1. Stay in a hotel close to the parade route, but not right on the parade route. They change the route every few years but they always post the route far in advance here. We stayed at Dream NY - a chic boutique hotel between Times Square and Central Park. The hotel was in the PERFECT location! The room was small with a simple Euro-style bath but the decor was rather hip and cool...made us feel way more swank than we are. They also have a really cool top-floor bar we splurged on for one evening.
(exterior of Dream NYC)
(interior of our room at Dream NYC)
2. Walk to the parade route in the morning and find a restaurant with big windows that is serving breakfast during the parade. We slipped into the famous Stage Deli and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of pancakes and eggs while we watched the entire parade from a table right up against the window. Talk about perfect - we stayed warm and sipped OJ in peace while soaking in the sights. Everyone outside was cold and lost in the crowd. We were shocked that more people didn't do this - there were only 3 families in the whole restaurant that morning. We ate and watched alongside the owner and his family.
(the Stage Deli on 7th Ave)
(our view from inside the Stage Deli...perfect)
3. One night while you're there, go see a Broadway play. The ticket price is worth it because nowhere else on earth has the theaters and casts that NYC has. We opted to see Phantom of the Opera, since it's a good classic with beautiful music. It was divine!
4. Take a carriage ride at night around Times Square. Yes, it screams "I'm a tourist" but it's something you just gotta do! The lights, the sounds, the craziness - a great way to sit back and take it all in.
(our carriage ride with dear friends from Baltimore)
5. Stroll through Central Park. It's NYC's (natural) heart and soul.
6. Take the ferry over to Ellis Island. You can get off the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty but we chose to take pictures of her from the ferry (the best view) and spend more time in the Immigration Museum at Ellis Island instead. The exhibits are very well put together and there is something mystical about walking through the grand hall where they processed so many immigrants. You can perform computer searches for your ancestors while you're there.
(Immigration Museum on Ellis Island)
7. Take in the view from the top of the Empire State Building. DO NOT but a "bargain" ticket from the vendors swarming around the base of the building, claiming they can get you in a faster line to the top...it's practically a scam and you get stuck watching a cheesy NYC movie with a voice-over by Kevin Bacon. It's not worth your money and you won't get through the line any faster. Visit the Empire State Building ticket booth and purchase your tickets direct there. The views really are spectacular!
(us at the base of the Empire State Building)
8. A must do is a visit to the 9/11 Memorial - we were there while all the construction was going on but it was still worth a trip. After viewing the unveiling on TV this last September, it made us want to go do this whole trip all over again so we can see the finished product in person. It's someplace every American should visit, lest we never forget that fateful day that has drastically changed us all.
Hopefully this idea inspires you to maybe take a similar trip yourselves. I know we'll do it again sometime soon now that we have a little girl who would love to see the parade in person! -Kristen