Short Weekend NJ/NYC

Oct 5th, 2010, 10:01 AM
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Short Weekend NJ/NYC

My husband and I will be flying into EWR on a Friday afternoon (2:30ish) in early December, and staying at the Hilton Newark Penn Station. We are going to a concert on Saturday night at the Prudential Center at 8:00 pm, and flying out of EWR on Sunday at 11:30 am. So, that leaves us with Friday evening and all day Saturday to do some sightseeing. I'm looking for ideas on whether we should go into the city on Friday to eat and get opinions on the *best* city tour for us on Saturday. I was in NYC about 3 years ago, but my husband has never been so I'd like him to be able to get a broad overview of the city in the limited time we have. As far as interests, since he has never been into the city, I want him to be able to hit the "must sees." Any advice? Thanks so much!
suzski is offline  
Oct 5th, 2010, 10:23 AM
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Your hotel is across the street from Newark Penn Station, which has good connections to NYC:

You can take a NJ Transit train which goes directly to New York Penn Station in midtown Manhattan for $5 per person in 20 minutes.

You can take a PATH train which goes directly to World Trade Center Station in downtown Manhattan for $1.75 per person in 22 minutes. (You can also reach midtown-33rd/6th Ave-by changing trains at Journal Square in 33 minutes for the same cost.)

The PATH train would be a great way to reach the downtown areas and get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Wall Street. The midtown options would land you right near the Empire State Building and be a reasonable walk, taxi, or subway to Times Square and Rockefeller Center.
ellenem is offline  
Oct 5th, 2010, 10:55 AM
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As ellenem points out, you'll be across the street from Newark Penn Station. Are you aware that you can reach Newark Penn Station easily from EWR (and vice-versa) via the airport's AirTrain and NJTransit one stop to Newark? The cost is $15, which includes the off-airport Airtran fare.

If you offer some idea of cuisine and price range, many here will be able to recommend dining choices. Keep in mind that tax and tip add almost 30% to your tab. There's not really much good dining in the immediate vicinity of NY Penn Station, but, again as ellenem avers, a taxi, subway or short walk will get you to a variety of choices. For better places, reservations are a must. Many are available at

For your sightseeing day, consider consulting the many threads here that offer recommendations to visitors.
bspielman is offline  
Oct 5th, 2010, 01:30 PM
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For Saturday sightseeing I would not do a bus tour. That will keep you looking at the outside of buildings - and not seeing the contents - or getting into the street to really get the feel of New York. Sitting in traffic may be an unfortunate necesity for locals commuting to work but is no way to spend a vacation.

I suggest you pick the 3 things you most want to do - and just hop on a subway - or walk - and go do them.

If it were me I would:

1)Head downtown to South ferry and hop a free Staten Island ferry - for a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty, and a great view of the whole harbor and Manhattan Skyline on the way back

2) Grab a subway uptown to Rock Center, visit Top of the Rock, get a brief walking tour of the area, drop into St Pat's and grab a quick bite

3) Take the bus up Madison Avenue, get off at 79th St and head into the Met - even if you see just one or two departments. Either before or after take 30 minutes to explore a little of Central park

This will give you a much better picture of NYC than any bus tour, will cost a lot less, will avoid waiting on lines or sitting in traffic - and can esily be done if you start early and keep moving.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 5th, 2010, 06:03 PM
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I like nyt's first two suggestions, but I wouldn't spend one day as a tourist in Manhattan visiting a museum. I'd much rather walk around Greenwich Village or Soho, or the Upper West Side or Upper East Side, or Hell's Kitchen --- whatever, I'd just walk walk walk. In fact, I'd probably just walk up Fifth Avenue, starting around NYU, and ending at Central Park (and then walk into the park, too).
sf7307 is online now  
Oct 5th, 2010, 06:43 PM
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Thanks all for the suggestions. Based on your recommendations, I'm nixing the bus tour idea and instead plan on doing the following with our time:
1) Friday - take the train into New York and find a great Italian place...I see that Trattoria Trecolori gets good reviews and I like their menu...also like that they are in the theatre district because the plan is to walk around Times Square/Theatre District the first night. However, I'm VERY open to other suggestions....for cuisine, I'm stuck on Italian...but price-wise, I'd like to stay around $150 (or less) for the two of us total.
2) Saturday - get an early start, heading over to see the Statue of Liberty via Staten Island Ferry. See the World Trade Center site, and then head over to the Tenement Museum for a one hour tour, followed by Katz's Deli (I know, it's touristy, but we will BE tourists...and my husband loves a good pastrami sandwich). After that, we'll see how much time we have left to see other sites before heading back for our show.

Does this plan sound good?

Also, bspielman, you talked about the $15 transportation to our hotel via public transport. Would that be cheaper (or faster, less stressful, etc.) than just taking a cab? Our hotel offers free shuttle service but I don't want to waste my time waiting for an hourly shuttle...I've got places to see!

Again, thanks so much for the input! I really appreciate it!
suzski is offline  
Oct 5th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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Sounds good. The Tenement "Museum" tour is one museum I WOULD take the time to see! Make reservations for the specific tour you want in advance or you'll have to wait around for a tour with free space. As for Katz', not "touristy" at all -- it's excellent! Put $1.00 in the counterman's jar, and make sure he sees you doing it -- you'll get a sandwich that's 2-3" thick instead of one that less than an inch!! Also, I recommend paying an extra buck for "extra lean" -- meaning they trim the fat before making the's still super moist and tasty.
sf7307 is online now  
Oct 6th, 2010, 03:46 AM
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In case you're still interested in a tour, does a combo of using the subway and walking to get around and will give a good overview. But I do like your plan for Sat. if you prefer. You might just see more on the tour.

While Trattoria Trecolori is a prefectly good Italian restaurant, it's pretty ordinary imo and not the best NYC has to offer, especially if you don't need to be in that area for a show. I don't know what time you're thinking of eating, but it gets a big pre theater crowd (5-7:30) and you'd need a reservation. If you arrive early afternoon, you'd hit Manhattan around 4 or 5 I'd guess. I'd head to Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center for great views (although I wouldn't go if it's already dark as Central Park won't be visible). After that, I'd walk to Fifth ave. and have a look at the Xmas windows at Saks (across from Rockefeller Center) and continue up Fifth ave. to see some other windows including Bergdorf Goodman at 58-59th st. For Italian food, consider A Voce in the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle. Try to get a look at the Barney's store windows at Madison Ave. & 61 st. at some point.
mclaurie is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 04:07 AM
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My thoughts and suggestions would be as follows:

1. If I were spending a Friday evening before Christmas in NYC, I would try to include as many Christmas-focused events as possible. The first thing which comes to my mind are the windows at Lord & Taylor. These are walkable from Penn Station (pass by Macy’s on the way, also can walk down 5th to the Empire State Building before or after). So I would go to Lord & Taylor and that area first, and then I would probably head to Little Italy (what is left of it) or elsewhere downtown for dinner. There are some good restaurants right in the neighborhood of Lord & Taylor. Places like Asia de Cuba (not Italian but quite good, IMO), or elsewhere in Murray Hill, or someplace like the Bryant Park Grill, but this would be up to you. (I don’t see the point of eating in the theatre district unless you are going to the theater; other than Times Square, there is not a lot to “see” in the Theatre District except theaters.) After that, you might walk/subway up to the Rockefeller Center area to try to see the tree; the later you go the (slightly) less chance of it being jammed with people. I would also stop by Saks’ windows, usually more avant garde than traditional, and then possibly pop into St Pats (if open) and maybe up to the Plaza for a late night drink (or do vice versa and take the subway up to the Plaza area and walk down 5th toward Rockefeller Center. Then have a drink somewhere in the Rockefeller Center area or see if you can get up to Top of the Rock). Some of this will depend on how cold it is and how late you want to stay up.

If you are in NYC Friday December 16, consider then going to the Paul Winter concert at the Cathedral of St John the Divine.

2. Totally agree on the Staten Island Ferry. On a clear day there is really no better view. While in the WTC area be sure to stop in at Trinity Church and walk around Wall Street.

3. Take a look at the website for the Tenement Museum and see the different types of tours they offer. In addition to indoor tours of various tenement houses, they have walking tours. One or more may interest you. And be sure to book, a Saturday in December is quite likely to be crowded. You might want to go there first, and leave the Staten Island ferry for later in the day (IMO around sunset would be great but may not work for getting back to Newark in time), as otherwise you may be time-pressed getting to the Tenement Museum in time for your booked tour. (On Saturdays, the ferry runs every thirty minutes on the hour and half hour. The round trip will take you about an hour.)

4. I assume you don’t intend to go to the Statue or Ellis Island, but if you do, take a look at the website for the Statue of Liberty, and again if possible make an advance reservation for the ferry (and the pedestal/crown as well if you want that) or you may have to wait in line a long time.

5. In addition to the Tenement Museum, consider smaller museums that are easier to do and less crowded than the Met. The Morgan Library ( almost always has interesting exhibits (they have a Roy Lichtenstein exhibit through January) and can be “done” in an hour, it has a good mid-town location as well. I love the Frick, it is quite a bit uptown, but if you wanted to do some walking on Madison Ave to see shop decorations , etc, then the Frick makes sense. Also can have a late lunch in that neighborhood, which includes some good restaurants. The Forbes Museum on Fifth Ave at 12th Street is small and has some great collections, including Faberge eggs and a toy collection. Any of these may be good options if it is very cold and you don’t walk to do a lot of walking. Otherwise, I agree that if it is nice day, nothing beats walking various neighborhoods, or across the Brooklyn Bridge and back.

6. I am not sure what the $15 fare mentioned above is for. The fare for the Air Train mentioned above, which goes from Newark Airport to Newark Penn Station (where your hotel is located) is $8.25 per person. For two people that is $16.50. A cab will cost about the same or perhaps a bit more, certainly not more than $20. So a cab is easier IMO. If the hotel has a free shuttle to and from the airport, that may be worth it, but I agree waiting for it may not be as convenient as just hopping in a cab. The cab ride will take about 10 minutes, assuming there is no traffic (it’s less than 5 miles). There is a taxi rank at the airport and a dispatcher, which makes it all very convenient.

To go to NYC from Newark, you should take a regular NJ Transit train or the PATH. NJ Transit trains go from Newark Penn Station to New York Penn Station, so don’t confuse the two. (There is another train station in Newark called Broad Street, I would avoid trains from NYC to there, as you only will end up having to take a cab to your hotel. Newark Penn Station is connected by an elevated walkway to your hotel.)

7. I don’t know how involved you want to get for dinner on Saturday, but if you have time, I would recommend one of the Portuguese restaurants in the Ironbound. The closest Spanish/Portuguese restaurant to the Newark Penn Station is

Don Pepe Restaurant
844 McCarter Highway
Tel: (973) 623-4662

This is literally across the street from the train station, so is walkable. I think the food is good, but it is not really as authentically Portuguese as the place below. It is more Spanish-influenced. But the location is good.

Fernandes II Steakhouse
152 - 170 Fleming Ave.
Tel: 973-589-4066

This would be about a 5-10 minute drive from the Newark train station.
Cicerone is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 05:48 AM
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If you are going to Katz's save room for some gelato from Il laboratorio Del Gelato - currently by the Tenement Museum but I understand they are opening a new space near Katzs
SueNYC is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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Let me correct my post about public transit from EWR to Newark Penn Station. The NJTransit combination fare, including the off-airport AirTrain fee, is $8.25 one-way per adult or $6.75 for seniors. The trip takes about a half-hour, including the connection at the NJTransit Newark Airport station. A taxi would cost about $15, plus $1 per bag. On a Friday afternoon, the taxi line could be long and there might be some traffic. Really your call; I would take the train.
bspielman is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 11:32 AM
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Thanks for all the great suggestions! Cicerone, I didn't even think about incorporating Christmas-themed events into our trip. However, as we'll be there the first weekend in December, it would be a shame to miss. So, based on everyone's input, here is the new plan:

Friday - arrive @ EWR and commute to hotel (will figure out commute route once we get there, but will have all the info on the three types - train, cab, shuttle). Transit to NYC Penn Station and see the Christmas sights before getting dinner. Afterwards, head (uptown?) to Times Square and perhaps Rockefeller Center before heading back to the hotel.

Saturday - get an early start, commuting to NYC, with Staten Island Ferry first destination. Afterwards, head to World Trade Center area, before heading up to the Lower East Side for the Tenement Museum, Katz's, and gelato. The reason I'm delaying the Tenement Museum is that the first tour for the "Getting By" program isn't until 11:30, and I think we can take the morning to see other things and then do lunch and the museum (or vice versa, time dependent). I plan on booking a 1:30 tour, which will give us plenty of time to do whatever final looking around afterwards we want, and have us back in time to relax a bit before our concert.

So, with that pretty much on track, I'm down to one question:

1) Change of cuisine plans....being half-Turkish (and being married to a man who loves lamb), I thought we'd be able to get a great Turkish meal in the city. A couple of ideas that have popped up include Ali Baba and Turkish Kitchen. Does anyone have any experience with either of these restaurants, or a suggestion for another?

Again, thanks so much for the assisting me with this. I appreciate your time and input!
suzski is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 01:03 PM
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"Saturday - get an early start, commuting to NYC, with Staten Island Ferry first destination."

If that is the case, then take the PATH train from Newark Penn Station to WTC. You will arrive within the WTC construction site and have a 10-15-minute walk to the ferry.

I have eaten at the Turkish Kitchen a number of times and have always enjoyed it. I believe it is well-considered by those who really know Turkish cuisine. I have no experience of Ali Baba. Both restaurants are in the same general neighborhood, away from the usual tourist sights.
ellenem is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 01:09 PM
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Thanks for the info ellenem. I'll definately take your advice and move WTC first, followed by the ferry. And I appreciate your first-person input about the Turkish Kitchen! I grew up eating Turkish food and, since my father's passing (he was a cook), have really missed it!
suzski is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 03:37 PM
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We were in NYC last week (visiting from San Diego) and stayed near Gramercy Park. We had dinner Thursday night at Turkish Kitchen (3rd Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets) and were quite disappointed. It may be partly based on our entree choices (salmon filet and an apple dish--sounded interesting--that was a lot like applesauce), but I cannot recommend it.

In that same area, if you return to your Italian theme, is 'Inoteca, a noisy, trendy, popular, hip place at the corner of Third Avenue and 24th Street. The food was great, although I am old enough to be bothered by the very noisy room. It has outdoor seating on 24th Street, if that suits you.
d_claude_bear is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 05:27 PM
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I live in the neighborhood of Ali Baba's second restaurant, Ali Baba's Terrace, and have eaten there several times. Unfortunately, the terrace is probably not an option in December, but the enclosed downstairs will be open. It has a different menu from the other, but we have found their lamb and eggplant dishes very good indeed. Also the mixed mezes. I did miss a few favorites I'd experienced in Turkey. When I asked why they hadn't some of the small marinated fish mezes I'd enjoyed, they replied that it was difficult to find them fresh enough!

So I think you can rely on their food. I particularly recommend the braised lamb on an eggplant puree.

Haven't tried Turkish Kitchen, but mean to, if I'm in the neighborhood.
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
Oct 6th, 2010, 06:10 PM
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Definitely second the idea of going to Katz's, though I don't think of it as being "touristy." Tourists do go there, but that's not the same thing.

While there, definitely get the pastrami sandwich juicy on rye with a smear of deli mustard (arguably the best sandwich I've ever eaten, and that's saying a lot). Adding in a dish of pickles and washing it all down with an egg cream are great ideas as well.
bachslunch is offline  
Oct 6th, 2010, 08:52 PM
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We have always enjoyed the Turkish Kitchen. In fact we are going there this week in anticapation of trip to Turkey next week. Although we do not know the staff we will ask for restaurant recommendations in Turkey.

We have done this before. One time we asked the staff at both Xunta and Bar Carerra for recommednations of tapas places and someone at Xunta sent to us a very popular place in Barcelona.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2010, 06:47 AM
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Pasha, Akdeniz and Beyoglu for Turkish food.
mclaurie is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 10:50 AM
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Just wanted to send out a thanks to all who helped me plan my weekend. We caught a cab to our hotel, took the PATH from Newark Penn Station to WTC, ate at Lombardi's, shopped at Bryant Park, were serenaded by an improptu group of Christmas carollers on the Subway heading uptown, and visited Times Square.

On Saturday, we again headed over from NJ, walked around the WTC site, took the Staten Island Ferry for some photo ops of the Statue of Liberty, saw the WTC Sphere statue as well as 4 "statues of liberty" standing side-by-side for photo ops (only in New York, right?), spent a half hour in the insanity of Century 21 (hubby forgot an extra pair of jeans), took the "Getting By" tour at the Tenement Museum, and queued for Katz's where my husband had the best reuben of his life (his words) before heading back to NJ for the Andrea Bocelli Concert.

All in all, an absolutely wonderful weekend! Thanks so much for all the tips and suggestions!
suzski is offline  
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