New York City is full of adventure.
Around every corner, there’s something to see, something to do, and even something to eat.
The five boroughs are full of excitement and wonder.
I mean, there are hundreds of songs written about this city that never sleeps. And, more than 8,600,000 people live across this 300 square mile spit of land.
That ought to tell you something.
If you’ve never stepped foot inside this bustling city, I’m sure you can still imagine what’s it’s like to walk down the infamous streets, taking in the sights, smells, and scenes.
You pull from those very same songs and those famous movie scenes. You can probably even picture 5th Avenue which Carrie Bradshaw carrying her half a dozen shopping bags.
But, New York City is so much more than Central Park, Times Square, and the Statue Of Liberty.
That’s the New York City for tourists. It’s the bright lights and the smell of hot dogs and the sound of honking taxis. Which, fun fact, is actually illegal and can cost people a fine of around $350!
But, when you explore NYC like a local, you see and experience so much more.
You become one with the city. You really get to see its heart and its soul.
There’s a sense of belonging that comes from the city that you just can’t shake. But, it is so worth it. You can make friends, find your passion, and even find your partner in this vast city.
As a first-timer to the city, you might really be itching to see the bright neon signs of Broadway, but I urge you to steer clear.
Instead, you should take the time to explore NYC as a local would.
From heading out to Dyker Heights to see some real NYC Christmas lights to hunkering down in an underground bar, NYC’s top local haunts are well worth a visit.
And, here are 13 reasons why.
1. It’s More Authentic
When you take the time to explore NYC as a local, you really understand the city more.
You learn about its culture — and the changes that occur even as you walk just one or two blocks in any give direction.
There’s more authenticity to New York City when you explore it the way a local does. It loses the bright commercialism that’s plastered across television screens. It loses that twinge of unnatural and surreal.
When you take the time to visit NYC like a local, you understand what the city is truly all about.
2. It’s More Fun
Not only is the local side of NYC more authentic and cultured, but it’s definitely more fun too.
For starters, you won’t end up in tourist traps surrounded by other, naive tourists. You’ll be partying with the rest of us New Yorkers. And, we can definitely show you a good time.
Skip the ordinary and the mundane for something more exciting. Ditch Central Park and head out to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for a summer Concert.
Hike up to the Cloisters in Washington Heights for a truly remarkable museum experience.
And, prepare to be amazed.
3. It’s Way Cheaper
New York City is expansive as hell. That’s true regardless of where you go.
But, what I can say is that when you travel like a tourist, you’ll end up spending hundreds, if not thousands, more than you would otherwise.
That’s because you get stuck in the popular spots where restaurants, bars, attractions, and even street vendors jack up their prices cause they know you’re going to pay.
Also, did you know that most museums in NYC are donation-based, so you don’t even have to pay those suggested amounts?
Locals know those little tricks of the trade.
4. You Feel Like You Belong
New York City is a big, loud, and sometimes scary place. It’s easy to get lost in the masses. It’s easy to feel like you don’t belong.
But, the best part about NYC is that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is trying to figure out who they are and what the world has in store for them.
When you explore NYC like a local, you can connect with individuals that share your interests, your hobbies, and your beliefs.
You can truly connect on a human level. And, that makes you feel at home.
5. You Get To Learn A Lot About Yourself
Traveling itself helps you learn a lot about who you are as a person.
But, when you travel in NYC, that introspection increases ten-fold.
Wandering down the narrow, cobbled streets, eating at the quiet holes-in-the-wall, and drinking coffee at a local coffee shop all give you a lot of time to think and reflect.
You learn more about the world and your place in it. You get a sense of calm and understanding.
And, it comes when you least expect it.
6. It’s More Peaceful
There’s no doubt that NYC from a local’s perspective is much more peaceful than it is from a tourist’s perspective.
That’s because locals tend to shy away from the glitz, glam, and obnoxiousness of popular tourist spots.
Of course, Broadway, Times Square, and Macy’s all have their time and place. But, most days, locals never step out of their neighborhoods let alone into these hot spots.
And, that fosters a sense of peace and tranquility. There’s a calm and quiet routine to it — the coffee shops, the wine bars, the art galleries.
It takes your mind away from the stresses that lie outside of the city limits.
7. You Get To See Spots You Never Thought You Would
NYC is full of secret spots only the locals know about. These include secret speakeasies, libraries, parks and more.
When you explore the city like a local, you’re privy to this inside information. And, it gives you access to hundreds of places you never thought you’d see.
I’m talking waterfalls, tiny houses, beautiful greenery and more.
Whatever strikes your fancy, you can find it in NYC if you know where to look.
8. It’s Less Crowded
This one is probably pretty obvious. But, while NYC is a highly-populated city, the tourist spots are definitely more congested.
When you get aware from the blaring sirens, brights lights, and yelling pedestrians, you’ll actually notice that the city feels more open, empty and relaxing.
Streets can actually fit a few people in a row even! Who’d have thought?
If you detest large crowds, and that’s what has stopped you in the past from visiting, don’t let that fear hold you back.
There’s actually a calm, tranquil emptiness that comes from the lack of crowds you’ll encounter the more local you explore.
9. You’ll Get To Hear Amazing Stories
New Yorkers love telling stories. So many have lived such interesting lives — it’s hard not to get captivated by a story you hear at a bar or cafe.
Exploring the city with a local is a great way to take in the culture and learn things about people you never thought you would.
You’ll hear some pretty entertaining tales, some sad stories and some truly head-tilting talks that will have you on the edge of your seat in anticipation.
10. It’s Freeing
When you visit NYC as a local, you’ll instantly feel a weight lift itself from your shoulders.
When you ditch the traditional and the iconic for the quiet and the secluded, you’ll feel a sense of freedom you’ve never felt before.
In New York City, you can be whoever you want to be and feel whatever you want to feel. That’s the beauty of this place.
And, it’s something you can only experience if you step into a local’s shoes.
11. You’ll Get To See New York As New Yorkers Do
New Yorkers love their city. It’s where they’ve grown. It’s where they thrive.
And, it’s their home — and when you travel like a local, you’ll understand what that means.
New York City isn’t this loud and annoying place. It’s not a city with celebrities on every corner. It’s not something that takes something from you.
NYC is a place that gives you a purpose and makes you feel like you matter.
12. You’ll Realize New Yorkers Are Actually Nice
There’s definitely a stigma out there that New Yorkers aren’t nice. Business Insider even conducted a survey that seemed to prove it.
But, the reality is much different.
When you visit New York like a local, you learn that New Yorkers themselves aren’t rude at all. They are some of the kindest, funniest and most caring people you will ever meet. They take the time to listen and offer sage advice.
You can’t get that anywhere else.
13. It’ll Make You Realize You Never Want To Leave
Lastly, the 13th reason you should explore NYC like a local is that it’ll make you realize you never want to leave.
NYC is the city of dreams. It’s full of hope and happiness and wonder.
It’s home for so many. And, after a few days of living like a local, you’ll feel at home like the rest of us.