Road Trip in New York

On This Page
New York is one of the country's oldest states, with a rich history from the American Revolution to today's role as a leader in the world's financial markets and a cultural trendsetter. Plus, just a couple dozen miles outside New York City: farmland. With so many choices, it can be hard to know where to start… but we're here to help.

NY Traffic Rules

Driving rules in New York state are not significantly different than in the rest of the country. Every area has its particularities though, and New York City is no exception.

  • No turn on red. It is illegal to make a right turn at a red light in New York City, even after a full stop.
  • No honking. Even though it doesn't necessarily sound this way when you walk down a busy street in the City, honking is to be used only for emergencies.

Major Roads in New York

The major New York state arteries include:

  • Interstate 87—I-87 is the easternmost highway stretching from Manhattan to Canada.
  • Interstate 81—1-81 is a mid-state north-south highway stretching from the New Jersey state border to the Great Lakes region.
  • Interstate 90—I-90 runs east-west through the state (and continues in the border states of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania).
  • Interstates 88, 86 and 84—Crosses the southern part of the state from east to west.

In the New York City (Five Boroughs) area:

  • Interstate 95—I-95 runs north-south, crossing straight through Manhattan.
  • Interstate 495—One of Long Island's primary highways, known as the Long Island Expressway locally.
  • Interstates 278 and 678—Running in and out of Long Island, in the area of Brooklyn and Queens. I-278 is also known as the “BQE," or Brooklyn/Queens Expressway. I-678 is the main artery leading to J.F.K. International Airport.

The New York City area is extremely dense and there are many more highways, some of which are referred to by name and not number (like Jackie Robinson Parkway). Be sure to consult a map or have good directions prior to a trip if you are not familiar with this area.

Things to Do in New York

Urban—The Big Apple & NYC Boroughs

New York City is a must-see for any traveler. The incredible breadth and depth of sights and activities mean there is always something new to discover. If that feels overwhelming, consider parsing the trip by main interests:

  • Sights:
    • Visit significant buildings like the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center. Even if you don't go inside, the exteriors and neighborhoods are worth seeing.
    • Culturally significant sites: Places like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island have the added fun of a short boat ride. Anyone whose family immigrated to the United States should consider visiting Ellis Island, which has a kid-friendly layout and exhibits.
  • Activities:
    • Catch a Broadway show—a musical or traditional theatre. And don't overlook “off-Broadway." Some of the most culturally and/or historically significant plays and musicals have lived in these smaller theaters.
    • Take a walking tour to get to know specific neighborhoods.
    • Visit the plethora of museums and art galleries, such as the Natural History Museum and the Guggenheim.
    • Visit Central Park and its walkways, ponds, fields, and Central Park Zoo.
  • The other Boroughs:
    • New York City is composed of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx, collectively known as the Five Boroughs. There are several trips worth making throughout this entire area.

Suburban—The Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley is filled with quaint towns, long on history from the days when the Hudson River was one of the main methods of transportation. In addition, many of New York's high society families built mansions open for visiting.

If you get hungry, the Culinary Institute of America offers top tier dining at a reasonable price—a great option after a long day hiking or visiting outdoor museums, like the Storm King Art Center outdoor sculpture park.

Upstate New York

Upstate New York is a vast, rural area coveted for summertime retreats. From the dense Adirondacks to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to Niagara Falls in Buffalo, there are many places to visit. Just plan ahead, as the distances are quite vast.