NYC Christmas Itinerary: Dec 2 - 4

Old Nov 28th, 2016, 08:12 AM
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NYC Christmas Itinerary: Dec 2 - 4

My husband and I are traveling to NYC Dec. 2 - 4. We land at JFK at 8:15 am on Friday and leave at 8:30 Sunday night... so we have 3 full days to pack in as much NYC Christmas fun as possible! We are staying in the Midtown Manhattan Hilton. The only plan thus far is to head straight to the Today Show Plaza from JFK to catch a little of the filming Friday morning. Other than that we want to catch the main tourist attractions- ice skating in Central Park, the Rockefeller Christmas tree, the Rockettes, etc. but we are also wanting to do some off-beat things too: visit Brooklyn, the Ace Hotel, the Chelsea Flea, etc. I also think we'll buy a 1 or 2 day pass for a hop-on, hop-off bus tour to see as much of the city as possible. We are late 20's, no kids and we're up for fitting in as much as possible. We would LOVE any travel tips or 'can't miss' locations/attractions/restaurants you can suggest. We've read the travel guides so we have a good idea what's out there but we'd love to hear what people's favorites are so we can decide what to fit in the schedule. Thanks in advance!
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 09:52 AM
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My most helpful travel tip is that you have so little time that you shouldn't waste it on a HOHO bus, which will be mired in holiday traffic and might actually decrease the amount of sightseeing you can do in your short three days.

I have doubts you'll make any of the Today Show filming, so your time might be better spent going straight to your hotel so you can drop off your bags and head back out. You are unlikely to be in the city before 10 am. The Today show films on weekends, and that's a more likely time to get there. It will be extremely difficult to access the area around Rockefeller Center with luggage of any kind. You just can't imagine the crowds you're going to face.

To maximize your time, I'd advise taking the Airtrain to the LIRR, then the subway to your hotel. There are many, many "Hiltons" in midtown, but if you are staying at the actual New York Hilton Midtown, it's on the corner of 6th Avenue and 53rd Street (it takes up a whole block). The most convenient subway stations are the Rockefeller Center stop (47th - 50th Street). Only the M and E trains stop at 53rd/5th Ave. Many more trains stop at Rock Center.

If you exit the subway at Rock Center, I'd strongly advise existing on the west side of 6th Avenue and walking up from the hotel; exit as far north on 6th Avenue as you possibly can.

If you take a taxi, take it all the way to your hotel from the airport; it's a flat rate plus toll and tip. There will be a monstrous amount of rush-hour traffic at that time of day, and the trip will take a minimum of an hour.

Since you are traveling next week, it's pretty much too late to make reservations for "can't miss" restaurants. What kind of food do you like? How much do you want to pay? If you have preferences, I'd strongly prefer making reservations now if you can, even at mediocre restaurants. It's going to be really hard to get anything at a hot spot. Buy your tickets for the Rockefeller Christmas show now; all the best seats are gone, but it's a huge venue, and there are always tickets, though not to every performance.

Most of the things you want to see and do are strictly on the beaten tourist path. If you want to see Brooklyn, pick a part and tackle it either Saturday morning or afternoon. Then come back into Manhattan. It's easier to do Manhattan in the late afternoon after dark (around 4:30 this time of year).
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Old Nov 28th, 2016, 05:27 PM
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Fully agree that the HoHo bus is a huge waste of time and money. You will spend HOURS sitting in traffic in whatever the weather is (you can see only form the top/outside of the bus). Frankly, walking will be faster.

You should get a really good map and pick out your top 5 or 6 items and just go see them. Transit by foot is best (make sure you have really comfy walking shoes, then subway for longer distances ). Do NOT underestimate how crowded everything will be nor how long the lines will be for many attractions.
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 04:50 AM
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Good to know- we will probably skip the HOHO bus then and work on finding the best map. Any idea on where to find the best one? I usually buy one from barnes and noble but I wonder if that's the most current vs. one I can find online? I would like to see things like Chinatown, Little Italy, etc. Is it feasible to walk from Manhattan to those places or would that be the subway?
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 05:19 AM
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Most print travel guides have maps in them. I'd encourage you to buy a guidebook and do some research, whether you buy Fodor's or some other brand. You may discover something you hadn't considered. You still have a couple of days before your trip, and you still have time to do a bit of planning.

Every single thing in Manhattan ... including all major tourist attractions ... are best reached by public transportation. There are two very popular attractions on the far sides of Manhattan: The UN on the east side, and the Intrepid on the west. They are both a 15-minute walk from the nearest subway stop (the Intrepid might be a bit closer than that to the Hudson Yards stop on the 7 train), but buses go directly to both, and that's how New Yorkers move across town if they aren't walking. The weather this weekend should be mild with no rain. I strongly recommend walking wherever the subway won't take you. It will be twice as fast as a bus or taxi.
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 05:55 AM
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"I would like to see things like Chinatown, Little Italy, etc. Is it feasible to walk from Manhattan to those places or would that be the subway?"

Both Chinatown and Little Italy are in Manhattan. Perhaps you are wondering if it is feasible to walk from your midtown hotel location to Chinatown and Little Italy. By subway, it is a 20-25 minute ride. On foot, it is a 4 mile walk each way, so it depends on how much you like to walk. Google maps can help you plot walking distances between areas.

You might take the subway one way and walk the other, You could plan your route to pass through different Manhattan neighborhoods--Madison Square, Flatiron, Union Square, Greenwich Village, Washington Square, Noho, Soho . . . The suggestion to get a guidebook and a map would help yuo plan a route of interest to you.
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 10:10 AM
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Great- thanks everyone!
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 05:01 PM
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Manhattan is an island - but not a tiny one - it has dozens of different neighborhoods, including Chinatown (one of the several in NYC) and Little Italy (which is almost gone). If they are walkable depends on how far you want to walk - the distance would be about 5 miles from your hotel. The major sights are in the half of Manhattan which is about 10 miles long and 2 miles wide - plus island in the harbor - and other sights in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs.

You really do need a map. Why not check out what Amazon has?
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Old Nov 29th, 2016, 07:13 PM
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if you are taking the airtrain from JFK to Jamaica, then your choice of subway is the E. Get off at 5th and 53rd street, exit the subway on 53rd, turn left and you are a half block to 6th (Avenue of the Americas) cross over 6th and you are at the midtown Hilton. It's a about 40 minutes to midtown on the E. While many trains go to 47 street Rockefeller Center you will not be getting them in Jamaica at the LIRR, and once you are on the E there is no need to transfer to another line.

you can get a free subway map at any station where there is a person in the booth, where metro cards are sold, even if there are machines for the cards.

buy an airtrain ticket for each person, and then buy a metro card. two people can use one metro card you can swipe once and your spouse can enter the subway, and then swipe for yourself. you can add money as you need it.
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Old Nov 30th, 2016, 08:12 AM
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You can also get a subway map here:

http://web.mta.info/maps/submap.html
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