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5 Reasons to Avoid Times Square in New York City

You likely have a pretty long must-see list if you are heading to the Big Apple. You have so much to do and see in New York City that you can’t get it all done in one trip. While many of the city’s attractions are worth the hype, a few seem to be little more than a tourist trap.

Before you carve out time to visit Time Square on your next New York City itinerary, you may want to avoid the areas of the city altogether. 

Today, we’re sharing five reasons you should avoid one of the most popular tourist spots in New York. Let’s dive in.

What Is Times Square? 

Times Square is the area at the junction of Broadway, 42nd Street, and Seventh Avenue. In all, the area encompasses five blocks between 42nd and 47th Streets. It is a major commercial intersection and well-known tourist destination. 

Additionally, it is one of the busiest pedestrian areas in New York City and the world. Times Square sees around 50 million visitors each year, or approximately 330,000 people per day. 

What Is Times Square Known For?

While you’ll see many iconic sights and happenings in Times Square, it’s most known for the New Year’s Eve ball drop. Over 1 million people pack into the area to ring in the new year and watch the ball drop.

Times Square has been a part of American pop culture for decades. The flashy billboards and bright lights seem as if a marketing department turned the dial to 11 to make sure they capture everyone’s attention. The site has hosted many TV shows and movies, and photographers have documented it for decades.

Why Do Locals Hate Times Square?

Times Square has huge crowds, and locals (and even many tourists) feel it is gimmicky. Mostly, the only people who go to Times Square are visitors, which means you won’t get an authentic local experience. 

Many locals don’t feel that Times Square well represents the city that they love. You won’t find their favorite restaurants and shopping spots here. When you live in a tourist city, you tend to avoid places overrun with outsiders who just want to snap pictures and move on. 

Pro Tip: Skip Times Square and head to Central Park instead. Before you pitch your tent, find out Is Camping in Central Park Okay?

Crowds walking in Times Square
Expect mass crowds while in Times square.

5 Reasons to Avoid Times Square

Many tourists make their way to Times Square and are satisfied with their visit, happily checking it off their bucket list. The glitz and glamor can be enamoring, but not for everyone. Let’s look at a few reasons you may avoid Times Square. 

1. It’s Overly Crowded

Times Square isn’t exactly a quaint little cove in the city. Times Square is buzzing with activity 24 hours a day. Take a look at one of the live webcams, and at any given point, you will see crowds of people seemingly everywhere.

You have little breathing room with what feels like wall-to-wall people. This may feel especially frustrating on those hot and humid summer days. If large groups of people moving in all directions give you some anxiety or make you slightly uncomfortable, you’ll likely want to beeline it out of the area. 

2. It’s Full of Tourist Traps

Times Square is one big tourist trap. You won’t find many locals strolling the area in their free time. Those in Times Square are either there to work or as tourists. Those looking to make a buck know this and will happily take advantage of tourists. 

Want a picture with a random costumed character? You’ve got it. And after you’ve snapped your picture, you’ll need to pay. Many people sell CDs, DVDs, and other media for a great price, though those disks are often blank or illegally produced. 

3. The Shops are Pricey

Times Square isn’t the place to get your souvenirs. Vendors know that visitors get caught up in the excitement of finally making it to Times Square, and in that excitement, they fork over a pretty penny for standard souvenirs.

Tourists often think they will miss out on taking home a piece of memorabilia if they don’t snag it right then and there. However, you can grab many of the same souvenirs for much less in other parts of the city. 

Woman smiling in Times Square for photo.
Beware of pick pocketers while taking your photos in Times Square.

4. An Increased Risk of Pick Pocketing

Unfortunately, costumed characters and t-shirt vendors aren’t the only ones after your money in Times Square. Like all other cities, NYC has its fair share of dishonest people looking to take advantage of you and steal. Because Times Square is crawling with people, you may not even notice someone casually bumping into you until you reach for your wallet and realize it is no longer there. 

Pickpockets know that you are distracted, taking in the sights around you, and use it to their advantage. Be aware of your surroundings and if you must keep a wallet or purse with you, keep it at the front of your body.  

5. Too Many Political Activists 

We’re all for people’s right to express themselves and their opinions, whether we agree with them or not. However, you likely didn’t come to Times Square to be inundated with political opinions thrown at you. Due to the influx of people passing through every day, organizations often feel they have a captive audience for their agenda.

This can completely ruin some people’s experience if they allow this sort of thing to get to them. If you think you’ll feel the urge to argue with others or are sensitive to the rally cries of someone pushing their cause, you might want to avoid Times Square.

If you experience aggressive political activists, simply keep your head down and keep moving. Refuse to engage with them, no matter how much you disagree.

Crowds walking quickly in Times Square.
Stay on alert and aware of your surroundings while visiting Times Square.

Is It Safe to Stay in Times Square? 

Any time you are in public, you risk coming into contact with someone who has ill intentions; it simply is a part of life. Sadly, some who visit the iconic Times Square will become victims of a crime. With that said, millions of people make their way to this famous location every year without incident.

You can decrease your odds of becoming a victim by being mindful of your surroundings, keeping your valuables safeguarded, and making smart choices. Generally speaking, fear for your safety shouldn’t keep you from crossing Times Square off your bucket list. 

Pro Tip: Want to explore more of New York? Check out these 5 Best Free Camping Spots in New York.

Is Times Square Worth Visiting? 

Times Square is a place that everyone should visit at least once to say they’ve been there. However, New York City has so much to offer in other parts of the city that we don’t recommend staying long in Times Square. 

You can better fill your time strolling through Central Park, trying unique foods from all over the world, and maybe even catching a show on Broadway. If you visit New York City and have a strict schedule, skip Times Square.

What’s your favorite activity to do while in the Big Apple? Tell us in the comments!

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