New York! New York!
One of the absolute best cities in the world! Every time I start thinking that maybe I’m tired of it or that it’s lost it’s charm compared to some other spot I need to see I go back for another visit and fall in love all over again! I’ve been visiting New York since I was 17 and even lived 30 minutes away for a full year and although I have my favorite go to places it never fails to amaze me how this city can feel so new and like home all at the same time. The sights, sounds, smells I love it all! Which of course means that there is no way I can write everything I want to share in one post!
This particular trip was a special occasion as we went with our extended family to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary! A big deal right!? Since there were eight of us I thought it might be fun if everyone wrote down their top 5 New York “must-sees” and we would go from there. Suddenly five full days, one evening, and a half day didn’t seem like much time at all… PANIC! How would we fit it all in!? I am happy to say that although we didn’t get to everything on the list we did get quite a lot accomplished!
We went Uptown, Downtown and Midtown. We went to the Lower East Side, the Upper West Side and everywhere in between. We saw the American Museum of Natural History, the Central Park Zoo, The Whitney Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Neue Gallery. We shopped and ate in the Meatpacking District, SoHo, Chelsea and the Lower East Side. We ate pizza and saw a Broadway show in Times Square! We took two boat rides and visited both Liberty Island and Ellis Island! We walked the High Line and wandered Central Park. Some of us walked across the Brooklyn Bridge while others visited the 911 Memorial. It was a whirlwind of a trip and a fabulous time!
Here are some of my thoughts about getting here and around.
When traveling to New York there are three different airports to choose from. Newark, JFK and LaGuardia. JFK is about an hour out from Manhattan and the others are about 30 – 40 minutes. There are many ways to get into the city from each airport. I find the easiest way is to just jump in a taxi, but it’s not the least expensive. Their are shuttle busses with round trip fares available and limousines too.
Getting around in Manhattan
Taxi! Uber, Subway, and walking… There are many ways to get around the island of Manhattan and all are good. If you ask my little guy he’ll choose TAXI! every time. He’s the only almost 7 year old I know who has been hailing cabs since he was three years old! He’s constantly putting his hand up and waving them down. Thankfully, they don’t seem to stop for small children, either that or they just don’t see him down there. 😉
Just like in the movies you can look down the street and you will see a literal sea of yellow cabs. The only problem is getting one to stop! You’ll notice there is a light on the top of the cabs. The trick is figuring out what the different light combinations mean. Here are some helpful hints:
- When just the center is lit highlighting the medallion number the cab is available.
- When the medallion number and the side lamps are lit the cab is off duty.
- When the lights are dark it means the cab has a fare already.
It can be especially difficult if you’re trying to hail a taxi in the rain, late at night or when an event has just gotten out.
During my October visit we used Uber quite a bit and often found it easier and more reliable then standing around trying to hail a taxi. I suppose it depends on where you are and what time of day. You’ll need to download the Uber app before you can use it. Once you’re all set up it’s as simple as “calling” the car. No need to pull out your wallet or figure out the tip.
This past visit we all purchased 7 day unlimited ride Metro cards for $31 each and that worked great as well. I downloaded the MTA Subway App and it’s fantastic for route planning and finding out about any changes or outages at the different stations. I entered in our destination and current location and my Apple Map would then switch me directly to the MTA Subway app with directions for which stations and detailed instructions. The subways, can be HOT, loud, and crowded. However, they are surprisingly clean in both the stations and the cars themselves.
All of the subway stations are unique and a lot of them have wonderful art on the walls. You’ll often find people singing and playing instruments in the subways as well. Sometimes you’ll find people dancing on the subway cars and we saw quite a few people panhandling while riding. You might find that taking the local train during rush hour is a better choice than the express. Especially if you’re traveling with kids.
If it’s not too brutally hot or too bitterly cold there is always the option of walking from place to place! There is no street in NYC that doesn’t have something of interest on it and often I’ll find that I’ve walked miles before I even realize it.
I’ve been to New York twice in the past 12 months and both times I stayed in Midtown. This wouldn’t be my first choice of neighborhood, but it worked out for the group. I’ve also stayed at the SoHo Grand and it was lovely, but the rooms are very small. Most New York hotel rooms are and if you’re traveling with a family you’ll need to make sure that the room offers two beds, as a lot of them do not.
This most recent trip we stayed at the Grand Hyatt on 42nd and Park and overall it was a really a pretty nice place to stay. It’s located within walking distance to both Rockefeller Center and Times Square and is attached to Grand Central Station, so it’s easy to get pretty much anywhere! The rooms and hotel surroundings are all pretty nice. There is a cute little convenience spot called The Market in the lobby where you can pick up snacks, drinks and most importantly Starbucks coffee! My two complaints were the towels were on the old side and the walls are pretty thin. I could hear people going in and out of their rooms all night long.
In October I stayed at the Westin Times Square and I was lucky to have been invited to join my friend as her guest. I don’t think either of us were super excited about it. It was pretty rundown, but we didn’t spend much time in the room, so it didn’t matter much!