Ever wondered if a single day would be enough to visit NYC from Washington, D.C.? Sure, it’s about a 4.5 hour drive… but if you woke up early and left by 9, would it be worth it? Is it even doable? Well… it is! And we’re proof! Last week we decided on a Sunday that we wanted to make a birthday trip up to NYC but couldn’t spend the money (or didn’t have the time) to stay overnight in the city. It was going to have to be a one day deal and we were up for the challenge. After a little bit of googling, I learned that you can actually park at Staten Island for $8 (avoiding ALL city traffic) and take the ferry across the bay for FREE. It runs every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day… and it’s a pleasant ride! I was really quite excited to be driving ourselves in the comfort of our own car rather than taking a run-down Megabus that may or may not have had a gross smell the entire ride. Not to mention those bus tickets would have been $40 each when we paid $50 in tolls to and from New York and one tank of gas ($40). So far the driving was looking pretty ideal!
We left my house in Woodbridge, Virginia (actually south of DC!) at 6am, made a quick stop at Starbucks before hitting the road and one rest stop to use the restroom in upper Maryland before arriving on Staten Island around 11am. Now, the municipal parking advertised on on the ferry website actually have very few spaces at the ferry station. They were definitely ALL filled up by the time we pulled up late morning, but we found parking that closed at 10pm in a garage up the street (St. George’s) and made the 11:30 ferry to Manhattan. Pulling up to the city on the ferry offers 1) an awesome view of the financial district and 2) an awesome view of the Statue of Liberty. It’s also clean and has a concessions stand, so that’s a bonus. I definitely ate some potato chips to tide my empty stomach over until we reached our pizza destination for lunch. So, here’s what our one single day in New York looked like. It was so totally worth the $90 and 8 hours of driving. Here’s where we hit:
Pizza Suprema, Penn Station
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
+ another cathedral we stumbled into
Pod’s Rooftop Bar
A pub in the Financial District
And of course, the Staten Island ferry. :) Special thanks to Meredith Sledge for the photos of me!
Our view as we pulled up to the city…
We hopped on the Subway (1, red line) and made it to Penn Station in about 15 minutes with no transfers required. Pizza Suprema is hands down my favorite pizza on the East Coast and quite possibly in the world… and I just had pizza in Italy this past winter. :) It’s actually pretty comparable with its sweet tomato sauce and thin crust that is crispy on the bottom yet just doughy enough for the toppings to sit on and melt into. 10 out of 10 recommend.
We then decided to walk to Times Square. We ended up walking over 13 miles throughout the day and saw a lot on foot along the way to each destination. For someone looking to see less of the entire city and more major locations all across Manhattan, the subway would be a better option! But for us, walking on foot means more photo opportunities and more people watching.
I love how you can tell Times Square is approaching from a few blocks away! Everything begins to sparkle…
We decided we wanted to explore movie-famous hotels so we spent a solid 2 hours bouncing around between three of them. It was also a great way to sit in air conditioning and be served ice water like you’re celebrities. Lol.
There were a few churches along the way that we wandered into, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral! (Note: the picture on the right is from a different cathedral).
Then, because we had walked the blocks north from Times Square to Central Park, we decided to explore there for a bit! I’d never seen Central Park with leaves on the trees (we always do NYC in the winter), so I really enjoyed wandering around the park. I couldn’t believe the expanse of it.
We definitely wanted to see these famous archways that so many of our photographer friends have shot at, so they were a must!
It was about 5:00 by the time we were done at Central Park, so we decided to find a rootftop bar and have some celebratory happy hour drinks to commemorate my 22nd birthday that was only a few hours away. Okay, well, I’m the only one who had a drink… but anyway…
Pod was so, so cool. I felt for a moment like an actual New Yorker who was let in on a grand secret.
Then, we headed to dinner in the Financial District so we could be closeby to catch the 9:30 ferry back to Staten Island. It was really windy! :)
The view leaving the city was even more stunning…
All in all, I’m so glad we did this trip and I’d honestly do it again! It’s ideal to be able to stay the night, but if I only have $100 and just want to get up their on a spontaneous whim… I’m no longer afraid of driving myself up this way! Staten Island is totally the way to go. Thanks, Staten Island ferry…! :) So long, New York!! Until next time…