No. 2: The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building opens at 8 a.m. If you get in line right away and want to ride the elevator to the 102nd floor observatory, you may get in before dinner.

If you're lucky.

By the way, it costs $15 to ride the elevator, in addition to the $20 you'll pay to get in the building. That's $35 to look out a window.

It may be something everybody should do once in their life, but be prepared for an expensive bout of torture, especially with kids in tow, if you do go.

If you really want to go to the top but don't want to pony up the cash, try the following: (1) Join the military-free admission for soldiers in uniform; (2) disguise yourself as a toddler age 5 and under ride free; (3) scale the building, although the accompanying fine and prison time may prove to be a greater financial setback than the $35 you were trying to avoid.

Speaking of things to avoid in New York, start with the final destination on our list ...

No. 1: Times Square

If you're looking for an authentic New York experience, then go to Coney Island, check out a Yankees game, take a ferry to Ellis Island, or jog in Central Park (with mace).If you can't get enough of corporations, fast food restaurants, sensory overload, or mobs of tourists, go to Times Square.

Sure, New York has cleaned up its act from what Times Square was in the past, but it still remains a tourist trap.

Although every New York tourist needs at least one glimpse of New York's most famous block, one glimpse is all it takes, unless of course it's New Year's Eve and you're a personal guest of Dick Clark and don't mind subzero-degree temperatures or drunken buffoons urinating on your snow boots.

It's not that Times Square is any worse than any other tourist trap in any major city, it's just that there's so much to do in New York, it's senseless to waste your time at Times Square.

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