July 21, 2010

From the Airport to the Big City

You're in New York. You have arrived! (Both literally and figuratively). But since there's no room on the island for an airport you need to get to the city. How? Well buckle up, my friend, and I'll tell ya. But first, the basics:

1) There are 3 major airports: JFK (in Queens), La Guardia (in Queens) and Newark (in New Jersey)
2) JFK is enormous, like a small city. It's the main hub for Jet Blue, and is also a major international gateway hub for Delta and American. La Guardia is much smaller, closest to the city and a hub for American Eagle. Newark is in between, size-wise, and the second largest hub for United Airlines.
3) When approaching La Guardia you may feel as though you're going to land in the water. Don't freak out, there's a runway there.
4) It's not common practice to meet guests at the airport because most of us don't have cars.

With 4) said, here's how you do it:
• Cab: There are cab stands outside the baggage area of all 3 airports. Follow the signs for "ground transportation" and you'll see people and cabs lined up.
JFK to Manhattan: flat fare of $45, plus bridge/tunnel tolls. (time: one hour)
La Guardia to Manhattan: no set fare, the metered rates apply, plus tolls. (time: 45 minutes)
Newark to Manhattan: no set fare, metered rates apply, plus a $15 surcharge - plus tolls going and returning. (time: 45 minutes)

• Car service: Schedule a pick-up when you arrive or do it online prior. Or you can take your chance that the black Lincoln Town Car is indeed a car service and not just a guy trying to make a buck on his own with no car insurance.

• Train: This is how many New Yorkers do it if our luggage isn't too heavy and it's not too late.
From JFK: take the AirTrain from the airport to the A train (subway). The A takes you directly into the city (time: one hour).
From LaGuardia: no train/subway from here, but you can take a bus (see information below).
From Newark: take the AirTrain to NJ Transit (Newark International Airport stop). You'll need to purchase a ticket for the NJ train going to NEW YORK Penn Station (not Newark Penn Station, which the train will stop at first). When you arrive at Penn Station you'll have the option of the 1/2/3 and A/C/E subway lines. (time: 45 minutes)

• Bus: From JFK and La Guardia the bus will drop you off at Grand Central Station (midtown east) or Port Authority (midtown west). From Newark, the bus will drop you off at Port Authority only. (JFK time: 1 hour 20 minutes, the other 2, about an hour)

All times listed above are approximate, but if you're doing the reverse and leaving New York make sure and give yourself an extra hour. Besides massive traffic, you never know when you'll encounter construction, accidents or train problems. Then you'll miss your plane and have to stay longer. But...that wouldn't be so bad now, would it?

July 12, 2010

NY Museums

The Met. The MoMA. The Frick. (plus about 200 others). NY abounds with museums and choosing which one(s) to visit can be overwhelming for those trying to fit in as much NY culture as possible in a short visit. To help, I've compiled a list of the most popular, i.e., most visited. And while these museums are fantastic and definitely worth a visit, I encourage those interested in a more "local" experience to take a peek at some of the smaller, lesser known alternatives. There's the Morgan Library, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, The Cloisters and so many more. However, one of my favorite museums is the city itself. Walk outside, admire the details of the incredible architecture given to us by various cultures during various time periods. And bonus: it's always free.

Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
1000 5th Ave (at 82nd St)
**admission is "suggested" (for those on a budget)
Lowdown: Massive collection of art from all over the world and from just about every time period. Don't try to do it all in one day, pick and chose sections and enjoy. Weather permitting, don't miss the roof exhibits (see above photo), along with incredible views of Central Park and the city.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (The Guggenheim)
1071 5th Ave (at 89th St)
**pay what you wish: Saturdays, 5:45 to 7:45 pm
Lowdown: A Frank Lloyd Wright building that houses contemporary and modern art in the form of photography, painting, video and sculpture. Also, Monet, Picasso, van Gogh and Gaugin are among those in the permanent collection, on view in a dedicated gallery.

Museum of Modern Art (The MoMA)

11 W. 53rd St (near 5th Ave)
**Target free Fridays: free every Friday, 4pm-8pm
Lowdown: Modern Art, and lots of it. After a $425 million renovation, completed in 2004, the space is simply stunning. Enjoy live music in the Sculpture Garden, July and August, Thursdays, 5:30pm-7:30pm.

Whitney Museum of American Art (The Whitney)

99 Gansevoort Street (between Washington Street and 10th Avenue)
Lowdown: 20th Century and contemporary American art with a focus on works by living artists. The Whitney's new downtown building includes 50,000 square feet of indoor galleries, 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibition space, and terraces facing the High Line.

American Museum of Natural History (The Natural History Museum)

Central Park West at 79th St.
**admission is "suggested"
Lowdown: Exhibits focusing on "human cultures, the natural world and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education and exhibition." Check out the life-sized whale suspended overhead in the Ocean Life Hall - it's amazing. This museum is great for kids.

New Museum of Contemporary Art (The New Museum)

235 Bowery (at Prince)
Lowdown: The collection consists solely of contemporary art. Visitors seem to have strong reactions to this museum: complete love or total hatred. For gorgeous views of the city (something everyone can agree) head to the 7th floor Sky Room; open on weekends only.

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (The Cooper-Hewitt)

2 E. 90th St (at 5th Ave)
**garden open May-September, weather permitting
Lowdown: A Smithsonian museum, it's the nation's only museum devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Works can be seen in the form of: glass, jewelry, fabrics, textiles and the like. The exquisite garden (with views of Central Park) will make you wish you lived in this mansion, like Andrew Carnegie did in the early 1900s.

The Frick Collection (The Frick)
1 E. 70th St (near 5th Ave)
**pay what you wish: Sundays, 11am-1pm
Lowdown: It's a museum within a museum. Henry Clay Frick's early 1900s mansion is largely preserved to it's original state, right down to the furniture, upholstery, ornate fireplaces and leather-bound books. It serves as a backdrop to an impressive collection of European art which includes paintings, textiles, clocks and sculptures. Don't miss the serene Garden Court where you can sit on a bench and let your mind get lost in the sounds of the fountain and the beauty of the architecture.

(Note: All information was correct at time of posting. Please check museum websites for the most up-to-date information.)