Drive Or Take Public Transit? The NYC Tourist Debate
When you're visiting another city, it's often appealing to secure your own means of transport, to rent a car and make your own way around. When that city happens to be New York, however, it may not be the easy, relaxing strategy you intended. NYC is one of the most challenging places to drive and can lead to some serious stress. That's not exactly the tone most people want on their vacation. In the case of NYC, it might be easiest to simply do as the locals do, and hop on a train downtown. Of course, the trains aren't much less congested either. Any way you go in New York, you'll encounter lots of others going your way. So, which route do you take? When visiting NYC, do you drive or take public transit?
There's no easy answer to this question, and no real consensus either. The right answer for you depends on your plans for your trip, and how much patience you have.
Pros Of Driving
When you're driving, there's always the advantage of being in control of your travel --as much as is possible. You can change your mind about your destination easily and get there in your own time. Driving in New York City is a unique experience that can provide you many travel stories. It also helps you to get to know the city a lot faster. Generally, you can get to places faster when you are driving, so it is easier to fit in more activities if you are driving yourself. NYC also has some good car rental agencies to help you with this goal.
If you can find good parking downtown, you can get to your destination area fairly quickly by car and then simply park and wander, as most attractions are within walking distance. You just need to make your way to where it's all happening first.
Pros Of Taking Transit
Taking public transit in NYC is a good way to feel like a real New Yorker. Transit is an experience in itself, not just a means between other destinations. It's an experience you'll likely want to have before leaving the city. You can get a better sense of what life is like in New York, meet plenty of interesting people, and even be treated to the talents of street performers entertaining your train. Many of the world's most famous musicians and artists got their start in NYC, and even performed in/on public transit trains and buses. You could see the next big act before they even make it!
You can get pretty much anywhere in and out of the city on the trains, and can even get there faster than a car, depending on traffic. It is convenient and inexpensive, and you don't have to worry about getting lost like you do if you encounter detours or road closures while driving.
Cons Of Driving
If you skip the car and go for public transit you can leave behind the stresses of weaving through traffic and the non-stop symphony of car horns. If not, you're stuck in a gridlock of other people's stress and no place to go. Driving can be enough stress to ruin your trip if you go at the wrong time and don't keep in the right frame of mind. Do you really want that stress on your vacation?
Cons Of Taking Transit
Public Transit has its own irritations, including the congestion. If you don't like being packed in a train with strangers, you may not enjoy the experience of NYC subways. It's not the cleanest place to be and it can get pretty bogged down in traffic. It may take you over an hour to get to some place that would otherwise take 20 minutes driving.
Both modes have their own advantages and disadvantages, so there's no wrong choice. If you do decide to drive, you'll want to see our list of the best providers of car rental at JFK Airport and our Tips For Driving In NYC. If you decide to take transit, keep your eyes peeled for up-and-coming talent!