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RVing in the Big Apple

When I told our family and friends we would be pulling our trailer into New York City, most of them thought we were insane. And honestly, it’s likely that we were.

Nevertheless, we ventured forth into one of the largest cities in the world pulling our travel trailer behind us and lived to tell the tale. What’s more, we actually enjoyed ourselves, and would even consider doing it again.

I’m not going to lie, pulling a 27-foot trailer through the streets of Brooklyn was not an easy feat. It was scary at times and often frustrating. On top of that, the tolls to get in and out of Brooklyn were unavoidable and ridiculously expensive.

In fact, we ended up spending just under $100 round-trip. Was it worth it? Absolutely. We got to stay in NYC relatively close to everything and take advantage of public transportation.

That said, if you are eager to visit the Big Apple with your RV, but hesitant to drive it through the city, there are other options. Many people opt to stay in a nearby city and take the train in. This is a great option if you aren’t feeling as brave — or stupid — as we were.

Wherever you decide to stay, you will most certainly find plenty to entertain your family in the one and only New York City. This is one place that really does have something for everyone. The only problem is, seeing it all is impossible. Here are a few ideas of things to do in the Big Apple.

See a show

The No. 1 thing I had to do when visiting New York was see a Broadway show. I’m glad we did, because it ended up being my favorite thing we did on this trip. I am a theater geek, and I’ve seen my fair share of musicals and plays over the years. Absolutely nothing even comes close to seeing a true Broadway production.

We ended up seeing Matilda. The ticket prices were reasonable, I had been listening to (and loving) the soundtrack for quite sometime, and it looked like a cute show. The theater was smaller than I had imagined. I don’t know if that is something true of every Broadway theater, or if it was just this particular one.

In any case, the size of the theater didn’t matter one bit, because the show was phenomenal. The cast was spot-on 100 percent of the time, and I was thoroughly impressed with the kids in the show, who never once made a noticeable mistake.

I definitely recommend seeing a Broadway show if you visit NYC. This was a one-of-a-kind experience, and I only regret not seeing a second show while we had the chance.

Go for a walk

People in New York walk. They walk pretty much everywhere, and if they can’t walk, they take the subway or the bus. If you go to this enormous city, be prepared to do your own fair share of walking. However, walking does not have to be used only as a mode of transportation, it can also be an excellent form of free entertainment.

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Some of the best places to walk in New York City include:

Chinatown — This interesting area is home to many shops and stalls selling a wide variety of exotic foods and items. There are usually musicians performing in the park, and there is a public playground available, which my son loved.

Central Park — No trip to New York is complete without a trip to Central Park. The park is enormous and filled with things to see and do, so be sure to do some research and decide where in the park you would like to be before starting your stroll.

Washington Square Park — Offering ample playgrounds and walking paths, Washington Square Park is a fun hangout for anyone looking to be amused. Street performers are everywhere you look in this public space, and there is never a shortage of entertainment.

Times Square — If you like bright lights, hustle and bustle, and plenty of shopping, Times Square is the place for you. We had a fun time seeing this iconic part of the city, and recommend that everyone see it at least once. My son particularly enjoyed the M&M Store, and I liked the enormous Disney Store.

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Ride the Ferry

Another must-do in New York City is a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry carries passengers between lower Manhattan and Staten Island every 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the time of day) all day, every day. The journey is absolutely free, and gives passengers an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty. If you want to see the statue without paying a cent, this is the way to do it!  For more information about the ferry, visit www.siferry.com.

We loved our ride on the ferry. We were truly impressed with the cleanliness of the terminal and vessel itself, and the view of the Statue was lovely. We left as the sun was setting, which provided us with a pretty cool view, and the ride back was in the dark, giving us a completely different photo-op.

Visit a museum

New York City has too many museums to count. No matter what interests you, you are sure to find a museum you will love.

Because we have a little guy, and because we were looking for a museum that would take our ASTC membership, we ended up visiting the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

This museum included some nature exhibits and a tiny version of Brooklyn where the kids could work the grocery store, pizza parlor, or travel agency, or pretend to drive the bus. Additionally, there was a toddler/preschool area with a water table, puppets, and other age-appropriate activities. There were several other small exhibits, but we spent most of our time at the ones listed above. For more information, visit www.brooklynkids.org.

While this museum was fun for our 4 year old, and my husband and I thought it was cute, this museum was nothing to write home about and we would probably choose another museum should we visit again. If you have children and want to use ASTC reciprocal benefits I recommend trying out the Staten Island Children’s Museum  instead. For more information, visit www.sichildrensmuseum.org

If you don’t mind spending money on admission, a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (www.moma.org), Metropolitan Museum of Art (www.metmuseum.org), Tenement Museum (www.tenement.org), Museum of Mathematics (www.momath.org), or the American Museum of Natural History (www.amnh.org) would make a memorable experience. Admission at each ranges from $15 per person to $25.

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What to eat

The Bagel Store — Featuring the famous rainbow bagel, and serving up a wide variety of interesting cream cheese spreads, this Brooklyn favorite is a delicious must-eat place when visiting NYC. Everything we tried was amazing, and based on the line, the locals enjoy this place just as much as the tourists. As a bonus, the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. www.thebagelstoreonline.com

Oslo Coffee — Go to Oslo and order the iced Americano. You won’t regret it and will likely be back for another. I never thought I’d prefer an iced Americano over a cold-brew iced coffee, but this place has proven me wrong. Something about their espresso makes for an incredible Americano unlike any I’ve had before or since. www.oslocoffee.com

Percy’s Pizza — Okay, so NYC is filled with $1 pizza places. You can’t walk anywhere without passing one, and most are mediocre at best. Percy’s Pizza is great though. It is consistently rated one of the best $1 slices in the city, and it truly deserves all the praise. Be sure to stop by Percy’s for a cheap meal in the city. www.yelp.com/biz/percys-pizza-new-york.

Where to stay

Camp Gateway at Floyd Bennet Field — This is where we stayed. It wasn’t much of a campground, but it was affordable ($30 a night) and right there in Brooklyn. Basically, the park offered RV campers a parking lot to sleep in, which used to be part of a now-defunct airfield, strange as it sounds. There were no hook-ups, and there was no dump station. They did, however, have a camp store, a very clean restroom, and a shower house. The shower house was only open during the day, but the restroom stayed open 24/7. There was a bus stop right outside of the park, making getting around incredibly easy. https://www.nps.gov/gate/planyourvisit/camp-at-fbf.htm

Liberty Harbor RV Park — Liberty Harbor is convenient, but expensive. The park offers ferry service into the city, water and electric hook-ups, a dump station, a laundry room, Wi-Fi, and an on-property restaurant. RV sites are $90 a night and fill up quickly, so be sure to make reservations in advance. www.libertyharborrv.com

Cheesequake State Park — This state park offers beautiful camping for the low price of $25 a night. There are no hook-ups available, but there are restrooms with showers. Manhattan is a 1.5-to-2-hour train ride away, and could be visited each day without a problem. This campground is only open April 1 to Oct. 31. www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/cheesequake.html

About Chelsea Gonzales

Chelsea enjoys full time RV living and traveling — and trying new coffee shops wherever she goes — with her husband and 4 year old son. Her other hobbies include riding bikes, singing, dancing, acting, and reading. Her personal blog can be found at gonzalesonthego.wordpress.com.

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