We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

Illinois
Level Contributor
1,686 posts
91 reviews
Save Topic
Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

We just returned from a great visit to New York. The purpose of our trip was to visit Fordham University with our son. My original plan was to fly into Hartford, Connecticut and stay at a hotel in Westchester County. Thank you to the Tripadvisor posters who encouraged me to fly into New York and stay in the city instead! One poster wrote, “I don’t think this trip has to be as expensive as you imagine,” and this proved quite true.

We flew into the Long Island’s MacArthur Airport. It is quite a distance from Manhattan, but we found an amazing fare on Southwest – only $99 total for round trip tickets from Chicago. Flying into LaGuardia was $219 when I booked, so it was worth the extra effort to save $360. You need to catch a shuttle or a cab from the airport to the Ronkonkoma train station (each is $5 per person), and it is less than an hour and a half on the train to Penn Station. The Long Island Rail Road tickets were less than $10 each way. I enjoyed the train ride, so it really wasn’t too much of a hassle.

It was easy to get the subway out of Penn Station to our hotel in Soho. We had quite a scare in our first few minutes in the city. We couldn’t quite hear the announcement about the station where we had stopped. After a little hesitation, we decided this was indeed the stop, and followed our son off the train. As my husband and I began to exit, the doors closed. I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face as our train pulled away, leaving him alone. He doesn’t have a cell phone, and we weren’t sure if he even had any money or knew the name of our hotel. We also realized that we were still two stops from our hotel. After a very worrisome hour, we were reunited. From then on, we were extremely careful about staying together.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Soho. This decision was based solely on price - $407 total, including all taxes, for three nights. In addition to a great price, the hotel is fairly new, provides a free breakfast, the room was clean and stylish, the neighborhood is great, and it’s close to the subway. Our room had a great view of the Empire State Building.

On our first night, our nephew met us for dinner at a tapas place, and we saw “Monday Night Magic” at the Bleeker Street Theatre. This was a lot of fun, and quite reasonably price (about $37 each). Our seats were in the second row, so it was amazing. The children in the audience seemed to be having a wonderful time. We saw a very talented juggler and three remarkable magicians. In addition, there were several other magicians who performed “up-close” during intermission.

On day two, we caught the Statue Cruise Lines ferry to Ellis Island ($12). There was a forty-minute wait for the “airport style” security check, and another 20 minute wait until the boat departed. Ellis Island, and the view of the Statue of Liberty, was worth the hour wait, however. We opted not to get off at the Statue of Liberty. At Ellis Island, we looked at the displays before going on a ranger led tour. As at other national parks and monuments, it is a good idea to go on the free ranger led tours. It was a gorgeous day, so we ate sandwiches outside before seeing the movie “Island of Hope, Island of Tears,” which shouldn’t be missed. We decided to walk back to the hotel, and it was interesting walking through the Financial District and Tribeca. We stopped at the World Trade Center site – nothing to see except a lot of construction, but a very moving place to be.

That evening, we did our own “chocolate tour” in Soho. We stopped at four shops: Jacques Torres, Vosges, Kee's and MarieBelle. We bought a little something to sample at each shop, so this was the splurge part of our trip. via-her.com/city/…chocolate-tours

For dinner, we headed to Lombardi’s on Spring Street for a delicious fresh tasting pizza. This is not your typical greasy cheese laden pie, so we were glad we stopped. For dessert, we walked across the street to Rice to Riches. I would not normally spend $7 for a small dish of rice pudding, but the futuristic hip atmosphere and the tasty pudding was worth it. All that is sold here is rice pudding, which seemed odd at first. We tried the vanilla rice pudding with a sour cherry topping – wonderful!

On day two, we visited Central Park, where we were welcomed by an abundance of blooming crocus and daffodils. I had no idea how lovely this place is! We got as far as 86th Street before we had to catch a subway up to the Bronx for our Fordham visit. We ate lunch at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, followed by a cannoli from the Madonia Bakery. Fordham has a beautiful campus and seems like a great school. We took the Metro North train back to Manhattan ($5, so more costly than the subway, but a shorter trip) so that we could see Grand Central Station and Rockefeller Center. Then it was back to Soho for dinner at Bistro Les Amis.

This was a very memorable trip – thank you to all the posters on the New York forum for all your suggestions!

Manhattan
Level Contributor
8,920 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

Great report and if your son goes to school here hopefully you'll be back.

new york city
Level Contributor
19,059 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

For future visitors the rule is, if separated on the

train the person left on the train goes one more stop

then the others get on the next train (a few minutes)

and go to join them and get together. Please teach

this to your children (even if they are going to

Forham)

Belfast, Northern...
Level Contributor
33 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

bilmin09 - I'm just curious if that's always possible? Does only one train run on each route? It would be possible here in N.Ireland railway for the most part, though there is one or two lines where the track forks. But from using the subway in Paris and Barcelona, there are so many places where the track splits multiple ways.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
97,384 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

Your trip report is one of those heartwarming ones that makes me all tingly. It's also chock FULL of good information from your hotel (which is one I recommend regularly and think is great value) to eating places, the chocolate tour, Rice to Riches and more. I think it would be very instructional for you to explain how you met up with your son but it's a really good lesson for visitors that you MUST have a plan should you get separated. ;) Thanks so much for posting. Was your son impressed with Fordham? Do you think he'd like to go there?

Queens, New York
Level Contributor
25,046 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

Excellent point about getting separated on the subway!

Yes, more than one line might use the same track, so it is possible that "the next stop" will be diff on the train after you.

It is the conventional wisdom that you should get off at the next stop and wait for your party to catch up with you; we got taught that in junior high school when we once had a safety lecture from a police officer (that's when kids often start using public transit to get to school.)

But, I do the opposite. I try to come back to the abandoned person. If they get off the train and I'm still on it, I usually yell (hoping they can hear me?) "don't move! Wait right there!"

The lesson is, have a plan. Agree that, if you get separated...

Queens, New York
Level Contributor
25,046 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

Aside from that, IlliniTrav - that was a lovely report!

I love the chocolate tour! Great idea!

Thanks for all the details and happy recap. I'm sure your son will enjoy NYC, and you will again, too!

Hartford...
Level Contributor
422 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

What a great trip. I also liked the the chocolate tour. Rice pudding is one of my favorite desserts. The next time I go into the city I will make a point of going there. Thanks!

Albany, New York
Destination Expert
for Albany
Level Contributor
2,339 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

I used the "next stop rule" with a group of 25 students in Paris and we were fine.

I also made sure (to the best of my availability) to be the last one off the train.

New York
Level Contributor
287 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

I love the idea of a self 'chocolate tour'. Are all of the places individual shops, or do any of them have areas to sit down and enjoy your chocolate with coffee? Did you order just one chocolate piece per person for tasting, and if so, did the shop employees treat you respectfully? I can see myself feeling like I need to order way more chocolate than I could eat (or afford) just because I feel insecure about ordering just a single piece for tasting.

new york city
Level Contributor
19,059 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Trip Report - Inexpensive College Visit

Queens BLVD- I know you are a pro and I read all

your posts but for the visitors, the problem with

coming back is that you would end up on the uptown

platform while they are still on the downtown

platform and in some stations they are the same or

just a staircase up and down away. But in some stations they are separated by walls and you can't see

the other side. The key for visitors as someone said

is to have a plan and don't panic. Locals look for

children in distress and will protect them in that

situation. I once got off the train with a 10 year old

girl and waited with her till mom and dad came. That

could have been a disaster but turned out ok and it

only cost me about 10 minutes of my life.