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NYC TAXI | © Kenny Louie
NYC TAXI | © Kenny Louie
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10 Culture Tips Only New Yorkers Would Know

Picture of Ashley Jones
Updated: 24 April 2017
The vast city of New York is hardly recognized as a simple city to navigate. It is incredibly easy for even the most experienced natives to feel a little lost at times in any of the five boroughs. If you are planning a trip or moving to the Big Apple, don’t go into it blind! These ten culture tips known only by New Yorkers will help you discover how to avoid committing the biggest faux pas!


Whether you live in the city or are just visiting, odds are you do not have a car and will be utilizing the intricate subway system to travel. At first, the subways can be absolutely daunting, but here are some tips to help you get the hang of it a little quicker. First, know the difference between the express and local trains, as jumping on an express train may not stop where you need to go. Second, understand the direction in which you are headed — know if you are headed uptown, downtown, or toward Coney Island. Otherwise, you may accidentally jump on a subway going the opposite way. Finally, never get in an empty train car (typically they smell) and always listen to announcements!

Orchard Street Coffee Shop | © Tanenhaus/Flickr
Orchard Street Coffee Shop | © Tanenhaus

Don’t Settle for Mainstream Coffee Shops

While large, mainstream stores are sometimes the draw for many travelers, never settle for ordinary when it comes to your coffee. Amazing individually owned coffee shops are abundant within the city. The beauty of non-commercialized coffee shops, aside from their always homey and artistically charged décor, is they make coffee the right way. The baristas take their time for each order by individually grinding the beans, frothing the milk, and using organic flavors. You will absolutely taste the difference.

NYC TAXI | © Kenny Louie/Flickr
NYC TAXI | © Kenny Louie

Know How to Taxi

The yellow taxi cab epitomizes the hurried hustle and bustle of NYC in art and in truth. While in smaller cities you have to actually call to order a cab, this is not the case here. In New York, you must know how to hail a cab. Although walking into the street near five-lane traffic may seem like the last thing you want to do, it is what must be done. Simply seek out a cab with the numbers above the car lit (if the lights are turned off, this means the cab is off-duty) and raise your arm to draw the driver’s attention. Know the exact address, including the venue’s ‘in-between’ avenues or streets. Finally, be prepared for some crazy cross-lane driving!

Suggested Prices at Museums

New York offers some of the finest attractions for art since it is home to numerous galleries and museums. However, the city can be quite expensive, and so you may find yourself cutting certain things off of your list. Luckily, those things don’t have to include some of the best, highly regarded museums. Thanks to charitable donors, many of New York’s museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, and the Whitney Museum of American Art all provide the opportunity for guests to pay their own price. Although they propose the ‘suggested price’ of typically $22-$25, you can pay whatever you have in your pocket! Be sure to do your research, as some venues only allow this opportunity during certain days and times.


Eating is arguably the greatest thing to do in New York City. There are too many distinguished and interesting food choices to even attempt to list. Unfortunately, everyone is aware of this. What everyone is not aware of is if you have a popular restaurant in mind that you wish to dine at on a particular night, do not wait until the night of or even the night before. Make your reservations at LEAST a week in advance, otherwise you’ll be eating from one of the food carts on the street.

NYC Eatery Hygiene Grade Pending | © Mike Licht
NYC Eatery Hygiene Grade Pending | © Mike Licht

Restaurant Health Ratings

When planning to go out to eat or simply picking a place on the fly, be sure you pay attention to the restaurant or bar’s ‘health grade.’ In New York, venues that serve food and beverages must display their sanitary inspection ‘grade’ somewhere within view in the storefront. Treat this like it’s school and aim for A’s!


Too tired to make dinner or even go out to eat? Seamless will solve all of your hungry, lazy needs. This app is a must have for all New Yorkers considering it is impossible to narrow down food options by yourself. After you download the app, enter your address and Seamless will determine all of the take-out restaurants in deliverable distance to you! From there, you can categorize your search, place your order, and your food will be delivered to your door.

Snow emergency? What snow emergency? –At the ethnic grocery store, all is calm, clean, beautifully colored, and fully stocked. | © anokarina
Fresh veggies | © anokarina

Grocery Delivery

Nothing is worse than diving head first into a crowded grocery store after a long day at work or adventuring. Grocery delivery has saved hundreds, maybe thousands of New Yorkers from walking absurd distances with heavy groceries in hand through all kinds of weather. These delivery systems are awesome; the groceries tend to be cheaper than in-store items and most have no extra delivery charge. Amazon Fresh is highly regarded as a great grocery delivery service.

Hey! Look at us! | © Guilherme Nicholas
Hey! Look at us! | © Guilherme Nicholas

Street Savvy

New Yorkers are always on the move, so being street smart is key to avoiding angering natives. One of the worst things you can do on the already over-crowded streets is to simply stop. It halts pedestrian traffic and causes chaos. If you need to look up directions or want to take a picture, roll with traffic until you can find an empty spot that is out of the way to do so! It is also discourteous to walk in a straight line across the sidewalk with your group — be sure to move over to allow two-way traffic.

Travel on Weekdays, Avoid Holidays

To the dismay of New Yorkers, the city is absolutely insane on weekends, particularly in the summer and around holidays. Times Square becomes the most frenzied place on earth, subways are packed, lines for tourist attractions are impossible, and prices for travel surge. Although the weekends in the summer are easiest for travel in terms of time off and weather, a trip in the fall or winter during the weekdays will save you tons of money and sanity. And while New Year’s in Times Square may be on everyone’s bucket list, New Yorkers flee the city for the event. Make sure you do your research for holiday travel!