We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Assorted questions about Dec

Stoney Creek...
Level Contributor
127 posts
8 reviews
Save Topic
Assorted questions about Dec

We're booked for Dec 16-23rd and I'm trying to sort out an itinerary and have a list of questions.

1. I know it's New York and I know it will be busy, but it seems that the time we're going is less busy than the week before or the week after which is crazy. But how busy is "less busy"? Should I spend a lot of time trying to plan museums for their recommended quiet times?

2. Which would you recommend for first timers - the full 3 hour Circle Line Sightseeing cruise or the semi-circle which starts at 4 and presumably may get the evening lights? Or should we do both?

3. What are the Statue Crown stairs really like? How stressful are they to climb? Will it be horribly crowded and tight up there? Is it worth it considering I'll have to book tickets now and take a chance on the weather?

4. I have two tween girls - we're looking at Alice's Tea Cup, American Girl Cafe, Ellen's Stardust Diner & Benihana. Are there any other restaurants they would get a kick out of?

Thanks in advance!

Melbourne
Level Contributor
1,410 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

>>2. Which would you recommend for first timers - the full 3 hour Circle Line Sightseeing cruise or the semi-circle which starts at 4 and presumably may get the evening lights? Or should we do both?<<

I assume you're talking about Circle Line in both instances? Definitely no need to do both - the 3hr Full Island Cruise does a full loop around the island whereas the Semi Circle cruise goes down around the bottom of Manhattan and doubles back.

My bf and I did the semi circle cruise which went for about 1.5hrs. We really enjoyed it but for us, this was long enough and we were happy we didn't do the full cruise. But there are others who loved the 3hr cruise!

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
9,717 posts
26 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

Re the Circle Line Ferry - I agree with MT that you don't need to do both. We loved the 3 hour ferry around the entire island of Manhattan - fascinating topography and development (compared to further south) and also to see how the island sits in relation to the mainland and the bigger island of Long Island. But we didn't do the trip in December and we didn't have tweens with us. We did think of going last visit but weren't sure what the viewing would be like siting inside (for the warmth).

Re your questions about planning museum trips....bad times last December: MoMA on the Friday when the freebie time starts (~4pm?) but it's fine a couple of hours later to get in tho' really busy inside (but it's busy inside all the time, especially first thing in the morning); Guggenheim at opening time; Frick at opening time. We went to the Met three times and only had a wait to get in once, and it wasn't really bad. I think there's another entrance a bit quieter away from those up the steps on 5th Avenue.

The thing I would suggest about 'planning' is not to make a set itinerary but to make a list of what you want to do, and work out the schedule closer to the time (and when you're there) depending on the weather. It works and means you won't be inside at the Met on a beautiful day but walking around the Village or Downtown when it's blowing a gale and drizzly. The one thing I did was write out a calendar of when Museums were CLOSED to avoid forgetting this important fact and then planning a day around it! Worked well when we got towards the end of our trip and started juggling.

Of the month we were there we prebooked 5 day things (inc Tenement Museum and a lunch) and 10 night things (a basketball game, The Moth, 2 concerts, 3 plays and two dinners- can't remember what the 10th thing was!). The flexibility while we were there was just great - we were able to do lots of things we didn't even know were on before we got there....

The things that I can recall that you need to book date and time are Tenement Museum, Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial. I think the first two of these will be very popular and will sell out well in advance, but 9/11 would be more flexible - I booked the day before (but that was early January so it might be less flexible in mid Dec).

Edited: 12 July 2013, 01:52
Astoria, New York
Level Contributor
16,075 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

3) The climb to the SOL crown is not for the claustrophobic or for those who fear heights (strange combo but true.) It is also a lot of exercise.

This will give you an idea of what it is like (watch from about the 3 to the 6 minute mark): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrefiD91sFs

Brooklyn, NY
Level Contributor
16,015 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

1. It's still very busy......

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
11,508 posts
111 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

I wonder if your girls will be too old for the American Girl cage, but your other options are good. Also check out the Ninja restaurant.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
99,735 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

1) The quietest times for most museums is first thing in the morning when they open. Whether you're coming at a very busy time or not, it's always a good idea to go then when you are also at your freshest and not tired from having trekked around all day. The only exception to this is if you want to go in the evening when some are open late. Stop stressing about how busy and just plan for your own convenience.

2) I would recommend neither. Circle Line has the largest most basic boats and they won't take a dated/timed reservation so you have to arrive in advance and line up in order to make sure you get on. In Dec. at the water, this is not a pleasant prospect (cold and windy). There are loads of other boat companies that will take a reservation and have nicer boats. You might even like to treat yourselves to a dinner cruise one night to see the city lit up.

bateauxnewyork.com

Whether to do both day and night is a personal decision. If you're on a strict budget

goldstar.com

often has discounts for some of the cruises closer to the trip.

3) The stairs are circular and narrow. Loads of photos online if you do a google search and don't want to watch the video kaye linked.

4) A meal at Rock Center Cafe overlooking the ice rink can be fun. I also like the view from Robert restaurant inside the Museum of Art & Design. Wonderful view of Columbus Circle and Central Park. Go for lunch. They might enjoy the museum too.

John's pizzeria in Times Square is in a converted church and very popular. Their Greenwich Village location is the original. Rubirosa near Little Italy is also very good.

Katz's deli on the lower east side (go to the Tenement Museum and Economy Candy while you're down there)

I think a fancy afternoon tea at one of the hotels like the Plaza or at Bemelman's Bar at the Carlyle (Madeleine themed if they read the books) is more memorable than Alice's Tea Cup. Speaking of the Plaza, they have a food court in the basement which has loads of different options for a casual meal.

If they like peanut butter, Peanut Butter & Co. can be fun.

Chinatown is fun. Amazing 66 is one place that's not so divey.

Caffe Reggio is a NYC classic as is Veneiro's for coffee and pastry.

There are multiple Xmas markets on at that time of year- Grand Central terminal indoors, Union Square, Bryant Park (where there's also ice skating), Columbus Circle outside.

You'll have a ball.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
6,672 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

I agree with Kate on the American Girl Cafe - even if your tween daughters want to see the store with all of the dolls and their amazing array of clothes and accessories, they may very well feel the cafe and its crowd are too young for them.

Are you daughters the types who like to do things like fancy teas in fancy surroundings? If so, I agree with NYWhiz that maybe you should do more than just Alice's Teacup. (Although I think you could do both...and if you're going to visit the Natural History Museum, you can easily combine that with a visit to the Alice's at 73rd & Columbus).

One idea for a Christmasy afternoon away from Midtown is to visit the Union Square holiday market and then have tea at Lady Mendl's at the Inn on Irving Place. By the time you finish it should be dark (or just about)...you can walk up pretty Irving Place to Gramercy Park, which has a tree, and then over to Madison Square Park, which also has a tree and other pretty decorations. (You can get nice photos of Madison Square Park decorated with the ESB lit up in holiday colors in the background).

Enjoy!

Edited: 12 July 2013, 15:38
New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
6,672 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

PS - also meant to say that the American Girl store is right next to Rockefeller Center, so you can visit both on the same day, and I think NYWhiz's idea of having lunch at the Rock Center Cafe is a very good one!

Dallas, Texas...
Destination Expert
for New York City
Level Contributor
23,190 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

Climbing the crown is somewhat difficult. I did it as a skinny, fit teen and even then found it challenging. I have long legs and feet. The stairs themselves are irregularly shaped and very narrow in some places, my knees were occasionally banging against side railings and walls. The tight circular motion was a bit disconcerting too. It was the trip down that I remember as most difficult.

Yes, it's tight and crowded (though I haven't been recently, so perhaps they are controlling the numbers on the stairs so that one feels less pressured).

This may sound like an overly negative view, but if you you are expressing concern over being able (or wanting) to do it, then you probably shouldn't.

Boston...
Level Contributor
6,176 posts
213 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Assorted questions about Dec

You're going at a very busy time of year. Lots of us to into the City to do Christmas shopping and to see the lights, store window, tree, ice rink, etc. Just be prepared for crowded sidewalks, lines, etc. The City is always crowded. If you're shopping, you'll probably see it more there.

Edited: 12 July 2013, 18:15