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Winston-Salem, North Carolina

New York City

Driving into New York City

I'm just beginning to think about driving to NYC with my teenage daughter.  I have never been to NYC.  Is there a best time to drive into the city?

16 Answers

answered by
Julie from Lansdale, Pennsylvania

No just park either in the Financial District or Upper West Side and take the train everywhere.  The traffic is worse now than it has ever been.  Best bet actually is to park in Hobokenor Jersey Cityand take the ferry or the Path into the city.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Financial District (attraction)
  2. Upper West Side (attraction)
  3. Hoboken (city)
  4. Jersey City (city)
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answered by
Linda from Los Angeles

There is never a good time to drive in this city 

My advice to you is take a cheap flight to NYC and use a JFK Shuttle to take you to your hotel and use Uber to move around the city 

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answered by
Barbara from Cambridge (Massachusetts)

Take a bus or train and arrive stress free. Too many variables to consider when driving into this city. 

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answered by
Michael from Manhattan

There is a lot of response to not do it and just take the train (I agree), but in case someone else has the same question and is searching, I'll break it down. (Source: Manhattan resident for 8 years and I drive in/out of the city frequently).

1. The best times to drive into or out of Manhattan are the VERY off-peak times. As all others mention, it is important to know from what direction a person is coming. But in general, weekdays from 8a-11a and 3p-8p are no-gos, and the middle of the day doesn't really improve much. If someone must drive into Manhattan, they would save a lot of hair and a few days on their lifespan to do so at night or very early morning.

2. With that said... driving in Manhattan is not as scary as everyone claims. If a driver has comfort with cities like London, Paris, DC, Chicago, Boston, etc, then they are likely prepared for New York as well. Taxi and Livery drivers are the bulk of your challenge, and you should drive with the expectation that they will merge in and out with reckless abandon... just accept this and your drive will be a thousand times less stressful. Their goal (and yours), is to get as quick as possible from point A to point B. Your best friend is a mobile phone sitting on your dash with Google Maps navigating. It will steer you as best around traffic as possible (which, unless you are driving in at 3am, there is a 100% chance you will find some).

3. Some important rules. Speed limits, unless posted otherwise, is 25 mph. Turning on Red is never allowed. Almost every road is one-way. Bicycles lanes are very common, so ALWAYS look around you before changing lanes or opening a car door (including if you are in a Taxi).

If you chose to drive to Manhattan, some pro tips:

Tip 1: Avenues are mostly one-way, and the lights are timed to the speed limit. Let's say you're at 6th Ave and 14th Street and the light turns green; you could theoretically cruise at 25 MPH and hit every single green light all the way to 59th St at Central Park). Of course, don't expect Taxis, pedestrians, and bikes to just part the traffic for you though :). This is a trick that really only works at 5am when the streets are empty.

Tip 2: Park in a garage. Meters are at best 2 hours max and up to $6/hour. Contrary to myth, the majority of parking is actually free... pretty much any spot on a Street (not Avenue) in an area that looks residential outside of mid-town should be fair game. The problem is, to the untrained eye, every street spot is riddled with complicated restrictions and unadvertised rules (such as fire hydrant distance) and all have some form of 2x weekly variable street sweeping (aka "Alternate Side Parking"), so even if you do find a spot, chances are there is a reason why that spot is available... it's probably going to get you a ticket (minimum cost in Manhattan is $65). FYI: You can guarantee a parking meter violation ticket within minutes of expiration. Every block generally has a dedicated parking officer making frequent rounds.

Tip 3: Smaller cars are better than SUVs. If you have a Toyota Corolla begging for a road trip because you always drive the Chevy Suburban, now's the time to shake the cobwebs off the Corolla. Not only is it MUCH easier to navigate the streets in a small car, but so is parking in a garage going to be cheaper. Garages are famous for charging $15-25 more for an SUV, even a smaller one.

Tip 4 (and the most important): Unless you want to drive for the pure "luxury" of saying to your friends at home "I drove in Manhattan," park your car at a commuter train station and ride into the city. Coming for a weekend from the south? There are many New Jersey Transit stations you could leave your car at for a fraction of the parking cost in Manhattan. You will avoid massive traffic, humongous tolls, and the likelihood of getting into trouble hitting a pedestrian, bike, or another car is nil. An hour on the train is an average 2 hours driving.

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answered by
Georgia from Long Island (New York)

Did not see where you are driving from but if you have access to rail take it. A car is unnecessary and expensive to store. I would also suggest adding surrounding areas like Queens, Brooklyn and NJ where you have a view of the city. If staying in town expect the expense and pay for location close to subway for safety and convenience. It is easy to compromise your stay with wrong choices.

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answered by
Diane from New York City

Driving in nyc is always bad , but especially rush hour morning 7-9 and evening 4-7 

Download the best parking app to get best parking rates

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answered by
Роман from Yonkers, New York

If this is your first time -- don't do it! It is better to take a train and then use the subway to get around. No time is good for driving into the Big Apple.

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answered by
Sean from Hudson Valley

Hi Sheila,

Your questions brings two thought to mind. 

First, you do really want to visit New York.  It's a unique, world-class city.  There's really no other place like it, and it's not to be missed.

Secondly, you really don't want to drive in New York city.  I'm not all that sure if you want to stay there. 

Let me explain.

The drive itself will take nine to nine and a half hours.  You can use that information to count backwards in order to avoid D.C., Richmond and New York city (each arraigned in descending order of agony) during rush hours.  Be prepared, the drive itself isn't very scenic, and gets less so as you approach New York. In fact, it tends to be tedious and annoying.

Worst still, once you get to New York, you have a car to deal with. That's one thing you really don't need in New York. There's no need to drive anywhere in New York. It has one of the best public transportation systems in the world, and it operates 24 hours. In addition, parking is a nightmare. You can spend a lifetime looking for a curbside spot, or spend a fortune to park in a garage.

By the way, don't kid yourself into thinking that you car is safe and secure just because you've parked it in a garage. Aside from dents and an additional 40+ miles on my odometer, I've also received a parking summons during a time I knew damn well I had left my car in a garage. It turns out if an attendant needs to retrieve a car blocked by others, they simply pull those other cars out into the street, leaving them wherever they please. During that time, your car can be ticketed. If your thinking, "Ah-ha! Then they're liable", think again. I fought it. It's clearly printed on your parking stub (providing you can read micro dot) that by using their facility you absolve them of all responsibility. Not only did I still have to pay the ticket, but I was further sued by the garage for their court costs! Also, the same applies to beak-ins and vandalism to your vehicle; it's your problem, not theirs.

How long were you thinking of staying in New York?  What is your budget like?  The reason I ask is, have you given any thought as to your accommodations?  Staying in New York is a lot like saying in London; either the hotels are grossly over priced, or they're dumps.  Either way they're rarely worth the price, unless you're dripping with money.

I was just reading an article recently about a hotel in New York considered to be one of the creepiest in the world. It isn't haunted, but it is infested with mice, cockroaches and bedbugs. It's price; $120 a night.

Most decent hotels in New York City start at $200 a night; and that's before taxes.

Hazel B made a good suggestion.  One I'd like to expand on. 

The idea is not to stay in the city. Find a room in Brooklyn, Long Island (New York), New Jersey, or Westchester County and take the commuter rail into the city. Hundreds of thousands of people do this every day.  Trains run at least hourly from 5:00am, to about 1:30am. Hotels outside the City tend to be far more reasonably priced, therefore, a far better value. You'll be living like a temporary resident. Truth is, I used this strategy all over the world.

However, if you're hell bent on staying in the city, try a discount booking site like Hotwire or Priceline.  Maybe Airb&b has a decent listing.

Remember, you've got alternatives.  Consider driving to Richmond or D.C. and either taking a inexpensive flight, or better still, a train to New York. 

Train fare usually runs between $50 and $90 from D.C.. Although the trip isn't any more scenic than it would be driving there, it does have several advantages.

First, it's easier on your psyche. All you have to do is walk aboard and sit down. The trip isn't any longer than is would be by car, and you can use that time to read, relax or even nap.

Secondly, the train arrives at Penn Station, in the heart of Manhattan. You can access the subway from inside the station, or catch one of the numerous cabs outside.

Finally, you don't need to worry about parking a car, or its security once you have. 

If I was the one taking this trip, I'd take the train. I like the idea of napping during the trip, then getting off the train right in the heart of town, ready to rock and roll!

Either way, do indeed go to New York.  You'll love it!  Everyone does, even if they won't admit it.

Happy Travels!

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answered by
Fred from Weston (Florida)

Obviously you do not want to arrive either in the morning (7-9am) rush hour or the evening rush hour (4-6pm).  Anyway you look at it, driving in NYC is a challenge any time of the day especially if you have never been there before. 

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answered by
Veronica from United States

NYC is very crowded.  I would recommend taking a train there instead, and then using the Subway to get around the city.

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answered by
Chris from New York City

Tell us what area you're coming from, there are likely train options like NJ Transit, Metro North or Long Island RR that are far easier, cheaper and reliable.  Might even be cheaper / easier to park outside the city and take an Uber depending on where you are. 

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answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

Drive to Yonkers and take train in. Look over train schedules and print routes and bus and subways

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answered by
peter from Downtown Ithaca

A simple answer is to drive into Mahatten in the evening, like 9:00'PM on weekdays. Also, day wise, Sunday's are a bit quieter than other days. But during the summer, traffic into the city on Sunday evening will be congested as people return from day trips outside of the city, so I would suggest driving into the city on a Sunday morning and leaving on a Sunday evening. My experience has been mostly via the West side highway from Pallasades Parkway and the GW bridge.  

You can find locations of parking facilities on line. If you store your car somewhere you can get around with Ubers (sign up on-line), taxis, and Subways. Hope this helps.

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answered by
Drew from Los Angeles

I would not recommend driving in the city.  Parking is insanely expensive and It's very difficult to get around with a car, and very easy to get around without a car.  If you're driving up the east coast, I would leave your car in a lot in New Jersey and take the train into the city

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answered first by
Kat from Brooklyn

Well it would help for starters if you mentioned where you were coming from? North? South? East? West?

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answered by
Patty from Los Angeles

Well if you are sure that you wanna drive to NYC you can also look for a cheap parking lot and save you all the stress of driving around and just use public transportation.

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