Phoenix: I can only say this, I wouldn't want to go back if I didn't feel safe. Yet we can't wait to go back, perhaps as soon as October. We are excited that we found this place that lets us visit for $80 a night instead of hundreds in the city like we used to spend.
I wouldn't have walked the streets to the Grove Street PATH station
with my family if I didn't think it wasn't "reasonably" safe (lets face it, nothing is 100% safe.....no place even out in the middle of nowhere Montana....). My wife is a skittish as they come and after the second day she said it was cool. It is in no way a "ghetto" setting. Only someone who knows nothing about large cities would think that. It may have been at one point, but most of it looks like it is going through urban renewal/gentrification. Bear in mind that after 9/11 a number of firms packed it in and moved a mile across the river to Jersey City. Some say it is becoming almost part of NYC. Lots of new construction with high rise condos/apartment buildings. Now if you walk or drive a few blocks away, you will be in a public housing area. But that is the same in most any large city, you usually don't 'have to go to far to experience a demographic change. Plus, while not trying to be naive or stupid, remember that most poor folks living in "ghetto" areas are not bad people. Note also that as you walk down Marin Ave. to the Grove St. station you walk past city hall. There also seemed to be beat cops lingering around from time to time and a good bit of foot traffic up and down the street, people walking their dogs etc. Likely as safe as walking around NYC, which is in realty is pretty safe. I think a lot of folks who are intimidated are just not used to urban environments. Most have watched too many TV shows! I dare say Phoenix isn't any safer! I checked and it is one of the top 10 most dangerous cities on one ranking (but behind D.C. and Baltimore close to where I live).
Furthermore, bear in mind that just because you stay in hotel in NYC dosen't mean you are safe unless you are going to stay locked in your room. In NYC you likely will be walking the streets, riding the subways etc. etc. Just because it is different and feels strange (noise, lots of people, traffic) doesn't make it a bad place to be. Just stay aware etc.
Over the years I have read the reviews of the park on RV.net (trailerlife/goodsam forum) and if you sort through them you will see that the more recent reviews are much more favorable. I also feel that a lot of folks that are afraid just are not used to the urban thing. Accept it for what it is, a crowded, fast paced environment and you will feel much better. Remember, take many of the urban gang bangers out and leave them in the desert, they will freak out more than you in their environment. I had a family from Kansas parked next to me, I can assure you that they had a great time. Heck they rode the subway out through Brooklyn on the 4th to Coney Island!
You can walk to the state park where you catch the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty
. Its about a mile or so walk. The first part is not particularly pretty, but it's just an light industrial area / large parking lot. The rest is a very pleasant walk through a lovely park. You can drive if you wish, but the advantage to walking is that you can visit Ellis and the Statue, then take the ferry from the statue over to Battery Park in Southern Manhattan and spend the rest of the day in NYC. Coming from the state park you will visit Ellis Island first, then the statue. when you are ready to leave the statue you can choose to take the ferry back to the state park or over to Manhattan.
We have visited NYC a number of times. On this trip we visited the WTC memorial, a must see. They have free, timed admission tickets. You can get them on line or visit the "off site" memorial office a few blocks from the actual memorial. However, if you visit the office you may have to wait hours before entering the site, on line is you best method if you don't mind locking yourself to a time. We lucked out on the 4th of July, we visited the off site location at 4 and got 5:30 tickets. Since it was hot and we had been out all day, we used our unlimited ride 7 day Metro passes
, hooped on the "E" train, rode up to Queens in the AC, then rode back, by then it was about 5:15, we headed over and got right in.
What ever attractions you visit, expect to have bags inspected etc. Other attractions you will get the full "airport" experience (though you won't have to remove your shoes!). The will "xray your bags and personal belongings in a tray including your wallet, cell phone etc. Don't pout, don't get P.O.'ed, just go with the flow.....
Instead of a Broadway show, on this trip we went to Radio City Music Hall and saw Cirque du Soleil show Zarkana. It was great. Of course the Empire State building is a must see, expect LLLLLLOOOONNNNGGGG lines. Personally I prefer the "Top of the Rock"
- the rooftop viewing area on top of Rockefeller Center, not as high, it' about 70 stories, but the view is better, you get a great view of the Empire State and of Central Park. Suggest visiting near sunset. On the right night it is awesome.
Don't forget the freebies. First off, just walking around NYC is one of my favorite things. Checking out the neighborhoods, stores an eateries. Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Upper East or West Side, 5th Ave. etc. etc. Likely my least favorite area is Times Square. Go visit it at night, see the lights etc., get your fill and move on to the real NYC. New Yorkers rarely to to TS. Try to find some places that you would like to eat besides McDonalds and Burger King. Lot's of great pizza and about any other kind of food you would want. Central Park - free and a great place to walk around on a nice day. Staten Island Ferry is FREE, might be the best bargin in NYC, nice ride across the harbor and great views. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
- FREE - great views especially if you walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan. It's not really that far so if you are up to it you can walk over then back. Or ride the subway to the High St. station in Brooklyn and get on the bridge (get directions on line).
Of course if you are going to spend some time there, it might be worth it to get a "City Pass"
. That will give you discounted entry to the Empire State, the main museums etc. There is the NBC studio tour, Radio City Backstage, the aircraft carrier Intrepid, the Circle Line cruise is a classic
Tons of more info on the web. Relax, use common sense and you will have fun and will be counting the days until you can return. NYC is cool.