Why Driving Can Be Better in New York City

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Behind The Wheel In NYC? Where You Should Go.

Getting around New York City by subway is relatively easy and cheap, but in the heat of summer, when the underground stations exceed triple digit temperatures and the fetid smells multiply, an air-conditioned car beckons.

And NYC really does have some places that are best driven to.

Jacob Riis Park

New York City

Crowds in New York City? Not so much at Jacob Riis Park. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

This city beach has easy bicycle access. But can you carry a chair on your bike, not to mention cold drinks, a towel, change of clothes, (and footwear – bike shoes on the beach?) a book, the newspaper, snacks and a beach umbrella on your bike? Not to mention a cooler, sunscreen, a hat…

Riis, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, charges $10 for parking Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. If you just want to enjoy the ocean breezes at night, there is no fee past 6pm.

Like Rockaway Beach, further east, hipster creep has arrived at Jacob Riis Park. There are a bunch of artisanal food stands, most of them Smorgasburg outposts, along with live music and a DJ. While the bathrooms are pretty gross, the beach and water are clean.

And biking can still be part of your beach day. If you bring your bikes, you can explore Fort Tilden, a more remote beach that resembles the Outer Banks. Note: there are also unofficial nude beaches here.

The Staten Island Zoo

This small zoo is great for little kids, who can be overwhelmed at the Bronx Zoo. The zoo has a large variety of animals,including lots of reptiles and smaller mammals. There are a few areas designed just for kids, and there is free parking and a picnic area if you bring your own lunch.

Wave Hill

This estate in Riverdale, The Bronx, was our favorite place to go when our kids were little. Overlooking the Hudson River, the estate has flower gardens, art programs for kids and a wonderful cafe. There is also an area where you can sit with food you’ve brought. You don’t have to drive; there are free shuttles that meet both MetroNorth trains and the subway, but from Brooklyn, this takes at least 90 minutes each way; from our house, the drive is under an hour.

Parking is free and Tuesday sand Saturdays, admission is free from 9am to noon.

Fort Tryon Park

This gorgeous park in Upper Manhattan can be reached by the A train, but the deep deep station, buried further underground than any other station in the MTA, deters claustrophobic people like me. Plus the extremely steep climb up to The Cloisters, the Medieval branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, challenges even the most fit. If you drive, you can park free and roam the area, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., the son of the architect of Central Park and Prospect Park.

Be sure to stop by the New Leaf restaurant, which has awesome vegetarian choices and a spectacular view.

Judy Antell, who is TravelingMom.com's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell