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Bronx Zoo - car + subway day trip

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I'm traveling solo with 2 small children to meet my brother & family in NYC this Friday.

They would like us to meet at the Bronx Zoo.

We are driving from Baltimore, the question is - what makes sense for car commute, parking, and I understand the Zoo is close to the subway. My boys love buses and trains, though Bolt isn't hitting my schedule.

My brother's family is flying out of Newark that night.

We're trying to be reasonably thrifty with travel expense as well as time commitments. We will be in the car at oh-dark-thirty if only to skip some of the morning rush hours we may encounter. Pointers on traffic and commuting (this is a work day, and I know Baltimore and DC rush but not NYC) are welcome.

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