Let’s Go To Fifth Avenue

By Patrice Bedrosian

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Many New Yorkers avoid the hustle of midtown Manhattan for most of the year. But strolling those central streets and taking in all their wonder can get even the most jaded New Yorkers into the holiday spirit. Here are some of the city’s favorite destinations this time of year.

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Oh, Christmas Tree

pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">In its 72nd year, the tree at Rockefeller Center is undoubtedly the city’s most well-known holiday attraction. Sparkling, horn-blowing angelic figures lead to the Plaza where national flags fly high, ice skaters impress, street vendors sell and crowds abound.

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pt; FONT-FAMILY: Verdana">And let’s not forget the lingering aroma of fresh roasted chestnuts! Diane Cuddy of Brooklyn fondly recalls her childhood visits where chestnuts were part of the tradition. “To warm our hands, my aunt would buy us roasted chestnuts,” she remembers.

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Get in the spirit of giving and donate a toy at The Today Show’s Annual Gift Drive on the Plaza. (The camera runs live, so you might even get on TV!) On-air collections take place daily at 8:30 a.m. through Dec. 24.



Radio City Music Hall

The pinnacle of my childhood holiday trips was – and still is – The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This year, the show includes traditional elements like the eye-high kicks and dazzling dance of the Rockettes, “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity,” as well as a new short feature film that takes audiences on a magical sleigh ride through New York City, all via 3D glasses.


Toy Land

“Taking children to a toy store like FAO Schwarz or Toys “R” Us is like walking into the North Pole,” says Mary McClean, a mother of three. The McClean kids visit CandyLand, a pay-by-the-pound candy shop at Toys “R” Us, after riding on the 60-foot indoor Ferris wheel. (Proceeds from tickets for the Ferris wheel go to charity.) “Plan on waiting,” advises McClean, who maps out the day’s itinerary for their midtown holiday tour before they go.


FAO Schwarz, which is undergoing major renovation, plans to open for the holiday season. No opening date is set, but plan to stop by in case you can be one of the first families to visit the revived and refurbished classic New York toy store.


New on the Avenue this season is the 23,600-square-foot World of Disney® NYC store. The interactive shopping environment includes live character appearances called “Magical Meetings.” During December, Santa Goofy and Chip & Dale plan to visit (check Web site for times).


Cinderella’s Princess Court, a 60-minute interactive experience for young girls, requires reservations and costs $80 per princess. Through music, storytelling and games, young girls earn jewels for their princess crown by displaying the four qualities of a true princess: intelligence, grace, thoughtfulness and honesty. Once the girls have earned four jewels, they become members of Cinderella’s Princess Court. Keepsakes and a personal visit from Cinderella are included.


Sidewalk Sites

No midtown stroll in December is complete without gazing at the majestic merchandising of the legendary department store holiday window displays. The Saks Fifth Avenue windows attract and awe crowds like no other. Lord & Taylor also has wondrous windows. At Macy’s, Publicity Director Elina Kazan says theme-based windows will depict six splendid scenes from the movie The Polar Express. If you go, check out Santa Land on the eighth floor. Snow globes, toy trains and holiday attractions await you while you wait to see Santa.


Susan Jevens, senior press relations associate of Fifth Avenue’s popular The American Girl Place, says their animated holiday windows celebrate a century of change in New York. “It’s very magical,” Jevens says.


Let’s Eat

Warm up at one of the family-friendly restaurants in town. Much like an amusement park ride, my kids loved the galactic adventure at Mars 2112. After a “turbulent ride” to outer space, a costumed cast of aliens welcomed us and served pizza and burgers. Older kids enjoy spooky special effects at Jekyll and Hyde. This is a popular establishment, so go early, go late or be prepared to wait. T.G.I. Friday’s near Rockefeller Plaza is another possibility, and my all-time favorite, Virgil’s Real Barbecue, serves great ribs, chicken, po’ boys and pulled pork sandwiches. For reasonable prices and good burgers, head over to Hamburger Harry’s.


Looking Up

The Empire State Building brightens the sky in the colors of Hanukkah and Christmas. Be sure to catch the splendor of the world’s largest Menorah at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. Happy holidays to all and to all a good night!


When You Go …


Rockefeller Center

mal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Fifth Ave. at 47th-52nd Sts.

mal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">212-332-6868

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Radio City Music Hall

mal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">1260 Ave. of the Americas

mal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">212-307-1000

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Empire State Building

mal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">350 Fifth Ave.



FAO Schwarz

767 Fifth Ave.



Toys “R” Us

1514 Broadway at 44th-45th Sts.



World of Disney® NYC

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">711 Fifth Ave. at 55th St.

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">212-702-0702

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American Girl Place

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">609 Fifth Ave. at 49th St.

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">877-AG-PLACE (877-247-5223)

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Saks Fifth Avenue

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">611 Fifth Ave.

oNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">212-753-4000

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Y: Verdana">Lord and Taylor

424 Fifth Ave.



Y: Verdana">Macy’s

151 W. 34th St.



Y: Verdana">Mars 2112

1633 Broadway



Jekyll and Hyde

class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">1409 Sixth Ave. at 57th St.

class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">212-541-9505

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T.G.I. Friday’s

class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">604 Fifth Ave.

class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">212-767-8335

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Virgil’s Real Barbecue

class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">152 W. 44th St.

class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">212-921-9494

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Hamburger Harry’s

145 W. 45th St.