Hop on Hop off Bus Tours – the Best Way to See Manhattan

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If you want to stay closer to home this summer why not take a short break in Manhattan, one of the most exciting cities in North America? You can fly to New York or take a coach tour to New York and spend from three to five days in the city. There are great coach tour packages which are ideally suited to the senior traveler and will save you a bundle of cash on accommodations.  Hotel accommodations will be your greatest expense when visiting New York. Coach tour packages of New York for a four day, three night tour currently cost about $600 to $700 per person and include your accommodation, breakfasts and fully escorted sightseeing tours. Coach tours are available from Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Washington and Boston, to name a few cities of departure.  You can also take an Amtrack train which I did once, arriving at Penn Station – something very relaxing, enjoying the views along the way.

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One of the best ways to get to know any travel destination is to take a “Hop On Hop Off” bus tour.

I thought I’d share our recent trip to New York – a great destination for seniors who want to visit the city, enjoy some great food, theater and a tour. We recently spent a three days in Manhattan, and stayed at the Affinia Manhattan hotel.  Other New York hotels such as the Best Western and the Marriot Hotels offer senior discounts.  Other hotels offer an AARP (American Association of Retired People) discount to members.  Museums offer discounts for entrance and on certain days, it’s free for seniors.  Check dates before you go.

We didn’t take a coach tour, but flew into New York.  Since we only had a short time in the city, we decided to do the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. It’s the best way to see Manhattan at a reasonable price. In fact, wherever we travel, we always book a Hop On Hop Off bus tour because we find it’s the greatest way to see a city and get our bearings in a new place. If we’ve got time, we then go back to the particular attraction to explore further. Or, if we see something we like on the tour, we hop off and then hop back on the bus when the next bus comes round again.

On the second day we bought our tickets for the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour, the easiest way to see Manhattan. We took the Downtown Loop which covers Lower Manhattan. There’s over 50 stops in the Big Apple on these bus tours, covering such famous landmarks as the Empire State Building, Harlem, Brooklyn, Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, Times Square, Radio City Hall. The price of these tours vary, depending on who you book with. Your hotel may offer a special deal with one of the Hop On Hop Off bus tour companies. We sat on the upper level of the open topped double decker bus so we could get a better view of everything. These bus tours of Manhattan are escorted with a very knowledgeable on-board guide who explains all of the sights and attractions along the way. Part of the time we sat on top of the double decker bus to get the panoramic view, but when it got too hot to bear, we headed to the lower level. If you find the summer heat is too intense, you can travel in the lower level of the bus in air conditioned comfort. The buses run every 10 to 30 minutes, so you have enough time to explore something that interests you and then catch the next bus.

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The view from on top – of the Empire State Building. Fantastic!

We hopped off at the 911 Memorial Museum where we spent a couple of hours. It’s definitely worth a visit to pay respect and to understand in detail what really happened during that tragic event in American history. Museum entrance was $24 each. It was very authentic and informative.  We then walked around lower Manhattan and hopped back on the bus to get off again at Grand Central Station to take a look inside.

Dining in New York can be fabulous and there’s so much choice. It can be very pricey or you can find some great bargains. On our first night in New York, we went out for dinner at a restaurant in Little Italy. We had mini pizza appetizers, shared an incredible Caesar salad pasta with prosciutto followed by a spaghetti with meat sauce and a seafood dish with every seafood you can imagine. After dinner we walked around Times Square to enjoy the bright lights of New York.

Another dinner to remember was at a restaurant our hotel Concierge recommended.  He suggested Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse, with a reputation as the “best steakhouse in New York City.” There are three locations in New York.  We ordered the special – a giant rib eye steak and my wife ordered a fantastic filet.  We shared a bottle of wine.  Dinner at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse was expensive setting us back about $194, but the service was prompt and excellent and I’d rate it a 10/10.

On our last full day in Manhattan, we bought cheap last minute tickets to a show in the morning at Times Square.  You can buy same day tickets at 50% off for any play/performance on and off Broadway shows. In the afternoon, we took the ferry to Staten Island to view the skyline of Manhattan. It’s a cheap thing to do in New York and rather enjoyable.

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Times Square at night – always an exciting place to see at night with all its bright shimmering nights. Day time – catch up on some shopping.

Dinner before the show was on the cheap because we’d spent a lot on our other meals in restaurants. We bought a quick meal deal from one of the food trucks roaming Manhattan just before we went to watch the Broadway show in the evening.

New York for seniors is exhilarating and can be done at your own pace with a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour.  If you’re not taking a packaged coach tour and need to book your own accommodation, check if the hotel has a senior discount.  Don’t forget to use your AARP discount card if you’re a member and plan your itinerary around the days that museums and other attractions offer seniors a discount or free entrance.  The Big Apple has been and always will be an exciting city.