8 Ways New Yorkers Can Instantly Tell You’re a Tourist

by SharonKurheg

If you live in a tourist town for an extended period of time (hand raised – Central Florida for going on 21 years), you learn how to pick out the tourists. Here in Orlando, we can even usually pick out the Brits, just by looking at them! 😉 Of course, fair is fair…here’s how you can spot an American tourist from a mile away.

Heck, some tourist towns even have (sometimes not-so-nice) names for tourists (that they usually use behind their backs).

New Yorkers (full disclosure – before I became a Floridian, I was a native New Yorker, born and bred…or, if you prefer, “native New Yawka, bohwn ‘n bred”) probably could pick out where their tourists come from too, if they paid that much attention to them.

They don’t.

This isn’t to say that New Yorkers aren’t well aware of who’s a tourist. They are. That’s because tourists make themselves pretty obvious. 😉

What they wear

New Yorkers wear a lot of black and other very dark colors like browns and navys – especially in the winter.

Bright-colored coat in winter (except if it’s a kid)? Belly bag? Anything that says I ❤️ NY or NEW YORK CITY on it? Tourist.

Oh, and any sports jersey that isn’t a NY team? Tourist. 😉

How they walk

New Yorkers walk fast and keep their heads down.

Lollygagging on the street? Stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, so everyone has to walk around them, to check their GPS? Looking in awe at the skyscrapers? Tourist. 😉

Seeing celebrities

Because NYC is relatively small, and Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway and some TV shows are all in Manhattan, it’s not unusual to pass celebrities on the street, or to see them as a fellow audience member in a show.

New Yorkers take it all in stride, give them their space and privacy, and ignore them like they do everyone else. I’ve personally ignored Joy Behar, Jason Robert Brown, Robert DeNiro, Laura Benanti, Jackie Mason, Jeremy Jordan, Richard Thomas, Ben Platt, and a few other celebs whose names escape me. The only one I ever acknowledged was Ben Vereen…we were both in the audience of the same Broadway show and mistakenly made eye contact as we were exiting the theater. I smiled slightly and nodded. He did the same. End of interaction.

Tourists? They make a big deal out of these chance sightings. A lot of them stare, approach, ask for autographs, etc. Really y’all, they’re just people on their way to or from work, like everybody else!

Crossing the street

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the law technically says you’re not supposed to cross the street until the light turns green. New Yorkers don’t have time for that. If the coast is clean, and there are no cars coming, you go, regardless of what color the light is.

Tourists? They wait on the corner until the light turns green.

When it rains

You’ll never see a New Yorker with one of those big golf umbrellas. They know there isn’t enough space on the sidewalk for those.

See someone with a golf umbrella? Tourist.

The whole pizza thing

There are a few things that go on with the whole pizza thing:

What kind you get

We don’t care what you put on your pizza. It can be pepperoni, anchovies, pineapple, whatever. But if you’re getting Ray’s Pizza (or Rays. Or Ray’s Famous. Or ANY sort of pizza made by a guy – who most likely doesn’t exist – named Ray), we know that you’re a tourist, because only tourists eat at pizza places with the name Ray in them. They make crap pizza.

How you eat it

How you eat that triangle of pizza also counts. Knife and fork? Tourist. Flat? Tourist. Folding the slice down the middle, so you can let the excess grease escape from the tip? Much better.

Speed & Indecisiveness

New Yorkers are fast. They talk fast. And when they get to a place and have to order food or a drink or whatever it is they’re standing on line for, when it’s their turn, they know what they want and they say it quickly and decisively, to keep the line going. “Gimme a baconeggandcheeseonabagel, and a regularcawfee.” Done.

People won’t figure out what they want until it’s their turn? And then talk slow? And maybe change their minds? Tourists.

Going into an empty subway car

It’s a little less of an issue now, since less people are taking the subway. But New Yorkers know that if a subway car is empty, it’s for a reason. Maybe the air conditioning is broken. There could be some nasty bodily fluid in there. So they don’t go into those kinds of cars.

Tourists? “An empty subway car! YESSSSS!” (you’re welcome to get off at the next stop and switch cars. We won’t judge)

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Rob September 21, 2023 - 12:45 pm

Fanny pack = Tourist

You were off on the colors.

SharonKurheg September 21, 2023 - 12:47 pm

Fanny pack = belly bag. “Fanny” means something different in the UK and some of our readers are from GB.

derek September 21, 2023 - 12:49 pm

There’s no shame to briefly admire a building or ask for an autograph. In fact, there are professional autograph seekers in NYC that sell the autographs that they collect. Anthony Hopkins refuses to sign autographs unless he thinks you’re a fan.

SharonKurheg September 21, 2023 - 12:55 pm

You’re right, there’s no shame in either. There’s also no shame in waiting for a green light to cross the street, or eating your pizza with a knife and fork,

But in NYC, they all identify you as a tourist.

Joe September 21, 2023 - 1:22 pm

Haha, mostly correct except you forgot a big one: we don’t talk to strangers and any fool who bothers to talk to one is probably about to get scammed or hit on for some donation (legit or not). New yorkers just walk right by even if someone keeps talking.

SharonKurheg September 21, 2023 - 1:25 pm

LOLOL! You are 100% correct on that one! How did I ever forget it?!?!?!?!

chris September 21, 2023 - 1:47 pm

Aside from maybe a very specific thing like a Ray pizza deal, this list can pretty much id you as a tourist in any city in the world. lol

John B September 21, 2023 - 3:46 pm

I think the thing with the colors is changing, rapidly. At least it was when I worked in Manhattan. As New Yorkers become younger, more fashion forward, etc., they are embracing a lot more vibrancy and colors like white. There was still a lot of black and grey and navy, but I feel that is becoming somewhat passe. Of course in the heart of the theatre district I was interacting with a demographic that tended to be more fashion forward so maybe it doesnt hold out of midtown. That said, in the more ethnically diverse areas (esp Brooklyn) you would tend to see more fashion influence from folks home countries, so the color thing doesnt hold up there either. On the sports jersey front, I have to say that was also changing. As NYC attracts more and more folks not from there to live there, they bring their loyalties with them. Add in franchise logos that claimed a place in fashion (like the Bulls) and that too was a less reliable measure. Some ways we easily spotted them: sunburn in summer or under dressed for cold in winter, overwhelmed/lost/crying, talking to strangers, and for sure!!! the folks with the foam statue of liberty crown and torch they would wear and carry around. Bless their hears they cracked me up with that!


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