Monday, August 13, 2012

Visiting New York City Without A Car

I had the pleasure of visiting New York City with my sister and husband one summer for a whirlwind three days before attending a wedding in the Hudson River Valley.  What an incredible city!

One of our goals for the trip was to do all of our sightseeing without using cars, including cabs.  This might not seem like such a novel idea to NYC locals, many of whom don't own a vehicle, but for a Utah girl who depends on her car almost every day, it was pretty radical.  Combine this with a crazy heat/humidity combo and the fact that my sister was 6 months pregnant at the time, and we certainly had an adventure on our hands.

Here’s how we accomplished our “no car” goal:

1. After flying into JFK, we took an express bus from the airport to Grand Central.  It was relatively easy and quick, and very affordable.

2. From Grand Central, we walked, yes walked, to our hotel near Radio City Music Hall.  This one was a killer, given the aforementioned heat/humidity and pregnancy.  However, it was worth it for sightseeing value alone, and it wasn’t all that bad since we only had carry on luggage (with wheels, thank goodness).

3.  We braved the subway.  After all the scary things we’d heard about the subway over the years, this one turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  Very helpful employees, lovely air conditioning, easy-to-read maps, and took us pretty much everywhere we wanted to go that wasn't within walking distance.

4. We hoofed it.  Walking everywhere allowed us to see so many great parts of the city, many of which we wouldn't have seen had we taken a cab.  One day on our way to Central Park, we were suddenly surrounded by a large crowd.  Music started playing and a bunch of guys broke out break dancing.  We grabbed an ice cream from a nearby vendor and enjoyed the impromptu show. It was also rewarding to discover a couple of great delis/coffee shops after walking past them on the street.

5. We took the Staten Island Ferry, a great (free!) ride that gave us a fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.  

6. When it was time to leave the city and travel to the wedding near Fishkill, we walked back to Grand Central and took the Hudson Line train on the Metro-North Railroad.  What a beautiful ride, right along the Hudson River!  I would highly recommend taking this detour from the city if you have time.

7. Two days later and very sad to leave, we took the train back to Grand Central, then enjoyed a quick cup of coffee there before boarding an express bus back to JFK.

I was surprised that I didn't miss having a vehicle at all, and actually felt that our trip was much more enjoyable without one.  What cities have you seen without a car?

Please visit Travel Tips Tuesday at Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkingon Travels for more wonderful travel-related tips!