50+ Things About New Yorkers and How to Act Like One When You’re A Tourist

Here are a few things about New Yorkers that might surprise you and how you can act like one if you’re a tourist.

how to act like a new yorker

Having lived in New York City for more than half my life, there are a few tips that I can share. New Yorkers are usually considered rude and inconsiderate, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We are the sweetest set of folks that you will ever come across and prefer to keep it real, because we really don’t have time for bullshit. As we like to say, we keep a hunnid.

So if you’re a tourist there are a few rules that we need you to follow so that you can keep things going and we can all go about our merry way, and you’ll have our gratitude forever, and ever-ever!

How to Act Like A New Yorker

1. Please Keep it Moving

Nothing annoys us New Yorkers more than tourists stopping in the middle of our path to take photos of the Empire State Building, Macy’s on 34th Street, Madison Square Garden, Times Square, and the countless other places that are tourist attractions, but we consider everyday places. Trust me, they’re still going to be there years after you’re gone, and you’ll come back again another day and see them, but we really need to make it to our destination.

2. Download the MYmta App

If you want to look cool and pretend to know where you’re going, the MYmta App is the official app of the New York Metropolitan Authority and the one you need. Available in both the App Store and Google Play Store, it will get you to where you’re going without having to ask a local. After all, it’s how we get around, by using the NYC transit. Or you can do it old school and request a map from any of the subway station workers.

3. Invest in Metrocard & Avoid Yellow Cabs

Now that you have the app downloaded on your phone, it’s your turn to ride like a local and take the bus or the train. But first, you’re going to need a MetroCard. It’s a staple in every New Yorkers’ wallet. New Yorkers very rarely take cabs. Not only can you get to your destination a lot quicker via mass transit, but cabs are expensive and New Yorkers are cheap.

4. Dress the Part

No New Yorker would be caught dead in an I Love New York tee, but it’s what tourists wear. Instead, keep it casual. Tees and shorts are fine, but please stay away from the vacation tees and flip-flops. And NEVER wear a fanny pack (a.k.a tourist belt).

5. Have a Game Plan When You’re in Central Park

Central Park is an outdoor world inside of the city. That said, things are a lot different there. First off, if you’re playing ball or frisbee, make sure it’s not on the path where people are trying to walk. Also, stay away from the horse carriages and avoid taking photos of people who are just trying to enjoy their day.

If you’re planning on seeing a concert at SummerStage, make sure to show up early. New Yorkers are the least patient people that I know, and if your plan is to wait for hours in line to get into Central Park it’s best you stay out. We like our own space and there isn’t much of it in NYC.

6. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings When You’re On The Subway

Even though some subway cars are air-conditioned, it’s still in the subway. As with Central Park, be mindful of where you’re going and what time it is when you come in contact with ‘the wild’. Also, if you’re on an F train (curse that train) heading to Brooklyn, know that it goes through Harlem faster than your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving dinner; so enjoy the scenery through the windows.

7. Don’t Try To Act Like A Local When You’re Speaking With A Local Shopkeeper

You can’t go to New York and not place yourself in shops to make friends, but don’t think because the person at the register is nice to you, that they’re ready to go home with you. New Yorkers are very friendly and very private, even if they seem like they want to be friends with you.

8. Be On Time For Things

New York thrives on deadlines and punctuality, so try your best to be on time or early for things. When attending events at the Brooklyn Brewery, it’s a running tradition we’re all late, but we’re never on time. And just to let you know, if you’re early and the event doesn’t start on time at Brooklyn Brewery: You were late.

9. Be Grateful For The Advice You’re Giving Us In Your Head

Don’t look at us to be offended when we say something that sounds like an insult. We mean it to be the opposite. If you hear any of these phrases coming out of our mouths, know deep down inside we really do love you:

“Don’t lose your head!”

“Take care of yourself.” or “Look out for number one.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.”

“Be careful out there!”

And if you hear us say “Who gives a fuck?”, know that we actually really do give a fuck. If it sounds like an insult to you, enjoy the free advice coming from our mouths. And don’t take everything so literal. We’re not from the South.

10. Be Aware That We Don’t Have The Time Or Patience To Explain Our Way Of Life To You

Just because we know how to navigate the subway, and we know where we’re going… don’t assume that’s it our duty to show you around town. New Yorkers are always willing to help, but at times we just don’t want the responsibility. So if you’re lost and you know it’s your fault, stay away from us. Don’t force your New York adventure on us. We know what we’re doing and we’ve got places to be!

11. You’re Taking Up All the Space on the Sidewalk.

New Yorkers walk around people instead of around them. We don’t care if you’re in our way, we’ll just push you to the side and then apologize when we’ve already passed by. So if you want to act like a New Yorker, take up as much space as you possibly can and always expect to be pushed.

12. Being On Your Phone 24/7 Makes It Look Like You’re Not From Here

Just because everyone’s on their phone doesn’t mean that they’re ignoring you or that they don’t care about what you have to say. We’re just keeping in touch with our friends or taking notes on where to go next. But, make sure you know what’s going on around you. If it looks like no one else is listening in your conversation, chances are someone is trying to hear what you’re saying! Be mindful of that even when it comes to phone calls.

13. Pack Your Bag Like A Pro

New Yorkers don’t have time to waste going through security. We’re too busy heading home after a long day or trying to get into our favorite club before it’s 2 am and they stop letting people in! So make sure that you pack your bag like a New Yorker to avoid wasting precious time.

When we travel we don’t like to take everything and the kitchen sink, and we regularly wash our clothing so we can do just that! So try sticking to a carry-on bag or backpack if possible to speed up your entry process.

14. New Yorkers Love Oysters And Wine (Well Some Of Us Do)

It’s a fact that New Yorkers need our caffeine fix, and we swear by it too. So if the line is long at your favorite coffee shop then chances are there’s a reason why people love going to that place. It doesn’t matter if you’re not into coffee or tea though, just remember where you are. Think about it as a cultural experience or something that you can tell your friends about when you get back home!

15. Our Bodies Are Sore From All The Walking We Do So We Need To Take A Breaks

New Yorkers are used to walking everywhere, even if the line is long at the subway station. They’re not trying to cut in line, but they just want to get home as quickly as possible. If you need a break then feel free to sit down and take one with us! You can also ask us where the nearest bench or subway station is if we look like we know what we’re doing. We don’t mind telling you!

16. Get Used To Riding The Subway Alone

If you’re not from New York then taking the subway by yourself is kind of scary at first, right? That’s normal and we get that! But trust us when we say that New Yorkers wouldn’t send tourists down into a new neighborhood if it wasn’t safe. So don’t worry about it and try to use the subway when you can. Why not add a few new stops to your trip? Plus, you might meet someone on your ride who’ll show you around!

17. Don’t Mind Our Tattoos Or Piercings

New Yorkers love going under the needle or getting a new piece of body art every once in a while. It’s not a tattoo or piercing that makes us New Yorkers though, it’s what we do with the ink. And don’t worry about taking a picture of our tattoos either! We usually want to be photographed and we love sharing them online on Instagram and Facebook too.

18. We’re Always On A Schedule

New Yorkers aren’t trying to rush you when you ask for the time, but we always know what’s coming up next. We have places to be and if it looks like you’re about to bother us then just move along! Don’t worry though, New Yorkers are nice people so chances are that they won’t be annoyed with you. We just need to get going, because we’re busy people and we don’t have time for small talk!

19. New Yorkers Are Always On The Go

We’re always running across the street trying to catch a cab, or biking around the city if we’re late for work so don’t worry about us honking at you! There are bound to be times when traffic is backed up and it’s your job to find another way around. New Yorkers don’t have time for that though, so just keep that in mind. We just don’t want to miss the next train, etc.

20. We Prefer Dogs Over Kids . . .

I know this might offend some people but I’m going to be real with you right now. New Yorkers love their dogs and hate kids. Well, maybe hate is a strong word but we’re just not as attached to them as other people are! Seriously though, if you see a dog then pet it and don’t worry about the owner getting mad at you. They’ll probably thank you for it, in fact.

21. You Don’t Need To Leave New York To Have A Good Time!

New Yorkers don’t need to go anywhere else when they want to have fun because there’s always something going on in the city. Rooftop parties with DJs spinning your favorite jams are a complete norm, and you can catch us at comedy shows or stand up shows too. We even host big conventions that bring thousands of people into town! So don’t worry about finding something to do, just find out what’s going on right now in your neighborhood.

22. Do Not Take The Wheel

The only time you’re allowed behind the wheel of a car is to drop it off at valet parking because trust me, no one likes driving their cars in New York City unless they are from out of town themselves. New Yorkers love buses, subways, walking, and Citi Bikes, which are rent-able bikes scattered throughout the city. Citi Bikes are the best way to get around because you can leave them at your destination instead of having to park it yourself.

23. Know Where You’re Going Or Ask A Local

If you’re lost and don’t know where you’re going, ask someone on the street. Not only is it easier than calling for directions, but New Yorkers are also always happy to help. You can also use free WIFI or look out for the nearest Apple Store, because if your phone dies… you’re screwed.

24. Don’t Bring Your Car To New York City (Unless You Are Using Valet)

It’s the city that never sleeps and we really don’t have time for your car. We prefer to take public transportation or walk everywhere no matter what! It is likely that your car will get towed, so you should avoid this at all costs.

25. Wear Sunglasses When The Sun Is Out

We do this because we have to. The bright sun can be an annoyance and it’s a cool thing to do… at least, that’s what we think. It hides our tired eyes from lack of sleep, stress from work and hangovers from the night before.

26. Read The Newspaper

New Yorkers read newspapers because we want to know what’s going on in our city and around the world. We usually get them from a sidewalk vendor or at our local bodega but sometimes, we just go online and catch up with what’s happening online.

27. Forgive Those Who Break The Rules And Help Them Out

New Yorkers are famous for being rude and impatient, but we do this to keep moving. Seriously it’s a bad habit that we need to break… But you’ll most likely run into at least one New Yorker who breaks the rules. Forgive them because they really don’t like their jobs at tourist attractions either, and help them out with directions.

28. Be Cautious Of The Bags You Carry Around And Your Wallet

As an experienced New Yorker, you’ll start to notice that there are always people watching your every move and looking for an opportunity to steal from you. We’ve also paid the price of forgetting our wallets or leaving them unattended at a restaurant! Remember to keep an eye on your belongings and yourself.

 How to Act Like a New Yorker as a Tourist

29. Always Carry A Wallet, No Matter How Much Money You Have

Yes, this is ironic, but not all New Yorkers are rich… We have student loans to pay off, so we can’t be carrying around big bags of cash. We usually carry around our MetroCard, iPhone (with headphones), wallet, and keys in the pockets of our skinny jeans… But because we’re poor, we can’t afford to buy real wallets (jk).

30. Have A Credit Card To Pay For Things When You Don’t Have Your Metrocard/Wallet With You

Paying with your credit card is a lifesaver and New Yorkers always carry one around. Sadly, we’ve all been in situations where we don’t have our MetroCard or wallet on us and we need to pay for something… That’s why we keep a credit card in the back of our phones! However – you should know that many places in New York still don’t take credit cards, so be sure to always carry cash with you.

31. Wear Comfortable Shoes

New Yorkers are very stylish, but it’s rare for us to wear heels unless we are going out at night… Most of the time, running around the city all day can hurt your feet and cause blisters. We wear heels to work but we ALWAYS change into comfortable shoes after!

32. We Don’t Push People Out Of The Way When Walking Down The Street

We’re not aware of our surroundings when we walk because most of us are on our phones or listening to music with headphones in. We will probably bump into you so be aware of this when walking around.

33. We Always Keep Our Cool, No Matter What The Situation Is

New Yorkers are very laid-back and easygoing people. We’re chill with everything because we’ve seen worse! We can handle anything that comes our way – whether it’s an accident or a long line… But don’t get us wrong, if you piss us off, we will not be happy about it.

34. We Prefer To Have Many Connections With People

We have a network of friends that is constantly growing because New Yorkers have very busy lives. We always have new co-workers, classmates, and events to go to on the weekends… We’re always working on growing our network of people!

35. Be Aware New Yorkers Carry Umbrellas, Even on a Clear Day

When the forecast says 0% chance of rain, that means you’ll definitely see some umbrellas. You just don’t know when it’s going to rain. And if it does start raining and you’re not prepared with an umbrella… stay away from us. Don’t ask us why we carry them, we just do. But when we say something like “I hope it doesn’t rain,” and it starts to pour, you know you shouldn’t have asked that question!

36. We Hit The Snooze Button A Lot… And Many Of Us Aren’t Even Morning People

New Yorkers are not morning people so don’t be surprised if you see us sleeping on the subway or in our cars when we should be at work/school.

37. We Give Directions If You Ask But Only If You Need It

A New Yorker’s job isn’t to give you a tour of the city – it’s to help you get from A to B if you ask for directions, that’s it! Also, don’t be offended when we don’t give you directions, because we might be unhelpful sometimes.

38. We’re Cold-Hearted But A Lot Of Us Have Manners

New Yorkers can be rude people but as we’ve mentioned before – the majority of us have manners and we’re not cold-hearted! We will say hi to you and we might even smile at you if we’re in a good mood.

39. We Eat Late At Night, And Almost Never During The Day

This might be confusing because we’re always on the go and we’re often eating breakfast/lunch on the run… But that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy an evening meal! We always eat dinner late when we’re chilling at home or in our beds when we should be sleeping.

40. We Always Respect Our Elders

We might not have a lot of respect for other people but we always respect our elders! We will never talk back to someone who is older than us and we always give them the right of way on the street.

41. We Will Take Out The Trash If Someone Is Looking But Only If We See Something That Needs To Be Taken Out

We don’t like to take out the trash so we will only do it if we actually see something that needs taking out. You can also try giving us a dirty look for this to work but don’t be surprised if we just look back at you like “wtf are you trying to tell me?”

42. We’re Always Prepared For The Worst But We Hope That It Won’t Happen… Unfortunately, Our Expectations Are Realistic

New Yorkers are realistic people – we always expect the worst in anything because New York is filled with crime and it wouldn’t be right to go to dinner without an umbrella.

43. We’re Looking For A Partner In Crime, Not A Best Friend

We love meeting new people but don’t think you can introduce yourself to us and become besties in one day – that’s not how it works. We rather meet someone new, get to know them and let time guide our friendship.

44. We Have A Very Brief Attention Span And We Love To Be Distracted

We’re constantly looking for distractions so don’t be offended if we break eye contact with you. This is because we’re often not interested in what you have to say! But don’t worry – there are plenty of other things for us to look at…

45. We Will Push You Out Of The Way To Get Onto A Bus But Only If It’s Really, Really Packed

New Yorkers can be rude individuals but this is solely because we’re pushed around a lot. If you were in our position, you would probably be just as desperate to get on the bus.

46. We Will Give You A Suggestion Of Where To Eat If You Look Hungry But Only If We Are Not Pretending To Be Friends With You

New Yorkers love to give suggestions on where to eat/do anything in New York – it’s kind of a hobby. However, we can’t be friends with everyone so if you see us pretending not to know you – don’t expect us to give you any recommendations! We’ll pretend we don’t even know your name.

47. We’ll Get Angry At You If You Take Forever But Only In A Funny Way

New Yorkers don’t like being held up by people – especially tourists who have the tendency to take forever! This doesn’t mean that we hate you, it just means that you’re holding us up from our next destination.

48. We Speak Very Loudly And Some Of Us Even Sing Along To The Radio When We’re In Our Cars

New Yorkers love to sing even though we can’t carry a tune… But as long as you don’t hear it, everything’s alright! In fact, some of us tend to sing so loud that our windows might shatter – good thing we don’t do it often!

49. There’s Always Something New To See When You Find Your Place In The Big Apple

New York is a beautiful city filled with lots of attractions, culture and people from all around the world. You’ll never run out of things to do if you live here!

50. We’re Always In A Hurry To Get Somewhere But Only If There’s No Traffic

New Yorkers are impatient people so we would rather get somewhere fast than wait for too long – it’s just not in our nature. If there’s no traffic though, we can actually be quite patient.

51. We’re Always On A Different Subject And It Can Be Confusing

Don’t expect a New Yorker to follow a thread of a conversation with you – we’re too random for that! We tend to talk about multiple things at once and switch subjects quickly so don’t be surprised if you can’t catch up.

52. We’ll Do A Hell Lot Of Shouting While Talking On The Phone

That’s because we often pay more attention to what we’re doing rather than our conversation with the person on the other line – it’s just how New Yorkers are.

53. Enjoy The Streets & Avoid Casino’s

New York City is one of those places where you can literally do anything at anytime. There’s always something going on and there’s never a dull moment. So take some time out to sit in the park, eat street food, shop the flea markets, stroll down Broadway and pay homage to all of the colors, lights and sounds that NYC has to offer.

Tourists are drawn to the Brooklyn Bridge because it’s so iconic, but please avoid crossing over it on foot or by bike if you can help it. It’s one of the most dangerous bridges in the world because local bicyclists believe that they have the right of way, but do not. There are better ways to get a view of the New York City skyline and Brooklyn Bridge from above.

54. Eat Where The Locals Eat

I think you can figure out that if a restaurant or food truck has a line out the door, it’s definitely good. And you can’t always go by someone else’s opinion. Even if something looks weird to you, try it! New York City is home to some of the best food from all over the world from back from where your family comes from or just something that you’ve never seen before. But trust your judgment. If it smells good to you, then you’re probably going to like how it tastes!

55. New Yorkers Love Their Cool Stores Too Bro

New Yorkers are one of the most fashion-forward people in the world. So keep that in mind when shopping for clothes and shoes. Not only do we love to travel, we’re always up on the latest fashion trends and we like it when other people know about them too.

56. Get To Know The Locals & Surprise Them With Your English

Even though New Yorkers love to complain about tourists there’s a good chance that they live in NYC because of you. So it’s only fair to give us a break and respect our customs and language. And it might even be more fun if you get into the spirit of things.

We like learning new things and we especially love to hear about where you’re from. Learning a few words in the language of your destination really goes a long way.

So make sure to learn some local slang before visiting New York City, as it is quite different than what they speak back home!

Once you do that, come visit us. We could even show you a few places in the city that only a local would know.


New York City is one of the most exciting places on earth, so if you’re visiting us, don’t ruin it by acting like a tourist. Be yourself, and we’ll love you for who you are!

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