The Rough Guide to New York City 11by Martin Dunford, Rough Guides
The Rough Guide to New York City covers all five boroughs of this exhilarating city. The full-colour introduction showcases the city’s many highlights, from the art-deco masterpiece The Chrysler Building, to the acres of green at Central Park. Special features include ‘Ethnic New York’, a look at the city’s cultural past, and ‘New York… See more details below
The Rough Guide to New York City covers all five boroughs of this exhilarating city. The full-colour introduction showcases the city’s many highlights, from the art-deco masterpiece The Chrysler Building, to the acres of green at Central Park. Special features include ‘Ethnic New York’, a look at the city’s cultural past, and ‘New York Architecture’ detailing the world’s most famous skyline. This fully updated edition explores New York’s history and culture, includes detailed listings on everything from the city’s best shopping areas to its free summer activities, gives practical information on getting there and around, and reviews all the best accommodation and restaurants for every budget. With new and expanded maps, more photos than ever and that practical grittiness you’d expect from a Rough Guide, this is the must have companion to the cultural melting pot of New York City.
Make the most of your time with The Rough Guide to New York City.
Read an Excerpt
Unless you are coming from close by on the east coast, the quickest and easiest way of getting to New York is by flying into one of its three major airports, John F. Kennedy, Newark or La Guardia (see "Arrival" on p. 19 for specific details on each). Your cost will depend on where you're coming from and when, but New York is going to be on every major airline's itinerary, so you shouldn't want for choice. The highest fares will be May through September and mid-December through early January, though if you're traveling within the US there will be a lot less seasonal variance.
You can often cut costs by going through a specialist flight agent either a consolidator, who buys up blocks of tickets from the airlines and sells them at a discount, or a discount agent, who in addition to dealing with discounted flights may also offer special student and youth fares and a range of other travel-related services such as travel insurance, rail passes, car rentals, tours and the like. Some agents specialize in charter flights, which may be cheaper than anything available on a scheduled flight, but again departure dates are fixed and withdrawal penalties are high. Package trips, in which accommodation, sometimes even Broadway tickets, is included along with the flight, can also work out to be less expensive.
Another option if traveling from the US or Canada is to go by train, bus or car, though these inevitably take much longer than a plane and sometimes work out no cheaper.
Booking flights online
Many airlines and discount travelwebsites offer you the opportunity to book your tickets online, which may cut out the costs of agents and middlemen. Good deals can often be found through discount or auction sites, as well as through the airlines' own websites.
Flights and other approaches from the US and Canada
From most places in North America, flying is the fastest and easiest way to reach New York. It can also be the cheapest but finding that cheap fare won't always be easy. Fares fluctuate wildly, and it doesn't make sense to try to quote them here. Even the shuttles flights used mainly by business people during the week from nearby Boston and Washington, DC, can vary from month to month.
Regardless, New York is a major hub for North American traffic. Prices depend more on passenger volume than anything else, so you'll do better (if you have a choice) flying from a large city. Call the major airlines as early as possible even earlier if you're traveling at Thanksgiving or Christmas because cheap fares usually account for only a portion of the seats available on a given flight. It's not impossible to get a last-minute deal, but on the major airlines cheapest fares usually require you to purchase your ticket 14 or 21 days in advance and stay a Saturday night. Keep an eye open for any special promotional fares. The smaller airlines often pitch in with cheaper deals. Travel agents won't necessarily find you a better fare so much as save you the trouble of phoning yourself. Round-trip fares from the West Coast tend to average around $425, though can be as little as $325; from Chicago it's about $250 and roughly $200 from Miami. From Canada, reckon on paying CAN$340 or so from Toronto or Montréal and about CAN$840 from Vancouver. Change fees on most major airlines have risen to $100, so be sure of your schedule before the ticket is issued.
Look for details on specialist flight agents in small ads in the backs of newspapers they can be the best place to find last-minute options and one-way tickets, which can be ridiculously expensive on the big airlines. Penalties for changing your plans can be stiff, and these companies make their money by dealing in bulk so don't expect them to answer lots of questions. These agents often book flights on small, no-name airlines; that's how they get them so cheap.
Many operators run all-inclusive vacations, combining plane tickets and accommodation with (for example) sightseeing, dining or admission to Broadway shows. Even if the "package" aspect doesn't thrill you, these deals can be more convenient and more economical than arranging the same thing yourself, providing you don't mind losing a little flexibility. With so many packages available, it's impossible to give an overview major travel agents have brochures detailing what is being offered.
Air Canada (T) 1-888/247-2262, (W) www.aircanada.ca
America West Airlines (T) 1-800/235-9292, (W) www.americawest.com
American Airlines (T) 1-800/433-7300, (W) www.aa.com
Continental Airlines (T) 1-800/525-0280, (W) www.flycontinental.com
Delta Airlines (T) 1-800/221-1212, (W) www.delta.com
Hawaiian Airlines (T) 1-800/367-5320, (W) www.hawaiianair.com
JetBlue (T) 1-800/538-2583, (T) www.jetblue.com Northwest Airlines (T) 1-800/225-2525, (W) www.nwa.com
Southwest Airlines (T) 1-800/435-9792, (W) www.iflyswa.com
TWA (T) 1-800/221-2000, (W) www.twa.com
United Airlines (T) 1-800/241-6522, (W) www.ual.com
US Airways (T) 1-800/428-4322, (W) www.usairways.com
Discount flight agents
Council Travel 205 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017, two others in NYC and branches in many other US cities. (T) 1-800/COUNCIL or 212/822-2700, (W) www.counciltravel.com. Student/budget travel agency.
Now Voyager 74 Varick St, Suite 307, New York, NY 10016 (T) 212/431-1616, (W) www.nowvoyagertravel.com. Lesbian and gay-friendly consolidator.
STA Travel 5900 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 2110, Los Angeles, CA 90036, and other branches in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Seattle and Washington DC areas. (T) 1-800/777-0112 or 212/627-3111, (W) www.sta-travel.com. Worldwide discount travel firm specializing in student/youth fares; also student Ids, travel insurance, car rental, rail passes, etc.
Travel Avenue 10 S Riverside, Suite 1404, Chicago, IL 60606 (T) 1-800/333-3335, (W) www.travelavenue.com. Full-service travel agent that offers discounts in the form of rebates.
Travel Cuts 187 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1P7 (T) 1-800/667-2887 or 416/979-2406, (W) www.travelcuts.com. Branches in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, etc. Canadian discount travel organization.
UniTravel 11737 Administration Drive, Suite 120, St Louis, MO 63146 (T) 1-800/325-2222 or 314/569-2501. Consolidator. Worth calling for last-minute bookings or to avoid such restrictions as Saturday night stay requirements.
American Airlines Vacations (T) 1-800/321-2121, (W) www.aavauations.com
American Express Vacations (T) 1-800/346-3607, (W) www.americanexpress.com/travel
Amtrak Vacations (T) 1-800/654-5748, (W) www.amtrakvacations.com
Broadway Theatours 1350 Broadway, Suite 1203, New York, NY 10018 (T) 1-800/NYSHOWS, (W) www.manhattanconcierge.com
Delta Vacations (T) 1-800/654-6559, (W) www.deltavacations.com
Globus and Cosmos 5301 S Federal Circle, Littleton, CO 80123, (W) www.globusandcosmos.com
International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (T) 1-800/448-8550, (W) www.iglta.org. Trade group with lists of gay-owned or gay-friendly travel agents, accommodations and other travel businesses.
Smithsonian Study Tours & Seminars 1100 Jefferson Drive SW, Room 3077, Washington, DC 20560 (T) 202/357-4700, (W) www.si.edu/tsa/sst
For those heading to New York from within the same radius as the shuttle flights, travel by train is an alternative, though not likely to be much cheaper. The most frequent services are along the Boston-to-Washington corridor. Fares from Boston are about $120 round-trip, or $220 for the Acela Express, which can save half an hour. DC trains run about $145, considerably more on the Metroliner and Acela Express (which gets you a reserved seat, but is not significantly faster). One daily train links Montréal and Toronto with New York. Round-trip fares on these services start at around CAN$195. Train fares are often based on availability; book as early as possible to get the cheapest rates.
Although it's possible to haul yourself long-distance from the West Coast, the Midwest or the South, it's an exhausting trip (three days plus from California) and fares are expensive. A much better deal, allowing you to stagger the journey over up to 45 days with up to three stopoffs, is Amtrak's "Explore America Pass"; for $499 in the high season (June through mid-September) or $429 in the low season, you can travel throughout the country. If you travel in only one of their "zones," the price is reduced. A "North America Rail Pass" is sold by the Canadian Rail network but can be booked through Amtrak ((T) 1-800/722-6137). This allows thirty days' travel in Canada and the US with three stopovers for $674, CAN$1004 (high season, June 1 to Oct 16) or $471, CAN$702 (low season). A National USA Rail Pass allows non-US citizens only unlimited fifteen-day travel for $440 (high season) or $295 (low) or thirty days for $550 (high) or $385 (low). Ask your travel agent for information, call Amtrak's info and reservations number ((T) 1-800/USA-RAIL) or go to (W) www.amtrak.com.
All Amtrak services arrive at Penn Station at 32nd St and 7th and 8th aves; only local Metro-North commuter trains use Grand Central Station.
Going by bus is the most time-consuming and least comfortable mode of travel; because of the time factor, it's never the most economical. On the other hand, buses generally run more frequently than trains and serve a much larger portion of the country so if New York is just one stop on an eclectic backcountry tour, check out Greyhound's Ameripass, though it is (like Amtrak's USA Railpass) open to foreign citizens only and can only be bought overseas or in New York. It offers unlimited travel on the network for four days ($135), seven days ($155), fifteen days ($235), thirty days ($335) or sixty days ($449). Greyhound has a similar pass available to all, offering seven days unlimited travel ($185), fifteen days ($285), thirty days ($385) or sixty days ($509). Greyhound's regular maximum fare for any distance with no advance booking is $136 (one-way) or $209 (round-trip). Buy your ticket seven days in advance and the price drops to $95/$189. Call (T) 1-800/231-2222 for more information or (T) 1-888/454-7277 for the passes.
In the busy northeast corridor, bus competition can be fierce, sending prices up and down within hours. One-way from either DC or Boston to New York can go for as little as $30. Bonanza ((T) 1-800/556-3815) has a $65 BostonNew York round-trip fare.
The famous, slightly alternative Green Tortoise bus connects San Francisco with New York every couple of weeks, May to October. Gregarious types can look forward to a laid-back journey with generally likeminded souls through some of America's most beautiful spots. There are plenty of stops for hiking, river-rafting, hot springs and more, and the buses are comfortable, with tape-deck systems and ample mattresses. The 10-day northern route (via Reno, Wyoming, Minnesota, Chicago and Pennsylvania) runs mostly in the hottest part of the summer and costs about $469 plus $121 for food; the 14-day southern route (generally via Los Angeles, Arizona, Texas, New Orleans and Appalachia) costs $499 plus $131 for food. From outside the San Francisco area call (T) 1-800/TORTOIS (415/956-7500 if you're local), or write to 494 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133.
Buses arrive in New York at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, 8th Ave and 42nd St.
If you're coming from the east coast (or if you don't mind long journeys), driving is an option, but note that you probably won't need (or want) a car once you're in the city. Major highways come in from most directions (1-84 or 95 from the north; 1-95 from the south; 1-80 from the west), and you'll pay a toll over any number of bridges or tunnels to get into the city.
Potentially the cheapest way to get to New York is to arrange for a driveaway, in which you deliver a car cross-country for its owner. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Automobile Transporters." It helps if you are flexible.
The usual requirements: You must be 21 and have a valid driver's license (and sometimes a clean record from your DMV) plus around $300 as a deposit. Theoretically there's nothing to pay on the way except gas and motel bills. While it's accepted that you may want to see a bit of the country on the way, there are generally tight delivery deadlines. Try to hit the company up for extra days and mileage when you take the job.
Flights from Britain and Ireland
Flying to New York from the UK takes about seven hours; flights tend to leave Britain in the morning or afternoon and arrive in New York in the afternoon or evening, though the odd flight does leave as late as 8pm. Coming back, most flights depart in the evening and arrive in Britain early next morning; flying time, due to the prevailing winds, is shorter six to seven hours.
As far as scheduled flights go, British Airways offers the most direct services each day from London Heathrow to JFK, and also flies from Heathrow to Newark, and to JFK from London Gatwick and Manchester. American Airlines, Virgin, Continental and United also fly direct on a daily basis; there is not tons of difference in the prices on the different airlines, and you'll need to really shop around to get the best deals.
The only nonstop scheduled services to New York from Ireland are provided by Aer Lingus.
Fares and courier flights
Ask an airline about cut-price deals (particularly in winter), but they're more likely to offer an Apex ticket. The conditions are pretty standard whoever you fly with: seats must be booked 21 days or more in advance, and you must stay at least seven nights, a maximum of one month; they're usually nonrefundable and can't be changed without penalty. Prices are about the same: low-season midweek rates start at around £250 return, rising to around £350 in spring and over £400 in high season. A tax of £58.10 is added to all fares, and flying at the weekend costs extra. A fully flexible economy fare may cost £900 or more. An Apex ticket from Ireland (Shannon) to JFK can cost up to IR£500.
If on a really tight budget, consider flying as a courier, although during the off season it may not be worth the hassle given the low fares available. Courier flights can be arranged with Flight Masters, 83 Mortimer St, London W1 ((T) 020/7462 0022) or Bridges Worldwide, Old Mill Road House, West Drayton, Middlesex TW3 ((T) 01895/465065). The flights involve a package being checked through with your luggage, in return for a cheaper flight; return times and luggage are restricted. Or, join the International Association of Air Travel Couriers, c/o International Features, 1 Kings Rd, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 ((T) 0800/746481, (W) www.courier.org or (W) www.aircourier.co.uk).
All-in deals flights plus accommodation in New York City can be a good idea for a short stay, Low-season prices per person for a return flight plus three nights in a midrange midtown hotel start at £400-500 and rise to more like £800-700 at peak periods; seven nights would cost £600-900 per person, depending on the time of year. Most High Street travel agents can advise on the best deals.
Excerpted from The Rough Guide To New York City by Martin Dunford and Jack Holland. Copyright © 2000 by Rough Guides/Haymarket Customer Publishing. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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