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A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Boston
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A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Just returned from another visit to NYC, this time accompanied by a couple relatives on their first visit to NYC. It's great to be with someone when they see NYC for the first time. Instead of a trip report, I thought I'd list some random observations and things from this and my other visits to the city that might hopefully be of some use to a future visitor. Apologies if this gets too lengthy or boring...

-If you're going to take photos with characters on the streets, they work for tips and will make that perfectly clear to you by hounding you for a tip after you take the photo. Funniest version of this was Saturday when the 3 short, yellow minions from Despicable Me surrounded a big guy and his girlfriend for a tip after the photo. It was a great visual.

-Doing an itinerary is a good idea but don't be afraid to deviate from it when you don't have time or ticketing constraints. We wouldn't have seen the cupcake ATM in action if we hadn't decided to take the longer way on our walk to Central Park. I had never seen a cupcake ATM or knew one existed until we stumbled by it Saturday next to Sprinkles cupcake store. I need that ATM in my life. My doctor (and my belt) would disagree, however.

-If you're traveling with a child who has an insulin pump attached or anyone with an electronic medical device that isn't supposed to go through a metal detector, there are currently many metal detectors at the popular sights (Intrepid Museum, SOL before getting on the ferry, again on the island if going inside the Statue, TOTR, ESB, 9/11 Memorial to name some). We didn't have any major problems but sometimes we had to repeatedly explain to the security person that my 11-year-old nephew needed a hand search because there is a chance the metal detector could affect the electronics of the insulin pump, which costs several thousand dollars and is not something you want to take a chance of messing up. There were other security people, such as the ones going into the pedestal at SOL, who were beyond great and didn't miss a beat. They fully understood and did a professional pat-down and they were very friendly, joking around with my nephew that they were going to give him a uniform and put him to work for them for the day. That's appreciated because it put him at ease as he stood aside getting searched while everyone waiting in line was staring at him.

-If you're looking to save money where you can, stop into a Duane Reade or similar store and grab a case of bottled water after you've checked into your hotel. Store the case in your room and throw a few bottles in the backpack when you're heading out each day. We grabbed a case for about $7 our first day there, saved at least $25 or more by not buying bottles one at a time. If you have a Walgreens discount shopper card from home you can use it in Duane Reade to get sale prices.

-I kept checking the Statue Cruises website in the days before our last-minute trip and tickets became available for pedestal tickets for the SOL just 2 days before our trip. So if your date says it's sold out, keep trying back, at least for pedestal tickets. I also read in some posting that there's usually greater ticket availability from the New Jersey side so if you were able to get pedestal or crown tickets leaving from the NJ side, you could take a Liberty Landing Ferry from Manhattan to Liberty State Park in NJ, take that ferry to Ellis Island/ SOL, then return to the NYC side (you'd get the NY Ferry from SOL, which stops by Ellis Island before returning to the NY side).

-There are bathrooms and a snack bar on the ferry from Battery Park to SOL.

-When you go from Battery Park to SOL, the best views of the SOL will be from the right side of the ferry. When going from SOL to Ellis Island, the best views of the SOL are from the left side of the ferry.

-When going to the pedestal at SOL the lockers you have to put your backpack in cost $2. Go to the screen first where you pay, you get assigned a locker number after paying. Make note of your locker number.

-We went to the Empire State Building just after 8am on a Friday and the lines were very short, really almost non-existent. Even by the time we were leaving around 10am the lines were starting to get pretty long.

-If you want to use the pay-binoculars at the top of the ESB, they cost 50 cents, payable in quarters. Came across many people up there with kids who were disappointed they didn't have change. I have a very small folding pair of binoculars that I always throw in the backpack when I travel, they come in handy in many places.

-We had a bunch of Starbucks gift cards at home that were just sitting around, we brought them with us and made good use of them, stopping for a drink there each day. I assume overseas gift cards would not work, but if you are in US it's a good time to use up those type of cards, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc.

-It comes up repeatedly on forums when Amtrak questions come up, but if you're traveling out of Penn Station on Amtrak and have more than one person, it is absolutely worth it to use a red cap. It gets you onto the train before the general boarding call, letting you have a better chance of getting seats together. Tip as you please, usually $2 or $3 per bag seems to be the consensus. To find them, go into the Amtrak waiting area and they have a big desk, just tell them where you're going and they'll direct you from there.

-The Roosevelt Island Tram, even if it's crowded, gives a unique view as you soar above the East River. Roosevelt Island is also a nice, quiet place to walk around. The tram is part of the MTA so if you have the 7-day unlimited pass it's included in that.

-The radio-controlled sailboats in Conservatory Water in Central Park were very entertaining to watch. The place to rent the radio-controlled sailboats wasn't yet opened and there was already a waiting list according to the worker but it will be on our list for next visit. There were adults racing their personal boats and it looked like a lot of fun, would be a good spot for kids to visit.

-When you see a giant sign saying “4 T-shirts for $10” or something like that, it's usually a few lame-looking shirts on a bottom shelf.

-If people on the street are handing you a “free” CD, they want the CD back if you don't give them money.

-Walk around Manhattan on a weekend morning, it's interesting to see the stark contrast from what it's like on a weekday.

-It's a good idea during your stay to occasionally check the MTA website for subway/bus station closures or re-routing since it could affect how you get around. Only times it's been an issue for me have been on the weekend, even then any changes have been well-signed in the stations.

-And my favorite thing to do each visit is to slow down, grab a coffee or a bite to eat, and sit outside somewhere watching the city and its many occupants go about their business. You'll see everything there.

Geneva, Switzerland
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1. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

I am so glad I read this, the Sprinkles ATM is right up my son's street! We will definitely be paying a visit there or the shop on his birthday! You've also reminded me to buy a little pair of binoculars for him. Thank you so much!

New York City, New...
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2. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Nothing is ever free. Why else would someone put on one of those costumes if people could just snap away and not give a little something to them. Not even minions are going to give it away….

Great tips for first timers - and even some repeat visitors who haven't been for awhile, especially with regard to security measures in place in many places.

Sounds like a nice time was had -

Brooklyn, NY
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3. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Re people handing you a CD-just say no thanks, don't take it and keep walking.

Albany, New York
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4. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

This is more helpful than some trip reports.

Calne, United...
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5. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Some great tips there, especially for a first-time visitor such as myself.

I need (absolutely must have) more details about the cupcake ATM though. Seriously, is that an ATM where you can get a cupcake like withdrawing cash???

Brooklyn, NY
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6. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

www.yelp.com/biz/sprinkles-cupcakes-new-york

It's a block away from Bloomingdales.

Champlin, Minnesota
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7. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Good report. Thanks for the tips and observations.

Boston
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8. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

MomCat- I forgot to include that and should have said at the top that yes, absolutely a great time was had, as is each trip I've taken to NYC. I'm hoping to go back on May 15th for a night or two as I got a ticket to the Tonight Show.

ter- I completely agree on the CDs, I've never taken one. I'm a Boston boy and honestly I usually don't even say no thanks anymore I just brush past anyone handing out things like that at home or in NYC.

The cupcake ATM was something to see, there was a line so we didn't use it we only watched for a few minutes but you pick from I think about 20 or so varieties, swipe your credit card and a door lifts up on the wall to reveal your cupcake in a small cardboard box.

Brooklyn, NY
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9. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Me? I don't say no thanks. That was advice for tourists.

I say, "I have one already!"

Leeds, United...
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10. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

thank you so much, that was beyond helpful and I've jotted down some of your tips and advice :)

thanks, maria x