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Old 07-09-2010, 03:00 PM
 
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(Already posted this in the NYC forum-- but got ZERO replies!)

The week of July 18th - 25th I'll be staying at a friend's family home in the East Islip, Long Island area (after traveling with her by car from Charlotte NC) but planning to go by myself into Manhattan for one or two days. Will be taking the train/subway/buses, I'm a single female over 50, was born in NYC but moved out of the area when I was 5 yrs old. Visited relatives in NYC/Long Island almost every summer as a child/teen (in the 1960s & 70s), but no longer have any family in the area & haven't been back for about 25 years.

Interested in exploring the Midtown East area, specifically the 2nd Ave/51st St neighborhood since I stayed there often as a child when my grandmother lived there. Would like some suggestions for places to go, in the lower price range-- exploring area bookstores & boutiques, free days at museums, lower-priced places to eat. Ideally, I'd like to see things that are in close proximity so I won't spend all my time taking buses or the subway-- prefer to do a lot of walking, no problem with that-- I currently take 5-mile walks 3 - 4 days a week. Might consider venturing outside this particular location, might like to go to Central Park or Greenwich Village, maybe even go to a typical "tourist" destination if it doesn't take up my whole day. But again, don't want to spend all my time on public transit! Already looking at the TimeOut New York website for suggestions & Yelp.com for reviews -- other good websites for info?

Although I can go back to the Long Island home overnight, might consider staying at a hotel in the City one night-- good idea or not? (It will take me at least an hour and 15 minutes each way to travel from LI to Manhattan.) Suggestions for lower-priced accomodations not far from 2nd Ave/51st St? Can be very basic, as long as it's safe & clean. Saw a listing for the Ramada Eastside on Lexington & 30th St for $130/night -- any other bargains for $100/night or less? (where I won't have to use a shared bathroom?)

And while I'm very used to taking public transportation while living in Buffalo NY & Charlotte NC (since I've never owned a car), would appreciate some guidance about taking buses/subway in Manhattan. Per GoogleMaps directions, planning to take the train from the Huntington Long Island station (my friend will drive me there), transfer at Jamaica Queens, take subway to Lexington & 53rd St-- is this the best way to get to that area?

Would appreciate advice/suggestions geared toward my particular situation-- Thanks!
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Old 07-10-2010, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
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The first thing I'll say is that the New York (and in particular Manhattan) you remember as a kid/teenager/young adult is probably quite a bit different than the New York of today. Manhattan in general and midtown in particular is much safer and in most people's eyes nicer than it was in the 1960's/1970s/early 1980s, when NYC was probably at its nadir as a result of disinvestment, "suburban cool", and white flight. The graffiti days on the subway trains are long gone too.

Even though I've taken many day trips to New York, I really can't give you good advice about cheaper places to visit in Manhattan - I go there primarily to check out the subways (I'm a public transit geek ), attend baseball games, and check out various neighborhoods both in Manhattan and in the outer boroughs. (I think my favorite area in Manhattan, and by no means have I have been in all parts of Manhattan south of 110th Street, is the Chelsea neighborhood a mile or south of Penn Station.) I haven't really spent time in the 51st St/2nd Ave area of Manhattan; my guess is that area is a good though not great area by Manhattan standards, not overly close to the touristy places but also not a gentrifying area so much because it was already a reasonably nice area. Food-wise, I think it really depends on what you want to eat and want to spend. If you want to eat casual, you can't go wrong with just about any corner pizza place in Manhattan. The prices at those places can vary widely by A) how big the place is (and how much rent they have to pay) and B) where it's located relative to tourist areas. As an example, just last week (Friday 7/2) when I took my last NYC day trip, I came across a pizza place at 38th St/8th Ave with very limited seating (and outdoor standing tables) that had deals of 2 slices and a can of soda for $2.75 and a single slice for $1. Those are awesome prices anywhere, much less NYC. On the more expensive end, I've also eaten at places where a couple slices and a bottle of soda came out to a little less than $10. Another cheap food option would be any of the many street vendors that are around; they sell a wide variety of stuff. If you want to eat someplace a bit more upscale (sit down, non-fast food or pizza), the prices will probably will depend again on the neighborhood and size of the place; if I had to guess, where you'll be will probably be cheaper than places west and north of where you'll be and more expensive than places south of where you'll be.

With places to see, I'd recommend just spending a lot of time walking around in the general areas you want to see. New York is an easy city to walk in, especially north-south (most of the east-west "Streets" are relatively narrow, though most of the north-south "Avenues" are fairly wide and have a good bit of traffic), and you'll probably encounter some interesting places and neighborhoods in your travels that you weren't expecting. One place you may want to consider visiting that isn't far from 51st St/2nd Ave is Roosevelt Island, out in the middle of the East River. There is an elevated tramway between the island and Manhattan; I think the Manhattan end of the tramway is at 60th St/2nd Ave. I've never been to Roosevelt Island (it's on my to-do list for a future day trip) but from what I've read about the place it appears to be lower key than much of Manhattan. It may actually have some places you have interest in; you should do a little research if what I described sounds interesting. The tramway will obviously also give you some great views of midtown Manhattan, western Queens/Brooklyn, and the East River bridges.

As for lodging, I think it will be very hard for you to find something in Manhattan for under $100/night that doesn't involve shared accommodations or is not in a rough area (of which there are relatively few in Manhattan, especially south of Central Park, nowadays). I've never personally stayed overnight in NYC for personal reasons, but I'd personally recommend taking the LIRR back and forth each day for your Manhattan excursions. One positive about New York/LIRR is there is extensive service; being pretty far out on Long Island in East Islip I would think there will be somewhat less service during the off-peak times, but I'd be surprised if that service is less frequent than 1 train/hour (and it may be more frequent than that).

Finally for the transit (ahh, my area of knowledge ), the route you identified is probably the best one if you want to ride directly to the area you'd like to visit. One thing I'd strongly recommend is getting a New York subway/LIRR/Metro-North system map either before or early on the first day of your travels. (The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, runs the system; you should probably check their site out for not only maps but also LIRR schedules - do a Google search for New York MTA.) The map shows the subway system on one side, and 2/3 of New York's commuter rail system (Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad - the third component is New Jersey Transit, not shown on the map) on the other side of the map. This map is VERY helpful for getting around via transit, and it does give you some sense of where a few attractions are. I don't know if it will be available at LIRR rail stations, but it should be available at the Jamaica train station. There is a small, internal office with ticket windows and LIRR schedules at Jamaica at street level (below the LIRR level, above the subway level) and they should have maps there. Many of the tourist guides also have subway and/or bus maps in the back of the guide. One of the guides I often pick up when I go to NYC is City Guide (cityguideny.com), which does include those maps (albeit pretty small versions of them), plus various touristy things to do. At the major train stations, especially Penn Station (at 32nd St between 7th and 8th Avenues - you can get there directly via LIRR), there are usually many different city guide-type booklets available (as well as official New York MTA subway/LIRR/Metro-North maps - both the guides and maps can be found at the information booth near the center of the station, across a wide hallway from Don Pepi's Pizza), and I'd try to pick up some of those guides if at all possible. I'm not sure if they'd be available at Jamaica (which is not a typical tourist point of entry - there may be some stuff there though because of the rail connection to JFK Airport), but they should be available at Penn Station and Grand Central Station (the latter being closer to where you want to be, at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue; Grand Central will also have city borough bus maps readily available in the MTA transit store located on the northwest side of the station). A Google search of New York tourist or city guides should provide some useful information.

I know I rambled a bit above, but hopefully some of the above helps.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:07 PM
 
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Hey Chip, thanks for all the helpful info.

I've already decided I'll probably just take the train back & forth to Long Island rather than staying overnight in a Manhattan hotel. Also, recently discovered that I might be able to crash overnight on the couch of an acquaintance, she lives right in the 2nd Ave/51st St neighborhood.

I agree about just spending a lot of time walking around a neighborhood, that's what I'm planning to do. I know that the 2nd Ave/51st St area doesn't have the absolute most to offer, but I have my own personal, sentimental reasons for wanting to spend time there. After that, I'd like to focus on one other neighborhood, just wandering around walking, looking at the architecture, browsing shops, bookstores, restaurants, etc. Still trying to decide which neighborhood I'd like to explore, maybe Greenwich Village, the East Village or Soho. I'll also have to consider Chelsea, which you mentioned. Open to other suggestions! Hoping the weather's good that day (or days) for lots of walking, hopefully not super hot/humid like the recent NYC heat wave when it reached over 100 during the Queen's visit!

Still deciding whether to do one "touristy" thing such as going to Times Square, Rockefeller Center or taking one of those boat tours around the island.

Thanks again for your feedback/suggestions. BTW, I'm also a "public transit geek" and a baseball fan, in fact a Yankees fan. Not planning to get to Yankee Stadium this visit, but maybe some other time.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:20 PM
 
32,112 posts, read 33,023,250 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHIP72 View Post

With places to see, I'd recommend just spending a lot of time walking around in the general areas you want to see. New York is an easy city to walk in, especially north-south (most of the east-west "Streets" are relatively narrow, though most of the north-south "Avenues" are fairly wide and have a good bit of traffic), and you'll probably encounter some interesting places and neighborhoods in your travels that you weren't expecting. One place you may want to consider visiting that isn't far from 51st St/2nd Ave is Roosevelt Island, out in the middle of the East River. There is an elevated tramway between the island and Manhattan; I think the Manhattan end of the tramway is at 60th St/2nd Ave. I've never been to Roosevelt Island (it's on my to-do list for a future day trip) but from what I've read about the place it appears to be lower key than much of Manhattan. It may actually have some places you have interest in; you should do a little research if what I described sounds interesting. The tramway will obviously also give you some great views of midtown Manhattan, western Queens/Brooklyn, and the East River bridges.

As for lodging, I think it will be very hard for you to find something in Manhattan for under $100/night that doesn't involve shared accommodations or is not in a rough area (of which there are relatively few in Manhattan, especially south of Central Park, nowadays). I've never personally stayed overnight in NYC for personal reasons, but I'd personally recommend taking the LIRR back and forth each day for your Manhattan excursions. One positive about New York/LIRR is there is extensive service; being pretty far out on Long Island in East Islip I would think there will be somewhat less service during the off-peak times, but I'd be surprised if that service is less frequent than 1 train/hour (and it may be more frequent than that).

Finally for the transit (ahh, my area of knowledge ), the route you identified is probably the best one if you want to ride directly to the area you'd like to visit. One thing I'd strongly recommend is getting a New York subway/LIRR/Metro-North system map either before or early on the first day of your travels. (The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, runs the system; you should probably check their site out for not only maps but also LIRR schedules - do a Google search for New York MTA.) The map shows the subway system on one side, and 2/3 of New York's commuter rail system (Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad - the third component is New Jersey Transit, not shown on the map) on the other side of the map. This map is VERY helpful for getting around via transit, and it does give you some sense of where a few attractions are. I don't know if it will be available at LIRR rail stations, but it should be available at the Jamaica train station. There is a small, internal office with ticket windows and LIRR schedules at Jamaica at street level (below the LIRR level, above the subway level) and they should have maps there. Many of the tourist guides also have subway and/or bus maps in the back of the guide. One of the guides I often pick up when I go to NYC is City Guide (cityguideny.com), which does include those maps (albeit pretty small versions of them), plus various touristy things to do. At the major train stations, especially Penn Station (at 32nd St between 7th and 8th Avenues - you can get there directly via LIRR), there are usually many different city guide-type booklets available (as well as official New York MTA subway/LIRR/Metro-North maps - both the guides and maps can be found at the information booth near the center of the station, across a wide hallway from Don Pepi's Pizza), and I'd try to pick up some of those guides if at all possible. I'm not sure if they'd be available at Jamaica (which is not a typical tourist point of entry - there may be some stuff there though because of the rail connection to JFK Airport), but they should be available at Penn Station and Grand Central Station (the latter being closer to where you want to be, at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue; Grand Central will also have city borough bus maps readily available in the MTA transit store located on the northwest side of the station). A Google search of New York tourist or city guides should provide some useful information.
I wanted to add that on Roosevelt Island there is a promenade on the side facing Manhattan's East Side. So you can get a nice view of the Manhattan Skyline from there.
I agree also with the poster above that finding lodging in Manhattan for under $100 a night without a shared bathroom will be difficult. If you are willing to compromise on that issue, I would suggest the Vanderbilt Y on East 47th Street (see YMCA of Greater New York: Manhattan NYC Hostels near Grand Central | Vanderbilt Guest Rooms) which has individual rooms but shared bathrooms. My uncle (who is likes things to be clean!) stayed there many years ago and was completed satisfied with it.
If you are planning on using the subway/bus a lot, I would suggest that you buy a daily unlimited Metrocard which costs $8.25. (See mta.info | Home Page for subway & bus information.)
I don't know of any free attractions in the area that you mentioned. But if you are interested the Metropolitan Museum of Art & the American Museum of Natural History have suggested contributions (rather than general admission) so you can pay little or as much as you wish to enter.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:22 PM
 
32,112 posts, read 33,023,250 times
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Originally Posted by newbie09 View Post

Still deciding whether to do one "touristy" thing such as going to Times Square, Rockefeller Center or taking one of those boat tours around the island.

Thanks again for your feedback/suggestions. BTW, I'm also a "public transit geek" and a baseball fan, in fact a Yankees fan. Not planning to get to Yankee Stadium this visit, but maybe some other time.
You might want to consider taking the free ferry ride to Staten Island for a great view of the Statue of Liberty.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
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I second the Staten Island Ferry idea. I just did that for the second time ever in my last visit, and you get spectacular views on a clear day of lower Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn, Jersey City, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governors Island, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

By the way, Chelsea is just north/northwest of Greenwich Village so you could probably hit both of them easily as part of one long walk.

EDIT: From looking at a different Manhattan neighborhood map, it appears the area I was calling Chelsea might be part of the northern portion of the West Village (say just south of 14th Street near 7th and 8th Avenues).
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by CHIP72 View Post
I second the Staten Island Ferry idea. I just did that for the second time ever in my last visit, and you get spectacular views on a clear day of lower Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn, Jersey City, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governors Island, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

By the way, Chelsea is just north/northwest of Greenwich Village so you could probably hit both of them easily as part of one long walk.

EDIT: From looking at a different Manhattan neighborhood map, it appears the area I was calling Chelsea might be part of the northern portion of the West Village (say just south of 14th Street near 7th and 8th Avenues).
The Staten Island ferry is on East side of Lower Manhattan (which is not very close to Chelsea).
Another idea is to visit Governors Island if you are coming into Manhattan on a weekend as there are free ferries there (on weekends) plus various free weekend events. (See Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (http://www.govisland.com/Default.asp - broken link)). The Governors Island ferry terminal is near the Staten Island ferry terminal.
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:22 PM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
3,451 posts, read 8,158,513 times
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Originally Posted by Chava61 View Post
The Staten Island ferry is on East side of Lower Manhattan (which is not very close to Chelsea).
Yeah, I know that (and I'd guess the OP probably knew that too); I was just putting a couple of different thoughts into one post. It doesn't hurt to clarify that for anyone who reads this thread in the future for informational purposes though.

To the OP - if you use the Staten Island Ferry, you almost definitely will want to take the subway (either the 1 Train or the R Train) to get there because the Ferry is on the southern tip of Manhattan. (For whatever it is worth, one time I walked all the way from the Penn Station area all the way down to the World Trade Center site, and that was a LONG walk, probably at least 45 minutes. The Staten Island Ferry is probably about another 10-15 minutes walk south of the WTC site.) The R Train does stop relatively close to 51st Street & 2nd Avenue.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:24 PM
 
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Thanks again for all the suggestions-- keep them coming!
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:36 PM
 
32,112 posts, read 33,023,250 times
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Originally Posted by CHIP72 View Post
Yeah, I know that (and I'd guess the OP probably knew that too); I was just putting a couple of different thoughts into one post. It doesn't hurt to clarify that for anyone who reads this thread in the future for informational purposes though.

To the OP - if you use the Staten Island Ferry, you almost definitely will want to take the subway (either the 1 Train or the R Train) to get there because the Ferry is on the southern tip of Manhattan. (For whatever it is worth, one time I walked all the way from the Penn Station area all the way down to the World Trade Center site, and that was a LONG walk, probably at least 45 minutes. The Staten Island Ferry is probably about another 10-15 minutes walk south of the WTC site.) The R Train does stop relatively close to 51st Street & 2nd Avenue.
Rather than taking the R local train from 51st St/2nd Ave., it is faster to take the 4 or 5 express trains to the Bowling Green station.
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