8 ways to be the NYC anti-tourist (While still technically being a tourist)

You're visiting New York. Amazing! But you don't want to look like a tourist, do you? You certainly don't want to pay like a tourist... here's a handy guide to help you out!

You're going on holiday to New York!

Great! It's a fun city with lots to do, famed in song, story and cinema. Here's the downside… you're going to be a tourist. Being a tourist in New York is tough, because everyone's looking to rip you off. There are a million ways to spend all your money and still miss everything good about the city. Not to worry though, because we're about to serve up some bite-size local knowledge for you, mixed in with advice to get the most out of your experience in the Big Apple, and avoid common tourist pitfalls.

1. You can eat cheaper than you think

There are great restaurants in New York. Every imaginable cuisine is here in some form or another. If you are on the island of Manhattan, you are probably within a ten-minute walk of somewhere that will change the life of your tastebuds. It runs into money fast though. $25 for your meal, $8 per drink, $10 for dessert… do that a few times a day and you can spend a fortune in a week. Here's the thing: you can pay less. Hot tip for paying less: don't eat in touristy areas. Times Square, Rockefeller, Central Park: all these places add a markup to your bill. Avoid them for eats if you're on a budget. Particularly the big chains. You can usually walk a block away from a tourist spot and eat cheaper. Local insight: try halal carts and dollar pizza. Locals survive on these two staples, and they can be found in almost every neighborhood. They're tasty, they'll fill you up, and they'll barely make a dent in your wallet.

2. Use the subway. It's scary, but the most cost effective way around

Any New Yorker will tell you, the MTA is a cruel mistress. It's filled with rats, garbage, delays, and bodily fluids you weren't expecting to see in a public place. However, cabs are expensive. Ubers and Lyfts are expensive. And Pedicabs? Fuhgeddaboudit. I legitimately do not understand why people think pedicabs are a good idea, or why they cost a fortune to ride in. The subway is less than $3 a ride (even less if you buy a weeklong pass, which I'd recommend), and it goes just about everywhere you need it to go. Beware: the subway map is borderline indecipherable to a beginner, but use an app like Google Maps or NYC Subway and it can break down journey planning for you nice and simply. You will save so much money on your trip, and you will get an authentic New York experience. Just remember basic Subway etiquette: move all the way inside the car if it's crowded, don't block the doors, wait to let people off before getting on. You'll get the hang of it, trust us.

3. Learn the unwritten laws of Times Square

There's a lot to cover here, so we'll move quickly.

Times Square looks cool. But everyone in Times Square wants your money. Everyone from Disney to the guy selling knock-off designer handbags. Everything is overpriced. You can buy everything you find in Times Square cheaper elsewhere. Everything.

Don't take a photo with a costume character unless you're willing to fork over money. $5 per character is standard.

Don't take a CD from a stranger; it is not free, and he is not a struggling musician.

Don't take a bracelet from a monk; it is not free, and he/she is not a monk.

If you get a sketch/caricature done, make sure you confirm the price beforehand. Sketch artist signage is often misleading.

If you buy a comedy club ticket, do not buy from anyone advertising a big name. Barkers will sometimes say that Amy Schumer, Louis CK, Chris Rock, Tina Fey and the like are doing standup at the place they're selling for that very night. What are the odds!?! Bad. The odds are bad. Big names don't need barkers to sell tickets. That's why they're big names. Tina Fey doesn't even do standup. Now, don't get me wrong, there are talented comedians at NYC comedy clubs who are worth seeing, but you're not going to enjoy Paul Emrich if you were promised Louis CK. Which is a shame, because Paul is great. By all means, go to a comedy show, but don't get conned in to it. Tickets are also cheaper online, check goldstar.com before you buy from some guy on the street.

Don't block the walkway! There are New Yorkers trying to leave Times Square, don't make their lives more difficult. Move to the side to take your photo, it's not hard. This is a good general rule for the whole city: Don't block the sidewalk, and walk quickly wherever possible.

The best place for your photo op is the red TKTS steps on 47th street. You are out of the way of traffic, and on a raised platform, you will get the best photo there. Also, costume characters aren't allowed on the steps, so you won't have to deal with an expensive photobomb.

If you need to pee in Times Square, the Marriott Marquis Hotel has the nicest bathrooms. Go to the eighth floor. It's open to the public, you can sit there for a quick break, and they have lovely bathrooms. You can also use the bathrooms at the Hard Rock Café, but the Marriott's are nicer. It's also just a really cool building to be inside of.

Take a flyer from a Chicago girl. Or anyone promoting a Broadway show. You don't have to talk to them. You don't have to go to the show. But those guys and girls' days go just a little bit faster if you take a flyer, and it costs you nothing. Just remember to recycle the flyer if you don't use it.

There's a lot to cover for Times Square, I have barely scratched the surface here, but this is a pretty good starter cheat sheet.

4. Know that local New Yorkers don't hate you

Well, they do hate you a bit. You're a tourist. You don't know how to "New York" properly. However, despite the stereotypes, most New Yorkers are actually quite happy to help you with directions, recommend their favorite bar or restaurant to you, explain the Subway system, offer their opinion on what to see or do in the area, and generally assist you in any number of ways. So long as you don't take up too much of their day. They are New Yorkers; that means they are always busy, and they probably have somewhere to be, but they are still human beings who enjoy pleasant interaction with fellow human beings who are polite and kind. For the most part anyway. Don't ask for help from someone who's obviously in a hurry, someone who's aggressively trying to sell you something, or someone who's shouting at the pigeons for kidnapping their sister. Use your judgment and common sense.

5. Learn about CityPass and get the 411 on New York's greatest hits

You want to see all the typical touristy stuff? Empire State, Rockefeller, Statue of Liberty? Save a bunch of money with a CityPass. For a CityPass you pay a larger sum of money up front and get unlimited access to all the key tourist attractions under the CityPass banner. Which is most of the big ones. Do the math on the length of time you want to get one for versus how many attractions you want to see, but chances are a CityPass is a good deal. If you don't go with CityPass, buy your tickets online, they are almost always cheaper, and make sure to Google "[Attraction] Discount Code" before you buy.

As far as New York staples go, here's the local lowdown… the view from Top of the Rock is better than the one from the Empire State Building. Empire State is more iconic, but you can't see Empire State if you're inside it. You can if you're on top of the Rockefeller building. Also, Rockefeller has glass panes you can take a photo in front of, so you get a great view behind you. Empire has a metal grate that makes it nigh on impossible to see anything in a photo. Also, if you do go to Empire, don't pay for the extra observatory level. It's the same view. Literally the same, and you just paid $20 extra for it.

The USS Intrepid is really cool; it's a bit of a walk to get to, but the exhibits are good, and extensive. You can spend a good few hours there. Madame Tussaud's is tacky, but it is fun in a 'guilty pleasure' kind of way, and the waxworks are technical masterpieces. The Highline is really nice, and is now so much easier to get to by Subway. If you want to get a drive-by shot of the Statue of Liberty and pay nothing at all, give the Staten Island Ferry a go.

Big note: You will not be able to do the whole Met Museum in a day. Or all of Central Park. Pick a few areas to look at per visit. It's all good. My personal favorites are the musical instrument exhibit at the Met and Belvedere Castle in the park.

My pet unpopular opinion: I think the Guggenheim is overrated.

6. Broadway is expensive! But you can make it less expensive…

Broadway shows are some of the most expensive in the world. Prime seats start in the hundreds, and tickets for top shows can go for thousands. It is ridiculous, but there are a few things you can do to pay less, depending on how adventurous you are. For starters, consult broadwayforbrokepeople.com. It will give you the lowdown on ticket lotteries, rush ticket policies, preview discounts, standing room tickets, and student pricing. All of those deals will be less than $50 a ticket. They won't be prime seats, and you may have to get up early in the morning to get them, but they are always the most cost-effective.

If you don't have the stomach for that, then the TKTS line may be for you. TKTS is the big booth underneath the red steps in Times Square. There are lines there, usually starting at 10am for matinees and 3pm for evening shows, and they will sell tickets for up to 50% off. You are not guaranteed the show you want (check the show list on the big electronic board, or on the TKTS app before you line up), but these will often be the best deals on prime seating. The people who work there are also very knowledgeable about theatre, and will be able to guide you to the best deals and the best shows. The lines at TKTS can look long, but they move surprisingly fast. You will likely spend less than an hour waiting in line. Just also bare in mind, although these are discounts they are still Premium Seats; you are likely to still spend $75 and up per ticket.

If you don't like waiting in lines, but are willing to walk around a bit, find a Times Square Broadway promoter. Not the guys in the blue coats asking you if you want to see a show (they're ticket scalpers and they drive prices up). Look for people like the Chicago Girls, people wearing the merchandise of the specific show you want to see. They will have flyers that are often discount flyers, and they will know what the cheapest prices for their shows are if you buy at the Box Office.

Keep an eye out online for deals. Prices tend to be better at the Box Office (TicketMaster's online convenience fees are borderline criminal. So much so that they were sued over them recently), but occasionally there are good picks online. Broadway Week is usually a good deal. As is 30 Under $30. BroadwayBox.com, TheaterMania.com, and Goldstar.com often have discounts. The TodayTix app will also have deals. They're not necessarily the best deals, but they are convenient.

Summary: research is key to getting the best deal.

7. Walk places

Manhattan is big! But a lot of the stuff you want to see is walking distance apart. You can walk from Empire State to Macy's to Times Square to the Intrepid Museum in the space of one day. You'll definitely max out your step counter, but you're walking through New York City! Pretty much every street corner here has been a movie set at some point, so get your fill! And take the time to do walking journeys that are an experience in and of themselves, like Central Park, or the Brooklyn Bridge.

8. Stray from the beaten path

You probably came to New York for the touristy stuff. And that's fine. You are, after all, a tourist. But there is a lot of New York that you won't find on a sightseeing tour. Broaden your horizons! Take a train uptown and visit The Cloisters. Head south and see a band you've never heard of at a skeezy club like The Bitter End or Arlene's Grocery. Try an Off-Broadway play, like Puffs. Try an Off-Off Broadway play, like… well, anything in a black box theatre you've never heard of (read the reviews first). See an improv show like On The Spot at the Broadway Comedy Club. Go to the boroughs. Go to Brooklyn. Try a cool themed bar like the Doctor Who/sci-fi world of The Way Station. Play dive bar mini-golf at the Bushwick Country Club. Go to Prospect Park. It was designed after they made Central Park, so it's technically better made, and they have free concerts there in the summer. Go to Queens. Check out the Socrates Sculpture Park. Check out the Museum of the Moving Image; they screen classic and foreign movies there regularly and your screening ticket is covered in your admission. Take the cable car to Roosevelt Island. There's not much to do there, but the cable car is cool.

There is a lot of New York to see! You will not get it all in one go. Heck, you won't get it all if you live here! But if you've maxed out on Midtown, just remember that there's a whole lot of city left for you to experience.

Bottom line…

Being a tourist in New York doesn't mean you have to be a tourist. You don't have to spend your life's savings on a week's worth of novelty and generic souvenirs. You don't have to get stuck in an endless parade of people with selfie sticks. And you definitely don't need to have a cookie-cutter experience. You are the master of your own destiny and, armed with knowledge, you can enjoy the great city of New York in a way that feels unique to you. After all, that's what makes New York great: the fact that it can be all things to all people.

Enjoy your trip!

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Joshua Tree National Park is a gigantic desert located at the crossroads between Palm Springs, the Mojave Desert, and Colorado.

Ever wanted to visit it? Here's what you need to know.

When you first visit Joshua Tree, you're going to want to make a pitstop at one of its three visitor centers—the Joshua Tree Visitors Center (in the northwest), the Cottonwood Visitor Center (in the south), the Oasis Visitor Center (in the north), or the Black Rock Campground (in the northwest, open from October through May). Be sure to call in advance before you go.

In general, it's best to visit the park in the spring or fall. A popular stop-off for hikers, rock climbers, and road-trippers, the park is a surreal and unforgettable area beloved for its unique Joshua trees and so much more.

Must-See Highlights

If you only have a short time in Joshua Tree, you'll want to see its most famous destinations. The Cholla Cactus Garden is a highlight—located 20 minutes north of the Cottonwood Visitor Center, it's a must-see, and if you can make it out for sunrise, the experience will be extra unforgettable.

Steve Sieren Steve SierenFlickr

Consider paying a visit to Parker Dam, a rare watery oasis in the middle of the desert. You might also take a trip to the Cottonwood Spring Oasis for more watery views, possibly complete with views of bighorn sheep.

History and Culture

For some history, be sure to check out the Keys Ranch, to hear the story of Bill and Frances Keys, who built a town—including a schoolhouse and ranch—in Joshua Tree for their five children. Don't miss Keys View while you're at it.

keys view Keys Viewalexvy.org

Keys View

Joshua Tree is well-known for drawing all sorts of alternative types, and it has the lore to match. Rock and roll fans often visit Cap Rock, the place where rocker Gram Parsons' body was cremated.

Cap RockJoshua Tree 3D

Natural Wonders: Trees, Stars and Rocks

Joshua Tree is one of the best places in the world to see stars. With some of the darkest skies in the world, it's a great chance for desert photography or possible UFO sightings.

Joshua Tree Night Sky Joshua Tree Night SkyShaina Blum

It's also well-known for its many rock formations. There's Split Rock, a giant boulder that appears to be literally split in two, located off Park Boulevard.

There's also Skull Rock, a rock that, naturally, resembles a fleshless human face.

Skull ROck Skull ROckProtrails

Then there's Arch Rock, which you can climb on in order to see the desert from a brand-new angle.

Arch Rock Arch Rockfollowyourdetour.com

And of course, there are the Joshua trees. In addition to the famous trees, the park has a variety of other desert plants, including the gorgeous red-plumed Ocotillo.

Ocotillo OcotilloiStock

Hiking and Adventure

Rock climbers (or anyone who wants to watch in awe) can pay a visit to the Hidden Valley Campground, a world-renowned climbing center. Hidden Valley also offers gorgeous views of Coachella Valley. Climbers also love visiting the Jumbo Rocks Campground, with its many challenging formations.

For a slightly less strenuous day, visit the beautifully descriptively named Oasis of Mara, a stretch of honey mesquite and playas that offers a short-half mile loop which will let you experience the desert's wildflowers and nature. Mara was named by the Serrano Indians, who called this location their first home in this world.

Oasis of Mara Oasis of MaraSCPR

Another popular Joshua Tree hike is the 49 Palms Oasis hike, a 3-mile trek to an oasis. The Ryan Mountain hike is also a 3-mile uphill trek that will take you around 3 hours, but it'll lead you to a dramatic 3000-foot elevation with 360 degree views.

Finally, the also-3-mile Mastodon Peak Hike will take you to views of the Salton Sea and Eagle Mountains. If driving is more your speed, the park is definitely best for four-wheel drives; if you've got one, check out the Geology Tour Road, an 18-mile stretch that offers 16 stops and plenty of access to scenery.

Camping and Lodging

Camping is a popular attraction in Joshua Tree, so be sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time.

There are 9 main campgrounds in Joshua Tree—Belle Campground, Black Rock Campground, Cottonwood Campground, Hidden Valley Campground, Indian Cove Campground, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Ryan Campground, Sheeps Pass Campground, and the White Tank Campground.

You can also try staying at a Bureau of Land Management-owned area, or backcountry camping if you're prepared to really fend for yourself—just be sure to register at one of the backcountry boards.

If you're not up for camping, check out a local motel or Airbnb—there are plenty available near the park.

Tips and Tricks

Joshua Tree National Park has no cell service, so you'll really want to plan ahead before you go. There are no restaurants or grocery stores in the park, so be sure to pack food and water.

Food & Drink

6 NYC Food Trends You Can Try at Home

From Raindrop Cakes to Ramen Burgers, these New York City food crazes are available in your kitchen.

Back when a world outside your home and the grocery store existed, New York City had a habit of getting swept up in food crazes.

Sometimes those crazes have involved a burgeoning appreciation for an established cultural tradition from around the world -- arepas, poké bowls, Korean barbecue. At other times these crazes have just involved particular purveyors taking a familiar item more seriously -- like the doughnut renaissance spurred by Doughnut Plant and Dough.

But the most alluring and often ridiculous food trends in New York City tend to involve something truly novel, eye-catching, and sometimes just weird. Fortunately, for those of us who are taking pandemic conditions seriously, there are options to bring some of the novelty of those trends home for the Instagrammable weirdness you may have been missing.

These are some of the recent New York City food trends that you can try for yourself.

Raindrop Cake

raindrop cake

Like a lot of food trends that sweep New York, the Raindrop Cake can be traced back to Japan. Created by the Kinseiken Seika company outside Tokyo, the clear, jiggly cake was originally introduced as water mochi. In 2016 a Brooklyn-based digital marketer named Darren Wong set out to introduce the strange "edible water" to New York at the Smorgasburg food festival, and the strangely beautiful dessert took off.

Now Wong sells kits with everything you need to create your own low-calorie jellyfish/breast implant confection at home. For $36 the kit includes ingredients, molds, and bamboo trays for six raindrop cakes served with brown sugar syrup and Japanese Kinako flour.



Dominique Ansel Bakery

When French pastry chef Dominique Ansel introduced New York to his chimera dessert blending a croissant with a doughnut, it was an overnight sensation with lines around the block to try the flaky fried goodness. They were such a hit that a more pedestrian version of the cronut made its way to Dunkin around the country.

Since then, Ansel has unveiled a number of buzzworthy and inventive creations, like What-a-Melon ice cream, Zero-Gravity cakes, and frozen s'mores. But if you want to try the sensation that started it all, Ansel has shared his original cronut recipe.

And if it turns out that you're not quite at the level to emulate a world-renowned French pastry chef, you can always try the knock-off version with these simple biscuit dough donuts you can make in an air fryer.

Ramen Burger

ramen burger

Here's another food craze imported from Japan. The ramen burger has popular in the Fukushima region for some time, but it was first introduced to New York by chef Keizo Shimamoto's restaurant Ramen Shack in 2013.

The simple fusion of Japanese and American cuisine is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Instead of a standard white bread bun, ramen noodles are cooked to chewy perfection, pressed into a bun shape, then seared in sesame oil until the outside is crispy.

Inside that bun you can place whatever kind of burger you like, but Shimamoto's version involved a beef patty served with arugula, scallions, and a signature sauce. While your results with instant ramen are unlikely to match the quality of Shimamoto's buns, this recipe should help you get close.

Ube Ice Cream

Ube ice cream

Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

The purple yam known as ube is a staple of Filipino desserts. In recent years its distinctive, almost floral sweetness has grown in popularity in NYC, showing up in a variety of baked goods and in the Philippines's signature take on shaved ice -- halo-halo.

The fluffy ube mamons -- sponge cakes -- at Red Ribbon Bakeshop are a great introduction to what has made it such a popular ingredient. There is also the delicious flan-like ube halaya. But maybe the most craveable and craze-worthy uses of ube is as a flavor of ice cream.

This simple recipe calls for ube extract or powder, rather than using actual yam -- but the distinctive ube flavor still comes through in the delicious results.


Tempura grasshoppers

Food Republic

Speaking of climate change... oh, were we not talking about climate change? It's always just lingering in the background -- a portent of doom hovering over all our thoughts about the future? Cool.

Anyway, speaking of climate change, one of the most important changes our society will need to make in order to mitigate its catastrophic effects it to shift our food supply to a more sustainable model. And one of the keys to that effort will be a shift away from meat to less wasteful protein sources.

Plant-based alternatives like impossible burgers and beyond meats are a likely component of that shift, but one of the most efficient forms of protein on Earth is also one of the easiest to come by -- bugs. With that in mind, restaurants like The Black Ant have introduced insects as a fashionable part of NYC dining.

You might be thinking that's gross, but in reality...it absolutely is. Bugs are weird and gross, and the idea of eating them is not appetizing.

But chances are there's already something in your diet that would be gross if you weren't used to it -- aren't lobsters basically sea bugs anyway? So if you can find a way to get over that mental block and make those bugs appealing -- as cultures around the world have been doing throughout history -- you might be ready for the Snowpiercer dystopia that lies ahead.

With that in mind, you can buy a bucket of crunchy dried grasshoppers to start experimenting with cooking. And, while not as inventive as Black Ant's grasshopper-crusted shrimp tacos, these recipes for curried tempura grasshoppers and Oaxacan chapulines tacos sound downright edible.

Hot Cocktails

hot toddy

Okay, this is hardly a new or a specifically New York trend, but with restaurants and bars moving outdoors in the middle of winter, people have been warming themselves with hot beverages. But there's nothing to stop you from bringing that heat home to enjoy a tipsy winter night on a balcony, rooftop, or fire escape.

From hot toddies to hot buttered rum, spiked hot chocolate, and mulled wine, the possibilities are endless. A hot cocktail can be as simple as Irishing-up a cup of coffee, but we recommend getting your hands on some citrus peel and mulling spices -- cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice, stare anise, and nutmeg -- and start experimenting with some cheap red wine or apple cider spiked with your favorite brown liquor.

Travel Tips

Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

Hostelworld HostelworldHostelworld.com


A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.


A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!