It’s one of the most iconic cities in the world, a never-sleeping hub of world-famous landmarks and movie backdrops, littered with hopeful rising stars, and quite simply a must for your bucket list. And nothing screams romantic, movie-like holiday more than winter in New York City! So here’s my guide to making the most of your dream trip to Manhattan.
#1 Plan, plan, plan.
Working in weddings of course I love a schedule, but this really isn’t a case of me trying to preach the OCD-like meticulous lifestyle! You really must make a plan if you’re to get the most out of Manhattan! Choose your top must-dos/must-sees and get that itinerary started. This Christmas I was in NYC for just 4 full days but thanks to careful planning I saw 2 Broadway shows, climbed landmarks, walked to Brooklyn, took a river trip, saw the whole of central park and hit 5th Avenue like no-one ever has before! Not to mention all the eating out, which leads me nicely on to number 2.
Okay, so there will be times when grabbing a latte and a sub from Starbucks is ideal and necessary to keep to schedule, however, if you’re anything like me (a real foodie) then sometimes the feast is as much of an attraction as the glittering billboards of Broadway. So here are my top 5 fabulous foodie gems
1 The Nomad Hotel – a truly special dining experience. This is one you’ll remember, so put on the LBD and Louboutins and absorb this romantic experience…there’s even an oh-so-awesome library you can sit in to enjoy a drink or two. Seriously, take a look at their website: www.thenomadhotel.com
2 The Plaza Hotel – if, like me, you’re not lucky enough to be staying there, you can still enjoy the luxe of The Plaza Hotel! Round to the right, there is a side entrance to the Plaza that leads you downstairs to an amazing food market. With bars and specialist food shops it’s definitely worth visiting after a day of shopping along 5th! I recommend the juice bar in the middle, you choose the ingredients and they make your custom juice there and then! Loved it. My companion chose an equally lovely cheese board and wine so there’s plenty to enjoy there!
3 Head over to the West Village and stop in at Buvette. The food is on point and the cocktails are fantastic! Their menus are online so take a look and be enticed! newyork.ilovebuvette.com
4 Is slightly bizarre but awesome all the same. If a day of shopping is in store, you’re going to be hitting Macy’s and this little gem will see you through the day. Right at the bottom of Macy’s you’ll find a canteen style café. This is THE perfect 11’s spot. Buy your apple crumb Danish (or any one of their amazing pastries!) and thank me later.
5 John’s Of Times Square pizzeria. Just off Time’s Square on 44th. Great setting, a real buzz about the place and apparently the choice of a lot of the NYPD, praise indeed! Great for a pre-show meal, but be prepared for queues, this place is popular. Arrive early to avoid disappointment!
#3 Tori’s Top Tips
Okay so this is just the ‘everything else’ part! All the warnings, whens, whats and hows!
- Use the subway. At winter in particular, a taxi will get you nowhere fast, and these boys work on a metre. The grid system in New York is super easy to pick up and you’ll be able to walk most places in no time, but for those longer trips, get on the trusty subway! It’s easy to work out, you go downtown or uptown and that’s basically it! Any trouble and there are always people on the gate. It’s cheap and a massive time saver.
- Do Broadway. You’ve simply got to do it, it is world class and a great night out. If you’re not fussed about where you sit or what you want to see, definitely head to the Red Steps on Times Square for the TKTS booth, there you can queue for cheaper tickets. You aren’t guaranteed best seats in the house (especially at this time of year) but you will get a cheaper seat and hey, sometimes you get lucky! But if your heart is set on specific show, at Christmas it’s worth it to pre book. You can book from the UK months in advance to secure those dream seats at Wicked! 😉
- Top of the Rock vs Empire State. I pick Top of the Rock any day and here’s why: Let’s face it, you think of the NY Skyline and you picture the Empire State, the Chrysler building etc. you don’t, however, think of the Rock, because come on, it is just a standard sky scraper. So take the super speedy elevator to the Top of the Rock and look out over Central Park, turn around and enjoy the Chrysler, the Empire State and Wall Street. Plus, the barriers are glass, so no restricted views. Of course, a proposal at the top of the Empire State is ideal! And I do recommend going in to at least see the iconic lobby, but do be warned of the caged barriers you will have to look through at the top of the Empire State, and bear in mind that you won’t SEE the Empire State Building, so you’ll probably want to head to the Top of the Rock anyway!!
- Extra Top of the Rock Tip: use your weather app to find out when sunset is on the day you want to go to the top, book your time slot at least an hour before sunset, reach the top, see Manhattan in the winter sunshine, then watch the sun set over those skyscrapers…glorious!
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. Take the subway downtown to Brooklyn Bridge and stroll right over to Brooklyn. Best to go in the afternoon, the low sun over the city is gorgeous and the views from the bridge are unparalleled; you’ll be looking back at that famous skyline and you can also spot the Statue of Liberty at the tip of the island!
- Central Park…a warning. You must look around central park of course, but it is worth noting that while it’s a sunny, green, movie scene, haven in the summer, it can look a little bleak in the winter (when there isn’t any snow)! The fountain is drained and the ground a little grey and bare! You’ll of course recognise practically everything from the movies but it is slightly lacking! This said, the ice skating is as picture perfect as you would imagine, the perfect selfie spot and if you’re brave enough, a lovely, iconic and romantic date to enjoy.
- 5th Avenue. Nothing else needs to be said. Go. Love it. Shop it.
- Finally, be prepared for people, everywhere. Shopping, site seeing, just generally there! You won’t escape it, NY is busy the best of times but throughout December it’s something else. Don’t like crowds? Christmas isn’t the time for you to visit!
It really is a magical holiday that you will not forget, so I say go for it, and don’t forget to bring an empty suitcase!