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Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

Indy
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Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

Wife and I are planning a three or four day trip to NYC. I went to NYC a long, long time ago (early teens). I know hotel prices are high, and I am OK with that to an extent. I'm really trying to get a visual of how things operate, especially the subway/bus system. Here are some of my questions:

Time and Weather:

We want to visit in either Sept. or Oct. What is the weather like then? Any month have more rainfall than the other? What about any special events during either Sept. or Oct.? We would rather it be more on the cool side than hot side. Any special closings (know the Liberty crown closes late Oct. or early Nov.) with the empire state building? Natural History museum? Etc.?

Parking:

We are driving to the city. Some hotels have parking, which can be costly and that is OK. If the hotel doesn't have parking, where are some of the better places to park the car? Since we are staying in the city, I plan on using a taxi, bus, or train to get around.

Activities:

Right now, we are looking at the following activities:

-Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with crown pass

-Intrepid museum

-Museum of Natural History

-Empire State Building

-Visit Times Square area

-Maybe see a zoo or something along those lines

-Visit Central Park?

-Visit WTC area

-Visit NYSE/financial district

We have no desire for Broadway shows or anything like that. How many days would we need? I know the Statue of Liberty can take a half day or more. We plan on getting up fairly early if need be.

Transportation:

What is the best option for transportation? I am familiar with the subways, but am confused about certain things. For one, some travel stuff show some subway stations as having free transfers at certain points. Are these underground tunnels where one walks from one line to another? I only ask because the maps don't show the lines running right next to each other (though they are close to each other). Or do you exit the subway tunnel and re-enter another one? What kind of pass is best to get? Do folks share passes (ie: Use it to enter the turn style (or whatever is used now) and then hand it to the person you are with that is behind you to use? Now here is a real stupid question: If one takes the #1 line to Battery Park, are there two trains that run both ways (north and south) or just one train? If there are two trains, do folks need to enter certain subway stations from certain points above ground or is there a way to walk over to the area where the train is?

Tipping:

What are recommended tip levels outside of eating? Baggage folks? Taxi drivers?

Lodging:

Would like to get something decent for a decent price. I really would like an in-room safe, but safety deposit boxes at the main counter would work as well. Right now I have a few places in mind;

-Holiday Inn Wall St.: The cheapest place that appears halfway decent in/near the financial district.

-The Excelsior Hotel: Looks nice

-Casablanca Hotel Times Square: Looks nice

-Staybridge Suites Times Square: Looks nice

Given what we want to do, anyone have any other suggestions. Would like to stay in the upper $200s and upper $300s/night if possible.

Meals:

We are not fancy eaters. We are plain food types but would like to stay away from chains if possible (and affordable). Looking for:

-Best hamburgers: I heard on TV the burgers at Le Parker Meridien were very good. This was from Harvey Levin of TMZ/People's Court fame.

-Pizza: No, I don't care about "NYC style" pizza...I just want some good pizza. The slices don't have to be a big as my head, nor does the pizza have to be paper thin.

-Fish: Wife likes fish every so often, me not so much. She likes ocean fish, especially orange roughy.

Suggestions on food?

Safety:

So, just how safe is the city? Since doing my research, and I much more excited than I was when the wife suggested visiting NYC. Now I really want to go, but I also want to be safe. Anything to seriously avoid? For example, I would like to see the city lit up at night from the Empire State Building. If we were to visit then, should be use a taxi for the ride back at night, or are the subways still safe?

Discounts:

After a little research, it appears that things like City Pass or City Explorer aren't worth the money. Most of the things they give you discounts to aren't things we are interested in anyways. Is it true that you can just go into the Natural History Museum and name your price?

We are going to be booking our room soon because we both want to go up to the Statue of Liberty crown and tickets sell out fast. Thanks for any suggestions and tips!

New York City, New...
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1. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

First, you should know there's an FAQ on the right side of this page (Top questions on NYC) that answers most if not all of your questions. An even larger one is at the top of this section but the link is here

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60763-i5-k1948627…

Any weather website like

wunderground.com

will have a trip planner that will give you historic temperatures for any time period. You should know some of the cheapest times for hotels are late August through the first week of Sept. up to Labor Day. Right after Labor Day you'll see prices skyrocket. The US Open Tennis takes place last week of Aug/beginning of Sept. so while it may be warmer then than you'd like, the tennis plus lower hotel prices might be appealing.

Parking at any of the hotels is ridiculously expensive. There's 1 budget hotel, the Travel Inn that has free parking and the Skyline, near it and the closest NYC has to a motel has $10/parking. Both of these hotels are perfectly fine if you're not looking for anything fancy. Otherwise, your best bet is to findyour own parking near your hotel using

bestparking.com

or....park the car outside Manhattan if you want. The Port Imperial ferry terminal in Weehawken, NJ has $10/day parking and you can take the ferry over and back.

nywaterway.com

As for how much time to allot, as much as you can afford is my answer. The visit to SOL/Ellis Island will take the better part of a day with lines and security. You must buy those tix way in advance for a crown pass at

statuecruises.com

This gives you an idea of how much time to allow

statuecruises.com/ferry-service/schedule-opt…

The best mode of transport for speed and cost is the subway. There are a bunch of different programs like

hopstop.com

maps.google.com (click the train icon at the top once you've mapped a trip) for directions.

I would eliminate the Holiday Inn Wall St. If you want to stay down in that area, there are much better options (like the new Andaz and the Gild Hall). If you come over a weekend when that area is quiet, prices are even better. The other hotels you mention are good to very good.

I think that's about as much as I can deal with in one post. You need to read through the FAQ links I gave you which I think will answer a lot of your other questions. When you've selected dates, if you want more hotel help, post back. I use

kayak.com

quikbook.com

hotels.com

oyster.com (which also has a lot of good photos) for hotel searches.

Ozark, Missouri
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2. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

As a visitor, let me work on some of those other issues:

Safety--you will be amazed at how safe you will feel in New York City, probably much safer than in parts of Indianapolis. No reason to avoid the subway after dark.

Driving--you may have other reasons for driving to the city, but if it is just money, you might consider flying. Delta is offering flights, leaving the morning of October 1 and returning the evening of October 5, for a total cost of $360 for the both of you. Gas and parking expenses will surely be close to that, and flying gives you more time in the city.

Lodging--I spent a week last summer in the Staybridge Suites; it is quite nice and offers some great amenities and subway access. However, I would choose the Excelsior over it if I had that choice. The Upper West Side is a lovely neighborhood. ( In July, we are staying at the Andaz Wall Street because we got a great weekend rate. We are looking forward to being so close to New York's historical sites and don't mind that the place is very quiet on the weekends. You might check weekend rates for that, too.)

Dining--have you ever looked at www.menupages.com ? It allows you to search for restaurants in specific neighborhoods, by meal, price, etc. We found it very helpful.

I hope this helps a bit!

New York City
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3. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

Transportation:

Almost all of your questions are answered fully in the fourth of the Top questions to the right of this page; the ink there leads you to the "Idiot's guide to the subway" created for this forum:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60763-i5-k4244193…

Transfers on the subway are accomplished by changing trains either on the same platform, or on the next platform in the same station, or by connecting through passageways or going up or down stairs. All connections are inside the fare controls. The map shows you where tranfers can take place by giving a single station indication at the place where two or more lines cross, or by drawing lines between connected stations. Here is the map:

http://www.mta.info/nyct/maps/submap.htm

Safety: New York City has much less crime per capita than Indianapolis does. You need have no hesitation about taking the subway at night (and where does this nonsense about the subway being filled with criminals after sunset come from, anyhow? Crime on the subway -- and there is little enough anyway -- does not increase after 8 PM; actually, it drops.) You also should have no problem walking on the street at night in the parts of the city where you are likely to be either staying or visiting.

Indy
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4. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

Thanks everyone for their insights. It was just after I posted my question that I found the FAQs. I spent about 20 mins. going over the MTA website and your excellent post GreenWhiteBlue. The FAQ also answered my questions about tipping. At first, we were going to drive because we had planned a trip to Niagara Falls, but given that we are already going to Florida this year and the hotel rates in NYC, I'm leaning towards and extra day in NYC and postponing Niagara till next year. If we end up not doing Niagara Falls, flying is definitely an option.

The fear of the subway comes from Hollywood/TV. The creepy, only two souls around after dark always puts a picture of fear/danger into people's minds. I have heard the city is much safer than in decades past, as the NYPD cracked down a lot on all crime. When we were in NYC back in the early 90s, my dad had to shove a bum out of the way. Guy invaded my dad's personal space and being a Vietnam Vet, he didn't take any chances. He just shoved the guy and kept on walking. There was also another bum that was pretty vocal towards my brother, a kid of about 12 years old or so at the time. My dad said to just ignore it. These incidents were all during the day, not even at night!

As far as hotels, we are just going to have to make a choice. The Andaz looks awesome. It is going to be a very hard choice. I'll just have to make a choice on either the Upper West Side, the Times Square area, or the Financial District. Either way we are going to travel. I have already picked two burger places and a pizza place I want to eat at.

NYC/Israel
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5. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

"The fear of the subway comes from Hollywood/TV. The creepy, only two souls around after dark always puts a picture of fear/danger into people's minds."

Hollywood is make believe, always has been. My wish is the subways should be slightly LESS crowded at night. Then when I, a single female, return to Queens after meeting friends in Manhattan I might even get a seat!! At 11PM I am really sometimes too tired to stand!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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6. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

We've had good luck using Priceline for NYC hotels.

I don't think I'd stay in the financial district--it doesn't have as many restaurants or evening traffic as some other areas.

For such a short trip, I'd definitely recommend flying--but I don't like long drives, so my opinion may not be right for you.

Indy
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7. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

I don't mind the drive. I actually like driving and seeing the country. I went on vacations with family when I was young (We drove to Niagara Falls, NYC, Atlantic City, and Baltimore/DC one summer). Unfortunately, as I got older, school and work took up a lot of my time. So I'm always excited and up for a road trip. There are a lot of direct flights to NYC from Indy, so depending on final price, we may just fly on this trip.

Ohio
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8. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

I'm near Cincy, Indy and we drove the first two times we visited NYC...never again. It's a long, boring drive, you arrive exhausted, and then you pay $40.00 a day to park a car you won't even see until you leave to go home. And you won't believe how tired you'll be by the end of your trip. Facing a long drive back to Indiana vs. a two hour flight??

As for safety, NYC is far safer than the places that we live. I would never ever walk the streets freely in Cincinnati or Indianapolis after dark. And don't fear the subway! You'll be surprised how crowded the trains are at 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning.

We are not adventurous eaters and feel most comfortable in casual places. A few of our favorites:

Shake Shack, Live Bait, Molly's, for burgers, fish sandwiches.

John's, Lombardi's, Librettos, for pizza.

Levain Bakery for incredible chocolate chip cookies.

L'Arte Del Gelato for gelato!

Blue Spoon Coffee Co. for coffee, lattes, sandwiches.

Feel free to pm me if I can help in any way.

New York, New York
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9. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

In addition to what everyone else has said, I would like to add:

Don't stay in the Financial District. After the courts and banks close, it's just the law firms open (if even they are!) with very little "fun" going on there in the evening and at night. And it will be easier to get to all of the places you want to go if you stay on the Upper W. Side (say, at the Beacon). Times Square is full of tourists looking up at the lights and taking pictures, and expensive chain restaurants. There really is no reason to stay there when you can hang out there for 1 hour on one day and have more than enough of your fill.

I would suggest not going to Niagara this time so you can have some extra time in NYC. Plus, having a car here is pretty awful unless you can afford to put it in a carpark for days.

Yes, the American Museum of Natural History (and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, btw -- a much better bang for the buck than the Natural History Museum, imo) are both "pay as you wish." Just walk up and say "Two please" with $2 or $5 or whatever you want.

If you intend to go to the Crown of SOL, book tickets as early as possible in the morning and as soon as they're on sale. They sell out fast.

Yes, for emphasis, the subway is safe at night. If you go to ESB one evening, you can certainly take the subway back. As a woman, I wouldn't ride it about 4 a.m. by myself, but -- this is the truth -- my neighbor is an 89-year old lady who goes to the opera at Lincoln Center, and she rides the subways alone back to Queens at 11:30 after the operas end. I'm not kidding. She's a wonderful little older lady and no one ever bothers her.

Indy
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10. Re: Some general questions (sights, transportation, lodging)

Again, thanks for everyone's tips. We will decide this week on the time of our trip. It is likely going to be in mid-October so the weather will be somewhat cooler. We are just going to NYC and doing Niagara some other time. If I can find a decently priced flight, no layovers, to NYC, we will likely just fly. If we are driving, the Skyline with their $10/day parking is likely where we will stay.