Plan my Christmas Trip to New York

Sep 27th, 2006, 12:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 5
Plan my Christmas Trip to New York

Please help me plan our itenarary,arriving Sat.12/23 (Newark)- Thurs.12/28. We will be staying at the Hilton on 6th bet. W53/54 St.
This is our first trip to N.Y. so I would like to make it memorable. I would like to dine in some of the historic(ie Patsy's or Fraunces Tavern)places in New York. Willing to sacrifice quality of cuisine for history of locale/architecture. Also, please tell me what you'd recommend from the menu. Preferences are Italian, Chinese and basic American cuisine. Looking for the following recomendations:
-Car service from Newark Airport
-City tour and Ellis Island Tour
-Must see museums
-Breakfast Diner in area of hotel.
-Dinner Restaurant close to hotel Sat.night when we arrive.
-Dinner Christmas Eve after "The Lion King" or should we eat before.
-Brunch Christmas Day around Central Park
-Dinner Christmas Night
-Dinner after "Rent" on 12/26
-Restaurant in Little Italy
-Restaurant in China Town

I hear "Serendippity" is a must for dessert. Anyone been there?

Tell me how you would plan these 4/5 days. We plan on visiting the museums, sightseeing, and discount shopping. Please help me make this a trip to remember.

Thanks to everyone!!

Lynda05 is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,674
One of my favorite historic restaurants is Chumley's. It's located in the village at 86 Bedford and Grove. It used to be a speakeasy, and the door is unmarked, and it has the original booths, etc. Last X-mas, my parents came into town to stay with me. We took a tour of Greenwich Village which lasted 2 hours and ended at Chumley's. It was a blast, and I highly recommend it. Good burgers, and the rest of the menu is decent.

lizziea06 is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,305
I'll answer a couple of your questions:
Museums--You definitely start with the Met. Wherever else you go would depend on your taste in art, as there are many excellent options to choose from.
Restaurant close to the hotel--Try Remi, right next door to your hotel on West 53rd Street. Excellent northern Italian.
HowardR is offline  
Sep 27th, 2006, 10:10 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 74
Serendipity is a DEFINITE must for dessert, but it will be PACKED at Christmas time. I've arrived to find a 3 hour wait on more than one occasion. Don't skip it though, just plan around it.

We go and put our name in at Serendipity and leave to get dinner at Patsy's, which is right on the corner. It's Italian food, but it's not THAT Patsy's. Then we run over to Serendipity to check in on the remaining wait time. After that it's easy to kill the rest of the wait by wandering the neighborhood. It's on 60th near 3rd, so it's right by Bloomingdales and Dylan's Candy Bar. It works every time, and you don't waste the whole night hanging around waiting.

Oh, and get the frozen hot chocolate. It's what they're famous for!
shirley82 is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 06:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,715
>Car service from Newark Airport
The 2 inexpensive services used most often are Carmel & Tel Aviv. Neither are perfect (ie someone occasionally has a problem with the car not showing or the driver being smelly or the car being in bad condition--but not all at the same time and not all the time. You could pay a bit extra for a deluxe car or you could pay a lot extra for meet and greet (where they stand at baggage claim with a sign with your name). Otherwise you'll be asked to phone when you've got your luggage and wait 5-10 minutes for the driver. is more expensive and nicer cars.

City tour and Ellis Island Tour
While most people use the hop on/off tours, I think they're less than ideal at Xmas time when it's often cold and windy up top on the open bus. Go for NY PartyShuttle or Marvelous Manhattan for a climate controlled bus. **

For Ellis Island, you can go on your own and either join the free 45 min. park ranger guided tours or buy an audio tour. Going to just Ellis Island will take about 3-4 hrs. If you stop at the Statue of Liberty also, it could take 5-6. I suggest you try for the first boat of the day (prob. 8:45am at that time of year but double check). Stay on the boat at Liberty Island (first stop) and continue on to Ellis. You'll be one of the few people there at that time. If you want to stop at the Statue, do that on the way back. Try to buy tickets online in advance. (If you want to do a tour of the Statue you MUST reserve). I'd guess doing this on Christmas Eve would be a good idea. You might consider taking food with you. The food there is pricey and mediocre.

There's also a man who does small group tours of Ellis Island that sound great. I'd consider that.

>Must see museums
Totally a matter of taste. The Metropolitan is huge and amazing and has a lovely Xmas tree. MOMA is right near your hotel. The Frick is one of my favorites (small in a turn of the century mansion with art, furniture and collectibles). The Tenement Museum is very popular. (Book in advance) What are your interests?

>Breakfast Diner in area of hotel
The very touristy (and overpriced) Ellen's Stardust diner is right near your hotel. I don't necessarily recommend it unless you're with kids. The Brooklyn Diner on west 57 st. isn't bad. The 6th ave. Cafe (6th b/w 57-58) is better. The Art Cafe on 52 st & Broadway is very popular (and suppposedly very good). Norma's, in the Parker Meridien hotel (58 st. near 6th ave.) is famous for their breakfast of good food, huge portions (and prices to match). is a great resource for researching restaurants. To find places near your hotel, select west 50s on the home page. Diners & coffee shops are the places for full but inexpensive breakfast.

>Dinner Restaurant close to hotel Sat.night when we arrive.
Agree with Howard that Remi is one idea. It's very nice food but upscale and a bit pricey. Trattoria Dell 'Arte is also near, also Italian, also good, not quite so pricey (depending on what you order) and not quite so formal. Ben Benson is a steakhouse with decent steak (certainly not the best in NYC). Cite and Cite Grill are also options. China Grill is a sleek upscale Chinese. For something very casual and inexpensive, La Bonne Soup on 55 st. b/w 6th & Fifth has good burgers, soups, salads etc. YOu can look at reviews and menus on menupages. What sort of place did you have in mind?

>Dinner Christmas Eve after "The Lion King" or should we eat before.
Whether to eat before or after is really up to you. One thing you should do on your trip is have a fancy afternoon tea. The St. Regis hotel on Fifth Ave. or the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Time Warner are both great for this. If you had afternoon tea, you could eat after the show.

Foley's Fish House in the Renaissance hotel would be close to the theater and has a nice view of Times Square. My guess is they'd be serving the 7 fish dinner on Xmas eve. The Firebird on restaurant row (west 46 st b/w 8th & 9th ave.) is a beautiful place that would be very festive at Xmas time. It's Russian food. If you eat after, maybe Chez Josephine would be fun (live music)

Another idea and quintessential Xmas spot is the Sea Grill in Rockefeller Center overlooking the ice rink there. It's not far from your hotel.

>Brunch Christmas Day around Central Park
The Boathouse in Central Park is the obvious answer to this but I'm sure it will be packed. Cafe Des Artistes is another idea. Asiate in the Mandarin Oriental hotel has a great view (similar to their lobby lounge).

>Dinner Christmas Night
Get out of your midtown neighborhood and head uptown or downtown. Fraunces Tavern is often recommended for Xmas, but the food's not great. There's a newish restaurant getting raves called Telepan. If they're open, I'd consider that.

>Dinner after "Rent" on 12/26
West Bank Cafe, Basilica (Italian), Chez Josephine

>Restaurant in Little Italy
Considered very touristy and better Italian elsewhere
> Restaurant in China Town
Not my forte and depends on what kind of food you want (ie dim sum, cantonese, hunan) Personally, I'd give it a miss.

The things you MUST do for a wonderful Xmas visit.

See the windows at Lord & Taylor, Saks, Bergdorf, Barney's, Macy's.
Skate (or watch the skaters) in Central Park at the Wolman Rink
Go to Top of the Rock (at Rockefeller Center)
Have a makeover at Sephora (there are several around town
See the tree at the Met Museum
Go to a concert of Xmas music
Go for a drink at the Rainbow Grill (Rock. Ctr.)
Go to Grand Central Terminal
Watch the skaters at Bryant Park

Here's a holiday guiide from last year's NY Magazine

Final thoughts for now:
> the Whole Foods market in the Time Warner building (at Columbus Circle) is not far from your hotel and a good spot for a casual meal or take away.
>The Carnegie Deli is a block or so from your hotel (7th ave. & 55 st.) While I'm not a fan, many swoon over their pastrami. SHARE and sandwich and pay the extra for extra bread
>there's a French bistro not far from your hotel called Maison that's open 24/7. Good and cosy.
> Another idea is a dinner cruise. Bateaux NY might be fantastic on Xmas night.
mclaurie is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 07:45 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 324
My opinion of seeing the windows is to get up really early and go see shops. Otherwise you are in line forever. Go to breakfast from there then go do a tour. It helps to get going early!
frenchtoile is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 08:07 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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If you want to eat in a "historic" restaurant, I'd recommend One If By Land, Two If By Sea, widely considered one of the most romantic restaurants in NYC, in a townhouse once owned by Alexander Hamilton. Not the best food, but a beloved institution, though expensive. But not suitable for kids ... you don't say if you are traveling with kids.

Unless you have kids with you, I'd skip Serendipity in favor of Payard Patisserie for excellent desserts on the Upper East Side; there's also a sit-down restaurant in the back, which is expensive but great, though probably too fancy for your tastes.

I'm sorry, but I can't recommend any restaurants in Little Italy. It's not really a very recommendable place. If you want Italian, go to Becco, which is not terribly far from your hotel and very reasonably priced. It's owned by Lidia Bastianich.

It might sound strange to you, but there is a long tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas day in NYC. The best upscale places like Shun Lee book up far in advance. If you want to do brunch, I'd suggest going to a great dim sum place in Chinatown on that day or try to get into Shun Lee that night.

Do make all your dinner reservations far in advance, though some restaurants only allow reservations one month in advance and dim sum places not at all.
doug_stallings is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 10:32 AM
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Posts: 10,195
mclaurie wrote: "Stay on the boat at Liberty Island (first stop) and continue on to Ellis. You'll be one of the few people there at that time. If you want to stop at the Statue, do that on the way back. "

I believe the boat doesn't go "back" to the Statue. Last few times I went the boat left Battery Park, stopped at the Statue, stopped at Ellis Island, and returned to Battery Park.

Anyone else know?
ellenem is offline  
Sep 28th, 2006, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 746
Wow...this is great stuff....I'm making notes for my Oct. trip but my head is spinning with so many great places to eat (and so little time).....
Shadow is offline  
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