Bus tour of New York

Apr 9th, 2003, 11:32 AM
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Bus tour of New York

Hi we are a family from the UK visiting NY for the first time next week and very excited! We have seen bus tours available at $30+ a head and wondered if we could do a similar type tour using city buses. Does anyone recommend good routes to try with plenty of views and sight seeing on the way? Thanks!
jjkaine is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 12:11 PM
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The Grayline double decker tour buses are a great way to get a geographical overview of New York City for first timers.
Apr 9th, 2003, 12:20 PM
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NY is a great city. It's also a city best enjoyed on foot. I wouldn't particularly recomend trying to sightsee on the public bus system. Unlike the public buses in London which afford an upper level to view from, our buses are crowded and the routes are not particularly thrilling. I prefer the subway. Maybe consider hopping on and off the subway a few times to check out different areas. It depends where your hotel is, but the subway can take you near Central Park & the upscale stores of 5th Avenue, it can take you to the heart of Greenwich Village, it can take you to the tip of the Island to see the Statute of Liberty. One cost saving option is to take the Staten Island ferry into the harbor rather than the Circle Line tour. I'm sure other people will pipe in here, but I prefer the subway and walking to get a feel for NY.
traveller212 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 12:37 PM
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I'm with traveller212. You have to explore places like the Village, Herald Square and Times Square by foot. I'm sure there are stacks of walking tour books for NYC, and the subway system is incredibly convenient (and even at 4 AM at the Christopher Street Station, I never felt unsafe).
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 12:42 PM
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Whenever we go to a new destination (new to us), we take a bus tour, then decide where we want to go back to for further exploration. Always works for us!
Leona is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 12:52 PM
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I agree with GoTravel about the Grayline bus tour. While the subway is convenient, you do not see anything the way. The Grayline tours have knowledgeable guides who explain the different points of interest along the way. You can then go back on your own to places that you would like to see more in depth. For a first time vistor, if you only have time to take one of the Grayline tours, take the Downtown one.

DavidDJ_ is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 01:06 PM
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As a New Jersey suburbanite, I really didn't appreciate New York until I got out of my car and started using the subways to commute around the city. One of the joys of using the subway is the surprise you encounter in popping up in completely different neighborhoods. For example, popping up in West Village at the W.4th stop is a totally different vibe from stopping at 42nd st in Times Square, Prince St in Soho or even Wall St.
JungleCat is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 02:20 PM
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I enjoy picking a subway stop that I've not yet had reason to stop at, and just exit. If the area doesn't look so inviting, I just return down to the tracks and try another station. I've done this in different cities. It's a good way to discover off-the-beaten-trail places, often restaurants that don't charge the tourist-y prices. I only do it when I have unlimited-travel passes, however.
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 03:18 PM
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In a large city it is always best to take a tour to give yourself an overview of the area. That way you can decide which areas you want to go back to and explore on foot and in more depth. Gray Line Tours in New York is fantastic. I heartily recommend them.
kkj is offline  
Apr 9th, 2003, 04:39 PM
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I highly recommend the Grayline hop on/hop off bus tours IF the weather is nice. The views from the open air upper decks are magnificent (far superior to the huge enclosed tour bus "coaches" - you can look out the windows but not skyward, and the buildings are TALL, from seats on the coaches and city buses). For first-timers, the Downtown Loop is the one with the more "must see" sights. Though, you can buy many variations of passes (all explained at the website). The commentary is adequate, and sometimes very informative and humorous, depending upon the guide on your bus. You get a really good overview of all the neighborhoods, and the stops are just steps from the major sights and attractions.

And, it's really easier to appreciate the tall buildings and awesome architecture from an open bus seat that by looking upward while walking all about.

For fantastic views of the entire island, I also highly recommend the Circle Line (see www.circleline.com) Harbor Lights tour. It leaves from the pier at the western end of 42nd street and travels around the lower half, just past the Chrylser Building on the way back. You leave in daylight, enjoy dusk, then sunset, then the lights on all over on the way back. It goes RIGHT past the Statue of Libery - quite the thrill. And, the commentary on this one is terrific. I would recommend this over the Grayline "Night Loop".

You can combine bus/boat tours for better prices. It's better to pick up the entire brochure once you arrive. There's NO need to book ahead online. And, you'd want to check the weather before booking tickets anyway.
djkbooks is offline  
Apr 10th, 2003, 06:06 AM
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In answer to your question, yes you can see a lot by using the city buses. Bear in mind that they are terribly slow and sometimes crowded. But the price can't be beat. You can buy an unlimited one day Metrocard for $4 or an unlimited week card for $17 (prices are going up in May).

Some interesting routes:

#104 travels down the West Side on Broadway from 125th Street to Times Square.

#20 travels down the West Side from Lincoln Center down to Battery Park and covers Times Square, Greenwich Village, Tribeca, Ground Zero and Battery Park.

#103 travels down the East Side on Lexington Avenue then changes over to 3rd Avenue and continues through East Village, Chinatown and down to the Financial District.

#1 travels down 5th Avenue to the East Village

#5 is a great bus because it covers a lot of ground. It starts in the Upper West Side travels down Riverside Drive and crosses over to 5th Avenue down through Greenwich Village, then turns around and heads back to midtown.

#9 travels Union Square downtown through Little Italy, Chinatown and crosses lower Manhattan and ends up in Battery Park City.

You can find more information, maps and schedules at www.mta.info

Gothampc is offline  
Apr 10th, 2003, 08:51 AM
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Many many thanks to everyone who has responded to my first posting. Lots of food for thought. We shall take a tour as recommended and then try some city routes. Thank you.
jjkaine is offline  
Apr 10th, 2003, 09:22 AM
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I think the original poster was talking about the bus tours and not the city bus.
Apr 10th, 2003, 10:50 AM
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We just returned (mid March) from visiting NYC for 5 days and we didn't use the double decker buses. One of the reasons is they are expensive but the main reason was we didn't see that many around and so it was obvious that either (1) we had to stay on the bus the whole route or (2) we'd have to wait a long time for another bus. A few years ago I visited NYC and did take the double decker buses - but there were everywhere you looked in the city then. That's not the case now.

If you get a decent bus map you can take one of the buses and stay on it the whole route. We did it. We got on at 11th St. and 5th Avenue (about 10pm!) went south into the East Village, up Madison Av. through Spanish Harlem and then Harlem and back down 5th Avenue to where we got on the bus. Quite interesting! Maybe that's not the perfect route for you! I can tell you that buses only go south on 5th Avenue and that they go every few minutes and it's a very nice/interesting ride.
Veronica is offline  
Apr 10th, 2003, 11:48 AM
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Bus 79 crosses Central Park, stops at the Museum of Natural History, passes close to Zabar's, and ends up at the 79th St Boat Basin (as seen in You've Got Mail).

I certainly recommend the $4 Metrocard which works for buses and subways. Try to find a bus map - it is quite confusing otherwise.
Ruth is offline  
Apr 10th, 2003, 05:40 PM
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Note that the $4 one-day Funpass is going up to $7 on May 4th.
djkbooks is offline  
Apr 12th, 2003, 07:13 PM
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If you are brave enough, try the subway instead. At a measley $1.50 a trip (soon to be $2 by May 4), it can get you EVERYWHERE. If you want to know how to get to a museum/attraction by subway, just write back and I'll tell you how to get there
radiohead81 is offline  
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