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Getting around Manhattan

One of the biggest dilemmas when travelling to any city is how to get around. While the primary mode of transportation for most people is by car, it doesn’t mean it’s actually the best way to get around, especially if you are visiting a city for the first time.

When it comes to driving in New York City, one of the best pieces of advice is this, don’t. Getting behind the wheel in New York City and especially Manhattan can be brutally exhausting, even for locals. If you drive to New York City, leave your car wherever you are staying.

Driving

Driving in New York City can be complicated at times, especially if you don’t know where you’re going. Every State has their own driving laws and in most of them making a right hand turn at a red light is fine. In New York, there is no right turns on red lights, it’s simply illegal so don’t.

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While not being able to make right hand turns at red lights seems inconsequential, once you add in the fact, most streets in New York are one way, it just adds to the frustration. If you miss your turn, it can be a challenge to find a way back around. Even if you have a talking GPS system, you might not be able to get into the turning lane as New York streets can get quite gridlocked during certain times of day. Also, due to the large buildings in Manhattan, the GPS can have difficulty working properly. There is no worse feeling than driving in Manhattan and having your GPS stop working.

Even worse for new and unaware drivers in New York is reverse directions. During peak rush hours, some lanes are closed or reversed, so a street you took one way in the morning, can go the opposite direction later in the day. Not being aware of these switches can get you an easy traffic ticket or worse, an accident.

Friday’s and long holiday weekends are considered grid lock days, they also happen to be when tourists like to travel. Parking law enforcement will be out full force those days and being stuck in the middle of an intersection will get you a ticket instantly. Lastly, good luck finding decent parking spots.

The beauty of Manhattan is, once you’re in, there’s no need for a car. There are plenty of other ways to get around. While it’s advised not to drive, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid all cars.

Another disadvantage of driving is the tough enforcement the New York Police Department take on DWI drivers. Enjoying Manhattan should be the main focus, not having to worry about how much you have had to drink. The beauty of New York is that you just don’t need to drive, and that is one reason why the drunk driving arrest rates are so low in comparison to the overall population of the city. DUI Attorney Sacramento Michael Rehm, who practices in both Sacramento and New York, states that Sacramento County gets nearly the same amount of drunk driving arrests every month as NYC. Considering that New York’s population is much greater than Sacramento, one can quickly see the value in public transportation overall.

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Cabbies

While their reputation may precede them, New York taxi drivers can get you anywhere you need to go in Manhattan. They know the area and drive without fear. It might cost you a little more, they certainly are efficient, assuming you don’t take one during rush hour. A taxi driver can also provide you some insight about what to see or where to go in Manhattan.

At night, taking a taxi could be the best choice to get home or back to your hotel. If you’ve been out painting the town, walking or taking an alternative could get you lost or a victim of crime.

On Foot

Walking throughout Manhattan might actually be the best way to explore it. As long as the weather is nice, taking a stroll through Central Park can be sublime. Since the size of Central Park is massive, there are also bicycle rentals that you can take advantage of. It’s the perfect way to explore most of Central Park at a pace faster than walking.

Outside of Central Park, walking is still one of the best modes of transportation, especially during rush hours. Manhattan is a densely packed hub of happenings, there’s so much to see, so much to try and photo opportunities on just about every single block.

Buses

Buses outside of peak traffic hours can be the best method of transportation. If you are trying to get cross town, meaning east or west, a bus can do it cheaply and in a reasonable amount of time. Although, you will need to be more vigilant, so that you don’t miss your stop.

If you are trying to take a bus uptown or downtown (north or south), you’ll need to be aware of “limited,” stop busses. They have orange or purple cards that indicate, the bus only stops at major cross streets.

Subway

It’s been said that, all true New Yorkers take the subway. The subway runs 24/7 and is by far the quickest way to travel. The New York subway system is iconic in its own right and must be used at least once by anyone visiting. The subway system is quite extensive and can get you practically anywhere.

While the subway can get packed during peak hours, it’s still much better than gridlocked traffic. However, since the subway system runs 24/7, extra caution should be taken when using the subway late at night. While crime isn’t as rampant as it was before, there is always a chance of being a victim.

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What exactly is Uptown Manhattan?

When it comes to New York City, native New Yorkers are very passionate about the neighborhood they grew up and live in. Heck, even non-native New Yorkers are quick to adopt pride in the borough they live in.

What’s affectionately known as the five boroughs is composed of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Together they create the unique and vibrant cultural hub that is known throughout the world as New York City. Each borough has their own sense of style and flavor, not one is like the other. While each borough has their own claim to fame, Manhattan might just be the most famous.

Manhattan is the smallest of the five boroughs at roughly 23 square miles. Manhattan itself can be broken down into three or four different districts: Uptown, Downtown, Midtown and in some cases the West Side. Now there is a point of contention where exactly Uptown Manhattan and Upper Manhattan begins.

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On one end of the spectrum, the southernmost boundary of Upper Manhattan can be 59th Street. While on the other end of the spectrum, some would say the southern boundary for Upper Manhattan is 125th Street. However, between these two extremes, many people would say 96th Street is the southern boundary.

However, those definitions are what some people would consider Upper Manhattan. If you make the clear distinction between Upper and Uptown Manhattan, Uptown Manhattan is above 59th Street, while Upper Manhattan is above 96th Street.

It’s very common for people to use the phrases “going uptown” or “going downtown,” just to denote whether they are going North or South and not specifically meaning they are going to those districts.

It cannot be said for certain what the boarders of Uptown Manhattan are. However, for this particular article, I will define Uptown Manhattan as the area above 59th Street up to 96th Street. Everything above 96th Street, I will describe as being a part of Upper Manhattan.

For those who are unfamiliar with Manhattan and who don’t have a map handy, 59th Street is most southern part and the start of the famous Central Park. For those people who enjoy carefree lazy afternoon, visiting Central Park is an absolute must. Within Central Park’s 843 acres is a variety of family friendly places to visit. The Central Park Zoo is among the top thing to see. While the zoo itself isn’t a massive place, kids and parent alike will adore the penguins, polar bears, sea lions and more. It’s also connected to the children’s zoo that has a duck pond and petting zoo.

Strawberry Fields, Sheep Meadow, the Pond, Friedsam Carousel and a variety of different statues and fountains can be found in Central Park. You could spend days in Central Park and still not have seen everything it has to offer.

Just by Central Park, there are some of the world’s best museums like the Guggenheim, the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each of those museums are world class and have enough culture to keep one occupied for days. If you’re not entirely into art, it’s best to check what their current exhibits are to see if you’re interested before going.

The famous Lincoln Center, home to the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera is another notable attraction for many people. They often have outdoor performances, which can be quite spectacular. Even if you aren’t interested in the events going on there, the building itself can be a wonderful photo opportunity.

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When it comes to food, New York City as a whole is home to a variety of tastes and prices. There are plenty of street foods, budget food and high end dining experiences. Of course, there are also the same variety of bars and cafes that cater to all budgets.

The Time Warner Center is one of the iconic locations to visit, however, it can also be one of the most expensive. It houses many specialty and high end stores like Coach and Armani Exchange. The Time Warner Center also has a dining experience to match the shopping, with high end dining like Masa and Per Se.

The beauty of New York is that, while fine dining experiences exist, there are plenty of low to mid-range restaurants, where some of the best and most authentic food experiences can be had. Kefi and Pio Pio are only but two examples of the incredible restaurants you can find.

While it’s a nice idea to have a few different places you’d like to visit in Uptown Manhattan, you need to be open to more exploratory experience. There are plenty of hidden gems throughout Uptown Manhattan, just waiting to be discovered by those willing to take the road less travelled.