16 Reasons Everyone Should Visit New York City at Least Once

Even though we know you’re going to RUIN EVERYTHING when you get here, we’re gonna say it anyway: if you’ve never visited New York City, you need to visit New York City. And not just so you can say you ate the best pizza in the world, or closed down a bar at 4am (though, you should do both of those things when you visit), but because New York City is a city that changes you.

In case you needed more reasons than that though (you shouldn’t), here are 16, some of which are very not-sexy, but equally as life altering as demolishing an entire pie at Roberta’s.

Flickr/Harold Navarro

1. Because you’ll want to have a New Yorker for a friend

The best reason to visit anywhere: so you can make new pals. What’s different about a New York bestie?

A) They have an apartment you can crash in on future visits (ugh, fine, we guess), so no more staying in some guy’s Airbnb rooftop yurt.

B) As a city with a huge amount of transplants, New York is home to people regularly making return trips to the four corners of the Earth. Your “New Yorker” friend might just hit you up about visiting his or her relatives in Bhutan.

C) New Yorkers are one of the few groups of Americans who can come visit you in Europe/Asia/Africa/The World without being mildly despised and/or hated.

2. Because you won’t have to visit anywhere else for a while

Why go to Italy when you can go to Arthur Ave? Why do Beijing when you can do Flushing??? One trip to this city and you’ve knocked out almost every continent’s worth of culture. Seriously, the Sistine Chapel isn’t that nice. Bonus: New York’s museums have some of the finest cultural relics from all over the world, and they didn’t even steal most of them!


3. Because if you care about sports, there are important sports things here

Madison Square Garden is very important if you like basketball. It’s called “The Mecca” for chrissake, but instead of religious pilgrimages, it hosts NBA teams that want to take a day off/play the Knicks.

FlickrGarrett Ziegler

4. Because you can see the city’s complex economy summed up in a single slice of pizza

Nothing embodies this city’s ability to be both ludicrously expensive, yet house weirdly cheap excellence than our premier food stuff: pizza. A host of $1 slice joints cover the city and stupidly expensive PR stunts for big bucks are also readily available. (Important side notes: you can also buy it on a bagel. Or buy it after 4am. Or buy it on Staten Island, the Daniel Baldwin of New York City boroughs.)

Flickr/Dan Nguyen

5. Because you’ll probably share a subway ride with the world’s next great musician

The Wu-Tang Clan started protecting their necks on Staten Island. Miles Davis, probably the most influential jazz musician of all time recorded probably the most important jazz album ever -- Kind of Blue -- in New York City. The Ramones? From Forest Hills, Queens. Whatever your favorite brand or band, their style was probably birthed, incubated, and performed at its highest level in a dingy, dirty club somewhere in New York. There’s probably a sick didgeridoo freestyler absolutely killing it in Bayside right now.

Andrew Zimmer/Thrillist

6. Because all of our food is actually authentic

Just like you can get all the global culture you want in New York City, you can also chow upon every and any kind of ethnic food imaginable... and be almost completely positive it’s being made by a person who was born and raised in that county. Meanwhile the guys at the Panda Express at the Mall of America? They’re probably not from Sichuan. Probably.

7. Because it’ll make you feel better about where you physically live

Broadway! Madison Ave! The Woolworth Building! The Plaza! Desperately wish you could live here forever as you gallivant through the glamorous sites and sounds of one of the most cosmopolitan cities the Earth has ever seen, then laugh hysterically when you realize you get to go home to a really reasonably sized colonial fixer-upper with multiple bathrooms, a functional kitchen, and (several!) bedrooms that can fit more than a dog futon -- it’s not even a bed, man -- while New Yorkers return to their (probably haunted) studio broom closets every night.

Flickr/Kevin Harber

8. Because you need to see one of America’s most racially and economically segregated municipalities to understand it

Though New York does have a giant lady statue proclaiming a willingness to embrace the tired, weak, and hungry, the modern metro area is one of the most racially and economically segregated municipalities in America. The great equalizer -- mass transportation -- hides a lot of that. Spend a day riding the subway and you’ll encounter nearly every race, creed, and economic class imaginable. Just remember they’re not all coming from or going to the same kinds of places.

Flickr/John St John

9. Because we have really big buildings

Hey, if you come from a city or town or hamlet with small human-built structures, there are few cities better suited to getting your big building fix. There’s a little place called One World Trade, maybe you’ve heard of it? Or the Empire State Building? They’re both pretty big! Buildings that are large? Buddy, we got ‘em! Yowza!

Flickr/T. Carrigan

10. Because you can see celebrities being normal people. Kinda.

Every decently famous person has at least one Manhattan money dump investment they visit twice a year. But because New York isn’t LA and our entire economy doesn’t revolve around surprisingly short megalomaniacs, locals tend to not care too hard about pleasing these people. So even better than gazing at Kanye buying designer deep V-neck T-shirts for thousands of dollars on Rodeo Dr, you can hear passing motorists scream “Hey, move your #@!$%&! car! Oh, it’s a Ferrari? Ferrari up your #&!@$%! damn $#!@%” at celebrities who think that starring in a Michael Bay movie means you get to double park on Bleecker St. (Sorry, It doesn’t.)

11. Because you can start conversations with “When I was in New York City...”

This never gets tedious. Promise.

Flickr/Rob Young

12. Because when you see basically every TV show or movie ever, you’ll recognize where in New York they were filmed

“Hey, I know that Sunglass Hut!”

Flickr/Alan Bloom

13. Because you can be nobody

True anonymity in any small American town is nearly impossible. That kind of American familiarity ripped from sitcoms is nice for some, but plenty of people yearn for a place where nobody knows your name. Welcome to New York! Not only do New Yorkers not know who you are, they don’t care!

14. Because the city will make you feel small

This city will quickly remind you that millions and millions of people will live incalculably complicated lives without ever interacting with you for a second. Just go across a bridge and count the lit windows in an apartment high rise and wonder about all those people watching all that Netflix who you’ll never meet, know, or watch Netflix with.

Flickr/Michael Tapp

15. Because you can wear the outfit everyone in your hometown says looks “dumb” and “like Nicki Minaj cosplay”

And a NYC “Street Style” blogger or fashion photographer will definitely take your photo and gush over you on their website. Yep.

Flickr/Tom Waterhouse

16. Because you can let your freak flag fly

If you come from a town where you feel like everyone knows exactly who you’ve been, are, and will be... come to New York City, the town born on transplantation and reinvention. Find a new you, leave the past at Port Authority, and come home a totally different person. Maybe with a cool disease? Legionnaires’ is so hot right now.

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Jesse was born in Beth Israel Hospital sometime in the 1980s and continues to live here now. You can angrily disagree with him via Twitter.