New York City

submitted by: Stacy Beebee Pegasus Travel Omaha NE

I flew on Midwest airlines and it was an easy connection through Milwaukee. Overhead compartments are extremely tiny on the regional jet, everyone had to gate check their carryon (which is better than schlepping your bag inside the plane!). I used Limo Link, for the transfer to the hotel. Driver met us in baggage claim and took us right to the car. Took about 45 minutes. We took a taxi back to the airport on Sunday, and the driver asked whether I wanted a flat rate of $70 (plus $12 toll and tip) or pay the meter rate at the end. After doing some fancy calculating in my mind, I chose to roll the dice with the meter. I ended up paying $52 plus toll and tip. A driver service is definitely worth the extra money…you never know what traffic will be and it's nerve wracking watching the meter tick away; I felt much safer with the driver service; and since it's billed to your credit card, there's no last minute digging for money and calculating the tip. Plus, it makes you feel like "you're somebody”.
The New York Helmsley is on 42nd Street and 3rd Avenue, just a few blocks away from Grand Central Station and shopping on 5th Avenue. I've stayed in the Times Square area before which is great for nonstop action and entertainment, but the Helmsley is also perfect to use as a base to hop on the subway and explore. It's a busy area during the weekdays but quite at night and even the weekends. I'd recommend the hotel for those who have been to New York City several times before, don't want/need the hubbub of Times Square area, and are comfortable using the subway and/or taxis, especially at night.
We had dinner at the Blue Water Grill on Union Square, known for its great seafood and friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It is recommended in the Weissmann report, which I carried with me at all times. Appetizer, entree, dessert, coffee and bottle of wine, and tip cost about $100 each, which I didn't think was outrageous when compared to the $16 bowl of oatmeal and coffee I paid at a restaurant close to Grand Central Station. We also ate at The Red Flame, on 44th between 6th and 7th Avenue (by the Algonouin hotel). Hearty breakfast menu at reasonable prices.
We bought tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square on Friday for "In the Heights” (which according to the 4- story billboard which was right in front of us while we waited in line for 1 1/2 hrs, won the 2008 Tony award for best musical). We knew the drummer from the orchestra and after the performance, he graciously took us back stage and ON stage to meet the actors and a special guest in the audience, actress Rita Moreno. It was my first time on a Broadway stage, and I'm sure my last but what a great memory.
We took 2 Big Onion walking tours: Central Park and Park Slope (neighborhood in Brooklyn with remarkable brownstone architecture). All tours are two hours and are escorted by graduate students. A listing of future tours is on their website, Cost is $15 pp (discounts for seniors, students, and military). It's a great way to hear the history of a particular area, and the group size is usually 15-20 people so you have good interaction with other tour members and the escort.
Here are some other tips 1. To go up in the crown at the Statue of Liberty requires advanced reservations which are full until mid-January. 2. I don't care how comfortable your shoes are, your feet, legs and back take a beating. 3. Carry hand sanitizer with you…comes in handy after riding the subway.
People that would enjoy this destination woud be anyone open to new experiences.
Here are some other tips - Carry a detailed map with you at all times. Have a plan of action if you are separated on the subway (like say, one person gets off and the other stays on and looks at you as the doors are closing). Central Park on a nice weekend day is a zoo (there actually is a zoo in Central Park). Watch for joggers, horse-drawn carriages, bikers…stay out of their designated lanes. Avoid the weekends if you can…midweek is less hectic. Or try Prospect Park in Brooklyn (designed by Olmsted and Vaux, the same two that designed Central Park). Central Park is over 800 acres; Prospect Park is about 600 acres.