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I Tried Being a Tourist in New York City

My boyfriend, a Londoner-turned-Californian, came to visit me in New York for the first time over the winter intersession.  Naturally, he wanted to do all of the classic New York touristy things: The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, walking through Central Park, seeing the theaters on Broadway, eating a ton of pizza and Shake Shack, and the dreaded Times Square.  I know, I know, as a New Yorker (well, officially a Long Islander, but that totally counts!), it just about makes me gag to think about it.  It’s dirty, filled to the brim with slow-walking tourists, laden with sub-par chain restaurants, and just uncomfortable in general.  However, being the good sport that I am, since Times Square is apparently a part of the New York Experience, there we went.

Here is my official ranking of the classic New York tourist spots. 

5. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I hate to say it, Lady Liberty, but I do not recommend.  Sadly, the iconic figure has turned into little more than a moneymaking scheme - on the day we went, with tickets for the 12:00 ferry, we did not board a boat until 3:30 pm.  That day basically just consisted of standing on a very, very long line.  It was okay once we got there, but there were about 30 minutes before we had to leave to catch the last ferry to Battery Park. 4. Times Square

Could you tell I don’t like Times Square?  It was definitely not as bad as the Statue of Liberty, but it’s just way too crowded for my taste.  My boyfriend agreed - he said he felt totally on edge the whole time we were there (meaning the 5 minutes that I allotted for that excursion).  An interesting experience, but we agreed not to do it again.

3.  Big Bus Tours

Okay, so this was mildly embarrassing but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Besides the cold.  It was mid-January, and it was very, very cold.  We did, however, see absolutely breathtaking views of the city and the Brooklyn Bridge from the George Washington Bridge.  They drove us through Chinatown, Little Italy, and part of Brooklyn, too.  If you can haggle with the guy like we did to get a bit of the price knocked off and go in the warmer weather, this is just about worth it, even for a New Yorker.

2. Top of the Rock

I have to admit that I really, really liked this.  It’s a little bit on the expensive side, but we didn’t do anything else super extravagant, and we decided to give it a go.  Let me tell you: the view is absolutely incredible.  Even for me (I am notoriously afraid of heights), the altitude was not that bad, because the viewing decks are encased in transparent plastic rather than just a railing.  We got some beautiful pictures, rode a really fast elevator, and just had a great time in general.1. Caffe Roma on Mulberry Street

You know that little pastry shop in Little Italy on that episode of the Sopranos?  No?  Well, take my word for it, it deserves for you to know it.  I love food, all kinds of food, especially dessert, and Caffe Roma, while unassuming, serves up a ridiculous cannoli, amazing hot chocolate, and a chocolate cake unlike anything I have ever tasted.  I was so, so impressed.  Next time you’re in Little Italy, definitely go.


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