The Consummate Traveler: NYC Holiday Sightseeing Guide

BY Michele Goncalves TIMEDecember 18, 2014 PRINT

New York City is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous epicenters for the holiday season. Each year throngs of tourists flock to this tiny island starting from Thanksgiving up until New Years’ Eve. Having traveled all over the world, I admit that there is something very special about being here at Christmas, and there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be. However, with all of the crowds there comes a few challenges getting around town and seeing all that there is to see. I’d like to share my best tips for surviving your NYC sightseeing visit.

1. The best peek is during off peak: If getting stuck in a sea of people is not your cup of tea, I highly recommend selecting a few of the most popular attractions known for their notoriously big crowds—such as the Rockefeller Center tree and the Macy’s animated window displays—and visiting them before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m. Your off-peak timing will make your visit and picture taking a much more pleasant experience.

2. Budget time for bathroom breaks: Finding a restroom during the holidays can be a difficult task in NYC. This past weekend I spent at least 20 minutes waiting in line at a big department store to use their facilities. Limiting your liquid intake and being aware of the nearest hotel or sit down coffee shop is your best bet. To make things even easier, consider downloading the app SitOrSquat, which lists an interactive map of bathrooms based on where you are located and even offers ratings as to cleanliness.

3. Only use cross-body bags: Another way to make getting through a crowded store aisle, subway car, or sidewalk more manageable is to use a cross-body handbag. I remember one year where the volume of people was so bad on the sidewalks near Rockefeller Center that my handbag was stuck behind me in a group of people, and it was nearly impossible for me to get it unstuck.

4. Walking is your best transportation: At any given time during the holidays the volume of cars, taxis, buses, and people are unpredictable. You may have luck and find a taxi easily, or it could be a painfully long wait. If you are able to, plan on walking to all of the key activities you have outlined for your day. This is especially so for those which are time sensitive, such as a Broadway play or restaurant reservation. Give yourself an extra 20 minutes in your schedule just in case.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels!

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