Two Canucks Lost in New York!
December 5, 2012 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Help me plan a relatively carefree (yet amazing!) trip to NYC! From Ottawa (potentially by car) in January or in a later month. Looking for a place to stay that won't drain bank accounts and sights to see with someone who has never been. Bonus points if anyone can suggest a fun route there and back. Time limit: I'm only going for a weekend.
posted by Danithegirl to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What is your hotel budget? That will be a pretty critical factor...

And do you want to do the usual stereotypical NYC sights? or are you more oriented towards food, museums, the arts?
posted by larthegreat at 8:16 AM on December 5, 2012

Hotel Budget - $200.00 in my mind seams reasonable - but I'm not sure if it is? Would like to stay in the city as opposed to going to NJ.

Would like to stay away from usual tourist spots - maybe find things to see and do that only locals would know about (Like a different view instead of "The Rock").
posted by Danithegirl at 8:20 AM on December 5, 2012

$200 per night should be reasonable, $200 total is not for 2 nights, although the timing of your trip may impact this. (when are you planning on doing this trip?)

A weekend doesn't give you THAT much time... sort out what would be a priority? good food? going to a museum (moma, the met)? barhopping/partying? botanical gardens? seeing the highline? wandering through times sq? do this at night- calmer and prettier

Also, if you are driving in by car... park outside the city, and take a train in from a suburb.
posted by larthegreat at 8:26 AM on December 5, 2012

Under $200 shouldn't be a problem. Try looking for bed and breakfasts rather than hotels--most of the big hotels are in a couple really icky areas anyway! My family used to stay at this place on the Upper East Side when they visited although it looks pretty booked...
posted by supercoollady at 8:28 AM on December 5, 2012

nthing the metropolitan museum (fun fact: the flowers in the lobby have their own trust fund) favorite way to spend a day in manhattan is to start there then stroll across central park to the Natural History museum (or reverse order depending on their hours for the day)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:40 AM on December 5, 2012

If you're willing to consider Brooklyn for either all, or part of your trip....

* My friends put their apartment up on Airbnb, and just decamp out of it when people are interested in staying there. It looks like it'd be HALF of what you budget for per night for the weekend, and you'd have a whole two-bedroom to yourself. The immediate area may look a little on the "funky" side to your mom if she worries about you, but is nothing to be concerned about.

* If you stayed there, you would be a half a mile walk away (following a pedestrian/bike parkway, natch) from three big-daddy Brooklyn institutions - the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Prospect Park. The Brooklyn museum has free evening hours on the first Saturday of every month, and schedules lots of interesting events that day; the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has quite a bit going on, even in winter (check out their bonsai collection). Prospect Park is actually a bit bigger than Central Park, and has a children's historical museum, a skating rink, and a zoo, and a big Farmer's Market at the north end every Saturday.

* If you want to get into Manhattan anyway, there's a subway stop right in front of the Brooklyn Museum that could get you up to the west side of Manhattan - from there you could easily get to Central Park and the Museum of Natural History and (if you really wanted to) Times Square.

* That subway would also put you near Junior's in Brooklyn, where you will be able to sample an amazing creation called "The Devil's Food Cheesecake". (What is is, is - they start with a two-layer devil's food cake, but instead of putting frosting in between the two layers, they put AN ENTIRE CHEESECAKE in between the two layers).

* Finally - parking on the block where my friends' apartment is is actually decent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:53 AM on December 5, 2012

Regarding routes...there are two ways to do it.

(1) Head west from Ottawa and then south through western New York State and through Pennsylvania and New Jersey towards New York.

(2) Head east from Ottawa toward Montreal and then drive due south all the way to New York City.

Personally, I would choose option two because then you at least get to drive through some nice scenery in upstate New York.

Western New York is kind of a wasteland.

But either way you're looking at a seven or eight hour drive (not including border crossing waits) each way.
posted by dfriedman at 8:56 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, crappity- just took a closer look at my friend's Airbnb ad and they have a four-night minimum.

There are a lot of other Airbnb's lurking about in Brooklyn, though; even though we've got a sort of neo-hipster rep, consider Brooklyn in general.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 AM on December 5, 2012

I can recommend two hotels in New York that are $200 a night.

Intercontinental Barclay (get it on Travelocity)

Aloft in Harlem. I can speak to the Aloft brand with is A-mazing! Not so much to Harlem.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:15 AM on December 5, 2012

The Intercontinental Barclay is a nice hotel, but will put you well past $200 night after local taxes and fees($230+).

The Millennium, Staybridge, Wyndham, Element all equal or less than $200 per night, clean, comfortable, and all have good midtown locations.
posted by Kruger5 at 9:31 AM on December 5, 2012

One of my favorite walks to take people visiting the city is:
Brooklyn Heights Promenade -> Brooklyn Bridge Park -> DUMBO -> cross Brooklyn Bridge -> Chinatown -> Nolita/Soho -> Washington Square Park -> West Village -> High Line -> and then you end up in the no man's land at the end of the High Line, haven't really figured out a good transition here. But if you walk a few avenues east, you can see all the Midtown stuff like Koreatown -> Times Square -> Rockefeller Center -> Central Park. Lot of walking but can easily be done in one day. I really like the view from the Brooklyn Heights promenade and it is not at all as overtouristed and crowded as the bridge itself or the High Line.

Another good one is Flatiron -> Union Square -> Astor Place -> St Marks Place -> Tompkins Square Park -> Avenue B / Clinton -> and then from here you can continue on into the LES / Chinatown or you can head over the Williamsburg bridge to Brooklyn.

You can also get a good view just riding the Q train to or from Brooklyn. It goes over the Manhattan Bridge and you get another excellent postcard view of the city.

Really if you haven't been here before it's great to just walk around and find stuff. The city lends itself well to long walks and you get to see lots of different neighborhoods that way. And don't discount the big tourist sights. I still think Times Square is worth seeing if you've never been.
posted by pravit at 11:11 AM on December 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

oh...and in case it hasn't become obvious by the prevalance of the word 'walk' in this thread...yeah, there's a lot of walking involved in manhattan. also stairs. lots and lots of stairs. and people walk FAST. take a few hours in the days before you go and do some brisk walks around the neighborhood to get in shape...because there's a lot to see and you'll want to keep going...and going...
posted by sexyrobot at 7:21 PM on December 5, 2012

Personally, I would choose option two because then you at least get to drive through some nice scenery in upstate New York.

Western New York is kind of a wasteland.

Um...the Finger Lakes is a waste land? Haven't you heard that "Ithaca is gorges"?

Anyway -- the furthest "west" route takes you through Syracuse, which is really Central NY. Route 17/86 is designated a "scenic highway" and is quite beautiful, as far as scenery goes.
posted by vitabellosi at 12:49 AM on December 6, 2012

On my last trip I booked a bunk at The Out for cheap. You would room with two strangers and pay around 60-70 /person.
It's in the middle of Manhattan. It's also oriented toward gays, FYI.
posted by jander03 at 8:40 PM on December 9, 2012

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