Concrete Jungle, Studio Tour – NYC Day 3

The trip continues to roll on! This time, I’m finally starting the day’s post on the actual day, rather than the next morning! Of course, there’s no guarantee I’ll complete it tonight (in fact, it’s now Sunday morning, so I’d say I called that one). The only thing that matters is that it gets done though, right?

The only thing we had scheduled today (other than dinner, but we’ll get to that later) was the NBC Studio Tour. If you’ll recall, this is the same tour we hoped to do on our trip two years ago, but because we didn’t pre-book it, there were no tickets available the day we tried to get them, so made sure to book it for this trip well ahead of time (which, if you’ve noticed, is what we did for everything on this trip). Tickets aren’t terribly expensive ($33 currently) and even though I went through it once before (6.5 years ago), it felt different/updated this time, so I’m very glad we did it! And for those of you who have also done it previously, go back and check it out again! One big change is that The Tonight Show set is there again – it wasn’t when I went through in 2012 as the show was still being produced in LA at that point. It’s basically exactly what you think a studio tour would be – you get to walk around with a couple of NBC pages/interns to see a few sets (the aforementioned Tonight Show as well as Saturday Night Live and NBC Nightly News) as well as some backstage production facilities like control rooms and even a recording studio (though those facilities are seen from the outside – you don’t get to walk into them). Also new from the last time I took this tour (as far as I remember anyway) is the little late night show each tour group records. It’s about five minutes long and everyone on the tour gets a role – host, guest, announcer, band member, camera operator, or control room engineer (that’s what we did). It’s mostly scripted for all the participants and they email it to you by the time you’re done with the tour. It’s kind of cheesy, but it was a fun way to end the tour!

Overall, this is a worthwhile way to spend an hour, but as I said above, be sure you book ahead of time! Sadly, you can’t take photos of anything on the tour, but I did squeeze a couple in (as well as some of the Rockefeller area as we walked to the tour).


I just liked the look of this building.


Looking festive for the holidays!


I forget which church this was, but I enjoyed this angle of it.


This festive ribbon on the Cartier building looked so good!


Passing by St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


The Atlas sculpture by Rockefeller Center.


This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. It never looks as good in the daylight as it does at night, but it’s still gorgeous.


Looking up at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home of NBC and our tour.


They give you these little Applause pins to wear on the tour so you’re identified as being allowed in the building. And you get to keep the pins when you leave!


We were shown an intro video about NBC, narrated by Al Roker. It was a neat way to start the tour.

And that was it! Being the only thing we had officially planned for the day, we had some time to just walk around the city. I had a hankering to go see the Herald Square Target (it’s relatively new and it’s pretty cool to see a Target in the heart of Midtown Manhattan!), so we meandered that way. The store was CRAZY busy, so we didn’t stay long. We then decided to head back towards our hotel so we could stop at FAO Schwartz in Rockefeller Center. Although the store dates all the way back to 1862, it only recently reopened in its current location after closing in 2015 due to rising rent costs (the fact that it was then owned by Toys “R” Us at the time likely didn’t help, given the fact that that company is now entirely bankrupt). There was a really long line to get in when we finished the studio tour, so we thought the time we spent walking to and from Target would reduce that a bit. Spoiler alert – it didn’t. But, we jumped in line anyway and it thankfully moved pretty quickly as we only had to wait for about 15-20 minutes to get in. If the weather had been rainy like Friday’s, I’m sure we wouldn’t have bothered (we don’t have any kids to by toys for anyway), but since the sun was (mostly) shining and we didn’t have anything else planned, we went for it. We only spent maybe ten minutes inside as it was, unsurprisingly, very busy, but it was still neat to see such a big variety of toys (and candy – not sure if that’s a new addition or if FAO Schwartz has always carried it) in one place.

Before moving into the dinner phase, check out a little mishmash of photos from the middle part of the day.


The Stephen A. Schwarzmann building, which is part of the New York Public Library system.


Looking up at the Empire State Building. I was thinking we went up it together on a previous trip, but Scott didn’t think we had, so we’ll have to add it to a future itinerary.


Passing by Radio City Music Hall. Another future itinerary idea – the Rockettes!


The colorful FAO Schwartz sign.


Also inside FAO Schwartz – this somewhat-creepy clock!


Looking towards the Rockefeller tree and 30 Rockefeller before it was filled with EVEN MORE people (as it would be in the evening).

After all that walking around, we returned to the hotel to relax and watch the rest of The Sinner, which we started watching the night we got here as I’d heard good things about it. The TVs in this hotel make it very easy for you to sign into your streaming accounts (Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, etc.), so we took advantage of that with a little light binging (The Sinner was only eight 45ish-minute episodes, so easy to binge!).

After that light binging and some photo editing and blog writing, it was time for dinner. After Asian and Cuban on previous nights, Scott booked us into Patsy’s, an old-fashioned Italian restaurant. And by “old-fashioned” I mean it’s run by one family, all the waiters wear tuxes and have Italian accents, and they even push around a dessert cart to show you what’s available that night. Very spiffy! Admittedly, I wasn’t initially very impressed with the service because the guy who greeted us and confirmed our reservation was sort of dismissive and said they’d work on getting a table for us. We only ended up having to wait about ten minutes to get one, which isn’t terrible, but I was just put off by the fact that he didn’t seem to care much. However, the rest of the service was fine and the food was very tasty, so Scott is 3/3 for restaurants on this trip! He had read in an online review that the portions weren’t very big (which seemed surprising for an Italian restaurant), but as you can see in the photos below, that was NOT the case. We couldn’t finish our meals, even though they were delicious! Overall value for money was pretty decent as well because we paid a little over $100 for two drinks, a starter, and two big entrees (if we’d had somewhere to put the leftovers, we could gotten lunch out of them, too).

A few photos should get your mouths watering!


Okay, this is just the exterior, so nothing mouth-watering here.


We got fried mozzarella for a starter and it was just two big triangles like this. Tasty though! And the bread you can also see was crusty and delicious, too.


Entrees! I got sausage and peppers and Scott got gnocchi with meat sauce. Both were delicious and far too much food for us!

After all that carb-loading, we had planned to do some more walking around, specifically to hit the Rockefeller tree at night, since it was our last opportunity to do so. We managed to do it, but it was SO FREAKING CROWDED. UGH! Not only was it Saturday, but it was also the last Saturday before Christmas, so it seemed like everyone was walking around 5th Avenue, particularly around the tree. I know, I know – that probably shouldn’t have been surprising, but it was still a LOT of people. But we made our way through the crowds and managed to get some decent photos of the tree. We also got to see some of the light show on the front of Saks Fifth Avenue and went into St. Patrick’s for a quick look around. And right before we got back to the hotel, we swung by some of the famous windows of Bergdorf Goodman. Even without snow (and it wasn’t even very cold), this was a perfectly Christmassy way to spend our last night here. 🙂

Now, pictures!


Radio City looked way more fun lit up at night!


Speaking of being lit up looking better at night, the same applies to this big ol’ tree.


The nice couple behind us offered to take our photo. Thankfully the wife/girlfriend was able to school her husband in the best possible angle to use (from above). 🙂


A final shot of the tree for our 2018 trip!


A taste of the light show outside Saks.


St. Patrick’s is HUGE!


A closer shot of the altar.


One of the Bergdorf Goodman windows.


The other, very PINK, window display.


Thanks to Home Alone 2, I’ll always remember that “Guests of The New Celebrity Ding-Dang-Dong stay at the world-renowned Plaza Hotel, New York’s most exciting hotel experience. For reservations, call toll free: 1-800-759-3000.”

And that put a (Christmas) bow on our final night in NYC! It’s now late morning on Sunday and we actually have a good chunk of time to do something because we don’t have to leave the hotel until around 4 PM. We’re currently doing some googling to see what good options will be, so read through my post about the day to see what we landed on.

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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!