Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Are you a fan of Halloween? I find that people either love it or hate it with few in between. I’m in the ‘love it’ camp and now that my kiddos are older, my favorite memories are of their many costumes. One of my sons loved to make his costumes; many were quite elaborate – one year he was a robot that involved lots of silver spray paint.
A city that fully embraces Halloween is New York City! Having lived in the Big Apple for years before moving to the suburbs, I’ve witnessed the festivities firsthand, including the famous parade in Greenwich Village. Even as a somewhat native New Yorker, one of my favorite things to do is spend a long weekend in NYC, and I keep current on the many events, openings, and hidden gem experiences. As soon as the calendar turns to November 1st, the city’s attention moves to the holidays and begins the process of decking its halls.
Recently, I’ve been spending a good amount of time in NYC with fewer crowds and gorgeous weather. If you’re thinking about taking a special getaway to New York City during the holidays (or any other time of year), this newsletter will share some hidden gem experiences for your consideration. Whether you’re familiar with NYC or not, read on for the scoop…
Broadway is Back!
Broadway is coming back after the long pandemic shut down (you’ll need your vaccination card). If you’re after a hidden gem Broadway experience, one of my favorite NYC tour partners offers behind-the-scenes experiences. Picture yourself (or the Broadway-lover in your family) having one of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences:
Relish in a ‘meet the cast’ package including orchestra seats, a private small group post-show cocktail with cast members, and a special VIP gift bag of show merchandise. A photographer will capture your once-in-a-lifetime memory and cast interactions.
Even better, how about a walk-on role on a Broadway show? The experience starts with rehearsal, so you know what you need to do on stage. Before showtime, your friends and family take their seats while you go backstage to get ready for your big night. When it is your time, the stage manager will make sure you are on point, and then you’ll have the glory of being on a Broadway stage. Afterward, you can hang out since you are part of the cast, and your friends can meet you for a backstage tour and plenty of Instagram-worthy photos. 🎁 Holiday gift goals
Uptown, downtown, midtown, SOHO, the seaport, Brooklyn – no matter which neighborhood of New York City appeals, there are a plethora of hotel choices. Most tourists think they need to be based in Times Square (tiny ugh), but that is most definitely not the case. Working with a travel advisor who is intimately familiar with NYC will open your eyes to all styles of accommodations and match you to the right choice for the vibe and what you most want to do while there.
If a 5-star experience is what you’re after, I highly recommend The Peninsula New York, especially during the holidays. Centrally located on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street, the hotel is ideal for accessing many of Manhattan’s best experiences. The staff at the Peninsula knock it out of the park for their guests, especially the little ones. There’s a sweet shoppe in the lobby, daily holiday afternoon tea in the lounge, and a gingerbread decorating class. You can also arrange to have your hotel room decorated with a gingerbread playhouse complete with a candy cane scavenger hunt!
Hidden Gem Travel clients get the perks at the Peninsula including a room upgrade upon arrival (if available), $100 hotel credit (spa time!), breakfast for two daily, and of course VIP status since I know the staff 😊
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: For more NYC hotel options with the perks check this out: Best Of The Best Hotels and Experiences.
Do You Love A Holiday Market?
With the recent supply chain woes, supporting small vendors is the best holiday shopping plan for 2021. NYC offers many festive holiday/Christmas markets with stalls of all kinds. You’re likely familiar with Bryant Park’s Winter Village due to its healthy advertising budget, ice skating rink, and proximity to Grand Central Station. Other holiday markets that I love include Columbus Circle, Union Square, and Grand Central Station.
An important part of a holiday market experience is eating and drinking. Consider adding a food tour or mixology experience to your itinerary. Right before the pandemic began, I did a unique walking food tour of the East Village that introduced me to new restaurants and dishes. Tell me what interests you, and I’ll recommend some fun options.
If you haven’t yet checked ice skating in NYC off your bucket list, this activity is a good one to add to your holiday market trip. Be sure to leave your shopping bags back at the hotel. Many tourists think there’s a rink in Times Square (not true), so message me for tips on which rink is best to skate and when. Note – there’s a hidden gem rink with views of the Hudson River!
Catching The Views
There are two newcomers to the tourist scene offering incredible views of the Big Apple. In the Hudson Yards area (near the Vessel and top of the High Line), the Edge opened this summer. This month, Summit One Vanderbilt opened in midtown. Seeing these views won’t be inexpensive but well worth the memories.
Another option for an Instagrammable view is hitting up a rooftop bar. Again, you have many options but note that you will wait without a reservation at peak times. A couple of weeks ago, I had a fantastic time on the rooftop of The Peninsula New York with epic views of Fifth Avenue! During the holidays, the West Terrace area, named Chalet de Ning, is a glamorous winter wonderland with chalet-inspired domes designed to resemble the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps. Seasonal cuisine and cocktails reflect the cozy apres-ski vibe but with views of the Big Apple. Gingerbread chocolate fondue anyone? Reach out to me to get yourself a coveted reservation.
For a different kind of view, check out the newly revamped (after being closed for four years) halls of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History. The now refurbished 11,000-square-foot halls hold some of the most spectacular and rare gems in the world, including “the legendary 563-carat Star of India sapphire.” A few of the other stars include a 3,000-pound block of green and blue labradorite, two remarkable amethyst geodes that are the world’s largest on display, and a slice of a fossilized tree that lived 35 to 33 million years ago. Note – as they are all located on the Upper West Side. You can check out this exhibit after shopping the Lincoln Center and Columbus Circle holiday markets.
💎 Hidden Gem Tip: Currently, you’ll need to bring or download a picture of your vaccination card to enjoy all that NYC has to offer. I can recommend a handy App for that purpose, so you don’t have to pull out your wallet.
There’s almost an unlimited number of hidden gem experiences in New York City, and new ones pop up regularly; after all, it’s known as the city that never sleeps. Consulting a knowledgeable travel advisor will help you create the best itinerary for you and your travel group.
New York City is an incredible destination any time of year. There are many tips and tricks to having the best experience like when in any iconic city. There’s so much to do with limited time. You won’t be able to fit it all in!
Inspired? If you’re thinking about a special getaway to New York City, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact
Wishing you and your family continued good health,