Last-Minute Holiday Gifts

By Go City Expert

It’s...wait. It’s WHAT day in December? How did that happen? How is Christmas so soon? Isn't it still October? Why haven’t I been shopping/ordering/baking? While we can’t help with the cookies for the office cookie swap, we can help make your last-minute gift shopping a little less woeful. Here, our tips for last-minute holiday gifts.

Museum Gift Shops

For a classy gift that’s elegant and thoughtful, try a museum gift shop. At The Frick, you can get gorgeous coffee-table books, posters, tote bags, scarves, and even some truly unique offerings, like a clock paperweight and a stunning porcelain tray. Uptown at Cooper-Hewitt, you can find fabulous design-inspired gifts, from a Bauhaus-inspired chess set to a puzzle that seems to change colors with the light. You’ll also find stocking stuffers like a snowflake trivet and a citrus squeezer, plus cute stuff for kids, including plush toys, a gummy bear puzzle, and reusable paper. A perfect place for last-minute holiday gifts.

Holiday Markets

If you haven’t discovered the holiday markets already, now would be the moment. The holiday markets at Bryant Park and Columbus Circle are great for handmade goodies like jewelry and toys, while the Union Square Market is especially good for food items (Jams! Bread! And get yourself some hot cider!) And if you’re near (or travelling through) Grand Central, their yearly holiday market focuses on handmade American goods. Note: Most of the markets are up through December 24, so hasten thee there immediately! Need more info on them? We’ve got the holiday market info here.


Now, hear us out. We don’t mean a desperate last-minute Christmas-Eve run to your local CVS (though, hey, if you have to, you have to.) We’re thinking something a little more well-conceived. So, consider giving a gift-wrap kit. Get the recipient gift wrap, tape (no one ever has enough tape), gift tags, bows, and maybe a little something to munch on while they wrap (also conveniently located in the drugstore.) Genius! Everyone will be grateful.

Specialty Food and Wine Stores

Do they love cheese? Wine? Cheese AND wine? Do they have a secret stash of chocolate in their desk? (Honestly, who doesn’t?) For a truly fun Christmas experience and some stellar chocolate, head to Myzel’s, a tiny jewel box of a candy store across from City Center. Christmas decorations abound, and you can get beautiful chocolate by the pound, as well as a fabulous selection of licorice. Plus little stocking stuffers and perhaps a cookie for you. (You’re working hard!) For fantastic cheese, head to the iconic Murray’s cheese shop in the Village, with maybe a stop at Astor Wines. Now, those are gifts.

Continue reading


NYC Observation Decks: One World Observatory vs. Empire State Building vs. Top of the Rock

Visiting one of New York City's iconic observation decks is a must-do lifetime adventure. There’s an endless amount of fun things to do and historical landmarks to see, but a visit to an observation deck (or two, or three...) is one of the most memorable things you can do on your trip to NYC. Plus, it's a great way to 'see' everything there is to see in NYC. New York City is home to 3 of the best observation decks in the world: the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock and One World Observatory. We've put together a comparison of New York's most popular observation decks so you can get an idea for what the difference is between the Empire State Building vs Top of the Rock vs One World Observatory so you can decide which one suits what you want to do and see best. Free Entry with The New York Pass® Free entry to many of these popular New York attractions and activities are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook, & much more. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions. 1. The One World Observatory The One World Observatory is an icon of the city skyline with its amazing spire. Travelers can take one of its 70 elevators up to three observation decks in under 50 seconds; it's an elevator ride that feels like a launch. The views: One World Trade Center is located on the south-western side of the Manhattan peninsula (close to the tip of the peninsula), so you'll get close views of the Hudson River, New Jersey, and Manhattan. You can see Ground Zero, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and the Financial District. You'll be able to see the Empire State Building (though your view will be farther than from Top of the Rock) and Top of the Rock (though you might need to reference a skyline map to pick it out from its surrounding buildings!). All around, it has views that stretch from Westchester and Rockland counties to New Jersey, Brooklyn, and Long Island in addition to the mighty metropolis of NYC. Then, step into the Main Observatory and view high-definition footage of Manhattan’s streets. Enjoy some artisanal cocktails the bar One Mix and indulge in some culinary delights at One Dine. The structure and its observatory decks are a rebirth of downtown Manhattan after the tragedy of 9/11. Experience the city's rebirth. Admission: One World Observatory tickets are sold separately from The New York Pass. 2. The Empire State Building The Empire State Building (ESB) shows 360-degree views of the city. At night, this international icon displays dazzling light shows to celebrate various occasions, which are often synchronized to music. In addition to its 86th-floor observatory, there's the Top Deck. You can see up to 80 miles away and get a full picture of the city. The views: the Empire State Building is located right in the middle of Manhattan, so from its top Observation Deck, you’ll get one-of-a-kind vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and the brilliant city streets below. You'll also be able to see New York City's other popular observation decks; the view from ESB of One World Observatory is much closer than the view you get of it from Top of the Rock, and similarly, the view from ESB of Rockefeller Center is much closer than the view you get of it from One World Observatory. Be sure to check out the Dare to Dream exhibit, which pays tribute to the builders and architects who helped create this historic landmark. There are period photographs, mementos, architectural sketches, and more. If you plan your visit to the Empire State Building around meal time, consider dining at its STATE Grill and Bar for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In exceptional Art Deco design, it showcases New York State’s winemakers, brewers, and farmers. Admission: Empire State Building tickets are included with the New York Pass. 3. Top of the Rock The Top of the Rock is a must-do on any tourist's bucket list. The Top of the Rock Observation deck is nestled in the heart of Rockefeller Center. Ascend 70 floors up and take in a sweeping view from three indoor and outdoor viewing decks.There are indoor viewing areas on the 69th and 67th floors Rockefeller Center is chockful of beautiful architecture, culture, and rich history. Take it in with a guided tour through its gardens and significant buildings. The views: the Top of the Rock is located just south of Central Park, right in Times Square, so you'll get the best views of Central Park when compared to other observation decks. In the other direction, you'll be able to see the Empire State Building framed by the sprawling city, the Bank of America Building, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, and more. From Top of the Rock, the view of the Empire State Building is closer than the view of the Empire State Building from One World Observatory. After you pass the Swarovski chandelier in the lobby, there are artifacts and photos outlining the history of Rockefeller Center and an open-air deck on the 70th floor. Compared to the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock is less claustrophobic. Admission: Top of the Rock tickets are included with The New York Pass. The Biggest Differences Between the Top New York City Observation Decks Each observation deck experience provides an educational and informative experience on your way up to the observation deck complete with exhibitions and displays. The locations: where each building is situated will impact your views from each of the observation decks. See the image above for a better idea of where each observation deck is relative to the others. The exhibits: One World Observatory, being the most recently built, features a more modern design and feel and its exhibits explore the development of downtown Manhattan and the impact of 9/11 and how the One World Observatory building came to be. Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building both offer a classic and nostalgic New York City experience that highlight the history of the city with a particular emphasis on the American dream and the eventual prosperity post-Great Depression era. The views: the biggest difference between One World Observatory vs Empire State Building vs Top of the Rock is the view you'll get at the top. Of course, whichever observatory deck you choose to visit, you won't see that building in the skyline. One World Observatory (southern-most building): views of the Hudson River and the city skyline looking north from the southern tip of Manhattan Empire State Building (middle building): views from the middle of Manhattan with One World Observatory visible to the south and Rockefeller Center visible to the north Top of the Rock (northern-most building): views of Central Park to the north and views of the Empire State Building and One World Observatory to the south Popular Things to Do Nearby In addition to these 3 observation decks (One World Observatory, the Empire State Building, and Top of the Rock) there are other great sites and activities worth checking out while in NYC. Central Park This world-famous park is 36 acres of beautiful streams, waterfalls, rocks and winding trails. It’s ideal for strolling and a wonderful sight from each of the observation decks.Take a romantic paddle around the lake or even a Venetian Gondola ride at Loeb Boathouse. Savor some great fare like crab cakes at the Central Park Boathouse Restaurant. Monkey around at the Central Park Zoo. There’s even pot-bellied pigs, penguins and sea lions. You never have to wait for the carnival to come to town in NYC.In the summer, head to Victorian Gardens for an all-American day of juggler performances, cart rides, and funnel cake. In the winter, hit the ice for some ice-skating. The Statue of Liberty You can take a ferry over to the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island. Visit the crown and see panoramic views of Brooklyn. This colossal copper statue was designed by artist Frederic Bartholdi. It’s the symbol of freedom.The Liberty Island Museum is located in the lobby of its pedestal and chronicles the history of freedom. At the pedestal, you can great views of New Jersey, New York, and the New York Harbor.Getting in: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum tickets are included with The New York Pass. The Brooklyn Bridge The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the city’s noblest landmarks. It stretches over Brooklyn, Manhattan and the East River and delivers amazing views. Take a walk across its promenade above the roadway and feel the city’s vibe. It only takes about 40 minutes.Getting in: the Brooklyn Bridge is free and open to the public. Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour tickets and Bike Rentals you can use to bike across the Brooklyn Bridge are included with The New York Pass. Grand Central Terminal The Grand Central Terminal is the world’s largest railway station and a magnificent public space. It’s modeled after an ancient Roman bath and features glimmering chandeliers, an amazing concourse, and a robin’s egg-blue ceiling displaying the constellations.Getting in: Grand Central Terminal is free and open to the public. The American Museum of Natural History The American Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum on the globe and without a doubt impressive. It stretches four city blocks and showcases 45 exhibition halls with over 30 million artifacts from outer space, the sea, and the land. Don’t miss it. Getting in: American Museum of Natural History tickets are included with The New York Pass. Metropolitan Museum of Art Roam the labyrinthine corridors of the colossal Metropolitan Museum of Art where you view more than 2 million works of art showcasing 5,000 years of history.Its Egyptian collection features stone sarcophagi inscribed with hieroglyphics and pages from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.Other highlights include the American Wing with collections of American Arts. There are also stunning Islamic galleries with metalwork and ceramics. Its roof garden serves up fabulous views of Central Park and the city skyline.Getting in: The Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets can be purchased online. The High Line Just years ago, the High Line was a railroad track carrying freight trains. Today, it's a railway-turned-beautiful city retreat situated high above the busy city streets.Take a stroll along the path and check out the park's many features, including picnic tables, seating, curving walkways, and well-manicured gardens while you take in the unique views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. Getting in: admission to the High Line is free and open to the public. Remember to Save on Observation Decks and New York Attraction Admissions New York City's top 3 observatory decks are at the top of many tourists itineraries. They're all popular attractions, but how can you manage to afford the admission price at each? New York Pass grants you free admission to two of these Observation decks, with Empire State Building tickets and Top of the Rock tickets, plus, admission to over 90 additional attractions in NYC. Get a New York Pass and start saving on admission to top attractions during your trip. For more information get the New York Pass here.
Casey Makovich

Which Area of New York Should You Stay in for Sightseeing?

Wondering where to stay in New York City? Planning a sightseeing tour of the Big Apple can at first seem overwhelming. There are so many attractions in the city that you won't want to miss, but seeing all of New York City can take a lifetime. The neighborhood in which you're staying plays a huge role in your trip. You want to choose a hotel that's located in an area close to major attractions, such as: The Empire State Building Rockefeller Center The 9/11 Memorial & Museum The Intrepid The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Museum Mile on the East Side of Central Park Free Entry with The New York Pass® Free entry to many of these popular New York attractions and activities are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook, & much more. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions. Of course, this list includes just a few of the hundreds of attractions that are sure to strike your interest. To plan the best possible trip, you should research the neighborhoods of New York first. Choose the one that most interests you and offers easy access to your must-see attractions. Where to Stay in New York City - 5 Neighborhoods to Consider Times Square/The Theater Distinct/Hell's Kitchen The Times Square area is probably one of the most iconic parts of New York and one of the most popular places to stay for sightseers. It's centrally located to many of the biggest attractions. Times Square is in roughly the same area as the Theater District and the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. This part of New York has everything. Times Square itself is one of the world's most famous tourist attractions. You'll be walking distance from attractions such as Ripley's Believe it or Not and Madame Tussaud's. From Times Square, you're just a brief walk from major Broadway theaters in the city including the Shubert Theatre, the Minskoff Theatre, the Winter Garden Theatre, and the New Amsterdam Theatre. If you like to eat good food when you're on vacation, you won't be disappointed by the offerings of Hell's Kitchen. This area of the city is notorious for its culinary offerings and offers world-class cuisine from all over the world. Stay in the Time's Square/Theater District neighborhood if you want to be conveniently located to attractions like the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center and also hit a few Broadway shows during your stay. Chelsea Chelsea is located to the south of Hell's Kitchen. The area extends from around 15th Street to 38th Street on the west side of Manhattan. If you're wondering where to stay in New York City to fully experience the arts and culture scene, Chelsea delivers. Known as one of NYC's premier artsy destinations, Chelsea is filled with tons of art galleries that rival the MoMA and fine dining restaurants. If you stay in this neighborhood, one of its highlight attractions is Chelsea Market, a historical area that's home to a variety of eating establishments and little shops that sell fresh produce, meats, baked goods, crafts by local artisans, and more. Another attraction that's convenient to Chelsea hotels is the Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex on the Hudson River. This is a sporting complex offering a spa, indoor soccer fields, a rock climbing wall, ice skating rinks, and a marina. Chelsea is right next to Hell's Kitchen, so it is also not too far from attractions like the Empire State Building, the Broadway theaters, and Rockefeller Center. Union Square/Flatiron Union Square is centrally located toward the southern tip of Manhattan. It is just east of Chelsea and northeast of Greenwich Village. The Flatiron building, which was constructed in the early 20th century, is probably the most iconic sight in this part of the city. One of the biggest advantages of the Union Square/Flatiron area is that it is located at a central hub of the New York City subway system, making it a convenient place to stay for those who are planning on getting around by subway. Tip: Union Square/Flatiron is a good option for an area to stay if you want to hit both Midtown attractions like Times Square and the Empire State Building while also making it to some of the major attractions way downtown like the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The Financial District The Financial District is located down at the southern tip of Manhattan. This area offers vacationers a bit more quiet than more bustling neighborhoods like the Theater District and Chelsea. However, the Financial District is also home to some attractions that most vacationers visiting New York won't want to miss. Most people who sightsee in New York these days will want to see the emotionally-charged World Trade Center Complex and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, an essential attraction that recognizes one of the most important events in New York's history. The Financial District is close to other important historical attractions like the Statue of Liberty. In addition to being located near these attractions, the Financial District is the home of Wall Street and perhaps one of the most important business hubs in New York City and the entire world. The Upper East Side Historically, the Upper East Side (UES) has been home to some of the crème de la crème of New York society. This is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city with some of the most valuable real estate. The UES is also an ideal place to stay if art and culture are what is drawing you to New York. It's convenient to Museum Mile and some of the best art museums in the city. Museum Mile is the stretch of Fifth Avenue that runs along the East side of Central Park and is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim. In addition to the art museums, Central Park itself is very accessible to hotels on the Upper East Side and is a must-see New York attraction. Remember to Save on Attraction Admission Choosing where to stay in New York City to maximize your sightseeing itinerary is a great start to planning your trip. Next, choose the hotel in that area that works best for your budget and needs. And remember, being in close proximity to the most popular attractions can save you time in your day and allow you to visit more attractions. With more stops on your itinerary, that means you'll be spending more money on admission. Therefore, you should look into purchasing a New York Pass which grants you free entry to over 90 attractions in New York City. For more information on the New York Pass, click here.
Casey Makovich

Things to Do Near the Empire State Building

One of the iconic destinations for travelers is a trip to the Empire State Building (ESB), a historic landmark in the city. Make the most of your time at this NYC landmark by adding some of these things to do near the Empire State Building to your itinerary before and after your visit. The building itself is close to some other terrific attractions that you can visit with the New York Pass to help you make the most of your trip whether it's for a week or a weekend. If visiting New York and looking for other fun things to do near the Empire State Building, be sure to check out these other landmarks and attractions located nearby. They include: Central Park Rockefeller Center Madame Tussauds Times Square Greenwich Village and more! Free Entry with The New York Pass® Free entry to many of these popular New York attractions and activities are included on The New York Pass®. Used by over 3.5 million travelers, the New York Pass is the ultimate sightseeing pass, which includes admission to 90+ attractions, Fast Track Entry at select attractions, a free guidebook, & much more. Learn more about the New York Pass benefits & how to save up to 70% off attractions. Here's a closer look at attractions near the Empire State Building and why you may want to include them on your trip to New York City. Empire State Building Of course, if you're looking for things to do near the Empire State Building, visiting the Empire State Building itself should be at the top of your list. Taking in the views from the building's 86th floor observation deck is an iconic New York City experience. You'll get 360-degree views of the surrounding cityscape from 1,050 feet above ground and learn all about the buildings history and significance as you make your way to the top and pass through the exhibits on disply. Admission: Empire State Building tickets are included with the New York Pass. Rockefeller Center A trip to “The Top of the Rock” at Rockefeller Center provides stunning views of the New York City skyline, Manhattan Island, and Central Park. The art deco style building soars 800 feet above ground level and offers an amazing three stories of indoor and outdoor observatory space. Even the ride to the top is a light-show filled adventure that the kids will love. A trip to Rockefeller Center should also include a visit through the building and the exceptional neighborhood surrounding it. Admission: Top of the Rock observation deck tickets and guided Rockefeller Center Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass. Central Park Activities in the 843 acre Central Park can keep you busy for days! Rent some bicycles and take a bike tour in the park. Alternatively, you can visit the Central Park Zoo, and see sites where famous TV shows and movies were filmed. Partake in a walking tour or hop on an unforgettable horse and buggy or pedicab ride. No trip to New York City would be complete without at least a stroll through Central Park. Admission: Central Park is free and open to the public; certain activities and things to do within the park such as guided Central Park Bike Rentals and Tour tickets, or if you prefer to explore by foot the Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour tickets, or if you want to get to know the Central Park you recognize from blockbuster hits the Central Park TV & Movie Sites Walking Tour tickets are all included with The New York Pass. Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) A visit to the Museum of Modern Art gives you an opportunity to see works by Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso up close and personal. Impressive works of art abound around every corner and MoMA visitors are welcome to stop in the museum's garden to relax while you take in the world-class art that is on display here. Admission: Museum of Modern Art tickets are included with The New York Pass. St. Patrick's Cathedral A visit to New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral is an awe-inspiring experience that celebrates the human spirit. It is also an incredible example of Neo-Gothic architecture. The cornerstone for the cathedral was laid in 1858 but it didn't open its doors until 21 years later in 1879. Today, the ornate structure stands proudly among soaring skyscrapers, providing an almost surreal setting for the structure. Admission: guided public tours are offered depending on volunteer availability - check availability online - and though not required, a donation of $5 is requested to support "America's Parish Church." Times Square If your only reference to Times Square is New Year's Eve on television, you have yet to really appreciate what this area of Manhattan has to offer. A visit to Times Square is one of the most exciting things to do near the Empire State Building - the energy from the crowds is palpable and its larger-than-life billboards are a NYC landmark. One of the best ways to see Times Square is through a variety of bus and walking tours that are available. Of course, if you want to be dazzled, visit Times Square after dark. Admission: admission to Times Square is free and open to the public; some activities and attractions, like Madame Tussauds Times Square tickets or the NFL Experience tickets are available with The New York Pass. Greenwich Village To get a real feel of what New York City is about, take a trip to Greenwich Village (you can read about a fun, guided walking tour of the neighborhood here), home of the lively Washington Square Park. Here, you'll find some of New York's best dining and entertainment options. This is the home of New York's cultural revolution in the 1960's and of New York University. This is the artistic capital of the Big Apple and serves as a Bohemian Capital that is always interesting. Discover the area on your own or take advantage of one of the area's organized tours. Admission: admission to Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park is free; guided Greenwich Village Walking Tour tickets are included with The New York Pass. Madame Tussauds Times Square Located in the heart of Times Square, get up close and personal with wax figures of the most famous people on the planet. You'll find figures ranging from the world of entertainment, sports, and politics. Madame Tussauds is the ultimate “selfie” destination and you'll want to share every one! Pose next to Lady Gaga, Morgan Freeman, and more. You'll be amazed at the detail of the figures inside. Especially once you know that each takes about six months to create using over 2,000 lbs of wax. Enjoy the Marvel 4D and Ghostbusters Experience, Kong: Skull Island, and more! Admission: Madame Tussauds Times Square tickets are included with The New York Pass. Remember to Save on Attraction Admission Plus, the Empire State Building is surrounded by many of NYC's greatest landmarks. There is so much to see and do and you know friends and family will want to know what you saw. That's why you'll want to make the most of each of your adventures while in the Big Apple. If you're interested in visiting the Empire State Building during your trip to NYC then get your New York Pass today! The pass will allow grant you access to over 90 of New York's most popular attractions and guided tours. Click here for more information.
Go City Expert

Have a 5% discount, on us!

More savings? You're welcome. Sign up to our newsletter and receive exclusive discounts, vacation inspiration and much more.

  • Thick check Icon