New York Novice(24 Posts)
Planning a trip to NY in June, booked flights already with Norwegian Air as worked out the cheapest. Am a complete novice in terms of travel etc. Farthest I've been in Cyprus and that was in 2003. Worried that I'm missing key elements of preparation. Know we need ESTAs. Travelling with my 23yr old niece and my 11 year old son. First holiday ever for me and my son so want to make it a fabulous one.
Any tips, warnings, what not to do and what to do, you have would be very much appreciated. Staying for 5 nights. Haven't booked hotel yet, on a budget as such (single mum, this is the largest extravagance yet) so nothing too expensive so if you have any recommendations I'd love them too.
Want to make it a great trip to remember, have been doing a lot of research but if anyone has any first hand experience I would love it.
Spending money, was budgeting $200 a day for me and my son (niece will have her own), does that sound reasonable?
Thanks in advance
Have a look at the New York City Pass website. If you plan to do the obvious attractions it will save you money.
Regarding hotels, I have stayed at the Doubletree, the Hampton, Yotel and the Walcott and all were good. If you are prepared to take a bit of a risk it may be worth looking at Hotwire. You can choose a hotel class and area and get some good discounts on secret hotels.
I think your spending money budget is fine as long as you are not eating in fancy places or drinking a lot of cocktails!
There are tons of decent places to eat but avoid eating out on obvious tourist areas such as around Times Square as it will be overpriced.
Use the Subway for distances too far to walk - it's cheap and quick. Taxis can take ages if the traffic is bad.
Have a great time!
Can you not book the hotel with Norwegian? You usually get a better deal booking via the airline. There are plenty of web sites that give you ratings on the hotels you might be interested in.
To make life easier, think about what you want to see. Then think about the location of the Hotel. For example the Wall Street area and Battery Park are not good for many tourist attractions. If your top sights are mid town, look for a hotel in that area.
With the exchange rate, everything is expensive! You also pay tax on advertised prices and then there is the tipping which is double the tax. Therefore walking to places helps. The subway is a law unto itself and antiquated. However give it a go to far flung sights. My DD lived there for 3 months and still found it a nightmare!
Your spending money is probably ok. You need to consider how you are getting to your hotel from the airport. We tend to take shuttle buses but there are trains.
The best book we have found is the lonely planet NY book. It gives all sorts of handy tips and the best things to do and see, including free ideas. It is also worth considering if you like skyscrapers, views, iconic buildings, museums, art galleries, shopping (very expensive now), interesting neighbourhoods, parks, etc. My top pick is the High Line. In June it will be fantastic.Stop off at Chelsea Market. Also visit Top of the Rock and we love the Radio City Music Hall for an Art Deco fix!
Central Park is free, as is Grand Central station and The High Line. Broadway tickets are expensive. Have a great trip.
Thanks both, very helpful, I feel like a total novice and am fearful I'm missing something important as I'm not a well versed traveller. Didn't think about booking via the airline, will have a look.
If you are travelling on a budget, look at hotels in New Jersey to save money. We have booked to go at Christmas, and will stay at the Doubletree in New Jersey, which was a third of the price of the Doubletree on Times Square. There's a PATH train directly to either Lower Manhattan or Midtown for less than $3, and which takes less than 15 minutes.
Also, if you find a hotel you like, try booking directly with the hotel, it's sometimes even cheaper direct than on the price comparison sites.
Free things to include the High Line, walking in Central Park, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, riding the Staten Island Ferry, Theodore Roosevelts Birthplace (which was just lovely), and visiting the Federal Reserve Bank (Gold Vaults!). Mu favourite free thing is seeing the original Winnie the Pooh toys in the Public Library on 5th Ave.
This hotel is very central- 5 mins walk from Times Square, opposite Carnegie Hall
If there are 3 of you, 15 mins at $3/ time would soon add up.
It's debatable whether the City Pass is worth while- you don't necessarily save money if for e.g. it's foggy or rainy and the Empire State is 'viewless' and although you pre pay for the National History and Met Art museums, you don't have to pay for either, you can choose to pay a much lower price. You still have to queue but not such a big queue as general entrance.
Thank you, that's very helpful. Looking at hotels, it's really difficult to work out the best area along with a decent price. Will have a look at the other areas too. Am very excited and as this is the first holiday I've managed with my boy I want it to be a success
I'd stay in New York if you can - it's more fun and the travelling in is a pain.
shared bathrooms but safe and clean
We decided not to get any passes. It all depends on what you want to do. The natural history museum has a guide price (about $20 iirc) but you can make a donation of however much you like. You can see the 9/11 memorial for free.. you only have to pay if you want to visit the museum. If you're visiting the Statue of Liberty and want to go inside, DEFINITELY buy your tickets before you go (you can book online) as we never and they were always sold out early, although you can still go over on the ferry (views are amazing!) and take pics and stuff, that was $18 pp. I was told to visit the Rockefeller rather than the empire, and to do it at night, unfortunately we never made it as one of the group ended up unwell, but the images I've seen on the internet are incredible and I'm so sad I missed it. Central Park is insanely huge, if the weather is sunny and dry I would recommend a boat ride on the lake, it's $15 for an hour, and you get to row a boat and take in the amazing surroundings. The Alice in wonderland statue in Central Park is also great. The journey from JFK is a bit of a pain, iirc you have to buy a ticket specifically for the train from the airport to the station which is were we then purchased a subway ticket that lasted our stay, so we could use the subway as much as we needed. Grand central station is just beautiful to look at and I would recommend you visit. You're son will like Times Square (at night especially) and places like the M&Ms shop are good for the novelty factor for kids.. although expensive. I'd also recommend finding a map of all the things you want to see and visit and grouping them daily according to how close together they are. For instance, grand central and Times Square are a walk away from each other, but you need a subway to go uptown and visit Central Park. The national history museum is by there too. The 9/11 memorial is downtown and is in walking distance of the entrance for the ferry to battery park and Ellis island to see Statue of Liberty.. so just plan ahead to avoid wasting precious time. Also Chinatown and SOHO are great places to go. The pics I've added are the views from the ferry to Statue of Liberty and the views from the boat ride in Central Park. Have an amazing time op
Also if you have the money to book straightaway, I would recommend air bnb. Location is key
mrspotatohead - please don't recommend airbandb for New York! The authorities discourage holiday lettings of apartments and many if not all of the lets on there for new York aren't legal.
Wow I am envious.
Just make sure that your hotel has a/c, June is hot hot hot!
Priceline.com is a great site for hotels. They have an option to pick the star rating and area and they will show you what deals they have. I've found that you can often get a three and a half or four star for much less than a three and sometimes two.
If you're here over a weekend the financial district often has the best deals.
Mummy - there are still options available for the OP to use air bnb - shared living or renting out individual rooms, rather than whole houses or apartments, which I would think to be a more expensive option for three people anyway. The rooms and shared living are perfectly legal to rent for people travelling for short periods of time. It's entirely up to the OP to read listings and decide for herself if the listing is legal or not, the requirements are easily found on the web. My recommendation was from personal experience, although I did visit before the legislation was passed.
Thank you so much for all your advice, it's very much appreciated. Those pictures look amazing. I'm so excited to go as it's my first proper holiday in years and I'm not a sit by the pool type of person, it's always been on my top 5 places I will eventually get to visit. Will have a look at where we want to visit and check out Priceline. Just a bit fearful that I haven't thought about something or missing a major detail.
I guarantee you will miss a lot, it just comes with the sheer size of the place and there is something on every corner, aslong as you plan ahead about what you want to visit you'll be golden if you like architecture and things I'd recommend a visit to st Patrick's cathedral, it's a beautiful gothic style church smack bang in the middle of manhattan amongst the skyscrapers
I stayed in an air bnb in Brooklyn last time I went to New York to be near family. It was the top floor of someone's brownstone so legal but separate with own kitchen/bathroom. Cost for 2 bed apartment was under £200 a night. Subway is fine, certainly no harder to use than tube. Brooklyn is way more interesting than New Jersey.
An excellent cheap way to spend a day is to get the subway into Brooklyn, walk the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan which gives you great views of the skyline and of course the bridge itself, then only a short walk from the end of the bridge you can board the Staten Island ferry for a couple of bucks, and that brings you straight past the Statue of Liberty. It's a short trip and you can just turn around and head straight back to Manhattan, where you're within walking or easy subway distance to loads of great areas for dinner - little Italy, Chinatown, Greenwich village, etc. You see lots of iconic stuff on one day and really only pay for your food.
This is so useful. We go in 3 weeks with out 9yo and two 5yos. Can't wait but also slightly daunting. Op I'll come back when we return if I have any tips
If you want to get the ferry out to Ellis Island and go up the Statue of Liberty you need to book well in advance as there are limited slots. You can book from the UK so I'd suggest you book it asap if you'd like to go.
I love NYC as do my dds. I would recommend Governors island it's great. Also Dylans Candy Store and you can get candy cocktails as well as sweets so both adults and child friendly, the highline, statue of liberty on the staten island ferry.
Smac is great to eat (if you like mac and cheese) quick filling and not pricey. Time square at night is the best. We mainly walked everywhere, and subway a bit. The train from the airport is very easy but I think it wasn't much cheaper than a cab from what I remember.
Where you stay should really depend on what you want to see! Is there more in mid town you would walk to or do you intend to use transport to and fro every day? Plot where you want to go on the map and see where a central(ish) point is. Look at hotels around there. Somewhere like bookings.com gives map locations of hotels and budget choices which are well reviewed.
If you're flying into JFK it's $52 plus tolls for a Yellow Taxi to any address in Manhattan. Make sure you follow the signage and join the queue for official taxis and not be duped by a mini-cab driver - some hang around in arrivals. The queue is overseen by an airport worker/traffic warden.
It might be the same at the other airports. Have a great time!
Ah how exciting!!!! You'll love it.
There's tonnes of free things to do and cheaper ways to eat, so don't worry. Cheapest way from airport to Manhattan is the air train but unless you're arriving mid rush hour I personally think cab (no need to book) well worth it.
Location wise I like north of Times Square but below Central Park then can walk to loads of places and a bit less hectic e.g. Hilton Midtown around 53rd Street.
Subway is fantastic - cheap, quick, safe, not scary (not really deep underground like London). You need to buy a Metro Card.
Free = Central Park, High Line, Battery Park & Staten Island Ferry, Public Library (Winnie the Pooh!!), fountains outside Natural History Museum, walk across Brooklyn Bridge and see views back from Brooklyn Bridge Park, 911 memorial, Washington Square Park, walking up 5th Avenue, walking through Chinatown, lobby of Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station. Loads!!!
Dining - Nice to have drink at takeaway bit of Tavern on the Green - still lovely but good value. Drinks at Ellen's Stardust Diner (singing staff!)
Worth paying for - Empire State Building, Guggenheim Museum, loads of other museums and galleries depending on your interests, boating in Central Park.
Don't do - Central Park Zoo (horrid), cycling in Central Park (as have to stick to the roads), shopping!!!
Have a wonderful time!!
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