When most people think of the Big Apple, they think of Times Square, Little Italy, SoHo...and that's about it. But there is so much more to New York City than these obvious attractions. The real New York is much more magical and intriguing than you might think. Take it from me, a New Yorker of five plus years, the less touristy your visit, the better you will enjoy it. Here's a guide of places not to go and their alternatives.

Don't Go to Times Square

Times Square is sort of like the Chicken Pox--you should only have to experience it once. It's fast, it's bright, it's shiny and best viewed at night. Get it out of your system if you must, but know that Times Square is not New York. It is a tourist trap. Don't go to the gift shops filled with paraphernalia made in China. Don't eat at the lousy chain restaurants that you can find anywhere in the country. Don't go to American Eagle and buy a shirt that says, "New York" on it.

Go to the West Village Instead

In the West Village, you will find a side of New York you never imagined existed. You will see quaint four-story buildings built in the late 1800s, cute cafes where the bread is baked fresh and amazing family-owned restaurants. While you're there, go have a slice of red velvet cake at Amy's Bread with a hot cappuccino. Enjoy oysters, paella and king crab legs at a cozy restaurant called Fish. Do some shopping at The Silversmith, a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop filled with high-quality silver jewelry. Once you're done, head over to the Hudson River Parkway for amazing views and some fresh air.

Don't Go to Little Italy

Little Italy may have been great once, but it isn't what it used to be. Chinatown is eating away at Little Italy piece by piece. The restaurants may be owned by Italians, but the cooks certainly aren't from Italy and the food is not half as good as you'd expect. The cannolis are still good, but if you want pasta and true Italian fare, head to Armondo's Italian Restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Go to One of These Restaurants Instead

The best restaurants in New York are small places that are one of a kind. For good seafood, head to Fish in the West Village or Taverna Kyclades in Astoria, Queens, which has the best swordfish around. If you love sushi, go to Sushi Park in the East Village for good prices and a huge selection of great sushi. Thai food fans will love Sea in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, while fish and chips connoisseurs will adore A Salt & Battery in Greenwich Village. If you love tea, head to the Tea Spot, also located in Greenwich Village. Other great cafes include Amy's Bread (West Village), Financier (various locations), Think Coffee (various locations), Bread's Bakery (Union Square) and Cafe Mocha in the East Village.

Don't Go to SoHo

SoHo is good for shopping at high-end fashion boutiques and browsing trough overpriced stores. There are a few small gems where unknown fashion designers sell their wares and the Evolution shop is cool, too, but if you're looking for art and the old SoHo you once read about from the '60s, don't go.

Go to Chelsea or Williamsburg Instead

All the art galleries and cute cafes moved to Chelsea a long time ago. Fine art lovers will enjoy browsing Chelsea's many galleries and discovering new artists to follow. Chelsea is also near the Hudson River, so it's really quite beautiful. If you enjoy markets, the Chelsea Market is fantastic. Located in an old Nabisco factory, the Chelsea Market is cool and industrial. There you will find great restaurants, freshly made pasta, Italian imports, cafes, bakeries, shops and more.

If you're interested in something a bit less refined and more affected by counter culture, head to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Williamsburg has a famous flea market, fresh food market, adorable shops and lots of graffiti. Check out the Bedford Cheese Shop for cheeses and goodies from all around the world. The restaurants are also good here. You'll find Polish, Thai, vegan and other interesting ethnic foods there.

Also Check Out

Zabars, a huge specialty market on the Upper West Side, Greenwich Village, Union Square, Park Slope in Brooklyn and Jackson Heights in Queens (tons of ethnic food: Indian, Nepalese, Argentinian, Colombian, Mexican and more).