Tuesday, December 16, 2008

12-Hour Speed Visit to NYC at Christmas Time

Having just come home from a whirlwind tour of a small bit of Manhattan at Christmas time with my husband and daughters, ages 10 and 15, I have accumulated and would like to share with you the following bits of wisdom.

1) Bring anyone under 14 (Could also be read as “Don’t bring anyone whose legs are not at least as long as yours, who thinks she needs to eat every 40 minutes, or thinks that the Harajuku Lovers solid perfume tops are the height of holiday fun”.) All right – you can bring them as sharing NYC with your kids is half the fun, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

2) Show up at Rockefeller Center and expect to get on the ice. If you want to skate at Rockefeller Center, get in line by 8:00AM for the 10:00 session. Sure, this endeavor blows over 1/3 of your time budget, but it is one of the quintessential New York experiences (which we didn’t have).

3) Stand in a cordoned-off line around the corner from any department store to see the windows. This will eat up an inordinate amount of your time and the payoff is zilch. You can see about as much as you need to from the regular part of the sidewalk.

4) Eat in established or chain restaurants. They don’t try hard enough to make the customers happy – though don’t discount McDonald’s which is amazingly consistent, expedient, and inexpensive (memory from last time) when those things are a priority.


1) Remember to wear light layers – the temperature may vary wildly from packed stores (inside Macy’s approximately 97 degrees F) to the windswept concrete canyons (approximately 13 degrees F).

2) Go to the top of the Empire State Building. It’s worth the time and money, particularly if you’ve never seen the views. Unfortunately the gorgeous interiors of the lobby are under restoration right now – but do try to walk around in there when they have been restored. The Art Deco plaques, ceiling, and general design are simply fabulous!

3) Do try to see the Bergdorf Goodman windows – very cool.

4) Take lots of pictures, particularly of the streets and places you’ve heard of and possibly sung about!

5) Do pay for the hansom cab ride through Central Park. Yes, it is for tourists, but, lest you forget - you are a tourist. It gives you an opportunity to rest, recombobulate, and take in the sites of the surrounding city listening to the clop-clop-clop of the hoof beats.

6) Be sensitive to the likely confusion of any old women who may be around when you attempt to replicate some silly fun with revolving doors or escalators as in the movie Elf. (You should also warn those in your party that you are likely to do either of these at any opportunity as well.)

7) Remember to warm-up before trying the escalator stunt mentioned above – a pulled groin muscle will hamper the rest of your fun.

8) Bring a map. NYC is quite easy to get around, but if you have a map, you can make the best strategic plan.

9) Make a strategic plan. Sure, you can let Seredipity be your guide, or you can be a Tourist on a Mission and make the most of your limited time.

10) Remember to wear your mink coat if you have one. All the fine ladies who lunch were wearing theirs and my daughters were trés impressed by this profusion of fur.

Things for Next Time (or Other Things I Meant to Do):

1) Visit the permanent exhibits at the Museum of Natural History.
2) Buy a Michael Kors pony hair knock-off.
3) Have Breakfast at Tiffany’s (which is to say, eat a croissant while looking in the windows just because I can).
4) Eat at Craft (love Tom).
5) Visit the Frick.
6) See Wicked (did that 3 years ago – am ready to do it again, particularly with my Wicked score loving 10 year old).
7) Visit the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
8) Find Mood Designer Fabric store and buy some fabric for girls’ dresses (the patterns for which they will get for Christmas).
9) Find the Atlas building that the designers of Project Runway live in (cool looking building).
10) Go to all the museums.

There are only so many hours in a 12 hour day (12, to be precise) so plan to go back.

I certainly have.


Jenn Casey said...

Sounds like you had a great time! We'd love to get up there one of these years. Wow.

RaccoonMan said...

Those comments were right on -- at least what I remember from our several trips to NYC -- although we've never been at the holidays (our dream).

The mink coat comment was true. Why not enjoy yours in this fun time and cold climate?

Lynne said...

Rational Jenn, I'd recommend a more mild weather trip first - no need to walk so fast with the wee peopleguys!

RonGav, thanks for stopping by. Regarding the mink coat - would that I could. I will have to make do with the faux leopard accessories for now (height of tackiness, I know, but I like it).

Shez said...

I agree about the age limit. We took our kids to NYC the spring they turned 6. They were overwhelmed by the noise and the people. Instead of doing all the wonderful things I had planned, I ended up spending most of hte time at Central Park and the zoo.