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Old 03-30-2013, 10:38 AM   #1
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New Yorkers: Please comment on my "budget" NYC itinerary **Updated Itinerary Post #77

Happy Spring!

I have been planning at family trip to NYC for this June; cast will most likely include myself, DS, DD and her Dboyfriend. I have been doing much research and checking out lots of information on TripAdvisor (I LOVE TripAdvisor!). After re-working a few things, I have an itinerary I'd love some natives from NYC to check out and comment on, if you have the time.

We are driving from Illinois and I currently have reservations (AAA)at the TRYP hotel which is on W. 34th Street and 9th Ave. (Watching for other bargains on TravelZoo). I know we will be paying $40/day to park with the hotel. I plan to get a subway pass. I also have already purchased tickets for the Lion King, so that activity is set without wiggle room.

My itinerary is below. I understand the Statue of Liberty is closed until July due to Sandy; can you tell me if she has also interfered with any of the locations below? My plan was also to get a CityPass; I know there are several types of passes, but this seemed the best for our plans. Some days may be switched due to weather. Are there any activities that should/shouldn't be done on the weekends vs. week days? Any comments on anything are welcome. Thanks!

*Friday 6/14:Arrive from Illinois around 7pm EST (how crazy will traffic be? This is the one thing that scares this mid-western girl!)
*Saturday: ToTR, Library, Grand Central Station (lunch), possibly a museum, Harbor Cruise
*Sunday: Chinatown, Scott's Pizza Tour, Little Italy, Improve at Upright Citizens Brigade at 7:30pm
* Monday: ESB, 9/11 Memorial/St. Paul's Chapel, Wall Street/Trinity Church, ESB after dark
*Tuesday: Central Park (picnic lunch from Zabar's Deli), Museum, Dylan's Candy Bar, Carmine's for dinner/The Lion King
*Wednesday: Intrepid Museum, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge/eat/walk around and back across the bridge
*Thursday: Drive home

I thought about possibly switching Saturday with Monday so we wouldn't have two later nights in a row (ESB after 10pm--City Pass--Monday night, then the Lion King on Tuesday night), also, would it be better to go to Wall Street and such on a weekend? I may try to get tickets to Jimmy Fallon, but my son will be 2 weeks shy of his 16th birthday so I am going to ask when I call if he will make the cut or not.

Thanks for any suggestions you can offer!
Me DD(20) DS(17)

Last edited by Soupermom; 04-10-2013 at 02:33 PM. Reason: Update
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Old 03-30-2013, 11:37 AM   #2
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I'm not a New Yorker, but I do travel there a couple of times a year.

1) Hotel/Parking - I've never had a car in NYC before, so not overly knowledgeable about that. It might make sense to look for a public garage around there that might be cheaper than the hotel parking at $40/day. I know I've seen a couple of parking garages in NYC show up on daily deals sites (groupon / livingsocial / etc). Or it might be worthwhile to consider staying somewhere outside Manhattan convenient to the train lines and take a train in and out of Manhattan. Or even taking Amtrak to NYC - I live in Chicagoland and would much rather take the train rather than driving.

2) I would go to Wall Street area during a workday -- that area tends to empty out in the evenings/weekends. Part of the fun of seeing it is all the bustle.

3) 9/11 memorial - make sure you get tickets ahead of time. I never think to try to get tickets until the week before (bad planning on my part) and have never actually managed to get tickets.

4) The Lion King is awesome! And Carmine's isn't bad either --- though it is normally VERY busy...so make sure you get reservations and leave a bit of extra wiggle time in the schedule.
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:23 PM   #3
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Any chance that your 15-YO DS will be 16 by then? If so - I would look in to getting tickets for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Minimum age is 16, and they are very particular about that! We saw a taping in December, and it was wonderful! And - it is "free"!

We saw the 9-11 Memorial, and it will take your breath away, for many reasons.

I wish we could have gotten on a tour for the Federal Reserve Bank in NY, but they were already booked up for the days we could have gone! We are geeky about stuff like that, so I was really bummed that we missed out. I think the minimum age is also 16, so may or may not be an option for you.

If you have a nice day - I would recommend the Top of the Rock - again - we LOVE stuff like that. It isn't mentioned at all when you pay for tickets - but they do have discounts if you have an AAA card. (Not much - but heck - any discount is better than list price.) Others on the Disboards prefer the Empire State Building, so maybe that is an option too!

And - if you have a smartphone - put the app "Hopstop" on it. it gives great directions, for different transportation modes (i.e. walking, , taxi and subway.) We found that to be very useful while we were in town!
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:26 PM   #4
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don't worry about traffic! There is nothing you can do about it...nothing scary just annoying!!! Patience!

I highly suggest the BEAST speed boat ride. It is located next to the Intrepid. It is soooo much fun and it gets really close to the statue of liberty for some great pics!

Have you looked at the nypass.....


the intrepid and beast are included in that. If you do go to Times Square and want to go to some of the overpriced tourist traps...they are also included. I know my kids love the wax museum.

The Roosevelt Island tram is very close to Dylans. You use the metro card. It is a nice short ride.

if anyone likes trains, the transit museum in Brooklyn is cool. We actually walked there from the bridge...it was a really nice day, but it was pretty far. The kids complained! This is also included in the nypass.


there is so much to do and see... Have fun!!!!
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Old 03-30-2013, 01:15 PM   #5
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I'd try to tweak your arrival time. Rush hour in the NYC metro area starts around 3:30 on Fridays, anywhere within an hour of the city. I live less than 10 miles from the tunnels. A month ago, I had to go somewhere in Jersey City on a Friday night, right outside the Holland Tunnel. It took 1 1/2 hours. Your issue will be trying to get on an island at a very busy time.

ETA - 1010 and 880 (both am) are good stations to listen to with traffic reports. They will have times for the tunnels and bridge.
Me DH dd14 ds13 dd10 ds8 dd8

Last edited by mjkacmom; 03-30-2013 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 03-30-2013, 02:16 PM   #6
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you should each get a weekly MetroCard for the subways/buses. Much cheaper than pay per ride.

ESB is great but you can get a combo-pass for Top of the Rock/Museum of Modern Art --- I think it's about $38 per person. The only thing is, you have to use it on the same day and you can't go back to Top of the Rock after dark.

You can't visit Liberty Island right now but you CAN see the Statue of Liberty by taking a ride on the Staten Island ferry (free)

The Roosevelt Island Tram is so cool! You can get some great photos from it and once you get to Roosevelt Island, you can take the bus around the island for (I think) 25 cents. Not much to see but it's a nice ride and there is a little gift shop near the bus stop (of course!)

Dylan's Candy Bar (fun!)

Serendipity 3 (make sure you have a reservation and even then it will still be a looooong wait)

Hello Kitty/Sanrio in Times Square (on 42nd between b'way and eighth across from madame tussaud's)

Fifth Avenue from 57th down to 45th (great stores and then Rockefeller Center/Plaza)

Talk Shows -- if you want to see some NYC based talk shows, go to their website. Many allow you to choose the day you want to come.
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Old 03-30-2013, 02:28 PM   #7
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Old 03-30-2013, 02:43 PM   #8
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How cool that you're including a performance at Upright Citizens Brigade. My son is taking improv classes there and occasionally performs. He's moving to LA mid- June so won't be there when you go. Enjoy!
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Old 03-30-2013, 02:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by aboveH20 View Post
How cool that you're including a performance at Upright Citizens Brigade. My son is taking improv classes there and occasionally performs. He's moving to LA mid- June so won't be there when you go. Enjoy!
Nyc (22 years) GO TO MUSEUMS. Go to high line. eat drink at any outdoor cafe and use subways and buses. pm any times for more specifics.
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:24 PM   #10
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I don't have anything to add as I"ve only been to NYC once and we didn't really get to see much. But we are hoping to take trip there next year and take our teenage kids. Never heard of Dylans Candy Bar so I looked it up online and they have a cafe. Just added that to our list of stuff to see. Looks neat!

I will be watching this thread to see what else everyone has to offer!
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:30 PM   #11
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Do you have an iPhone, or smart phone? If so, use HopStop app for detailed steps of how to get from one place to another. Which subways (you really should use the subways, they are just very NYC). It also gives detailed walking instructions. I get a little confused with the busses, and get by with walking, subways, and the occasional taxi.

For parking, I use the Better Parking app on my phone, but some of the info is iffy at times. And some of the parking options listed are tiny.

I live in NJ, and you are doing more stuff than I do in a year in NYC, lol. I have been to Dylans Candy bar though, and have seen Lion King 2-3 times. There are fun things to see in touristy Times Square, too.

A shame you are missing Central Park, and not seeing a zoo (although the fantastic Bronx zoo is quite a haul from central Manhattan), and the Central Park Zoo is nice but small. The NY Acquarium is very good as well, but also not centrally located, although it is right next to Coney Island and the famous Cyclone. (hopefully it will re-open, not sure about any Sandy damage)
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Old 03-30-2013, 03:47 PM   #12
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The traffic coming into the city might not be too bad 7 since many NYers leave for the weekend to go to the Hamptons. I actually prefer Top of the Rock to ESB, it may be because I've been on too many field trips there! Also, as someone else suggested, the BEAST speedboat is great! My younger cousins have all done it, much more exciting then a liberty cruise. I saw The Lion King a few years ago! You're going to love it! Carmine's is very busy but good food, may sure you have a reservation. If you're looking for a museum one of my favorites as a child is the Museum of Natural History, can't beat the dinosaurs! Last, try to check out Madame Tussauds, again a favorite of mine in NYC and i'm not too much older then your DD.
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Old 03-30-2013, 05:27 PM   #13
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I second the Highline

NYC can get a bit overwhelming and walking a section of the Highline Park is a great way to get yourself back together. A quiet stroll along the one of the strangest green spaces I have ever encountered is not to be missed. And certainly fits the budget heading
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:39 PM   #14
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The Bronx Zoo is awesome and NOT much of a haul from Manhattan. You can simply take the express bus (the BxM11 bus at 26 St and Madison). You CANNOT use a weekly MetroCard for this. It is a pay per ride and is I believe $6.50 each way now. The express bus leaves you off about 1/2 block from the entrance to the zoo and you pick up the return bus just outside the zoo gate. The bus only takes about 30 minutes (probably less) to get to the zoo.

Best to get to the zoo early. They open at 10am and that's when the animals are most active. if you go on Wednesday it's free but it's also crowded like crazy. If you go on a day where you have to pay, I would get an all access pass --- this way you can see special exhibits free and take the zoo bus thingy from one side of the zoo to the other.

You can google or bing the bus schedule. I would just put in BxM11 bus schedule and it will bring it up.

Last edited by NYCDiane; 03-30-2013 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 03-30-2013, 07:05 PM   #15
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You have 5 days in NYC which really isn't a lot for all there is to do. With that in mind, I'd skip Dylan's Candy Bar. They don't sell anything you can't buy anywhere else in the US, for much less money. I would not make a special trip there for some overpriced gummy bears and other candy. Unless you have several small kids, it's really not worth it and you aren't doing anything else in that location. If you really have a hankering for a candy experience I'd look at Max Brenner, it's a little more interesting -


I would not do the Empire State Building twice. You are already doing Top of the Rock in the daytime, doing the Empire State Building at night will be nice. All of these things take time, just all of the traveling around will take up much of your day.

If you skip the morning ESB plan, you can finish up with the 9/11 and Wall Street area by early afternoon. You are right by the Brooklyn Bridge, I would go across that day, eat at Grimaldi's and take the water taxi back across. Walking both ways is really not necessary and it's much longer than it looks. You don't just exit down off the bridge where the restaurants are, you have to go all the way to the end and loop around.

Where does your Harbour Cruise leave from? I would plan to do some activity in that area or that is easily along the way.

Like the pp said, on your Central Park day I would consider also doing the zoo since you're already there. It's small, nothing like the Bronx Zoo, and won't take up too much time. My favorite museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick.

If you've already done the Brooklyn Bridge thing you have a lot of time on your Intrepid Day. Since that is on the west side, you can easily get to the Highline, walk across to the end and then spend some time in the Meatpacking area and West Village.


I know Carmine's is the big place on here, I prefer Toni DiNapoli's.

Roosevelt Island is a pit of nothing, the tram ride is fine but since you are already walking across the Brookly Bridge I'd say that's enough time looking at the East River.

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