How does Thanksgiving affect Manhattan parking and travel to Upstate NY?
November 24, 2014 2:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm visiting New York for Thanksgiving. I'm driving from Pittsburgh to Manhattan and I arrive late tomorrow. I'm staying in the Upper West Side through Saturday, but I'm spending Thanksgiving with family in Monroe, NY. I have one night booked at a hotel in that area. Where can I conveniently and cheaply park my car in Manhattan for 5 days? How can I get from Manhattan to Monroe, NY, reliably and cheaply? I'm currently planning to park on the street and take the Port Jervis line.

On a previous trip to New York, I parked my car on a street near my accommodations, which was also in the Upper West Side. I had to move it once for street sweeping, but I only had to think about it that once all week. I don't really care if my car is near where I'm staying. I'll leave my car in Queens if I only have to drop it off, pick it up and maybe move it once. I'd rather park it far away and not have to move it at all then park it closer and have to re-park later. I'm particularly concerned about moving and re-parking my car on Black Friday. How does that affect parking? What about Thanksgiving Saturday? Is there some insider trick to finding parking in New York?

I've taken trains to NJ and CT on past trips and it's always seemed reliable and stress free. Will Thanksgiving mess that up? I called NJ Transit and there's a train that matches my schedule. It's due to leave Penn Station at 1:11pm. When do I need to get there to be reasonably assured of getting a seat? Is it already too late? Can I buy a ticket in advance? Are the trains likely to run on time?

Would it be easier to drive? I'm not a native and I've never been in town on Thanksgiving. I just assumed that the holiday makes driving completely impractical. It looks like my hostel (103rd and Amsterdam) is over a mile north of the parade route. Am I over-thinking this? Can I just mosey into Manhattan, park at leisure and then leave as if it were any other Thursday?

Is it enough to avoid the UWS? Could I park anywhere else in Manhattan and then have a clear shot across the Holland Tunnel? I'm willing to avoid Manhattan entirely. I'm happy to park anywhere in NYC within reasonable walking distance of the subway. Is there somewhere to park in Queens or the Bronx? Could I avoid Manhattan entirely by heading north to the Tappan Zee Bridge?

If I take the train up, I should be able to get a ride back. If I drive, then I'll need to find another parking space on Black Friday. Will that be possible?

Bonus Points: Can you park my car near the most delicious thing you've ever eaten that will be open on Thanksgiving? I'd prefer not to fast all day and then gorge myself at dinner.

Thank you.
posted by stuart_s to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bear in mind they're predicting 6-10" of snow in the Hudson Valley and Northern Jersey on Wednesday. It's currently not expected to affect Manhattan, and you may get in ahead of the storm, but keep an eye on reports and be prepared to take a southern route across PA and into NYC. You can also expect service delays on Metro North Wednesday, Thursday, and maybe even Friday.

There's lots of cheap parking in west Harlem, an easy subway shot to the UWS, and an easy cab ride to the 125th st Metro North station. There's usually lots of free street parking around Convent Avenue, or else cheap parking garages, e.g. the one at 673 St. Nicholas Ave (just south of 145th st). Print out a coupon for that one.

Be aware that normal weekday parking rules are in effect on Friday.
posted by Quisp Lover at 2:46 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The neighborhood around the hostel and the nearby Columbia campus should have plenty of on-street parking. Just watch the signs regarding street-cleaning rules (they'll be suspended for Thanksgiving, but in effect all other days). if you don't want to deal with that, the garage that Quisp Lover recommended looks like a good deal.

It would be much easier to drive to Monroe than to take the train. The parade is a non-issue outside of its immediate environs, and any traffic you encounter between Upper Manhattan and Rockland County will probably be minimal. Meanwhile, the subways and trains will all be on a Sunday schedule. There is absolutely no way I would go through the hassle of taking the creaky Port Jervis line if I had a car available to me. Seriously. Take it from someone who knows: train service on Thanksgiving is going to suck.

Do not take the Holland Tunnel. From where you'll be, you can hop right on the Henry Hudson Parkway and either go: 1) Over the Henry Hudson Bridge, through the Bronx, to the Saw Mill River Parkway, to the Tappan Zee Bridge; or 2) Henry Hudson Parkway north to the George Washington Bridge, to the Palisades Parkway, to I-287. You'll be there in an hour, maybe 75 minutes.
posted by Leatherstocking at 3:00 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Depends on what time you are leaving, but I would drive. Take the West Side Highway north towards the George Washington Bridge. Use that exit and take the Cross Bronx Expressway about a half a mile to signs for 87 North NYS Thruway. Take that straight to the Tappan Zee, then to Monroe. It is a straight shot. The Tappan Zee may be slow, but once you get up the hill on the other side it will pick up again. It is also much cheaper than the other Hudson River Crossings.

Not sure about NYC parking.
posted by 724A at 3:38 PM on November 24, 2014

Best answer: Nthing the suggestion to drive to Monroe. The route 724A suggested will almost get you there but you have to get off the Thruway at exit 16/Harriman and head west on Rt. 6 to reach Monroe. Alternatively, go over the GWB and take the Palisades Parkway, the first exit immediately on the NJ side of the bridge, toward Bear Mountain. As you get near Bear Mtn. there is an exit (18? I forget the number) for Rt. 6 West. Take that to Monroe.

But, yes, there is likely to be snow on Wednesday, some of it heavy. Monroe could see 6-10 inches and Manhattan could get 4-6 inches. There is a considerable amount of uncertainty in those amounts. It might be messy with the snow but you shouldn't have too much trouble finding parking near the hostel or further north closer to Columbia.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:09 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

A couple of other things. If you plan on taking the George Washington Bridge to the Palisades Parkway, take the bridge's upper level. The entrance to the parkway is right at the end of the upper level on the right.

There's no outbound toll on the GWB; the toll is only paid Manhattan-bound. So if you take the GWB on your way up to Monroe you'll avoid paying the tolls on the Henry Hudson Parkway and Tappan Zee that way. You'll have to pay them, or the toll for the GWB, on the way back.

Right now, it looks like NYC is going to get a few inches of slushy snow on Wednesday, but Monroe may get as much as a foot. Thanksgiving is supposed to be OK, and the major roads should be clear by then. Make sure to bring a portable shovel in case you park on the street and have to do some light digging.
posted by Leatherstocking at 5:51 PM on November 24, 2014

Leatherstocking's right about taking West Side Highway to Henry Hudson north to SawMill north to Tappan Zee, but it's not recommended in slick icy conditions. Saw Mill's a little bit narrow and twisty, and will not leave you happy in bad weather. If conditions are poor, better to opt for Sprain Brook (which you can catch any number of ways after ascending on West Side Highway).
posted by Quisp Lover at 6:08 PM on November 24, 2014

Alternate side parking is usually Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday. If you intend to take the train, make sure to park in a Monday/Thursday spot. Bring a small shovel and the usual snow scraping devices.

I can't speak to delicious foodstuffs available on Thursday in the neighborhood. If I were going to have a pre-Thanksgiving treat, it would be a pain chocolate from Kuro Kuma. Will they be open? I have no idea.

Dollars to donuts, NYC streets will be plowed and salted. Conditions will get dicier as you go north, depending on the storm.

Parking will be easy peasy all weekend. Most locals will be gone till Sunday.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:09 PM on November 24, 2014

I missed your last sentence about eating. Standard New Yorker move on holidays when everything's closed is to opt for Chinese. And you're in luck. Awesome regional Chinese food trucks line Broadway from 106 to 108, serving Asian grad students at Columbia. There's also a storefront, Xi'an Famous Foods at 2675 Broadway at 102nd that's pretty great, exotic, and toto-we're-not-in-Pittsburgh-anymore.

Shouldn't be hard to park amid that drag (by NYC standards, which means 10 mins circling), and you can get a quick, cheap, awesome bite.
posted by Quisp Lover at 7:42 PM on November 24, 2014

Quisp Lover, did you mean 116th to 118th?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:12 PM on November 24, 2014

The food trucks are not going to be there during Thanksgiving break.
posted by mlis at 9:20 PM on November 24, 2014

Best answer: Computech, yeah, sorry, 116 to 118. Woops.

"The food trucks are not going to be there during Thanksgiving break"

A few will. And Xi'an will be open for sure, so he's covered.
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2014

Sounds like you'll be far enough uptown that this won't affect you, but here are the streets where you won't be able to park - assume a 5-8 block perimeter around these where parking will be impossible because of locals who had to move their cars.
posted by Mchelly at 2:17 PM on November 25, 2014

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