|Rockefeller Center, New York City|
I mentioned to a friend I had just gone to see the tree. New to the city, she said she had seen the tree-lighting ceremony on TV in the past but did that was about it. I had mentioned that it seems like the same tree every year, yet, we go see it every year. I told her that it's a big thing here: scouting for the tree, when it's cut down, transported, erected and finally, the lighting, each step chronicled on local news stations. Her eyes widened: "You mean, it's a real tree?" "Yes, of course, that's the fun part." "Oh, now I have to go see it." Now, you get it. Welcome to NYC.
But after you have seen the tree, jostled for space to take pictures and gone inside to warm up and perhaps get a hot beverage, what's next? To break up the monotony, plan your trip: the Radio City show, a Broadway show, shopping or other activities. Peeping the decorations of all the stores can take up a good hour as you go from display to display down 5th Avenue. (The American Girl Place, Sony Wonder, Nintendo World, the Lego Store, the Apple Store and FAO Schwartz are all nearby).
For the more religious observant, St. Patrick's Cathedral is on 5th Avenue and East 50th, although at the time of this writing, it is under construction. And if you are a walker, head 12 blocks south downtown and take in Grand Central Station (a topic for another blog entry).
The lights go out nowadays, going off at 11:30PM every night, unlike the good old days when we locals would go at 1AM after the tourists were scared off being in Manhattan late at night. This is adding to the crowds. Time it: go before a show lets out, or early in December or even after January 1; the tree is up until @January 6. www.rockefellercenter.com/tour-and-explore/the-tree-at-rockefeller-center/. Subway: E, M to 5th Ave/53rd St; B,D,F,M to 47-50th Rock Center; Bus: M5, M7, M50.