Whether you are a seasoned runner or a newbie, the ING New York City Marathon may have crossed your mind once in awhile. What if you can run in the highly publicized world event in the largest city of the United States of America and take a side trip and enjoy the sights and sounds that the city has?
This New York City Marathon Travel Guide is prepared for spectators or runners who want to take a vacation to New York City and trace the marathon route and catch the city’s vibe or be part of the popular world event.
New York City Travel Made Easy
The 26.2 miles marathon course starts in Staten Island and goes through all five boroughs. Runners cross the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge to Brooklyn and on to Queens, and onto Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan, circling through First Avenue to Bronx and back to Manhattan with the finish line in Central Park.
Through bridges, parks, diverse communities and shops…there is so much to do and places to see while in New York City.
Getting to New York City
By Air: New York City is accessible from three main airports, two in Queens and one in New Jersey, off Manhattan. Visitors have the options of taking the private limousines, local cabs, buses, trains or the airport transfer vans or buses. These airport transfer companies do provide options of roundtrip or one way transfers. So there are different options to choose from every budget.
- JFK Airport is the busiest international airport in the United States. There are more than 90 airlines that fly in and out of this airport. It is located in Queens and it is less than 20 miles from Manhattan. Visitors have many transfer options to hotels. For those who prefer the luxury, make a pre-arranged limousine, shuttle, or private cars transfers with a tour operator for your round trip transportation to and from the airport. Or take the MTA subway train to Manhattan or other parts of the city. Subway A, E, J and Z service the airport to parts of New York City.
- La Guardia Airport is the closest airport to Manhattan and smaller in size. It serves mainly local destinations and Canada with some flights to the Caribbean. La Guardia is accessible by all forms of ground transportation except train. A cheap way to commute from the airport to your hotel or any neighborhood in New York City is through one of the airport transfer services.
- Newark Airport is in New Jersey but only 15 miles away from Midtown Manhattan. The easiest and quickest way to travel by Air Train from the airport to New York Penn Station, in Midtown. Many transfer services also service Newark airport. There is no lack of flights or airport transfer options when it comes time to choosing a flight to New York City.
By Train: New York City has the largest train network in the United States. It is served by Amtrak and NJ Transit. Penn Station and Grand Central station are two stations that cater to out of state trains like Amtrak and NJ Transit. Most New Yorkers walk the distance to catch a train. But if you prefer, there are plenty of cabs for hire or take the Subway train. If you choose to stay outside of Manhattan, there are MTA Subway trains, the Long Island Railroad or the Metro North.
By Car: Driving into Manhattan can be relatively difficult if you are not use to heavy traffic and adventurous cab drivers. However, if you choose to find a hotel outside of Manhattan in the suburban areas in one of the boroughs, driving may be the way to go if you are coming from Massachusetts or the neighboring towns in the North East. RentalCars.com helps you find the best deal for your rental car, should you choose to rent instead of driving your own vehicle.
Getting Around New York City
During the rush hours or even on weekends, New Yorkers love to walk. Runners will find it a bliss to walk around town. Everything is within walking distance. There are literally landmarks, attractions, restaurants and hotels in every corner of Manhattan.
- The MTA: The MTA Subway system is extensive and serves the 5 boroughs of New York City and it is easy to follow and economical. Visitors have the options of pay per ride Metrocard or Unlimited Ride Metrocard (7 or 30 day period). Per ride is $2.50 and can be purchased through vending machine in all the stations. The MTA has detailed maps you can download online or get it in the subway station. You can purchase Metrocards from every subway train station, throughout the city. The MTA also operates the city buses through 5 boroughs with extensive routes and with easy access. You can find the routes from the MTA site as well.
- Cabs: Yellow cabs are all over the city. Raise your hand to signal for one when you are tired of walking, and if they don’t carry passengers, you may be their next customer. They operate with a taximeter. Typically it is $2.50 upon entry and $0.40 each additional unit.
- Metro North, Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit: The Metro North and Long Island Railroad are operated by the MTA serving the suburban neighborhood of counties north of the boroughs and towns of Long Island. They have various fares to choose from depending on traveler’s needs and times of traveling. They have peak and off peak traveling times prices, daily or monthly tickets. Check out their site here. If you are a participant or spectator of a race, choosing to stay in the suburban areas may pose a challenge if you are not familiar with the area. It is best to do your research extensively before you book a room in Long Island or Westchester. New Jersey Transit will bring you to the towns and suburban areas of New Jersey. They are very efficient and the network is extensive. For those on a tight budget, with careful research and planning, the border towns in New Jersey may be a good alternative for lodging.
Where to Stay For the Marathon: New York City Hotels
As you walk from the north to the south or east to west of Manhattan there are ample hotels to choose from in every category and budget. Rooms in this city do not come in cheap. Careful planning and research may land you a great deal. Less density neighborhood outside of the main metropolitan areas usually has cheaper rooms. Or you may opt for rooms in New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan in Jersey City area.
Hotels near the New York City Marathon Start and Finish
The ING NYC Marathon starts from Staten Island and ends at Tavern on the Green in Central Park, West 67th Street. There are no hotels that we recommend in Staten Island that are within very easy walking distance to the start of the marathon course. You can choose the Hampton Inn and Suite or the Hilton Garden Inn in South Avenue, Staten Island. Both are closest recommended hotels to the starting point.
NOTE: The Marathon provides transport to the start from various locations. Thus, while you can stay on Staten Island, you can also choose to stay closer to the finish or elsewhere, which is our primary recommendation. For more on the marathon transport system, see the ING NY Marathon official transport page.
Staying in a hotel is a personal preference. It also depends on what you want to do before and after the race…or some may prefer to stay in a hotel near the finish line of the marathon course. Comfort Inn Central Park West on West 71st Street is close to the finish line. If you prefer the Eastside of Manhattan there is Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel on Lexington Avenue and 51st Street. Both are within walking distance to Tavern on the Green, the finish line of ING NYC Marathon.
Here are our picks for hotels in the Manhattan area based on price, not location:
High End: The Ritz Carlton New York Central Park is located in Central Park South near the finish line. This luxurious hotel is just minutes to Tavern on the Green in Central Park and visitors get a great view of the park if they book a parkview room. With exclusive fine dining, health club and full service spa facilities, your stay will be an unforgettable event before and after the run.
Mid High End: Hilton New York at Avenues of the Americas on West 53rd and 54th Street and Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers on West 53nd Street are the headquarter hotels for ING NYC Marathon. Both hotels are centrally located and easy walking distances to Central Park, Museum of Modern Art, Times Square and only four miles from Chinatown. These hotels have their own health clubs and late check out can be arranged with baggage storage facilities.
Budget Mid Price: Hilton Garden Inn Times Square on Eighth Avenue will give you a little price break. You get free WIFI and a 24 hour Business Center. They also have a rooftop lounge and a French bistro. This hotel does get good reviews from past guests.
Hotels in Manhattan, Midtown, Downtown, Uptown and Central Park areas
Most of the hotels already listed are very close to Central Park where all the ING NYC Marathon action is located. We have listed two that were in the Staten Island area (marathon start). Most visitors who come to New York City for an event, business or leisure do take time to tour the city, enjoy the nightlife, attend a Broadway show or just enjoy the night lights.
To take advantage of what the city has to offer, most visitors choose Manhattan hotels to save time and hassle of looking for transportation in the middle of the night. They could be a little more expensive, but when you calculate the time you have to take to commute and the money spent on commuting…it may be more cost effective if you choose Manhattan hotels.
Added to that, most attractions are within walking distance and a cab is inexpensive for short distances.
Our top Recommended Hotel in Manhattan for any traveler:
The Hotel Plaza Athenee New York is our pick for top hotel in Manhattan. This elegant, European style hotel is located on East 64th Street and Madison Avenue on Upper East Side, amidst quiet tree-lined, residential streets with rows of grand townhouses. This hotel is ideal for leisure, business, single or families traveling with children. Hotel Plaza Athenee is conveniently positioned near not to be missed sightseeing spots and shopping. Guests enjoy their European style décor with a fitness and spa center, restaurant and lounge.
Guests can also enjoy the 24 hours room service and tea and coffee making facilities. Their in-house restaurant called Arabelle serves organic produce and naturally raised meats. For runners who are really health conscious and watch the type of food they consume, this will be a great place to ensure all your foods are organic.
When it is marathon day, wake up and take a cab that takes you to the marathon start. At the end of the run, you can choose to walk back to your hotel by yourself or with family and friends. Although the price is steep, this could be an experience of a lifetime…make your dream come true in Manhattan….in the city that never sleeps.
Hotels near Central Park- Approximately less than 3 miles to the finish line
Central Park is 843 acres and it is bordered in the North side by 110th Street, West side by Eighth Avenue, East by Fifth Avenue, South by West 59th Street. It is 2.5 miles north to south and about 0.5 miles east to west. Along these streets are various hotels that you can search for. Hotel chains like the Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Hyatt and Holiday Inn have already planted their flags there many years ago. If you are a traveler who wants to accumulate reward points…your best bet will be to stay within the chain that you already have the reward points. You might already have enough for a free stay. Check with your hotel. Hotels.com is a search engine that can help you find the best price for the hotel you want. Or take the price bidding game with Priceline.
Outlying Hotels with MTA Subway or NJ Transit Transportation Access: A Way to Save
You might prefer to save on accommodation and spend on something else. Some runners do not mind commuting and their top priority is the price. Areas outside of Manhattan are usually cheaper. New York City has a very extensive and efficient MTA Subway service. The possibilities are endless if you choose to commute to Manhattan from the other 4 boroughs like Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. New Jersey towns like Jersey City or Hoboken are great options for outside Manhattan area hotels.
MTA Subway: Parts of Brooklyn and Queens do offer affordable accommodation with walking distance subway stations and only minutes from Manhattan. The subway system in New York City is very reliable so there is rarely a chance for you to be late. Added to that, these are underground trains and are not affected by the closing of streets for the marathon course.
New Jersey Transit: Jersey City and Hoboken will be a city of choice for us in New Jersey. The Transit goes to both cities. In fact you can see the Manhattan skyline from there. Be prepared with all the transportation time and commute time and you will have a great time commuting to the city and save money in your journey.
Whether you want the outlying hotels or in Manhattan, there are endless options for travelers of any budgets in New York City. In 2010 alone, there were about 50 million visitors that went to New York City.
Where to Carb Load In New York City
The ING NYC Marathon hosts a Marathon Eve Dinner from 4-9pm at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Tickets can be pre-purchased and it is a great time to meet fellow runners from all over the country and the world.
New York is famous for its variety of cuisine and most top chefs in the country do have their restaurant in New York City. From Italian, Chinese, Kosher, Indian, Brazilian, Japanese, American to anything you can imagine…can be found in New York City.
If you want to try out a special place where they teach would be chefs, you may want to make a reservation before your arrival to the L’ecole, The Restaurant of the French Culinary Institute in New York. This special one of a kind restaurant is located on Broadway. A way for you to experience fine dining while you are in the culinary city of America.
Things to Do
New York City is the Big Apple and tourists from all over the world make their way there by the millions yearly. Even if you have one week, you will not be done with all the sightseeing places in New York City.
Get a New York City Pass or a Broadway Show Pass:
To get a glimpse of New York City when you do not have much time, the City Pass is a great option for you. It includes top attractions in New York City, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Natural History and Guggenheim Museum. Admission tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum. You get up to nine days to use the pass before expiration. With the pass, you don’t have to wait in long lines for the main attractions.
You get two options tickets to New York City Must See Attractions. Option one is Guggenheim Museum and one audio tour OR Top of the Rock admission. Option two is Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (includes admission to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island Immigration Museum) OR a Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise (your choice of a two-hour Semi-Circle Cruise, a two-hour Harbor Lights Cruise, a 75-minute Liberty Cruise, or The Beast speedboat tour.
Both options will bring you to Empire State Building Observatory and one audio tour, American Museum of Natural History, with one Space Show, Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art (includes all special exhibitions and same-day admission to The Cloisters museum and gardens).
You may also want to add the Broadway shows tickets and tours to your visit to New York City. Broadway shows like Mamma Mia, Lion King or Phantom of the Opera on Broadway are among the top listed shows for many years in Broadway New York City.
Look at Specialized Tour Packages:
Viator is a travel company that uses local experts and specialized tour guides to guide you through your travel. The company guarantees the lowest price and there is no fee for cancellation up to 7 days out. You can change the date without a fee and most importantly, customer care is 24/7.
Here are some recommended activities and sightseeing tours in New York City:
- Three hour dinner cruise on Hudson River and Manhattan Harbor. Enjoy delicious gourmet food while you dance and take in the Big Apple’s sights and sounds. Take in the sights of Manhattan Skyline with views of Empire State Building with its different lights and the Chrysler Building. After your four course meal, dance to the live music overlooking beautiful water views and sparkling lights.
- New York City Hop-on Hop-off Tour, Shopping and Top of the Rock: This New York package includes a 72-hour ticket on the New York City Hop-on Hop-off Tour, ticket on a harbor cruise, ticket to Top of the Rock Observation Deck and a Woodbury Common Shopping Tour – everything you need to see and do in New York! A trip to the Woodbury Common Shopping Tour and Top of the Rock. Take in an unobstructed 360 degrees view of New York City from the 70th floor.
- World Trade Walking Tour: Go on a 2 hour guided tour of Ground Zero and visit St Paul’s Chapel, The American Express Eleven Tears Memorial and Winter Garden.
- New York Pizza Tour to Brooklyn and Coney Island: A tour to New York City is not complete without savoring their famous pizza. Take a tour to L&B Spumoni Gardens, a Brooklyn institution that has baked authentic Italian pizza for over 70 years. Here you will receive two thick, square slices of Sicilian-style pizza.
- Harbor Cruise: Three-hour cruise around Manhattan with views of the Manhattan skyline Cruise, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You get a choice of morning and afternoon cruises.
Suggested Tourist Activities and Key New York City Attractions:
- Statue of Liberty: Located at Liberty Island off Lower Manhattan. It is one of the most visited places in the United States yearly. Reservation for the crown tour is highly recommended.
- Ellis Island: It’s called the American Golden door. 12 million immigrants passed through this island from January 1st 1852 to November 1954. They came for the American Dream and we may have ancestors that came through the Golden door.
- Empire State Building: You can check the Tower Lights color on their website. They change colors according to seasons and days of the month. This is an iconic building in New York City and was officially opened to the public in 1931. It took 11 months to complete this steel building and it is still standing tall as one of the most important landmarks in New York.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: It is important to take note that this Museum is closed on Mondays. This is a renowned art museum in the United States with over 2 million exhibits situated in the east side of Manhattan along the Museum Mile. From eastern art pieces to sculptures from Italy and a modern art of American superstar artists…there are endless works of art for our eyes to feast on for months in this museum.
- Tops of the Rock Observation: On Rockefeller Center 70th Floor is the observation deck with a 360 degrees view of the city of New York. From the greens of Central Park to the distant sky of New Jersey on a clear day. Of course you can view the skyline of Manhattan from a birds eye view from here. You can visit during the day or see the sights at night. It closes at 12 midnight.
- Broadway Shows: A trip to New York City is not complete without going for at least one Broadway performance.
- Times Square: Times Square is also called the Crossroad of the World. Rub shoulders with the locals, see the night lights, and hear the sounds of music and horning cabs. See the banners and billboards lit up at night.
- Central Park: Take a walk or run through the parks before your official run or take a guided tour and learn about Central park ecological system and its history. Visit the zoo and have lunch at Tavern on the Green.
- Financial District: Visit the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and walk on Wall Street. This is where most of the finances of the world are traded. See the excitement of the traders on the floor. Witness the ringing of the opening bell at NYSE and visit the New York Fed building as well.
- Guggenheim Museum: An architectural icon of the 20th century and a world renowned art museum. Guggenheim Museum is located on 5th Avenue and 89th Street. This was originally a private collection of art and was turned into a museum in 1937. The building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940s.
Useful ING New York City Marathon Travel Links
- Tours of New York City on Viator
- Airport Shuttle, luxury sedan transfer services
- New York City Pass
- MTA Subway and Bus Lines
- New Jersey Transit
- ING New York City Marathon Website
About the author: Claudia Looi is a freelance travel, content and copywriter at www.travelwritingpro.com. She lived in New York City for over 13 years before moving to Florida. She has been to all the places listed above except the Guggenheim Museum and Tops of the Rock Observation. She is not a marathon runner…however she is raising a son who is going to be a marathon runner.