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Overwhelmed Californian's First Time to New York - Advice?

Overwhelmed Californian's First Time to New York - Advice?

Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:38 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 96
Overwhelmed Californian's First Time to New York - Advice?

Hello everybody!
My fiance and I (both from LA) are planning on visiting NYC in early October. We both have NEVER been to the Northeast - NYC, Boston, etc. We're in our mid-late 20's and would probably be considered "yuppies" by most accounts.

Since I've never been to New York, I am completely at a loss regarding how I should plan this vacation. I know more about LA freeways than entire NYC boroughs, so I need some advice:

1) For first-timers, how long of a stay do you recommend? I think this will be the only chance we have to visit NYC before we have children, so I want to make sure we make it (and the long flight) worth it.

2) I have heard good things about the Radio City Apartments, but I think they are sold out when we are there. Generally, what parts of the city do you recommend staying for first-timers?

3) For October, what are the top two or three things we should know about that you think are distinctly "New York".

Thanks in advance for your comments!
Johnnyman7 is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 43
Planning an NYC vacation is certainly overwhelming! There's so many things to choose from. Here's some general advice based on your questions:

1. I think I could visit for an entire year and not get bored. That being said, NYC is expensive so that might limit the amount of time you want to stay.

2. We stayed in an apt. in the lower east side, very un-touristy area. Helped us feel like "real" New Yorkers. Let me know if you're interested in a link to the apartment.

3. Besides all the normal tourist attractions, make time for wandering around Central Park and whatever neighborhood you're staying in. It's fascinating to people-watch in NYC!
jubil is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:57 AM
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Stay a week. Seven nights.

Be prepared for sticker shock. Plan paying around $300+ per night for a mid range moderate hotel like a Courtyard by Marriott.

Try to stay away from national chain hotels.

Look at:

Apple Core Hotels

Affinia Hotels

Salisbury Hotel

Milford Plaza

Empire Group Hotels

The above are all New York owned hotels that are mid range and some are full suites.

What is your hotel budget?

Don't try and plan on two things in an evening. Either have a great meal out or take in a Broadway show but forget trying both.

Plan on one afternoon activity and one morning activity and be loose with your plans.

Ride the Staten Island Ferry at dusk for the best views of Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and Lower Manhattan/Financial District.
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:59 AM
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GranthamMommy is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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"For October, what are the top two or three things we should know about that you think are distinctly "New York"."

Can't help on the hotels as I live here. But, Manhattan is relatively compact and easy to get about so far less of an issue than whether or not Santa Monica makes sense if Downtown LA is your destination.

In terms of things to do, I think October is one of the best times to come to NYC. People are back from their summer weekends, the weather has a bit of crispness to it and the city is usually at it's peak in terms of nightlife.

I'd put on the agenda Friday Night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The roof garden will probably be closed but still a good time to go.

Avoid the Circle Line. Instead, take the Staten Island Ferry, walk the Brooklyn Bridge, and go to the Promenade in Brooklyn.

Take in an Opera at the Met. Yes, I know Opera. But, the scale of the production is something to behold. If not a fan, see if something well known - like Carmen or La Boheme is playing during your stay.

Certainly walking around Central Park on a nice Fall afternoon is one of NYC's great things.
Ryan is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 26
My best advice after travelling twice to NYC. Do not rent a car.. No cheap parking (we paid $35 for 3 hours near Madison Square Gardens), gas stations few and far between in the NYC area. Hotels that offer parking is by Valet $$ and the car is sent to New Yersey most of the time. I found a website that offered free 2-4 hour tours with a volunteer to show you some sights. I had my mom on the subway which she would never have done in a million years with just us.
Here is some info on it
The name to remember is Big Apple Greeter: a non-profit organization that's offered this free service in "The Big Apple" for 12 years. Visitors are matched with volunteers who show them famous NY sights or unique neighborhoods, usually for 2 to 4 hours
You can look them up at
Big Apple Greeter
Hope this helps
jas67 is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
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sorry for some of my spelling mistakes in the previous post.
jas67 is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:36 AM
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October is a greatr time to visit New York - the weather is cool enough so you need a light jacket - but not cold. Great for touring and walking. Unfortunately this is the start of high season for hotels - so look at all the discount web sites now (as you saw Radio City is already sold out). You might concisderusing Priceline - but 4* only, since some 3* are not pleasant. But - more than 3 nights can be an issue - so you might have to do 2 different hotels.

Moderate hotels like the affinia group are also selling out fast, many October dates are already gone - and they're more than $400 per night. On the Ave - a pleasant 3* hotel on the upper west side (good neighborhood) is showing internet promotional rates of about $350 per night. So you really need to soldify dates and get hotel reservations NOW - as prices will only continue to rise.

As to where to stay - tourist sights are spread out over a large area so there are several good places to stay (midtown west, but away from Times Square, Central Park South, Midtown East (but kind of businessy), Upper WEst Side (up/mid scale residential busy but not frantic) or the Village (but there are fewer hotels downtown - although it has most of the trendy clubs and restaurants).

One thing you will need to get used to is walking everywhere. For anything under a mile New Yorkers walk (and lots of us for things over a mile too). For longer distances the subway is cheap, fast and perfectly safe. So - you'll need a couple of pairs of good walking shoes.

Not sure of anything specific special in October - unless you're here for the Village Halloween parade - which is absolutely incredible. Also, the full arts schedule (opera, symphony and ballet) is on (many take the summer off). But- there are tons of activities of every type. Just look at the web site fo New York Magazine when you've picked your dates - it will list many dozens of special activities.

Also, Central Park is great this time of year (trees may start turing by the end of the month). And it's not too cold yet for any of the boat trips (free Staten Island ferry or ferry to Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Immigrations museum - which is brilliant - or oneof the Circle Line tours - either speed boat or larger tour boat.

But you have plenty of time to work all this out. Assume you need 6/7 nights minimum (are you doing just NYC or going on to Boston or DC?). Your real first task is to pick dates and then find a hotel - everything else will follow from that.

nytraveler is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Definitely do Central Park. It is amazing when you have been around all the noise of the city, you walk into the park, and it subsides. I love bridges and Central Park has some of the best. In fact there is a website devoted to it. The last time we were there, I wanted to find the Gothic bridge. I told my husband it would be worth the walk for him for the photo alone. I knew approximately where it was so my husband and I head upper west side of Central Park to the location (I forget what street now). Once inside the park, I didn't know which way to go, right or left. So we asked several people who had been horseback riding. They did not know. Said they lived all their lives in NYC and didn't know and were embarrassed that they didn't. So we starting walking. Well, we found it. My husband was very impressed and wanted a picture of it, but with no one in the shot. It took a half hour, but we got the shot!
msdotliz is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 10:20 AM
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jas, out of curiousity, why did you rent a car for Manhattan?

You are the first person I've ever heard of that did this besides my OCD best friend.
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 03:01 PM
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Posts: 96
Thank you to jubil, GoTravel, Ryan, jas67, nytraveler, msdotliz !!! Great advice.

I'm going to talk with my fiance tonight, but I think we will agree to stay 7 nights. Arrive on a Sunday, depart the next Sunday or Monday. I think that will give us plenty of time to see the city without getting burned out.

To answer a question above - no, we are not planning on visiting Boston or anywhere. Thats another trip.

So now the problem becomes getting a hotel room: many places have rooms open for 3 or 4 nights, but not all 7 (for example, the Radio City Apartments). Do you think it's reasonable to expect to stay in 2 hotels, or do you think we'll be able to stay in 1 hotel?

I'll look into Affinia Hotels, Milford Plaza, etc. Any other hotel recommendations?

We dont really have a "budget" per se, but I am uncomfortable spending gobs of money. What I am looking for is value - I dont mind paying $400/night if the location is good and the hotel is high quality. But then again, I'd much rather pay $200/night for a hotel thats not as nice, but still in an acceptable location.

So in short, I'm looking for value-minded hotel recommendations....say, from $200/night to $400/night.

Thank you all again!!!!
Johnnyman7 is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Priceline is great for NYC hotels over the weekend. I've had less luck using it during the week...
travelgirl2 is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 03:56 PM
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You will have a huge problem finding anything decent for $200 at that time of year. (Lower end chain hotels at the airports - an hour from the city - are more than $200 a night then.)

If you want to look at something very basic, but reliable and clean on the upper west side you might try the Newton. In October a double room with shared bath ranges from $220 to $250 per night and a double with private bath from $250 to $300 - depending on dates.

To stay 7 nights you might consider an apartement - which can be cheaper - but you need to do a lot of checking on the details to be sure what you're getting.

nytraveler is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 04:21 PM
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Johnnyman, I haven't stayed here but Doug Stallings recommended The Pod Hotel on another thread. Make sure you book a double with private bath.

The Park South Hotel is still an excellent value for a great little boutique hotel but the rooms can be really small.

Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,715
Don't worry about where so much as what place. Anywhere from about 96 st and south in Manhattan near a subway stop will be ok. Most tourists like to be in midtown (34-59 st.) but above and below that can also be great.

Gotta disagree with GoTravel's hotel advice. While Oct. is pricey and you might have to pay as much as $300-400/night, I would REFUSE to pay that to stay at many of the places mentioned. I would much rather use one of the national chains like Marriott or Hilton for that price. (and btw, the Applecore hotels which are BUDGET at best are national brands)

I agree the Affinia hotels are good to very nice depending on which one and are suites with kitchens so you can save a bit on breakfast/snacks etc. by eating in. The Marriott Courtyards are mostly terrific (although to upper east side one is not that conveniently located) as are many of the Hampton Inns.

Some local hotels that are quite good are the San Carlos, the Library, the Blakely, the Giraffe and the Elysee.
mclaurie is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 03:05 AM
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mclaurie, checking random October dates for the Courtyard by Marriotts and the Residence Inns, their rates range from $360-$380 per night for a standard double room.

I'd rather pay that and stay at an Affinia property or the Salisbury.

The Apple Core Hotels and Milford Plaza were more than $100 less per night and except for the Lucerne and the Belvedere the Empire Group hotels were almost $150 less per night. The Belvedere and Lucerne were still cheaper than the Courtyard and Residence.

Staying 7 nights that is anywhere from $700 to $1200.

I have stayed in a lot of these hotels.

Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 06:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,715
GoT, I too would prefer staying in an Affinia hotel (or the Salisbury maybe) but I would refuse to pay $200+ for the Milford Plaza or most of the Applecore hotels. Different strokes.
mclaurie is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 06:40 AM
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Johnnyman7: The Edison Hotel is on the same level as the Milford quality wise. We have stayed there a few times and I really like it. It is an older hotel, but has been recently redone. They shot a scene from the Godfather at this hotel. Very art deco. It is just a few blocks up from the Milford as well.

We know some people that stayed at the New Yorker - about the same as the other two.

Do you like flea markets? I have two that you can go to if you are interested. They are open only on Sundays though.
msdotliz is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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IMO, late September to mid October is the best time of year here in NYC: crisp, blue-sky days with no humidity. The suggestions for Central Park and a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge take full advantage of that.

You've gotten some good hotel suggestions here. Another suggestion is the Hilton Garden Inn at 790 8th Ave (corner of 50th Street), which used to be the Days Inn. Yes it's a chain, but perfectly serviceable and in a good central location on the outskirts of Times Square and above a subway station. I would advise against staying in the middle of Times Square (i.e., the Marriott Marquis or Renaissance, or the Doubletree), as it gets to be a bit of a zoo!

If you do walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, I highly recommend a stop in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood in one direction or another. If you plan your trip a little earlier, you could catch the 11th annual DUMBO arts under the bridge festival ( on the weekend of Sept 28-30. Otherwise at the very least, come for some good food (Superfine, Grimaldi's Pizza, River Cafe...), great chocolate (Jacques Torres:, and a tiny slice of Brooklyn!
ggreen is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2007, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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There was a story recently in New York magazine ( on moderately priced hotel in NYC. Have a look at the site...
michelleNYC is offline  

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