11 Shocking Places in New York That Tourists Should Avoid at All Costs

New York, the city that never sleeps, beckons with its promise of adventure and endless experiences for tourists.

But amidst the glittering lights and bustling streets lies a cautionary tale.

Many a traveler has stumbled upon misadventures, fallen victim to scams, and found themselves caught in the web of tourist traps.

In this city of infinite possibilities, even the savviest explorers can make grave errors in judgment.

Hence, we present our essential guide, a beacon of wisdom in the face of potential pitfalls.

We’ve meticulously curated a list of places that should be approached with caution or perhaps avoided altogether.

Consider this your essential guide on where not to go in New York as a tourist.

Preparation is your armor, so do your research (we will help you with that), plan your trip wisely (we will help you with that, too – our blog is your ally), and uncover the myriad other incredible experiences that New York City has to offer.

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Where not to go in New York as a tourist?

New York, a beacon of dreams and adventures, holds secrets beneath its dazzling veneer.

Amidst its iconic splendor, hidden dangers and scams lie in wait.

Let’s journey through the city’s shadows, where we reveal places and situations that demand your caution.

Also Read: 25+ Unique and Useful Gifts For Travelers

The Dark Side of Times Square

While Times Square may shine as one of New York City’s brightest tourist beacons, it’s crucial to remember that the glittering lights cast shadows too. 

Beneath the dazzling lights and bustling crowds, a word of caution is warranted for anyone venturing into this legendary heart of the city.

In this bustling district, the hustlers and hucksters are as much a part of the landscape as the dazzling billboards. 

Beneath the surface, you’ll encounter the murky world of scams and opportunistic thieves.

Amidst the glitzy exterior, you’ll also encounter a seedy underbelly of grungy taverns and questionable strip clubs, a stark contrast to the city’s glamorous reputation.

Beware of the semi-naked women strumming guitars in the middle of the road; their siren calls enticing patrons into dimly lit establishments. It’s a scene that can be both mesmerizing and concerning.

Even the cheerful, costumed characters that inhabit the Square have a flip side. 

While posing for photos with Elmo and Spider-Man might seem like a whimsical experience, don’t be surprised if some of them turn from friendly to ferocious when it comes to seeking tips. 

Caution is your best ally here; always establish the cost upfront to avoid any surprises in this vibrant but sometimes precarious corner of the city.

Troublesome Parts Of Bronx

While The Bronx boasts some of New York City’s most iconic landmarks, such as Yankee Stadium, the Botanical Gardens, and the Bronx Zoo, it also harbors pockets that tourists should approach with caution.

One such area is Morrisania, notorious for its high crime rate and extreme poverty. It’s a neighborhood where visitors are strongly advised to steer clear entirely.

Hunts Point, another part of The Bronx, holds similar warnings. Here, a harsh reality of high crime and rampant drug use pervades the atmosphere.

While it holds the distinction of being the world’s largest food processing marketplace, it’s not the ideal destination for seeking delectable cuisine.

Troubles Of Walking Along The Brooklyn Bridge

While the Brooklyn Bridge offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, it’s vital to heed the warnings. This bustling attraction harbors hidden dangers.

Pickpockets thrive in the crowds, vanishing into anonymity. Heavy congestion can turn a stroll into a challenge. Tragic falls have marred its beauty.

If you venture across this iconic span, stay vigilant on the designated path. The views are breathtaking, but safety must be paramount.

Red Flags Of Mott Haven

Where not to go in New York as a tourist? 2-word answer – Mott Haven.

In terms of safety, Mott Haven is unquestionably one of the most perilous corners of New York City.

With a crime rate soaring roughly 400% higher than the national average, this neighborhood should set off alarm bells for any traveler.

The wisdom of staying indoors after dark holds especially true here. If your journey takes you through Mott Haven on your way to another destination, exercise extreme caution and consider alternative routes whenever possible.

Within the confines of Mott Haven, you face a disturbingly high 1 in 32 chance of becoming a victim. The overall crime rate, hovering at around 5,181 incidents per 100,000 residents, includes a violent crime rate of approximately 2,039 per 100,000—a grim statistic that spans every category, from petty to violent crimes.

Travelers, take heed: Whether it’s the piercing light of day or the shroud of night, extreme vigilance is your best defense when navigating the perilous streets of Mott Haven.

Stay Away From MidTown East At Night

When the sun graces the skies, Midtown East stands as a beacon of daytime tourist attractions, drawing visitors from near and far.

But when darkness descends, a different reality emerges – one that should give any traveler pause.

This transformation is primarily due to the area’s troubling crime rate.

If you have intentions of exploring this locale after sunset, exercise extreme caution.

Reports reveal that muggings and petty thefts dominate the nighttime scene, painting a grim picture of safety.

Steer clear of dimly lit corners and never venture alone into the unknown.

Furthermore, refrain from flaunting large sums of cash or valuable possessions, for they can unwittingly cast you as a target.

Hell’s Kitchen: Specific Areas Should Be Avoided

You might have caught wind of conversations about Hell’s Kitchen and thought, ‘That sounds intriguing, I should check it out.’

But before you dive headfirst into the allure, exercise caution – this neighborhood has a few rough edges.

While some parts of Hell’s Kitchen are welcoming to tourists, others paint a less inviting picture.

If you happen to find yourself south of midtown, it’s advisable to minimize your forays into this district due to its unsettlingly high crime rate.

Should you venture into the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, remember to adopt a conservative dress code, remain acutely aware of your surroundings, and stick resolutely to established routes.

Areas Near the Airports to Avoid

If you want to know where not to go in New York as a tourist, consider the areas near the airports.

Near the airports, you’ll find pockets of the city that harbor dangerous elements, including gangs and drug-related activities. The degree of risk may vary depending on your point of origin.

Take, for instance, the neighborhood of Morris Park, which should be off-limits if you’re flying into LaGuardia Airport.

It’s strongly advised to avoid this area due to its troublingly high rates of violent crime.

Beyond Morris Park, other regions to exercise caution around include Jamaica in Queens, East Tremont in the Bronx and Van Nest.

Whether you’re navigating the streets late at night or in the early morning hours when fewer souls roam, it’s imperative to maintain acute awareness of your surroundings.

Before you embark on your journey, consult with your hotel or Airbnb host for personalized safety insights and recommendations.

Prioritize your safety when selecting your accommodations in the city that never sleeps.

Brownsville, Brooklyn: A Tourist’s No-Go Zone

Tucked away in the borough of Brooklyn lies a neighborhood that bears a grim reputation – Brownsville.

This is a place where caution should be exercised, especially by tourists.

The area grapples with a staggering crime rate, marked by incidents of violence, theft, and street-level criminal activity.

Navigating the streets of Brownsville can feel like entering an unpredictable and potentially perilous terrain.

For those in search of a safe and enjoyable experience in the Big Apple, it’s strongly advised to steer clear of this neighborhood.

Your adventure in New York City should be memorable for all the right reasons, and venturing into Brownsville is not a gamble worth taking.

South Jamaica, NY: A Tourist’s Red Flag

In the mosaic of New York City neighborhoods, South Jamaica, NY, stands out for all the wrong reasons when it comes to tourist safety. This is not a place to tread lightly.

South Jamaica has garnered an unfortunate reputation for its alarming crime rate, casting a long shadow over its streets.

Reports of muggings, robberies, and other criminal activities abound, creating an environment fraught with risks for unsuspecting travelers.

When planning your New York adventure, it’s paramount to mark South Jamaica as a no-go zone.

Your visit to the city should be a memorable exploration of its wonders, not a gamble with your safety.

The Northwest Shore of Staten Island, NY: A Tourist’s Warning

Amidst the scenic beauty of Staten Island lies a stretch along its northwest shore that demands a word of caution for tourists.

This is not the idyllic, tourist-friendly terrain that you might expect.

The northwest shore of Staten Island harbors its share of safety concerns, and visitors should approach it with utmost care.

Reports of criminal activities, including thefts and assaults, have been all too common in this area.

The allure of Staten Island’s natural splendor can mask the dangers lurking within, making it crucial to prioritize safety.

For those seeking an enriching and secure New York City experience, it’s prudent to steer clear of the northwest shore of Staten Island.

Far Rockaway Projects (not to be confused with Rockaway Beach)

In the vast tapestry of New York City, the Far Rockaway projects emerge as a stark reminder of a side not fit for tourist exploration.

This is a place where trepidation should be your constant companion.

The Far Rockaway projects have gained notoriety for their unnerving levels of crime, presenting a somber contrast to the city’s vibrant spirit.

Incidents of violence, theft, and other criminal activities have cast a dark cloud over this neighborhood.

For tourists seeking the quintessential New York experience, it’s imperative to steer clear of the Far Rockaway projects.

Approach With Caution: Exercise Caution in These Tourist Spots

In the bustling streets of New York City, there are spots where adventure and caution go hand in hand.

While these destinations offer unique experiences, they also come with certain risks that every tourist should be aware of.

Let’s step into the urban terrain with awareness as we uncover the intricacies of New York’s tourist landscape.


Harlem undeniably holds a prominent place in the tapestry of New York City.

Its rich musical heritage, vibrant culture, and community involvement make it an alluring destination for many.

Yet, if you find yourself unfamiliar with this historic district, caution is advised.

While Harlem boasts countless gems, its residents may not always extend the warmest welcome to tourists.

Consider opting for an observatory stance from a respectful distance or joining a guided tour to navigate this terrain safely.

Harlem, first and foremost, is a residential neighborhood, and it’s essential to respect the privacy and sentiments of its residents.

When in Harlem, remain hyper-aware of your surroundings, especially during leisurely strolls along its streets.

Remember to seek permission before capturing images as a show of respect for the people who call Harlem home. Proceed with mindfulness and sensitivity during your visit.

Staying In Upper Manhattan Has Drawbacks

While the idea of staying in Upper Manhattan might initially sound like a fantastic bargain, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons before committing to this decision.

For starters, Upper Manhattan is notorious for its congestion.

Midtown and Lower Manhattan house many of the city’s celebrated tourist hotspots, from the sprawling Central Park to the towering Empire State Building.

Furthermore, considering that a significant portion of the city’s action unfolds in its lower half, you may find yourself incurring substantial transportation expenses if you rely on public transit or taxis to access these attractions.

Upper Manhattan primarily consists of residential structures rather than marquee attractions, unless you have an insatiable appetite for museums.

So, if sightseeing ranks high on your agenda, Upper Manhattan may not be the most convenient or cost-effective choice for your New York City adventure.


While Chinatown often garners its fair share of tourist attention, it’s imperative to exercise vigilance when navigating its labyrinthine streets.

While there are pockets of safety within the neighborhood, it’s crucial to acknowledge that, overall, Chinatown carries a higher crime rate, with incidents of muggings and robberies not uncommon.

For those unsure of where to tread or what to avoid, seeking guidance from a local can prove invaluable.

Additionally, the streets in Chinatown are notoriously winding and cramped, which can be disorienting and intimidating for visitors.

Just remember to exercise caution and stay alert, particularly when venturing into the heart of Chinatown.

Late-Night Subway Rides

While New York’s subway system is a lifeline for the city, travelers must heed a crucial piece of advice, particularly during late-night journeys.

Though generally safe, late-night subway rides come with their share of cautionary tales. Empty subway cars, in particular, should be approached with skepticism after dark.

To safeguard your well-being, stay firmly rooted in crowded areas and seek out well-lit platforms.

In the heart of the city that never sleeps, vigilance becomes your most trusted companion during late-night subway commutes.

Avoid Central Park at Night

Central Park’s allure is undeniable, but as the sun sets, caution should eclipse curiosity.

Venturing into Central Park after dark is a choice fraught with risks, and for tourists, it’s a decision best reconsidered.

The park’s shadows conceal uncertainties that are best left unexplored.

Instead, stick to the comforting embrace of well-lit and bustling areas when night descends.

New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but in the depths of Central Park after dark, safety takes precedence over adventure.

15 Tourist Scams in New York: A Stark Warning

As you step into the bustling streets of New York City, it’s vital to recognize the shadows that lurk amid its dazzling lights.

Beneath the city’s vibrant facade lies a web of tourist scams, cunningly devised to prey on the unprepared.

Here, we unveil 15 perilous traps that could unravel your dream New York adventure:

  1. Counterfeit Tickets: Beware of cut-rate tickets for attractions or shows, often concealing counterfeit entries, leading to shattered expectations.
  2. Times Square Characters: The iconic costumed characters in Times Square can turn aggressive, demanding exorbitant tips for photos that should be a joyous memento.
  3. Street Vendor Deception: Innocuous free CDs or DVDs from street vendors may transform into demands for payment once you’ve accepted them.
  4. Street Performer Hustles: Street performers may use tricks to extract more money than you intended to give, leaving you with an empty wallet and a bitter taste.
  5. Pedicab Plunder: Pedicab drivers can overcharge unsuspecting tourists, especially around Central Park. Always negotiate fares beforehand to avoid financial ambushes.
  6. ATM Skimming: Hidden skimming devices on ATMs can stealthily steal your card information, turning a simple withdrawal into a financial catastrophe.
  7. Souvenir Scams: Souvenir vendors near tourist hotspots may inflate prices for trinkets, turning your cherished keepsakes into extravagant purchases.
  8. Restaurant Rip-offs: Dining near attractions can lead to inflated menu prices or undisclosed fees that leave you with an unexpectedly hefty bill.
  9. Fake Charity Frauds: Scammers posing as charity workers can tug at your heartstrings, manipulating your generosity for non-existent causes.
  10. Subway Ticket Traps: Some individuals offering subway ticket assistance may charge exorbitant fees or provide counterfeit tickets, exploiting your need for a smooth commute.
  11. Central Park Peddlers: Vendors in Central Park may sell everyday items at extortionate prices for tourists, transforming a casual park visit into a costly excursion.
  12. Unlicensed Tour Guides: Be wary of unlicensed tour guides offering tours with questionable credentials or charging excessive fees for subpar experiences.
  13. Taxi Troubles: Taxi drivers may take circuitous routes to inflate fares, leaving you with an unpleasant surprise at your destination.
  14. Overpriced Water: Street vendors sometimes sell bottled water at exorbitant prices, turning a basic necessity into an expensive luxury.
  15. Hotel Scams: Unsolicited calls or emails posing as your hotel may request personal information or payments, jeopardizing your financial security.

Armed with this warning, venture forth with eyes wide open and a keen sense of awareness. New York City’s wonders await, but so do its devious deceptions.

Is New York Safe to Visit? Navigating the City’s Realities

New York City, with its iconic skyline and diverse tapestry of cultures, is an alluring destination for travelers.

However, within the city’s vibrant embrace, it’s wise to acknowledge a nuanced reality.

While New York is generally safe for visitors, understanding potential challenges can enhance your experience.

Like any major metropolis, New York isn’t immune to urban complexities.

Instances of street crime, pickpocketing, and scams can occasionally surface, often in densely populated tourist areas.

Yet, it’s important to note that the chances of encountering such issues are relatively low.

Navigating the city’s bustling streets, teeming sidewalks, and intricate subway system can be both exhilarating and overwhelming.

Being street-smart and aware of your surroundings can enhance your safety.

In your quest for a worry-free journey, consider the assurance provided by a good travel insurance, such as World Nomads.

Rather than succumbing to fear, this practical step equips you to face unforeseen situations.

It offers a shield against medical emergencies, lost belongings, or unexpected trip disruptions.

As you embark on your New York adventure, embrace vigilance tempered by confidence.

By being cautious and staying attuned to your surroundings, you can relish the city’s marvels without worry.

Remember, an informed traveler is a resilient traveler, ready to navigate the urban landscape and enjoy all that New York has to offer.

Safe Places to Stay In New York

Luxury: Mandarin Oriental, New York

Perched above Columbus Circle, the Mandarin Oriental, New York, offers stylish rooms, an award-winning spa, and the renowned Asiate restaurant with panoramic city views. A perfect blend of luxury and breathtaking vistas.

Midrange: The Hotel Chelsea

Experience a truly unique stay, surrounded by the spirit of artistic icons, and enjoy the convenience of a central location for exploring the vibrant city.

Budget: Artezen Hotel

With easy access to iconic attractions, including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, One World Trade Center, and Brooklyn Bridge, it’s the perfect choice for both business travelers and tourists seeking a central, stylish retreat.

Apartments and Airbnbs in New York

Discover your ideal apartment stay in New York, where some of their Plum Guide selections offer stunning views of iconic landmarks like The Empire State Building, The Brooklyn Bridge, and the city skyline.

At Plum Guide, they meticulously review and inspect properties across major platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo, curating only the finest accommodations for their site.

Transportation Options in New York

New York City, the city that never sleeps, beckons with its vibrant streets and countless attractions.

To make the most of your visit, it’s essential to understand the array of transportation options at your disposal.

Here’s a practical guide to help you navigate the city’s bustling thoroughfares with ease.

Traveling in a Group (Recommended):

If you’re journeying with a group and possess driving skills, consider the convenience and cost-effectiveness of a self-drive car rental service like Discover Cars.

Renting a 5-seater car for a week can cost approximately $500 (prices may vary with demand).

When shared among a group of five, this translates to a mere $100 per person, solving all your transportation woes.

With your own vehicle, you can roam the city at will, explore tourist spots at your leisure, and revel in the freedom of the open road.

Traveling Solo (Recommended):

For solo travelers, the New York City subway system, operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), emerges as the top choice.

Renowned for its vast network, affordability, and speed, the subway covers extensive routes, ensuring you can traverse the city seamlessly.

A single subway ride will set you back $2.75, making it an economical and efficient mode of travel.

Other Transportation Options:

Bus: The MTA’s comprehensive bus network crisscrosses the city, providing access to neighborhoods that may not be subway accessible.

Walking: New York City’s pedestrian-friendly reputation invites you to explore the city at your own pace.

Wander through vibrant streets, unearth hidden gems, and stumble upon unexpected treasures.

Biking: If you’re a cycling enthusiast, bike rentals from various sharing programs are available.

Cycling offers a fun and eco-friendly mode of exploration.

Taxi or Ride-Hailing Service (Not Recommended):

While taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are prevalent, they are not the most cost-effective option.

Consider them for convenience, especially with luggage or in groups, but keep in mind that they can be pricier than other alternatives.


Top 5 Things to Do in New York

Since we’re already here, let’s talk about five amazing things to do while in New York. I promise I won’t take much of your precious time.

Here we go.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Tour: A Journey Through History

Explore the heart of American history with a Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour in New York City.

The Statue of Liberty, a timeless symbol of liberty and freedom, invites you to embark on a ferry journey to Liberty Island.

There, you can explore the pedestal, delve into the museum’s treasures, and even ascend to the crown for panoramic views of the city.

Close by, Ellis Island’s National Museum of Immigration tells the stories of millions who sought a new life in the United States.

Booking your tickets in advance and dedicate a day to these remarkable chapters in American history.

9/11 Guided Tour: A Solemn Tribute and Unforgettable Experience

Explore the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a moving tribute to America’s resilience.

Guided through Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers once stood, you’ll witness the poignant 9/11 Memorial with twin reflecting pools and engraved names.

Inside the museum, artifacts, stories, and exhibits recount that fateful day.

The tour concludes at the inspiring One World Observatory, with panoramic city views, offering solace and reflection.

It’s a solemn reminder and a testament to hope and unity.

Empire State Building: Iconic Skyline Marvel

The Empire State Building, a symbol of ambition, is a must-visit for several reasons.

Its observatories offer breathtaking 360-degree views day and night.

With rich historical significance and captivating Art Deco design, it’s both a visual and cultural experience.

Whether for romance, photography, or a testament to human achievement, a visit promises an unforgettable journey into New York’s history and skyline.

New York Helicopter Tour: Manhattan’s Spectacular Aerial Adventure

Prepare for an awe-inspiring adventure above the city that never sleeps.

The helicopter tour offers an exclusive look at NYC’s iconic skyline as you soar over landmarks like the Empire State Building, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty.

With multiple departure times, fitting this unforgettable experience into your schedule is a breeze.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to capture the magic of the Big Apple from the sky.

New York City Harbor Lights Cruise

Experience twilight’s enchantment in NYC aboard the Harbor Lights Cruise.

Book online for a hassle-free journey along the Hudson River and New York Harbor.

Enjoy illuminated Manhattan landmarks, insightful commentary, and onboard drinks and snacks.

It’s the perfect way to savor the city’s transformation from day to night, creating unforgettable memories.

Crime Map of New York

For an up-to-date understanding of safety in different neighborhoods across New York City, we highly recommend referring to this Crime Map Of New York.

This interactive resource provides valuable insights into local crime statistics and trends, empowering you to make informed decisions about where to explore and when to exercise caution during your visit.

Link: https://maps.nyc.gov/crime/

A quick recap

Where not to go in New York as a tourist ? Places you should avoid visiting while in New York:

  1. The Dark Side of Time Square
  2. Troublesome Parts Of Bronx
  3. Troubles Of Walking Along The Brooklyn Bridge
  4. Red Flags Of Mott Haven
  5. Stay Away From MidTown East At Night
  6. Hell’s Kitchen: Specific Areas Should Be Avoided
  7. Areas Near the Airports to Avoid
  8. Brownsville, Brooklyn: A Tourist’s No-Go Zone
  9. South Jamaica, NY: A Tourist’s Red Flag
  10. The Northwest Shore of Staten Island, NY: A Tourist’s Warning
  11. Far Rockaway Projects

Final Words

There’s no doubt that New York is a beautiful destination where you can have an enjoyable time with your family, partner, or buddies.

But you should always keep in mind that only some destinations are ideal places for your travel or dangerous for your trip.

It’s always about being cautious and smart enough to protect yourself from any kind of threat. That’s why I’ve tracked down the spots you can avoid while visiting New York.

I hope this article helped you find out where not to go in New York as a tourist.

Just go through all the details, plan your itinerary wisely, and enjoy your journey.

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