Holiday Travel:  A Weekend in the Big Apple

It was a weekend of fun planned for NFD’s Karen Shayne and Cindy Chafin.  The two blonde "twinsters" took the Big Apple by storm and NFD asked them to share their thoughts, lessons and travel

It was a weekend of fun planned for NFD’s Karen Shayne and Cindy Chafin.  The two blonde “twinsters” took the Big Apple by storm and NFD asked them to share their thoughts, lessons and travel tips for anyone planning a whirlwind trip to NYC this year or in 2019.

Check out the gals travel tips:

Hotels

If you plan to go to NYC, don’t skimp on a hotel!  Make sure you make your reservations with accommodations convenient enough to walk to all the destinations you wish to see.  Midtown is a sure-fire bet for easy access to all the fun.

The girls stayed on 34thStreet at the Renaissance Hotel/Midtown.  It was central to all things they wished to do.  The girls (thanks to a family member) received an upgrade, so they had a view of the City, the Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.  At night, they could also see the flickering lights of Times Square.

Remember, hotel rooms in NYC are not like traditional hotel rooms.  Most rooms are smaller, so you might want to take that into consideration with your party number.

Pack lightly while remembering warmth is a must! If you are traveling in the winter, snow is definitely a possibility.  So, you might want to check the hotel restaurant reviews as well as the available television stations in case you get stuck. The girls also had the option to visit Planet Fitness through the hotel, so if you are into fitness, a hotel with a great gym is a must.

 

Sights

For a short weekend, you must prioritize. Make a list prior to your arrival of what you wish to see, then pair it down when you arrive.  Many travelers make the mistake of wanting to see it all, but once they arrive, the traffic and other visitors creates a tad bit of hustle/bustle chaos, so prepare it might take you a lot longer than you expect to get to and from.

A stroll in the shopping district is a must. The windows of Saks, Macy’s and Bergdorf-Goodman are truly something to behold and can only be appreciated if you see them in person.  Street vendors and musicians create a festive atmosphere.  Even the good volunteers of the Salvation Army make any long lines mentally shorter.

For the girls, they visited two weeks before Christmas. Of course, the first thing on their list was to visit Macy’s.  What they didn’t realize was Santa was in the house. A long tradition of Santaland even surprised the girls.  However, it was all about the reservation.  Yes, this year was the first year of reservations to see SANTA at Macy’s. So, if you have children, please plan far in advance and you must visit the Macy’s website to reserve your space five days in advance of your travels.   At first visit, the girls were turned away by Santa’s Elf, but was encouraged to continue to revisit the website for any cancellations.  By chance, Cindy and Karen received a true Miracle of 34thStreet – a cancellation!  The girls were in!  So, off they went to visit the Jolly Old Man and all of Macy’s 2018 Santaland.  It was an incredible sight to behold.  Definitely five stars on the holiday things to do list while in NY.

Times Square remains the #1 destination in America to visit.  With over 49M visitors, it exceeds Disney and certainly adds the WOW factor to any NYC weekend get-a-way.  Again, prepare for shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, but definitely worth it.

Another must is Rockefeller Center with the magnificent Christmas tree and glorious decorations.  In 2018, the tree stood 72ft high and 45 ft. wide.  The skating rink was a definite sight to behold and if you are brave enough, bring your own skates to participate in one of NYC’s most adored attractions.

A short walk from Rockefeller is the remarkable St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Open to the public, the Cathedral is a place of sanctuary, reverence and rebirth.  Even though it is crowded, the spirit of the holidays is found in the pews of one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.  It is a sight that will take your breath the moment you step inside the holy walls.  If you are visiting at Christmastime, make sure you take in each of the portals on the sides and to the left of the pulpit, have your camera and hearts ready to view the incredible manger scene.  While there, the girls lit a candle of blessing for a friend and prayed for family and friends.

 

Food

Magnolia Bakery opened at Rockefeller Center in March of 2018.  While the reviews online are mixed, Cindy and Karen gave it a five-star rating. Karen’s tall double chocolate buttercream cake and Cindy’s flourless chocolate cake were the hit of the trip and the spirited long line of 30 minutes seemed to go by as they girls conversed with people from other cities and countries also there to experience the lively city.

Ok, it’s NY, so you have to have pizza!  For sure you should plan a meal of nothing but a five-cheese NY style “slice of pie”.  It’s a must! There are food vendors on every corner along with food trucks, so you will not go hungry even if you don’t visit a restaurant.  Also, Open Table is STRONGLY encouraged well in advance, if you plan to have a sit down.

 

Shows

The talent and creativity is truly show-stopping on and around Broadway. Unless you wish to see a specific show or if you have a large number within your party, the girls encourage you to wait and purchase your tickets when you arrive.  Many sites online offer discounted tickets.  The girls were able to get tickets the night before to Phantom of the Opera and get their hair brushed by the crashing chandelier.

Karen and Cindy encourage you to:

  1. Make sure your online site is a reputable site for ticket purchases.
  2. Remember, your ticket price may be within your budget, but don’t forget the taxes. Sometimes, depending on the show and venue, the taxes and fees are almost the same as the ticket price; so don’t be shocked at the final price of your afternoon/evening venture.
  3. Your concessions at the venue are also extremely steep, so plan ahead to go fully fed and watered.
  4. Make sure you go online and look at the venue seating options and layout before you purchase. Every theater is different and last-minute seating could offer you a “partially obstructed view” so do be mindful of the fine print.
  5. Plan ahead if you need printed tickets. Check with the front desk for printing options. Remember, get to the show well in advance.  There will be a line.
  6. If you are there through the week and if you wish to participate in the filming of any daytime television shows, tickets are usually free and can be obtained online through their website. The lines are typically long for the morning shows, so make sure you are bundled up.

 

Travel Tips

Go with Uber! Hands down. The Uber App is easy and convenient.

Google Maps is a must for mapping out your day.

Wear comfortable shoes!  It’s not about style in the city, it is about comfort.

A long coat and gloves in NYC is definitely a must.

Get a tracking device for your steps.  It’s fun at the end of the day to look and see just how far you have walked.  Maybe, that will cancel out that double chocolate buttercream cake from Magnolia Bakery…

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