Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New York City

New York, New York. It is a fantastic city, but one that is expensive to visit. Many vacationers find the cost of NYC hotel rooms to be prohibitively expensive. However, staying across the river in Jersey can provide a cost-saving alternative to the higher priced hotels in Manhattan. Taking a short, inexpensive subway or ferry ride into the city is well worth the trade-off when you consider the hundreds of dollars that you might be able to save on your vacation.

When you’re ready to start your New York sightseeing adventure, tackle it in much the same way as described in my previous post about London. If you do it right, taking in one section of the city on each day, you can see the highlights of the city on a three-day visit.

Day One
Take a subway to the north side and hop off right in the basement of the American Natural History Museum, (http://www.amnh.org/). Spend your morning there, taking in all of the famous attractions seen in the movie, “Night at the Museum,” then grab a quick lunch in the neighborhood or right in the museum. After lunch, head across Central Park, checking out Belvedere Castle on your way through and then walk over to The Museum of Modern Art (http://moma.org/) to spend the rest of your day there.

Day Two
Head into the center of the city and start your day at the TKTS ticket booth in Times Square. Grab a cup of coffee at one of the shops on the square and then step into the long line to buy half-price tickets to an afternoon performance of one of the latest Broadway shows.

After you’ve snagged your tickets for the matinee, walk to Rockefeller Center, passing Radio City Music Hall along the way. Go to the top of the Rock and take in the view. When you come back down to earth, grab a quick lunch in a genuine New York City deli (there are several in this area) before you go to the matinee. After the show, you’ll be ready for another walk, so take a stroll to the Empire State Building. Watch the sunset go down from the top of the tower and then head back downstairs a hearty dinner in the Heartland Brewery, located right next to the Empire State Building lobby.

Day Three
On day three, you’ll explore the southern tip of the city. You can take a ferry from either the NYC side or the Jersey side of the river. The ferry will take you to Ellis Island and once you’ve finished visiting that site, you can hop back onto the ferry to go to see Lady Liberty. There is a restaurant just yards from the base of the statue, which is an excellent spot to grab a quick lunch. Just remember that if you want to go up into the lovely lady’s crown, you must order tickets well in advance. Go to http://www.nps.gov/stli/index.htmfor details.

In the afternoon, take the ferry back to the mainland and go to Ground Zero. After paying your respects at that site, be sure to take a walk through the historic St. Paul’s Chapel which stands just across the street from the World Trade Center. Both sites are, of course, quite somber, so be prepared to shed a few tears. However, you will not regret making the visit. Combining a visit to Ground Zero with a trip to the Statue of Liberty will leave you with a renewed sense of patriotism that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. I promise you that you will come away with the knowledge that freedom is not just an outdated concept from our nation’s history.

If you haven’t lingered too awfully long at either of those sites, you might have enough time to go back to Times Square and pick up tickets for an evening show. A quick pre-show dinner can be had at any one of dozens of restaurants on Times Square.

Miscellaneous Tips
On the subway: No matter what you read on the website, subway maps are not readily available in the stations. They have plenty map holders, just no maps. Also, unlike other cities such as D.C. and London, you cannot jump on just anywhere and get where you want to go. Pay attention to whether you want the A, B, C, etc. train and look for entrances marked accordingly. Entrances to the subway are plentiful but you may have to look around for the specific entrance you need.

Shopping: The most important thing you need to know about the glamorous, high-price stores in New York is that they offer discount shopping passes to visitors who live outside the State of New York. Just visit the customer service counter in each store, present your out-of-state driver’s license or passport and staff there will present you with a one-day discount shopping pass good for 10% to 20% off of nearly anything you buy, including sale items.

What to wear: People in New York City are fashionable, yet sensible. Wear your walking shoes. You will be walking . . . and walking and walking and walking. While some people dress for the theatre in the evening, casual wear is acceptable nearly everywhere. You’ll see plenty of tourists sporting casual clothes and carrying their shopping bags from the day into the theatre.

For other helpful travel tips, download a copy of my book, Simply Wonderful Travels from Amazon.com.

Next week, I'll post an interesting itinerary for Boston.

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