Scenic NYC Transit Rides

The 5 Most Scenic Transit Rides You Should Take While In NYC

The largest transit system in North America is full of hidden treasures.

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greghh2
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For most of its 8 million-plus daily riders, the MTA is something they despise. The customer service is horrible, the trains and buses are late and crowded, and the overall riding experience is stressful. But it doesn't have to be this way. New York's expansive transit system contains some very scenic rides that will make you rethink the way you see the MTA. Unlike your daily commute to and from work or school, these rides will help you relax and de-stress.

1. A Train Between Howard Beach-JFK and Broad Channel

This is the longest stretch between two consecutive NYC Subway stations (3.5 miles long and approximately 7 minutes each way) but undoubtedly the most scenic. Heading south from Howard Beach, the train heads on to a drawbridge that cuts right through the middle of the expansive Jamaica Bay. If you listen closely you can even hear the sound of the waves gently rocking the bridge's support columns. Towards the east, you can see JFK Airport and potentially planes taking off and landing. After a mile and a half of breathtaking maritime views, the train rolls through marshland at speeds up to 50 mph-close to the speed limit of the subway system. This ride is always stunning, but especially during the PM rush hour right before sunset. And the best part about all this is that the A train mostly runs R46 type cars, which are very quiet and smooth.

2. Q44 or Q50 LTD via Bronx-Whitestone Bridge

Front window view from a Q50 bus crossing the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.

Greg Huang

This is probably the most scenic portion of NYC's expansive bus system. The Q44 and Q50 are the only two bus routes connecting the Bronx and Manhattan, and both cross the graceful, Art Deco style Bronx-Whitestone Bridge to connect these two boroughs. Looking west from the bridge, you can see the Midtown Manhattan skyline in the distance and LaGuardia Airport closer by. If you look east, you will see the Throgs Neck Bridge and the wealthy suburbs of North Shore Long Island. And all this takes place over a seemingly endless expanse of azure water since the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge crosses the East River at one of its widest points.

3. M60 SBS via RFK Bridge

The M60 Select Bus Service, which connects Upper Manhattan to Astoria, Queens and LaGuardia Airport, is the only bus route to cross the East River suspension span of the RFK Bridge. This crossing is another one of NYC's most scenic, with views of the East River and Upper Manhattan towards the South, and the historic Hell Gate Bridge (which inspired the world famous Sydney Harbor Bridge) to the north. On top of that, the RFK bridge makes a sweeping turn on Randall's Island between Manhattan and Queens, making this already breathtaking crossing even more breathtaking.

4. Eastbound Q101 via Queensboro Bridge

The Queensboro Bridge has been featured in numerous works of pop culture, from The Great Gatsby to Charlotte's Web, and it's not hard to see why. The exposed cantilever structure of this century-old bridge is truly a marvel of engineering, and the views of Midtown Manhattan and Queens from the upper level are breathtaking. There are three local bus routes that cross the Queensboro Bridge: the Q32, Q60, and Q101. Unfortunately, only the eastbound (Queens-bound) Q101 crosses the bridge on the upper level; the Q32 and Q60, as well as the westbound Q101 all use the far less scenic lower level. But if you ever ride the eastbound Q101, sit back, relax, and enjoy the views, since you are in for a treat

5. BMT Brighton Line

The BMT Brighton Line, used by the B and Q trains in Brooklyn, is a favorite among photographers and transit enthusiasts, and for good reason. Unlike most NYC subway lines, the Brighton Line does not run underground or on elevated tracks, but rather in open cuts, or trenches. This, along with an abundance of vegetation and long stretches of straight track, provides stunning photo opportunities, as well as long and fast express runs and a general rustic feel. Riding this line is strangely relaxing and invigorating, in stark contrast to a Lexington Avenue rush hour train at crush load. The Brighton Line really brightens your day.

Despite its reputation for being a stress creator, NYC's transit system is also an excellent stress reliever. It is full of beauty and splendor. You just have to discover it. And once you do, you will not only appreciate but be grateful for, the greatest city in the world and its transit system ever so much more.

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11 Inexpensive Road Trip Destinations For College Students

Because adventure.
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College is a time to make memories. It is a time to set out and explore the world. The only problem is that it can be difficult to travel when you're flat-out broke. Many college students are discovering that while the cost of textbooks and tuition increases, their travel funds sadly decrease. Since jet-setting to Paris or Rome may be out of reach at the moment, many students are resorting to road trips within the United States to fix their case of wanderlust. Not only are road trips much more affordable, but they also allow for more spontaneity and exploration. There are countless of hidden gems just waiting to be explored, so grab some friends, put on your favorite Spotify road trip playlist, hit the road and make memories at these 11 incredible places.

1. Havasu Falls, Arizona

It is hard to believe that such a breathtaking waterfall can exist in the middle of the desert. Thankfully, Havasu Falls is no mirage. The falls are located in a remote region of the Grand Canyon and can only be accessed through a 10-mile hike. The entry fee to the park is relatively low and the overnight camping fee is even lower, making it a great destination for college students on a budget.

2. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Instead of spending a semester's worth of tuition on an expensive snowboarding trip, students can try a cheaper alternative - sandboarding. Located in Southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a unique destination that offers a variety of activities. Businesses right outside the park offer the rental of boards, sleds and even skis all specially made for the sand. This means that the rental and entrance fees are the only costs for a fun-filled day of surfing the dunes.

3. South Padre Island, Texas

Whether you head to South Padre for an exciting, fun-filled spring break or for a relaxing weekend getaway, renting a condo is the way to go. The cost of renting a condo can be very low if you split it among several people, which means you can enjoy a tropical beach vacation without breaking the bank.

4. Las Vegas, Nevada


Vegas can either be a very expensive destination or a very inexpensive destination. That's why it is important to play your cards right - and I'm not just talking about gambling. Skip staying the night at the high-end hotels and enjoy their free attractions instead. If you decide to hit the casinos, make sure to keep track of your money - those textbooks don't pay for themselves.

5. Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

In the fall, college campuses across America celebrate the chilly weather with football games, bonfires, and pumpkin-spiced everything. For those who want to switch things up, pack your bags and head to the Smoky Mountains. These beautiful mountains are a must-see in the fall due to the stunning scenery and fall foliage. Try renting a cheap cabin or camping at Smoky Bear Campgrounds to save money.

6. Austin's Sixth Street, Texas

Sixth Street is an iconic and historic street in the heart of Austin. From the exciting nightlife and multitude of bars to the live music and unique art galleries, Sixth Street offers a little something for everyone. For a truly unique Austin experience, stay at the affordable Firehouse Hostel, just minutes from Sixth Street.

7. Daytona Beach, Florida

Located about and hour and half south of Jacksonville, Daytona Beach is notoriously known as a wild spring break destination for college students. While exploring all the concerts, bars and clubs that Daytona has to offer, students can take advantage of the free party bus for easy and affordable transit.

8. Albuquerque, New Mexico

For the low price of only $10 per person, you can experience Albuquerque's annual Balloon Fiesta. A photographer's dream, the Balloon Fiesta offers tons of unique sights, shopping opportunities, and delicious food. If you can't make it to Albuquerque in October, when the Balloon Fiesta takes place, there are plenty of other affordable places to explore. From Sandia Peak to Old Town, Albuquerque offers something for everyone.

9. Rainbow Springs State Park, Florida

For water lovers, this Florida gem has it all. Kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and tubing are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy in the crystal clear water of the Rainbow River. Since this destination is off the beaten path, it is an affordable alternative to Florida's Discovery Cove.

10. New Orleans, Louisiana

Two words: Bourbon Street. Full of iconic bars, local jazz musicians and interesting cuisine, there is never a dull moment on Bourbon Street. As if this famous street wasn't crazy enough, in February thousands of college students flock there to celebrate Mardi Gras. Though the prices of drinks can be high during this time, students can save money by booking their hotel ahead of time. For under $100 per night, Astor Crowne Plaza offers guests a luxurious stay on a budget.

11. Pacific Coast Highway, California

Though this one is not quite a destination per se, it should definitely be high up on your bucket list. This coastal highway, also known as Highway 1, hits many of California's major cities such as San Fransisco and Santa Monica. As if a trip to these cities is not exciting enough, the drive itself is extremely scenic. To save money on this trip, try booking cheap hotels or even stay for free at hostels. Of course, with this trip and all of these trips, you are bound to spend some money. But the memories that you will make on these trips will be worth every penny.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap

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Things To Do in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is a big city with a booming night life and beautiful scenery.

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I recently took a long weekend trip to Vancouver. Here are some things I did and some ideas and suggestions for those visiting the city for the first time.

Cocktails

You can't come to Metropolitan Vancouver and not go out for drinks at least one night. There are so many restaurants and cocktail lounges around the city, it would be a shame to neglect to try some Canadian alcohol. The first night I was in town, I went to Juniper Restaurant and Bar in Chinatown.

They had a wide selection of different mixed drinks, and I was impressed with the flavors of all the different cocktails I tried. Most restaurants around the city sell alcohol, so do some research and try the different alcohol selections in the different parts of the city.

The drinking age in Canada is 19, so it was strange for me to go out and order cocktails for myself. Some places ask for two forms of Government issued ID, so be prepared by bringing your Drivers License and passport.

Clubs

The Roxy

During my time in the city, I never went to any clubs. My hotel was on the same block as several of the popular ones, and they seemed like a pretty big deal. I am used to the clubs in my college town, so I was not prepared to walk myself into a real uppity downtown club.

Some of them have dress codes and other rules so be sure to do some research before planning your whole night around being there. One down the block from my downtown hotel was called The Roxy Cabaret. I heard if you are wanting just one club to give you the full Vancouver experience, that was the one to try.

Markets

Granville Island Public Market Entrance

The most popular market in Vancouver is the Granville Island Public Market, very obviously located on Granville Island. The market has art galleries, the market itself which includes anything from artwork to fruits and meats, little shops, and restaurants.

There is a lot of entertainment there. Sometimes they host music festivals and other events during the summer, so expect to spend several hours there if you are wanting to get the full market experience.

During the summer, North Vancouver hosts The Shipyards Night Market. If you are wanting a taste of North Vancouver, including food, drinks, and culture, this is the summer event to go to. I ate some tasty Greek dessert and drank a sparkling vodka while listening to a live band. It was a great way to enjoy the beautiful evenings on the shore.

Whale Watching

Killer Whales

Vancouver is known for its beautiful landscapes and its salmon fishing. While I was there, we went whale watching in Steveston, British Columbia located right outside of Vancouver. During our 4 hour trip, we saw bald eagles, sea lions, killer whales, all with the backdrop of the beautiful North Shore Mountains.

Make sure to bring warm clothes and food. It was a really beautiful trip but the breeze from the fast-moving boat was a little chilly. It was also a long trip, so it was nice to have something to snack on to make sure I wouldn't get sea sick.

Eat

Vegetarian Poutine

Morgan Fischer

Vancouver is a cultural center. There are so many different people there from all over the world. The majority of the people I met there had accents because they were not originally from Canada.

That means the city is filled with every type of food you can think of. You can get anything from Thai to Italian to barbeque and everything in between. Look up different culture areas of the city and try new food in each one.

I also suggest trying Canadian food. Poutine especially. Poutine is simply french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds on it. There are even restaurants that just serve poutine, but spice it up with different toppings and such. The one I would always walk by was Mean Poutine that was located downtown. There was always a line out the door so it must be good!

Finally, Just Ask a Local

Vancouver residents obviously know the best things to do in the city. All the people I interacted with were extremely nice and helpful. I even had a waitress write down a whole list of places to go get the best cocktails around the city.

Do not be shy while you are there. Talk to your waitress or the person helping you at the store. Ask them about the city and see where they think you should go. You never know a hidden treasure you may find or an adventure you may experience because of their advice!

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