Desert Rats do Chirstmas in New York

Dec 8th, 2008, 05:04 PM
  #1  
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Desert Rats do Chirstmas in New York

My husband and I are taking our broadway-obsessed daughter on her first trip to NYC to celbrate her 17th Birthday, 12/19 to 12/23. We're staying at the Embassy Suites in Lower Manhattan and we've purchased tickets in advance only for her "must-see" ... 'South Pacific' and the Empire State Building. We've decided to play the rest by ear depending on how we feel and especially on the weather. (We live in the desert southwest where our days are still in the 70's -- we ate Thanksgiving dinner outside around the picnic table!)

This brings me to my question - can anyone give me some ideas of how we could best spend our time if the weather gets the best of us? We're contemplating the 48hr hop-on/hop-off bus, thinking that we can stay inside and still see some sights.

The entire trip is complicated by the fact that almost all the money that had been set aside for this trip had to go to a family emergency last month. We didn't cancel the trip because the tickets were already bought 8 months ago and she's been so looking forward to it, but we have to do everything on the cheap now.

You have all been so helpful to me in the past. Anyone have any advice or ideas?
sart29 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 06:03 PM
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Museums are always a good bet, and I'd keep my eye on citysearch.com since they'll feature articles from time to time on how to do the city on the cheap.
AntInNewYork is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 06:43 PM
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We were just there in OCt. The weather was unexpectedly warm so we didn't get to use our winter clothes (we live in SoCal and don't get to use them often). My cousin who lives in Upper Manhatten told us we could give any denomination even a dollar at the Metropolitan. The price at the counter says suggested donation $20 but it's up to you we gave $7 each. It's a gorgeous museum and the view from on top is gorgeous. DOn't waste time in Little Italy what a dump! Have funm the subways are crazy but super cheap and fast.
lorikosor is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 06:45 PM
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We were just there in Oct. The weather was unexpectedly warm so we didn't get to use our winter clothes (we live in SoCal and don't get to use them often). My cousin who lives in Upper Manhattan told us we could give any denomination even a dollar at the Metropolitan. The price at the counter says suggested donation $20 but it's up to you, we gave $7 each. It's a gorgeous museum and the view from on top is gorgeous. Don't waste time in Little Italy- what a dump! Have fun, the subways are crazy but super cheap and fast.
lorikosor is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 10:53 AM
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Thanks for the help. We will definitely check out the Met.

Anyone have any ideas for something special we could do Friday night, which is her actual birthday? We'll be arriving late afternoon/early evening and, regardless of the long travel day, will be accompanied by the boundless energy and excitement of a teenaged birthday girl with her first taste of NYC.
sart29 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 11:29 AM
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First, a note about the hop on/off buses. They're expensive and COLD and WINDY since you have to sit upstairs in the open to see. If you want to do a bus tour, onboardtours.com is in enclosed buses and has better guides. They have a holiday lights option that's 3 hrs. that starts at 7 pm or a longer version during the day.

A budget option is to use NYC transit buses on your own. The NY Times did an article recently about how to do this. You may have to register for free at the NY times website to view the article
http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/11/23...f%20nyc&st=cse

As for what to do on the b'day night, if your daughter is B'way obsessed, what about going to the TKTS booth for discount tix to another show? What about the Radio City Xmas Spectacular. There's a TKTS booth at the South STreet Seaport which is not that far from your hotel. Info here
tdf.org/tkts

There are quite a few backstage type tours. http://www.newyorkology.com/archives...ng_backsta.php

Don't miss Top of the Rock (observatory at Rockefeller Center). Many think it's better than ESB and you don't need to buy tix in advance. There is a combo ticket for NBC studio tours which she might like.

There's lots of good info here on budget ideas if you do a text search and here's a NY Magazine budget guide which includes mentions of some free walking tours.
nymag.com/cheap

Since you're staying downtown, here's a guide to the area. They used to have a free minibus to take you around. Not sure if it still runs. http://www.downtownny.com/discover/wifi/

Keep in mind your hotel is downtown in the financial center and near the water and gets cold and breezy. It won't be quite so bitter in midtown.
mclaurie is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 12:20 PM
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You waste a lot of money on the hop-on/hop-off bus tours. Buy a Metro card as mclaurie suggests. The subways are the best way to get from one place to another ... and then take buses only if you have to (traffic is really bad this time of the year, so you will waste precious hours if you limit yourself to buses).

We've had weird weather here this week. Very cold ... then 60 ... then torrential rains for 2 days ... now very cold again. Watch the weather reports and pack accordingly. The best thing that you could get would be snow. I think the city is magical then, and if htat happens, definitely take a walk in Central Park (free).

If you want to do a budget look-see at the Statue of Liberty, take the Staten Island Ferry (free).

Make dinner reservations if you want to eat at any touristy restaurants. It's probably too late for most places. But try neighborhood restaurants for a cheaper alternative. Dim sum is a good option for a reasonably priced brunch.

Definitely visit Saks and Macy's to see the windows (Lord & Taylor too). You do not have to spend a fortune to have fun here, but hte idea of TKTS tickets is a good one. But the lines are really long these days. Check out the discounts on Playbill.com and print them out and buy tickets the box office to avoid huge surcharges.
doug_stallings is online now  
Dec 13th, 2008, 12:48 PM
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Do not waste your money on a HopOn/Off bus. Traffic will be so bad when you're there that all you'll see is mass of other vehicles. There will be several gridlock alert days (so much traffic that no one moves at all) while you're there. In fact, walking is faster than the bus then. And being on top of the bus - or waiting 30 minutes for it to show up can be very uncomfortable.

Decide what you really want to do and then just go do it. Many museums have a pay as you want policy (check the web sites) and the subway is cheap, fast (faster than a cab never mind a bus) and perfectly safe.

If you get nice days (40's and sunny) do Central Park and the (free) Staten Island ferry. If you get bad weather (20's and sleet or snow) take the subway to see some of the dozens of indoor sights.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 05:09 PM
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Save money and eat the best pizza on the face of the earth! Like almost everything in NYC, it's served molten hot, that should warm you up. But it by the slice wherever you see people lined up.
Enjoy New York, it's magnificent.
LSky is offline  
Dec 13th, 2008, 08:47 PM
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Christmastime on Fifth Ave is magical. Walk around Rockefeller Center, see the tree, watch the skaters on the rink. You can see Tiffany's, Cartier, etc. You probably can do a quick stop at St Pats and then look at Saks' windows; there will be a line but you can still see them. The Museum of Modern Art is also in the area; you can spend a whole day there but I think that their gift shops (there are 2) are lots of fun you can go in without entering the museum. They sell scarfs and gloves on every corner so you can layer it all on if you get cold. Just remember the prices reflect their quality (i.e., cheap!).
debsnj is offline  
Dec 14th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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Sorry - do be sure that you have proper cloting or you will freeze. We've alread had temps in the low 20's n Manhattan - with wind chill of -7 to -10 in the suburbs at night. And it's also often damp and windy.

You will need

Warm winter coat
Hat
Gloves
Scarf
Waterproofed shoes or boots
Several layers for various temps (tees, shirt, sweaters etc).

I saw some guy the other day walking around in mid-calf shorts, a shirt and a hoodie - and his teeth were chattering. Not sure where he was from - but obviously had never looked at the average temps.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 15th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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Okay, we've decided against the hop-on/off bus. Appreciate all the advice. Thanks for all the great links mclaurie!

We still haven't made any decision about Friday. My daughter has now expressed an interest in trying to get rush tickets for Mandy Patinkin at The Public Theatre. Does anyone have any idea what our odds would be to rush either that or "Road Show" at the same theatre? Should we even bother?
sart29 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2008, 08:23 AM
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NY had a high of 30 on Saturday when we visited, but we found that we didn't really get too cold, probably because it wasn't windy and we popped in and out of places. We started at the Macy's windows (34th and B'way), then Lord & Taylor (38th and Fifth Ave), then up past the Public Library (41st and Fifth)(we didn't do it but there is a holiday bazaar and ice rink at Bryant Park behind the library), then up to Saks (49th and Fifth Ave), which is right across from Rockefeller Center (and the big tree and ice rink). We stayed warm by stopping briefly in the stores and in Rock Center, and stopping for lunch and a snack.

Crowds were crazy (but fun) in the entire area between Rockefeller Center and Times Square.

On an intolerably cold day, you could spend the entire time in the Metropolitan Museum, including passable food even in the basement cafeteria.
DancingBearMD is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 08:25 AM
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Have no idea how busy rush tix gets at the Public but do you realize that 1 person can only buy 2 tickets? Also, students can buy $25 ticket in advance which is only $5 more than rush tix. Why don't you get 1 student ticket and then you two can try for rush tix. If you don't get in, she can still see the show herself.
http://www.publictheater.org/content/view/16/147/
mclaurie is offline  
Dec 16th, 2008, 11:34 PM
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mclaurie, I had exactly that idea. Her dad and I have already seen Mandy Patinkin in concert, so it won't kill me if we don't get in. I'm trying to convince him that it will be fine if she has to see it by herself -- we'll just find someplace nearby to stay warm and wait.
sart29 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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FYI there are great holiday craft/art fairs in Columbus Circle (59th and roughly broadway/amsterdam/9th ave), Union Square, and Bryant Park. Definitely check out the museums, unlike DC not all are free, but the Met is certainly a great choice (you can spend hours there, they have Mary Magdelene's tooth in the medeival relics seciton, or so they say, I've seen it), and never feel bad about donating only a little bit of money, the Met has numerous sponsors they won't miss a few extra dollars. Natural History museum on 81st on the Upper West is also a very cool place to go. The Pierpont Morgran Library I believe still has an exhibit on Babar up (which is really cute if she ever read the books as a kid) Be aware that the crowds at Rock. are going to be a bit crazy, but it's definitely worth a trip to see the tree. There is also skating in Central Park, but that can sometimes be difficult to find. The MoMA can get pricey (but it is right near rock on W53rd between 5th and 6th) so just be sure you actually enjoy photography and some wacky contemporary/modern art before you go, I find some people get a little disappointed by that museum if they are not big Modern art fans.
Definitely pack WARM! A scarf and gloves are absolute musts for walking around the city, they make a world of a difference. And bring ultra comfortable walking shoes that are also warm.
krodster is offline  
Dec 17th, 2008, 08:12 AM
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There are loads of good restaurants (and bars) near the Public theater. For a nice place to have drinks, the Temple Bar is not far. Directly across the street is Indochine and for something a bit funky, Acme Bar & Grill and Great Jones Cafe are also nearby. Five Points is a nice restaurant also with a bar.
mclaurie is offline  
Dec 17th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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...never feel bad about donating a little bit of money, the Met has numerous sponsors they won't miss a few extra dollars..."
There are some of us who don't take kindly to remarks like that. What if everyone felt that way? Believe me, those "numerous sponsors" don't come close to underwriting the costs of operating this great facility. And, during this current recession, facilities like the Met need the public financial support more than ever!! Let's all pay our fair share for the privilege of visiting of the world's truly great museums.
HowardR is offline  
Dec 17th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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I'd second the rec for Great Jones cafe, especially if you like Creole/Cajun. Great jukebox.
nstevey is offline  
Dec 17th, 2008, 08:40 AM
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I'm trying to convince him that it will be fine if she has to see it by herself

She's 17, she'll be fine. I once left my then very young side 13 year old at Times Square to watch TRL and waited for her at the nearest Starbucks. This was before portable cell phones, and she's a little clueless, so it probably wasn't the best idea I've ever had, but she was fine, she walked over and met me at Starbucks after the show. Since then, every time we're in the city, we go to visit friends, she says she's not interested and either goes to the movies or to a show by herself (and we're not even around to meet up, which is a little disconcerting, but now that we DO have portable cell phones, we can always connect). Anyway, you can drop her off at the door, and meet her at the exit door.
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