5 Worst Places to Visit in NYC

Some people rave about New York City. Others wouldn't be caught dead here. The zipping, zooming, high-energy capital of the developed world isn't for everyone. But I'm here to tell you that these two perspectives don't have to be mutually exclusive. The world really does operate in shades of gray, and possibly even more than fifty at a time. And New York can be both the best place on Earth, and the worst. In light of that, here are some of the worst places to visit in New York City.

Times Square
I shudder as I write the name. To residents of NYC there are two separate New Yorks — one where tourists scramble to spot famous landmarks and munch on overpriced street meat; and the other where real people live and go about their business. Times Square is most certainly the former. It's a shining example of national capitalism gone wrong, and a beacon of consumerism beaming unabashedly into the night sky. If aliens are observing Times Square from another planet, they better have compensation programs for anyone blinded by the light reflecting off of all the five dollar key chains hanging in every window. Residents of the city share a special understanding of the square — a moment we all experience while sitting amidst the hustle and bustle, listening intently to the cacophony, fighting desperately to maintain a sense of inner peace. It's a fun game we play. But this dark side test is about the best the four-block area has to offer people who know better. See it once, then move on — forever.

High Line Park
Once on the list of best places to visit in NYC, the High Line has, for all intents and purposes, become completely and irrevocably broken. When the first stretch of park was built atop a railroad bed in the Meatpacking District, the High Line was a studied example of successful urban architecture. One could walk among a coveted swath of green space and commune with artificially-implanted natural surroundings. Visitors could even observe, at certain points, the excited clamor of tenth avenue below. Since the third section opened in 2014, increasing development and tourism have rendered the park more of a curiosity than a legitimate destination. High-rise condos have sprouted up on both sides of the railway, bathing the park in shadow and turning it into a depressed tunnel of consumerism. Visitors shuffle along single-file through vast stretches of the park, passing food vendors and making awkward eye contact with tenants of new construction who apparently don't subscribe to the theory of window dressings. With the new #7 train station at Hudson Yards up and running just a block away from the northern end of the High Line, it'll be a miracle if anyone can steal a peaceful moment in the park again.

Ray's Pizza
If you're wandering down the block and find yourself in the mood for real New York Pizza, and you pass a sign for Ray's, Famous Ray's, Not Famous Ray's, Original Ray's, Ray's Original, World-Famous Original Ray's, or any other variant of Ray's, remember to channel your best Nancy Reagan impression and just say no. Ray's is tourist pizza, and the only thing legitimate about them is that they cost almost as much as a month's rent in the city. There's a wealth of real pizza in New York, including famous locations like Lombardi's and Di Fara. Pizza is so good here that New Yorkers will also go for dollar slices at 2 Bros Pizza over almost anything else.

Herald Square
Herald Square is the indisputable demon king of squares. There are several things working against it, all across the board. Impossibly crowded at all times of day, it's a hub of transportation, shopping, and business. Macy's, H&M, Uniqlo, Victoria's Secret, Steve Madden, the Manhattan Mall, and more all lay claim to the small stretch of urban landscape, summoning shoppers from all corners of the metropolis. Worse yet, the Empire State Building and other famous landmarks are a stone's throw away, and tour groups swarm through the square on a regular basis. If you end up here, you'll observe shoppers dodging suits, suits dodging tourists, and tourists dodging subway-goers just looking for a ride home. All while dodging each and every one of them yourself, often unsuccessfully. The worst part of Herald Square is that, unlike Times Square, residents can't simply abandon the site to tourists, because the cluttered office buildings are home to many of the businesses that keep New York thriving.

Pennsylvania Station
Just west of Herald Square lies the most treacherous hive of scum and villainy in all of transportation history. It's loud, crowded, inconvenient, and awkwardly designed. And God help you if there's a game going on upstairs at the Garden. If you have to travel somewhere outside of the city, use any means necessary other than those offered here. Cabs, bicycles, pack animals, or whatever else you can get your hands on. If you happen to be a wizard, consider flagging down those magic eagles, instead of waiting the entire movie series to use them.

Kevin Lankes is a freelance writer and author of four books who's lived in four out of the five NYC boroughs. He's toured the country, lived on couches, joined secret societies, and survived cancer. Kevin has credits in a variety of outlets and publications, and provides content to corporate clients and individuals alike.