First trip to USA

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by mrfrosty, Aug 22, 2007.

  1. mrfrosty macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2005
    In mid september i'll be coming to the USA for the first time, i'm having the weekend in New York then flying to North Carolina for some meetings.

    I'm wondering what i should do while in there......I know it's the city that never sleeps and all that but what can you recommend i take in ?(Apple store is a given!). I could also do with a recommendation on a good hotel to stay at (nothing toooo expensive!!)

    Any other NYC / USA travel tips ?

    Do you tip taxi drivers?
    Tourist traps to avoid ?
    Can you walk the streets at night?
    Does everywhere take plastic?
    Is nudity generally accepted as normal?

    That kind of thing.......
  2. Texas04 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 2, 2005
    Of course! Nudity in NYC! You will be absolutely 100% safe!! :p

    But seriously,
    In NYC, don't go out walking the streets at night by yourself. If you are with a group, maybe, but I am not from there so I am not 100% sure.
    Most places do take credit cards and debit, even the fast food places!
    While you are there I would suggest some New York Style Pizza and just for fun, buy a hot dog from a street vender! Just to say that you did! :)

    Thats all I got for now!

    Good Luck!
  3. floriflee macrumors 68030


    Dec 21, 2004
    The good part about going to NYC is that there is so much diversity that you can have an easier time blending in.

    I'd venture to say that the majority of places take plastic--including the subways, which I recommend using if you're not too afraid to figure out the maps. Taxis can get to be a bit expensive--and tipping is generally expected.

    Time square is generally safe at night just because there are so many people and lights. I wouldn't go into Central Park at night.

    Nudity in public is not accepted. You'll get pulled in for indecent exposure.

    I wasn't a big fan of the Empire State Building. It's a nice view, but not worth the price IMO. The Statue of Liberty is cool, along with Time Square, and if you have time/money a Broadway show is a must. The Cathedrals are fun to visit (and free).

    I can't really recommend places to stay since we've got friends and family there that we can stay with.

    If you're a chocolate lover, I recommend the Touched by Chocolate Brunch at Seppi's near Central Park (which is cool during the day) on Sunday. A bit pricey, but worth it.

    Oh, yeah, and Little Italy and Chinatown are always fun to walk around. :)
  4. iKwick7 macrumors 65816


    Dec 29, 2004
    The Wood of Spots, NJ
    Do you tip taxi drivers?

    Tips are expected in the U.S.. You don't need to tip a taxi driver more than a buck or 2 though. When you go out to eat, however, 15 - 20% of the bill is generally standard fair.

    Can you walk the streets at night?

    Sure- but only in some parts. Don't go into Central Park at night, bad idea. Times Square and anywhere around that area is fine. You are, of course, always better off in a group, but, generally speaking, I wouldn't worry about walking around at night.

    Does everywhere take plastic?

    Almost everywhere. Restaurants, stores, almost all take credit cards.

    Is nudity generally accepted as normal?

    In some people's minds. But they get arrested. :)
  5. tomoisyourgod macrumors regular

    May 3, 2007
    Liverpool, UK
    I've always wondered about this... is this because the minimum wage in America hasn't changed for years, and tips make up most of a waiter/waitress/barman/barlady's wage?

    Also, is it true that food is cheaper in America than rip off Britain? (eating out)
  6. FJ218700 macrumors 68000


    Mar 8, 2007
    Blue Dot, Red State
    you'll find most things cheaper right now, I'm sure.

    Take a MacBook back with you :)
  7. tomoisyourgod macrumors regular

    May 3, 2007
    Liverpool, UK
    haha! yes that sounds a good idea!

    On a more serious note - with things being cheaper, do you think it's a better quality of life in the states as opposed to here? (maybe this is a whole new thread... I've got loads of
  8. imac/cheese macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2007
    This is because waitresses and waiters do not get paid the minimum wage. It is accepted that they will get a portion of the salary from tips so they are not paid as much by the restaurants. Plus their tips get taxed.

    You will definitely find things a lot cheaper in North Carolina than in NYC and everything should be a lot cheaper than you are used to with the current value of the dollar.
  9. FJ218700 macrumors 68000


    Mar 8, 2007
    Blue Dot, Red State
    yeah, I responded on your other post about the brits leaving.

    Well, I've only been to Britain once. Was in Cambridge and London last summer. The weather was great, but overall I wasn't too impressed. I know that two weeks is not really long enough to get a good feel for the quality of lifer differences.
  10. iGav macrumors G3

    Mar 9, 2002
    I understand that a stetson in mandatory.
  11. adk macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you
    Waiters/Waitresses have their own minimum wage, about $2.35 per hour in most places. The rest of their money they earn in tips.

    Food may be cheaper, but only because you have to tip for the service.
  12. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    The exchange rate disparity probably won't last forever.

    "Quality of life" is a highly subjective phrase. To me the quality of life in Europe is far higher than that in the US but it really depends upon what's important to you.
  13. mrfrosty thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2005
    Yes, but only to cover your private parts I'm told. If its a really nice place maybe i will be able to keep the stetson on without using my hands. In a kind of "eughhh Neil, how are you keeping that flower pot up way!"
  14. SkAlex macrumors member

    Jun 21, 2004
    Last I checked, Bush's approval rating was hovering around 30% in the States... and I would be shocked if it was over 20% in NYC... so I think most Americans are with you.

    Anyway - some advice from a native... spend more than a weekend. A weekend may be enough to see most of the sights (most of which I, and most New Yorkers have basically never seen) but it's certainly not enough to get an idea of what New York is really like. I understand this might not be negotiable but that's how I feel...

    I guess there are some things that you'll feel obliged to see, but do yourself a favor and take at least a day to wander. Pick one semi-non-touristy neighborhoods of Manhattan (or even an outer borough if you're feeling ambitious) and wander around. The West Village is spectacular with some really great history... if ground zero is on your agenda, perhaps you can take a walk from there around to Battery Park, through Tribeca, and into SoHo. Even SoHo is pretty overtaken by massive chain stores (albeit Prada and the like...) but to me it's still infinitely more sincere than Times Square.

    In terms of safety, I guess a tourist does feel a little more vulnerable - perhaps they are. I've been living here for a pretty long while and have never had any issue in terms of crime or the like. Just try not to walk around the sights with your maps stretched out looking lost. That, and don't slow down on the sidewalks to stare up at the buildings. Yes, they really are that tall - and if you keep staring at them, you might as well jump up and down and scream to everyone that you're not a New Yorker.

    And eat some incredible food. (hint: it's not in Times Square.) ;)
  15. j26 macrumors 65832


    Mar 30, 2005
    I spent 3 nights there a few years ago - it's not enough though, you'd need a week there.
    The Staten Island Ferry (free) is great for views of the Statute of Liberty and the business district and Battery Park area is pretty cool. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is nice too. I have to confess to not being insanely impressed with Times Square.
    The Gridiron building is a great looking piece of architecture, as is Grand Central, and in the day time a potter about Central Park is essential
    Do walk about as much as possible - it's the best way to get a feel for a city, and its not that hard to get about as the streets numbered grid system makes it easy enough to find your way. Just use the subway for long distance.
  16. iKwick7 macrumors 65816


    Dec 29, 2004
    The Wood of Spots, NJ
    As other posters have said, waiters get paid little to nothing an hour- it's pretty much all tips.

    As for food prices, I spent a few days in London a couple years ago. I noticed that things cost pretty much the same they do in the states- burgers, beer, etc. However, the your currency kicks our currency's ass. Ism't the exchange rate almost 2:1- i.e. if you came to the U.S. with $1,000 in British Pounds, you really have about $2,000 in U.S. currency? Things will be very cheap for you once you exchange that currency!
  17. SkyBell macrumors 604


    Sep 7, 2006
    Texas, unfortunately.
    The 5th Ave. Apple store is a must (It's beautiful, I took lots of pics :p) and so is the Statue of Liberty. I personally loved the Empire State Building, but it was very expensive. (Plus it's going under remodeling) Chinatown is a great place for some good deals on random junk, always try to bargain, never go with the sticker price if you can. Times Square is pretty cool, if you don't mind a few unclean people walking around you.:p
  18. ErikCLDR macrumors 68000

    Jan 14, 2007
    At sit down restaurants (where they serve you at your table) tip 20% unless you feel generous and then do 25% or so. New York is an expensive place to live for waitresses. At fast food places and coffee shops tipping isn't necessary and usually I don't because the people working there are so inconsiderate.

    Generally you tip the taxi driver a few bucks. I would suggest walking like someone said before, it lets you see the city more. Also, taking the subway is a lot more efficient. Since everyone walks in NY, there are cross walks and the traffic is gridlock and stop and go most a lot of the time. The subways are kinda gross, but generally safe, just don't make eye contact (that what my mom used to say).

    Pretty much all the big places in NY are tourist traps, but I would recommend seeing the following:
    - Times Square
    - Ground Zero (very powerful sight, just look out for the building across the street that's falling apart and spontaneously combusting)
    - If it was winter I would suggest Rockefeller Square, they have an enormous christmas tree (like a real huge pine tree) and ice skating
    - The Statue of Liberty- for like $8 you can take a boat that goes to the statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (Immigration point long ago). When the boat drives around The Statue of Liberty its just a really cool and powerful experience, seeing the symbol that basically represents America. Ellis Island is pretty interesting too. I don't know how far up in the Statue you are allowed to go up these days either.
    - Empire State Building
    - 5th Avenue is pretty cool- it has like all the expensive stores in the world on it
    - Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum is a fun place to go (I believe 3 or 4 stories of wax dummy's of famous people)
    - There are a lot of theme restaurants around, which are also pretty cool experiences

    Walking around at night I wouldn't say is unsafe. Stay out of central park though and obviously sketchy areas.

    I'm pretty sure just about everyone takes credit cards, including fast food restaurants. Street vendors obviously won't be able to.

    Nudity isn't accepted as normal.

    Be aware of New York accents and lingo :p

    Good Luck, and don't get fat :p
  19. Badradio macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2004
    NYC - Don't bother renting a car.
    NC - Rent a car.

    Where in North Carolina are you visiting? I went there for my first trip to the US, and had such a great time. September is a good time to go too - still hot as hell, but the holidaymakers have left for the season.
  20. Xeem macrumors 6502a


    Feb 2, 2005
    Depends on the state, actually. Here in Minnesota, waiters still make at least the national minimum wage, plus tips. I know a lot of people that are putting themselves through school very nicely by waiting tables.
  21. aloofman macrumors 68020


    Dec 17, 2002
    Yes, I think in California waiters have to make minimum wage before tips.

    Tipping is incredibly arbitrary in the U.S., so much so that you should just ask someone. Why do we tip at a sit-down restaurant, but not a fast-food place? Why tip a bartender when all he did was pour a beer? Who the hell knows.

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