New Yorkers and their neighbors can be gruff, but polite. Beyond the tough exterior lies a person who is generally willing to help you enjoy the region.
- Greetings Shaking hands with both men and women is customary on first meeting.
- Lines/Queues Cutting in line happens sometimes, generally when 'saving a space' for someone, but is looked down upon.
- Traffic People will speed, cut you off, pass you on the right and make rude gestures. Keep your cool and don't follow their lead.
- Tipping American servers rely on tips to compensate for lower salaries, so please do, from 15 to 20 percent for good service. If your taxi driver is good, throw him an extra dollar or two.
- Cell phones Some commuter trains have 'quiet cars,' so be aware, and when in doubt, text.
- Bargaining Not common in the United States.
Gay & Lesbian Travellers
The Northeast is pretty gay-friendly, especially in cities like New York. The Big Apple, in particular the West Village, is welcoming, as are the seaside resorts of Asbury Park (New Jersey) and Fire Island, and towns like Hudson, NY. Outside of urban centers, however, there is less tolerance.
Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as it is in the majority of US states.
In fact, New York was a fulcrum of the gay rights movement when the Stonewall Riot erupted in 1969 at the landmark West Village night spot. Neighboring Christopher Park is now contains Stonewall National Monument, dedicated to the LGBT movement. Similarly, the Oscar Wilde bookshop was a literary one-off and gathering place for more than four decades until it finally closed shop in 2009. More recently, in 2018 the St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church of Hoboken chose its first transgender pastor.
Hotels like Tides in Asbury Park and The Madison Fire Pines fly the rainbow flag proudly. The website www.purpleroofs.com has a handy list, state-by-state, of gay-friendly accommodations.
- Smoking is forbidden is all public places in this region, and sometimes anywhere within 25 feet of a public building. Bars and offices have designated smoking areas outside.
- Some very old bars have smoking 'grandfathered' in, but they're few and far between.
- Many places don't distinguish between smoking and vaping, so it's generally not allowed either.
Travel with Children
The region has tons of beaches, water sports, hiking, amusement parks, bike paths and outdoor activities. For the more cerebral child, there is a range of museums and music venues. From the traditional culture of Amish country to everything-new New York City, your kids will be in constant wonder.
Best Regions for Kids
- The Jersey Shore
Miles of beaches and boardwalk, fun food and snacks, and, of course, amusement parks.
- Long Island
More sun and sand, where you can learn to surf, boogieboard or even climb a lighthouse.
- New York City
Get lost in the Big Apple's museums, stroll through iconic Central Park and take in a baseball game in the Bronx or Queens.
- Pennsylvania Dutch Country
Take your family back a century to observe a different way of life, and don't forget to try the yummy pretzels and shoofly pie.
- Pine Barrens
Camp among the pitch pine paths and canoe the mazy rivers of New Jersey's quietest place, and find some delicious pies along the roadside.
Amusement Parks & Rides
- Jenkinson's, Seaside Heights A combo arcade–mini-golf wonderland that seemingly goes on for miles.
- Mini-golf, Long Beach Island Who wants to play on a real golf course when you can smack your shot through a rotating windmill?
- Lucy the Elephant, Margate This landmark begs the question: what kid doesn't want to climb inside a 60-foot pachyderm?
- New Jersey Museum of Transportation, Allaire More fun that watching bog iron solidify, this quick train trip zips around the park in a historic engine.
- Silver Ball Museum, Asbury Park Dozens of historic pinball machines, all for one price. Caution: parents love it as much, or more, than kids.
- Strong Museum of Play, Rochester Dolls and video games each have their own Hall of Fame here: need we say more?
- Cranberry Bog, Long Island An easy one-mile loop around a historic bog, where you'll probably see turtles, frogs, and birds.
- Cheesequake State Park, NJ Take the Red Trail for a somewhat up-and-down but easy walk around a beautiful lake.
- Batsto Village, NJ The Blue Trail is short and gives you a taste of the pine forest, and it edges lovely Batsto Lake.
- Orient Beach State Park, Long Island The Roy Latham Maritime Trail, just outside the parking lot, is a ½-mile loop on an easy wood-chip path with educational signs designed for children.
- Maui's Dog House The tastiest dogs on the Shore.
- Shut Up and Eat! Come in your pajamas, the staff's already got ’em on!
- Uncle Bill's Pancake House Stacks of golden goodness dripping with syrup.
- Taco Project Quality tacos in tony Tarrytown.
- Benny Tudino's Where the slice of pizza is larger than your child.
For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.
- Clothing Temps can spike in winter and plunge in summer. Come prepared.
- Electronics Make sure you have charging cables for all your devices.
- Strollers Not allowed on public buses in NYC unless folded.
- Beaches Good tips to be found at Traveling Mom (www.travelingmom.com).
- Babysitters Contact the Baby Sitters’ Guild (www.babysittersguild.com).
- Resources Check out Time Out New York Kids (www.timeout.com/new-york-kids) and Mommy Poppins (www.mommypoppins.com).
Travellers with Disabilities
In general, this region is up to the legal standard in providing access to all in restaurants, transit and other public accomodations. The 1990 amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act essentially prevents prohibiting access to public facilities for anyone, and this includes foreign travelers.
In New York, the Big Apple Greeter (www.bigapplegreeter.org) will provide you with a list of accessible activities and even match you with a volunteer to help you get the most out of your visit.
The US Department of Transportation's Disabilities Resource Center provides a handy document for travelers with disabilities (www.transportation.gov/drc/travelers-disabilities-information-and-resources).
Traveler's Aid (www.travelersaid.org) has a link on their website to specific transportation carriers and their policies regarding disabled passengers.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.