Families and Special Travelers
Children in New York
New York is an enjoyable part of the country for family road trips, and it's relatively affordable once you get outside greater New York City—there are plenty of comparatively inexpensive kid-friendly hotels and family-style restaurants in the northern and western sections of the state, and these regions offer some of the top kid-oriented attractions. Favorite New York destinations for families are the Long Island shoreline (including much of Fire Island and parts of the Hamptons), Lake George, the Catskills, the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, and Niagara Falls. Note that some of the quieter and more rural parts of the region—although exuding history—lack child-oriented attractions. New York City is full of fun things for kids. Cultural institutions host programs introducing children to the arts; large stores put on fun promotional events; and many attractions, from skyscrapers to museums, engage the whole family. For listings of children's events, consult New York magazine, available at newsstands. The Friday New York Times "Weekend" section also includes children's activities. Fodor's Around New York City with Kids and Fodor's Family New York City With Kids (available in bookstores everywhere) can also help you plan your days together.
Many of the state's fine, antiques-filled bed-and-breakfasts and inns really aren't suitable for kids; many flat-out refuse to accommodate children. Rooms in New York City, particularly in Manhattan, are small by national standards, so ask just how large the room is into which you're adding a cot or fold-out couch. Most hotels in New York allow children under a certain age to stay in their parents' room at no extra charge, but others charge for them as extra adults; be sure to find out the cutoff age for children's discounts. Amenities for youngsters often include movies for in-room use, pools, and an occasional playground.
Visit the dedicated children’s section of the state tourism Web site (www.iloveny.com/kids) for more information on traveling with children.
Disabilities and Accessibility
New York has come a long way toward making life easier for people with disabilities. On most Manhattan street corners, curb cuts allow wheelchairs to roll along unimpeded. Statewide, many restaurants, shops, and movie theaters with step-up entrances have wheelchair ramps.
Most hotels in New York comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The definition of accessibility, however, seems to differ from hotel to hotel. Some properties may be accessible by ADA standards for people with mobility problems but not for people with hearing or vision impairments, for example. When you call to make reservations, specify your needs and make sure the hotel can accommodate them. Newer and chain hotels are likely to be the most accessible.
Sights & Attractions
Most sights in New York, whether museums, parks, or theaters, can accommodate people who use wheelchairs. Some attractions have tours or programs for people with mobility, vision, or hearing impairments.
Drivers with disabilities may use windshield cards from their own state or Canadian province to park in designated handicap parking.
In Manhattan, other than at major subway exchanges, most stations are all but impossible to navigate for people with disabilities; people in wheelchairs should stick to public buses, most of which have wheelchair lifts at the rear door and "kneelers" at the front to facilitate getting on and off. Bus drivers will provide assistance. Reduced fares are available to all passengers with disabilities displaying a Medicare card. Visitors to the city are also eligible for the same Access-a-Ride program benefits as New York City residents.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division's online publication New Horizons: Information for the Air Traveler with a Disability offers advice for travelers with a disability, and outlines basic rights. Visit DisabilityInfo.gov for general information.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) offers lower fares for passengers 65 and over for New York City buses and subways. Show your Medicare card to the bus driver or station agent, and for the standard fare ($2) you will be issued a MetroCard and a return-trip ticket.
To qualify for age-related discounts, mention your senior-citizen status up front when booking hotel reservations (not when checking out) and before you're seated in restaurants (not when paying the bill). Be sure to have identification on hand. When renting a car, ask about promotional car-rental discounts, which can be cheaper than senior-citizen rates.
Students in New York
With several prominent private universities and colleges and 64 State University of New York (SUNY) campuses throughout the state, it's no wonder that New York offers countless discounts for students. Wherever you go, especially museums, sightseeing attractions, and performances, identify yourself as a student up front and ask if a discount is available. Be prepared to show your student ID for discounts.
STA Travel. 800/781–4040; www.sta.com.
Travel Cuts. 212/674–2887; www.travelcuts.com.