By Chelsea Tyler McNeill
Winter usually means dark, cold and dreary days but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you fancy a break to brighten up your winter, there is nowhere more magical than New York City. It is the one city that you don’t mind the sharp cold or snow, in fact, it even adds to the beauty. There are so many things to do in the winter, from ice-skating, Christmas shopping and romantic strolls around Central Park in the snow. It truly is the best place to be in the winter. The seven and a half hour flight is more than worth it when you arrive and feel like you have walked on to the set of a movie. The lights are brighter, the buildings are bigger and don’t even get me started about the shopping. Convinced yet? Here is my New York winter to do guide.
You know when you watch those movies about a small town girl going to New York, she winds up in Time Square with her mouth hanging wide open in awe? That is exactly what happens. You really do feel like an ant gazing up at the ginormous billboards among the crowds of people walking the street, but it is an experience like no other. Times Square is exactly as tacky as you would imagine but that adds to the fun – there are hot dog stalls, people dressed up as Spiderman and lest we forget, the Naked Cowboy.
The Empire State building:
Now, I am not afraid of heights, but when you go into the Empire State building and the tour guide puts you in a lift and brings you to the 86th floor, let’s just say the view would make anybody weak at the knees. As you stand out 1,050 feet above ground level, you see every sight New York has to offer: Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. The nausea is definitely worth this breathtaking view.
The Museum of Modern Art:
For the more cultured tourist, the world famous art museum MOMA is a must see. MOMA has played a big part in developing, and collecting, modern and contemporary art. You can go for a walk around the museum to look at the beautiful pieces, and have a look in their gift shop where they have every art book you can imagine.
The New York Public Library:
Okay, so no one actually goes to a library on a holiday, but this is no ordinary library. The library has been used as a film set ,which you may recognise as Carrie and Big’s wedding destination (well, the wedding that didn’t happen) in Sex and the City, or from the Ben Stiller movie ‘A Night at the Museum’.
One of the most well-known tourist attractions in New York City is Central Park, which has been in many famous movies. The park is huge, and you definitely couldn’t get around the whole thing on foot, so what better way to see all the sights than on a horse drawn carriage. You will be bombarded with offers as you approach the gates so don’t be afraid to haggle them down because some of the drivers try to charge crazy amounts, but it is definitely a great thing to do. From beginning to end, the drivers give you all the facts, show you all the sights and give you the gossip on the celebrities they have chauffeured.
The Brooklyn Bridge:
The Brooklyn Bridge divides New York, it joins Manhattan to a very different side of New York in Brooklyn. The bridge is a historical monument in New York and holds a lot of cultural significance but it has also appeared in a lot of New York based movies and TV shows.
The Statue of Liberty:
A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Independent woman herself, the Statue of Liberty. Ferry tours are available to bring you to the Statue of Liberty and they also go to Ellis Island. You get a ferry over and you can stay as long as you want at both landmarks and get a later ferry back. There is something very moving about this tour because the ferry brings you on the same journey that Irish Immigrants would have taken to enter America. You see the Statue of Liberty in the distance, and feel their sense of hope and excitement, then you go to Ellis Island which was where most immigrants were dropped off to begin their new lives.
Christmas in New York is associated with the magnificent Rockefeller Christmas tree that goes up every year. This year, the tree will be lit on November 30th with live musical performances and is broadcast to TV across America. The Rockefeller Center is also home to one of New York’s most famous ice-skating rinks so you can skate and drink hot chocolate right under the Christmas tree.
New York is one of the best cities to shop in, although there are mostly designer shops that are well out of most people’s price range, they also have the huge department stores with amazing discounts. Macy’s is worth going to just to look at the Christmas decorations, it really is like a Christmas wonderland. You can pick up some amazing and unique pieces to bring home for your own Christmas tree. FAO Schwarz is one for the big kids and little kids. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to run up and down the huge piano, at any age! With 10 foot tall stuffed animals, life size toy cars and a Lego Statue of Liberty, there is so much to see in this toy heaven. New York is also home to Victoria’s Secret, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Barneys and the Kardashian’s Boutique, DASH.
The 9/11 tour:
I could not recommend this tour enough and at any time of the year, it is one of the most eye-opening and moving tours that you can do in New York. You begin the tour by meeting your guide in a church. This church happened to be a church not too far from the Twin Towers where emergency services brought people for safety. In the church there are shrines built to the servicemen who lost their lives. Uniforms are left hanging in their memory, letters from their families and friends are stuck on the walls of the church to remind people of who these men were and how much they will be missed. Kids left toys in the church along with pictures they drew for the parents they lost on that day; it truly is so moving. The tour guides are all New Yorkers who lived in the area when it happened and give you first-hand accounts of where they were and their efforts in ensuring their family and friends were safe. You are then brought to the new World Trade Centre building and finally to Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers once stood. It has since been turned into a beautiful waterfall with the name of every person who died in the tragedy engraved around the edges. New York is known for the glitz and glamour but being there and hearing about the tragedy and how the city pulled together through such a horrific time, only makes the place more magical.