Tour Coordinator Bryanna was a passenger on our New York City Christmas Lights Tour this past December. She brought along her friend Sahara and they had a blast! Read on to find out what they did during their stay in the Big Apple.
Bryanna here! I was so excited to visit New York City during the Christmas season as it was always a must-do on my bucket list. I had been to NYC twice previously, once in the spring and once in the fall. Seeing the city at Christmas time, is a brand new experience! I brought along my friend Sahara who had never been to NYC before and you can imagine her excitement leading up to the trip. For months beforehand, we talked about what we wanted to do when we arrived in the city. We are both big fans of Broadway so we had to take in at least one show. We also wanted to be the “typical NYC tourists” and visit the popular well-known places such as Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and so much more. Our list was incredibly long! There was no way we were going to be able to check everything off our list in one trip.
If you are planning a trip to NYC and you have a crazy list of “must-sees”, don’t expect to do them all in one trip. They say that your first trip to NYC is research trip in order to find out what you are going to see the next time you visit. In reality, there is just so much to do that you would need a very long stay to be able to see everything. My suggestion is to pick your top few favourites and make them your priority. If you have extra time after you check those off your list, you can see a few more!
On Target Tours trips to NYC, we drive up on the motorcoach with an overnight in Portsmouth, NH on the way there and back. This stay breaks up the driving and with all the games and entertainment on the bus, the time goes by incredibly fast. Trust me you will not be bored! One of my favourite games to play on the bus is Bingo. Our Tour Directors make the game extra fun and everyone on the bus gets involved. We also play a fun game we like to call the Horse Race. You might wonder how we could possibly do a horse race on a bus, well I guess you will just have to take one of our motorcoach tours to experience the game for yourself!
Upon arriving in NYC, we checked into our hotel, the Cambria Hotel New York – Times Square. The hotel is located on 46th street and is within a five minute walk to Radio City Music Hall, Times, Square, 5th Avenue, and so much more. Hotel rooms are typically smaller in New York than they are elsewhere in North America, but the Cambria rooms are very well organized in order to conserve space. After checking in, we took a quick walk up to Times Square to get the lay of the land. Now December is the busiest time to visit NYC so there were a lot of people in Times Square but we found maneuvering through the crowds to be an exciting part of the NYC experience. As you are probably well aware, you don’t find many big crowds of people when you go out in the Maritimes, unless you are going to a Great Big Sea concert or doing your last-minute Christmas shopping the weekend before the big day.
When you book on our Christmas Lights Tour, tickets to the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular are included. If I could only use one word to describe this show I would say it was SPECTACULAR! Radio City Music Hall is an incredible venue any time during the year, but at Christmas it seems almost magical. I wish I could have seen the show a second time because there was so much to see during the performance, that I’m sure I missed looking at something! Since Sahara and I are both big musical fans, we also saw Phantom of the Opera and Aladdin during our trip. They were both incredible and I recommend seeing both if you ever have the chance!
On all of Target Tours trips to NYC, a four-hour guided tour of Manhattan is included and occurs on your first morning in the city. We have a local guide named Jimmy who hops on the bus and takes us around to some of the popular haunts in Manhattan. We visited Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Grand Central Station, the 9/11 Memorial, and more. This tour flies by and gives a wonderful overview of the city, especially for first-time visitors. We enjoyed our time in Central Park so much, that we decided to explore it on our own later on during the trip. Central Park is massive and runs from 110th street all the way down to 59th street. We also took the subway down to the Staten Island Ferry so that we could see the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline from the water. This ferry is free and takes about 40 minutes round trip, I highly recommend taking advantage of this neat experience.
If you are looking for the best photos of the city, Top of the Rock is a set of observation decks on top of Rockefeller Centre. This is my favourite place to get pictures of the city with optimal viewing times at dusk and dawn. Tickets are reasonably priced, though I do recommend purchasing your tickets in advance so you don’t have to wait in line. The first deck is enclosed with glass walls, but your photos still turn out perfectly. If you are brave enough, you can venture to their two higher decks which are open air. Many people would recommend going to the top of the Empire State Building for photos, but one benefit of visiting Top of the Rock instead, is that the Empire State Building is actually in your photos! And we all know that is one of if not the most iconic building in NYC.
Where to eat is another big question that first-time visitors have when they visit NYC. There are thousands of restaurants to choose from that you will find it hard selecting only a few to visit! Some of our staff favourites include:
- Junior’s Restaurant & Bakery
- Hard Rock Café
- Shake Shack
- Bubba Gump Shrimp
- Urbanspace Vanderbilt
I had a fabulous time on our New York City Christmas Lights Tour in 2019. I was already planning my next trip before I even finished this one! If you aren’t a big-time traveler before you visit NYC, then you will be after!