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New York City Guide

Getting In, Getting Around New York

New York might be a big city, but it's easily accessible for sightseeing visitors. There are many ways to get into and around New York, including on foot, by public transportation, and in one of the ubiquitous taxis. Here's a primer on New York transportation:

From the Airport

New York is serviced by three airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens is 15 miles southeast of Manhattan, La Guardia Airport in Queens is 8 miles northeast of Manhattan, and Newark Liberty Airport is 16 miles southwest of Manhattan, across the Hudson River, in New Jersey. JFK Airport is generally the most congested of the three, and Newark is the least.

Car rental: Rental car options are available at all three airports. Each terminal's arrival level (near the baggage carousel) has either a rental car counter or courtesy phone for the major car companies available. Courtesy transportation is available from each terminal to the rental car lots. Most New York visitors, however, don't have to choose this option unless they're planning extensive travel outside the major metropolitan area. Parking is expensive and difficult to find. Avoid any unnecessary headaches, and save money, by using mass transit or taxis. If, however, you must drive, it's best to rent a car at the airport, where rates are lower than they are in the city.

Public transportation: Public transportation to and from all three airports is excellent. New York Airport Service offers frequent bus service to and from La Guardia and JFK. Olympia Trails of Coach USA offers frequent bus service to and from Newark. SuperShuttle offers door-to-door pick-up van service from homes and hotels to any of the three airports. The AirTrain JFK runs from Pennsylvania Station in Midtown to JFK.

Taxi: A taxi ride into Manhattan from La Guardia takes 20 to 30 minutes and costs about $25. The ride from JFK to Manhattan takes 30 to 45 minutes and costs a flat fare of $45, plus tolls (when going the opposite direction, from Manhattan to JFK, the trip is metered, but usually costs about the same). The 45-minute ride from Newark costs about $80. Cabs leave from well-marked stands staffed by dispatchers outside the flight arrival areas.

New York City taxis are plentiful and can take you wherever you need to go while visiting the city.
©2006 NYC & Company
New York City taxis are plentiful and can take you wherever you need to go.

Driving In

Rush hour: Driving into and around in New York City is not for the faint of heart. Highways and streets are often very congested, street parking is limited, garage rates are exorbitant, and it's easy to make a wrong turn that will take you far out of your way. New York's excellent public transportation system also makes having a car in the city unnecessary. Most New Yorkers don't own cars and many native New Yorkers don't even know how to drive. To avoid the worst of rush hour traffic, don't drive into the city between 7 am and 9 am or out of the city between 4 pm and 6 pm.

Public transportation/fares: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority includes subways and buses. The subways are the easier and quickest way to get around town. Service is frequent -- at least in Manhattan -- and the trains run all night.

To ride the subways, you'll need a MetroCard, an electronic fare card that can be purchased in any station. The basic fare is $2 and the $20 card gets you two free rides. For most visitors, however, the best bargain is the unlimited-ride card, which allows for lots of stops in a short period of time: the one-day pass costs $7, the 7-day pass costs $24, and the 30-day pass costs $76.

Buses are slower than subways, but also run all night and are the best way to get cross-town, since most subway lines run north-south. East-west cross-town service can be found along 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 65th/66th, 79th, 86th and 96th Streets. The fare is $2, payable with exact change or the MetroCard. Transfers are available between cross-town buses and uptown-downtown buses, meaning that you can go far for a $2 ride.

Taxis: Taxis, all painted bright yellow with lighted signs on their roofs, can be hailed from anywhere in Manhattan. Fares begin at $2.50 for the first quarter mile, surcharges are added between 4 pm and 6 am, and a 15 to 20 percent tip is the norm.

Walking is by far the best way to see the Big Apple. You'll need about a minute to walk a north-south block and two minutes to walk an east-west block. Neighborhoods especially conducive to walking include the Financial District, Chinatown, SoHo, and the West Village.

As if the year-round attractions in New York aren't enough to keep you busy, the city has countless special events that are worth experiencing. Keep reading to learn about New York's special events and attractions.