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I am visiting the US later this year. I will arrive in Boston and will spend 1 week travelling down to Virginia for a drag racing event, via Maryland and Washington DC.

On the 2nd week I want to travel back to Boston via Philadelphia and New York City.

I am worried that vehicle will be difficult to park during the NYC portion, so would like to leave it at a motel on the outskirts and travel into the city on public transport (2-3days)

For the rest of the journey, the car will be vital and we dont mind renting a cheap vehicle. However, for the drag racing event we want to hire a convertible such as a mustang.

Questions:

1) Which areas should be avoided for the NYC/Motel car portion, due to poor public transport links or crime?

2) Are there any events that could impact our journey, such as sports or public holidays?

3) What are the laws on drink driving - any zero tolerance states that we should be cautious of? (from driving with a hangover)

Edits made to clarify some questions I have.

  • Welcome to TSE. Different people will have different opinions about what constitutes a "hindrance" or "extortionately priced" or "feasible." Can you be more specific about the information you would like us to provide? Why would New York be any worse than any other city? Most surveys find traffic to be even more noxious in Washington, and consensus will find the most extortionate toll on that stretch to be the Delaware Turnpike. – choster Feb 25 at 21:36
  • @MichaelSeifert thank you for the links. I'd already seen the first, but the second is actually more helpful. – MIL-SPEC Feb 26 at 9:15
  • @choster Thanks I have edited my language and added specific questions – MIL-SPEC Feb 26 at 9:30
  • Thanks, but it is still too broad. Drunk driving laws are a different matter from avoiding violent crime. I would consider asking separate questions. We'd also need to know dates if you're trying to avoid crowds due to events or holidays. – choster Feb 26 at 15:12
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Fancy or "cool" cars will be highly-priced for any renter, and may be unavailable to you because of your age.

Having a car in New York city is a serious challenge, particularly in Manhattan: there's little or no street parking with arcane regulations, and paid parking is expensive. I've traveled there many times, and always returned the rental car before entering the city.

  • When my friend and I were traveling through NYC we left the car at a motel out of central NYC and took the train in for sight seeing. – Willeke Feb 25 at 16:18
  • @Willeke We are considering doing just that - where was your motel and would you recommend it? – MIL-SPEC Feb 26 at 9:12
  • @MIL-SPEC, sorry I don't remember and it was nothing special. I think in Yonkers, but even there I am not sure. – Willeke Feb 26 at 11:08
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I have been to NYC a couple of times (from Providence, RI), but just on Saturday day trips.

The first time, I guessed the traffic would be terrible and parked at a suburban rail station in Connecticut, getting a train the rest of the way to Grand Central Station. I was surprised how quiet Manhattan seemed to be.

The next time, I resolved to drive into Manhattan. The traffic similar to my earlier trip. It was OK, certainly no worse than, say, London or Paris, but parking was hard to find and quite expensive. Negotiating the freeways around the city was difficult - I'm used to European style signage and things like "Rosedale Avenue" or "Webster Avenue" meant nothing to me when I was expecting clear signage for "Downtown" or "Manhattan Island". I imagine it could have been a lot more difficult if it had been mid-week instead.

Is it feasible? Yes; but it could be stressful if you are not used to big city driving, and expensive if you want to stay in Manhattan for more than a few hours.

As for under 25, it will cost you more for the rental (but I guess you know that already), and I guess a "cool" car will also cost more and might be a greater target for theft, but I very much doubt the rental company will levy extra charges because you dared to drive in NYC. All the same, make sure you have sufficient insurance coverage.

I realise the journey itself and seeing some of the USA, may be the purpose of your trip, but curious why you are choosing to fly to Boston and drive 600+ miles to Virginia, and another 600+ miles back, when there are plenty of airports closer to Virginia that would avoid the need to pass through NYC at all.

  • NYC - especially Manhattan - is definitely not designed for tourists to drive into or out of. With a navigation app it is possible, but it still would be stressful. The freeways which carry traffic through and out of NYC are much better signed. – Michael Hampton Feb 25 at 20:44
  • @nick Thank you for the insight. Parking in Connecticut sounds like a good plan which I will look into. As for the trip, we initially planned to fly to Richmond, VA but the prices were 2-3x higher than flying to JFK or Boston. In the end, we decided to pick Boston because there are things we want to see there aswell. – MIL-SPEC Feb 26 at 9:38
  • @MIL-SPEC If I remember correctly, we used the station parking in Stamford, CT. The parking is on the south side of the station and is connected to the station by a glass bridge. Parking and the rail fare itself were not expensive as I feared they could be (maybe $10 for the day to park, and maybe $20 each for the train), but it was a few years ago. It wasn't even crowded, but we were there around 8am on a Saturday morning and didn't return until around 11pm. – Nick Feb 26 at 17:08

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