My family loves to travel and so for Christmas we decided that our big gift would be 5 days and 4 nights in NYC. My retail job requires complete dedication until Christmas so we joined the 1 million other people staying in Manhattan between Christmas and NY. We have learned the importance of a centralized location so we stayed in Midtown at the Mansfield Hotel on W 44th street just a few blocks away from Times Square. With 5 of us among the 1 million nothing was cheap or fast but it was well worth it. Here are the highlights:
- The views from the top of the Empire State Building. Of course I have seen “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Elf” so I knew what to expect. The lines were well outside the door and we were warned it would take us 2 hours to get to the top. However the line wasn’t too bad since we were warm and dry (more on that later) and we got to see the beautiful and famous gold toned lobby. When we got to the top the fresh air was refreshing and the views were incredible. It was the highlight for all 5 of us.
- The theater on Broadway – we saw “Beautiful”. My husband and son were not as interested in this but went along with the plan and ended up loving the show. We did not get tickets ahead of time hearing it would be “easy” to get them for half price. HA HA. What a joke, since this is the busiest week of the year and there are FIVE of us. But we are nothing if we are not optimistic so off we went on a couple of wild goose chases to find cheap tickets. After a couple of strikeouts we changed our strategy and decided to walk up to the box office. We hit it big when we scored 5 main floor tickets to “Beautiful”. The show had many great hits from the famous singer/songwriter Carole King. It was a great experience that was enhanced by the very loud and enthusiastic group behind us who also LOVED the show and made us laugh with all of their positive cheering.
- The Statue of Liberty is beautiful and majestic. I am glad that we figured out that our New York City pass had a free ferry tour and we skipped the also free Staten Island ferry because of earlier reference to 1 million tourists. The “BIG BUS RIDE” back to midtown was memorable because we all froze to death atop the open air bus ride that was stuck in traffic for an hour. This was absolutely miserable at the time but is now locked into the family memory bank as a once in a lifetime experience – the beautiful statue of Liberty plus the open air bus ride in traffic. Ugh.
- The National 9/11 Memorial Museum was interesting however our experience was “dampened” by the unorganized 2 hour wait outside in the rain. We waited in one line only to get a group time an hour later. We then came back at the group time only to re-join another outside, wet and rainy general admission line. I really wanted to love it there, especially since Shannon was born on 9/11 but inside the museum also felt unorganized. While it was touching to see so many of the items located together I was expecting to have a more emotional experience.
- Time Square is a hot mess of a place. There is so much going on that it wasn’t until our second day there that I noticed “Good Morning America” being filmed right in front of me! We debated if we wanted to stand in line to watch the ball drop on NYE but the horror stories of no bathrooms and being so crowded for so long did not sound appealing. Instead, we had dinner at a neat Irish pub and watched the festivities from a block away. While on the perimeter we got to see first hand the security surrounding the event. I was very impressed with the polite and professional NYPD who oversaw the evening. Well done.
We enjoyed these and many other things in NYC: Central park, the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and many wonderful dining experiences. Experiencing this with my family is something I will never forget.