Start Spreading the News: Big Apple Experience Altered

Statue of Liberty Trash Can.

New York City, one of the world’s most popular cities to visit, has unfortunately been difficult, if not impossible, to travel to for more than a year.

Now that we are entering the second quarter of 2021, what is the Big Apple REALLY like for those ready to visit?

Once my husband and I were fully vaccinated, we knew it was time to get ourselves back to New York. Over the past decade, we have traveled there frequently. Our last trip was in January 2020. 

Fast forward to April 2021, when we spent a week seeing dear friends and getting a feel for how things have changed.

Most New Yorkers are wearing masks both inside and outside at all times. Some restaurants ask that you put your mask on when any wait staff workers are at your table.

Almost every venue takes your temperature when entering, and some ask you to fill out your name, address, and phone number for contact tracing purposes.

Subways are MUCH less crowded – no packed rush-hour train rides to endure.

“Like most things post-2020, nothing feels the same yet. But different does not have to be bad. It’s simply different.”

Cab availability seems to be about 50% of what it once was. Daytime, it’s not hard to find one, but evenings are more difficult. 

So what about restaurants? Predictably, there were restaurants we love that did not survive, but for the most part, all our favorites were still open, if only for dinner. 

Many have increased capacity by adding outside seating, often elaborate curbside structures with decor, carpeting, and heat lamps. 

Of course, we spent a lot of time visiting museums. Almost all are open now, and each was very careful about keeping gallery spaces uncrowded and patrons spaced apart. Timed entrances are very common.

Empty storefronts are pervasive. There’s certainly plenty of shopping available, but even areas like SoHo and Madison Avenue have many vacancies.

Now a little real talk: I have always been careful in NYC. Situational awareness is critical. I never carry big purses, and I never wear valuable jewelry.

In the evenings, there are significantly fewer people out on the streets. More come out on weekend evenings but nothing compared to the hustle and bustle of the past.

Because so many corporations are now working remotely, many areas of town, like Midtown, are deserted. Fewer restaurants are open, fewer people on the streets. 

Empty streets are not necessarily safer streets.

There is a noticeable lack of police presence throughout the city.

While I loved (to my core) being back, you need to watch yourself and pay attention to your surroundings.

Would I recommend visiting New York? I think that depends on how much you want your visit to “feel the same” as in the past.

Like most things post-2020, nothing feels the same yet. But different does not have to be bad. It’s simply different.

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Mary The Curious Cowgirl Meier-Evans

Mary Meier-Evans, of University Park, has a Texas-sized curiosity which keeps her longing to see new sites both near and far – though road trips, rather than international flights, make the most sense to her in 2020. Check out her blog and podcast at

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