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New York City

Help! I'm taking my 2 teenaged sons to New York City next week and need some help. We still can't decide if it is better to take the train or the bus from Newark airport to Manhattan. At first we thought the train would be better and more fun for us Texans who rarely get to ride on trains. But I am second guessing and now thinking the express bus would be better. Anyone with experience willing to share? Also, this is the first time to NYC for the boys so we are doing the most iconic sights (which are pretty obvious). But where should we eat? Besides pizza, what do you consider the must eat foods?

Posted by
6715 posts

Besides pizza, what do you consider the must eat foods?

I would try anything you can't get back home (or can't get it easily). NYC is home to so many different cultures and restaurants that you should pick out something you've never tried before (because where else would you get it? Houston is great though, I was impressed).

When I go, I always visit a South Indian place in Little India (you can check out if it appeals to you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9_GB86_h0Y)

Also: https://ny.eater.com/maps/best-indian-restaurants-nyc-jersey-city-dining-takeout (many of the best/ most popular places are also in Jackson Heights, Queens but there is plenty to choose from in Manhattan too)

The upside is it definitely won't break your wallet, and so flavorful.

Posted by
7919 posts

For food: Lydia Bastianich’s Becco restaurant is really good.

Posted by
1173 posts

My experience with Newark airport are a bit dated but I have taken both options.

Bus. Easy option. Pop your bagsinto the luggage bay under the bus and hop on board. It will stop at all terminals so if you hop on at the first terminal it takes a bit of time. The wild card with this option is traffic. I’ve sat in traffic for about 30 to 40 minutes as we approach and enter the Lincoln tunnel. Leaves you by the port authority bus terminal at 42nd St and 8th Avenue. Good subway options. I would think that taxis and Uber are as easy to find as at penn station.

Train. You have to take the air train to the train station. There are escalators and perhaps elevators at both ends of the air train but if they are out of service you have to carry your bags up and down stairs. Depending on time of day the trains can be crowded. (This was pre pandemic. So it may be better or worse now). There may be little room to stand and put your bag. The advantage of the train to me was the certainty. No delays. However, since hurricane Sandy caused some damage to the tunnel I’ve heard occasional reports of train delays. Train leaves you at Penn Station 34th St bet 7th and 8th Avenue. You generally have to carry your bag up to the station level from the track level. If headed for the street you need to go up one more level but the escalators are generally in service. If headed to the subway it will generally involve up and down stairs and some walkways. Good subway service with a number of subway lines. Taxi stands on both the 7th and 8th Avenue sides.

Posted by
1173 posts

I’ve been to Becco and like it too. Very reasonably priced for NY.

If you’re in the neighborhood then Prince St pizza is worth the wait. Yes there’s generally a line. About 20 minutes. I have the pepperoni Sicilian. NY’ers will often refer to them as square.

https://www.eatprincestreetpizza.com/menu

If you like overstuffed sandwiches then there’s Katz’s deli. I generally get the pastrami and a square knish and share it with a friend.

https://katzsdelicatessen.com/

Both are walking distance from the tenement museum if you are going there.

Posted by
1354 posts

NY bagels are the best, and available about every block or so around the Times Square area. And- eat deli food- almost every deli is fantastic!
Safe travels!

Posted by
9792 posts

Time for native New Yorkers to chime in.......

Train or bus? I took the train recently because you never know what traffic will be like? Plus Penn Station (train) and the Port Authority (bus) are just a few blocks apart.

Food (And I'm keeping in mind you have two teens with you):

Grays Papaya--a NY institution for hot dogs and fruit drinks. Due to Covid you can't eat inside but they have set up stand up tables outside.

Katz's Deli--one of the last remaing true NY Jewish Deli's. The other good choice is the 2nd Avenue Deli but it's not as good as it used to be. And it's no longer on 2nd Ave.

For a great bagel experience--including smoked fish--go to Russ & Daughters in Soho or find a real bagel place. A place that makes bagels. There is a big difference between them and those corner "delis" who get prepackaged bagels. And a true NY bagel is an experience. (The secret--they're put in boiling water before baking.) Two of the best are in Queens in my old neighborhood but they're very difficult to get to from Manhattan.

Chelsea Market is an indoor food mecca with lots of food stores and restaurants.

Pick a cuisine, any cuisine. You can find it in NYC. The sad part is many restaurants are still not fully open for eating indoors.

Be aware, Times Square these days is for tourists. New Yorkers only go there to work or to see a show. Don't eat near there. It's like eating near a tourist site in Europe. If you want better food, walk a few blocks away. But definitely visit Times Square.

Other suggestions:

Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. It's free. Plus if it's hot, it's cooler on the water. And you'll get some great views of NYC. Just don't try to travel during rush hour. It's the main way people on Staten Island commute to Manhattan for work.

You can go to the top of the Empire State Building for skyline views or you could to to Top of the Rock and get a skyline view that includes the Empire State Building.

For an inexpensive sightseeing bus without commentary, take the M55 city bus. It goes down Fifth Avenue from midtown all the way to the Staten Island Ferry port. It then returns up Sixth Ave--aka Avenue of the Americas-- back to midtown. You'll pass the Empire State building, Flatiron building, City Hall, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, The World Trade Center site, and more. (Don't do it during rush hour.)

For more tips, I suggest watching this video. It will give you information on a true New York experience from a local:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=D6xd6YvoHLM

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks everybody. Yes, traveling with a 19 and almost 17 year old boy, so I will be stuffing food down them continually. Our hotel is at 311 West 39th. I know Times Square is touristy and we don't plan to eat super close to the hotel. I got a good deal, so that is the only reason we are staying there. I have already bought tickets for the things that need reserved time slots (Top of the Rock, Ferry to Ellis Island and Statue Island and the Met) so now just have to fill in with wandering around things like Central Park, Chinatown, etc. We are getting so excited!

Posted by
46 posts

Forgot to add, we are traveling very light, just a small backpack/bag for each of us (personal item only air fare!), so we can get up and down stairs and navigate public transport easily.

Posted by
6715 posts

Consider renting bikes and riding or walking along the Hudson River - it's a very easy walk/ bike ride from the tip of Manhattan (Battery Park) up north to Chelsea. I find it totally enjoyable to get away from the crowds and face the river. I would walk/bike up to the High Line and then take a stroll on it as well (it's about a mile long), it's really a gem and offers great views below. You can take the subway back from the Hudson Yards stop.

Yikes, I just realized you're going soon - it will be blazing hot. Maybe forget the walking part, but I think biking will be fun. The subway is not fun in the summer (no AC in many stations, stuffy)

Maybe your kids will like Shake Shack - crazy amount of calories, but hey, kids can manage.

Posted by
919 posts

Peter Lugar Steak House in Brooklyn is great if you can get in. Take the ferry out to the Statute of Liberty. Your boys may also like the American Museum of Natural History and maybe one of the art museums. Baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Top of the Empire State Building. Expose them to a Broadway musical. Took my first trip there when I was 20.

Posted by
46 posts

Agnes, I guess heat is relative. We live in Central Texas, where the high is usually in the mid to upper 90s this time of year. We checked the weather forecast for NYC and said Yippee! It's only going to be in the mid 80s!

Posted by
3173 posts

Manhattan is my home as I am a native New Yorker! Forget the bus as you could be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic at the Lincoln tunnel. Take the train. Take the Airtrain to The Newark airport rail station and take a New Jersey Transit train into Penn Station NYC.

You and your sons should take a look at NYC tour books and see what really interests all of you. Look at websites to see the days and hours places you want to visit are open including museums. Why not get tickets to either a Yankees or Mets game depending upon who is in town during your visit.

The best pizza is in Brooklyn. The best hotdogs are in Brooklyn too. Are you interested in Coney Island? if so, go to Nathan‘s for a hotdog. It’s the best in the world. For second-best in NYC, go to any place that has the word Papaya in it like Papaya Dog or Papaya King in Manhattan.

“Must eat” restaurants are those that are not geared toward tourists and have the types of food that you all find to be absolutely delicious. Walk around and look at menus. Find a mom and pop restaurant as opposed to a famous chef restaurant which are overrated, overpriced and under-promised. If you’re interested specifically in an Alsatian restaurant, an Italian restaurant, Czech restaurant, Ukrainian, etc., let me know and I’ll recommend places we love with absolutely delicious food and great ambience.

Broadway and off Broadway won’t fully open up until September as is the case for Lincoln Center. If you want get a great sky high view of the city, I recommend going to the Top of the Rock as you’ll be able to see the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Central Park, etc.

Manhattan is so walkable. I think you all will have a wonderful time.

Posted by
6715 posts

We live in Central Texas, where the high is usually in the mid to
upper 90s this time of year.

But are you outdoors a significant part of the day (as you would be as a tourist), or sitting in nice air conditioned surroundings when you get too hot? I live in a humid former swampland so I'm used to it, but if I had to be out touring all day long, it would be a different story. Also, due to the sheer amount of concrete surfaces, density of people and tall buildings, NYC has a heat island effect you won't experience say, in the Hill Country of Texas or Austin. I'm sure you'll find it much more bearable than someone living in cooler climates though.

Have a great time!

Posted by
2291 posts

Actually, the local news in Austin was talking about the heat island effect the other day! But gollygeewillackers, it can get hot in NYC.

One thing that my family really enjoyed in the Before Time was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. The views are amazing.

Posted by
219 posts

Frank II has made a terrific list!

I fly often through Newark as my son lives in NYC and my brother in Princeton, NJ. I would vote for the train because once you board it, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic, defeating the purpose of an “express” bus. I don’t find the train difficult at all, and I am a 70-year-old woman, often bearing gifts for the grandkids LOL! Penn Station can be confusing if you have never been there. You might want to study a map. The train from Newark is run by NJ Transit, so look for their area on the map. Once in Penn Station, you can take a subway (many lines, study the map) or you can exit the station and take a cab, Uber, etc. Or, depending how far your hotel is, you can walk.

I do find that Penn Station can be pretty awful at rush hour (pre-pandemic), so your arrival time might be a consideration.

Someone mentioned Peter Lugar’s steak house. It is extremely expensive and they only take cash! I wouldn’t bother with a couple teens. There is food everywhere in NY and at all hours of the day and night. With teens, assuming they are the least bit adventurous, I would try lots of different ethnic foods! You can eat very well without spending a fortune if you watch for neighborhood-type places, street carts and so on.

Take a subway to the Brooklyn Heights area- right across from lower Manhattan. Then walk BACK across the Brooklyn Bridge so you get a wonderful view of Manhattan. Before leaving Brooklyn Heights, you might want to walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which goes along the harbor facing Manhattan. Great views of the harbor and the buildings, quiet and full of “locals”. There are many small restaurants in the area - particularly Montague Street. Wandering these streets will give you a sense of a NY neighborhood.

The Staten Island ferry is the best bargain in town and gives you a terrific view of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan. Take the ferry across to Staten Island, exit and immediately get on the returning ferry for a simple and free excursion.

So many things to see and do! Don’t try to do it all. Just plan to come back!

Posted by
1268 posts

Since teens boys just incinerate food, I'd add buying snacks from random street vendors, samosas, pepper sausage, etc

Posted by
9792 posts

I forgot to mention probably the most important food to have in NYC.....the black and white cookie. You'll find them pre-wrapped in almost any food store but if you can get to a a bakery or real deli they will be better.

Is it a cake? Is it a cookie? Whatever you determine them to be they are as big as your hand and look like this:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/BandW.jpg

Posted by
46 posts

"I forgot to mention probably the most important food to have in NYC.....the black and white cookie."

Yes! As Jerry Seinfeld says... look to the cookie!

Posted by
46 posts

Thanks again everybody. We are starting out for the airport in a hour! We only have 4 full days, so we won't try to do everything. Just a few highlights of major tourist things and the rest of the time we will just "be there". That is how I like to travel, and thankfully the boys agree.

Posted by
3173 posts

Good! Just “being“ in the city is so much better than following a bucket list of tourist attractions. You will be spared horrific hot weather too!

Posted by
1173 posts

If you end up at the southern end of the highlife, there are a couple of parks nearby. The new little island park and pier 51 at Hudson River park. They should offer a respite from the hectic city.

Also nearby is the NYC location of Starbucks Roastery. Fun shop to walk through. Often there is a coffee roasting demo. Adult beverages offered upstairs and regular drinks downstairs. I like the whiskey barrel aged cold brew. As far as I know it’s non alcoholic.

https://www.starbucksreserve.com/en-us/locations/new-york

Have a great trip!

Posted by
1173 posts

Regarding Peter Lugers, they started accepting debit cards some time ago. My friends went to the Great Neck location a few weeks ago. Oddly they required both pin and signature for debit card payment.

Definitely on the spendy side so keep that in mind.

Posted by
6602 posts

From EWR into NYC or NYC to EWR we always take the train. So easy. Follow signs in airport out to platforms. I would not subject myself or my family to a bus ride in that horrible traffic, sitting and waiting to enter the tunnel, bus fumes,etc. . Originally from NY. We return, stay overnight before flying to Europe, ALWAYS take the train to EWR. It is the easiest airport transportation in NYC of the three major airports. Easy Peasy. **Save your ticket as you need it to exit platform when you arrive.
Go to CoBa for good Vietnamese food on 9th Ave in Chelsea.
Cookshop on corner of 20th St and 10th Ave. Chelsea.
Katz’ Deli. Teenage boys will get their fill! HUGE sandwiches. Historic iconic spot.

Posted by
46 posts

Hi Everybody. We are back from NYC and had a great time. Thanks one and all for the tips. The train from Newark airport into Manhattan was the right choice. It was easy to navigate, clean, and almost empty in both directions. We ate lots of good food and the boys got pizza and/or street vendor hot dogs everyday! They even checked on last minute tickets to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium and took the subway out to the Bronx by themselves to go to a game. We had lots of funny moments and I will treasure the memories. I'm so glad we did this trip. I doubt I will ever again get to travel with just my boys. Now to plan a trip with my daughter...I hear London calling.

Posted by
1354 posts

It's really fun to receive feedback after the trip. Thanks for sharing!