Appalachian Trail

This driving route parallels the hiking trail, from the top of New England to the heart of Dixie, taking you through continuous natural beauty—without the sweat, bugs, or blisters.

Detour: New York City

Some people avoid New York City like the plague, but more than eight million others can’t bear to leave the glorious buzzing mosaic that makes New York unique in the world. Love it or hate it, New York is New York, and this great metropolis is undeniably the capital of the capitalist world, with some of the best museums, the best shops, the best sights, and the best restaurants in the world.

There’s not much point in recommending a select few of New York’s huge spectrum of attractions, so here’s some practical help. For drivers, to whom all roads must seem to converge upon—and become gridlocked in—New York City, if you value your sanity and your shock absorbers park your car in a long-term lot (not on the streets; city parking regulations are arcane and the fines huge) and walk or take public transportation. New York’s subway system ($2.50 per ride, payable via electronic MetroCard), one of the most extensive in the world, is safe, fast, and cheap. City buses are generally slower, but you see more of the sights. Taxis are ubiquitous—except when you want one—and the CitiBike bike-share system makes getting around more fun.

The key to a successful visit to New York City is finding a place to stay. Ideally, you’ll have an expense account, a friend, or a rich aunt, but lacking that, here are a few suggestions, most in the low-to-moderate range. It’s hard to beat the Holiday Inn New York-Soho (138 Lafayette St., 212/966-8898, $154 and up) for convenience, as it’s equidistant from Chinatown, Little Italy, SoHo, and TriBeCa. The least expensive place in town is probably the very large and popular HI-New York Hostel (891 Amsterdam Ave., 212/932-2300, private rooms $240 and up, dorm beds $50 and up), on the Upper West Side at 103rd Street, with private rooms plus dorm beds. And if money is no object, there are many fabulous hotels in New York City, like the small, stylish Morgans (237 Madison Ave., 212/686-0300, $279 and up) or the trendy Crosby Street Hotel (79 Crosby St., 212/226-6400, $450 and up), which is surprisingly quiet, considering its SoHo location.

Eating out is another way to blow a lot of money very quickly, but there are some great places where you can get both a good meal and a feel for New York without going bankrupt. One such place is Katz’s Delicatessen (205 E. Houston St., 212/254-2246), a Lower East Side landmark that’s been serving up huge sandwiches (including great pastrami) since 1888. (For movie buffs, Katz’s is where Meg Ryan did her famous fake-orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally.) And if you like diners, check out the revived Empire Diner (210 10th Ave., 212/596-7523), at 22nd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood. Then take a leisurely walk on the magical High Line, a long-abandoned rail line recently reborn as a stylish pedestrian path, 20 feet above the not-so-mean streets. Another affordable all-American experience can be had at the retro-trendy Shake Shack (212/889-6600), a high-style burger stand across from the iconic Flatiron Building in Madison Square Park, a leafy oasis off Madison Avenue at East 23rd Street. On the Upper East Side, between the Metropolitan and Whitney museums, Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud serves up exquisitely prepared French bistro fare at his Cafe Boulud (20 E. 76th St., 212/772-2600).

The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor marks the beginning of our Atlantic Coast trip. See page xxx.

 

 

New York City

Statue of Liberty

Cafe Boulud (20 E. 76th St.)

Empire Diner (210 10th Ave.)

Shake Shack (26 Madison Ave.)

Katz’s Delicatessen (205 E. Houston St.)

Crosby Street Hotel (79 Crosby St.)

HI-New York Hostel (891 Amsterdam Ave.)

Holiday Inn New York-Soho (138 Lafayette St.)

Morgans (237 Madison Ave.)