Fodor's New York City 2016 - Fodor's (2015)

Travel Smart New York City

Getting Here and Around

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Air Travel | Boat Travel | Bus Travel | Car Travel | Public Transportation | Taxi Travel | Train Travel

New York City packs a staggering range of sights and activities into the 301 square miles (780 square km) of its five boroughs. You probably want to focus most of your visit in Manhattan, but with more time, taking a trip to Brooklyn or one of the other “outer” boroughs (Queens, the Bronx, or Staten Island) is worthwhile.

If flying into one of the three major airports that service New York—John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA), or New Jersey’s Newark (EWR)—pick your mode of transportation for getting to Manhattan before your plane lands. Tourists typically either take a car service or head to the taxi line, but those aren’t necessarily the best choices, especially during rush hour. Public transportation is inexpensive and should be considered, especially if traveling light and without young children. Keep in mind that it’s particularly expensive to take a cab from Newark, making the AirTrain or another form of public transportation a better deal.

Once you’re in Manhattan, getting around can be a breeze when you get the hang of the subway system. When not in a rush and the weather’s cooperating, just walk—it’s the best way to discover the true New York. Not quite sure where you are or how to get where you’re headed? Ask a local. You may be surprised at how friendly the city’s inhabitants are, debunking their reputation for rudeness. In the same getting-there-is-half-the-fun spirit, there are water, land, and air journeys that let you see the city from a whole new perspective.

AIR TRAVEL

Generally, international flights go in and out of John F. Kennedy or Newark airport, while domestic flights go in and out of both of these, as well as LaGuardia Airport.

Airlines and Airports

Airline and Airport Links.com.
For direct links to many of the world’s airlines and airports, check this website. | www.airlineandairportlinks.com.

Airline Security Issues

Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 
The TSA has answers for almost every question that might come up. | www.tsa.gov.

AIRPORTS

The major air gateways to New York City are LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and JFK International Airport (JFK) in the borough of Queens, and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey.

Airport Information
JFK International Airport (JFK). | 718/244–4444 | www.jfkairport.com
LaGuardia Airport (LGA). | 718/533–3400 | www.laguardiaairport.com
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). | Newark | 973/961–6000888/397–4636 | www.newarkairport.com.

Transfers—Car Services

Car services can be a great convenience, because the driver often meets you in the baggage-claim area and helps with your luggage. The flat rates are often comparable to taxi fares, but some car services charge for parking and wait time at the airport. To eliminate these expenses, other car services require you to telephone their dispatcher when you land so they can send the next available car to pick you up. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission rules require all car services be licensed and pick up riders only by prior arrangement; if possible, call 24 hours in advance for reservations or at least a half day before your flight’s departure. Drivers of nonlicensed vehicles (“gypsy cabs”) often solicit fares outside the terminal in baggage-claim areas. Don’t take them: you run the risk of an unsafe ride and will definitely pay more than the going rate. Getting a car via the Uber ride-sharing service or one of its competitors is another option.

Transfers—Taxis and Shuttles

Outside the baggage-claim area at each of New York’s major airports are taxi stands where a uniformed dispatcher helps passengers find taxis. Cabs are not permitted to pick up fares anywhere else in the arrivals area, so if you want a taxi, take your place in line. Shuttle services generally pick up passengers from a designated spot along the curb.

New York Airport Service, NYC Airporter, and SuperShuttle run vans and some buses from JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia airports to Grand Central Terminal, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, and hotels in Manhattan. Fares cost about $15–$18 one-way and $33–$38 round-trip, per person.Those rates are significantly cheaper than taking a taxi if you’re on your own, but probably not if there’s two or more of you traveling together. If you choose to use such services, keep in mind that customers’ satisfaction with them is very mixed; online reviews often complain of rude employees and significant waits for vans to both arrive and reach their destinations. In any case, allow lots of time for the shuttle’s other pick-ups and drop-offs along the way.

Shuttle Service
GO Airlink NYC. | 877/599–8200212/812–9000 | www.nyairportservice.com
NYC Airporter. | 855/269–2247 | www.nycairporter.com
SuperShuttle. | 800/258–3826 | www.supershuttle.com.

Transfers from JFK International Airport

The rate for traveling between JFK and Manhattan by yellow cab in either direction is a flat fee of $52.50 plus tolls (which may be as much as $6.50). The trip takes 35–60 minutes. Prices are roughly $25–$55 for trips to most other locations in New York City. You should also tip the driver.

JFK’s AirTrain ($5) connects JFK Airport to the New York City Subway (A, E, J, and Z trains) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR)—both of which take you to Manhattan or Brooklyn. The monorail system runs 24 hours. TIP Not sure which train to take? Check | www.hopstop.com and | www.citymapper.com (or their corresponding apps) for the best route to your destination. Subway travel between JFK and Manhattan takes less than an hour and costs $3.50 in subway fare (including $1 to buy a MetroCard) plus $5 for the AirTrain. The LIRR travels between JFK’s AirTrain stop (Jamaica Station) and Penn Station in around 30 minutes, for about $17, including the AirTrain fee. When traveling from Manhattan to the Howard Beach station, be sure to take the A train marked “Far Rockaway” or “Rockaway Park,” not “Lefferts Boulevard.”

JFK Transfer Information
AirTrain JFK. | 718/244–4444 | www.airtrainjfk.com
Long Island Railroad. | 718/217–5477 | www.mta.info/lirr.

Transfers from LaGuardia Airport

Taxis cost $30–$50 plus tip and tolls (which may be as high as $6.50) to most destinations in New York City, and take at least 20–40 minutes.

For $2.75 (pay with a MetroCard or exact change in coins, no pennies) you can ride the Q70 bus to the Jackson Heights–Roosevelt Avenue subway station, where you can transfer to the E, F, M, R, and 7 trains and reach many points in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Another option is to take the M60 bus to 106th Street and Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, with connections en route to several New York City Subway lines (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, B, C, D, N, and Q trains). Allow at least 90 minutes for the entire trip to Midtown, and perhaps a bit more during heavy traffic or rain.

Transfers from Newark Airport

Taxis to Manhattan cost $50–$70 plus tolls and tip and take 20–45 minutes. “Share and Save” group rates are available for up to four passengers between 8 am and midnight—make arrangements with the airport’s taxi dispatcher. If you’re heading to the airport from Manhattan, there’s a $17.50 surcharge on top of the normal taxi rate.

AirTrain Newark, an elevated light-rail system, can take you from the airline terminal to the Newark Liberty International Airport Station. From here you can take New Jersey Transit (or, for a much higher price, Amtrak) trains heading to New York Penn Station. It’s an efficient and low-cost way to get to New York City, particularly if you don’t have many in your group and aren’t carrying massive amounts of luggage. Total travel time to New York Penn Station via New Jersey Transit is approximately 30 minutes and costs $12.50. By contrast, a similar, slightly faster trip via Amtrak costs roughly $35. The AirTrain runs every 3 minutes from 5 am to midnight and every 15 minutes from midnight to 5 am. Note that New Jersey Transit trains first make a stop at the confusingly named Newark Penn Station before they reach New York Penn Station, their final stop. If you’re not sure when to get off the train, ask a conductor or fellow passenger.

Coach USA with Olympia Trails buses leave for Manhattan stops at Port Authority, Bryant Park (at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue), and Grand Central Terminal about every 15 to 30 minutes until midnight. The trip takes roughly 45 minutes, and the fare is $16. Busesheaded to Newark Airport depart from near Grand Central, Bryant Park, and Port Authority every 20 to 30 minutes. The trip takes 55 to 65 minutes.

Newark Airport Information
AirTrain Newark. | 888/397–4636 | www.airtrainnewark.com
Coach USA. | 877/863–9275 | www.coachusa.com.

Transfers Between Airports

There are several transportation options for connecting to and from area airports, including shuttles, AirTrain and mass transit, and car service or taxi. New York Airport Service and NYC Airporter run vans and buses between Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia airports. AirTrain provides detailed, up-to-the-minute recorded information on how to reach your destination from any of New York’s airports. Note that if you arrive after midnight at any airport, you may wait a long time for a taxi. Consider calling a car service, as there is no shuttle service at that time.

Contacts
AirTrain. | 800/247–7433 | www.panynj.gov/airtrain.

BOAT TRAVEL

The Staten Island Ferry runs across New York Harbor between Whitehall Street next to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and St. George terminal in Staten Island. The free 25-minute ride gives you a view of the Financial District skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.

New York Water Taxi, in addition to serving commuters, shuttles tourists to the city’s many waterfront attractions between the West and East sides and Lower Manhattan (including the 9/11 Memorial), the South Street Seaport, and Brooklyn’s waterfront parks.

An all-day pass on the water taxi is $30; a similar pass that also allows passengers to visit the 9/11 Memorial as part of their sightseeing package is $32. Another package includes an eight-hour bike rental for $54.

Information
New York Water Taxi (NYWT). | 212/742–1969 | www.nywatertaxi.com
Staten Island Ferry. | www.siferry.com.

BUS TRAVEL

Most city buses in Manhattan follow easy-to-understand routes along the island’s street grid. Routes go north and south on the avenues and east and west on the major two-way crosstown streets: 96th, 86th, 79th, 72nd, 66th, 57th, 42nd, 34th, 23rd, and 14th. Bus routes usually operate 24 hours a day, but service is infrequent late at night. Traffic jams can make rides maddeningly slow, especially along 5th Avenue in Midtown and on the Upper East Side. Certain bus routes provide “limited-stop service” during weekday rush hours, which saves travel time by stopping only at major cross streets and transfer points. A sign posted at the front of the bus indicates limited service; ask the driver whether the bus stops near where you want to go before boarding.

To find a bus stop, look for a light-blue sign (green for a “limited” bus, which skips more stops) on a green pole; bus numbers and routes are listed, with the stop’s name underneath.

Bus fare is the same as subway fare: $2.75. Pay when you board with exact change in coins (no pennies, and no change is given) or with a MetroCard.

MetroCards allow you one free transfer between buses or from bus to subway; when using coins on the bus, you can ask the driver for a free transfer coupon, good for one change to an intersecting route. Legal transfer points are listed on the back of the slip. Transfers generally have time limits of two hours.

Several routes in the city now have so-called Select Bus Service (SBS) rather than limited-stop service. These routes include those along 1st and 2nd avenues and 34th Street in Manhattan, as well as the M60, which travels between LaGuardia Airport and 125th Street in Harlem. The buses, which are distinguished from normal city buses by flashing blue lights on the front, make fewer stops. In addition, riders must pay for their rides before boarding with either a MetroCard or coins at a machine mounted on the street. The machine prints out a receipt. This receipt is the only proof of payment, so be sure to hold onto it for your entire SBS trip or risk a fine for fare evasion.

Bus route maps and schedules are posted at many bus stops in Manhattan, major stops throughout the other boroughs, and MTA.info. Each of the five boroughs of New York has a separate bus map; they’re available from some station booths, but rarely on buses. The best places to obtain them are the information kiosks in Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station, and the MTA’s website.

Most buses that travel outside the city depart from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, on 8th Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets. You must purchase your ticket at a ticket counter, not from the bus driver, so give yourself enough time to wait in line. Several bus lines serving northern New Jersey and Rockland County, New York, make daily stops at the George Washington Bridge Bus Station from 5 am to 1 am. The station is connected to the 175th Street station on the A line of the subway, which travels down the West Side of Manhattan.

A variety of discount bus services, including BoltBus and Megabus, run direct routes toand from cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C., with the majority of destinations along the East Coast. These budget options, priced from about $20 one-way, depart from locations throughout the city and can be more convenient than traditional bus services, although not always as comfortable.

Buses in New York
Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Travel Information Line. | 511 | www.mta.info.

Buses to New York
Academy Bus Lines. | 201/420–7000800/442–7272 | www.academybus.com
BoltBus. | 877/265–8287 | www.boltbus.com
Coach. | 800/631–8405 | www.coachusa.com
Greyhound Lines Inc. | 800/231–2222 | www.greyhound.com
Megabus. | 877/462–6342 | us.megabus.com
New Jersey Transit. | 973/275–5555 | www.njtransit.com
Trailways. | 800/225–6815 | www.trailways.com.
Vamoose Bus. | 212/695–6766 | www.vamoosebus.com.

Bus Stations
George Washington Bridge Bus Station. | 4211 Broadway, between 178th and 179th sts., Washington Heights | 800/221–9903 | www.panynj.gov
Port Authority Bus Terminal. | 625 8th Ave., at 42nd St., Midtown West | 212/564–8484 | www.panynj.gov.

CAR TRAVEL

If you plan to drive into Manhattan, try to avoid the morning and evening rush hours and lunch hour. Tune in to traffic reports online or on the radio (e.g., WCBS 880 or 1010 WINS on the AM radio dial) before you set off, and don’t be surprised if a bridge is partially closed or entirely blocked with traffic.

Driving within Manhattan can be a nightmare of gridlocked streets, obnoxious drivers, and seemingly suicidal jaywalkers and bicyclists. Narrow and one-way streets are common, particularly downtown, and can make driving even more difficult. The most congested streets of the city lie between 14th and 59th streets and 3rd and 8th avenues. In addition, portions of Broadway near Times Square (from 42nd to 47th Street) and Herald Square (33rd to 35th) are closed to motorized traffic. This can create gridlock and confusion in nearby streets.

GASOLINE

Gas stations are few and far between in Manhattan. If you can, fill up at stations outside the city, where prices are 10¢ to 50¢ cheaper per gallon. In Manhattan, you can refuel at stations along the West Side Highway and 11th Avenue south of West 57th Street and along East Houston Street. Some gas stations in New York require you to pump your own gas; others provide attendants. Across the river in New Jersey, all gas stations are required to offer full service only; turn off the engine and wait for the attendant to help you.

PARKING

Free parking is difficult to find in Midtown, and on weekday evenings and weekends in other neighborhoods. If you find a spot on the street, check parking signs carefully, and scour the curb for a faded yellow line, the bane of every driver’s existence. Violators may be towed away or ticketed literally within minutes. If you do drive, use your car sparingly in Manhattan. Instead, park it in a guarded parking garage for at least several hours; hourly rates (which can be $40 or more for just two hours) decrease somewhat if a car is left for a significant amount of time. TIP Best Parking (nyc.bestparking.com) helps you find the cheapest parking-lot options for your visit; search by neighborhood, address, or attraction.

RULES OF THE ROAD

On city streets the speed limit is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted. No right turns on red are allowed within city limits, unless otherwise posted. Be alert for one-way streets and “no left turn” intersections.

The law requires that front-seat passengers wear seat belts at all times. Children under 16 must wear seat belts in both the front and back seats. Always strap children under age four into approved child-safety seats. It is illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving in New York State. Police will immediately seize the car of anyone arrested for DWI (driving while intoxicated) in New York City.

CAR RENTALS

When you reserve a car, ask about cancellation penalties, taxes, drop-off charges (if you’re planning to pick up the car in one city and leave it in another), and surcharges (for being under or over a certain age, additional drivers, or driving across state or country borders or beyond a specific distance from your point of rental). All these things can add substantially to your costs. Request car seats and extras such as GPS when you book.

Rates are sometimes—but not always—better if you book in advance or reserve through a rental agency’s website. There are other reasons to book ahead, though: for popular destinations, during busy times of the year, or to ensure that you get certain types of cars (vans, SUVs, exotic sports cars).

TIP Make sure that a confirmed reservation guarantees you a car. Agencies sometimes overbook, particularly for busy weekends and holiday periods.

Rates in New York City are around $50–$110 a day and $350–$500 a week for an economy car with air-conditioning, automatic transmission, and unlimited mileage. This includes the state tax on car rentals, which is 19.87%. Rental costs are lower outside New York City, specifically in such places like Hoboken, New Jersey, and Yonkers, New York. If you already have a membership with Zipcar or a similar short-term car-rental service, consider using them for your car needs in the city.

CAR-RENTAL INSURANCE

If you own a car and carry comprehensive car insurance for both collision and liability, your personal auto insurance probably covers a rental, but read your policy’s fine print to be sure. If you don’t have auto insurance, you should probably buy the collision- or loss-damage waiver (CDW or LDW) from the rental company. This eliminates your liability for damage to the car. Some credit cards offer CDW coverage, but it’s usually supplemental to your own insurance and rarely covers SUVs, minivans, luxury models, and the like. If your coverage is secondary, you may still be liable for loss-of-use costs from the car-rental company (again, read the fine print). But no credit-card insurance is valid unless you use that card for all transactions, from reserving to paying the final bill.

TIP Diners Club offers primary CDW coverage on all rentals reserved and paid for with the card. This means that Diners Club’s company—not your own car insurance—pays in case of an accident. It doesn’t mean that your car-insurance company won’t raise your rates once it discovers you had an accident.

You may also be offered supplemental liability coverage. The car-rental company is required to carry a minimal level of liability coverage insuring all renters, but it’s rarely enough to cover claims in a really serious accident if you’re at fault. Your own auto-insurance policy protects you if you own a car; if you don’t, you have to decide whether you are willing to take the risk.

U.S. rental companies sell CDWs and LDWs for about $20–$40 a day; supplemental liability is usually more than $10 a day. The car-rental company may offer you all sorts of other policies, but they’re rarely worth the cost. Personal accident insurance, which is basic hospitalization coverage, is an especially egregious rip-off if you already have health insurance.

TIP You can decline insurance from the rental company and purchase it through a third-party provider such as Travel Guard (www.travelguard.com)—$9 per day for $35,000 of coverage. That’s sometimes just under half the price of the CDW offered by some car-rental companies.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

When it comes to getting around New York, you have your pick of transportation in almost any neighborhood you’re likely to visit. The subway and bus networks are extensive, especially in Manhattan, although getting across town can take some extra maneuvering. If you’re not pressed for time, consider taking a public bus; they generally are slower than subways, but you can also see the city as you travel. Yellow cabs are abundant, except during the evening rush hour, when many drivers’ shifts change, and in bad weather, when they get snapped up quickly. If it’s late at night or you’re outside Manhattan, using a ride-sharing service such as Lyft or Uber may be a good idea. Like a taxi ride, the subway is a true New York City experience; it’s also often the quickest way to get around. However, New York (especially Manhattan) is really a walking town, and depending on the time of day, the weather, and your destination, hoofing it could be the easiest and most enjoyable option.

During weekday rush hours (from 7:30 am to 9:30 am and 5 pm to 7 pm) avoid Midtown if you can—subways and streets are jammed, and travel time on buses and taxis can easily double.

Subway and bus fares are $2.75 per ride. Reduced fares are available for senior citizens and people with disabilities during non–rush hours.

You pay for mass transit with a MetroCard, a plastic card with a magnetic strip. There is a $1 fee for any new MetroCard purchase but there is an 11% bonus added to the card if you put $5.50 or more on the card. (There is a $5.50 minimum card puchase at station booths; this minimum does not apply at vending machines.) A Single Ride Ticket (sold only at MetroCard vending machines) is $3. To help calculate the exact number of rides you need without having a balance left over, note that putting $9.91 on an existing MetroCard will get you $11 value, equal to 4 rides (add $1 for any new MetroCard purchase). As you swipe the card through a subway turnstile or insert it in a bus’s card reader, the cost of the fare is automatically deducted. With the MetroCard, you can transfer free from bus to subway, subway to bus, or bus to bus, within a two-hour period.

MetroCards are sold at all subway stations and some stores—look for an “Authorized Sales Agent” sign. The MTA sells two kinds of MetroCards: unlimited-ride and pay-per-ride. Seven-day unlimited-ride MetroCards ($31) allow bus and subway travel for a week. If you expect to ride more than 11 in one week, this is the card to get.

Unlike unlimited-ride cards, pay-per-ride MetroCards can be shared between riders. (Unlimited-ride MetroCards can be used only once at the same station or bus route in an 18-minute period.)

You can buy or add money to an existing MetroCard at a MetroCard vending machine, available at most subway station entrances (usually near the station booth). The machines accept major credit cards and ATM or debit cards. Many also accept cash, but note that the maximum amount of change they return is $6, which is doled out in dollar coins.

SUBWAY TRAVEL

The subway system operates on more than 840 miles of track 24 hours a day and serves nearly all the places you’re likely to visit. It’s cheaper than a cab, and during the workweek it’s often faster than either taxis or buses. The trains are well-lighted and air-conditioned. Still, the New York subway is hardly problem-free. Many trains are crowded, the older ones are noisy, the air-conditioning can break, and platforms can be dingy and damp. Homeless people sometimes take refuge from the elements by riding the trains, and panhandlers and buskers head there for a captive audience. Although trains usually run frequently, especially during rush hours, you never know when some incident somewhere on the line may stall traffic. In addition, subway construction sometimes causes delays or limitation of service, especially on weekends and after 10 pm on weekdays.

You can transfer between subway lines an unlimited number of times at any of the numerous stations where lines intersect. If you use a MetroCard to pay your fare, you can also transfer to intersecting MTA bus routes for free. Such transfers generally have a time limit of two hours.

Most subway entrances are at street corners and marked by lampposts with an illuminated Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) logo or globe-shape green or red lights—green means the station is open 24 hours and red means the station closes at night (though the colors don’t always correspond to reality). Subway lines are designated by numbers and letters, such as the 3 line or the A line. Some lines run “express” and skip stops, and others are “local” and make all stops. Each station entrance has a sign indicating the lines that run through the station. Some entrances are also marked “uptown only” or “downtown only.” Before entering subway stations, read the signs carefully. One of the most frequent mistakes visitors make is taking the train in the wrong direction. Maps of the full subway system are posted in every train car and usually on the subway platform (though these are sometimes out of date). You can usually pick up free maps at station booths.

For the most up-to-date information on subway lines, call the MTA’s Travel Information Center or visit its website. The Hopstop and Citymapper apps and websites are a good source for figuring out the best line to take to reach your destination, as are Google Maps. Alternatively, ask a station agent.

Pay your subway fare at the turnstile, using a MetroCard bought from a vending machine.

Schedule and Route Information
Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Travel Information Line. | 511 | www.mta.info.

Subway Information
Citymapper. | www.citymapper.com
HopStop. | www.hopstop.com
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Travel Information Line. | 511 | www.mta.info.

TAXI TRAVEL

Yellow cabs are almost everywhere in Manhattan, cruising the streets looking for fares. They are usually easy to hail on the street or from a cabstand in front of major hotels, though finding one at rush hour or in the rain can take some time (and assertiveness). Even if you’re stuck in a downpour or at the airport, do not accept a ride from a “gypsy cab.” If a cab is not yellow and does not have a numbered aqua-color plastic medallion riveted to the hood, you could be putting yourself (or at least your wallet) in danger by getting into the car.

You can see whether a taxi is available by checking its rooftop light. If the center panel is lit and the side panels are dark, the driver is ready to take passengers—he is required to take passengers to any location in New York City as well as Newark Airport and two adjoining counties, although only NYC and Newark locations are metered. Once the meter is engaged (and if it isn’t, alert your driver; you seldom benefit from negotiating an off-the-record ride), the fare is $2.50 just for entering the vehicle and 50¢ for each unit thereafter. A unit is defined as either 1/8 mile when the cab’s cruising at 6 mph or faster or as 60 seconds when the cab is either not moving or moving at less than 6 mph. New York State adds 50¢ to each cab ride. There’s also a 50¢ night surcharge added between 8 pm and 6 am, and a much-maligned $1 weekday surcharge is tacked on between 4 pm and 8 pm. All taxi drivers are required to accept credit cards as payment. Occasionally, some who prefer cash claim their machines are broken when that isn’t actually the case. If a driver waits until the end of the ride to mention a broken machine and you want to pay by credit card, you may wish to ask the driver to turn off the meter and drive you to an ATM to see if this extra hassle is worth it.

One taxi can hold a maximum of four passengers (an additional passenger under the age of seven is allowed if the child sits on someone’s lap). You must pay any bridge or tunnel tolls incurred during your trip (a driver usually pays the toll himself to keep moving quickly, but the amount isadded to the final fare). Taxi drivers expect a 15% to 20% tip.

To avoid unhappy taxi experiences, try to know where you want to go and how to get there before you hail a cab. TIP Know the cross streets of your destination (for instance, “5th Avenue and 42nd Street”) before you enter a cab; a quick call to your destination will give you cross-street information, as will a glance at a map. Also, speak simply and clearly to make sure the driver has heard you correctly—few are native English-speakers, so it never hurts to make sure you’ve been understood. If headed for a far-flung location in Brooklyn or Queens, it can be helpful to pull up the location using Google Maps or a similar app, especially if the driver doesn’t have GPS of his own. When you leave the cab, remember to take your receipt. It includes the cab’s medallion number, which can help you track the cabbie down in the event that you’ve left your possessions in the cab or if you want to report an unpleasant ride. Any charges, such as those for bridges, are itemized on the receipt; you can double-check to make sure you were charged correctly.

Yellow taxis can be difficult to find in parts of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. To help with this issue, in 2013 the city of New York allowed car-service companies to convert their vehicles to apple-green Boro Taxis, which act like yellow taxis: they charge the same metered rates, accept credit cards, and must take you to any location within the city of New York. The difference is that green taxis are only allowed to pick up fares in non-Manhattan boroughs and in Manhattan locations above 96th Street.

If you’re outside Manhattan and can’t find a yellow or green taxi, you may have no choice but to call a car service. Locals and staff at restaurants and other public places can often recommend a reliable company. Always confirm the fee beforehand; a 10%–15% tip is customary.

Another increasingly popular option is booking a car through one of the car service apps like Uber, Lyft, Gett, or SheRides, which match passengers with potential car-service drivers. After booking a car through one of their respective apps, you can trace its journey to you via GPS, and you get a text message once it has arrived. These services are sometimes cheaper than a taxi but sometimes more, especially if “surge pricing” is in effect (when it’s raining or at other high-demand times). The apps do let you get an estimate on rates before you book, so check to see if the convenience is worth the cost. Payment (which includes a tip) is also done via the apps.

Car-Service Companies
Boro Taxi information. | www.borotaxis.org
Carey. | 800/336–4646 | www.carey.com.
Carmel Car Service. | 212/666–6666866/666–6666 | www.carmelcarservice.com
Dial 7 Car Service. | 212/777–7777 | www.dial7.com
London Towncars. | 212/988–9700800/221–4009 | www.londontowncars.com
Gett. | www.gett.com
Lyft. | www.lyft.com
She Rides. | www.sheridesnyc.com
Uber. | www.uber.com.

TRAIN TRAVEL

Metro-North Railroad trains take passengers from Grand Central Terminal to points north of New York City, both in New York State and Connecticut. Amtrak trains arrive at Penn Station. For trains from New York City to Long Island and New Jersey, take the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, respectively; both operate from Penn Station. The PATH trains offer service to Newark, Jersey City, and Hoboken.

Information
Amtrak. | 800/872–7245 | www.amtrak.com
Long Island Rail Road. | 511 | www.mta.info/lirr
Metro-North Railroad. | 212/532–4900511 | www.mta.info/mnr
New Jersey Transit. | 973/275–5555 | www.njtransit.com
PATH. | 800/234–7284 | www.pathrail.com.

Train Stations
Grand Central Terminal. | 87 E. 42nd St., at Park Ave., Midtown East | www.grandcentralterminal.com
Penn Station. | From 31st to 33rd St., between 7th and 8th aves., Midtown West.

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Essentials

Previous Chapter | Table of Contents

Communications | Disabilities and Accessibility | Gay and Lesbian Travel | Kids in New York | Media | Money | Restrooms | Safety | Senior-Citizen Travel | Sports and the Outdoors | Students in New York | Taxes | Tipping | Visitor Information

COMMUNICATIONS

INTERNET

You can check your email or surf the Internet at all public libraries, many cafés and public parks, and most hotels. In addition, all of New York’s subway stations are on target to have both Wi-Fi and mobile service; about 80 stations in Manhattan and Queens currently have it. The organization NYCwireless keeps track of free Wi-Fi hot spots in the New York area; the apps WiFi Finder (for Android devices) and Free Wi-Fi Finder (for iOS) can also help you track down hot spots.

Contacts
NYCwireless. | www.nycwireless.net.

DISABILITIES AND ACCESSIBILITY

New York has come a long way in making life easier for people with disabilities. At most street corners, curb cuts allow wheelchairs to roll along unimpeded. Many restaurants, shops, and movie theaters with step-up entrances have wheelchair ramps. Though some New Yorkers may rush past those in need of assistance, you’ll find plenty of people who are more than happy to help you get around.

NYC & Company’s website has information on the accessibility of many landmarks and attractions, as well as a downloadable guide. If you need to rent a wheelchair or scooter while in New York, Scootaround will deliver it to your hotel or another location, and reservations can be made up to a year in advance.

Local Resources
NYC & Company. | www.nycgo.com/accessibility
Scootaround. | 888/441–7575 | www.scootaround.com/rentals/n/newyork.

LODGING

Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the definition of accessibility seems to differ from hotel to hotel. Some properties may be accessible by ADA standards for people with mobility problems but not for people with hearing or vision impairments, for example.

If you have mobility problems, ask for the lowest floor on which accessible services are available. If you have a hearing impairment, check whether the hotel has devices to alert you visually to the ring of the telephone, a knock at the door, and a fire/emergency alarm. Some hotels provide these devices without charge. Discuss your needs with hotel personnel if this equipment isn’t available, so that a staff member can personally alert you in the event of an emergency.

If you’re bringing a guide dog, get authorization ahead of time and write down the name of the person with whom you spoke.

SIGHTS AND ATTRACTIONS

Most public facilities in New York City, whether museums, parks, or theaters, are wheelchair-accessible. Some attractions have tours or programs for people with mobility, sight, or hearing impairments.

TRANSPORTATION

Although the city is working to retrofit stations to comply with the ADA, not all stations, including many major ones, are accessible and unlikely to be so in the near future. Accessible stations are clearly marked on subway and rail maps. Visitors in wheelchairs have better success with public buses, all of which have wheelchair lifts and “kneelers” at the front to facilitate getting on and off. Bus drivers provide assistance.

Reduced fares are available to disabled passengers; if paying with cash, you need to present a Medicare card or Paratransit card. You may also apply for a Temporary Reduced-Fare MetroCard in advance of your visit. Visitors to the city are also eligible for the same Access-a-Ride program benefits as New York City residents. Drivers with disabilities may use windshield cards from their own state or Canadian province to park in designated handicapped spaces.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division’s online publication, New Horizons: Information for the Air Traveler with a Disability, has advice for travelers with a disability, and outlines basic rights. Visit www.disability.gov for general information.

Information and Complaints
Reduced-Fare Metrocard. | 511 | www.mta.info/accessibility/transit.htm
U.S. Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer and Protection. | airconsumer.dot.gov/publications/horizons.htm.

GAY AND LESBIAN TRAVEL

Attitudes toward same-sex couples are very tolerant in Manhattan and most other parts of the city. Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, and (to a lesser degree) Greenwich Village are the most prominently gay neighborhoods, but gay men and lesbians feel at home almost everywhere. The world’s oldest gay-pride parade takes place on 5th Avenue the last Sunday in June.

PUBLICATIONS

For listings of gay events and places, check out Next, which is online and also distributed in many gay bars throughout Manhattan. Local publications like The New York and Time Out New York magazines have a gay-friendly take on what’s happening in the city.

Gay Publications
Gay City News. | www.gaycitynews.com
Next. | www.nextmagazine.com.

Local Information
The Center (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center). | 208 W. 13th St., between 7th and 8th aves., Greenwich Village | 212/620–7310 | www.gaycenter.org.

KIDS IN NEW YORK

For listings of children’s events, consult New York magazine and other local media. The Friday New York Times arts section also includes children’s activities. Other good sources on happenings for youngsters are the websites NYMetroParents and New York Family (and their respective magazines). If you have access to cable television, check the local all-news channel New York 1, where you’ll find a spot aired several times daily that covers current and noteworthy children’s events. Fodor’s Around New York City with Kids (available in bookstores everywhere) can help you plan your days together.

LODGING

Before you consider using a cot or fold-out couch for your child, ask how large your hotel room is—New York City rooms are usually small. Most hotels in New York allow children under a certain age to stay in their parents’ room at no extra charge, but others charge for them as extra adults; be sure to find out the cutoff age for children’s discounts.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Children shorter than 44 inches (about 1.1 meters) ride for free on MTA buses and subways. If pushing a stroller, don’t struggle through a subway turnstile; ask the station agent to buzz you through the gate (the attendant will ask you to swipe your MetroCard through the turnstile nearest the gate). Keep a sharp eye on your kids while in the subway; at some stations there is a gap between the train doors and the platform.

MEDIA

NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES

The major daily newspapers in New York are the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, both broadsheets, and the Daily News and New York Post, which are tabloids. The Village Voice is a free alternative weekly. Local magazines and websites include the New Yorker and New York. All of these are widely available online and at newsstands and shops around town.

MONEY

In New York, it’s easy to get swept up in a debt-inducing cyclone of $60-per-person dinners, $120 theater tickets, $20 nightclub covers, and $300 hotel rooms. But one of the good things about the city is that you can spend in some areas and save in others. Within Manhattan, a cup of coffee can cost from $1 to $4, a pint of beer from $5 to $8, and a sandwich from $7 to $10. Generally, prices in the outer boroughs are lower than those in Manhattan.

The most generously bequeathed treasure of the city is the arts. The stated admission fee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a suggestion; you can donate a lesser amount and not be snubbed. Many other museums in town have special times during which admission is free. The Museum of Modern Art, for instance, is free on Friday from 4 to 8. In summer a handful of free music, theater, and dance performances, as well as films (usually screened outdoors), fill the calendar each day.

Prices here are given for adults. Substantially reduced fees are typically available for children, students, and senior citizens.

CREDIT CARDS

Record all your credit card numbers—as well as the phone numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen—in a safe place, so you’re prepared should something go wrong. Both MasterCard and Visa have general numbers you can call if your card is lost, but you’re better off calling the number of your issuing bank, since MasterCard and Visa usually just transfer you anyway. Your bank’s number is typically printed on your card.

Reporting Lost Cards
American Express. | 800/528–4800 in U.S. | www.americanexpress.com
Diners Club. | 800/234–6377 | www.dinersclub.com
Discover. | , | New York | 800/347–2683 in U.S. | www.discovercard.com
MasterCard. | 800/627–8372 | www.mastercard.com
Visa. | 800/847–2911 | www.visa.com.

RESTROOMS

Public restrooms in New York are few and far between. If you find yourself in need of a restroom, head for Midtown department stores, museums, or the lobbies of large hotels to find the cleanest bathrooms. Public atriums, such as those at the Citicorp Center and Trump Tower, also provide good public facilities, as do Bryant Park and the many Starbucks coffee shops in the city.

Restaurants usually allow only patrons to use their restrooms, but if you’re dressed well and look as if you belong, you can often just sail right in. If too self-conscious for this brand of nonchalance, just ask the host or hostess nicely. Be aware that cinemas, Broadway theaters, and concert halls have limited amenities, and there are often long lines before performances and during intermissions.

SAFETY

New York City is one of the safest large cities in the country. However, do not let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security. As in any large city, travelers in New York remain particularly easy marks for pickpockets and hustlers.

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks security was heightened throughout the city. Never leave any bags unattended, and expect to have yourself and your possessions inspected thoroughly in such places as airports, sports stadiums, museums, city buildings, and sometimes even subway stations.

Ignore the panhandlers on the streets and subways, people who offer to hail you a cab (they often appear at Penn Station, the Port Authority, and Grand Central), and limousine and gypsy-cab drivers who (illegally) offer you a ride.

Keep jewelry out of sight on the street; better yet, leave valuables at home. Don’t carry wallets, smartphones, or other gadgets in your back pockets, and make sure bags and purses stay closed.

Avoid deserted blocks in unfamiliar neighborhoods. A brisk, purposeful pace helps deter trouble wherever you go.

The subway runs around the clock and is generally well trafficked until midnight (and until at least 2 am on Friday and Saturday nights), and overall it is very safe. If you do take the subway late at night, ride in the center car, with the conductor. Watch out for unsavory characters lurking around the inside or outside of stations.

When waiting for a train, head to the center of the platform, and stand far away from its edge, especially when trains are entering or leaving the station. Once the train pulls into the station, avoid empty cars. While on the train, don’t engage in verbal exchanges with aggressive riders. If a fellow passenger makes you nervous while on the train, trust your instincts and change cars. When disembarking, stick with the crowd until you reach the street.

Travelers Aid International helps crime victims, stranded travelers, and wayward children, and works closely with the police.

TIP Distribute your cash, credit cards, IDs, and other valuables between a deep front pocket, an inside jacket or vest pocket, and a hidden money pouch. Don’t reach for the money pouch once you’re in public.

Information
Travelers Aid International. | JFK International Airport, Terminal 4,, | 718/656–4870 | www.travelersaid.org/ta/jfk.html
Travelers Aid International. | Newark International Airport,, | 973/623–5052 | www.travelersaid.org.

SENIOR-CITIZEN TRAVEL

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) charges lower fares for passengers 65 and over.

To qualify for age-related discounts, mention your senior-citizen status up front when booking hotel reservations (not when checking out). Be sure to have identification on hand. When renting a car, ask about promotional car-rental discounts, which can be cheaper than senior-citizen rates.

SPORTS AND THE OUTDOORS

The City of New York’s Parks & Recreation division lists all of the recreational facilities and activities available through New York’s Parks Department. The New York Times’s sports section lists upcoming events, times, dates, and ticket information.

Contact Information
Department of Parks & Recreation. | 311 in New York City, 212/639–9675 | www.nycgovparks.org.

BASEBALL

The subway gets you directly to the stadiums of both New York–area major-league teams: the New York Mets play at Citi Field, at the next-to-last stop on the 7 train in Queens, while the Yankees defend their turf at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, accessible via the B, D, and 4 trains. The Mets-affiliated, minor-league Brooklyn Cyclones are named for Coney Island’s famous wooden roller coaster. They play 38 home games at MCU Park, next to the boardwalk, with views of the Atlantic over the right-field wall and historic Astroland over the left-field wall. Most people make a day of it, with time at the beach and amusement rides before an evening game. Take the D, F, or Q subway to the end of the line, and walk one block to the right of the original Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand.

For another fun, family-oriented experience, check out the Staten Island Yankees, one of New York’s minor-league teams, which warms up many future New York Yankees players. The stadium, a five-minute walk from the Staten Island Ferry terminal, has magnificent views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

Contact Information
Brooklyn Cyclones. | MCU Park, 1904 Surf Ave., at 19th St., Coney Island | 718/372–5596718/507–8499 for tickets | www.brooklyncyclones.com | Station: D, F, N, Q to Coney Island–Stillwell Ave. 
New York Mets. | 123-01 Roosevelt Ave., off Grand Central Pkwy., Flushing | 718/507–8499 | www.mets.com | Station: 7 to Mets–Willets Point
New York Yankees. | Yankee Stadium, 1 E. 161st St., at River Ave., | 718/293–6000 | www.yankees.com | Station: 4, B, D to 161st St.–Yankee Stadium. Metro-North (Hudson line) to Yankees–E. 153rd St. 
Staten Island Yankees. | Richmond County Bank Ballpark, 75 Richmond Terr., St. George | 718/720–9265 | www.siyanks.com.

BASKETBALL

The New York Knicks arouse intense hometown passions, which means tickets for home games at Madison Square Garden are hard to come by. Try StubHub to score tickets. The Brooklyn Nets are across the river, in the swanky Barclays Center. The stadium is easily reachable by nine different subway lines. The men’s basketball season runs from late October through April. The New York Liberty, a member of the Women’s NBA, had its first season in 1997. The season runs from mid-May through August, with home games played at Madison Square Garden.

Contact Information
Brooklyn Nets. | Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., at Flatbush Ave., Prospect Heights | 917/618–6700 for box office | www.nba.com/nets | Station: 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q, R to Atlantic Ave.–Barclays Center
Madison Square Garden. | 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, near 32nd St. and 6th Ave., | 212/465–6741 | www.msg.com | Station: 1, 2, 3 to 34th St.–Penn Station
New York Knicks. | 212/465–5867 | www.nba.com/knicks
New York Liberty. | , | New York | 212/465–6766 for tickets, 212/564–9622 for fan hotline | www.wnba.com/liberty.

BICYCLING

In the past couple years, bicycling the streets of Manhattan and many parts of Brooklyn has become more mainstream and much less the sole province of bike messengers and zealots. The city government and biking organizations have both helped make it safer than it had been for decades, and drivers and pedestrians are more aware that bikes are likely to be on the road, too. Check the Department of Transportation’s website for a cycling map that shows the best routes and roads with designated bike lanes, as well as local road rules, including for taking a bike on public transit.

For biking under more controlled conditions, head to New York’s major parks. Central Park has a six-mile circular drive with a couple of decent climbs. It’s closed to car traffic from 10 am to 3 pm (except the southeast portion between 6th Avenue and East 72nd Street), from 7 pm to 7 am on weekdays, and from 7 pm Friday to 7 am Monday. On holidays it’s closed to car traffic from 7 pm the night before until 7 am the day after.

Beware of renting a bike from the vendors that hang out on the streets near Central Park, especially by Columbus Circle. These bikes tend to be old and mismatched and are also often stolen. It’s better to rent from someone with an actual storefront. Most bike-rental stores have copies of the very handy official Bike Map, which is published annually and shows traffic flow and bike lanes for all of New York City.

The bike lane along the Hudson River Park’s esplanade parallels the waterfront from West 59th Street south to the esplanade of Battery Park City. The lane also heads north, connecting with the bike path in Riverside Park and the promenade between West 72nd and West 110th streets, continuing all the way to the George Washington Bridge. A two-way bike lane runs along the park’s Terrace Drive, a popular route across the park at 72nd Street. From Battery Park it’s a quick ride to the Wall Street area, which is deserted on weekends, and over to South Street and a bike lane along the East River.

The 3.3-mile circular drive in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is closed to cars year-round except from 7 am to 9 am (on the northbound East Drive) and 5 pm to 7 pm (on the southbound West Drive) on weekdays. It has a long, gradual hill that tops off near the Grand Army Plaza entrance.

Bike Rentals & Information
New York City Department of Transportation. | www.nyc.gov/bikes
Bicycle Rentals at Loeb Boathouse. | Midpark near E. 74th St., 72nd St. and Park Dr. N, Central Park | 212/517–2233 for Boathouse, 212/260–0400 for Tavern on the Green | www.centralparknyc.org | Station: 6 to 68th St.–Hunter College
Pedal Pusher Bike Shop. | 1306 2nd Ave., at 69th St., Upper East Side | 212/288–5592 | www.pedalpusherbikeshop.com | Station: 6 to 68th St.–Hunter College
Toga Bike Shop. | 110 West End Ave., at 64th St., Upper West Side | 212/799–9625 | www.togabikes.com | Station: 1 to 66th St.–Lincoln Center
Waterfront Bicycle Shop. | 391 West St., between Christopher and 10th sts., West Village | 212/414–2453 | www.bikeshopny.com | Station: 1 to Christopher St.–Sheridan Sq.

Citi Bike Bicycling Share

New York’s bike-sharing program debuted in 2013 with hundreds of stations, the majority in Manhattan south of Central Park and northern Brooklyn. The three-speed, 40-pound, bright-blue bikes, which are either charming or clunky depending on your perspective, are outfitted with lights and bungee cords to secure small bags and other items. They don’t come with helmets, though: wearing one is recommended but not mandatory.

After buying a Citi Bike pass, you are able to borrow an unlimited number of the bikes for either 24 hours ($9.95) or 7 days ($25). What is limited is your time with a particular bike: the time between unlocking a bike at one station at returning it to another must be 30 minutes or under, or you face additional charges, and these overtime charges add up quickly (all the way to $1,200 for never returning a bike at all). As soon as you return one bike, you’re free to get another—even one from the same location.

Before you pull a bike from one of the bays and start the 30-minute clock running, spend a little time planning your route. Citi Bike’s apps are helpful with this, because they show which of the computerized outdoor stations have bikes available, and—just as important—which have empty bays available for when it’s time to return your bike.

Contact Information
Citi Bike. | New York | 855/245–3311 for customer service | www.citibikenyc.com.

Group Bike Rides

Bike New York runs a 40-mile, five-borough bike ride the first Sunday in May. The Five Borough Bicycle Club organizes day and weekend rides. The New York Cycle Club sponsors weekend rides for every level of ability. Time’s Up!, a nonprofit advocacy group, leads free recreational rides at least twice a month for cyclists as well as skaters; the Central Park Moonlight Ride, departing from Columbus Circle at 10 pm the first Friday of every month, is a favorite.

Contact Information
Bike New York. | 212/870–2080 | www.bikenewyork.org
Five Borough Bike Club. | 347/688–2925 | www.5bbc.org
New York Cycle Club. | www.nycc.org
Time’s Up! | New York | 212/802–8222 | www.times-up.org.

BOATING, KAYAKING & SUP

Central Park has rowboats (plus one Venetian gondola for glides in the moonlight) on the 22-acre Central Park Lake. Rent your rowboat, which holds up to four people, at Loeb Boathouse, near East 74th Street, from April through November ($15 an hour).Gondola rides (complete with gondolier) are available only in summer and can be reserved ($30 per half hour); the gondolas hold up to six people.

In summer at the Pier 96 Boathouse in Midtown West, you can take a sturdy kayak out for a paddle for free on weekends and weekday evenings from mid-May through mid-October. Pier 40, in the West Village, and the pier at West 72nd Street have similar schedules. Beginners learn to paddle close to shore until they feel ready to venture farther out into open water. More experienced kayakers can partake in the three-hour trips conducted every weekend and on holiday mornings. Because of high demand, there is a lottery to determine who gets to go out each morning; to be entered, you must be at the pier to sign up before 8 am. No reservations are taken in advance. Manhattan Kayak Company gives kayak and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) lessons for all levels and runs trips on the Hudson River between May and late September, including a fun New York After Dark tour for $80.

Contact Information
Loeb Boathouse. | Midpark near E. 74th St., Central Park | 212/517–2233 | www.thecentralparkboathouse.com/boats.php | Station: 6 to 68th St.–Hunter College
Manhattan Kayak Company. | Pier 84, 555 12th Ave., at 44th St., Midtown West | 212/924–1788 | www.manhattankayak.com | Station: A, C, E to 42nd St.–Port Authority
Pier 96 Boathouse. | 56th St. at the Hudson River, Midtown West | www.downtownboathouse.org | Station: 1, A, B, C, D to 59th St.–Columbus Circle.

FOOTBALL

The football season runs from September through December. The enormously popular New York Giants play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Most seats for Giants games are sold on a season-ticket basis—and there’s a long waiting list for those. However, single tickets are occasionally available at the stadium box office or on ticket resale sites like StubHub. The New York Jets also play at MetLife Stadium. Although Jets tickets are not as scarce as those for the Giants, most are snapped up by fans before the season opener.

Contact Information
New York Giants. | 201/935–8222 for tickets | www.giants.com
New York Jets. | 800/469–5387 for tickets | www.newyorkjets.com.

HOCKEY

The New York Islanders hockey team is moving from their suburban Long Island stadium to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015/16 season.

Contact Information
New York Islanders. | Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., at Flatbush Ave., Prospect Heights | www.islanders.nhl.com | Station: 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q, R to Atlantic Ave.–Barclays Center.

ICE-SKATING

The outdoor rink in Rockefeller Center, open from October through early April, is much smaller in real life than it appears on TV and in movies—though it is as beautiful, especially when Rock Center’s enormous Christmas tree towers above it. Tickets are first-come, first-served, so be prepared to wait—especially around the holidays. Be prepared to pay, too: skating rates are $27–$30 for adults, which doesn’t include skate rental ($12), and that only pays for admission during a single 90-minute skating session. The city’s outdoor rinks, open from roughly November through March, all have their own character. Central Park’s beautifully situated Wollman Rink has skating until long after dark beneath the lights of the city. Be prepared for daytime crowds on weekends. The Lasker Rink, at the north end of Central Park, is smaller and usually less crowded than Wollman. Chelsea Piers’ Sky Rink has two year-round indoor rinks overlooking the Hudson. Skate rentals are available at all rinks. The skating rink at the Winter Village at Bryant Park has “free” skating, although this doesn’t include skate rental ($15–$19) or the likely fee to either buy a lock for a locker or have bags checked ($8–$10). Winter Village’s rink is open from November through early March, daily from 8 am to 10 pm. A FastPass (available online, includes skate rental and bag check) allows you to skip the line; it costs $22–$28. TIP Every winter the trendy Standard Hotel, in the Meatpacking District near the High Line, makes its own tiny ice rink. Skate tickets are $12 and skate rental is $3; the rink, at 848 Washington Street at West 13th Street, is open from 9 am until at least midnight on weekends and from noon on weekdays. When you’re done, hot chocolate, toddies, waffles, and doughnuts are ready to take the edge off any chill.

Contact Information
Lasker Rink. | 2 Lenox Ave., midpark near 106th St., Central Park | www.laskerrink.com | Station: B, C to Cathedral Pkwy.–110th St.; 2, 3 to Central Park North–110th St. 
Rockefeller Center. | 50th St. at 5th Ave., lower plaza, Midtown West | 212/332–7654 | www.therinkatrockcenter.com | Station: B, D, F, M to 47th–50th Sts./Rockefeller Center; E, M to 5th Ave./53rd St. 
Sky Rink. | Pier 61, W. 23rd St., at the Hudson River, Chelsea | 212/336–6100 | www.chelseapiers.com/sr | Station: C, E to 23rd St. 
Trump Wollman Skating Rink. | North of 6th Ave. and Central Park S entrance, between 62nd and 63rd sts., Central Park | www.wollmanskatingrink.com | Station: 1, A, B, C, D to 59th St.–Columbus Circle.
Winter Village at Bryant Park. | 1065 6th Ave., between 40th and 42nd sts., Midtown West | 212/661–6640 | wintervillage.org | Station: B, D, F, M to 42nd St.–Bryant Park.

JOGGING

All kinds of New Yorkers jog, some with dogs or babies in tow, so you always have company on the regular jogging routes. What’s not recommended is setting out on a lonely park path at dusk. Go running when and where everybody else does. On Manhattan streets, roughly 20 north–south blocks make a mile.

In Manhattan, Central Park is the busiest spot, specifically along the 1.6-mile path circling the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, where you jog in a counterclockwise direction. A runners’ lane has been designated along park roads; the entire loop road is a hilly 6 miles. A good 1.75-mile route starts at the Tavern on the Green along the West Drive, heads south around the bottom of the park to the East Drive, and circles back west on the 72nd Street park road to your starting point. Riverside Park, along the Hudson River bank in Manhattan, is glorious at sunset. You can cover 4.5 miles by running from West 72nd to 116th Street and back, and the Greenbelt trail extends 4 more miles north to the George Washington Bridge at 181st Street. Other favorite Manhattan circuits are the Battery Park City esplanade (about 2 miles), which connects to the Hudson River Park (about 1½ miles), and the East River Esplanade (just over 3 miles from East 63rd to East 125th streets).

STUDENTS IN NEW YORK

New York is home to Columbia University, New York University, Fordham University, and the City College of New York. With other colleges scattered throughout the five boroughs, and a huge population of public and private high-schoolers, it’s no wonder the city is rife with student discounts. Wherever you go, especially museums, sightseeing attractions, and performances, identify yourself as a student and ask if a discount is available, but be prepared to show your ID.

High 5 for the Arts is a great program for teens 13 and 18 (or anyone in middle or high school). Tickets to a wide variety of performances (though only rarely Broadway shows) are sold for $5 online or by phone. Check the website to find out about upcoming events.

Contact Informatoin
High 5 for the Arts. | 520 8th Ave., Suite 321, at 36th St., Midtown West | 212/302–7433 | teens.artsconnection.org/faq-high5
STA Travel. | 722 Broadway, between Washington Pl. and Waverly Pl., West Village | 212/473–6100800/781–4040 for 24-hr service center | www.sta.com.

TAXES

A sales tax of 8.875% applies to almost everything you can buy retail, including restaurant meals. However, prescription drugs and nonprepared food bought in grocery stores are exempt. Clothing and footwear costing less than $110 are also exempt.

TIPPING

The customary tipping rate for taxi drivers is 15%–20%, with a minimum of $2; bellhops are usually given $2 per bag in luxury hotels, $1 per bag elsewhere. Hotel maids should be tipped $2 per day of your stay. A doorman who hails or helps you into a cab can be tipped $1–$2. You should also tip your hotel concierge for services rendered; the size of the tip depends on the difficulty of your request, as well as the quality of the concierge’s work. Waiters should be tipped 15%–20%, though at higher-end restaurants, a solid 20% is more the norm. Tip $1 or $2 per drink you order at the bar, or possibly more if you’re ordering something especially time-consuming to make.

VISITOR INFORMATION

The Grand Central Partnership (a business-improvement district) has installed a number of information booths in and around Grand Central Terminal (there’s one near Vanderbilt Avenue and East 43rd Street). They’re loaded with maps and helpful brochures on attractions throughout the city and staffed by friendly, knowledgeable, multilingual New Yorkers.

NYC & Company runs Official NYC Information Centers at Macy’s as well as in Lower Manhattan at City Hall Park, South Street Seaport, and in Chinatown, at the triangle where Canal, Walker, and Baxter streets meet. Its official visitor guide and map, both downloadable from NYC & Company’s website as well as in hard copies available around town, are both very useful.

The Downtown Alliance has information on the area encompassing City Hall south to Battery Park, and from the East River to West Street. For a free booklet listing New York City attractions and tour packages, contact the New York State Division of Tourism.

CONTACTS

City Information
Downtown Alliance. | 212/566–6700 | www.downtownny.com
Grand Central Partnership. | 212/883–2420 | www.grandcentralpartnership.org
NYC & Company Information Center at Macy’s. | 151 W. 34th St. , between 7th Ave. and Broadway, Midtown West | 212/484–1222 | www.nycgo.com | Station: B, D, F, M, N, Q, R to 34th St.–Herald Sq.
Times Square Alliance. | Midtown West | www.timessquarenyc.org.

Statewide Information
New York State Division of Tourism. | , | New York | 800/225–5697 (weekdays 8–5) | www.iloveny.com.