NYC Redux

In December, I made a return visit to the Big Apple. The reason was two-fold – I had never visited around Christmas (which is my favorite holiday and my favorite time of year) and I wanted to see my girl Mariah Carey in concert again. Yes, I just saw her live in Las Vegas in July, but she’s my favorite AND I love Christmas music anyway, so when she announced another mini-residency at the Beacon Theater for a series of Christmas concerts in December, I had to jump on it. And, as you may recall, Scott loves NYC (part of the reason for our Memorial Day weekend trip), so getting him to come took very little convincing. In fact, he was probably pushing for it more than I was!

As with Vegas, the concert was the primary reason for the trip, but of course we had enjoy the city as well. Having just visited about six months before, we didn’t have too many specific places we wanted to see or things we wanted to do. Having never been to NYC around Christmas (or during winter months at all, for that matter), I was kind of looking forward to seeing the city as a winter wonderland, but that most assuredly did not happen because it was SO WARM! We each had a light jacket and that provided more than enough warmth for the temperatures in the 50s-60s we experienced. I mean, don’t get me wrong – those are great temps to walk around and sightsee in, but just not what one quite expects within two weeks of Christmas in NYC. So no snow or winter wonderland was in the cards for us, but we still enjoyed ourselves. We once again used Airbnb to find a home away from home in the West Village (very close to the place we stayed in earlier in the year), but I didn’t enjoy this one as much. It was small, which we totally expected, but the lack of both internet and cable TV made relaxing there a bit boring, to say the least. Using my mobile hotspot at least gave us some respite from the lack of internet, but it still isn’t a place I would stay in again. Still, trips aren’t (usually) about where you lay your head at night, right? πŸ™‚

The first thing we did on this trip was visit the One World Observatory, which we were both excited for because we missed the opening of it by just a week or two on our last visit. Tickets start around $30 USD, but we opted to pay more ($54) to choose a specific date/date and skip the initial line. Because we were going around midday on a weekday, we probably could have gotten away with just lining up with everyone else (the line wasn’t too long), but it’s always nice to know exactly when you’ll be able to get in (and we were even able to go in a little earlier than our ticketed time because we got there early). After going through a shorter line (less than ten minutes) and going through some metal detectors, we headed for the elevator that takes you up to the top, which is a cool (and quick!) experience in and of itself as, within the elevator, you’re completely surrounded by screens that depict the construction of NYC over a few hundred years. Really cool! Obviously the whole point of visiting is to get to the top to see the amazing views and, on this sunny day, the views were great! There are a couple of different levels once you get to the top (through it all feels pretty open), so be sure to wander around, experience them all, and take lots of photos. There are also a few stations dotted around where employees will take you through some interesting info/talk about the history of NYC. It’s a little disappointing that there’s no way to take pictures except through glass, though given the height of the building, I totally understand that. It’s just hard to get good pictures through glass! As with any touristy place, there were some food and drink options at the top, though they’re all very expensive (like, $5-USD-for-a-bottle-of-water expensive) and the food wasn’t great (we each had an overpriced sandwich), so I recommend you just plan to eat before or after.

Other than the observatory, most of the rest of what we did was a lot of walking around. Scott feels like NYC the way I feel about London, so he loves just being able to explore and take it in. And I can totally appreciate that, so lots of wandering was fine by me (and great for my Fitbit!). We of course stopped at the Cubbyhole again once or twice, though I wasn’t up for much drinking because I started getting a cold the moment we landed. As colds go, it wasn’t all that bad, but the sore throat that came with it was NOT fun (I shudder to think how many throat lozenges I went through on that trip), which made eating/drinking less than appealing. We also did a walking tour of the Christmas window displays, which was fun. Again, it’s kind of annoying to have to take photos through glass, but they’re window displays, so what else can you do?? πŸ™‚ I wasn’t actually familiar with this being a thing that people do, but it was fun! They’re all really well-done, colorful, and creative, so be sure to check them out the next time you’re in NYC around Christmas. Again, I wish the weather had been a little more wintery so the atmosphere could be a little more festive, but such is life. The one big Christmas-y thing we just HAD to do was visit the Rockefeller Christmas tree. With Christmas being my favorite holiday, it was just a requirement! While it was totally worth it to see it in person, be prepared to have to walk (and sometimes push) your way through a LOT of people if you want to get good views and photos of it. We probably spent 45 minutes walking around the area and then waiting to get the money shot from up close (overlooking the ice skaters), but it was worth it! We didn’t do any skating ourselves, so I’m not sure if you have to pay for that, but you can certainly enjoy the area and take photos for free!

And then, before we knew it, Saturday night had arrived and it was time to see Mariah sing some amazing Christmas music. What a great concert it was! We started the evening by going to dinner at Calle Ocho, which was really tasty. We had a reservation, so getting a table was no problem, but they were fairly busy, so pre-booking is a good idea. They had a nice menu, decent prices, and the service was great. Be sure to savor the starter – really tasty rolls with a sort of black bean pate/spread – SO GOOD! The restaurant was pretty close to the Beacon Theater where the concert was held (part of the reason we picked it), so we were able to hoof it over there in plenty of time for the concert to start. When we got there, we saw a crowd of people waiting around the corner from the theater, so we asked someone what they were waiting for and it turned out that’s where Mariah was going to get dropped off, so they were trying to catch a glimpse of her. We decided to wait as well and she showed up within a few minutes, driven in by a black SUV (seems to be the standard car for these things). Of course, we only got to see her for a few quick moments, but it was still cool! I’m not someone who gushes over celebrities for the most part, but seeing Mariah that close was awesome. Great pre-cursor to the concert! The theater was nice – not huge, probably about 3,000 seats total, many of which seemed to be empty, but as the concert started, the majority of them were full. We sat in the front row of the lower balcony, which was actually pretty perfect because we had no one in front of us and had a great view of the stage. Mariah sounded awesome and the show was great! I really need to see her live more often. πŸ™‚

Check out the pics (and even some videos this time) below!

Looking up before heading into the One World Observatory.

This was the quick line we had to get through to go through the metal detectors to get to the elevators.

One of the amazing views of NYC from the top.

Bridges, bridges, bridges!

I know it’s dark, but it’s a good picture of me. πŸ™‚

I took several window display photos, but this one came out the best and was the most colorful. Pretty cool, right??

The Atlas statue in front of Rockefeller Center.

The tree!

Us with the tree.

Had to wait awhile to get to the front to get this shot, but it was worth it!

Arriving to see Mariah!

The stage wasn’t empty for long…


Singing with the choir.

Getting a boost up from her dancers.

Of course I had to get a shot of her framed with the Christmas tree.

And the very colorful big finale!

A quick clip of the opening of Silent Night. Another great thing about our seats was the railing in front of us as it gave me place to rest my hands to keep photos and videos crisp!

That hiiiiiiiiiiigh note!

All I Want for Christmas is You!

And speaking of high notes, check out these whistle notes from one of the non-Christmas songs from the show, Emotions.

And that’s it! I realize most of this post is about Mariah, but hey, that’s okay – she’s the main reason we went! I can’t wait to see her live again and I’m also excited to visit NYC again. We don’t have anything planned yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if NYC becomes an annual destination for us.

Next up – news on my recent trip to LA for Gallifrey One 2016!

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!