East Coast in December

Sep 28th, 2014, 04:11 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 410
East Coast in December

After some deliberations, my husband and I think we will explore the east coast of the USA in December / Jan. We plan to arrive in New York mid December and spend around 5 nights there (we've been before) and then head either down to Washington DC or up to Boston, then onto Montreal, and then to Quebec City. from there we would probably fly to the West Coast to finish up as we fly out of LA, if we choose the flight we have on hold at the moment. I know it will be cold. We are prepared for that and also possible travel delays etc.
My questions are...
*Must see / do in Winter in these locations (thanks to those that covered some of this in previous post)
*Around how long to stay in each place, in order to explore and see it without being in a rush (we are away about a month.... looking at 2.5-3 weeks on East Coast)
+Accommodation options especially in NY.... budget roughly $200-$250 per night
*Train travel on East Coast - would you train or fly between these destinations in December? Is one more reliable than the other?
Any thoughts appreciated
LakesideChick is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 10:27 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 410
Bumping my post as I think it got a bit lost.... unusual to have no replies here!
LakesideChick is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2014, 05:00 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,181
There will be few hotels in NYC in your range of $200 to $250 per night at that time of the year, typically the most expensive in the city. Room rates generally double then, so a room that's going to be $200 normally, might easily jump up to $400. I'd recommend staying in Queens, near the subway for easy access to Manhattan. The Country Inn & Suites Long Island City (2 blocks from a major subway interchange) is usually a $130 a night hotel, so it might be in your price range. There are a few others in that same area, but if you find a hotel that looks good, please post the name here so we can verify that it's within very easy walking distance of the subway. It's going to be cold, and you won't want to walk 6 or 7 blocks. There's a Howard Johnson on the same street, for instance, that's over 10 minutes walk from the subway instead of 2, and that's a long time.
doug_stallings is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2014, 11:01 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,168
I would probably train to Boston or Washington then fly to Canada. You can train from New York to Montreal but it is 10+ hour ride. Or check out the route and available stops between New York and Montreal and plan a few days at one of those to break up the trip. See
http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Satell...ute=Adirondack. None are big cities but a few days of winter resort might be a treat that time of year along the way. You can also train from Montreal to or from Quebec City.
laurie_ann is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2014, 11:14 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,168
And for NYC hotels, yes the holidays are a popular time for tourists and even suburbanites to stay over a night or two. But a quick look on www.booking.com and sorting by price found some good bargains in the financial district (not so many business travelers mid to late December) and otherwise. For example the Soho Holiday Inn is just over $1000 or $800 plus tax for five nights (depending if cancellable or not) for arriving December 17 and it is described as "Located less than 1 block from the Canal Street subway station, this Manhattan hotel features free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant". I can't specifically recommend it and yes it is Holiday Inn and not the Waldorf Astoria but if you just want clean comfortable and safe and accessible to sightseeing within your budget it seem worth checking out ideas like that.
laurie_ann is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2014, 12:12 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,181
That Holiday Inn isn't the greatest hotel, but it's ok, and the location is wonderful. It's actually in Chinatown rather than SoHo, which is further west. And the location is much better than the Financial District, which is further downtown. If you can get that hotel at that time, I'd make the reservation now and keep looking, assuming it can be cancelled without a penalty.
doug_stallings is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2014, 09:56 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 410
Thanks guys, I will look into that asap. Yes, we only need clean and comfortable, though the Astoria would be nice hehe!
LakesideChick is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2014, 06:26 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,181
To be honest, the idea of the Waldorf-Astoria is wonderful, but the reality not so much. There are a lot of rooms that aren't that much nicer than the Holiday Inn and look out on an airshaft.

Aside from NYC, which is wildly expensive at Christmas, you can often find decent deals, especially on weekends. I'd look for Boston accommodations sooner rather than later, though. Last year I stayed at the Courtyard, which is a couple of blocks from the Back Bay station, and I loved the location, and they serve breakfast (albeit for an extra cost). There are quite a few hotels in the area by the train station, including the lovely Lenox, but it's expensive (can be discounted if you book a non-refundable room). The Copley Square Hotel is also very nice. If you're taking the train, this is your best bet.

You definitely want to train it when you can in mid- to late December. I often go to Boston around Christmas, and one year it was rainy and not so cold. Last Christmas there was a blizzard. Flights were cancelled, but the trains rolled right on schedule.
doug_stallings is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2014, 06:36 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 410
Thanks Doug...... looking at accomodation everywhere at the moment...... certainly booking this trip late for us but adds to the excitement too
LakesideChick is offline  
Oct 25th, 2014, 06:19 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 410
Itinerary update.... booked NY hotel (Hotel Edison, upgraded King room for around $220 per night) and we've decided to head to DC for around 4 days before Boston. Seeing something of the famous museums in DC is definitely something we want to do! Is nearby Williamsburg worth a visit? It looks like Christmss time there is quite beautiful.
LakesideChick is offline  
Oct 25th, 2014, 06:30 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 670
Williamsburg Va is 150 miles south of Washington DC . it is a 3 hour drive, more with traffic or you can take Amtrak. Colonial Williamsburg is a "living history museum".

With only 4 days if you want some time out of the city take the metro to King Street Station in Alexandria and spend some time in Old Town Alexandria.
maxima is offline  
Oct 25th, 2014, 07:51 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 410
Oh thank you, hadn't heard of Alexandria. We can extend the 4 days in the area if we want to. I'll look into Alexandria!
LakesideChick is offline  
Oct 26th, 2014, 05:13 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Colonial Willamsburg is wonderful - but considering the distance, the unreliability of Amtrak south of DC and the travel time it would take 2 days out of your 4 in DC to see anything. I would figure out what you want to do/see in DC (if not US citizens I don;t think you can get into the White House and I don;t know if the full tour of the Capitol is possible without the invite of a congressman) and m sights are closed on the weekends.

You might want to consider doing Washington's Mt Vernon - which is less than an hour from DC - if you want to see some colonial life.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 26th, 2014, 08:22 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 19,737
Just some suggestions, most of which are really touristy (but, hey, you are tourists).

NYC: The Christmas show at Radio City. Walk through Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree. Window-shop and see the Christmas displays at Macy's and other department stores. I suppose you should walk through Times Square to see it once, but it will be a bit of a zoo.

Washington: Good news: Most of the really good museums are free. You'll definitely want to see the Smithsonian's Air & Space and Natural History. Some, like the Holocaust Museum, require advance timed tickets. Check the websites of the ones on your to-do list. Familiarize yourself with the Metro.

Note that you could see a wide range in temperatures among the cities on your list. Sometimes, Washington in December is moderate. NYC, Boston, and the Canadian cities are likely to be colder as you head north.

Train travel is OK, not great. It can be somewhat expensive compared to other countries. Taking the train from NYC to Washington is probably OK. If going from Washington to Boston, I would look into whether there are some cheap flights, instead of the train.
vincenzo32951 is offline  
Oct 26th, 2014, 04:35 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Sorry but train from NYC to Boston is at least as fast as plane and much less likely to be delayed by bad weather (it takes a fair sized blizzard to stop the train but even a moderate snow or ice storm can wreak havoc with flights). So figure 4 hours each way. Buy Amtrak tickets in advance to get discounted tickets. And don;t bother with the high speed trains - tracks don;t allow them to run at high speed for most of the rout and you save only about 20 minutes or so.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 27th, 2014, 04:25 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
To stay in Manhattan you might want to consider the Newton on the upper west side. They have a deluxe queen room for about $1K for 5 nights - if you do an advance purchase. This is a reliable budget property located less than a block from the subway (96th St express stop - only 2 stops to Times Square) in a mid/upscale residential area with inexpensive to moderate restaurants of every possible ethnicity lining the avenues. Only a few blocks from Central Park and a fairly short walk to a host of museums lining the east or west sides of the Park uptown.

If you are interested you should reserve ASAP - since in previous years it has sold out in the weeks before Christmas.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 27th, 2014, 05:13 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 19,737
>>Sorry but train from NYC to Boston is at least as fast as plane<<

What?
vincenzo32951 is offline  
Oct 27th, 2014, 05:23 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 19,737
Sorry, hit submit too soon.

a. The flight from NYC to BOS is about 1 hour, compared to the 4-hour train (if there are no delays). And having made the trip myself, I can tell you that delays on the train are not uncommon, so that balances out the weather issue.
b. JetBlue, for instance, offers flights ranging from $85-$125, depending on how much flexibility you have. The lowest priced Acela train (which is the 4-hour trip) is about $115.
vincenzo32951 is offline  
Oct 27th, 2014, 08:47 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
For plane the actual time in the air is about an hour. But then you need to add in the time to get to and fro the different airports as well a the time for check in and security and the fact that you have to board the plane far in advance. I have a client in Boston and most of us take the train back and forth city center to city center - only one living near EWR takes the plane.

As for delays, yes the train can easily be 5 or even 10 minutes late It is very rare that it's more than that. The plane is frequently late (more frequent as the day goes on) and is much more subject to weather delays. I was stuck in Logan airport one night when a late (April) ice storm (that started as rain but turned to ice as the planes gained any altitude) delayed a bunch of flights for hours and cancelled many others.

Have found over the years that it takes 4 hours - plane, train or car - NYC to Boston. And the cost for the flight does not include the cab fares to and fro the airport.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 27th, 2014, 08:57 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,571
The train between New York and Washington is much less hassle than a plane (the whole airport thing). One suggestion - if you have luggage, consider using a 'Redcap' (the men and women who assist passengers from the waiting area to the train) - for the cost of a tip (we and most other people we saw gave $5.00 per bag), they take your bags downstairs, they direct you to the right location, and you get to go down to the tracks before other passengers. Having once gotten on an Amtrak train going in the wrong direction, believe me, this is a valuable service!
sf7307 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:04 AM.