New York City Vacation: Manhattan, NY

Horse and Buggy Rides around Central Park will cost you $34 for a half hour. Worth it? I think so.

St. Paul’s Chapel did not sustain any damage from 9-11 even though it is located directly across the street. The Church is open for tours during the day at no charge.

New York, New York: December

MANHATTAN: We try to visit New York City each December for Christmas shopping. This year, we brought my 11 year old daughter which makes for a little different experience. We had a great time and she seemed to enjoy seeing a different lifestyle, being immersed in the magic of the big apple.

After Thanksgiving, New York City REALLY comes alive with the anticipation of holiday shoppers arriving from around the world. We booked our travel reservations on and were pleased with the combination airfare/hotel rates. We stayed at Hotel Wolcott on 31st & 5th Ave. We have no complaints about our Hotel and would stay there again. It was clean, the staff was friendly and helpful, the rooms were comfortable and the rates were very reasonable.

Our first shopping destination was Macy’s – my favorite store in NYC – located on West 34th Street in Herald Square. The window displays are a tradition and this year, Macy’s did not disappoint. The streets were crowded with anxious onlookers to see the windows filled with scenes of Christmas throughout the ages. Here are a few activities that we enjoyed:

Rocketts at Radio City Music HallRadio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular: We booked our tickets online and printed them out – EASY! For $50 each, we thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas Spectacular. The show lasted 90 minutes and was completely entertaining. The show was well choreographed and delighted watchers both young and old. I recommend showing up about a half hour early to find your seat.

TIP: There are several cheaper options for ice skating in the city besides Rockefeller Center. Try Bryant Park or Central Park … they’re about half the cost.

Bryant Park: A delightful outdoor Christmas shopping experience. All around the ice skating rink, little individual tent-like stores are filled with unique gifts. My favorite purchase from Bryant Park was a pair of mittens for my nephew that looked like bear paws. This is the closest link I could find —Bear Paw Mittens. The atmosphere is very festive with the ice skating ($8.95 for skate rental), the Christmas lights, hot apple cider and cute little “shops”. A must see …

Central Park stone bridgeCentral Park: Who can go to NYC and NOT visit Central Park? We didn’t do much more than stroll around, but it was great to be outside “people watching”. Central Park attracts all types! Horse and Buggy rides are readily available, as well as artists willing to sketch whoever is interested. We didn’t participate this year, but a few years ago I had my daughters sketch done. It cost me about $40 (bargained the artist down from about $60) and it didn’t look much like her. The experience was fun, though.

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lightsRockefeller Center: Rockefeller Center was crawling with people – a very popular destination due to the fantastic Christmas tree! It’s fun to watch the ice skaters. There’s a terrific jewelry store just down the block from Rockefeller Center – it’s called Lewis & Martin Jewelers. We got to know Charisse and Marc a little bit – wonderful, fun people – and the jewelry is beautiful!!

TIP: Instead of paying $25+ per person for a tour bus ride, we hopped on the city bus for $2/each and were able to see much of the city that way.

Ground Zero is where the Twin Towers once stoodGround Zero: We felt compelled to travel downtown to Ground Zero. What we found was a large fence surrounding the area where the Twin Towers once stood. The fence is very restricting and you can’t really see very much of the destruction except through tiny holes in the fence. Most of it is completely covered by a tarp like material which prevents people from getting a good look at the area. The picture above was taken through a hole in the fence. I was told they have begun building the structure of the new building. Even though many years have passed, Ground Zero still sparks much contemplation about life and how unpredictable it can be.

Dining: We highly recommend YATRA – an Indian Restaurant located at 32 W. 31st Street. We ate there twice for the lunch buffet which cost $8.95/person. The food was fantastic!

The Original Soup Man for the Seinfeld fanThe Original Soup Man – located on 42nd and 5th. This is a must see for any Seinfeld fan. The soup is delicious, but will cost you $7+ for a cup of soup. The Seafood Gumbo is very tasty.

Papaya Dogs – For a quick and inexpensive lunch, enjoy 2 hot dogs and a soda for $2.99. Great hot dogs if you are in a hurry or have spent all your money in Macy’s …

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