NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore New York over the holidays? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most of the shopping and holiday attractions on offer in the Big Apple.
6 p.m. - Why not start the weekend with a cocktail? The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Terminal on 42nd Street at Lexington Ave offer a taste of luxury in the famous New York landmark.
7 p.m. - Take a stroll along up Fifth Avenue to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree which attracts about 500,000 people a day. Watch the ice skaters below and don’t miss the spectacular window displays across the road at the upmarket Saks Fifth Avenue store.
8 p.m. - Try dinner at Tavern on The Green (www.tavernonthegreen) at Central Park West at 67th Street which prides itself on its festive atmosphere with a holiday dinner menu which ends with plum pudding.
10.30 p.m. - End the evening with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage around Central Park, pure magic on a snowy night.
8 a.m. - A trip to Santaland at Macy’s, the massive department store on 34th Street at Broadway, is a must. Wind your way through a wonderland of trains, talking trees and busy elves to the North Pole where you can have photos with Santa. There are fantastic display windows too.
Other stand-in Santas are available for photo opportunities at Bloomingdales on Third Ave at 59th Street, Saks Fifth Avenue at Fifth Ave and 50th Street, Manhattan Mall on 33rd Street at Sixth Ave, South Street Seaport at Pier 17, and the World Financial Center at Winter Garden on Vesey Street.
12 noon - Walk up to Times Square to join the crowds squeezing into Toys ‘R Us which has a ferris wheel inside the store and three floors of toys. For a family lunch try Carmines (www.carminesnyc.com ) at West 44th Street, an Italian eatery which serves family sized portions of various pastas.
2 p.m. - New York is a city for shoppers with stores ranging from the very expensive to the affordable and the discount. Designer discount stores like Century 21 (www.c21stores.com ) at 22 Courtlandt Street is a haven for the truly committed shopper.
There are numerous holiday markets as well to enjoy:
- Bryant Park on Sixth Ave at 42nd Street has over 100 booths with this European-style holiday market one of the biggest in town with free ice-skating on the park’s rink.
- Grand Central Holiday Fair in the Vanderbilt Hall has stalls and a kaleidoscopic light show in the main concourse
- Holiday Gift Shops at St. Bartholomew’s Church on Park Avenue at 50th Street is a pretty market
- Holiday market at Union Square on 14th Street at Broadway where red and white tents have been put up for various stalls
- Holiday Market at Columbus Circle at Central Park South and Central Park West is an ideal location for foodies
6 p.m. - Aim for an early dinner then pick one off the list of holiday shows in New York.
8 p.m. - There is a show for everyone. From the traditional high-kicking Rockettes at Radio City Hall (www.radiocity.com ), to the Nutcracker ballet at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center (www.nycballet.com ), to the more modern musicals such as “Shrek the Musical” and Rodgers & Hart’s “Pal Joey.” Be sure to book shows in advance.
9 a.m. - A trip to New York is incomplete without a visit to Central Park for a ride on the carousel, to see the polar bears and penguins in the zoo, and for a skate around the picturesque Wollman Rink (www.wollmanskatingrink.com). Go early as the rink is packed by noon.
12 noon - Grab a pretzel off a street stand for lunch and head down Fifth Avenue, making the upmarket toy store FAO Schwarz your first stop. Virtually every shore along Fifth Avenue has holiday windows to enjoy including Cartier, Bergdorf Goodman, Tiffany & Co., and Henri Bendel.
2.30 p.m. - St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 51st Street is worth a stop and break from the crowds, regardless of your denomination or religion. It is an architectural beauty and a nativity scene with life-sized statues adds to the holiday spirit.
4 p.m. - Finish off the weekend with the final holiday windows at department store Lord & Taylor at Fifth Ave at 38th St, which are usually the most traditional of them all.