General Question

trumi's avatar

Advice for a trip to NYC and DC?

Asked by trumi (6486points) July 14th, 2010

I’m planning a trip with two buddies to go to New York City and DC for around a week, give or take, towards the end of August. We’re driving from Ohio to DC to stay with my uncle for a few days, and then want to go to NYC from there, so I’ve got some questions:

1. Is there a cheap way to drive to NYC, park somewhere, and then ride a train to the subway? We were thinking about taking the DC to NYC bus which would be 27.50 per person per trip, for a grand total of $165. We’re planning on getting daily unlimited Metro cards ($8.50 per day)... So would parking somewhere near NYC and training in be cheaper?

2. In NYC we are planning on staying in a hostel. I’ve heard that the HI New York Hostel is a good one to stay in, but what about the Chelsea Hostel? Any experience staying in NYC on the cheap? One of my buddies is also really into couch surfing, but for 3 18 year old guys I figure hosteling will be less complicated… Unless one of my fellow awesome flutherites would like to host us for a few days (we’d sleep on couches/floors and would pay).

3. We like food, but we’re willing to eat on the cheap to save money. Any guesses as to how much it would be to eat per day in each city?

4. Most importantly, we’re looking for fun things to do – shows (indie rock, diy punk, bars), museums (love met and moma, what else is worth seeing?), and anything else fun/cheap. Our combined interests include art, music, film, photography, biking, and so on. What should we do?

Or if there is anything else I haven’t thought of that you’d have advice on… Let me know!


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14 Answers

bob_'s avatar

I’ve stayed here. Nice place, reasonable prices, great location.

How much is cheap when it comes to eating? There are options for any budget, so tell us your ideal budget and we can give you an idea of what you can get.

Fly's avatar

The Newseum in DC is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to, and would highly recommend it. However, it does have an admission fee, so you may want to pass depending on how tight money is. The Smithsonian museums in DC are also pretty cool, and free besides tickets for IMAX movies or special exhibits (my favorite is the Museum of Natural History). I haven’t gotten a chance to go to the International Spy Museum in DC yet, but I hear great things.

trumi's avatar

We’re totally flexible on food – ideally somewhere between $10 and $20 per person per day. We could go higher, but you know… Bagel/bagel sandwich for breakfast, sandwich/pizza for lunch, cafe/less expensive restaurant for dinner…

The Wanderers Inn has a great location! What were the rates like for you? Site says $27, is that per person per night?

bob_'s avatar

There are countless foodstands and cheap cafes (as well as fast-food joints). $20 a day should be enough.

I don’t remember how much it cost me to stay there (it was 2005), but $27 per person per night is a steal. I believe they have some private rooms, you should check it out if you’re interested.

GeorgeGee's avatar

You might want to consider driving only to State College, then taking the Megabus to NYC and from there to Washington DC. ( Parking in State College is cheap to free and safe, whereas it’s very expensive to take a car into NYC and DC, with parking often $50 per night or so, and $10+ in bridge tolls. Ordered well in advance, tickets will be in the $3 to $20 range depending on what time you travel. I’d recommend The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, Chinatown, Times Square, in NYC, the Spy Museum, Smithsonian, and National Zoo in Washington.

Jonathan_hodgkins's avatar

I concur with @GeorgeGee regarding megabus. Tickets for the end of August are currently as low as $3! Can’t really beat that. In D.C, I’d highly recommend the international Spy Musuem, any of the Smithsonians (Udvar Hazy Center of the Air & Space Museum is located on the beltway and is incredible! It is home to many actual planes including a blackbird, space shuttle and the Enola Gay) and Arlington Cemetery. For cheap eats, Ben’s Chili Bowl is a famous local dive and worth stopping by.

In NYC stuff to do includes: MoMA, Met, Guggenheim, Cooper-Hewitt design Museum, Empire State Building, Strand book store, Staten Island Ferries are free and a stroll in Central Park.
Have fun!

marinelife's avatar

I like GeorgeGee’s idea of parking in a town in PA and taking the bus up to NYC. Because I can’t think of anywhere cheap to park in Washington, DC. Plus your car might not be there when you got back.

Also in DC is the Library of Congress, which has Jefferson’s Library and a Gutenberg Bible and is in a fantastic building, the National Archives. Pick up the Washington Post while you are here (or check online in advance in the Weekend section). There are lists of free things to do. There are always festivals and events going on. Here is Washingtonian Magazine’s article called “Dirt Cheap Eats.”

Aster's avatar

In NYC do not miss St Patrick’s Cathedral or Central Park. In DC, go to the Smithsonian and see The Spirit of St Louis. We parked directly in front of one of the museums while Everyone else drove to a distant parking lot. We got a ticket and he “filed it.”

trumi's avatar

Thanks everyone! As to the dc parking, I could park at my uncles and bus from there. But the $3 bus sounds much cooler!

kapuerajam's avatar

You should just walk around in their Chinatowns

JLeslie's avatar

In DC check the newspaper to see what events might be going on downtown. The Metro there (subway) is very good.
– Air and Space Museum (see Too Fly at the IMAX there)
– Jefferson Memorial
– If you are interested in the white house you need advance tickets check on line
– Capital building
– Holocaust Museum

In NY, check the paper or web for events. Many times there are free concerts in the park in the summer.
– Central Park
– Metropolitan Museum of Art (the suggestd fee is $20, but you can give whatever you want, even just a $1 each).
– Musem of Modern Art, I think there is a free night, chec on the web if you are interested in thsi museum.
– Bloomingdale’s if you want to shop (if you have good choppin where you live don’t bother, but there is no tax on garments under $110 or maybe it is $150, I don’t remember)
– Planatarium at Musuem of Natural Histry is relatively new and interesting, but it is expensive I think. I think the planetarium has a mandatory entrance fee, but the museum of natural history is a suggested fee.
– Walk around Soho, Little Italy, Chinatown
– If you are guten free or a health type person Babycakes brownies are not to be missed.
– Grand Central, you see it in the movies all of the time :). It’s historic. There is an annex to the transportation museum, or subway museum, not sure what it is called. If you are interested I will find a link for you. Interesting to read about the subway system which is over 100 years old, how they dug the holes, that NY was the first city to have a subway that had an express line, and lots of souvenirs to buy.

llewis's avatar

Smithsonian! The coolest museums I’ve ever seen! I could spend a week there without any trouble at all!

Eat lunch at the cafeteria in the Dept of Agriculture building – good prices, good food. Another good place for dinner is Damon’s.

Have fun!

JLeslie's avatar

Nationl Postal Museum also in DC.

trumi's avatar

Thanks again for all the great ideas! Keep ‘em coming :)

I’ve done a little more research into hostels, and it seems that the best options are the Hostel International at 891 Amsterdam Av at West 103rd, the Jazz on the Park Hostel at 36 West 106th Street, and the Jazz on the Town Hostel at 307 East 14th Street (the last two are the same company with 5 locations in the area, these two seemed the most highly recommended.)

Has anybody stayed in the HI New York or a Jazz Hostel? I would love to hear any personal experience you or someone you know has had with them.

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