New York is quite vast as a city for a traveler, and you surely cannot spend a single day and visit every place in the city. If you are in for a day, choose wisely on what you want to explore, and what should be worth it.
While I was in New York for the first time and was clueless about the places, I thought to give it a go without a lot of research, because that’s how you do adventure tours without thinking about ending up somewhere and enjoy it. We started from Central Park near Times Square in New York, and it was about 10 a.m. when we started checking out the different bus tour options. There are a lot of similar services that easily confuse you on which could be well worth it.
Open Loop was the hop-on-hop-off bus service that we took while going on a day tour in New York. There were some 3-4 other alternatives that we had seen on the same street where we were deciding about one, but Open Loop seemed like a better option since you had to pay one amount and can choose to spend the entire day hopping on any bus in any part of their four routes. The day package also included a night tour to four places. It costs $40 for the entire day, and if you are going to spend two days, the cost is a little higher, but you still can cover more places.
What does the Night tour on Open Loop bus show?
I couldn’t take that part of the tour, sadly, but the night tour offers a two-hour experience with places on display including Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridges are lit at night, and you know how well does the city look in pictures when the sunlight is gone.
Tips for first-time travelers
Start your day early, and look to hop onto to a bus early, if possible at around 8 a.m. The later you go, the more you are going to miss exploring during the day.
If you are looking for alternatives, one that we were almost convinced with, was the Big Bus tours because they were asking $32 for a single loop, but as a part of the loop, you also get a free ticket to the One World Observatory whose ticket costs you $26 if you take that separately. We didn’t choose it because the loop didn’t have Manhattan bridge, which we wanted to go to. Big Bus isn’t bad an option if you don’t have an entire day and are okay with spending half a day in a single loop.
Rather than just spending the entire day on the bus, get down at certain points and explore places by walking. We walked across the Manhattan Bridge and also got down at the 9/11 Memorial to spend some time near the Memorial and also get to the One World Observatory.
Always remember where you got down from the bus. Either note down the stores around that place or keep in a mind a certain landmark with the street name where you have to come back to, to hop on the bus again. We wasted more than a couple of hours not doing that.
Spare at least three hours if you want to get down and walk to a Ferry pick up to go to the Statue of Liberty. There are chances that you might not be able to go there if you are in just for a day, but skipping any other couple of places will save you enough time if you feel like going to the statue.
Avoid museums if you are not really fascinated by them. And in particular, avoid any offers from the tour guys who tell you that you will get a Museum entry for free. We got to learn from our tour guide in the bus that almost all museums in New York are free to enter.
Don’t spend a lot of time shopping during the day if you see some stores wherever there are bus stops. Save your time and explore the city, because if you are from around Times Square, you will see the stores open until midnight, and so you can spend time for shopping in the late evening.
Don’t stand while the bus is moving. You could end up waking up at a hospital if you do that. The signal posts and lamps are so low that if you stand, your head will easily hit one of those.