Our family vacation to New York City
Since my husband was 12 years old and saw the movie Beat Street, he has wanted to visit New York City. Taking a trip there was on his bucket list, and since he turns 50 this week, I had told him a few months ago that we should take the trip to celebrate him turning 50. We couldn't go over his birthday week, because our son had a soccer camp he was committed to attending, so we went the week before. I'm sharing our experience here in case anyone else may be planning a trip there and find it of interest to read.
We flew to NYC on Spirit Airlines. Our flight there was great, there were no issues. Our flight back was just fine, and then once we landed at the Orlando airport we sat on the plane one hour and 15 minutes before they would let us off. Then it was another hour or so before our luggage came out at baggage claim. The over two hour delay put us getting home around 2:30 am. But they offered the most affordable rates for flying, but quite a bit, so the delay was still worth it. Plus, they gave us each a $50 voucher toward future travel for the inconvenience. We flew into La Guardia Airport and then took their bus to the subway station in Queens, where we then boarded the Subway and took it into the Times Square area, where our hotel was.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Times Square. I'd never do that again! The hotel was fine. It was the smallest hotel room I have ever seen in my life, but it was nice and clean. The porch out front of the hotel had benches and homeless people lived on them, but that didn't really bother me either. They never bothered people. I just wouldn't stay in the Times Square area again. We saw a lot of NYC on this trip and that is the only area that I absolutely did not like. It's pure chaos! Loads of people, homeless, smells, etc. It's horrible. As you walk, it's a constant barrage of smells of weed, pee, and poop. There is human urine all over the sidewalks, trash everywhere, and it's just a nasty dirty area. Lots of people standing around smoking weed, trucks selling it, and lots of people just high as a kite walking around or sitting against the buildings. I didn't like that area at all and would only go back to that are to see a Broadway show. There was a mobile police unit that stayed in front of our hotel the whole time, too. The hotel was $1300 total for the five nights that we stayed.
Entertainment and Sightseeing
We did attend a Broadway show, which was fabulous! We saw "Plaza Suite" at the Hudson Theatre, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick. Our daughter is a big performing arts fan and really wanted to attend a show, so we let her choose which one to go to. She knew both of these actors, which is why she picked it. The theatre is historic and beautiful. The show was fantastic! Both actors were amazing on stage and the writing of the script was top-notch. It was funny and entertaining. Attending the show was around $450 for the four of us, and that was with buying the "nose bleed" seats as my husband calls them. Even so, we still had a wonderful view due to the way the theatre was built back in 1905.
There is so much to see and do in NYC that you really have to have a long vacation or try to pack a lot into your shorter one. We packed a lot into our five night, six day vacation. We walked 65 miles, biked 12 miles, took a boat tour, and used the subway a lot. We covered a lot of ground! We visited four of the five boroughs. We biked Central Park, which was awful, to be honest! We rented bikes on a Sunday afternoon and biked all around Central Park. It's pure chaos! It's so busy that it's like riding your bike on a busy freeway, and there's lots of elevations, so it's tough. Many people found it difficult and walked their bike on the up hill spots. We hated biking Central Park, because it was so stressful and chaotic. We went back to Central Park on a Tuesday evening. My husband ran 6 miles, while the rest of us just chilled on the grass and took in the views. That was pleasant and we enjoyed it.
We took the Circle Line sunset boat tour, which was great. It's a two-hour boat ride that takes you out so you can see the buildings, Statue of Liberty, etc. We liked that. We also visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, which was great. There is a cafeteria at Ellis Island, so we had lunch there. They also have tables out on the grass where you can dine. The boat ride to these islands was $26 per person, then there's no addition fee to enter the grounds of both places. It's free to tour inside Ellis Island, whish is a great place to see. You can pay to go inside the Statue of Liberty, but we didn't. Seeing the outside was enough for us.
We went to see the 9-11 memorial as well. We didn't pay to go into the museum, or any museums. When we went to Washington DC we went to a lot of museums, because they were free there. But we didn't want to pay to go into all the museums in NYC. We are not big museum people.
My son took his soccer ball on the trip (of course) and we went to three soccer fields for him to train some. One was closed for maintenance (in Chinatown), but he did play at the one at the Brooklyn park and one in Chelsea. While he did that the rest of us just sat and enjoyed the park. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge and hung out at the park there for a while. We are Sex & The City fans, too, so we walked over to see where Carrie Bradshaw's apartment was (66 Perry St), which was really cool. We are also big Seinfeld fans, so we went to see the restaurant shown in the Seinfeld series (Tom's Restaurant).
We went to see all the notable buildings, such as the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, etc. There are ones with observation platforms, but they were all $40-50 per person, and we were not willing to pay that. But we walked around and looked at all the notable buildings and hotspots. We walked the High Line, which is a great elevated pedestrian trail that offers cool views, a garden on both sides of the path, and plenty of shade, along with benches to take a seat. There were even food carts on the High Line. Oh, the guys took in a soccer game at Yankee Stadium, while my daughter and I went to lunch and shopped.
We had no intentions of taking the subway at night, because we had read a lot that it's dangerous. So we did take the subway a lot on this trip, but not at night. The subway was great for us. I think it's an impressive system that moves two million people per day. The subway cars themselves were always clean and well air conditioned. We had no issues with the subway. When we first arrived to Queens at the subway station we purchased a one-week pass for each of us, which gave us unlimited rides for $33 each. That worked out great and it was the better route to take, because we did use it quite a bit.
The news had me afraid to visit NYC, really. I kept reading about how dangerous it was and I was a little afraid and had told my husband about it. Well, I am happy to say that I never felt unsafe. Even in the chaotic area of Times Square with so much crap going on, I never felt unsafe. There are literally police everywhere! Nobody bothered us the entire time. We were back to our room each night around 10-11 pm, because I know it would be more dangerous out later, but during the times we were out and where we went we never felt unsafe. We feared not being able to find a public restroom more than crime. Seriously! You risk dehydration walking around sightseeing, because you are afraid to drink and have to urinate. Finding a public restroom is hard! Even many stores and businesses you are purchasing from won't let people use the restroom. This is why there is urine on so many streets.
I can only speak as a vegetarian diner, but I was in food heaven when it came to options, not so much when it came to prices. There were so many vegetarian/vegan restaurants and even those that weren't had plenty of options for us. We had more choices than we had time for. I had numerous great dining experiences. We had great vegan Chinese food in Chinatown, vegan sandwiches in Hell's Kitchen, awesome pasta in Little Italy, delicious soul food in Harlem, etc. I have always heard that pizza is the best in NYC. So we had to try the pizza. My family tried it from five different places, while I only tried it from 3 (and one of the places was just a couple of bites). I didn't find the pizza to be all that great at the places I tried, except for Joe's Pizza! They had the highest google ratings and they did not disappoint. The pizza was great! The $1 per slice pizza places, well, they were not good. When it came to breakfast, we had a great pastry cart outside the hotel that we ate at and it was good, and they had great customer service. I love how there are food carts all over NYC! We got falafel pitas and other items from them and they were always good and affordable. Food off the carts would be around $8-10 per person. When we dined at restaurants the bill was around $75-100 for the four of us, without ordering drinks.
We had a great vacation, albeit an exhausting one! We covered a lot of ground and saw a lot of things. We would go back again for sure, but just not stay anywhere near Times Square. It was a great trip!
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