Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Tis the Season: My take on visiting NYC during the Holidays

Since I live in the city that never sleeps, I'm often contacted by friends and family who are visiting during the holidays. It is my goal to help them plan a great trip to the city. (It's the concierge in me!)

At any rate, I wanted to share with you the information that I pass along to them. In a future post, I will talk about scoring great hotels and airline tickets via Priceline, as well as other options you can use when traveling.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Things to Do



Museum on Us: If you bank with Bank of America, the first weekend of every month you get into museums for free. All you have to do is present your BofA debit/credit card. (this is not just for NYC, but nationwide). The NYC venues where you get free admission are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, and others. For more info visit: http://museums.bankofamerica.com/. If you don't have a BofA card, I'd still suggest checking out the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
 
Rockefeller Center: You can visit the Top of the Roc, go ice skating, or even stand in line EARLY Saturday morning to try and snag standby tix for the Saturday Night Live show. http://www.rockefellercenter.com/.

Central Park:
This place is sorta amazing! http://www.centralparknyc.org/.
  
TKTS: Visit http://www.tdf.org/TDF_ServicePage.aspx?id=56 for information on discounted tix for broadway shows.
Goldstar: This is a great site to events for discounted events. www.goldstar.com.

Staten Island Ferry: I love taking the ferry. Now, while I admit that it will be cold, it's a fun experience. Seeing the Statue of Liberty and the NY Skyline at night is breathtaking (and FREE!) Just hop on the 1 train to South Ferry and voila.
 
Time Out NY - This magazine has it all. I would browse this as time for your trip gets closer. They have ALL kinds of STUFF going on...and I do mean ALL kinds. http://newyork.timeout.com/
Some other places I'd recommend are Bryant Park, The Christmas Window displays at Macy's on 34th Street (It's takes up a WHOLE block) and the Lord + Taylor's Window display on 38th + 5th, Washington Square and Union Square.

My favorite restaurants include:

Katz Deli: Love pastrami? or want to try a Knish...this is the place to go. This is also the location where Sally had an "exciting" time in the movie when Harry met Sally. This place has great food. http://www.katzdeli.com/. I'm a uber fan of their philly cheesesteaks and hot dogs.
La Esquina: YUMMY Mexican food. http://www.esquinanyc.com/

Daisy Mae's: Best BBQ hands down. They even sell sweet tea in mason jars with a sprig of mint. You know that stole this southern girl's heart. http://www.daisymaysbbq.com/

Jacob's Pickles: Cheese grits? homemade jams? YES PLEASE! http://jacobspickles.com/

Good Enough to Eat: This place is my weekend haven. The lines can be long, but be patient. It moves quickly, and the food is worth it. http://www.goodenoughtoeat.com/

Sofritos: I typically don't like to venture over to the East side because it's hell on my commute home, but for this Puerto Rican spot, I'll make an exception. http://sofritony.com/
 
Navigating around the city:
Metropolitan Transit Authority: If you plan to stay more than 3 days in the city, I'd suggest you get a 7 day unlimited metrocard for $29. (If you plan on taking the subway). You can ride the subway (or bus) as much as you want (and it's cheaper than paying $2.50 per ride/per person. After a while that starts to add up.) Visit: http://mta.info/ to get a subway map, train schedule, and etc.
Hopstop: have a smartphone? visit www.hopstop.com. This is like the mapquest for public transportation. You can key in your starting destination, and where you'd like to end and hopstop will tell you how to get there via the subway, bus, or both. It'll also tell you how long it'll take to get there.
Arriving at the airport: Once you gather your luggage, I'd suggest that you take a yellow cab from the airport to Manhattan. You will have men approaching you and asking if you're going to the city. they'll proceed to tell you that you can ride to the city in a black sedan car for $60 (I wouldn't be surprised if they increase the price for the holiday season). Don't take it. First of all, it's too expensive, and secondly, it's a against the law for drivers to approach you to see if you want a ride. If I'm not mistaken, to get to the airport to Manhattan in a yellow cab should be around $40 - $45 dollars. The wait for the taxi line may be long...,but be patient. :) Another option is New York Airport Service. There fares are located here: http://www.nyairportservice.com/fares.php.

Cabs in the city are costly and sometimes it can be a task trying to hail one...especially in Midtown/Times Square.

While I think the "double decker bus" tours sound like a fun idea, I really believe that they are a tourist trap, and are quite costly. My colleague did one, and he wasn't pleased at all. I'd suggest taking a look at their website, http://www.citysightsny.com/, seeing where it'll take you, and plan your own trip. (I have to admit though the thought of riding through Times Square on one of those buses is exciting to me.)

So, I guess that's about it.

Happy Holidays, and enjoy your time in the City. :)

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