The idea of renting a car in New York might seem a little crazy. But with some foresight, and by arming yourself with knowledge about the city streets, driving a rental car in New York is possible. And the best part is that you can see parts of the city and the surrounding area that most visitors never will.
It is, however, important to note that a car rental might not be the best way for everyone to get around New York. If you are only in the city for one or two days and not planning on leaving Manhattan, it is perhaps better to walk or use public transit. But families or business travelers wanting to go to other boroughs or somewhere outside of New York City’s confines should consider renting a car from Sixt in Downtown New York.
What to Know Before You Drive
Parking is probably one of the most difficult parts of driving in New York. You have several options including parking garages and lots, metered street parking, and free street parking. That last one is rare, and mostly found in neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island.
Parking garages and lots in Manhattan are convenient, but expensive. Generally if you park in a garage that is part of a multi-location company, rates will be lower. If possible, also avoid garages in touristy neighborhoods like Times Square where the parking costs are higher. Parking garages in Midtown Manhattan charge between $7 and $20 per hour depending on the location. Metered parking will cost you $3.50 per hour in Manhattan south of 96th St. You can pay via credit card, coins or with the ParkNYC app.
Tolls are also common on roads in and around New York and adding an EZ Pass transponder to your car rental is a good idea. This saves you time at toll points and means you also don’t have to worry about having cash on you.
And the last thing you should have for your car rental? GPS. This is crucial for staying on top of traffic situations (and there will be traffic situations in New York!) and finding the fastest routes. You can also add this to your Sixt car rental when you book online.
5 Places in New York to See in a Sixt Rental Car
Having a rental car in New York gives you the chance to see parts of the city that are not easily accessible by public transportation. Here are some places worth a day trip.
- Red Hook, Brooklyn: This waterfront neighborhood on the western edge of Brooklyn is most well known for its shipping terminal, quaint shops and restaurants … and an IKEA. The area was once full of longshoremen who worked on ships or on the docks. Some hint of that past remains and the neighborhood retains a small-town vibe, making it perfect for a lunch stop or afternoon stroll.
- The Rockaways, Queens: This peninsula on the southern edge of the city past JFK International Airport is a perfect summer destination. Rockaway Beach is a 36-minute drive from Sixt’s Downtown New York location and is nicer and less crowded than the beach at Coney Island. A renovation of the beach area and boardwalk food and drink options makes it a popular destination for sunbathers and surfers alike.
- Flushing, Queens: The diversity of Queens is evident in this neighborhood that is home to one of New York’s three Chinatowns. Explore the mall food courts serving food from all over China and other countries in Asia. Drive further out in Queens and find Korean restaurants and stores, and the ever-popular Spa Castle that is perfect for a relaxing day.
- City Island, Bronx: Accessible by a bridge from Pelham Bay Park, City Island in Long Island Sound transports you to New England. Eating some seafood at a restaurant on the water is highly recommended, as is a walk around the island for some antique browsing.
- Storm King Art Center: The outdoor sculpture park is about an hour and 20 minute drive from Downtown New York, near West Cornwall, NY. Covering 500 acres, the open-air park offers tram tours and bike rentals. Check the website for opening hours and days as they vary depending on the time of year.