Spring Break in New York City

A week-long trip with friends to the big apple!

Spring Break in New York City

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by t4jes on March 16, 2006

Three twenty-somethings, and one high school junior, all girls, embarked on a spring break adventure to the Big Apple. None of us had gone since we were younger children and were excited to check out what the city had to offer... And what it had to offer was plenty.

We were on a budget, of course, and wanted to see how much we could do for as little as possible (minus the hotel). Through the help of parentals, we were able to stay at the very pricey Hilton Times Square, which was in a great location. Beyond that, we were trying to save! A must-buy is a multi-day subway pass.

We started off checking out the free sights. The Staten Island Ferry was an inexpensive way to see the Statue of Liberty, although most of my travel mates were still recovering from the Red Eye flight we had taken the night before. Coney Island was unimpressive. The rides were expensive, though we were able to enjoy some quality carnival-fair food. Other enjoyable, free, sights throughout New York were Central Park, Times Square, and Ground Zero.

There are so many things that can be done in New York, and we decided we wanted to save our money for the most unique ones. The Empire State Building was one of the few places we spent money on, and we appreciated the beautiful views of the city. Also, we were determined to see a Broadway show. With the help of TKTS and half-price day of Broadway tickets, we were able to get great seats for The Producers.

We had a budding fashion designer in our group, so shopping was a must. We scoured New York trying to find some great buys. Most things were more expensive than we were able to afford, but we found some good deals near the Fashion District of all places. Chelsea Market was also a unique home-goods shopping experience.

Budget dining is easy to do in NYC. We definitely had a global dining experience with our time at New York. Even on a budget, we were able to eat at some nice restaurants.

Overall, New York City is an amazing city. Five days wasn't enough to see everything we would have wanted to, but it definitely got us craving to go back soon.

${QuickSuggestions} - Use TKTS for Broadway tickets. You will most likely face a line, but our line was no more than 20 minutes. It's worth it! You can watch a Broadway musical for just around $50.

- Check out the street vendors for food. One of our favorite comfort meals there were the chicken shish-kabobs out at Times Square.

- Definitely check out the Staten Island Ferry. Best free attraction in all of New York. Great views of the city and of the Statue of Liberty.${BestWay} Definitely get a subway pass. The great thing about New York is that everywhere is accessible. Make sure you have a good subway map, but don't be too obvious that you're a tourist!

Even consider taking the airtrain from JFK instead of a taxi. We took a taxi from JFK to Manhattan, but on the way back, we decided to use public transportation. We found it to be cheaper, and very easy to use.

Hilton Times Square

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by t4jes on March 17, 2006

Located just a block from the most hustling and bustling area of New York, Hilton Times Square is a convenient and comfortable place to stay. At a cost, of course.

From what I can tell from online prices, rooms at the Hilton Times Square regularly run from $300-$400. A room in April, when we went, goes for about $400 a night. We, on the other hand, were four college girls that managed to get this hotel through Hilton Honors, meaning that we never saw the nightly. Perhaps if we had, we would have been more scrupulous about our stay at this hotel.

The entrance into Hilton Times Square can be easily missed. It is hidden between an Applebee's and a McDonald's. Definitely not where you would expect a high-end $400 a night hotel. Once you enter, you're greeted by a bellman that checks your room key (safety first, of course) as you go up the first set of elevators.

I had high expectations for the lobby, as the Hilton website boasts about the uniqueness of it. Frankly, it was a bit disappointing. It is definitely chic though. There is a bar/cafe area covering half of it, but the whole atmosphere seemed too sterile, and somewhat dark. There is a large window covering the entire wall on one side, but I can't recall being particularly mesmerized by the view.

Check-in was simple, and the service was adequate, though I don't know if it was on par with other high-end hotels. Mind you that we were four scrubby students, so our expectations were not high. When we asked for extra towels and pillows, they were promptly delivered. We rarely used the expertise of the concierge.

The rooms are supposedly the largest in downtown Manhattan (360 sq. feet). The largest rooms in New York are about the same size as normal hotel rooms anywhere else (New York space is at a premium!). It was definitely adequate sized for basic tourist travel. There was a decent sized desk, and a laptop safe, which we used almost every day for my computer and for extra money that we had brought. The beds were comfortable.

The website had stated that there was wireless Internet. We were planning to use the Internet to do our sightseeing. I was disappointed to find that it would cost $9.99 for a 24-hour period. At this kind of hotel, I would have expected it to be complimentary. It did not work easily either. I spent 30 minutes on the phone trying to get it to hook up.

Overall, we enjoyed our time at Hilton Times Square, but our expectations were not high, and we had not paid for the room. I would never pay more than $250 a night to stay there! It is comfortable, and the location can't be beat.

Hilton Times Square
234 West 42nd Street
New York, New York, 10036
(212) 840-8222

Pommes Frites

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by t4jes on March 17, 2006

This specialty shop is definitely worth the trip. They have only one item on the menu: pommes frites, a.k.a. Belgium fries. With the excellent food, quaint atmosphere, and affordable prices, this is one of the most unique dining experiences we were able to have in New York City. They have been featured on the Food Network, which is where I first heard about it.

Pommes Frites are double-fried wedge fries. They are a staple in Belgium. Unlike American fries, these are very crisp on the outside due to it's twice-fry, and very soft on the inside because of the size of the fry. While Pommes Frites in New York has ketchup as one of its free condiments, it is definitely worth venturing out and trying what most Belgians eat their fries with: mayonnaise.

Our group of four ordered a double sized cone with two dipping sauces for under $10. It was plenty for a snack for all of us. The people working there were great, helping us with the best choices for sauces, and even giving out free samples. We ended up settling on the Mango Chutney Mayo, and the Roasted Garlic Mayo.

The fries were excellent, probably the best I've ever had. The Mango Chutney Mayo was a great accompaniment, though the Roasted Garlic Mayo left something to be desired. Overall, we enjoyed it very much.

This is a fairly small establishment. We were able to find a table easily, but I could imagine it being packed during peak hours (we went there later at night). It is not the most well-lighted, nor are the chairs overly comfortable (all wooden), but it was good enough for a small rest and a snack after a long day of touring New York. We could also see the big barrels of fries in the back from where we were sitting, which could raise a bit of concern for some people.

I've tried to have pommes frites at other places, but there have been none that compare to this establishment. I definitely want to go back next time I am in New York. If you don't mind going a little rugged and sacrificing some comfort for some great "junk food", Pommes Frites is the place to go.
Pommes Frites
123 2nd Avenue
New York, New York, 10003
(212) 674-1234

Gray's Papaya

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by t4jes on March 17, 2006

It's $2.75 for a tropical drink and two hot dogs! No matter how it tastes, you can't beat the price.

Gray's Papaya is well known for its cheap hot dogs and has reached Hollywood fame. We first heard about it when watching "Fools Rush In," where Matthew Perry exclaims how the one thing he misses are hot dogs from Gray's Papaya. We decided that we must try these famous frankfurters.

We were able to walk here from our hotel in Times Square, and the bright lights made it easy to find. We went later at night (around 9 or 10pm) and there was no crowd whatsoever. The service was friendly (they even let us take a picture).

We each ordered the special of two hot dogs and a tropical drink. They come with your choice of condiments, including sauerkraut and grilled onions. There were many types of tropical drinks, including papaya (hence the title), banana, pina colada, and orange. There was also pineapple juice, but that costs extra.

In our opinions, we all thought the hot dogs were great! The franks are fairly small, but they were perfect being that we had two of them each. In fact, they were so addicting that we decided to order more to share together. I saw some men walking in and ordering four to six franks for themselves.

The drinks, on the other hand, were only alright. The papaya juice did not taste like papaya, and we spent a lot of time swapping drinks to find one we liked. In the end, most of our group preferred the orange drink.

We loved the feel of the store. The atmosphere was friendly, the neon decor was inviting, and the food was good and, most importantly, cheap.
Gray's Papaya
2090 Broadway
New York, New York, 10025
+1 212 799 0243

Ground Zero

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by t4jes on March 17, 2006

I knew that I could not go to New York City without going to go see Ground Zero. It was one of the last things we did on the last day that we went, but it definitely proved to be one of the most powerful of the entire trip.

We took the subway there, and as soon as we got off, we realized that we were right beneath Ground Zero. Through the chain-link fences, we could see the aftermath of the destruction of the buildings. You can quickly make your way upstairs, where there is not much left, only a large city block under construction, with a fence all around it, and signs memorializing the events that took place.

I remember the morning of 9/11. We had just moved into our new apartment in San Diego, and school had not yet started for the year. At 6:30 in the morning, we got a phone message from our friend telling us that the U.S. had been attacked and that we should be praying. We were both in shock and in daze of what was happening.

Visiting Ground Zero brought back all those memories, and it reminded me of the year following, where everybody began realizing that life was short and that we weren't as safe as we thought we were. I stood there for 15 minutes reflecting upon that. Looking ahead, I saw the makeshift cross using the beams of the building and the flag hanging high in the air.

I realized, though, that this was 4 years later, and America and New York City had moved on. Once again, the sobriety of 9/11 had worn off, and people were once again caught in the hustle and bustle of life. The reflections that America had the year following 9/11 were now distant memories. Businessmen walked through the area as if the site were just another empty lot, and tourists spent their time catching a piece of "history."

As for me, I just thought and prayed, remembering that we are vulnerable, and that life is short... and many had paid with their lives.

I know the plan is that they are going to build a memorial, but I really think what is there is enough. The seemingly abandoned construction ground of Ground Zero is enough to remind us that lives were lost, and that America was changed.
World Trade Center Site
Vesey Street, West Side Highway, Liberty And Church Streets
New York


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