6 Reasons NYC Is the Most Overrated Vacation Destination
Calling tourist traps overrated is kind of like calling tacos delicious -- it's something we can all agree on. And yet, millions of people are seduced by the lure of "thrilling," "once-in-a-lifetime" experiences, flooding on-trend locations, filling city coffers, and making locals want to destroy the things they love just to keep them out of the hands of wide-eyed, street-clogging, sidewalk-hogging morons.
"Has this bridge always been here?"
For the sake of our sanity, we New Yorkers hope this list will help to deter, even the slightest bit, this yearly influx of brainlessness. We're still happy to take your money -- about 30 percent of us have had to sell body parts to continue existing comfortably in our chosen money-pit of a city -- but maybe just experience New York virtually? I promise it's not going to be as great as you're expecting anyway, and that will be completely your fault. Why? Because, instead of doing fun New York things, you'll want to do corny and ultimately boring nonsense, at which point you'll discover ...
The Statue of Liberty Is Way Smaller Than You Realize
The Statue of Liberty. Few U.S. landmarks hold such a hallowed place in red-blooded American hearts. Beloved movies from Ghostbusters to Superman to The Godfather celebrate and reinforce our rabid devotion to this untarnished symbol of freedom, democracy, and the beautiful dream that our country will one day be transformed into a Lord of the Rings set with towering avatars watching over us with stern and judgmental faces.
Hey! Get some torches in those hands!
These movies also demonstrate a critical flaw in our perception of this beloved statue. As with many things near and dear to us, we've made Lady Liberty much larger than life.
Don't believe us? Google "Statue of Liberty smaller than I expected" to see what we mean. We simply can't handle the idea that the statue isn't that impressive in reality, and rely on the holy media data-mongers to shield us from the truth. It's already on record that, in the movie Cloverfield, they actually increased the size of her head by 50 percent because people were miffed by her unassuming presence.
Another great example is the cover of Escape From New York.
Whoa, that does look like 1997!
Look how tiny the people in the background are compared to the enormous, blank-eyed face of the Lady. Based on the scale, you'd think the head was at least 70 feet tall and that the gargantuan statue towers over our fair city, twice as tall as the tallest skyscrapers. In fact, the head is only a measly 17 feet and change. If they'd drawn it correctly on the poster, you barely would have been able to see it past Kurt Russel's surly mug. Head taller than a brownstone? Try smaller than your average traffic light. The free-throw line on an NBA court is 15 feet from the hoop.
Full disclosure: this is not actual NBA footage.
There are countless professional athletes on this planet right now who, with enough of a running start, could just jump right over that dour face without so much as grazing a sole against her stony forehead. It's not as impressive as you're imagining it to be. The entirety of New York City promises you this.
Proposing at the Empire State Building Is the Opposite of Romantic
Accosting strangers is a thriving industry, and really not something you want to encourage. It's hard to walk past the Empire State Building without getting pressured into purchasing a ticket for the trip up, especially when you're displaying any signs of courtship with one or more members of your party.
In general, it's a good idea not to combine "strangers," "thrusting," and "things into your hands" in New York City. Especially as you have no way of knowing whether the friendly, energetic teenager is offering you an actual ticket or her latest alt-rock solo CD (note that acceptance of the latter without proper payment will result in the instant appearance out of nowhere of a crew of well-muscled handlers).
Hard not to be tempted, though, when beautifully dramatic and romantic images have been pounded into our heads by the media since we were young. Images of obsessively stalking a stranger you've become infatuated with after hearing him desperately attempt to fend off suicide-level insomnia and depression on the radio and getting his young son caught up in the action.
Or, you could "fall in love" with a stranger on a boat and decide you desperately need to find a way to somehow abandon the person you're in a relationship with, using the monument as a symbol of achieving your aspirations no matter how many people you have to screw over to get what you want.
But that doesn't stop would-be Hankses and Grants from using the spot over ...
... and over again ...
... to pop the question.
Which doesn't seem like the best of ideas. Do you really want to be on top of a very tall building when possibly receiving the biggest rejection of your life? It also makes the ESB a very fraught destination if you're NOT going to be popping that life-altering question. There's a list of famous landmarks that are pretty much off-limits to people in a certain stage of their relationships.
Here are some of the possible outcomes of taking a trip to the top with your SO in tow:
She thinks a proposal is forthcoming and inexplicably gives you the cold shoulder for the rest of the trip when no ring appears.
You do propose, and your significant other doesn't see it coming and gives a terrified "OK!" while being stared down by the crowds, only to book the first flight out of JFK to Tahiti the next morning.
You want to get married. She wants to get married. Your proposal is joyfully accepted ... and then you get to kiss awkwardly in front of strangers, wait in line to leave with strangers, stand in an elevator with strangers, all asking you questions about the future functionality of your genitals.
Catching a Broadway Show Is a Gigantic Ripoff
New York is THE destination if you're mentally stuck in the '50s and for some inexplicable reason feel the need to go to an actual place and watch actual people walk around in real time on a tiny stage far away from you, as opposed to consuming entertainment in the comfort of your own home like anyone who no longer gets Internet through a hard-wired phone line.
"But, famous people!" you may protest. Yes, Broadway has always had some pretty big stars and has seen a recent influx of household names.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you who this is, for example!
Is it really worth the astronomical cost, though? The average cost of a Broadway ticket has recently rocketed past $100. For that price, you can enjoy a fancy dinner, or at least two cocktails in your average NYC bar.
And what are you actually paying for? This site lists more than 200 Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway shows that are practically within easy travel distance of the Great White Way (which would more aptly be named the Great Gritty and Gray Way Full of Pickpockets and Buskers). You can get into many shows in the city for free, or at most the cost of a hipster beer can of your choice -- may we suggest PBR?
Of course, you could also stand in the TKTS line ...
... provided that's the only thing you want to do with your entire day.
Central Park Is a Disgusting Place for a Stroll
Who wants to spend the day's bar budget on rowing yourself across a terrifyingly stagnant cesspool? Plenty of people, it turns out. You have to stand in line to get on line to be in the line you're supposed to be.
But even if you somehow manage to convince the significant other you hopefully didn't propose to not to spend hours getting sunburned and bitten by West Nile-infected mosquitoes (another one of the city's lovely attractions), it's not going to be all sunshine and rainbows.
For example, don't plan on evacuating your bowels anytime soon. Central Park is home to some of the worst bathrooms in the city, possibly having to do with the sheer volume of urine and feces flowing through the piping on a daily basis.
Most of which is corrosively poisoned with the rancid oils and fetid meats of any random street-vended substance that can pass for "food." Trust us, those carts have the mobility to avoid the near-omniscient Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for long enough to sell their wares to a never-ending flood of mouths hungry for something that doesn't cost $20 per plate plus exorbitant NYC tips. Don't be one of those hungry mouths. You will regret it dearly.
The Stores in Times Square Are the New Muggers
New York is known for its "energy." This amorphous quality is what keeps people paying through the nose for shoebox apartments. They just can't get over the drug-like hook.
Part of that thrill is a sense of danger, not knowing exactly what to expect. Sure, no one specifically chooses to go to a city to get cat-called, mugged, or kidnapped by runaway subway trains, but it does make for a good story.
In the 1960s, the heart of Times Square -- 42nd Street between 7th and 8th -- was labeled as "the worst block in New York City." An influx of sex shops due to rezoning, coupled with one of New York's busiest transportation hubs and an overtaxed police force led to the development of a thriving nest of dirty chaos.
This is as close as photographers were comfortable with getting to the area back then.
What better way to absorb that energy than by whipping out your wallet? Everyone wants to take home a piece of New York -- the weirder, the better. Times Square in its heyday was a place where anything could be had for a price -- entertainment, physical stimulation, newly discovered and terrifying sexual diseases.
It was like the seedy underbelly lurking in the alleys and across the tracks became the seedy underbelly right smack in the middle of where your Average Joe has to ride through to work every day.
All that gloriousness ended when Rudy Giuliani instated a zero-tolerance policy against crime in the '90s, as illustrated in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. "Cleaning up the streets" was probably a good thing, in retrospect, with fewer people getting murdered and robbed and a slight reduction in the stench of the subway system, but it also led to the Disneyfied Times Square we have today.
There is literally a Disney Store right in the middle of it.
So now you can come to Times Square to pay full retail at the same giant chain stores that you'll find in every city. The real NYC is many things, but a playful, soap-clean, magical wonderland is not one of those things. Please, just have some self-respect and stay home if you have nothing better to do than support organizations of mass-consumption that are the antithesis of everything that New York stands for.
The Pizza Isn't Anything Special
It's a New York tradition! There's something mythical about the pizza joints here, something beyond legend that turns simple crusts covered in tomato sauce and cheese into mouth-watering, life-altering gems that tantalize the taste buds and tempt us to change our religions.
You know what else is a New York tradition? Ripping off tourists and squeezing every last cent out of popular trends. There are more than 1,500 pizza places in NYC, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Statistically speaking, they can't all compete for the title of Best New York Slice. Speaking from experience, most of them aren't fit to carpet the floor of the room that holds the award.
How great would pizza carpet be, though?
If you have had really good pizza, chances are it's because you were drunk and nothing else was open at 4 a.m. The problem is, pizza is easy, and most everything else in New York is hard.
Instead, skip the pizza and eat something you can't get anywhere else like Szechuan or Indo-Mexican fusion. If a niche restaurant can make it in the city, competing against the ever-evolving desires of a people steeped in novelty, it's got to be good. Or it's just a failed letter grade away from getting shut down. Either way, it's an experience, right?
For more from Emma, check out 5 Movie Romances That Won't Last (According to Science). And then check out 14 Tourism Ads For Destinations Nobody Wants to Visit.
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