I am currently working in the New York City North / Newburgh KOA which is neither in New York City or Newburgh. It is actually in Plattekill NY which is a rural area and quite pretty, situated in the Hudson Valley region. The Big Apple is about one and a half hours to the south. As an attraction at the campground we offer a New York City tour. A big tour bus with a great driver and knowledgeable tour guide picks everyone up at 7:30 am and returns them close to 12 hours later back at the campground. The tours don’t go out every day, they need at least 14 people signed up for it to warrant the cost of the bus, driver and guide. I was able to snag a seat on the 2nd tour of the season, which was on June 5th. I was very excited, as I was able to go for free, and it costs $109 for an adult. Even at the full price it is a great value. It includes the amenities of a nice tour bus and guide, and the entry price for the Statue of Liberty ferry (the ticket says $18.50) and the Empire State Building 86th floor observatory (which is a whopping $37.00). On my own I would never want to drive into New York and then try and find and pay for a day of parking. If you take the train from the closest station to the campground, Beacon, it is $33.50 round trip in off peak hours, and then there is the challenge of finding parking at the train station. And once you get dumped at Grand Central you are on your own, to either tackle the subway system or get a double decker tour bus which is $30, but doesn’t include any admissions. By 7:30 that morning I was in a comfy seat with my day pack and water bottle in the seat next to me, ready for adventure.
The bus drops off the group at the entrance to the ferry ride. There are long lines here to get through security. Kind of like the airlines but we didn’t have to remove our shoes. Packs were x-rayed, belts were taken off, and I even had to take off my fitbit. Once we got to the island we were given a time to meet back, giving us enough time to circle the statue and go into the visitor’s center and gift shop.
After our walk around the statue we get back on the ferry, which stops at Ellis Island but there is not time on this tour to disembark here. I would like to visit it one day.
The next stop is the 911 Memorial. Here is some information I have copied from the 911 Memorial website:
The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.
The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.
The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.
As time is limited on the tour at any one spot, we did not go into the museum. At this stop we had time to see the memorial and grab a bite to eat. There was a couple of malls in the vicinity. One was the Oculus. It is very modernistic. It doesn’t look very big on the outside but most of it is underground and it is huge.
I opted for lunch at the other area mall, Brookfield Place. I had some kind of Asian Pork dumplings with a spicy sauce. Yum.
As we gathered back at our bus, the next stop would be the Empire State Building.
It was built on the original site of the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and was completed in 1931. At 102 stories tall, it was the tallest building in the world for 42 years. It contains 72 elevators. The elevator that lifts you from the 2nd floor to the 80th floor only takes 40 seconds. Amazing! there is an enclosed observation area on the 80th floor, and from there you take another elevator to the 86th floor which has the outside observation area. It is incredible to walk around every side and take in the views.
This stop allowed plenty of time to walk around all sides, and shop at the gift shop. The bus had parked around the corner, and was close to a cheaper souvenir shop also if we wanted to shop a little more.
The last stop for the day was Times Square. I have been there before, as recently as early May when my friends Kay and Les Dennison and I took the train into the city. It is just so amazing to just stand in one spot and look at all the huge jumbotrons advertising all kinds of things. I have not been here at night yet, and that is on my list of things to do before I leave this area in October.
By this time it was about 5:30 and very crowded on the streets. We hopped back onto the bus for our comfy ride back to the campground. I think a good day was had by all. Kudos to the bus driver Gary who had to maneuver New York traffic. He also stayed with the bus at all times so it was safe to leave our belongings on the bus. Keaton, our tour guide, was always careful that everyone was accounted for, and he was always pointing out things as we passed them. He was knowledgeable, and had no problem answering questions. I would definitely give this tour a 2 thumbs up!