Traveling from New Jersey: A Theater Lover’s How-To

By Jennifer Fleckner | Sep 5, 2017

New Jersey offers lawns, ample gas stations, and affordable(ish) housing. But the commute can be a bear. One theater fan offers her favorite tips for making the trek to Broadway.

Penn Station in the early 20th century Penn Station in the early 20th century | By Photo by Edwin Levick/Getty Images

I’m a theater lover in New Jersey.


I always have been. When I was a kid, I lived for the days my parents and I would trek into the city to catch a show. Back then, we usually had the luxury of driving to the city. And when that wasn’t an option, we’d simply take a train—always a big adventure for a little girl.


Then came my glory years when I lived in Manhattan and could just walk to the theater. There’s nothing like leaving a Broadway show and strolling home through the nighttime city on a post-performance high.


Now I’m back in Jersey, living in the ‘burbs with my husband and two kids—but I’m still a theater fan and nothing can keep me away from Broadway. Every couple of months I make my way into the city to see a show. It’s never an easy commute, but I’ve picked up some helpful tips and tricks to make my theater night run smoothly.


Mass Transit FTW

If you live in a town that offers fast and easy public transportation, by all means use it! Most New Jersey Transit trains and buses run until midnight or later, so there’s definitely time to make it to Port Authority or Penn Station before last call. You might even have time for a post-show nightcap.

Parking


But if you’re like me, and your town doesn’t offer a convenient mass transit option, then you’re likely to be driving. And yes, it can get pricey. Parking garages, especially in the theater district, can cost a fortune! On top of the hourly rate, they charge you extra for an oversized vehicle. (I always take my husband’s smaller car.)


I’ve found that the cheapest way to park is by reserving a spot in advance. There are apps that allow you to see the garages in the area you’re traveling into. From there, you can compare prices and locations, pick the one that works best for you, and reserve a spot. Spot Hero is my favorite parking app - and now they let you search by select Broadway theaters! Icon Parking and SP+ Parking, (companies who run tons of garages around the city), also allow you to reserve in advance. This has saved me time and money, and I highly recommend it the next time you are traveling into the city by car.


And if you’re coming via the Lincoln Tunnel, Port Authority has a terrific parking garage at the top of the building, and it’s less expensive than most of the garages in the Times Square area.


Go West!  

However you pick a parking spot, try to park west of 8th Avenue to avoid traffic congestion. Rush hour in midtown sometimes means it takes thirty minutes just to get around the block. The farther west you park, the better your chances of a painless experience—and the easier it is to get back home at the end of the night.


Grabbing a Bite

Whether I’m seeing a show with my husband or with friends, I love to make a night of it. If you’re looking for a good place to grab dinner, one of my favorites is Haru Sushi on 43rd St. between 7th and 8th. It’s quick and easy, and the food is always good.


If you have a little more time and are looking for a more relaxing dining experience, there are great neighborhood Italian restaurants on 9th Ave. One of my favorites is Boca di Bacco which has a couple convenient locations. But “relaxing” can also mean slower service, so be sure you give yourself enough time to get to the theater.


And when I come in with the kids, we usually end up at 5 Napkin Burger or John’s Pizza. And I always bring snacks to avoid overpriced concessions at the theater.


Worth It

For theater lovers, nothing is better than seeing a great show. Even if getting there means sitting in traffic, tracking down parking, finding a quick (tasty) bite to eat, and still getting there before the lights go down. Hopefully these tips will make your own trip from New Jersey a little bit easier. Most importantly, leave yourself a lot of time.


And enjoy the journey!


Do you have any tips for our fellow theater-lovers commuting in from New Jersey? (Or elsewhere?) Share them in the comments below!



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