One Mistake To Avoid When Visiting New York City For The First Time

New York City is constantly bustling. People weaving through the streets, cars rumbling by, billboard lights flashing, and countless aromas filling the air — it's an exciting scene to visit whether you're stopping by the most popular tourist attractions or seeking out the most underrated neighborhoods. For those who've never been before, navigating the city can feel overwhelming. You have options for transportation, from walking or hopping on the subway to hailing a cab or Uber. Even cycling with Citi Bikes is a viable option — you've got miles to cover an array of ways to do so.

One crucial thing to remember when you visit New York City is that you'll more than likely be walking — and more than you may imagine. Most visitors underestimate this and it often throws first-time tourists off and leaves them with sore legs and feet. Unless you're trying to switch between the boroughs or cover a long stretch of miles, walking is often the most logical option, especially since driving in New York City can be a huge hassle. It's free and enables you to take in all the sights and sounds of the city. 

Rules of the sidewalk

While New York City is known for its fashion, it's important to value comfort as well. Walking the streets is not the time to show off your cutest heels. Instead, opting for a comfortable pair of walking shoes will save your feet from blisters and soreness.

When you're walking, it's important to keep a couple of rules in mind. There's nobody who will enforce them, but they do serve as courtesy. The first rule that'll likely save you from rude glares, rolling eyes, and the stereotypical rudeness New York is known for, is to avoid stopping in the middle of the sidewalk. If you want to snap a photo or need to tie your shoe, move to the right or left. Don't stop pedestrian traffic. If you're going as a group, make sure that you're not walking slow and taking up the entire sidewalk. People walk fast in New York and they'll likely want to pass you and your group, and blocking them only creates frustration.

Additional tips

Another tip for navigating New York City's sidewalks includes staying to the right. This also applies when you're taking the stairs or escalator. This enables others to pass you with ease. If you have luggage, be mindful of where it is. Don't accidentally pull it over people's toes or have it take up most of the sidewalk. Pull it close behind you and keep an eye out for uneven parts of the sidewalk.

One thing you'll see plenty of locals do is jaywalk. This means they'll cross the street before it's the proper time for pedestrians. It's not the safest thing to do, but plenty of people do it. You shouldn't feel pressure to do this, but if you do decide to, make sure you have plenty of time to cross and that there are no cars in sight. Keep in mind, too, that New York City residents use a lot of micro-mobility devices like e-bikes and e-scooters, which may not be coming from an expected direction (or at an expected speed) — so look left and right before crossing any paths. Also, no matter how crowded the sidewalk gets, resist the temptation to walk in the bike lanes, as you'll be endangering yourself and others.  

Walking in New York is truly an essential part of the NYC experience. Make sure you wear comfy shoes and adhere to these unofficial rules to ensure a smooth and fun walking journey throughout the city.