You exit the taxi: to your left, chestnuts roasting on an open fire. To your right, 5th Avenue is aglow with the Christmas light show of Saks. Around the corner Rockefeller Center is packed with eager patrons pushing themselves around to get the best selfie with the amazing 79 ft tall Christmas tree that marks the ice skating rink below. It's Christmas in New York City. In this video and blog article below we show the Christmas magic of the big apple by ice skating at Rockefeller Center, seeing Wicked on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre, and exploring Times Square.
This whole trip was planned by my husband. He was inspired by an ad saying that Wicked was coming back to Broadway. He knows that's one of my favorite musicals, as he often hears the soundtrack blaring in our house as I do the dishes or cooking. I saw it ten years ago, but Wicked first premiered 18 years ago on Broadway in 2003 and continues to run today. Wicked is currently the 5th longest-running show in Broadway history, surpassing classics such as Les Misérables and Rent.
Tips for seeing Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre
Seating: I recommend getting front row mezzanine seats. We got a perfect view of the stage without any tall heads in our way.
Souvenirs: If you get a cocktail at the show, it's put in a cute Wicked themed reusable cup with a closing lid. My husband got two drinks so now we have matching Wicked portable drinkware from the show for free.
Photo Ops: The best photo opportunities are actually outside of the theater. Large Glinda and Elphaba poster signs ordain the building's structure. Inside there is only one poorly lit theatre prop to photograph. So snap all your pictures before checking in!
After getting the Wicked tickets, my husband proceeded to plan a whole NYC weekend. He urged me not to help plan so that I could have a stress-free trip (how sweet!). However, I couldn't help but give him a hint. I mentioned that I always wanted to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center but never have. Soon enough, that was our second activity of the trip!
Tips for ice skating at Rockefeller Center
Buy tickets ahead of time online: The crowds make it impossible to get a ticket to ice skate on the spot. Booking online also gets you cheaper ticket prices. Snag tickets in advance when they go on sale every year in November.
Get there extra early: The crowds above the rink made us almost miss our skating time! We were dropped off on the wrong side of the street and it took 15 - 20 minutes to get through the crowds to the skating entrance side.
Photo / Video Ops: Long selfie sticks are not permitted on the rink! I had a smaller sized stabilizing stick with me and I even got a few warnings from staff! Keep your video equipment close to your body to not cause a distraction/accident with other skaters. However, pictures are very easy to obtain as fellow skaters and staff members are more than willing to help you capture that perfect shot!
During our stay we discovered some hidden gems that we have decided will become our tradition from now on when we go back to see more Broadway productions!
Hidden Gems / Local Favorites
The Duffy at Kasa: This all-automated self check-in hotel is in a great location in walking distance from Times Square. Since there's no hotel staff, the prices for rooms for The Duffy are much lower than other hotels in the area. Plus, it is very cute! Cozy red brick building, outside foyer, a darling lobby and rooms set back from the city streets make this a perfect romantic stay. Cedric and I have made a pact to stay here on our next NYC trip!
Schmackary's: This bakery makes speciality cookies and is a local favorite. It's very small with only a few seats but always has a line out the door. We grabbed some cookies after seeing Wicked and agreed this would be our post-show tradition in the future! They even have a different vegan cookie flavor everyday.
UT47 Manhattan: This was our favorite find of the weekend! This breakfast place has the most delicious vegan breakfasts. We ate here everyday! UT47 also only has a few seats, so we made sure to get there before it opened to ensure us a table. The staff is very nice and friendly, and already treated us like locals even though we only stayed a few days. We decided this would be our traditional everyday breakfast spot for our next trip as it's right down the street from The Duffy.
Conclusion, if your husband offers to do all the planning, let him and you will be pleasantly surprised!
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Happy Holidays Everyone!