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!