This is certainly planning in advance, but my soon-to-be husband and I would love to be in New York City for Christmas this year. We're New Zealanders, so are used to sunny, summery Christmases, and would like to experience a white Christmas just once! I've visited the USA twice before, but not NY, so would appreciate any advice - I realise it will be a very busy time, how far ahead should be book accommodation? We'd be looking for probably a mid-range hotel room, in a good location that would make it easy to get around as visitors. I'm sure this is an old question, so local advise or seasoned NYers opinions would be great - what would you recommend we see and do while there? I think the plan is for 2 weeks, although we probably won't spend all 14 days in NYC. What are the easy day-trip options?
Any responses are greatly appreciated, thanks guys
Well, Maxine K and her boyfriend (who went there this Christmas from Australia) posted a similar request--and I know they decided to stay at a hotel near Lexington and 53rd (on the upper east side) and were happy with their choice (I know this because I met them there and gave them a short tour of the city).
There are many nice, reasonably priced hotels in this area--and this area is easy walking distance from some of the key tourist attractions--such as Times Square, the Broadway theatre district, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockefeller Square, Radio City Music Hall, the United Nations building, 5th avenue shopping, the jazz bars, and the diamond district.
I would try to book hotels at least 4 months in advance to get the best deals--and book travel at least 6 months ahead since flights fill up quickly heading to New York at this time of year. Since usually you get the best deal by booking both of these together--that means book 6 months ahead for both.
P.S. Even though I live in California, I've gone to New York City every year (for the past 15 years in a row) at Christmastime since my wife's parents live nearby.
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I'm from NYC and I can tell you from experience Christmas and New Years is probably the busiest time of the year. Hotels are sold out for two weeks straight during that time, so if you are really interested in visiting my great city definitely book your hotel right away.
NYC is a walking town and the best way to see everything, so it really does not matter which hotel you pick and the area. However most of the activity Christmas wise is centered around the Rockefeller Center area which is 49-51st street between 5/6 ave. But there is also alot happening in the other areas as well, of manhattan.
You won't be disappointed NYC is magical during that time of year, between the decorations and all the tourists you will have one of the best times of your life here!
All the best
Hi, my husband and I spent Christmas 2008 in NYC and it was fantastic, we can't wait to go back.
We arrived on Christmas eve, and stayed in the Sofitel on west 45th, it was fantastic and will definitely use it again when we go back(dont book direct with the hotel it's much dearer, but use one of the many central booking sites) It has been rated 3rd best hotel in NYC by trip advisor users. We booked flights and Hotel about 5 months in advance and it definitely saves money, particularly for flights.
The crowds weren't too bad until the 27th, then it seemed like every person on the planet had arrived there! make sure you do the 'Top of the Rock' the views of central Park are amazing. The window displays of the major stores are also worth seeing, but my favourite part was Grenwich Village, I'm definitely buying a 'Brownstone' when I win the lottery.
We went ice skating in Central Park on Christmas morning, then a horse driven carriage ride around the park (in the snow!) it was magical,
Every corner turned brings bigger and better christmas trees, I was obsessed with them, and I'm not usually that into Christmas.
All in all I'd say you've never done Christmas until you've done it in NYC
Ah, NYC at Christmas. And it was a White Christmas this year. I LOVE New York, (yes, I do own an "I heart NY" shirt) born and raised here, and there is no place quite like it.
Firstly, dress warm! Like someone else said, New York is best experienced walking. The long avenues can really channel cold wind in the winter months... and at night, oi! - for there is always something going on. Remember, it's the City that never sleeps! So, for me - warm hat, scarves, gloves and a good pair of comfortable walking shoes are a MUST, especially if you are used to a warmer clime.
Hotels. Again, it is quite easy to get around in NYC. Our subways rock! However, everything is relatively expensive and during this season it will all be booked well in advance. So its good that you are planing ahead. Keep in mind that you will not be spending a great deal of time in your room ( I am assuming ) so don't pay for something that you are not going to be using. That's just an opinion.
Here is my list for the "touristy" MUST sees:
The Tree at Rockefeller Centre
Christmas Show Spectacular (Rockettes) at Radio City Music Hall
Ice Skating in Central Park
Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo
Times Square (especially if you are staying through New Years and don't mind a HUGE NYC crowd. Don't worry, it's very safe, esp since 9.11) It will be a lasting memory, watching the ball drop in Times Square.
Any Broadway Show (go to TKTS in Times Square earlier in the day, to get inexpensive seats to a variety of shows. http://www.tdf.org/TDF_ServicePage.aspx?id=56 .... THEN go to Sardis for eats pre-theatre or post-thheatre. BE SURE to make reservations at least 24 hrs in advance. http://www.sardis.com/htmldocs/cms/)
Macy's, Bloomingdales and the rest for Christmas Window displays.
For the rest of it - well, There are so many things to do and see and experience, so it really depends on what you like to do. Let me know and I can better direct you, I would be happy to help you now and during your visit. Also, lots of great day trips to Brooklyn, out on Long Island - even Connecticut, Upstate NY and Boston are all reasonable. ..but in the meantime - food for thought...
MUSEUMS: My favs are Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love the Egyptian Exhibit & the Armour. But there are lots of other great exhibits too. the MOMA, the Guggenheim, Museum of Natural History (featured in the recent movies with Ben Stiller) & Planetarium. The Tennament Museum is interesting, albeit expensive for what you get.
PERFORMING ARTS: Broadway, duh. But there are plenty of GREAT Off-broadway shows and cabarets, jazz etc.. . Go to Lincoln Center, even if its just to take a photo outside. http://new.lincolncenter.org/live/ Personally, I love the Opera - and they have Great Operas, NYC ballet is here & world class musicians... if you are intersted, you can also arrange guided "backstage" tours as well.
FOOD: Everything under the sun is here!! And you dont have to pay through the nose for a good meal, if you know where to go. Let me know what you like and i will give you recommendations. we do have the best Italian food outside of Italy! and Great Indian Food - the hands down, BEST Indian food is on 55th Street at the Darbar Grill http://www.darbargrill.com/ I was just there on Saturday. AMAZING, inexpensive and FAB service.
Bryant park in midtown (by the NYC Library) is also a great little park, and offers FREE skating. Head to SOHO, the Village, Southstreet Seaport maybe even... OH - take a Dinner Boat ride around Manhattan Island.
Ok, this is getting too long. Helpful Hint - NYers love to talk.. and talk fast soo... well, they walk pretty fast too.
Feel free to contact me any time. Let me know how I can help you enjoy my wonderful town! Fahgettabowdit! You gonna love it!
Oh and congrats to you and your soon-to-be husband!!
My family and I always go into the city for Christmas! Its a great time to see the city. I would highly recommend seeing the Rockette Christmas Spectaular on Christmas Eve. It's magical! Also you have to go to Churrascaria Plataforma is a Brazilian restaurant that is to die for!!
Since a bunch of people already posted in the city info I'll give you some out of the city stuff! If you truly want to experience a white Christmas I would suggest heading north! The mountains (both the Adirondack in NY and the White Mts. in NH) aren't to far away and you can get some great skiing/snowboarding/tubing in too! It's more of a weekend thing than a day trip thing so if you do end up heading north there are two amazing towns Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH that I would highly recommend stopping at. Both are quintessential New England towns- right down to the constant blanket of white snow! They have the small town charm that everywhere else tries to copy! :D Tons of privately owned shops, restaurants and art galleries! They are great places to check out.
If you really just want a day trip then I would strongly recommend Pumpkin Hollow Retreat Center in Craryville, NY. It's nestled between the Berkshire and Taconic Mountains. It's got tons of raw wilderness with walking paths to really get the feel for New York's wild side. If you're in the area before Christmas it typically holds a winter solstice celebration with tons of fun activities you might want to take part in. The only info you might want to know ahead of time is that the food served there is vegetarian so if you don't like that eat ahead of time. If you're coming off the Taconic State Parkway there is a great diner right off the exit (umm Martindale Chief Diner is the name!). There is also a website if you want to take a look. Google Pumpkin Hollow Retreat Center NY.
Other than that I would say pop into Connecticut and visit Fairfield County. It's the second richest county in the country and is great for shopping, eating and people watching! If you're interested let me know and I'll give you more info on CT.