MY REVIEW is limited to the highlights of our trip to NYC December 29, 2012 through January 4, 2013. For continually updated information by other reviewers, search TripAdvisor or visit the venues’ websites.
NEW YEAR'S EVE IN TIMES SQUARE. Although this was a family vacation, my husband and I also wanted to celebrate our anniversary by ringing in the New Year in Times Square – an event we had only seen on TV. Watching in person as the New Year’s Eve ball dropped was an almost indescribable experience: exciting and yet surreal. By far the most helpful, thorough review for this NYE event is by AusPaul84 at tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60763-i5-k4136628… Another reviewer with an extraordinary amount of knowledge is NYWhiz at www.tripadvisor.com/members-forums/nywhiz Both reviewers are spot-on with advice and valuable tips. Also, this site’s staff has compiled a lot of good general info about NYC: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60763-i5-k1948627… Regardless of your choice of venue for NYE, I offer some advice: wear VERY comfortable shoes through the streets because more and more streets get blocked off throughout the day and evening of NYE. All of the detours and re-routing mean you’ll walk twice as long to get half the distance. When you get to your NYE destination, you can take off your walking shoes and slip on your “party shoes” that you brought in a bag. When your celebration is over, you can put your comfy shoes back on. You’ll greatly appreciate them when you’re walking back to the hotel after midnight, because by that time your feet are very tired!
THE OFFICIAL TIME SQUARE SITE is chock-full of information: http://www.timessquarenyc.org
FAMILY ACCOMMODATIONS: This was my most challenging, time-consuming research. I finally found 3 hotels that met our needs as to location (near Times Square) and # of people (5). Some hotels farther away were less costly, but staying near Times Square meant we could walk to most places. We did use the subway and taxis some, but our hotel’s close proximity to sights, events, and restaurants saved time. I had originally reserved a family suite at the Salisbury for 5 nights. http://www.nycsalisbury.com. Later we decided to add an extra day to our trip, but the Salisbury wasn’t available for that extra night, so we spent the 1st night in a family suite at the Edison (it can sleep up to 6). http://www.edisonhotelnyc.com I know it’s not an ideal situation to change hotels after one night, but they’re not far apart and it worked out fine (do what you gotta do.) At the Salisbury, an excellent breakfast buffet was available for $9 per person; the Edison didn’t offer that. Both hotels were just okay (one reviewer described them as “tired”), but they were fine for us – very clean and no history of bedbugs (yes, I did an Internet search on NYC hotels with a history of bedbugs). We preferred the Salisbury slightly over the Edison. As for the 3rd hotel I found – the Flatotel – I don’t know anything about it except it has a suite that will sleep up to 6. http://flatotel.com I suggest reading what NYWhiz has to say about other family accommodations inside and outside the Times Square area (see my 1st paragraph).
RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR WITH THE ROCKETTES: radiocitychristmas.com/newyork/tickets.html# This show lived up to its name, and then some! It truly was spectacular. We attended the final Rockettes performance of 2012 at 7:00 p.m., Sunday, December 30th. It lasted 90 minutes and had no intermission. You can get tickets on the website, in person (at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden or The Beacon Theatre Box Offices), by phone 866-858-0007, or at a Ticketmaster outlet. I got ours on-line. You can find out more FAQs at http://www.radiocity.com/faq.html.
THE NEW YORK CITY SKYLINE FROM THE TOP OF ROCKEFELLER CENTER: www.topoftherocknyc.com NYC’s skyline is rated the #1 NYC attraction by a lot of reviewers here, many of whom believe that sunset is the best time to view it. I agree. The top floors are called “Top of the Rock”. To avoid lines, get tickets in advance. I bought 2 adult tickets ($25 each) on-line when we were already in NYC. The ticket area took my confirmation # and printed our tickets, which we then took to the entrance. Since we wanted to be there at sunset, I chose our entry time by looking at this site: timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html… I got entry tickets for 3:45 p.m. on January 3rd. Turns out, it was just perfect for not feeling rushed, seeing three 4-minute films (only available on the way to the top, not on the way down), walking around the top 3 floors, then watching twilight and the sunset. I LOVED watching the city lights come on slowly – in the buildings, on the bridges, in Central Park, and even the red and white streams of headlights and taillights – all so beautiful. We almost skipped the 3 little films, but are glad we didn’t. Top of the Rock is open 8:00 a.m. to midnight, 7 days a week, 365 days a year despite weather conditions. They have a good FAQs page at http://www.topoftherocknyc.com/visitor/faq/ Phone #s are 212-698-2000 or 1-877-NYC-ROCK (877-692-7625).
ROCKEFELLER CENTER ICE SKATING: www.therinkatrockcenter.com We had a blast! This was peak season, and the wait to get on the ice was 2 to 3 hours. But months earlier I had bought (on-line) our time-specific “Igloo” fast passes (officially called VIP Express Skating at the Igloo). Got right in, no wait. Session was 90 minutes. 150 people at a time are allowed on the ice. You can get reservations on-line or call 212-332-7654; for VIP reservations, 212-332-7605.
BROADWAY AND OFF-BROADWAY SHOWS: timessquarenyc.org/broadway/…index.aspx Who goes to New York and doesn’t see a show? GO! We saw Jersey Boys (magnificent!) but there are so many good ones, just take your pick!
PERFECT ACTIVITY FOR CELEBRATING OUR ANNIVERSARY: My husband really likes to cook, so as a surprise anniversary gift, I arranged a private 3-hour session with the chef at Camaje. HE LOVED IT! The chef (Abby) was just amazing. She let me schedule a time and date that was convenient for us. She also personalized the session by working with me ahead of time on a specific menu and ingredients. I found Camaje by doing an Internet search on “activities in New York City related to cooking”. We highly recommend Abby and Camaje. The contact information is http://camaje.com 212-673-8184.
FAMILY PORTRAITS: To commemorate this special trip, we contacted Photo Trek Tours to take our family photos because it has so many great reviews on this site tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d1553… Due to time constraints we didn’t take the official tour – only went to Central Park for the pics (just wish we hadn’t walked so far into the Park since we had on nice clothes and shoes). Marc emailed our pics later that same day, but you can request a CD which he’ll deliver to your hotel. I arranged the session and paid for it on-line. http://www.phototrektours.com
YANKEE STADIUM TOUR: …mlb.com/nyy/…classic The “Classic” (basic) tour was fun and interesting. Our family has been to 21 baseball stadiums, including the old Yankee one, so this was a must-do for us. You can get tickets at any Yankees Clubhouse store in NYC or Yankee Stadium ticket windows or phone 877-469-9849. I got ours on-line before the trip.
911 MEMORIAL: Must get timed tickets ahead of time (whether before your trip or during). …911memorial.org/WebStore/…
ST. PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL: There is sightseeing daily 6:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. They give free tours Monday through Friday. 212-355-2749 ext. 829. I would think it’s best to book ahead, but walk-ins are allowed on certain dates and times: saintpatrickscathedral.org/visit_tours.php We didn’t take the tour, but we did go to the Noon Mass on New Year’s Day. While planning our trip, I called and was told no tickets or reservations were necessary for that particular service. Some Easter and Christmas Eve services require pre-ordered tickets, but they’re free. Those tickets supposedly go fast, often months ahead of the date. Check the website for times: www.saintpatrickscathedral.org/masses.php – and be aware that the times often change during holidays and holy days.
OUR MUSEUM VISIT: http://www.moma.org/ We went to the Museum of Modern Art (“MoMA”). Contemporary art isn’t really my cup of tea, but my family thought it was wonderful. And the staff was top-notch – happy, helpful, and went out of their way for the visitors. For what it’s worth, another tourist said she thought the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art (“ Met Museum”) was fantastic. http://www.metmuseum.org/
NEGATIVE COMMENTS FROM SOME TRIP ADVISOR USERS? Yes, even the naysayers responding to reviews by AusPaul84 and others, offer some valid tidbits of “food-for-thought.” The ones with sour, negative, or off-putting comments didn’t cause me to change any plans, although I did feel a bit more informed as to some potential drawbacks – and perhaps a little less likely to be disappointed.