Living in Maryland for 7 years gave me the opportunity to site see in many different areas on the East Coast. I love road trips and seeing new things so it was great to be within hours of so many amazing locations like Gettysburg, PA; Williamsburg, VA; Washington DC and my favorite New York City.
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New York City was a quick train ride or drive and very doable for a day trip from the Baltimore/Fort Meade area. Now some of our day trips started at 5am and we made it home after midnight but still fun.
After going so many times I learned some tips and tricks that helped save time and money. Don’t we all love that.
My favorite way to get to the city was by train. Living near the Amtrak station in Maryland made it easy to jump on a train for a planned trip or even last minute. The trains had outlet plugs at every seat, wifi, a food car, bathrooms and room for luggage. I always enjoyed the train because I could work or relax and the price if I bought a few weeks before a trip could be as low as $49 one way.
If you aren’t a fan of trains or the price isn’t as low as you would like you can drive. From my experience of driving from Maryland there were two routes to take. One that took you through the Holland tunnel and one that took you through the Lincoln tunnel. The drive if traffic doesn’t back up should be around 3 hours to get to the city. That doesn’t include looking for parking.
With both routes I very quickly learned that going through the Holland tunnel saved quite a bit of time. The two times I went through the Lincoln tunnel the 3 hour trip turned to 5 hours due to traffic.
Going through the Holland tunnel puts you at the south end of Manhattan and near the Statue of Liberty and 911 Memorial. So if your planning a day trip and the Statue of Liberty is on your list of stops then driving this way helps you avoid some traffic and get to a good starting point.
When driving make sure you choose a parking garage before you arrive to the city so you can know exactly where you are going. (Check out Parking Panda and Spot Hero) Pick a parking garage that is open late. We made the mistake of picking one that closed at 6pm one time and my husband ran a few miles to get back and grab our car before it got locked in for the night. (Traffic was to crazy close to 6 for him to grab a cab and he was silly enough to run instead of taking the subway with the crowd.)
STATUE OF LIBERTY
Now if you want to see the Statue of Liberty I don’t really recommend going on the typical boat tour to the island. Now I know some people will want to do this to actually get on the island and if touring is open go inside but from my experience this is a very time consuming activity. My family’s favorite way to see it is from a boat tour called “The Beast”. The Beast is by far the best boat ride in NYC. This is a high speed boat tour (take ponchos because you can get wet). They take you over near the island and you get to take great pictures of the Statue of Liberty. (If you choose to go the route of “The Beast” boat then I recommend you plan to do this later in the day and start your day at the 911 Memorial.
The next stop I recommend is the 911 Memorial. The outside memorial is free but to go into the museum there is a cost. I recommend getting the “New York Pass” if planning to see a few locations in the city during your trip. You can buy it ahead of time online. If you can hit at least 3 locations included with the pass it pays for itself. It also gets you through lines faster which is always nice.
From the memorial if you want a New York experience then jump on the Subway. There are maps once you get down to the Subway so you can make sure you jump on the correct line. I would say to take the subway to a stop near 5th Ave. From here you can do a little walking and check out the stores and maybe pop into Tiffany’s!
After you had your fill of shopping and maybe some food then head over to Rockefeller Center. You can see the skating rink, stop by and grab a tour time at the Radio City Music Hall and then head to “Top of the Rock”.
TOP OF THE ROCK
Top of the Rock is my favorite way to see the city from above. You do have the option of the Empire State Building but in my opinion the wait time is to long and the view is not as good. I like that you can see almost the entire city and Central Park from Top on the Rock.
Now depending on your timing and what else you want to do I would say do a quick walk over to Central Park especially if it is a pretty day. It is only a few blocks away and you can grab a few pictures.
Next head over to Time Square. No trip to New York (if it is your first trip) is complete without seeing time square. Now be prepared that it is really crowded almost all the time. They have done a lot of remodeling over the last few years which has increased the walking space.
If you are in the city more than one day and want to check out a show I highly recommend “Wicked”. It is by far my favorite broadway show. I have also seen Lion King, Cinderella, Le Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast and Rock of Ages. (Some are still on broadway and some are touring off broadway.)
Grab food on or near time square before your night is over. Once you are ready to end your visit then grab an uber and head back to your vehicle.
You can grab gas if you need it once you get out of the city and in New Jersey.
Make sure you are prepared for the tolls through New Jersey before you start your trip and the one coming into New York City. Typically I found if only going for a day or two and going with at least 3 or more people it can be cheaper to drive. Especially if your trip is last minute.
Don’t forget to check out the New York Pass. They do have 1-3 day options.
Let me know if you have gone to New York and any tips you recommend.
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Head over to A Day Trip to Gatlinburg for more fun things to do. (Coming Soon)