A blast from the past – back to when Son was 4 and I had one of “those” landmark birthdays – scarey thing is I am uncomfortably close to another one. Not party people, we seize every excuse to take a trip – this time was no exception. My December birthday had me consider several options but there was only ever really one winner – the Big Apple to experience a bit of Christmas magic. Having visited New York several times but always in summer or autumn, this was all about the most wonderful time of the year NYC style. We were not disappointed.
Christmas and the run-up to Christmas in New York was a full-on experience we marvelled at. Father Christmas seemed to be everywhere, we saw Rockettes in Santa costumes at Radio City Music Hall, plenty of chestnuts roasting merrily on open fires on street corners, beautiful decorations and twinkling lights everywhere and even bell-ringing Salvation Army soldiers ably assisted for a brief while by our enthusiastic Son.
The icing on the cake was the snow – it snowed as we landed in JFK late one Saturday evening and through the rest of the night. When we awoke (far too early with a jet lagged carol singing 4 year old) and ventured out while it was still dark, we found a winter wonderland – snowy streets, silent and deserted we had the city all to ourselves.
This whole trip was one big highlight, but the super stand out parts were:
The Holiday Windows
We trekked out several evenings (along with crowds of other people) to take a look at the department stores’ famous holiday windows. What a sight and so much fun we loved this Christmassy display. Macy’s and the Lord and Taylor windows were our favourites – not so easy to choose it must be said. Son was enthralled – as were we – just walking from shop to shop and peeking in at the festive sights. Of course a trip to Santa Land at Macy’s also had to be undertaken – another unforgettable experience. We walked through a whole series of Christmas scenes then met the man himself right at the end. Son was wide eyed with awe and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. The perfect meeting with Santa just before Christmas to discuss “that” list.
One bone achingly cold morning – wrap up well if you do this in winter – we took a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Despite Son’s protests about the cold and having to be carried part of the way back this was a walk with a wow. Just being on the iconic bridge peering down at the water below was an experience, but the view of the skyscrapers as you stroll back to Manhattan is simply magnificent.
The Rockefeller Center
Needless to say we spent a fair bit of time around the Rockefeller Center – the Christmas tree, beautiful lights and atmosphere was magical and we loved the ice rink. Another day we zoomed up in an incredibly fast elevator to the Top of the Rock. Magnificent views over the city – but I did get a bit of the knee wobbles looking out of those glass windows and realising just how high up we were. All this was topped by a trip to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. A stunning show full of festive treats, it was a feast for the eyes and we all loved it. Son sat captivated the whole way through the entire show – not normal for him at that time, proves it was something special.
Son was obsessed with the Statue of Liberty on this trip so we had to take the ferry to Liberty Island. We stopped off at Ellis Island first though, this place with all its history never fails to impress and fascinate me. Liberty Island was freezing cold but Son was super excited to stand in front of the great lady and replicate her pose with a branch from a tree. Highlight of his New York trip. All that and then those views – admiring Manhattan’s movie star good looks from Liberty Island is something that never fails to move me.
A Horse Drawn Carriage Trip
Snuggled under a warm, woolly blanket in a horse drawn carriage while the snow fell around us was an especially nice way to check out the sights of Central Park. Relaxing and fun before we ventured forth on foot for a ride on the carousel.
Walking, Walking And More Walking
Walking for miles around Manhattan – we walked and walked as much as we could through the city streets, I could never tire of this. One afternoon we walked from the tip of Battery Park to Times Square – a very long way, we had a cheap stroller for Son it would have been unmanageable otherwise at that time, but this is the absolute best way to experience the sights, sounds, smells and flavours of the varied neighbourhoods that make up Manhattan. Walking is always my transport of choice in NYC.
We all fell head over heels in love with New York at Christmas – lit up and lovely this was the best birthday treat I could ever have wished for. It worked so well as a family destination too – something magical around every corner, so many fun things to do and the ultimate way to get headlong into the festive spirit. I couldn’t recommend it enough.