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New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

Salt Lake City, UT
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New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

So this Friday we'll be driving from the DC area to Connecticut for a funeral. Normally, we'd take the NJ Turnpike, GW Bridge, Cross Bronx Expwy, then probably Bronx River Pkwy to head north. I'm toying with the idea of taking a detour through crosses more of the city. Mind you, we likely won't even have enough time for more than a brief stop, so this would be solely, or almost solely, a drive through tour. It would probably be somewhere between noon and 3PM, again, on a Friday.

The main route I've been eyeing is bailing off the turnpike to the Goethals Bridge, then across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, then 278 to the Brooklyn Bridge, then up FDR Drive north. Or one of the surface streets north for a ways (which one?). Or 9A up the west side? Are we likely to get stuck in traffic hell? Any other suggestions regarding routing? I know the idea is slightly mad...but who knows when we'll be this close to New York City again.

Long Island
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1. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

I think it's a crazy idea. You won't see much driving up the FDR or the west side, other than buildings/skyline unless you get off the highway (and even then, you may not see much depending). Also, the later in the afternoon, the more likely you'll hit traffic. I wouldn't take the chance.

Also, depending on where in Connecticut you're going, it may be an easier trip if you go north from 95 to the Palisades Parkway (in NJ) to 87 and go across the Tappan Zee bridge. This route takes you a bit west first, but I (someone who grew up right near the GWB) find that crossing the George Washington Bridge can be a nightmare at any time during the day.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

I think it really depends on where in Ct. you're going, what time you have to be there (Ct.) and how brief is brief for the stop in NYC. I think it makes very little sense to enter Manhattan if you don't even plan on getting out of the car and doing one thing. If you just want a view of the skyline, that can be done from New Jersey, Queens, Brooklyn or even Staten Island. I also strongly recommend you NOT put yourself in traffic during rush hour to Ct.

One alternate idea to yours is to head to Weehawken, NJ and either just stop for a meal at the Chart House there, with lovely views of Manhattan OR, park the car at the Port Imperial ferry terminal, take the ferry over to Manhattan. The ferry co.

nywaterway.com

has a free bus that does a loop around midtown. Either ride the loop or take it to Times Square or Rockefeller Center or wherever you'd like to see, have a look and go back and continue your drive north.

Whatever you do, avoid I 95 in Ct. if you can.

Salt Lake City, UT
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3. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

Thanks a lot for the replies. We're going to Danbury, in Connecticut, likely with a stop to visit a relative in Valhalla along the way. We'd be looking to be in Danbury by about 6PM.

I know that driving through would be a pale comparison to a proper visit to Manhattan, but I would argue that even just driving through, amidst all of those tall buildings and that mass of humanity, we would get an experience we can't get anywhere else in the US. However, I'm really like to minimize the chances of being stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for a long period of time.

staten island
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4. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

This sounds like something I would do, but I'm not saying it 's a good or bad idea. Between 12 and 3 the worst traffic would be in Staten Island because of on going construction on 278 (Staten Island Expressway). Traffic is also unpredictable so listening to 1010 or 880 on the am, starting around exit 8 or 9 on the NJ Turnpike, will help knowing where some traffic problems are before making a final decision if you have a couple of sets of directions.

Memphis, TN
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5. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

I suppose you could get some value out of this idea, but keep in mind the following:

1. Whoever is doing the driving will have to really concentrate on the traffic and will therefore get little to no value out of this.

2. The inability to see above you (i.e. seeing the tall buildings from close by) reduces the value of the drive considerably.

3. Interesting sites are scattered all over the place, so there is no easy drive up just one avenue that is going to give you anything close to an overview of the city.

If you really want to get a sense of NYC, my advice would be to leave the DC area a bit earlier, park the car, and take the extra time to do one or two touristy things outside the car.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

I really agree that you just can't get the sense of the buildings sitting in a car unless you're a distance from them. You'll pay a hefty toll ($13 or so) just to get into Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel and will then have to deal with traffic. I really think either stopping briefly in New Jersey across the Hudson for some views is a better idea OR, leave the car in NJ and take if not the ferry, a PATH train from Jersey City or Hoboken over for a quick look on foot. You can find garages near a PATH train on google maps or on the PATH website.

I would listen to Georgia and avoid the Verrazzano bridge and Staten Island and I would also avoid the GW bridge and continue on to the Tappan Zee bridge to Valhalla and on to Danbury.

http://goo.gl/maps/ZnUpQ

Limerick...
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7. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

You can see much more if you use Google earth.

New York City, New...
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8. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

I love to drive, and I would recommend it! Sure, why not! You will see a lot and it will be an "experience." Even if it is just the FDR, it is "Manhattan." Depending on time/traffic, you might even try a regular street like 1st Ave, even for a few blocks.

You won't get "grand vistas" but you will see life "on the street." You also have to be prepared for traffic, and sometimes around midtown its stop-and-go and can eat up an hour or more of your time. But if you want to, I encourage you. If you are already do GWB/X-Bronx maybe you just want an adventure.

Salt Lake City, UT
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9. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

Thanks a lot for the continued feedback, including both the pros and cons. More opinions are welcome. And I'll be sure to give an update after the fact regarding what we actually do. We're traveling with a 7 and a 4 year old, so we just might not be able to get the early start we need to do a proper visit.

New York City, New...
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10. Re: New York City drive thru - a crazy idea?

GW Bridge - Rt. 9 North (West Side Hwy) (just over the bridge) WATCH THE SIGNS CAREFULLY. You will be off a highway after crossing the bridge for about a block - you want to go NORTH. Once on Hwy - you will see an exit for The Cloisters, which may give you a welcome respite and a beautiful view. (Look online). Get back on highway. Continue north to Cross county Parkway EAST. Then 87 NORTH then 287 EAST to (probably) Route 100 for Valhalla. Check Google map directions.

This avoids Cross Bronx which is a nightmare. You will see the skyline of Manhattan. DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH the city - you will see nothing of interest, and will regret it. It could easily take you 2 hours. you will get lost on one way streets. The FDR Drive is ugly.