How to Avoid Tolls when Driving from DC to NYC

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Christmas In New York City! Avoid Tolls From DC To New York City

Avoid Tolls From DC to NYC

To lower your traveling expenses, avoid tolls from DC to NYC. Traveling is expensive these days. Between the ever rising cost of gasoline, travel tolls, regular car maintenance, and any food you purchase along the way, weekend road trip expenses can quickly add up. We were searching for a way to keep our travel expenses to New York as low as possible. This lead us to research alternate ways to travel to New York City from the Washington DC area.

Although we participate in the E-ZPass system, an electronic toll collection system that services roads, bridges, and tunnels in the Northeast, the toll fees have steadily risen over the years. Paying cash for toll roads while traveling to New York City is more expensive than using an E-ZPass device. You save but it is still expensive. The E-ZPass Toll costs traveling between DC and New York City round trip are about $75. Gasoline for a round trip to NYC can cost between $75 to $90 based on the price of a gallon of gasoline.  


Frugal Road Trip DC to NYC Photo by Markus Petritz #FrugalRoadTrip #RoadTrip #WashingtonDCtoNewYork #SaveMoney
Frugal Road Trip: DC to NYC (photo by Markus Petritz)

If you are in DC and need to travel to New York City but the thought of paying all those tolls prevents you from visiting the Big Apple …. Well, consider traveling an alternate route.  


Avoid Tolls From DC to NYC – Lower Manhattan

To minimize toll fees you pay consider this alternative route and save money on your next road trip to the Big Apple. 


  1. From Washington DC, Travel North on I-95 towards Baltimore.
  2. Before reaching Baltimore, take the Baltimore Beltway, Interstate 695-W  towards Towson, Maryland. You will bypass the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore.
  3. Take Interstate 83 North from the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) towards York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
  4. Continue on I-83 North in Pennsylvania until you reach York, Pennsylvania.
  5. York, Pennsylvania take exit 21-A for US 30 towards Lancaster.  
  6. Lancaster, Pennsylvania take US 222 North to Reading, Pennsylvania.
  7. Reading, Pennsylvania continue North on US 222 to Allentown, Pennsylvania.
  8. Allentown, Pennsylvania take Interstate 78 East towards New Jersey.
  9. In New Jersey, continue on Interstate 78 toward Newark.
  10. Continue on Interstate 78 for New York City via the Holland Tunnel. The Holland Tunnel will take you into Lower Manhattan.


Avoid Tolls From DC to NYC – Midtown Manhattan

If you are interested in traveling to Midtown Manhattan you will need to take a different path from I-78. In Newark right after the Newark Liberty International Airport take the New Jersey Turnpike North – Interstate 95 North. Follow signs to the Lincoln Tunnel. You can use the Lincoln Tunnel to cross over the Hudson River into Midtown Manhattan.

Frugal Road Trip DC to NYC Photo Eepeng Cheong #SaveMoney #RoadTripSavings #FrugalRoadTrip #WashingtonDCNewYorkCity
Frugal Road Trip: DC to NYC – Tunnel Crossing into NYC (photo by Eepeng Cheong)


Bronx or New England Travel

If you are interested in traveling to the Bronx (north of Upper West Side) or New England take the New Jersey Turnpike North – Interstate 95 North right after you pass the Newark Liberty International Airport. Follow the signs to the George Washington Bridge which is I-95. The lighted signs will indicate the estimated time to cross the George Washington Bridge on the upper and lower levels. The lower level is local and exclusively for cars. Trucks must use the upper level.


Port Authority of NY and NJ – Bridges and Tunnels Tolls

You will pay a toll for crossing the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, or the George Washington Bridge into New York City. Paying cash is the most expensive way to enter New York City from New Jersey by car. You can save money if you use an E-ZPass system and you can save even more if you travel during off-peak time periods. Off-peak time periods are weekdays after 10 am and before 4 pm. You can check the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey website for additional toll fee information.         

Travel from New York City into New Jersey, there are no tolls assessed on the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, or the George Washington Bridge. If you use the New Jersey Turnpike, there are toll fees assessed based on the travel distance you use.


Additional Information:

Something to consider, Interstate 95 North when traveling from Washington DC to New York City you have access to numerous rest areas along I-95. These rest areas have gasoline, various food options, coffee, and bathroom facilities with easy access from I-95.


Limited Rest Stops

Using the alternative route listed above, we found only one rest area on I-78 in New Jersey. The rest area had picnic benches but no food, coffee, or bathroom facilities. Along the way, we found many options for food, coffee, and gasoline in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. However, the closer to Newark, New Jersey the harder it seemed to locate food and gasoline that was easily accessible from I-78. If you need food, gasoline, or a bathroom break, it is best to stop before you arrive in New Jersey or on I-78 closer to the Pennsylvania state line.    


The number of miles from Washington DC to New York City are very close whether you take Interstate 95 or use the alternative route via Pennsylvania. The travel time is similar for both routes, keep in mind that the Baltimore/Washington DC areas have large number of vehicles on the road from very early in the day to late at night.

This is an alternative route for travel from DC to New York City. The travel route via Pennsylvania avoids most tolls except the Holland Tunnel toll to cross into New York City. If you cross the Hudson River using the Lincoln Tunnel or the George Washington Bridge you will pay a toll for the New Jersey Turnpike and either the Lincoln Tunnel or the George Washington Bridge toll. You may save up to $50 in tolls if you travel through Pennsylvania. If you try the route via Pennsylvania let us know how you make out.        

If you have any questions be sure to reach out to us in the comments below.  We are always ready to help.


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    1. Hello Shay! If you are coming from Allentown, Pennsylvania on Interstate 78 East (I-78 E) traveling through New Jersey, take exit 57. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 57 for NJ-21N toward Newark/Newark International Airport (EWR). Keep left. Follow signs for Main Terminals/North Area/South Area. Use the left 2 lanes to take the exit. This will take you right into the Newark Airport.

      If you are traveling from New York via the Holland Tunnel on I-78 W (Interstate 78 West), take exit 57. Exit 57 toward US-1 S/ US-9 S. Use the left 2 lanes to take the exit into Newark International Airport(EWR). Hope this helps you. Good luck! Mary

  1. How can I get back on I-95 to get to DE after taking I-695 to avoid the toll in Baltimore? I’m not trying to bypass the Susquehanna River toll, just the Fort McHenry.


    1. Hi Denisha,

      Traveling from Washington DC. Proceed North on I-95 towards Baltimore.
      Take the Baltimore Beltway (exit 49-B) which is South of Baltimore. The Baltimore Beltway is also known as I-695. Proceed West on I 695-W towards Towson, Maryland. NOTE: Exit 49-B is a left exit from I-95 traveling North towards Baltimore. This bypasses the Fort McHenry Tunnel in Baltimore.
      Continue on the Baltimore Beltway.

      Baltimore Beltway loops around Baltimore. I-695 West becomes I-695 East as you approach I-95 North of Baltimore. Take exit 33. Signs will say I-95 North. Follow the exit on to I-95 North.

      Continue on I-95 North. This leads you to the Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge. The Tydings Memorial Bridge crosses the Susquehanna River.

      Hope this helps!

      Mary @

  2. I travel to NY from DC once a week and usually take the bus. Thank you for this alternative road. I have a question what about Route 1 starting at 695 all the way up? is that also an alternative route? please advice L

    1. Hi Lara,

      I have not been on Route 1 beginning at I 695. I’m sure it is an alternative route. My experience on Route 1 in other states, is that Route 1 is a local road. Route 1 will carry local traffic and will have many stop lights. This will add significant time to your travel.

      If you have the time, it is an option. Looks like there is an abundance of food choices and gasoline stations on Route 1. If you do travel Route 1 to New York, please let me know how it goes.

      Hope this helps you!


  3. Hello! Im planning on doing a round trip drive to a friend from DC to NY but we’re staying in union city in new jersey to avoid driving into the city. Do you know how long it approximately takes to take your routes?

    1. Hi Deborah,

      As of last December 2019, traveling from DC to NYC using the alternate Pennsylvania route the total cost was $1 in tolls before crossing into NYC. Since December 2019, I haven’t traveled at all because of the lockdown. So, I’m not sure if any additional tolls have been put into place since then. The $1 toll is from Pennsylvania crossing into New Jersey. If you do travel using this route, would you consider letting us know if you come across any additional tolls? My area is still in lockdown and at this point, I’m unable to leave. Best of luck.
      And thank you for reading our blog.
      – Mary

  4. Hi! Thanks for all this helpful information. I live in Arlington, VA, and it looks like soon I will be driving to/from NYC regularly. I have driven DC-NYC only 1 or 2 times before (I usually take the bus). How much extra time will your alternate route take? Thanks again for the information.

    1. Hi Patricia,
      Right now as of this date (August 31, 2020) traffic is light due to the pandemic. If you take the alternate route before the pandemic, it could be as much as one hour longer to drive. Many states including Virginia (where we live too) students are being taught remotely at home. So, that eliminates school traffic on the roads. And many people are working remotely from home, not traveling to a work location. I traveled through NYC from Virginia about 5 weeks ago without much traffic. I have found that the length of travel time depends on the time of day you leave. I have been travel time when I leave early in the morning (5 am or 6 am) there is less traffic. Travel time could be 4 to 4 1/2 hours when I depart early in the morning.

      Be sure to check the self quarantine guidelines for New York at this website –> Health NY Gov.

      Good luck on your travel to NYC. We hope this helps! – Mary

  5. Hi Mary, thanks for the tips. Didn’t realize the tolls were so much. I’m without an EZ and wonder if you have any (economically and still relatively quick) recommendations driving from brooklyn to Dc.
    I was going to look into paying tolls in advance if that’s an option.
    Thank you!

    1. Hello C Waldrock,
      Check my post How to avoid tolls when Driving from NYC to DC. The last time I drove this route (Fall 2019), I only paid $1 toll fee as I entered into Pennsylvania from New Jersey. Many tolls these days are billed to you directly to your home address due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Many toll booths are unmanned. There are no tolls leaving NYC however, tolls are charged entering NYC.
      As far as quick, there are less people on the road since many are working from home and classrooms are remote.

      – good luck on your drive to DC! Mary

  6. I’m a miser and like to travel out of town for antiques. There is a nice piece I want from Brooklyn, and need to travel for as cheap as possible, so $1 toll is great! Do your opening directions to the Manhattans work for arriving in Brooklyn?

    1. Hi Fred,
      I’m guessing you are most likely traveling from either Virginia or possibly south of Virginia. Either way, yes you can avoid most of the tolls by using this alternative route through Pennsylvania. The last time I traveled this route was October 2020. You will need to paid a toll going into NYC (no toll leaving NYC). I believe the toll fees have increased since January 1, 2021?? Toll fee to cross into NYC is about $16 and less with an EZ Pass. If you enter NYC via the Holland Tunnel then you can proceed to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge (not sure where in Brooklyn).

      A word of caution though, you should check with the city and state of New York websites concerning information about traveling to New York. Last October 2020, anyone entering New York needed a negative Corona virus test. At that time, the rules were different for travelers passing through NY and those staying in NYC. There are testing sites (walk-in only, no cost test) in NYC where you can obtain a test, if needed. See these two websites for more information –
      Bellevue Hospital –
      testing sites –

      Additional test taking tips: Line up as early as you can. Last time I checked, results are available within 2 days.

      Happy Shopping and Good Luck! – Mary

  7. hi , my mom is planning to take me , uncle to New York but is afraid to pay too much tolls and gas and we rely on Waze app to guide us but we live in dc around Columbia heights. do you know an app that we can use to go to New York without tolls?.

    1. Hi Abby, I don’t know of any apps that you can download that will direct you to NYC without paying tolls. If you follow my directions on this post, you can avoid paying most of the tolls. These directions keep you off of I-95 which has tolls. Tolls can cost you about $75 dollars one way. When you cross into NYC from New Jersey using the Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, or Holland Tunnel (NJ to lower Manhattan) you WILL pay a toll fee. It may be up to $20 to enter NYC. However, when you leave NYC into New Jersey – there is no fee.

      My only advice is to check the NYC covid-19 instructions before entering NYC and NY state. If you have license plates outside of New Jersey, New York, or Connecticut they may question you about your travel plans into New York. Best of luck and enjoy your trip to NYC. – Mary

  8. I just drove from DC to Hoboken, NJ going 83/222/78 and didn’t spend a dime on tolls. Used 1/2 tank of gas and drove through scenic Amish country. $25 for a one-way trip with plenty of food/gas/rest options along the way. 5 hours door to door driving normal speeds.

  9. Hello,
    #1. Can cars travel on upper level northbound into NY on GW Bridge?

    I’m plan to travel to Times Square, but I don’t like tunnels.

    #2. Is there a tunnel combined with the GW Bridge?

    1. Hi Terry, There are two ways to cross the GW bridge. There is a lower level that is somewhat enclosed for cars only. The upper level is open and for trucks and cars to cross into NYC. There is no tunnel when you use the GW Bridge.


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