Exploring NYC in Your Winnebago RV
A dense fog lingers over the bustling Hudson River as the bright morning sun climbs high above the nearby towering skyline. Waves crash gently against the rocky shoreline, with the faint sound of a ferry horn blowing in the distance. Taking a sip of steaming coffee while peering out at the endless skyscrapers, I turn to Brittany and think aloud, "Can you believe we're here in our RV?"
Welcome to New York City.
One of the many benefits RV life offers is the ability to go most anywhere you'd like -- assuming of course, you can drive there. With endless websites, blogs, and social media accounts showcasing beautiful places like Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and the California Coast, these natural and sometimes remote destinations rightfully capture our attention for RV trips.
But after a recent stop for the Ultimate Golf Road Trip, I'm here to tell you that New York City should be added as a must-see destination -- yes, in your RV!
Arriving in NYC in our Winnebago View.
NYC Like a Local
Prior to living and traveling full-time in our Winnebago View, Brittany and I called New York City home for a few years. During our three years of downtown Manhattan living, we spent every chance we could checking off our touristy to-do list, trying any and every restaurant, and soaking in all the unique experiences the great city of New York has to offer.
As you've likely heard, there is literally something for everyone. Whether you're the planning or spontaneous type, the breadth and variety of activities make it more than easy to find things to do. And in some instances, difficult to choose from all the options.
You could literally spend weeks in NYC. However, I think a few days is enough to get a great taste of life in the city. Here's an inside look at how to plan a long RV weekend in NYC, and some of our favorite things to do during your visit.
Where to Stay: Liberty Harbor RV Park
Without a doubt, the best place to stay in your RV is Liberty Harbor RV Park. It's nothing fancy and offers just the basic amenities (bathhouse, water/electric hookups, dump station, and wifi), but it does boast a fantastic location in Jersey City, directly across the Hudson from downtown Manhattan.
Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City, NJ, is just a 12-minute train or ferry ride into downtown NYC.
This answers the stomach churning question: "Do I have to drive my rig into New York City?" No! The RV park is easily accessible off Interstate-78 and can accommodate RVs up to 45-feet in length. Though it's a little pricey ($95/night + tax), it's a steal when compared to expensive NYC hotels. And because NYC boasts an extensive, safe and cost-effective public transit system, you can leave the RV (and tow car) parked and easily get around the city.
The RV park is a mere 0.5-mile walk from the heart of Jersey City, which has an abundance of great storefronts and restaurants, too. The morning walks are impeccable as well, where you can enjoy a casual stroll passed Liberty Harbor and down to Morris Canal Park. No better way to start the day than this view overlooking the NYC skyline.
Morris Canal Park is a short stroll from Liberty Harbor RV Park. Incredible views of the NYC skyline!
The NYC Commute
There are three good options for traveling from Liberty Harbor RV Park into New York City.
1. Port Authority Trans-Hudson (aka PATH): Take the PATH train from the Grove Street stop (0.5-mile walk from the RV park). It's our favorite way to get into the city as it's quick (12 minutes), cheap ($2.50 one way) and easy. Plus, the cards you purchase at the kiosks can be pre-loaded with funds and used on the subways in the city, too.
2. New York Waterway Ferry: A few steps from the entrance to the RV park is the NY Waterway Ferry, which takes passengers directly from Liberty Harbor to Pier 11/Wall Street. Cost is $7 per person (one-way) and the ride across the Hudson takes about 12 minutes. It's a pretty cool viewpoint of the downtown area and drops you right at the foot of Wall Street.
3. Uber / Tow Car: Cost and time can vary significantly ($12 toll + traffic) when driving into NYC, but it's always an option should you desire a car ride into the city. Personally, I'd stick to the train or ferry though.
NYC traffic can be frustrating! Park the RV and take advantage of the train and subway systems.
What to Do in the Big Apple
New York City is so expansive, it can be overwhelming to plan a trip. We suggest breaking up your days by location in Manhattan, cutting down on travel and allowing you to pack in plenty of NYC fun.
Day 1: Explore Downtown
Take the PATH from Grove Street to World Trade Center
1. 9/11 Memorial & Museum-- Begin the day with an incredibly moving experience at Ground Zero. The memorial is free, but for the best experience, reserve a 60-minute guided tour of both the memorial and museum.
2. Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island-- Make the brief walk down to Battery Park, where you can hop the ferry to both the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Total tour time is 3 hours.
3. Wander the Financial District -- Time for lunch! Head to nearby and oh-so-quaint Stone Street where you'll discover a plethora of great food options. On summer weekends, the street is packed with tables for a fun, vibrant atmosphere. After lunch, snap a picture with the Charging Bull and in front of the New York Stock Exchange, and check out Trinity Church at the foot of Wall Street.
Stone Street during a December 2016 visit. In the summer, this places really comes to life with tables from restaurants lining the street.
4. Towns within a City -- Time for your first subway (or cab) ride! Make the quick trip up to do some street shopping on Canal Street, and see what Chinatown and Little Italy are all about. Sample a cannoli or gelato from most any Little Italy establishment, and head to "America's first pizzeria," Lombardi's, for a casual, but delicious dinner. Expect a wait!
Zip back down to Pier 11/Wall Street and enjoy a Ferry ride home.
Leaving downtown NYC, heading back to Jersey City.
Day 2: Discover the Villages
Take the PATH from Grove Street to Christopher Street
1. Brunch at Philip Marie-- Start the day right with brunch a few blocks from the PATH stop. Aside from being in our old neighborhood, reasonable prices and big portions make this one of our favorites.
2. Walk the High Line-- Stretch your legs along the High Line, a public park built on a historic freight line rail. It takes you through/above the trendy Meatpacking District and Chelsea.
3. Wander the Streets of West/Greenwich Village -- With endless shops and charming streets, wandering down Bleeker Street and through the Village is always a favorite of tourists and locals alike. Nearby Washington Square Park is a great spot to rest your feet, enjoy some street music, and take in the eclectic scene.
Wandering the streets of NYC.
4. Shop in SoHo -- Explore SoHo, whose quaint streets house everything from high-end boutiques to mainstream retailers. Keep a lookout for local celebs and prepare for crowds!
5. Happy Hour -- Time for a beverage? Check out the oldest continuous operating saloon in NYC, McSorley's Old Ale House, or take in some epic city views at 230 5th Rooftop Bar. If you're up for dinner, grab a cab to Malaparte, a lovely laid-back Italian restaurant on a quiet street corner in West Village -- my favorite spot in the city.
Day 3: Take on Midtown & Uptown
Take the PATH from Grove Street to 33rd Street
1. Empire State Building-- The PATH train drops you a mere block from this iconic building. Snag tickets and head to the top floor observatory for awesome panoramic views of the city. Also in the area, pop in Macy's massive eight-story flagship store and see the historic Madison Square Garden.
2. Central Park -- By now you're becoming an expert, so hop the subway up to Columbus Circle and take a stroll through Central Park, up to Tavern on the Green-- the perfect spot for a rest and exquisite lunch. Or for a budget-friendly option, grab a hot dog and a Coke from a street vendor! If you're into museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is not to be missed. It's a quick cab ride to the northeast part of Central Park.
Sorry Ella, no pets allowed on the Subway! For us people though, there's no better (and cost-effective) way to tour around NYC.
3. Window Shop on 5th Avenue -- Start at the southeast corner of Central Park, and walk south on 5th Avenue, admiring the many beautiful storefronts. Along the way, make stops at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center.
4. Times Square -- Brace yourself for crowds, and head to the world famous Times Square. It's certainly the most "touristy" place in NYC, but it's a must see. Snap a few images and end your night with a Broadway Show. Lion King and Wicked were personal favorites, but be sure to book tickets in advance.
The always-bustling Times Square in Midtown NYC.
Truthfully, we're only scratching the surface of all there is do in New York City. And while you're sure to enjoy the bevy of activities you choose, I promise, there's nothing quite like waking up in your RV at the doorstep of NYC.