Avoid These Places in New York City

New York City is beyond a doubt one of the most exciting places to visit. It's dubbed 'the city that never sleeps' for a reason. You could spend a month in the Big Apple and still not see and do everything. So, when you are in Manhattan make sure you use your time wisely and get the most out of your trip. You don't want to get stuck in an expensive tourist trap that is overcrowded and overpriced, especially when there are other alternatives that you will find much more enjoyable and so will your wallet. Here are the five worst spots to experience in NYC.

Times Square

Yes, it's iconic and it's had a makeover that's made it a lot more family-friendly. However, Times Square is in reality a money pit of grossly expensive stores and one of the worst tourist traps in the city.

The last thing you want to do is be accosted by an overly aggressive Mickey Mouse or Elmo that forces you to pay for a photograph that you really didn't want in the first place. Even worse these days are the attractive ladies that want to pose for pictures with you. Of course, there's a fee involved, but the bigger problem is that they are only wearing body paint for a top. Sure, they cover their nipples, but is that really a conversation that you want to have with your kids?

NYC is full of fabulous neighborhoods to walk through that will give you the hum and feel of the city that never snoozes. A personal favorite is the Village.

Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center

The ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center is considered one of the most romantic spots in the city. Have a sweet skate with your significant other against the backdrop of the famous Christmas tree. It's a good idea in theory, but here are the facts.

A 90-minute skate at Rockefeller Center is extremely expensive. The wait time to hit the ice is also tremendously long. If you have kids, they will be done by the time you wait on line for tickets, skates and try to maneuver around the very tiny locker room to get your skates laced up. When you finally do get the opportunity to skate, you will be doing so with 150 other people. The area on the ice may look large on the television, but in reality it's not.

Absolutely, stop by the rink. It's a pretty sight to see. Walk around and take in the ambiance and snap some pictures. If you want to skate there are other options, McCarren Rink in Brooklyn, Wollman Rink in Central Park or the Winter Village in Bryant Park. The Winter Village is another small rink, but the skating is free. Yes, free. If you don't have your own skates, you can rent them for a fee that's actually not horrible.

A Pedicab Ride

Enjoying a rickshaw ride through the city while avoiding the crowded streets is another great New York story, however, it's another perfect idea in theory. For the most part, pedicabs are not regulated and sometimes tourists find themselves getting racked with an outrageous bill. Case in point is a couple that reportedly got a bill for more than $400 for a 12-minute ride through Manhattan. Oh yeah, they didn't read the fine print on the rate card about the $100 per person charge.

A better option is renting a Citi Bike or using your feet. While it's true the sidewalks are packed in many neighborhoods like along Fifth Avenue. However, it really is the best way to see a city. Of course, there's also the subway. The trains may not always run on time, but they will get you where you want to go and are fairly easy to navigate.

NYC Bus Tours

It is really hard to miss the bus tours when you are in the city. It's also hard to avoid the tour guides who get in your face and try to convince you to hop on board. Sure, it may be an easy way to see the major sights in the Big Apple, but the tours are expensive and you will most certainly be sitting in traffic breathing in bus fumes for a while. There's always traffic in the city, always.

Want to know a better way to tour the city? Take a walking tour. The walking tour of the High Line is a lot of fun. A personal favorite is a walking tour of Brooklyn's fabulous brownstones. You can even find a walking tour that shows you the city's best graffiti.

Central Park

Yes, it's another bucket list place for many. It's got a zoo, the Great Lawn, a lake and of course the skyline. However, it's also got crowds and a lot of them. You've got runners, bikers, skaters and walkers. If you're strolling through you will need to pay attention especially if you've got little ones in tow. More than one tourist has had a run in with a bicycle that didn't end well.

For a less crowded and equally beautiful option, head to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Both parks were actually designed by the same person. Prospect Park also has a lake and a mile-long meadow that's ideal for picnics.

A personal favorite is Bryant Park. It's tucked in the middle of the city, has an old-fashioned carousel that isn't overpriced and is right next to the New York Public Library.

Dawn Miller is a freelance writer and author. She lives in New Jersey and is a frequent visitor to NYC.