Our heart goes out to those who have had their lives turned upside down from Hurricane Sandy and we are pleased to see that parts of the east coast are back to normality. We also hope that people are able to return to their homes and have power before the weather really starts to get bad.
New York is one of those dream destinations, especially at Christmas. We have all seen the films, who can forget the scene in Home Alone 2 when Kevin is reunited with his mum at the Christmas tree in the Rockefeller seller and who hasn’t shed a tear in Elf when everyone starts singing to get Santa’s sleigh going….no? Just me then (I watched it in July, I LOVE that film)!
So the tax free shopping, amazing sights and of course the magic of New York, maybe this year is the year you go and buy your Christmas presents state side and maybe even stay to watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. In a place so big with so much to see here are some things you shouldn’t miss!
The big apple sites to see:
Okay there is the usual Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Times Square but it is Christmas and there are things to do.
This is where the BIG tree is. This is the Home Alone 2 tree. The tree has been in the Rockefeller Plaza since 1931 and boasts 30,000 lights. It is worth going to see after dark when everything sparkles, even if it does mean that you have to fight the crowds to get a photo. There is the ice rink (it is where Buddy went of his first ever date in Elf) here but it is small and you have thousands of people watching you when you fall flat on your bottom. There is a bigger ice rink in Central Park that is slightly cheaper and just as atmospheric.
FAO Schwartz toy store
You couldn’t visit New York without visiting the oldest toy shop in the USA, being 150 years old. It is truly a magical place and it has appeared in many films, the most famous probably being BIG which starred a young Tom Hanks and saw it dancing on the giant foot piano which is still in the store. As it is now as much of a tourist destination as it is a toy shop it is advised you get there for when it opens (9am Sunday – Thursday, 8am Friday – Saturday) and to try and avoid the weekends when the queue snakes around the block. There will still be crowds but it will be a little bit more bearable at that hour. FAO Schwartz was bought out by Toys ‘R’ Us and their store in Times Square has an indoor Ferris Wheel.
Santa is in town! Macy’s is home to the ‘one real Santa’ from the Friday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve (obviously as he is very busy that night and needs to rest after that). The queues, again, can be very long. The elves are very knowledgeable and the waiting time they tell you is normally to the minute. It is free to visit Santa – although the souvenirs after start from around $25. If you don’t fancy the wait (or are too old for Santa’s knee) then you can go to a different entrance where you can walk through the spectacular wonderland and take a peek at Santa through a window.
Window shopping in New York
You don’t have to spend a penny looking at the amazing Christmas displays in the windows of the shops on Fifth Avenue, see the giant snowflake which is suspended in the sky like a star and visit Cartier which is wrapped with a red ribbon tied in a bow. After looking at the tree at the Rockefeller Center walk to FAO and then go down Madison to check out Barney’s display – then nip in for a spot of shopping! Grand Central Station has a market and a beautiful light display and is worth checking out.
Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular
Go to the panto! Okay well they don’t actually have the panto in America but what they do have is the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. This is the equivalent to the panto and families take their children to see this – as they would have been taken as children. They have dancing Santas and the leg kicking Rockettes!
There are plenty of places to eat in New York and I am sure you will want to get a slice of pizza, a pretzel and a hot dog. One thing you might not have thought about is a Frozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity’s. This drink is famous in NY and has had some amazing customers, including Oprah!
And finally a trip to New York at Christmas would not be complete without a horse and carriage ride around central park. Prices start at about $70 for half an hour.