When your aunt invites you to New York City for the holidays, what else can you say besides “Yes!” I grew up in NYC and have seen a lot of the sites when visitors came from out of town, but as an adult I have not fully explored the City to see things through “grown up” eyes. So I packed by bags, hopped on an Amtrak train and decided to see what the City had to offer… especially during the glow of the holidays.
Penn Station was its usual hustle and bustle. I was going to be adventurous and walk from Penn Station to the hotel, but quickly changed my mind after I stepped outside to 18 degree weather. New York blocks are short, but not short enough to walk all the way from the west to the east side. So, after a short consultation with myself, I decided to take a cab to the hotel. We stayed at the Westin-Grand Central which is fairly close, about a 10 minute walk, to Broadway.
The hotel staff was great, I arrived a little early, but they allowed me to stow my luggage until the room was ready. Since I had time to waste, I decided to take a walk around.
It was great, but the unseasonable cold 18 degree weather soon took its toll. I stopped and had a slice of NY Pizza and my favorite… Starbucks (I know, I know) before heading back to the hotel. My room was ready, so I headed up and relaxed until my aunt arrived.
That night, we headed to Radio City Music Hall to watch the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.
Now, I saw the Rockettes when I was in my early twenties, and I fell asleep during the show. I was not extremely excited about seeing the show, but what’s Christmas without the Rockettes??! I was actually pretty impressed by the show. They added 3D technology that took you on a sleigh ride with Santa which was a fun little feature. After the show, we went to Rockefeller Center to get a glimpse of the Christmas tree and see the skaters below:
As you can imagine it was very crowded, everyone one was there to experience the magic in the atmosphere. We also were able to see the lights at Sacks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s which are set to Christmas music. It was really nice! After all that walking, I was really tired. We didn’t get back to the hotel until after 1 am, but it was worth it!
The next morning, we woke up to the first snow in the city. It was really pretty to see NYC blanketed in snow. Although it was only a couple of inches, it seemed to give the city a slumbering/lazy feel. It was the weekend and the vibe was totally different. The hustle and bustle was gone and now everyone was just happily walking in the snow! The previous day, on my little walking adventure, I found a great café right across for Grand Central Station, Pershing Square Café. Its tag line is, “The fastest Breakfast in NY.” The food was great! We enjoyed breakfast there every morning. We would arrive around 8 am (my aunt and I are both early birds) and there was relatively no wait. On our way out, what a different scene! The line would be literally out the door. It was a great spot and I would eat there again if I got the chance.
It was fun being a tourist! I am so glad I packed my snow boots because the drainage system in the city is HORRIBLE! There were giant puddles everywhere, but my feet were nice and dry as I walked around in my boots. Speaking of walking, my fitness tracker said I walked 7 miles. My aunt bought the New York Pass, so we got discounts and free entry into a lot of the city attractions. We took the Big Bus tour, which is a hop on/hop off bus. We focused on the Midtown loop, so I got to see a lot of the city sights from the warmth and comfort of a bus. The tour guides are great and provide some funny commentary. We saw the Statue of Liberty, Elis Island, the 9/11 memorial (I had a difficult time deciding if I wanted to go into the actual museum, I decided not to go inside that day because I was too emotional). We then went to lunch at Eataly, I again had one of the best pizza’s I have ever tasted. We sat at a bar where they prepared food right in front of us. It was like a very nice fast food restaurant. By the time we got back to Broadway, it was early evening, so we met up with my cousin (who saw the play Hamilton and said it was fantastic!).
The next morning we headed back to our favorite breakfast spot and then headed back to Broadway. On the way we stopped at Bryant Park. During the winter season, they have a winter village with shops, places to buy food and an ice skating rink. While we were there, Facebook was promoting its’ new virtual reality experience, so I hopped in line and got to experience something new. There is always something happening in NYC! After our stop at Bryant Park, we decided to go to the Madame Tussauds wax museum in Time Square. It was my first time experiencing a wax museum, everything looked very life like!
My aunt watches the show Castle and has been hearing about Cronuts in Soho, so we research “Where to find cronuts” and was lead to the Dominique Ansel Bakery. We figured the sweets inside must be good because there was a long line to get to the goodies. I think we waited a good 30 minutes to get our hands on those cronuts, but boy were they worth the wait.
It was mid-afternoon now and I decided I was ready to see the inside of the 9/11 Museum. As most anyone can tell you were they were on 9/11 when they got the news about the attacks, I know exactly where I was. I was in Arlington, VA very close to the Pentagon. It was very traumatic for my co-workers and I as some had relatives that worked at the Pentagon and couldn’t get in touch with them. Also, our proximity allowed us to see and hear things that day you can never forget. So as I walked through the museum a feeling came over me that I could not describe. All of the hurt, some anger… but mostly just a jumbled mess inside. It is great to see all of the information, pictures, pieces of the building, first responders gear… I mean there was so much in there! It was pretty overwhelming, but I am glad that I took the opportunity to go. I would highly recommend it. That night, we met up with my cousin again and went to a restaurant called, “The Smith.” The restaurant had a really laid back atmosphere and the food was really good! It is always crowded so I recommend getting reservations.
The last day of the trip was a Monday morning, back to our usual breakfast spot… but the hustle and bustle of the NYC work week was back in full swing. After breakfast it was time for my aunt and I to part ways. The hotel gave me a late checkout so I got to relax some more then off to Penn Station to return home. Over all, the weekend was a blast! I experience and saw things that I never did in all my 12 years of living in NYC. If you ever get the chance to experience New York during the holidays, go for it!