New York 1st time for 2 ladies flying solo

Old May 3rd, 2014, 06:29 PM
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New York 1st time for 2 ladies flying solo

Hi, 2 40+ ladies escaping husbands and kids for bucket list trip to NYC. We are there for 9 days in mid-Sept. Accommodation - we are looking at Hotel Giraffe or Hampton Inn Manhattan Chelsea as they include breakfast and we wanted 2 separate beds (noticed that a lot of hotels don't have twin rooms and the ones that do charge a lot). How much are breakfasts in NY as in Aust you would pay $20 each for a basic one (thats the reason for looking for a hotel which included breakfast). Thoughts on either hotel?? We want to do normal sightseeing, 2 broadway shows and a lot of shopping! Any hints?? Shopping- are there any sales on during Sept and is it worth going to Woodbury Common? Thanking you in advance for any help.
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 07:17 PM
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Woodbury Common is quite a distance, not sure whether you can get to the outlet without a car. Maybe an hour's drive?

Giraffe (if I'm not mistaken) is near Union Square, right? tons of mass transit available, Union Square market is a sight to see. I'd pick Giraffe over Hampton Inn any time.

Breakfast - depends on what you want. Coffee and bagel, a lot less than $20. You want eggs, toast, coffee or tea? maybe under $20 at the corner coffee shop too. Again, it all depends on what you want. There are plenty of coffee shops available, not necessary to have breakfast in your hotel. If you mean Room Service breakfast, that will be more than $20

What is normal sightseeing?

NYC is rather large, even though it's a mere speck in a map. Walking from uptown (Museums) to Wall St (Ground Zero, Battery Park, ferry to Statue of Liberty) is quite a hike. It'd be a hike from Union Square too. Google a map and see.

Mid- September is great weather, whatever you do, enjoy it! A great city.
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 08:25 PM
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When we were in NYC in 2012 we were surprised by the cost of meals. Pleasantly surprised. We could get a cooked breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, juice and coffee/tea for 9.99 at the café next door to our hotel (The Beacon on the Upper West Side) Even with the added tax and tip it was still cheaper than a cooked breakie back home.

Meals sizes are large so for lunch an appetiser size was enough(after having a big breakie) Just remember than their entrée is our main meal and appetiser is our entrée.

Pack the best walking shoes you can. You will walk from morning to night. Its a city you want to be out on the streets in. Try Century 21 for shopping if you pass it. They have some nice brands that are marked down and you may find a bargain or two. There was so much to see in NY though that I didn't really enjoy being inside shopping as much as I thought I would.

We loved NYC so much we are heading back next year.
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 09:34 PM
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Hotel Giraffe is styled as a boutique hotel. The Hampton Inn is more basic. Both are located near subways, and buses so it will be easy to get around and plenty of places to eat in the area too.

Breakfast in hotels are expensive. Far less expensive are the diners or coffee shops, bagel shops, and other casual places where you may find a filling meal for $10-12 or a lot less per person not including tax, and tips if its waiter service.

Here there are sales all the time, in most of the major department stores such as Macy's, Lord and Taylor, and other stores, as well. The sales are not regulated to twice a year as in Europe.

You can take a bus to Woodbury Common .. it will basically be a whole days trip..not really worth it in my opinion, as you can find plenty of places to shop in NYC, without killing an entire day.
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 10:37 PM
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If you really want to do a lot of high-end shopping (Tori Burch, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc), you can often find some great buys at Woodbury Common, but on the mid level, the choices are no better than any other outlet mall. But for discount luxury goods, there are few better places. So it just depends on what you want. If you wanted to go on a weekday, it would be worth renting a car for the day. The bus limits you, and there are other things you can do outside of the city with a car. For a 9-day trip, I think you'd appreciate a night or two out of the city in the Hudson Valley, for example.

The Giraffe is a great hotel and a bit better located than the Hampton Inn in Chelsea, which is in a less interesting neighborhood (and not really in Chelsea). But either is convenient. But Hotel Giraffe isn't really near Union Square. It's near 28 th street right on Park Ave, so near trendy restaurants and bars and closer to a more residential area (though not directly in one).

I'm afraid you may be disappointed in included hotel breakfasts here if you want a sit down cooked to order meal. Most are limited buffets or continental. But I don't know what either of these hotels offers. I'm just generalizing. There are McDonalds and also regular diners near both hotels where you can get a sit down, cooked breakfast for $10. That's a typical cost in a non Tourist or non hotel restaurant here. Naturally, you can also pay much more.

For such a long trip, I'd expand my hotel search to include places with a kitchenette. Perhaps look at the Affinia Dumont, which is not far from the Giraffe.

In general, the US is incredibly cheaper than Australia ... As much as half. So you may find the shopping and most everything so much cheaper that you will not mind NYC prices (except for hotels, which are very expensive) and may do as well with sale prices in NYC stores. However, there are no huge sales in September since that's just the beginning of fall. But there are always sales here. But most foreign tourists still visit Woodbury Common in huge numbers. And it's a worthwhile trip if you like to shop. I go every few months since it's just an hour north of NYC.
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 10:57 PM
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Thank you for your prompt replies.
Normal sightseeing ATM is ESB, SoL, Central Park, Ground Zero, museum or 2 (can anyone recommend the must see ones), Brooklyn Bridge, etc. I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions (I know throughout Europe there are many things you stumble across when you make a wrong turn and wonder why no one has suggested going there in a forum?).
Is it safe to walk from Broadway (after seeing a show) back to Hotel Giraffe at night? I ask this seriously as I wouldn't do this in Brisbane anymore (5 years ago, yes).
How many blocks would you walk before catching the subway becomes a better option (we're fit, as in I'm taking my sneakers to run in Central Park). Though I love walking as you see so much of the neighbourhood and get a great feel of the place and the people.
I apologise in advance if anyone thinks these are stupid questions but I've waited a long time to do this trip and am trying to be a little bit organised before landing to make the most of each day.
Also, we would love to do a nice High Tea. Thoughts on which hotel?
And finally, is it worth spending a day going to Boston to have a quick look around (I've heard it's beautiful).
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Old May 3rd, 2014, 11:36 PM
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Lynda, block to block isn't very far. Avenues are further apart. As you said, there is so much to see and feel walking the streets. Sometimes we caught a subway back sometimes we walked. New York feels very safe to walk around. We caught a train to Washington DC one morning so we were walking to the subway at 4am and no problem of not feeling safe. I wouldn't do that in Brissie. Take it from me. You will WANT to walk everywhere you can.

We went to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Plaza) for our view over Manhattan. Great view of the ESB and Central Park from it. Made a lovely photo with the ESB in the background. You can buy tickets online and print before you go and that helps if there is a lineup buying tickets. There are security searches at most tourist sites so be prepared to remove belts, jewellery etc before entering.
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Old May 4th, 2014, 03:55 AM
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Thanks again
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Old May 4th, 2014, 04:25 AM
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I agree with other posters that choosing a hotel based on breakfast is not necessarily a bargain. It may be pre fab food cooked elsewhere and heated in a microwave (think tough scrambled eggs), served in a cramped room in the basement, or served on paper plates with plastic cutlery. A coffee shop where you can enjoy the vibe of the city with everyone rushing off to work is a better choice. Also, you will want some variety with 9 days there.

As far as sites go, I highly recommend the Tenement Museum. As it's name implies, it is an actual tenement building which has been researched and rooms recreated to reflect the lives of actual families that lived there at the turn of the last century. You will have to buy tickets to a guided tour, and worth it to take one of their walking tours of the district as well. Add in a trip to Ellis Island and you will have a vivid picture of the European immigration that created so much of what is NYC today.
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Old May 4th, 2014, 04:55 AM
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Lynda_Wallace:

You may like The Milburn Hotel which includes a small kitchen and twin beds - http://www.milburnhotel.com They also have special long term rates for stays over a week. Contact them for a quote.

Location is good, close to subway and many places to eat nearby. Continental breakfast included.

Hotel reviews on http://www.tripadvisor.com are a good place to start and then of course from back here for opinions.

You will love NYC.

Sandy
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Old May 4th, 2014, 04:57 AM
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I've stayed at the Hampton Inn Chelsea before on business and just a few weeks ago stayed right down the street at the Wyndham Garden for a week in NYC vacation.

Hampton beds are comfortable, and I recall the room being small but clean and not cramped. I'd have stayed there again this most recent trip

Personally like that area. It's convenient by subway uptown and downtown, and it's a pleasant area to stay, close walk to Madison Square, Union Square, Chelsea Market, the Highline, Greenwich village yet it's far enough away from the busier parts of town it doesn't feel crazy busy.

As for breakfast, Hampton Inn serves your typical chain hotel breakfast - cereals, yogurt, juices, coffee, danish/english muffins/toast/bagels, fruit salad. I'm not a large breakfast eater so that is perfect for me to find something. Don't recall if they have hot foods. Right nearby is a whole foods and a Trader Joes - not more than 1-2 blocks each.

I'm a walker and runner, and was able to go for a few mi jog a few mornings, and we walked 8-10mi per day rather than take subways or taxi.
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Old May 4th, 2014, 05:20 AM
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Would suggest you check out the nearest little bagel shop/coffee shop/deli/store - and you can find something you would like - at a price that meets your budget.

Have a blast.
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Old May 4th, 2014, 06:17 AM
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In the US - unlike many other countries - there are sales all of the time. In Sept everything left of summer things will be on sale and there will also be sales on some things for fall. Woodbury Common is a long trek and shopping can be difficult (you have to keep hauling things back to your bus if you buy a lot) and it may not have anything you can't get in Manhattan. It does have several upscale stores with sale items you may not get in the city - but they are often from previous seasons and items that were not popular.

As for breakfast - not sure what you want In NYC a typical breakfast is coffee and a bagel with a schmear while on the run (we are not big on large cooked, sit-down breakfasts.) Brunch (Sat and Sun) at quite a few restaurants is a big deal with locals - but typically served from noon to 4 pm or so - and has lots of hot breakfasts along with mimosas etc. Less than $20 at casual places but more at upscale places. If you want to go to a coffee shop you can have egg sandwich or bacon and eggs with coffee and juice for $12 to $15 - but at an upscale place or hotel will likely be $20-$25 and up.

Must see museums are:

The Met - the Greatest cultural institutio in the western hemiphere
MoMA - great for modern art
Natu'l Histy - plus the planetarium (huge and incredible with a bunch of IMAX movies, human evolution, gems and minerals, special exhibits and dinos from here to Nebraska)
NY Historical Society - small but fascinating exhibits
NY Public Library - huge main branch is a reference library only and has an exquisite reading room and very interesting exhibits

Plus there is a museum for everything you can think of - just ask and people can make recos for your interests

Note to see SoL you MUST get ferry tickets in advance (as far as possible) to avoid huge lines to 1)buy tickets, 2) board ferry - airline type security) and 3) get inside the S on Liberty island (allow at least 5 hours for this whole process, including Ellis Island)
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Old May 4th, 2014, 08:03 AM
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In addition to the museums nyt lists (note - plan your visit to the Met in advance) I am a big fan of:

The Museum of Art and Design - http://madmuseum.org/
The Rubin - http://www.rubinmuseum.org/
The Frick - http://www.frick.org/
The Morgan - http://www.themorgan.org/

And if you like house museums:
http://www.merchantshouse.com/

By "high tea" do you mean what a Brit would call "afternoon tea" (sandwiches, cakes, scones)? Not a US thing, but the closest might be coffee/tea and decadent cakes at the Cafe Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie.
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Old May 4th, 2014, 08:42 AM
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In terms of safety, I'd have no problems walking back to the Giraffe from Times Square at 11 or midnight. Or you could take the shuttle from Times Square to Grand Central and walk from there. But I used to live in the area near the Giraffe, and it's very safe.

Boston? Yes, it's worth seeing, especially if you are interested in US history, but otherwise not so much. There are many beautiful places closer to NYC. Boston is about 5 hours from NYC, so not a day trip. You would have to spend the night. Much closer is Philadelphia, which can be done easily in a day.

But I'd encourage you to take a few days away from NYC and see other places. It's easy to do this by car but quite possible by train or bus. Personally I prefer Washington DC over Boston, or perhaps Cape Cod, though the latter really requires a car, and you may not feel comfortable driving in the US on the right.

What are your particular interests? If we know what you want to do and like to do, we can make some recommendations. But in general 5 or 6 days in NYC and 3 or 4 days elsewhere is a good way to split up your trip.
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Old May 4th, 2014, 08:44 AM
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If you do not want to sit down at a table, you can find breakfast specials at take out places and street carts for $2. or even less. Those would be eggs on a roll; coffee would be an extra $1 or so. Yesterday I even saw two eggs on a roll for .$99, but this was on 14th Street.

There is no place unsafe to walk, even late at night,, in the aprts of Manhattan you mention. Actually, I do not consider any areas of Manhattan unsafe to walk, even at night, but not all will agree on this point.
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Old May 4th, 2014, 09:58 AM
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With nine days total I would take two nights and go to Boston. It's a beautiful city as well as an historic one and much smaller than NY so it can be seen in a couple of days (of course you can spend much longer if you have the time, but you don't get frustrated trying to see it in a couple days). You can get there by either train or bus (or of course you can rent a car and then you could see some of New England, but with such a short time I'd just take public transportation and stick to Boston). While Philadelphia may be a bit closer, I don't think it's anywhere near as interesting or pretty.

Here are my photos of Boston www.pbase.com/annforcier/boston
And here's NY www.pbase.com/annforcier/new_york_city
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Old May 4th, 2014, 10:21 AM
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DC has way more to see than Boston - a massive amount - and I would not go for less the 4 days - or it will be very frustrating. Only Philly is a day trip. For Boston you would need probably 2 nights there to see main sights in the city and head out to Lexington and concord - to see where the first battles of the Revolution took place (fascinating to Americans - not sure how appealing the story of how local farmers and storekeepers defeated a much larger force of British regulars to start the Revolution). You'll also hear the Paul Revere's ride end of it if you visit the Old North Church (he rode from village to village notifying locals so the Minutemen had a chance to gather to face the British).
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Old May 4th, 2014, 02:23 PM
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When DD and I spent a week in New York a couple of years ago, we faced the same decision--stay at a hotel that included breakfast or not? We opted for one that didn't so we would not feel like we HAD to eat there everyday because it was "free." And eating hotel breakfasts every day for a week gets...boring, especially in a city like NY where there are so many options.

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn/Chelsea which was in the flower district--we were only 1/2 block from a subway stop and never felt uneasy no matter how late we were coming home.

I love New York and feel you could find plenty to do to fill all your time without leaving the city at all, including going out of town to the mall, but that's probably just me. Have a wonderful time--you will love it.
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