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Holiday Daytrip to New York City

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating

 Taking an extended vacation during the winter holidays might not be possible, but a daytrip to New York City can be a great getaway for the family, especially at Christmas. There are plenty of activities that kids will enjoy, from a special tea for tots to a performance of Cirque du Soleil.

John DiPietro drops everything during the holidays to take his family to New York from Boston. His one-day itinerary is ideal for anyone who doesn’t live in Manhattan. “We take the train into Grand Central Station and walk next door to the Grand Hyatt Hotel to view the spectacular decorations in the lobby. Then we head out to 42nd Street, go to Fifth Avenue and stroll about ten blocks north to Saks to see the windows. We shop there, then go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral next door.”

To continue DiPietro’s route, stop next at  Rockefeller Center with its skating rink, hot chocolate and NBC Studios. If you want to take a studio tour, they “sell out early on Saturdays, so come very early,” he advises. Then go back to Fifth Avenue and stroll through FAO Schwartz, take a family picture in front of the Plaza Hotel, see its Christmas tree, then walk across Central Park to Broadway.

Turn left and go south to Times Square.  You’ve shopped along the way so by now it’s late afternoon, a time to enjoy the bright lights, the hundreds of places to dine around Times Square and the half-price tickets booth for Broadway shows. “We then turn left at 42nd Street and wander back to Grand Central,” says DiPeitro, whose family has been taking this same holiday trip for 20 years.

Here are places to put on your itinerary.

  • On Saturdays the Waldorf-Astoria offers an elegant but playful Tea for Tots. Kids dress up, drink hot chocolate learn to decorate cookies and cupcakes and have a sing-along, all for $22 children and $35 adults.  Reservations are required. 212-872-1275
  • “My two boys hate museums,” reveals Tina Koenig of XpressPress News Service.  Still, her children did like the Guggenheim because of the spiral ramp. “Small children want to run,” she explains. “My children liked the NBC Studio Tour and making an interactive video, the Radio and Television Museum to see old comedies, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum although it was expensive, a gospel breakfast at Sylvia’s in Harlem, and strolling and eating in Chinatown. Walking 5th Avenue is a madhouse during the holidays and so is Times Square,” Koenig warns. “Depending on children’s ages, it can be challenging.”
  • Through January 11, Cirque du Soleil presents its family winter show, Wintuk, in Madison Square Garden. Tickets are priced $40 to $220 at cirquedusoleil.com or Ticketmaster, 212-307-1000.
  • Ari Teman, a featured comic at Jewlarious, reminds visitors that lots of clean, family-friendly comedy shows play during the holidays. Go to NYComedyEvents.com .
  • Cupcake Kids does family cooking events with seasonal themes, so make a date your children to decorate cupcakes in their favorite holiday designs. 646-789-5554, cupcakekidsnyc.com .
  • “My girls loved tea at the Carlyle Hotel best,” reports Michigan health coach Cheryl Heppard, “The piano player accommodates kids with music from popular movies and the Madeline murals are fun for all.”
  • Pauline Frommer is a parent as well as author of Pauline Frommer’s New York City (Wiley). Top family attractions on her list include The Festival of Lights at Bronx Zoo, the oversized snow globe at the Hall of Science in Queens, the Messiah Sing at Alice Tully Hall (for older, musical children), the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular (November 7-December 30)  and the Dan Zanes Show  that will play in December at the New Victory Theater, the city’s top theater for kids (646.223.3010, newvictory.org .)
  • Get a view of twinkling Manhattan in its holiday colors from observation floors of the Empire State Building. One observatory is at the 86th floor; for $15 more go to the 102nd floor observatory.  Both are open every day, 8 am to 2 am with the last elevators leaving at 1:35 am

If You Go
For More Information:  NYC & Company, 810 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10019.
212-484-1200 , nycvisit.com

By Janet Groene

About the Author

Janet Groene is a professional travel writer and author of the new Solo Woman’s Guide to RV’s  (Duffie Books).

Visit the CF Forum to start a discussion about this article.

Chesapeake Family serves parents and families in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore, Bowie, Calvert and Prince George’s County and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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