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One day trip to New york or Washington DC (First visit)!

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Aug 17th, 2014, 10:53 AM
  #1
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One day trip to New york or Washington DC (First visit)!

Hi all,

I am in early stage of planning a trip to northeast. We are traveling to Niagara Falls in late September with my elderly parents. We will be spending 2 days at Falls and have a plan to fly either to NYC or Washington DC for one day. We are restricted with options since we can not make long walking trips. So I am trying to figure out the best plan with less walking, yet covering most major attraction in either city.

If decided to visit NYC, we will be arriving at Laguardia airport and will have full 1.5 days to visit NYC. If I go with DC, we will be arriving at Dulles airport and will have the same 1.5 days to visit DC.

My plan is to stay closer to the airport. I would prefer to rent a car, yet it seems not a wise option for either city. Hope we can manage with the public transportation to get in to the city.

I'd love suggestions of what city to choose, how to plan the trip thereafter and in which order to visit the major attractions (with less walking), what are the must visit places.

Any recommendations/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you...!!!
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Aug 17th, 2014, 12:42 PM
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2 days at Niagara Falls and only one in NYC or Washington? How does that happen? One day at NF would be enough. I know NYC better and would say
1) do not stay at the airport. Stay in Manhattan.

2) Onboardtours.com does a comprehensive one day tour that wouldn't require they get off the bus at every stop if they don't have the energy.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 01:21 PM
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With numerous people, some elderly, I think D.C. is a hands-down winner for which city to choose.

If you were moving to one, or the other, for five years, then surely NYC is the only sensible choice, but for a one-day visit, you draw upon the history lessons long etched in the minds of everybody, to help them each soak-up as much (renewed) appreciation as possible for what lies before them in DC.

Many of the DC attractions are clustered suitably, and the subject of the U.S. Government is entirely central, making for easier focus that what would be the case in NYC, where you'd switch mental gears just to maximize your random location, taking-in only what is nearby.

In DC you can take a tour bus and cover lots of meaningful sights just through the windows of the bus.

So I say, again, that the right choice is to draw upon what they already know, and show them DC.

I think you should forget the thought of renting a car in either place. The logistics (of parking) are craaaaazy, let alone the sometimes absurd thought of driving in Manhattan.

A tour bus in DC should solve many of your challenges, and some strategy when selecting a hotel there may greatly enhance what is available to you.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 02:53 PM
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Don't stay near the airport in either city. JFK has no decent accommodations nearby, and accommodations near LGA are convenient to the airport, but not to Mnahttan. Dulles is just too far outside the city to make it a reasonable choice for tourists.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 04:01 PM
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A car in either DC or NYC is a complete nonsense- there is NO place to park. And staying at the airport is a really bad idea. In either case stay right in the center. Otherwise you will be stuck in a residential area near the airport with little local transit to and fro the city (at least an hour each way) and no restaurants or services nearby.

And since the elders have limited walking activity I will go against my usual reco and suggest that you get tickets for the hop on/off bus - the only way you have a chance of seeing even some (no way to see all in your very limited time) of the major sights. In NYC I would also take a ride on the free
staten Island ferry - to get a somewhat closer view of the statue of liberty and the manhattan skyline on the way back.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 04:10 PM
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Shorten NF to one day. That is absolutely plenty to see the falls and any other kitschy stuff in the area!
Add the day to the city visit and go to DC.
Stay in the city, not at the Airport.
Anyway to land at Reagan and not at Dulles? Reagan is a bit easier, IME, to get into the city.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 05:05 PM
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Definitely choose Reagan National over Dulles -- taxi to a centrally located hotel will be 15 minutes and $20 from DCA. At Dulles you will have a very long slog inside the airport before you get to the curb and then the a taxi will be $60 and take at least 45 minutes.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 05:06 PM
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Use taxis for getting around after your overview bus tour of DC.
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Aug 17th, 2014, 06:01 PM
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I'd probably go to NYC just because it's so hard and expensive to get into the DC rom Dulles. Though hotels will be more in NYC. As you realize by now, either renting a car or staying at the airport in either city is madness.

The big downside to DC are the extremely long lines and constant airport style security checkpoints. Have you considered Tironto, which makes more sense from Niagara Falks?
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Aug 17th, 2014, 07:25 PM
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Either city, as suggested, no need for a car. Either city, as suggested, stay closer into the city center. The cost in time and money to get your elderly parents into town to tour will eat away at your tour day and your wallet.

The big downside to DC are the extremely long lines and constant airport style security checkpoints.

What specifically are you talking about?
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Aug 17th, 2014, 08:23 PM
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Dulles is not a great choice of airport if you only have 1.5 days in DC--switch to Reagan National if at all possible. If you can't change airports, don't stay near Dulles. As others have said, it's too far outside the city to make sense.

You don't have to use public transportation into the city--you can take a cab, and continue to take cabs as needed in the short time you are there (this holds even truer for NYC). Renting a car really makes little sense. There are loads of parking garages in DC, but they are expensive and not located close enough to, say, the National Mall to make them a good option for people with limited mobility.

I agree that HOHO buses in NYC and DC would work well for such a short stay.

And, finally, you must realize that you cannot see "most major attractions" in either DC or NYC in 1.5 days. But if you do your research and prioritize what appeals to your group most, you can have a decent if whirlwind visit.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 05:19 AM
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I'd agree that not having a car in NY makes sense but that is not necessarily so in DC, unless you're coming on a weekday. If you're coming on a weekend, driving from Dulles to Downtown Washington is quite easy, and takes about a half hour. There are plenty of good hotels around Dulles. Downtown DC is filled with parking garages (to say there is NO place to park in DC is nonsense), and many are quite close to the Mall. In fact there are 2,000 spaces at the International Trade Center building, which is in the Federal Triangle. There is also an enormous garage at Union Station. Again if it's a weekend the parking fees will be reasonable. Check out Best Parking on your computer, or via app on your cell phone and you can easily identify a convenient garage and get their fees. DC is pretty easy to drive around in.

Another possibility is to stay in Reston, which is fairly close to Dulles. From there, you can take the Metro into downtown Washington without even having to change trains. This is a new line and some people may not be aware of it.

If you're coming in on a weekday, it might be best to forget about Washington unless, as recommended above, you can use Reagan National. Driving from Dulles would just take way too long. If for some reason you must use Dulles, and you're traveling on a weekday, NYC would probably make more sense, and it would be much better to get a taxi than rent a car.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 05:48 AM
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You can see most of the major sites from the outside in NYC in one day if you use onboardtours.com as I suggested. I think that might also be true for Washington but I dont know for sure. Hop on off buses in NYC require being able to climb up and down narrow winding metal stairs. Only you know whether that will be a problem for your parents. They're also open topped so if it's cold or raining, it's retty unpleasant. Bottom line, for your purposes I think they,re not a great idea. Onboard tours uses closed buses that don't require any climbing of stairs.

While staying in Manhattan will be a nicer experience, staying at LGA is not the end of the world, eapecially for such a short visit. The problem is there are very few hotels that are near a subway station at LGA. But if your folks can't do stairs, using the subway may be moot anyway. You can take a taxi from a LGA hotel into Manahattan but it will be on the meter meaning traffic will affect the price. Anywhere from $30-50 each way. A car service like dial7.com will give you a set rate plus tolls if any and tip.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 06:06 AM
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Almost every museum in DC (and every single government building) has airport-style security, resulting in often very long lines. Granted, the outdoor memorials do not, so those provide options. But the sights are just incredibly popular, especially during busy periods. I went to the National Archives, for instance, on an April morning and had to wait in line (in the sun) for almost 40 minutes. No elderly person who can't walk well is going to be able to do that.

So while you can see plenty of stuff from the outside (and that may be enough for your group), it's harder to get inside.

It's certainly possible to drive into the District. I did that the last time I went. Parking costs about $20 to $45 per day depending on where you park. But once you are in town, you still have to get around, and driving from sight to sight really is not convenient in a busy metropolitan area. The same is true about Manhattan. And it's much harder to stay outside of Manhattan. Hotels close in are still expensive and dreary (especially around LGA), and renting a car is expensive, as is parking.

You can take a hop-on/hop-off bus tour of Manhattan for about $35, and that is a reasonable way to see the outside of buildings if you have mobility issues. It's not my idea of a vacation, nor is it how I'd spend only one day in the city. But it's possible. Then you could take the Staten Island Ferry in the evening to see the Statue of Liberty (that's free, so you'd just need to get downtown by subway or taxi). But the cost of hotels in NYC is considerable, especially in late September.
doug_stallings is offline  
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Aug 18th, 2014, 07:15 AM
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I really don't think late September is a particularly busy period.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 08:03 AM
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Doug, April is always insanely busy--insanely. Summer is always busy. I have never seen long lines in November, for example; nor have I ever seen "airport style security" except at the Capitol and the White House and the Supreme Court--I really have no idea where this idea is coming from, museums most certainly do not have this. Shoes off, bags on a conveyor belt, go through a full body scan? Absurd, not even at the White House does this happen.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Let me clarify. You do not have to take off your shoes, but you do indeed have to go through a metal detector and take out keys, cell phones, etc. from your pockets at virtually every major tourist site in DC.

In NYC there are some bag checks, but I can't recall a single time I've ever had to go through a metal detector except at the World Trade Center. I'm not sure about the Empire State Building, however. But there's a huge amount of security in DC.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 10:23 AM
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Sory to cause oconfusion.

Both D and NYC have a huge number of garages where you can park cars. What you can;t do in drive in a car from one sight to another and park in a lot by the sights. There are no lots and either no or very limited street parking by any of the sights.

So you would be renting a car to put in in a garage for the day and still have to take cabs or subway/metro around the city.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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Well, as this should be a matter of fact and not opinion, I don't know what to say, but I disagree. I have never seen this at any museum in the city, private or public, nor at the Library of Congress. I saw it at the Supreme Court and the White House and the Capitol.
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Aug 18th, 2014, 01:26 PM
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I have been to DC 3 times in the last 8 years. Yes at all government buildings you do have to go through a security checkpoint as described above. My purse was also inspected. All of my trips have been during the month of October and I never waited in any lines. I would assume that late September would be comparable during the week. Weekends may still have a heavy tourist crowd.

I agree with the "no car" option in DC. Since you have only 1.5 days you are not going to be able to see much so a taxi may be your best option. The Metro does require walking inside the stations and very few stop right in front of an attraction.

If there is a particular attraction that is a "must see" I would book a tour. Most tours are free but they do require advanced reservations.
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