For my 50th birthday, my parents treated me to a trip to New York City. I had never been there but my parents had visited several times. Since my birthday is in December, we had the good fortune of seeing all the holiday decorations and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. It was a memorable trip and we only had a few days. Here are my top ten things to see in New York City!
Empire State Building
You can buy your tickets online in advance. We went on a weekday and did not have any lines. The view from the Observation deck is amazing. The walls are lined with photos of celebrities who have visited the Empire State Building. The gift shop is wonderful. My favorite item is the hand-painted Lolita wine glasses.
We made our reservation on Open Table and we were not disappointed. This restaurant is located directly across the street from Rockefeller Center. The menu is wonderful. It was hard to choose a cocktail from the excellent list. I liked the Pear Collins best. We tried sushi for a starter then ordered Salmon and Grilled Branzino for our entrees. The staff was attentive and made our evening extra special by seating us at the window and taking a picture of us at the entrance.
The holidays are magical time to tour the city. We walked down Fifth Avenue to Central Park and although our feet were tired, we saw the most amazing windows and also logged 13,000 steps on our fitbits! The Windows at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue were my favorites.
The Rainbow Room
For over eight decades, The Rainbow Room has been the hot spot in Manhattan. It is absolutely unforgettable. We ordered drinks and were transported to another world. The decorations, the view and the people watching were incredible.
Our hotel stay included breakfast but we discovered this place on our way to Times Square one morning and we were hooked. The breakfast buffet is delicious and includes unlimited access to a tasty selection of pancakes, waffles, eggs benedict, breakfast pizza, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, smoked salmon, breads, bagels, oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, cereals, coffee and tea all for $24! We tried it all and loved it all. When you are walking around all day, you need to fill up with a good breakfast. Plus the staff were some of the nicest we met in the Big Apple.
Museum of Natural History
We purchased a two day pass on the Top View bus tour and found it to be a good value for getting around. The Museum of Natural History is on the Uptown Blue Line route. We spent two and half hours here and did not even see the whole thing. It is breath taking to me as a Biology major but my parents found it equally engaging. There is truly something for everyone here and we were constantly reminded of the movie Night at the Museum!
Ted's Montana Grill
If you are headed to a Broadway Play, you are likely eating dinner early. We chose Ted's Montana Grill because of it's proximity to the Gershwin Theater and for it's menu. We made our reservations online at Open Table. Our table was close to the door which was pretty chilly so request a booth and enjoy the scenery such as the buffalo head and rustic decor. The burgers are wonderful. If you enjoy bison, you may want to order a bison burger like my Dad did. They also have a nice selection of wines by the glass and hand crafted cocktails.
Wicked at the Gershwin
We saw Wicked at The Gershwin and it was fabulous. It is the untold musical story of The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. The scenery and costumes were breath taking. The performance left us awestruck and singing all the songs for the rest of the trip. Yes we know it has been on Broadway for fifteen years and it is wonderful. Use TKTS if cost is an issue and your plans are flexible but I definitely recommend seeing live theater when in New York City.
Tavern on the Green
We had dinner at Tavern on the Green which is located in Central Park. The night we visited, the restaurant was hosting it's annual Tree Lighting. It's an iconic place in a bucolic setting with a great bar. The decorations were so fantastic and we really enjoyed our evening.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
My parents have been researching our family tree so the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were a must. We did the four hour guided tour with Viator and I highly recommend it. You will want to dress for the elements as it is windy on both the ferry and observation deck. Our tour guide, Ben, was wonderful. We had time to use the computers at Ellis Island to research and learned alot about our relatives and their points of entry - some of which were not Ellis but still very empowering. Over 12 million people came through Ellis Island so the sense of wonder, fear and connectedness is very real.
Just a short walk from Castle Clinton, which was the start of our Statue of Liberty tour is the 911 Memorial. We did not do the tour but my parents have done it and say it is outstanding. We spent some time looking at the monuments outside commemorating the September 11, 2001 attacks, which killed 2,977 people. It is a moving experience and I hope to go back and take the tour.
It was a wonderful few days and I am already planning my next trip. I'd like to take my husband and kids back to NYC because they have not been. I highly recommend a trip during the holidays if you have not experienced the city at that time of year.