i am shameless…:)Honest to GOD every time i visit NYC i act like tourist..there is something about city i am always smitten….Also in general i definitely don’t endorse the idea of pretending not to be tourist…I LOVE to act touristy rather…it may annoy people in general but when you meet them and are not obnoxious..they are rather helpful

  68. last summer, i saw many a tourist in nyc almost get run over while crossing the road with a red light~ they didn’t look both ways. they run pretty fast when they see the taxis speeding towards them…

    + i think i struck out on #10 …saw rupert (he’s a celebrity right?) from david letterman + had to get a picture. couldn’t resist.

  69. Elle,

    I must respectfully disagree.

    In my time living here, I’ve seen multiple young men help elderly women cross the street, a herd of people rush to help someone who slipped and fell on subway station steps, and other random acts of kindness every day. New Yorkers are some of the kindest hearted people I’ve ever met despite outward appearances.

    As far as the child vomiting, what are people on the subway supposed to do? I personally have an incredibly weak stomach, so I can’t say I’d be volunteering to help, and yes, I would happily remain in my insular world in that instance, if only out of fear of vomiting myself, haha.

    – LR

  70. One of my proudest moments: visiting New York and getting asked for directions. Sigh, the joys of blending in.

    That said, I realized I could never be a true New Yorker when I went to visit my friend (the ultimate New Yorker) and couldn’t survive past 4am. I need sleep!

  71. I love #1! And Annie Hall :)

  72. I’ve spent a lot of time in New York and for the most part love it, but one thing I really don’t love is the unfazed thing. It’s cold and sometimes creepily non-human.

    Kid falls down stairs to subway, people push past *unfazed*. (read: not looking up from iPhone, hurrying past as if too busy to notice, breezing by with iPod on…
    Mom with vomiting toddler and nothing to clean it up with on the subway, surrounded in plenty of *unfazed* people. (read: everyone staring blankly ahead of themselves or down at some reading material pretending that no sound of child barfing is making it into their auditory field).

    One thing that always strikes me about those Improv Everywhere videos (I’m thinking specifically of the Grand Central Freeze) is how everyone is so insistent on remaining within the confounds of their insular bubbles that they refuse to acknowledge the magic that is everywhere in their city. Missing out on so much.

  73. I was in NY last week on holiday (I live in Manchester in England) and was really happy my skills from living in London came in handy! I used to HATE it when tourists would get off the tube on a busy platform and just stop dead. I reminded my boyfriend that it used to annoy him too when he did the same thing on the subway!

    By the end of the week I was crossing the road no matter what colour the lights and was asked directions a few times which I was quite excited about. I love getting to know a city and think once you know the basics for one city it’s very easy to transfer that to others! Not that I mind being a tourist!

  74. Just commenting for some Annie Hall love. I was in college when this came out and it completely revolutionized our wardrobes. Her clothes and style were all so RAD then. Happy times.

  75. i am about the shortest person i know, so the whole “don’t look up” thing will probably give me away. although i usually walk while looking down, if im in a new city, i’ll definitely look up at all the buildings. i’m such an observer. haha.

    these are fun tips. i’ll be sure to keep them in mind if i ever make a trip to NY.

  76. These are great. Love all of the NYC guides.

  77. Joanna, you are spot on with all of these. You made me laugh out loud. You can spot a tourist a mile away in New York. Another clue: talking above a whisper on the subway.

  78. We visited NYC on vacation when I was in grade 12 (from Canada) and my mom could not figure out how people always KNEW we were tourists! Heh.

  79. Julia, your description of “slow-moving window-shoppers wearing shorts and UGGS” made me laugh! Broadway in SoHo is its own monster—but it’s surprisingly easy to bike down! More pedestrians than cars. :) -LR

  80. Ha, I’ve never been to New York, but I love my NY friends, because they are the only people I know who walk as fast as me! If ever I got out with my other doctoral classmates, the gal from NY and I will get to walking and before we know it, everyone else is GONE, like, BLOCKS behind us. ha! I don’t actually think it’s a NY thing, it’s a transit thing. Anyone who walks a lot as a means of transportation, or who is used to having to get quickly to a stop/station for mass transit (bus, train, subway, whatevs) develops a brisk walk. And I do it in heels!

    Well, one day I’ll get there and maybe I’ll feel at home with all these fast walkers around me.

  81. Absolutely perfect.

  82. Julia says...

    I disagree with #5. Stick to the right? No. I work on Broadway in Soho, and dodging crowds is a crucial skill for me. What works best: walk fast, weave in an out. When completely blocked, walk in the street. Do not stick to the right. That doesn’t get you anywhere but stuck in a crowd of slow-moving window-shoppers wearing shorts and UGGS.

    All that said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with tourists looking like tourists. It seems kind of desperate to try and fake it. I look out of place when I visit my parents in Western PA but oh well. Be yourself! Own it! But lose the UGGS.

  83. Susan says...

    These are not only NYC but also several are for any large city (Chicago, DC come to mind) in north/northeast. Esp. the high costs, pizza, fast walking, etc. If one more person says, “How can you pay THAT much for ___” I might explode. What exactly are my options? Not buy food, pay rent? Grrr.

    Excellent post.

  84. I’m a native New Yorker who has transplanted to California. I’ve got all this down except for the metro card. I haven’t lived there since the days of subway tokens so when I visited this past summer, I looked like to greenest tourist EVER trying to deal with those darn things!!! Oh…and I couldn’t help stare wide eyed at Times Square when I took my daughter there. That place has gone crazy.

  85. I have to add – as far as the “bedhead” thing goes. It has gotten to the point when I see someone with hair that is too “done” I automatically assume they are not New Yorkers.

    And most New Yorkers wear black and dark colors, most of the time (there are exceptions!)

    I have lived in and around NYC all my life. I have never owned more than one pair of sneakers (that I ONLY wear for workouts!)

    Rule #5 also applies to staircases and escalators!

    I like the points that Prescott Perez-Fox made. I never realized that only NY-ers call one-dollar bills singles! lol.


  86. I must say that on my first visit to NYC i looked like a tourist. My head was always tilted toward the sky, i had issues with my metro card, and I laughed and giggled on the subway. But by the end of that trip..I was a pro with my metro card, I took quick naps on the subway, and I was even asked for directions…TWICE! =) hehe

  87. Love this. I went to NYC this summer with my husband for my birthday. I thought we blended in pretty well and we’re from Utah. Then I messed it up when a hot dog stand charged me $5 for one hot dog. I freaked. I’m still laughing about it. Good times in NYC!

  88. all good info :)
    the subway was the hardest for me to blend into being a new yorker… you have to use all the above rules and act as though being squished is natural and the person next to you is wearing deodorant (when they smell like they’ve never taken a shower, ever) and not read the map or act as though you’re looking at the space between the platform and the subway like it might swallow you if you get your heel stuck… just be cool and don’t look around tooooo much, lol.

    i miss nyc

  89. when my family went to NYC there was a man on top of the Brooklyn Bridge about to jump off. We watched him (and the SWAT team try to get him down, with rush hour traffic stopped) for 2 hours, it was so bizarre! One man walking on his way home from work said nonchalantly, “if he wants to commit suicide, he doesn’t have to climb all the way to the top! He’s inconveniencing everyone!” Definitely a different reaction then us small town westerners had :)

  90. so Joanna…how much is your rent on your apartment? ;)

  91. My first time in NYC was 15 years ago and what stunned me most then was all the work dressed people wearing running shoes. It was the grey suit and the Nike shoe and the hurry. Time flies.

  92. Great tips and I absolutely adore Annie Hall. I live in California but watching that movie always makes me wish i was a New Yorker!

  93. Anonymous says...

    Isn’t it so weird how we’re all so keen not to be tourists when it’s only logical that we all can’t be from everywhere. I always get so amused whenever Anthony Bourdain on “No Reservations” bemoans “toursity sites” or “touristy restaurants”. I always want to call him and say, “You do know that unless you’re shooting from New York or New Jersey that YOU’RE a tourist, right?” What is so wrong with being a tourist?

  94. I totally agree with #5! I grew up in Chicago, lived in London for a year, and now live in New Orleans, and the rule is the same in all of those places. It drives me berserk when I get stuck behind people who don’t know how to walk at a normal speed.

    In regards to #1, my general rule while travelling is to just go with it lol. I live in New Orleans and that rule is so true down here. You can easily tell the tourists (aside from the fact that they’re covered in beads from the mall) by the fact that they’re so thrown off by people’s crazy costumes. Last month, I had friends in town and we were walking around the quarter when a guy dressed as the devil stopped to ask me directions. It didn’t even occur to me that his outfit was strange until my friends kept talking about it!

    Cities are the best :)

  95. I agree with Joy. You need to be an aggressive pedestrian, you don’t have to wait for the walk sign if no cars are coming. But also, be careful.

    Also, the coffee thing really threw me off. I am from California and used to being able to put my own amount of cream and sugar in my coffee.

    Did anyone mention that Houston is not pronounced like the city in Texas?

  96. i gobble these types of things up, someday i hope to be a real new yorker! (even though i have only been there once in my life)

  97. totally agree about the escalator – stand on the right, walk and pass on the left!

  98. ha i live in london and A LOT of these apply there too x

  99. Good list! Even though I live here, I still make it a point to look up at the buildings—I think I discover a new one every day!

    I agree that you definitely never see New Yorker women in sneakers unless they’re coming from the gym! That is a dead giveaway as to a tourist. I always pop on Sperrys or ballet flats even for a run to the deli!

    Oh, one thing: don’t read your map/guidebook in the middle of the street! With smartphones, are those even really necessary anymore?


  100. Love this post!

    I recently moved to Louisiana from NYC and I have been SO surprised that people wear work out clothes to run errands. Whenever I see someone in CVS in running shorts and a sports bra who clearly hasn’t just come from the gym, I do a double take. You just do not see it in NY!

  101. this is a perfect list! I think it applies (in a lot of ways) to Chicago, too. :)

  102. As a former New yorker living in Philly, this had me laughing out loud! Especially the folding of pizza slices. People in other parts of the country think that’s so weird but it’s the perfect way to eat dinner on the go!

  103. Anonymous says...

    OMG, can I please just take a moment to bow down and appreciate number 5.

    I live in Vancouver and the pedestrians here DRIVE ME INSANE!!! They are some of the most righteous, obnoxious, slowest walkers I have ever met, and THEY ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE! I do not come from New York, but I come from a place that respects the ‘keep [strictly] right!’ mentality. People here will actually walk right into you and not even apologize – as though you should have moved, and they had every right to be all over on your side! I find it completely infuriating!

    Vancouver, get it together.

  104. I am so envious that you have #5! When I moved to Dublin, I couldn’t figure out if we should all be walking on the left side of the sidewalk since they drive on the left side here. Turns out it’s just a free for all! You spend all your walking time trying to just get out of the way! New Yorkers are so sensible :)

  105. I need to go back ASAP!!! I miss the city, and these posts are not helping! LOL

  106. Love your New York series. I am headed there in November and I will try not to look like a tourist.;)

  107. Anonymous says...

    Also, I don’t like the “New Yorkers” who laugh at the tourists and then it turns out they’ve lived in New York for 2 months. Dude… talk to me in 6 years. Then you can laugh. Altho by then you’ll be a New Yorker and you won’t waste your time laughing at tourists. You’ll have a real life.

  108. i love this! so true!

  109. heijah says...

    why blend in? even as a tourist, you’re forming an important part of the city. a stranger in a city stays a stranger, even when he tries to fold a pizza –he’ll do it wrong anyway ;)

  110. Also, New Yorkers call one-dollar bills “singles”, not “ones.” And pizza with no toppings is called “plain”, not “cheese.” Order a “slice”, not a “piece”.

  111. Anonymous says...

    so far, it hasn’t worked. LOL

    my tip: when you’re ordering coffee it’s black or regular. regular is with milk. and then the number of spoonfuls of sugars you want. So just tell the guy at the deli, “Coffee, regular, 2 sugars”. Altho you should just say “Coffee, regular” tho bcs who wants sugar in their coffee?

    Starbucks is for bathrooms. Dont buy coffee there for crying out loud.

    I approve of the left/right sidewalk thing altho real new yorkers just walk in the street.

  112. i was born in LA. Whenver i go back, i see someone famous. In June we saw James Gandolfini at lunch. It was so hard to play it cool. But you gotta.

    Though, in NY, if i saw Woody Allen, i don’t think i’d play it cool

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  114. Cute post… but I have bad feet and need good arches in my shoes so I’ll be one of those tourists that is wearing GOOD running shoes.

  115. Good ones Joanna! As a new New Yorker, I agree with all of these.

    Sam – It’s okay to walk around with your camera… as long as it’s a DSLR. New Yorkers will just think you’re a street style photographer. Haha!

  116. Laughing so hard at Nicholas Goddard! Brother?

  117. Joy, you’re so right. For NYers it’s not about the red or green light; it’s about “can I make it across before this car runs me down?” When I come back to Toronto it’s quite hilarious to compare. Here everybody stands so patiently waiting for the green light, EVEN if there are no cars! I’ve been a tourist in NY many times and one thing you didn’t mention – NYers are really, really friendly and for the most part very helpful when it comes to subways and directions. Wonderful people.

  118. When you get to the top of the stairs coming out of the subway, don’t stop. If you need to get yourself acclimated, keep moving & walk to a spot against a building. Please don’t cause everyone behind you to stop & grumble.

    As a born & raised New Yorker, I try not to get annoyed at tourists & instead try to help them as much as I can. I love being asked for directions :)

  119. I’m also in Chicago and the list is pretty similar. I had to laugh at #1 b/c that is so my mom. When she came to visit and saw someone wearing something “strange”, she would whisper about it when they passed. I rarely even notice anymore! ha! Also, I refuse to wear tennis shoes commuting to work. I sport flats/rain boots/Toms and have a drawer of heels stashed at the office. :)

  120. I still complain about the price of everything.

    In fact, every time I buy a sandwich I ask to get $1 worth of fries with it, adding that “you can pick the amount that you think is worth $1. Even one fry is fine. However, I am only willing to spend $1 on fries.” So far, it hasn’t worked. I am drafting a letter to the CEO of Five Guys which says

    Dear Mr. Murrell,

    I have created a plastic card which I will carry with me when I go to Five Guys. It says that you have given me permission me to purchase $1 of fries from this and any Five Guys, and that the amount of fries will be determined by the manager on duty.

    By opening and reading this letter, you have authorized me to do this.

    I am, Yours, etc.,
    Nicholas Goddard

  121. Anonymous says...

    I think as long as you’re not wearing sneakers and a backpack the camera is fine. As a New Yorker I bring out my camera to just practice and take pictures all the time.

  122. To comment about walking on the right side of the sidewalk- there is a similar for riding the metro escalator in DC- stand on the right, walk on the left. I swear that tourists purposefully ignore this rule.
    Also, I love these posts about NY thanks Jonna!

  123. Or maybe one should just relish in the fact that s/he is on vacation and enjoy being a tourist in NY! All these rules to “look cool.” I’m on vaca; I’m already cool yo.

  124. Haha this is so funny and useful! My friends and I can always point out the tourists in San Francisco too! They are usually the ones freezing in their shorts and tshirts against the fog!

  125. Well, if you are a tourist, enjoy it!! Often are so few days that you can be one.

  126. I’m going to New York for my first time in a few weeks. I’ve been really enjoying your posts and tips because I’ll only be there for two days and want to make the most of it :)

    (You are right about #8 – I will be looking up the WHOLE time. I can’t get enough of urban architecture and taaaalll buildings.

  127. Ooh I’ve got a few more!

    1. dont cross your legs on a crowded subway–ticks everyone off!(and it’s hard to get by)
    2. new yorkers cross the street even if the light is red and a taxi is quickly approaching a block away. it’s oddly exhilarating
    3. if a homeless person approaches you and won’t leave you alone, simply say “sorry,” and then ignore. it’s kind of mean, but if they are bothering you or making you uncomfortable, you have the right to be left alone!

  128. alright – here is a tough one. Does carrying your camera automatically make you look like a tourist?

    I have mine in-hand around Portland all the time – and I live here. But when I’m in a different city I feel like it’s a dead give away.

  129. please lord, let every future NYC tourist read number 5.

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  130. I always fold my pizza and I’m from Bosnia. :) These tips are great, but honestly, I don’t mind being a tourist when I am one. I am just me everywhere I go.

  131. This post makes me feel better about my traveling habits. I always shush my husband and friends when we go out someplace and they start to complain about prices too loudly – and I’ve never even been to New York. I think the list would look similar if you were in Chicago (where I am) or abroad in other countries (I studied abroad in Europe).

  132. Anonymous says...

    i think general fashion/appearance is what gives people away – or if you’re standing in line to get into Abercrombie! Ha.

  133. Great post. Wish I wouldve had it before my trip there. I certaintly stuck out as a tourist and felt insanely uncool in doing so.

  134. Cara says...

    Ha! This post (especially about the walking) is exactly right.

    Also, don’t wear an I <3 NY shirt. That’s a sure giveaway!

  135. Did you see the cover of the New Yorker this week? :)

  136. great tips!

    and I’m watching Annie Hall for the first time this weekend so the pics were perfect :)

  137. #1 is my favorite! You are so right on the list….great post!

  138. wow, after reading this, I am absolutely positive I would be the worst tourist ever! Especially when everyone in the midwest wears workout clothes or tennis shoes to run errands, go to the store, etc…