Is NYC overrated? If you ask me, I will say NYC is not overrated. Absolutely not. It is one of the most amazing cities in the world.
However, as a native New Yorker who has called NYC home for most of my life, I admit I am biased about this great city.
New York City, often known as the Big Apple, has long been a favorite among travelers and tourists.
With its iconic skyscrapers, bustling streets, and countless attractions, it's hard not to be drawn to this famous city.
But is NYC overrated? This question has undoubtedly crossed the minds of many visitors and potential tourists debating whether to plan their next trip to this concrete jungle.
Here is the thing. Everyone will have their own opinions and experiences, both positive and negative. This is true about most of the great cities around the world.
While some firmly believe that New York City is not overrated and should be experienced at least once, others have a different stance, arguing that it's overhyped and can disappoint those with high expectations.
I get it. I totally agree. I sometimes have to ask myself, is New York overrated? But that is why I am sharing my experience, knowledge, and facts for you to consider when deciding whether or not to embark on your New York adventure.
Most major cities have their share of good and bad reputations, and NYC is no different. Most tourists will comment on the number of homeless people, the lack of central air in most living spaces, and the sheer number of people everywhere.
However, compared to other cities, New York City is a true gem when you really get to know it. Let's talk about the good, bad, and ugly in New York City.
Landmarks and Attractions
While visiting, you can take a ferry to the statue, walk through the bustling Times Square, or relax in one of the many parks like Central Park, Hudson River Park, or Prospect Park.
These attractions shouldn't be missed, but here is the other side of it. These places get so crowded. Most native New Yorkers will avoid these places because of the crowding.
However, it doesn't mean you should stay away. Instead, look for some alternatives.
For example, I love going to Brooklyn Bridge Park in the summer for fantastic sunset views of the NYC skyline (and fewer crowds). Check out some smaller museums like PS1 or the Tenement Museum on the lower east side.
That is the beauty of NYC. If it's your first time, hit all the big attractions and landmarks, but save a little time for all the hidden gems around the city.
Art and Culture
As a global hub of art and culture, New York City boasts many world-class museums, galleries, and theaters.
You'll find famous museums offering unparalleled collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can also experience Broadway shows, Off-Broadway productions, and a thriving music scene.
The downside to this is they can get expensive. However, don't let that stop you. Many museums offer free admission on selected days.
For example, did you know that the 9/11 Museum offers free tickets on Monday from 5:30 pm-7:00 pm? You can find more information about free tickets to the 9/11 Museum here. Admission to the Queens Botanical Garden is free Wednesdays from 3 to 6pm and Sundays from 9 to 11am.
PPP Tip: Looking for free museums in NYC. Just google the museum you're most interested in, and it is free to find the most up-to-date information about the museum you are most interested in.
New York City's food scene is a melting pot of global cuisine. From Michelin-starred restaurants to tasty street food, you'll find various options to satisfy your cravings.
You can spend your entire time just eating your way through New York. Start with New York-style pizzas and bagels, and then eat your way around the world in neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Italy, and Jackson Heights in Queens.
Try local favorites, like pastrami sandwiches at Katz, bread pudding from Magnolia Bakery, or cronuts in the west village. And let's not forget the rainbow bagel.
People will say NYC is expensive, and this is where it can be as expensive or cheap as you want it to be. Sure, if you're eating at one of our many Michelin Star restaurants, your budget may not go very far. If you are like me and are looking for cheap eats, there are plenty to choose from all over New York City.
In NYC, public transportation is an essential component of daily life. The subway system connects Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens, making travel across the city convenient, affordable, and relatively efficient.
While the subway can be crowded and have delays, it remains one of the best ways to get around and experience New York like a local. Familiarize yourself with the subway map, learn your train lines, and have a MetroCard handy.
And if the subway is not your jam, NYC has upped its games with bike paths everywhere. So if the weather is in your favor, grab yourself a bike rental or get a day pass for Citibike. It's one of the best ways to get around the city.
Population and Living Conditions
Living in New York City comes with its own set of challenges. As of 2020, the population is over 8.3 million people, creating a densely populated environment with high living costs and limited housing options.
While visiting, you may experience the crowds and high energy that is part of the city's charm, but just embrace it.
The Overrated Aspects of NYC
So fine. I have to admit. There is a reason why people will say that NYC is overrated. And I cannot disagree with those reasons. Because it is so true. There are plenty of things that we can do without.
High Cost of Living
When considering a visit to New York, you must be prepared for the high cost of living. You might think that has nothing to do with you as a visitor, but unfortunately, these high living costs get passed on through the cost of just being here.
From expensive hotels to pricey restaurants, you'll quickly realize that everything in Manhattan is overrated regarding cost. Not only is real estate famously expensive, but even enjoying a simple meal or indulging in the latest food trend can leave your wallet feeling lighter than you'd like.
That being said, where there is an overpriced burger, there is a spot right down the block with less ambiance and probably one of the best burgers you will ever have. You just have to be a little flexible and be on the lookout for the good spots.
You can definitely do NYC on a budget.
Tourist Traps and Crowds
NYC is home to some of the most iconic tourist destinations in the world, but unfortunately, that means you'll often find yourself in long lines and dealing with large crowds.
While visiting these landmarks can be an essential part of your trip, be prepared to encounter many other tourists and the countless chain restaurants like Olive Garden and souvenir shops that tend to pop up around popular attractions like Times Square.
Check off everything from your NYC bucket list but don't forget to explore beyond the usual tourist spots to discover some of the city's hidden gems.
Weather and Climate
The weather in NYC can also be a downside, with humid summers and freezing winters.
Be prepared for sticky, uncomfortable temperatures and occasional thunderstorms in the warmer months. In comparison, the colder months can bring snow, ice, and biting winds.
Plan around the weather. Winter in NYC can be cold, but it is truly magical. There is so much to do.
The summer, while hot and steamy, gives you many opportunities to see NYC differently. It is also less crowded on the weekends as most people will head to the beaches on the weekends and summer holidays, leaving the city quiet. It is a real treat.
Just make sure to pack accordingly for the weather, and you will be just fine.
Challenges of Urban Living
Lastly, some of the challenges of experiencing urban living in NYC are worth mentioning. We New Yorkers deal with this daily, but it can be a bit of a shock if you're not used to urban living.
You'll likely encounter issues like crowded subways, rush hour traffic, and small spaces. The city is known to have a growing homeless population, abundant rats, and dirty streets.
Experiencing these challenges in New York is a given, and it's what gives it character, but it is hardly always a glamorous experience.
As you plan your trip to New York, be mindful of these overrated aspects and the city's many treasures. Setting realistic expectations allows you to make the most of your visit to the iconic Big Apple.
Comparing NYC to Other Cities
When considering a trip to a bustling city, Chicago can be a fantastic alternative to NYC. You'll find various cultural elements, such as food, museums, and architecture, similar to those in New York.
As a traveler, you might appreciate the relatively less crowded atmosphere and a lower cost; however, nowadays, some places I've visited seem comparable to NYC.
But like in NYC, where you can go to the top of the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, Chicago's famous skyscrapers, including the Willis Tower, offer unique elevator experiences and stunning city views so it is a great alternative to NYC.
Los Angeles provides a different vibe from New York, with its sunny weather, laid-back lifestyle, and miles of coastline. It's the perfect destination for those craving film history, shopping, and natural beauty all in one place.
Also, LA's diverse food scene can rival NYC's, providing you with countless culinary experiences. Los Angeles might be perfect if you prefer a more relaxed urban environment with a mix of indoor and outdoor attractions.
Sometimes exploring what I like to call small big cities can provide you with unique and unforgettable experiences. These are smaller cities that have a big-city attitude. Here are some alternatives to consider:
- Austin: This lively Texas city offers a vibrant music scene, mouth-watering barbecue food, and plenty of outdoor activities. Austin's growing technology scene might also draw those interested in startups and innovation.
- New Orleans: Known for its rich history, jazz music, and delicious cuisine, New Orleans provides an excellent blend of culture and entertainment. The city's unique architecture and many festivals make it a must-see for travelers seeking something different.
- Nashville: If you're a fan of country music and Southern comfort, Nashville is the place for you. With its lively downtown area, historical sites, and numerous music venues, including the Hard Rock Café, Nashville offers an authentic taste of Southern charm.
When planning your trip, consider these alternative cities and choose one that best suits your interests and travel preferences.
The Beauty of NYC's Hidden Gems
While New York City is known for its famous attractions, such as Central Park and Broadway, it also offers a plethora of hidden gems waiting to be explored.
For instance, stroll down the quaint English-style Pomander Walk on the Upper West Side. Museums such as the Tenement Museum or the Museum of the Moving Image will give you a unique perspective on the city's history and culture beyond widely known establishments.
If you love theatre, check out the Off-Off-Broadway scene (not a typo. It is really called Off-Off Broadway).
Unique Food Experiences
One of the city's highlights is its diverse culinary scene, with hidden gems offering unique food experiences.
From secretive speakeasy-style bars tucked away behind seemingly ordinary walls to flavorful international dishes at hole-in-the-wall restaurants, your taste buds will never be bored.
Take advantage of food tours, or simply wander some of NYC neighborhoods known for their culinary treasures, such as Jackson Heights, Flushing, or Astoria.
In addition to the amazing parks and museums throughout the city, some off-the-beaten-path adventures await you.
Escape the hot summer days and crowded subway system by exploring less-traveled destinations like the Chinese Scholars Garden on Staten Island or visit the picturesque Wave Hill in the Bronx for stunning views of the Hudson River.
When the weather turns rainy, seek refuge in a cozy bookstore-turned-café or a quiet art gallery. New York City always has something new to discover, regardless of the trend or season.
In short, while popular attractions are undoubtedly enticing, NYC's hidden gems demonstrate that even more beauty and excitement can be discovered, enriching your trip and creating uniquely memorable experiences.
So as you plan your visit to the Big Apple, remember to keep an open mind and seek out these lesser-known attractions, food spots, and adventures. The city is full of surprises, and it's up to you to uncover them.
Green Spaces in New York City
New York City is renowned for its bright lights, bustling streets, and towering buildings. However, the city also has plenty of green spaces to relax and explore.
From large parks that cover acres of land to small hidden oases tucked away in the corners of neighborhoods, you're sure to find a spot to get away from it all for a few hours.
NYC's most iconic greenspace, Central Park, is a must-visit for visitors to the city. Located in Manhattan, this 843-acre park offers something for everyone with its picturesque lakes, lush lawns, and winding pathways.
From taking in the gorgeous views from atop Belvedere Castle to exploring the Conservatory Garden or Sheep Meadow, Central Park is perfect for an afternoon.
The High Line
This park in Manhattan has become a popular spot in recent years, offering stunning views of the city skyline along its 1.45-mile path.
The linear green space was built on an elevated rail line and is now a haven for walkers, joggers, and cyclists alike. You'll find plenty of art installations, performance spaces, and unique gardens along the way.
Located in Washington Heights on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Highbridge Park offers commanding views of the George Washington Bridge and the Hudson River.
This waterfront park features a playground for children, a pool, and sports fields. It also offers plenty of biking, running, and walking paths, perfect for an energizing outdoor activity.
This Brooklyn oasis was designed by the same landscape architects who created Central Park—Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux.
Prospect Park covers 526 acres with plenty of open spaces for picnicking, a zoo, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and Prospect Park Lake. It is also home to various wildlife, including ducks, geese, and turtles.
Van Cortlandt Park
The Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park covers 1,146 acres with meadows, forests, wetlands, and a golf course. It offers plenty of outdoor activities for visitors, including biking, running, horseback riding, fishing, and tennis. T
The park also has its own nature center where you can learn about the plant and animal life that call Van Cortlandt Park their home.
Is NYC Overrated: Frequently Asked Questions
Why is NYC so romanticized?
New York City has a long history of being portrayed as a magical place full of opportunities in movies, television, and literature. It's a global hub for culture, art, fashion, and finance, which is why many people find it appealing and romantic.
When you visit NYC, you experience the energy and vibrancy that has captivated millions worldwide.
Is living in Manhattan overrated?
Living in Manhattan can be exciting and challenging due to the high cost of living, small living spaces, and fast-paced lifestyle.
While some individuals thrive in this environment, others may find it less appealing. Your experience will largely depend on your personal preferences and lifestyle.
Is New York pretentious?
New York City has a diverse population with various backgrounds and interests. Some areas or individuals might come across as pretentious, but it's essential to remember that the city has something for everyone.
Be open-minded and explore the various neighborhoods and cultures to form your own opinions.
Is Brooklyn overrated?
Brooklyn offers more affordable living options than Manhattan, along with its unique vibe and culture. Whether or not you find it overrated depends on your preferences and expectations.
Like any other part of NYC, Brooklyn has its distinct neighborhoods, each with their own character.
Is life in NYC stressful?
NYC can be stressful for some due to the fast-paced lifestyle, high cost of living, and sometimes harsh urban environment.
However, you might enjoy living in New York if you find excitement and thrive in a bustling city. To manage stress effectively, it's essential to strike a healthy balance between work, social life, and downtime.
Do New Yorkers love their city?
Despite its challenges, many New Yorkers have a deep connection with their city. I know I sure do. We appreciate the diversity, endless opportunities, and never-ending things to do in New York.
It's common for NYC residents to have a love-hate relationship with NYC. Yet, we call it home for its unique character and energy that is hard to find elsewhere.
Why do people love NYC so much?
People from all over the world are drawn to New York City for various reasons. The city has endless possibilities and opportunities, making it an exciting place to live and visit.
With its diverse culture, vibrant nightlife, iconic attractions, and unique neighborhoods, NYC has something for everyone.
What city feels most like NYC?
Some cities that feel most like NYC are Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Boston. These cities have their own distinct personalities yet share a similar energy to New York City. They also each have unique attractions and offer exciting experiences for visitors.
Is living in NYC exhausting?
Living in NYC can be an exhausting experience depending on the individual. The city is fast-paced and bustling, so finding a balance between work, social life, and downtime can be difficult.
It's essential to take time for yourself and ensure you are taking care of your mental health. Healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise and eating right can also help reduce stress.
Is New York overpriced?
New York City can be considered overpriced compared to other cities in the US. Still, it's important to consider the cost of living in each city. For instance, while rent may be expensive in NYC, cheaper options are still available if you look for them. Additionally, New York offers many free activities and attractions that can help keep costs down.
Is New York City Overrated?
New York City is not overrated. If you ask me, NYC is an incredible city. But, of course, I am biased.
New York's vibrant mix of culture, art, fashion, and finance captivates millions worldwide. Whether you find it exciting or challenging depends on your preferences and lifestyle.
With its diverse population, unique neighborhoods, and endless things to do in the city—there's something for everyone in NYC.
So if you're looking for an unforgettable experience full of surprises, pack your bags and explore the Big Apple! Don't forget to keep an open mind, as plenty of hidden gems are waiting to be discovered along the way.