Everyone should visit Times Square at least once in their life. It’s one of those iconic destinations that has to be experienced to be appreciated, or not.
No One Wants to Drive in New York
Our last adventure to New York City was in 2016 and we traveled by Greyhound Bus, which got us there, but was not the best travel experience to date. This time we decided to try our luck with Megabus, which actually worked out really well.
Here’s the thing. No one wants to drive in NYC, at least no one we know. It’s crazy time traffic and most of the rules of the road are often just suggestions as evidenced by the nearly continuous sound of honking horns. It’s actually fairly humorous to watch, as long as you’re not behind the wheel. And, don’t get me started on the price of parking. Yikes!
How to Ride Megabus
From our front door we walked to the nearest bus stop, hopped on the bus bound for the Metro Station and the Metro train whisked us away to Union Station in Washington, DC – our next door city neighbor. Megabus houses their operation in the parking garage of Union Station, along with several other bus companies. This in itself is not the norm for Megabus because many of their pick up and drop off spots are city streets, curbside.
We rode the bus from DC to Philadelphia (another story still to come) and two days later we lined up on the sidewalk, near the visitor’s center at Independence Hall, and boarded a bus to NYC. Four days later, we once again lined up on a designated sidewalk and boarded a bus bound for DC. Altogether we booked three tickets (times two), with reserved seating, and it cost us a grand total of $81. Yep. That’s it. $81. The buses were clean, comfortable, had good air-conditioning and power to plug in.
The company, we suspect, is able to keep the price of tickets low because they have no brick and mortar operation. They literally have designated curbside stops, with a few exceptions, i.e. Union Station. Would I want to travel long distances by bus, no. But, a 4 1/2 hour trip from NYC to DC? Absolutely. You cannot beat the price and the convenience. Not all seats can be reserved though. We paid an extra $2 per seat for each of our seats. Otherwise, it’s all general seating. Twice we had to ask people to move from our seats, but we had no issues whatsoever. Also, there are no printed tickets. Your confirmation is your ticket which you can either print out, or you can simply show the driver the confirmation on your phone. It’s a pretty great system.
Here’s a hint: When you know your dates of travel, the more flexible you are with your travel times, the better. We left NYC at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon and we paid $12 for our two seats. Had we booked an 8:30 a.m. bus, we would have paid four times as much. Flexibility is the key to savings.
Hello Times Square!
Okay, back to the over-the-top glitz and all-around craziness of Times Square. It just has to be seen to be appreciated, or not. It’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea. I can’t say we love it, but we do spend a couple of hours roaming about each time we visit the city.
If you’re a people watcher, there’s no finer people watching than in Times Square. If you visit in the summer high season, like we did, you will see more people than you can even begin to imagine. It’s packed with tourists from all over the world. So what’s to see in Times Square you ask?
What to See in Times Square
The billboards are larger than life, and there are so many of them. In every direction you turn, the billboards seem to get bigger and bigger. And, the signage can be engaging. My favorite is always the M&M Store.
Want to find Broadway Show Tickets on the cheap? (cheap being a relative term) Times Square is where you’ll find the kiosk for show tickets. The streets of Times Sqaure are lined with television studios, restaurants, souvenir shops, bars, and skyscrapers every which way. It’s hard to take it all in. And, if you look for it, you can find the infamous New Year’s Eve ball that drops to count down the magical hour. Oh, and if you see Spiderman and Lady Liberty hanging around and you want to take his/her picture, it’s not free so ask first.
There’s Always a Downside
There is a downside though. Prices are sky high in Times Square. We sat down in a restaurant to have a lite lunch, a taco. The price on the menu for a taco with a few trimmings, $27. Pass. We quietly made our exit. But just off of Times Square we found an excellent and authentic Taqueria where the tacos were not only delicious, they were $3.50 each. Granted, it was the kind of place where you stand while you eat, but there was a line out the door and that’s always a good sign.
A Night in Casablanca
Everyone should visit Times Square once in their life and everyone should spend a night in Casablanca, which just happens to be steps away from Times Square. Talk about convenient. After you’ve worn yourself out taking in the glitz, people watching, shopping and eating a few tacos, it’s time to relax with Rick and Ilsa at the Casablanca Hotel. Because really, when you hear Casablanca, you think Rick and Ilsa. Right?
From the moment you step inside the Casablanca you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to another time. If you look closely, you’ll find Rick and Ilsa discreetly waiting for you. Every conceivable touch of design sets the stage for a night(s) in a far away land. We haven’t yet been to Morocco, but when we stay at Casablanca I like to pretend that I’m there and it’s not hard to do in the hotel’s beautiful ambiance.
The staff at Casablanca will warmly greet you, check you in and provide any information you could possibly need as all front desk staff are also concierge, and they know their city.
The rooms are beautifully appointed and again, the decor makes you feel as if you’ve just stepped in to another time and place. Guests are provided with every amenity from plush robes to slippers, to soaps and shampoos, to hypoallergenic pillows. And, after you return from dinner, or an evening out, you’ll find your bed(s) has been turned down and chocolate squares waiting for you. You’re sure to have sweet dreams.
Once you check in and you’ve oohhed and aahhed over your beautifully-appointed room make your way to Rick’s Cafe for happy hour. A glass of wine, or Prosescco is at the ready, as are a delicious assortment of crackers, cheese, olives and other tasty nibbles. Sit back and relax because who doesn’t love happy hour? Read the newspaper, check your email, or here’s an idea… have an actual conversation with the person sitting next to you.
After a peaceful night’s sleep, you’ll find a lovely continental breakfast waiting for you the next morning. It’s served buffet style in Rick’s Cafe. Coffee, tea, orange juice, bagels, toast, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt and the list goes on. Actually, you can find coffee, tea and assorted pastries and cookies 24/7 in Rick’s.
Taking in the sites of Times Square, finding great tacos and a fabulous stay at the Casablanca, was the perfect way to reaquaint ourselves with NYC. After a leisurely breakfast, we gathered our things and set off to discover what day two in the Big Apple would bring our way. Stay tuned!
- The Casablanca Hotel is part of the Library Hotel Collection and we were guests in their writer’s in residence program. You can read our full disclosure here.