Re-Visiting New York City (With The RV)
If you’d told me 8 years ago that we’d be driving a 40-foot beast into New York City I’d have laughed at you. I would have laughed even harder if you’d told me just 2 years back that we’d be happy to pay ~$100/night to stay in what is essentially a big parking lot. But guess what? We did it not just once but twice, coming back again for the Big City that never sleeps, because darn it…it’s New York City!
Where else can you stay in your RV just ~10 mins from one of the most iconic cities in the world?
Despite the basic sites and crazy $$$ at Liberty Harbor RV Park we love this place for its quiet setting by the marina and the quick ferry over the water to downtown NYC. This is true city living right on the waterfront for a fraction of true city prices. Plus it’s got all of the three most important things going for it -> location, location, location! You get me?
Arriving Like Old Pro’s
Given this was our second time here, we arrived like old pros.
Of course we avoided driving “the beast” through downtown NYC (as you should too ‘coz the tunnels won’t take you!), but the drive over George Washington Bridge which we knew was FREE going into Jersey City (it’s ~$68-$84 for our RV+tow going the other direction into NYC*) and the long way around on I-95 got us into the RV Park with minimal fuss. Plus we planned all this for a Sunday thus avoiding the crazy commuter traffic that grid-locks the city during the week.
At the RV park we’d booked one of the slightly larger (slightly being absolutely literal in this case) 50A sites which had the added bonus of being on the corner so that we could breathe a bit on that side. It was basic, but it was quiet and the lovely marina was just steps away. We were back in the Big Apple!
Much like our visit to NYC last Oct we only had a few days here so we wanted to make the most of them. We’d already seen all the most popular NYC sights last year so this time we planned to do something different and explore a few of the neighborhoods we hadn’t experienced last time. Oh and in case you’re wondering the weather was awesome! Cool, sunny, beautiful days the entire time we were here with minimal crowds (especially compared to summer when I came here with my dad). I seriously think Oct is one of the absolute BEST months to enjoy the city.
*Pro Tip -> Minimizing Tolls & Avoiding Low Clearances In the NE: I wrote an extensive post about using Toll Apps & how we avoid low clearances in the NE last year, so for the nitty gritty details I recommend giving that a read. In NYC specifically all bridges/tunnels on Jersey side have tolls going INTO the city, but are FREE going out of the city. The tolls going into NYC can be significant especially for multi-axle vehicles like RV’s, plus they go even higher during commuter hours, so it pays to use the Toll Apps & plan ahead before you drive.
Paul Goes To A Yankees Game
One of the things we’ve never done in NYC is see a Baseball Game. Earlier this fall we both went to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park with our fathers (SUCH an iconic experience!), but we’ve never seen a game in Yankee Stadium, so when we discovered the New York Yankees were going to be in town for the playoffs during our visit Paul jumped right on it.
Playoff tickets aren’t cheap though, and since it’s a long haul to the stadium in the Bronx not to mention a 4-hour game, we decided that Paul would go alone while I stayed at home with the fur kids. We often do this kind of arrangement for longer outings for the sake of the paws. Sometimes Paul goes, sometimes I go. We don’t mind it at all, and in fact it gives us some of that RV separation time that every couple needs to stay sane. Baseball is really Paul’s thing (the only reason I know anything about it is from years of game-watching osmosis) so we decided this was going to be his treat.
He got a ticket for the Monday game and headed off early afternoon the day after we arrived. An easy couple of train rides to get there plus a beer and he was settled in and ready to go! Weather was perfect and in typical NYC style he had friends in minutes. The Italian guy with his Puerto Rican girlfriend who sat next to him and chatted about living in the city, sharing tips for all the best spots to eat and dine. The old Jewish guy in front of him who’d been coming to the games for over 20 years and could tell detailed stories of just about every one ever played. And of course the extended family of Yankee fans in the stadium, ever boisterous and always a blast.
He had a fabulous evening!
Pro Tip -> Using The Subway System: Getting around NYC on the Subway system is a breeze with the right tools. We had a MetroCard from our visit last Oct which we simply re-loaded and re-used this time around. We just used one card for both of us (you can swipe it twice as you go through the turnstiles) and we relied on Google Maps (transit option) on our phones to map the best/fastest subway routes everywhere we went. I wrote about this and other methods to get around NYC last year (including which options are dog-friendly!) so if you missed it, I recommend reading that post.
Jersey City & Manhattan Views
As a photographer you often ask yourself if you’ll get tired of photographing a particular subject.
I’m a nature photographer so naturally (haha) I never tire of landscapes. Even if I’m photographing the same ocean for months on end, I see something new every time I go so it’s always inspiring and interesting to me. But I’m not a people photographer (I’ve just never enjoyed it) and I’m not really a city photographer either. There’s a certain grit to city photography that I’ve never really had, so I struggle with it and tire of it more quickly than most.
But for whatever reason Manhattan is different for me.
Maybe it’s the textures of the buildings, maybe it’s their reflections or the pleasant symmetry of their tall angles, but every time I look at it I see something new, and the the challenge to capture that is irresistible. As surprising as it is, I literally never tire of photographing the NYC skyline no matter how many times I see it. It’s quite simply captivating!
And honestly the best place I’ve found to get those views is from across the river on the Jersey side.
In the first posts that I wrote about NYC last year I gushed about how we fell in love with Jersey City, a place I barely knew anything about before we came here in an RV. Those feelings were only confirmed when I returned to the area with my father in Aug (we stayed just north that time in Hoboken) and they were re-confirmed when we came back in the RV in late Oct.
I love that Jersey City and Hoboken are places where people live rather than visit.
I love the little neighborhood joints where everyone knows each other and the local coffee shop greets your dog by name and asks you if want “the usual” when you walk in the door. I absolutely love that it’s by the water and there’s a long pedestrian/bike waterfront with beer gardens and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. And I never tire of that peaceful 10-min ferry ride over the water to downtown.
Can you tell I like it?
This time around we simply explored more of our local neighborhood. We went back to our fav dog-friendly coffee place (Legal Grounds) and discovered a few more (two coffee thumbs up for Lakawanna Coffee and Two Aprons), plus we enjoyed a delicious meal with an old Swedish work college at White Star Warren (love their beer list & inventive cocktails!).
We also got on our bikes & explored practically the entire waterfront trail from Liberty State Park to Hoboken discovering waterfront bars, awesome beer gardens and tons of folks just enjoying the NYC views with their family and paws. Last but not least we took Polly everyday to the unofficial off-leash park just down the road from the RV park (Morris Canal Park) to watch the sun warm downtown Manhattan. Such a cool experience!
Our stay here has only confirmed how much we love this area!
Pro Tip -> Rent A Citibike: If you don’t travel with bicycles and you’d like to do the waterfront ride consider renting a Citibike. You can book online or download the free Citibike App on your phone to find local availability and rent for as little or long as you’d like. The bikes are literally everywhere in NYC and SO easy to use!
I wrote about this option last year in my post about getting around NYC and I still think it’s one of the best things since sliced bread. Whether you rent on the Jersey side, the Manhattan waterfront, in Central Park or on the Brooklyn Greenway, there are SO many options to bike traffic-free in the city.
One thing we sorely missed our first trip to NYC was a visit to Brooklyn.
It’s a bustling part of the city with fabulous views, the iconic 1883 Brooklyn Bridge, the wonderful Brooklyn Greenway (a 26-mile waterfront route) and no end of eateries and cafes including the “craft beer mecca”of NYC in hip & vibrant Williamsburg.
For our visit we took 2 ferries across the water (NY waterway directly from the RV Park to Pier 11, followed by NYC Ferry (SB Route) from Pier 11 to Brooklyn) which got us into Brooklyn in an easy and very pleasant 20 mins. From here we enjoyed a leisurely walk along the pedestrian-only waterfront followed by a delicious Japanese meal with craft sake (at Kogane Ramen) just up the street from Brooklyn Bridge in the local neighborhood.
We lounged so long in the lower part of Brooklyn that we didn’t get further up to Williamsburg for craft beer tastings, so sadly I have no brewery reviews. But our first impressions of this side of the river were awesome. There are enough eateries (and breweries) to consume many weeks of exploration, not to mention the views this side of Manhattan are pretty nice too. It’s definitely peaked our interest for future visits.
Pro Tip -> Download The Ferry Apps: If you’re using the ferry system for the first time in NYC it can get a little confusing since there are several ferry companies that operate in the area, and Google Maps often doesn’t always include them as transit options when you map on there. So you kinda have to figure them out on your own. There are two ferry guys that service the Jersey Side (Liberty Landing & NY Waterway) and one that services the Brooklyn Side (NYC Ferry). Liberty Landing is old-school & takes cash or credit directly on the ferry, but for NY Waterway & NYC Ferry you’ll need to go digital & download their free Apps. This allows you to check schedules, buy tickets and activate them for use right before you get on the ferry.
A Taste Of Greenwich Village
We went to several of the more popular sightseeing neighborhoods during our last visit to NYC, but there were a bunch of inner Manhattan neighborhoods that we completely missed, and Greenwich Village (known locally simply as “The Village”) was one of them.
Located on the west side of Lower Manhattan it occupies the space between Houston St and 14th Street. In the 1950’s it was home to a vibrant artistic and literary community and in the 60’s it became the center of the NYC counter-culture movement. It still retains that bohemian vibe today. It’s an eclectic neighborhood with a mix of people and ethnicities which means (of course) that there’s a wonderfully diverse offering of food and restaurants too. Just our kinda thing!
For this outing we left Polly at home and took the Path train just up the road into Journal Square (only 2 stops to get in!) and enjoyed an evening in the borough. We had an lovely Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza at Kestè Pizza & Vino followed by a delectable ice cream at Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream.
It was so nice to explore one of the residential areas of Manhattan and gave us an inside view to a completely different side of NYC. The Village is not on the regular tourist route which makes it all the more interesting to visit. Great little area to just walk around, people watch and enjoy some good eats. We could totally live here 🙂
Walking The Manhattan Waterfront with Polly
For our last outing in NYC we decided to take a simple stroll with Polly along the Manhattan waterfront.
This was another thing we didn’t manage last year so we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss it this time around. After all, Miss Polly couldn’t well come this close to New York and not experience a proper doggie walk downtown, right?
For our trip we went back to our favorite ferry route, the Liberty Landing Ferry that departs just ~5 mins walk from the RV park and goes right into lower Manhattan. We love the ride, especially for the views you get coming into downtown, but what makes it even better is that this particular ferry is 100% dog-friendly and your paws gets to travel with you for FREE. TOTALLY worth the $14 round trip to get into town IMO.
We took it over on a cool AM and enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the waterfront with Polly. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway trail (download PDF map HERE) is a continuous 32-mile path around Manhattan with wonderfully large pedestrian-only sections where humans & doggies can enjoy the waterfront with zero traffic. Plus there’s plenty of coffee stops and restaurants along the way. We’ve done parts of it with Citibike before, but this was the first time we walked it with Polly. Such a peaceful and wonderful way to enjoy downtown!
A quick and packed city visit, but we managed a lot don’t you think? From here we headed dead south on our path back to Miami. We hit another big city and finally caught up to some real fall colors in a place that we never expected to find them. All that coming next…
Useful External Links:
- Manhattan Greenway Trail -> Read about it HERE and download detailed PDF map HERE
- Brooklyn Greenway -> Read about it HERE and HERE
- New Jersey Waterfront -> Read about it HERE and download detailed PDF brochure & map HERE
- Citibike -> Link to webpage HERE and popular bike rides around NYC HERE
- NY Ferries -> Link to Liberty Landing Ferry HERE, NY Waterway Ferry HERE and NYC Ferry HERE
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