Car Hire in New York
This information is correct as of April 2015
Explore all five boroughs in style behind the wheel of a hire car. Whether you’re planning on zipping around the top sights of New York City, heading out of town for a day trip or three, or whether you just need a car to get you from point A to point B, you can always find the best deals on car hire with Skyscanner. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about hiring a car in New York City.
Where to hire a car in New York
Car hire is available at all three airports serving the city. All three airports have ten premium car hire brands to choose from. Lots of car hire companies also have city centre pick-up locations in Manhattan. There are plenty of big brands to choose from, especially in Midtown. Avis, Enterprise, Budget, Alamo and Hertz all have multiple locations in the Big Apple.
Driving in New York
People drive on the right in the USA, so when you hire a car in NYC it’s likely to be a left hand drive. Automatic cars are more prevalent in America. If you’ve never driven this style of car before, it’s worth spending a few minutes familiarising yourself with the controls before setting off on your first adventure.
There are some toll roads to be aware of in NYC, for example the Lincoln Tunnel which connects the city with New Jersey. You can pay in cash, but some car hire companies will provide you with an E-Z Pass transponder device (you reimburse them for the tolls when you return the car).
Driving in Manhattan can be an intimidating prospect, but once you get behind the wheel and join traffic you’ll realise it’s no different from any other large city. Stick to the speed limit (30mph), check your blind spot before overtaking stopped cabs, and keep an eye out for jaywalking pedestrians. There are lots of cycle lanes in NYC, so be aware that there might be bicycles speeding up on your inside. As long as you keep your wits about you, driving in Manhattan is a breeze.
It’s rush hour all the time in Manhattan. From 8am until 7pm the roads are chockablock. If you’re planning to get out of the city for the day it’s best to leave at 6am, so you don’t get stuck in gridlock. The other boroughs have more standard rush hours: from 6:30am until 10am, and again from 3pm until 7pm.
Parking in New York
There are lots of commercial car parks in New York City (well over a thousand). These car parks are all in fierce competition with each other, and you can pick up discounts by booking in advance through their websites. There are apps dedicated to helping you find the best parking spaces: ParkNSave, BestParking, and SmoothParking are three examples.
On-street parking is available, but it comes at a premium. It’s important to look at signage to make sure you’re not stopping in a no-park zone. You always have to park at least 15 feet from a fire hydrant, or you could end up with your car being towed. There are very few on-street parking spaces in Midtown (home to the Empire State Building, the theatre district, and other top attractions) and in lower Manhattan. Some free on-street parking can be found around The Village. Parking spaces are much more prevalent in upper Manhattan, as well as in the Bronx and Brooklyn. You may need to park your car and take public transport into the city centre.
Great day trips from New York
Fans of The Great Gatsby will instantly recognise this exclusive enclave as the inspiration for East Egg in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. Tranquil and relaxing, it’s hard to believe this village is just an hour’s drive from NYC. Relax on the sandy beach, visit the impressive Hempstead House, or enjoy a wander through the forested nature trails.
America’s oldest winery
The Hudson Valley is famous for its wines, although very few of them ever make it to Britain. America’s oldest winery, Brotherhood, is a 90 minute drive from the city. Obviously the driver will have to stick to water during the trip, but you can always pick up a bottle or two of their high end Riesling and pinot noir to enjoy later.
If the smog of the city is getting to you, head into the Hudson Highlands and blow the cobwebs away. There are lots of excellent hiking trails, a riverside beach, and lots of ruins to explore. If you’re feeling brave, you can try scrambling up Breakneck Ridge for excellent views across the surrounding countryside.