5 Nights in New York City With Dad (RV-Less)
PRE-POST NOTE/ THANK YOU everyone for your heartfelt and moving comments on my last post! Although I didn’t reply individually as I usually do, we read each & every comment multiple times and I can’t tell you how much they all meant to us. The outpouring of grief and thoughts was incredible (incredible!), and has helped us along in our own journey of healing. We all share so much in this life, despite distance or any differences we might have and that’s a truly heart-warming thought. Also, for those who are (understandably) worried about our expression of change, fear not. We know healing takes time and we won’t be making any rash decisions. We’ll drive back West and let the course of things play out before we decide on our next steps. We will definitely take our time! In the meantime I hope you’ll bear with me as I work to catch up on the blog. I’m a few weeks behind so I’ll start by taking you back to a sweltering week in mid-Aug in New York City…
When we planned our trip to Europe for my sisters wedding in early Aug, one of the things we decided to tack on was bringing my father back with us to see New York City and then dragging him along for a while in the RV as we traveled to Maine.
Spending more time with dad is something that I’ve wanted to incorporate into our travels for a while. Family time has become ever more precious to us (especially after the past 2 years of events) and since we’re lucky enough to work online and live a mobile lifestyle there’s no reason we can’t do more of it. And my sisters wedding presented the perfect occasion to put this into practice!
We were all going to be together in the UK anyway, so it was simply a case of traveling back on the same flights and stopping off in the big Apple along the way. As a bonus Paul and I had been in NYC with “the beast” last fall so I had a pretty decent feel for the city, including how to get around and what to see. It was going to be the perfect father/daughter adventure.
Missed by 4-part NYC series last year? Here it is….
- New York City – First Impressions
- New York City – Getting Around (With Dogs Too)
- New York City – Sightseeing
- RV Park Review – Liberty Harbor RV Park, NJ (NYC)
This Time NYC Would Be Different
But this time things were going to be different! The two big changes were that my dad and I would be staying in a hotel instead of an RV, plus we would be going in summer instead of fall.
The first meant figuring out some $$$$ (and I’m talking way more than the “measly” $90/night we paid to stay at Liberty Harbor RV park last year) while the second meant that instead of the nice, pleasant, cool fall weather we’d be seeing heat. And by that I mean full on, full blast NYC summer heat!
I’d been warned by those who know that NYC is a different beast in summer, and after spending 5 nights in Aug there I can definitely attest this to be true.
The summer brings 90-degrees of withering heat & humidity, amplified by the convection oven of high-rise buildings, car exhausts, noise and the incredible mass of people and tourists that invade the NYC center during the high season. It’s a stifling kind of heat that you can only handle it for so long, after which you have to find escapes like a small cafe to hide away from the crowds (preferably with a head-sized glass of ice water), or the blissful air conditioning of a department store to freeze off the buckets of sweat dripping down your back. Instead of seeing the city in a day you see it in pieces, spurts of street craziness intermixed with periods of timed relief.
Yeah NYC is summer is definitely not the same as NYC in fall!
But the big city is no less alluring despite the heat, especially if you plan your stay to get some relief in between all the madness. And part of that means choosing the right location to call home….
So, Where Would We Stay?
One of the first things I decided while planning this trip was that we wouldn’t stay in NYC proper, but would instead hop across the water to stay somewhere near Jersey City. We fell in love with this area when we stayed there in the RV last year and it’s the first place I thought of for my return.
First of all I wanted a view of the city, which you can only get if you’re outside of downtown and across the water, either by Brooklyn or Jersey City. In my opinion the Manhattan skyline view is one of the biggest draws of being in the city and something you simply cant miss when you’re here. There’s nothing more iconic than seeing the sunset over the towering high rises of the Big Apple and if you have the chance to enjoy it everyday it’s even better. It’s one of the things I loved most about staying at Liberty Harbor last year, and I wanted to give my dad the same experience for his stay.
Secondly I really wanted OUT of the downtown craziness, yet in a location that was close enough to make it easily accessible. Yet again the Jersey City area is the perfect choice for this. None of the tourists go there so it’s blissfully relaxed after a day in the city. It’s where real people live, with real local eateries and the kinds of places you can walk into everyday and say “the usual please”. And it’s only a 10-min water ferry ride from downtown! So, at the end of a day of noise, and heat, and sweat you can take a peaceful & breezy 10-min ride across the water into a quiet neighborhood.
“Ahhhhhh” is really the only response to that.
Five Nights In A Hotel For $75?
My other goal was to do stay for free, or as close to free as possible. Crazy right?
New York City is not a cheap place to visit in any sense of the word. Hotels typically cost $250/Night and up, and even go-to regulars like AirBnB aren’t savers. First of all AirBnB has been heavily regulated in NYC (it’s illegal to advertise certain types of place) and the AirBnB’s that are legal, aren’t exactly cheap either. Whichever way you look at it, $$$$ are part of the deal.
So how was I going to pull off getting a hotel on the cheap?
Well I’ve been dabbling in the credit card points game for a while now. Around four years ago I started looking at how to maximize rewards points on our day-to-day spend. No extra spending and no crazy stuff. Just trying to get the most return out of what we already use.
Partly it was for family. We were doing around 6 flights per year to see family (or have them come out to see us) and I wanted to cut down on those costs. Partly it was just for the fun of it. I love to bargain hunt and find the best deals on everything.
So, I took an online course, started reading a few blogs** and once I got the hang of it we were golden. We’ve racked up hundreds of thousands of air miles simply by spending what we typically spend, and we literally haven’t had to pay for a flight since.
But hotel points were new for me.
So I went back to the drawing board, read up a bit more on the various miles/points blogs and started watching for deals. Around five months ago it hit. SPG (Starwood Preferred Group -> My referral link HERE) was offering a 35,000 point signup bonus, their highest offer ever. Plus the card came with the benefit of a 5th night free (stay for 4 nights, get your 5th free). So if I could find four nights in a hotel for those points we’d be able to spend 5 nights in NYC on points alone!
The Sheraton Lincoln Harbor met all my requirements. It was the perfect location in Hoboken (just a hop north of Jersey City), right on the water next to the water ferry (NY Waterway) and bookable for the points I had on hand. The only extra I opted to pay for was a $15/night upgrade to a “city view” room (well worth it!) bringing our total hotel charges to the princely sum of $75. And our savings? We would have paid ~$1,200 if I’d booked the hotel outright for the dates we needed. I scored a decent deal, don’t you think? 🙂
**NOTE/ If you’re interested in learning more about maximizing reward points I recommend reading The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets, Frequent Miler, Doctor Of Credit and taking the free online Travel Miles 101 Course. They all helped me tremendously.
20 Miles Of Walking In 3 Days
New York City is the perfect walking city. Everything is organized in neatly aligned blocks with lots of stuff to see just about everywhere you go.
But it’s SO DARN BIG! You go in for a quick stroll and before you know it you’ve ended up hiking 5 miles. Even just going to a museum racks up thousands of steps and if you want to see more than one part of town in one day….fuggedaboutit!
My dad is a young and spry 75-year old, but I honestly wasn’t sure he could handle the kind of miles that NYC requires. So I planned to use the water ferry to get into town followed by plenty of Uber/Lyft rides (SO easy to use in NYC) to get between places downtown. But guess what? He hiked around like a young Sir Edmund Hilary scaling Mount Everest. We used our fair share of Lyft rides alright, but we saw the vast majority by foot, resting only to cool down (a requirement in the crazy heat) or snag the occasional cold brew for on-going sustenance.
In the first 3 days alone we racked up 20 miles of walking, and we literally didn’t stop until we got in the rental car to drive to Cooperstown to join “the beast”. Total respect…totally!
And We Saw It All…..Almost!
What Paul and I completed in a week of sightseeing last year, my dad and I squeezed into 4 days plus we added a few extra sights to the list.
We started with the 9/11 memorial & museum, spent a day at Ellis Island & The Statue Of Liberty, saw Central Park (which Paul and I missed last year), visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral (another one we missed last year…wow!), walked through Wall Street, hiked The Highline and stood on the Brooklyn Bridge. On our last day we even took the rental car down to see the same two lighthouses (Sandy Hook & Navesink Twin Lights) that Paul and I had visited last year around an hour south of the city.
It was a packed, packed few days with literally non-stop sightseeing from 8AM through to the evening every single day. Not a moment was missed. And when our sightseeing was done we loved coming “home” to the relaxing atmosphere on the Jersey side. It was like a breath of fresh air after a long hot day, and by the end of it all we felt like semi-locals.
We found ourselves a fabulous breakfast place with the BEST omelettes (The Little Grocery) and the most charming Egyptian host you’ll ever meet. We loved it so much we ended up eating there every morning! We also dined at several local spots that were outstanding (highly recommend Ali Baba for Mediterranean, and Hi So Thai for Thai food) , found a superb Bagel Place (O Bagel) and discovered an awesome wine shop (Cork Wine and Spirits) which provided sustenance for our nightly sunset view of the NYC skyline from the comfort of our hotel room. All these were only ~5-10 min walks from our hotel and there were no tourists at any of them!
The stay was most definitely different from our RV stay last year, but no less enchanting. We had a lot more heat, and a lot more crowds but all that same NYC magic all over again. And the best part of all? My dad and I made some memories that we’ll BOTH treasure ever more, and that my dear blog readers was priceless 🙂SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Debbie L says
How awesome is this??? We took our daughter for a 3-day trip to NYC after 9/11, when Rudy Guiana said if you want to help NY, come visit! So we dropped a bundle – well worth it. But now that life is more or less settle back down, we need to return and use our points! We do the same, but we have two credit cards, one earns us the air miles and the other earns hotel miles – for those emergencies when our RV won’t work. Friends introduced us to this a decade or two ago. I’ve tried to get our daughter and her hubby to do it. They had a credit card problem in years past. They now only owe on their house and one car. I’ll try to get them to read this blog on how to see NY on the cheap! Love your idea of being in NJ!
Thanks for another great and informative post. SO glad to see your dad enjoying life!
I definitely think that maximizing rewards points is something everyone can do. Some folks go pretty crazy on it, but I’ve taken a fairly straight-forward approach and just look to earn points on our regular spend. We do have around 10 credit cards now though!
And yeah, I def recommend the Jersey side if you ever do go back. There are several hotels along the Jersey Waterfront starting with a very nice Hyatt all the way south (very near where we stayed in the RV Park) to the Sheraton that we stayed at in Hoboken. So, depending on which points you have I’m sure you could find a good option! It’s so nice to have a view of the city at night (and again in the AM when you wake up) and the water ferry to get across is so very easy and pleasant to use. Plus there’s PATH and other options to get across too.
Carolyn Burelbach says
Your pictures are fabulous! Thank you for all the great information you provide. Love, love this blog! I am so glad you had such a wonderful time with your dad in the Big Apple. You certainly deserve it.
Glad you enjoyed the post!
Great post Nina. I was exhausted just reading about your time in NY but you certainly did what you set out to! Those credit card spread sheets really paid off!
Every now and then it pays to be a bit OCD 🙂 Very happy with how it all worked out for my dad and I.
Pat Hall says
I’m in awe..(.as usual) we’ll be n NYC next weekend but our hotel was much more exspensive.
Enjoy your stay! I think temps have dropped nicely this past week so hopefully you won’t have to endure the sweltering heat we did. NYC is soooooo nice in the fall!
I can tell, I need to take that cc course…
It’s def worth it I think! I’m a member of their Facebook group too (you get to become a member after you’ve taken the course) and really learn a lot from that too.
What a special time! I wish I could talk to my dad just one more time–cherish these days you have with him! And good for him doing all that walking with you! I would love to do NYC but the Cowboy isn’t going there–he’s been once (not with me) and isn’t going again. I’m going to check into your frequent flyer cards and education–we just have two “money back” cards with no annual fees–our Costco Visa and our Amazon Visa (do you guys not use it any more?). When I traveled for a living I had a Delta AE and racked up miles like crazy–maybe it’s time to do it again.
I still have our Amazon Visa as our default card on Amazon purchases. But for gas, travel, groceries and campgrounds we’ve got a slew of Chase cards (earn UR points) and Amex cards (MR points) that I now prefer. They’re flexible points that can transfer to various airlines and hotels. My goal these days is to earn at least 1.5x (up to 5x) on every purchase we make. It’s a fun game.
Anne S says
What a great story! Despite growing up in western NY, I have only been to NYC to change planes or trains. The idea of navigating the place makes me want to stay home. So I was delighted to hear about your New Jersey strategy. How clever! Glad you and your dad got some together time.
NYC is definitely a bit overwhelming when you first go there, especially all the crazy ways to get around. But once you have a few routes nailed down it’s super easy. It really is a fascinating city to explore.
Nice of you to explain how you did that great NYC visit with your father. He sure put on some miles and you both had fun. Great Post.
I was super impressed how many miles he was able to walk. I was exhausted, and I’m many years younger!
You’re making me pine for the day when I can explore NYC again! So glad to hear you had a wonderful time with your dad.
Bobbie A says
Thanks for sharing your memorable time with your Dad. What a neat Dad !!!!
Your time together was heartwarming for both of you.
How smart to stay away from the craziness and escalated prices. Your special finds in that area truly complimented the NYC experience. My husband and I went to a family wedding in Brooklyn prior to 9/11, cannot believe it’s been that long ago actually. We stayed in a hotel near Brooklyn bridge. It was neat to explore the surrounding neighborhood, little grocery stores where the neighborhood shopped, seeing young mothers or nannies strolling the babies, etc . We would walk across Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, retreating to our neighborhood in the afternoon. Plus, the views from across the Hudson River are the best.
Thanks so much. for the links for points strategies. I have heard of people using cards to their advantage as you do, but had not investigated the technique.
Lastly, I didn’t express my sympathy for your tremendous loss after that post. Time will help with the rawness, but nothing will fill the hole in your heart. Please don’t make major decisions now regarding lifestyle changes, etc. for a while. A loss definitely changes one’s perspective on life, prompting reevaluation of what’s really important in the end. We must cherish each moment in life as if it’s our last.
Thanks for your terrific blog.
I think next time I go back I’d love to stay at and explore the Brooklyn side. That’s the one area of the city we didn’t really get to see and would really would like to get to know. Plus I know I’d love those views and that walk across the bridge to downtown. Cheers for sharing your memories of the area!
I would also suggest to you for the next time, is to explore Queens and Long Island City…..
Yup, two more areas we have not explored at all. There’s so much more for us to see!
Allison Mohr says
I love this post! Thanks for putting the idea of staying in New Jersey out there. I don’t think it would have occurred to me. The ferry provides a beautiful view of the city.
Honestly I would prob never have thought of the Jersey side either if that hadn’t been where the RV park was (Liberty Harbor) that we stayed at last year. We really fell in love with the area during that stay and would likely never have discovered it otherwise. If we ever decide to move to the city, I actually think that’s where we’d live. So much more peaceful than NYC proper, and I love the waterfront path and views there too.
Barb Dewell says
So, so cool! A trip to remember, for sure. And even I’M proud of your dad – he must be in amazing shape. A huge “atta-boy” to him! If I ever get back to NY, I’ll bring up this post and re-read it. I was there once, but didn’t see any of what you saw. and I know someone who took their family – 5 people total – to NY for a week recently and spent $15,000. And they used their airline miles! You’re a rock star! 🙂
Yikes!! That’s a lot of $$$$$. There’s no doubt NYC is expensive, but I do think it’s possible to do it reasonably, especially if you play around with points (for hotel) like we did. And yes, dad is in AWESOME shape. I hope to be that active when I’m his age.
Currently at the Liberty Harbor RV park… everything you have said… it’s a wonderful location… the lite rail up the block to the path train at the World Trade Center and you are on your way… There is a caravan of RVs traveling as a group, looked it up on line… 10 days just under $6000 for 2 people and the rv… yes they are going to 2 shows and so many other activities… from one bus to another… My sister and I are traveling together, we’ve been to the BIg Apple twice in the last 5 years staying at timeshares and it worked, this trip we are doing the odd things we haven’t done in the past, food trucks, walked the Brooklyn bridge, just fun things… and really just enjoying the city. Thanks for your blog you are a great help.
SO glad you’re enjoying the area, and the weather is probably just about perfect now? We do love that RV park, just for location alone. We had such a blast there last year.
Have to admit I’m not really a fan of RV caravans. I know folks who LOVE them, but I just wouldn’t personally want to be tied to a group time-table plus it’s a lot cheaper to just do everything on your own. $6,000 seems like a crazy amount for 10 days, but maybe there are extras that make it worth it? Not really for us, I think…
Jodee Gravel says
What a great deal for your hotel for a priceless visit with your dad. I can’t imagine all that walking in the humidity, you guys are real troopers! Stunning pics of the skyline. We may make it there some day 🙂
It was definitely hot & humid going while we were there. We took many breaks for water and cold brews to cool down and dry off. I still love the city, but I’d try to explore it again in the fall next time.
So much fun! Love your advice too. We dream of visiting NYC in the future. I hope I can remember this blog post and follow your tips! Beautiful travels and great memories.
Gary M. Curtis says
Nina, I have been reading your posts for some time now. I enjoy your photography and text. I have been thinking of texting you before because of our shared Danish ancestry. My Great Grandfather (on my Mother’s side) came to the US when he was 16 to join his brother who had immigrated earlier. My Great Grandfather (Johannes Fredrick Boyson [Boisen], was born in Rafsomark, Semmersted, Denmark. His father (Johannes Friederich Boisen) was born in Hvinderup, Tyrstrup, Denmark, as was his father Jens Friederich Boisen. I’ve been doing some limited research on Ancestry.com but haven’t progressed into Danish records. What was the tipping point to text you was when you mentioned that you were going to Cooperstown to meet up with the “Beast”. I grew up in Cooperstown and my Mother lived there until her passing in 2014, at 91. I’m sorry for the grief you guys are feeling. My wife and I have a diesel pusher but we aren’t full timing. Enjoy your travels.
Ralph E. says
I always scheduled 4 – 3 (as it was mostly 4) things per day that were relatively close to one another to do when in NYC. I always dropped off the family near the first attraction and then parked at a parking garage near the last location. I walked to get back to the first attraction. The $10,000 for 10 days sounds like a rip off as my wife, younger daughter, and I flew to Hawaii for 11 days and cost $5,000.
Beautiful. Love this post. Sharing with your father.
Peter Scarnati says
Hate to point out a spelling miscue, but as a native New Yorker, I just have to. Here it is:
Noted….and I will update the post. This is important stuff to get right 🙂