This trip report is shamefully late but I've just been enjoying reading the threads here and thought I would share some thoughts.
We travelled last December and stayed at Hotel Beacon from 15th - 20th December. First of all the hotel - we loved it. The room was big, the bed was huge, the kitchenette proved very welcome. Yes, it's not up to date modern decor but it had a certain charm of its own and we really enjoyed the space we had. We also loved the location; so close to the subway and with Trader Joe's and Fairway nearby, plus various local diners and restaurants. We would absolutely plan to stay here again when we come back. We liked being able to go for a stroll to Trader Joe's and we got hot food one night from Fairway. We also ate at Shake Shack, got treats from Levain perhaps a bit more frequently than we ought and had breakfast at Good Enough to Eat. UWS was fab.
We arrived mid afternoon to snow! We went for a long walk that night, to shake off the travel and get some bearings, ended up walking down towards Times Square. We didn't stop to look at much in detail, it was more about the walk.
Woke up the next day to glorious snow everywhere and headed off early to Central Park, which was stunning. We were early enough that the park was very quiet and we had a lovely, aimless stroll around, making footprints in the snow.
I'll confess to not being able to remember everything in the exact order and the right amount of detail so in no particular order:
We went to see the vintage subway train, and rode it for a few stops. We got on at the first stop, in the Lower East Side, after breakfast at the Clinton Street Baking Co. Breakfast was great but the subway train was even better. We had a great time wandering through the different carriages and all the people dressed up in vintage clothes made it even better. This was a great experience that maybe doesn't translate so well into the written word, but it really was fab.
We had breakfast at the River Cafe on our anniversary. Yes, probably a cliche but we were spoilt rotten, got treated to all sorts - breakfast cocktails, pastries, and the famous dessert, none of which we ordered! This caused us some agonising over the tip; we didn't know how to calculate the tip including all the free stuff. The food, both that we ordered, and the freebies, was good. I don't know that it was any better than many other places but that's fine, it was an experience as much as anything.
We really enjoyed walking the High Line. Whether we'd enjoy it so much in the warmer weather I couldn't say, I can imagine it getting pretty crowded. Also enjoyed walking the Brooklyn Bridge. We chose a beautiful day luckily.
We saw the Book of Mormon and loved it. So glad we booked the tickets, we'd not been too sure at one point, but it was absolutely worth the money.
I found the Rockefeller area and the Bryant Park Christmas market too busy for my tastes. I grew up in a pretty manic city in Asia so am not at all unused to crowds but it just didn't do it for me really. We did enjoy the Columbus Circle market, it was a little less busy and we stopped by a couple of times walking to or from our hotel which maybe helped in that it wasn't a destination in its own right so maybe our expectations were lower. I don't know. Got a gorgeous oak leaf ornament from the Central Park Conservancy stand. We did a tour of Grand Central station which was good, glad we did it, but not the all out highlight of the trip.
One slightly random fond memory is a flea market we went to at a school playground on the UWS. We got a couple of great things there and just enjoyed the walk around the area.
I'm trying to remember what else we did! We went to the Chelsea Market, did the Staten Island Ferry, went to the Strand Bookstore. On our last day we had a look at the Union Square Greenmarket, which was lovely. We'd both been to NYC before, but separately and not for a long long time. Whilst we'd both done the tourist thing before and knew we weren't bothered about observatories or anything, we still stuck very much to the tourist trail. That's fine, we have return trips planned when we can go a little bit deeper under the surface of NY. What we enjoyed most I suppose, was just walking. We walked miles and miles and saw lots of interesting things; I'd so recommend some time without firm plans, but just some time to explore.
It was very very cold when we went, and although we had appropriate clothing, there's no escaping the fact that when you're out wandering the streets for hours you get cold! But we had beautiful weather, just very cold, and felt very lucky. If you're going at a similar time, take warm clothes and warm, comfortable footwear!
I feel like I've missed out so much of what we did, and am kicking myself for not writing this at the time. We maybe didn't do the stuff most people do - we skipped a lot of the sights, we didn't go anywhere particularly amazing for food but we just couldn't do it all and know we'll be back again to maybe do a more foody visit one time, a museum focused trip another.