Friday, November 6, 2009

The Pleasure of Local Manhattan-ing for Thanksgiving

New York is my favorite way to spend Thanksgiving. Perhaps it's the wanderlust in me that equates happiness with travel and new experiences. As a child I loved it when we took Amtrak from Chicago to visit my grandmother in Michigan. Hearing the conductor call out,"NEXT STOP...KALAMAZOO!" was as exotic to my ears as Marrakech.

I've had the pleasure of Manhattan-ing twice for T-Day. Once on a trip to visit my sister when she still lived in the area, and then when I reunited with some old friends from the Amsterdam days in and around Brooklyn.

As much as I enjoyed the hype of Williamsburg and re-living the informal, Amsterdam-esque gatherings that typified my graduate school years (endless bottles of wine, great conversation and not a turkey in sight), I have to say that Manhattan is the place to get your turkey juices flowing (even if you don't eat the stuff).

Manhattan, how I love thee, let me count the ways. For the staggering open beauty of Central Park, and for the diners that serve navy bean soup. When it comes to Manhattan hotels, there are oodles, each one catering to a different way of celebrating the quintessential American holiday in style.

Thoughts of a giant Kermit floating above the crowds fills my heart with joy on T-Day morning. If you're like me, and prefer to watch the festivities (Macy's Day Parade) from high up above, like a medieval royalty, you should stay at the posh Mandarin Oriental ($954 per night) on the Upper West Side. Breathtaking views and one of the city's best spas are the perks of this hotel that overlooks Central Park.

If you're on a budget and don't mind seeing the parade like a civilian, opt for the reasonably priced Holiday Inn in Chelsea ($267 per night) or the Holiday Inn Express Chelsea/Madison Square Garden ($117 per night).

For something middle of the road, try the business-friendly Millennium Hilton ($349 per night), located in lower Manhattan, within walking distance to Wall Street. Do a Michael Moore and bring a bullhorn to Goldman Sachs, demanding your tax money back. For just a bit more dough, the Lucerne ($356), located on the Upper West Side, offers the pleasure of Central Park and the Museum of Natural History nearby, far from the tourist mob of Times Square. Conversely, the Franklin NYC ($367) on the Upper East Side is the perfect refuge for Euro and B&B lovers: this boutique hotel has a 24-hour espresso and cappuccino machine and free wine and cheese is served daily. Très gentil!

In any case, try to avoid Times Square and Midtown if you can. Children like to run in the park, not hustle through crowds. And adults like peace and quiet. The point of travel is to do it like a local, and you can do this by staying in neighborhoods where locals, not tourist creatures, roam freely. Watch what they do, where they eat, where they buy their newspaper, drink coffee, shop and socialize, and mimic them. When in New York, do it like New Yorkers do: stick to your neighborhood and don't try to "do" the whole city in just a few days.

This is a TravelingMom dedicated post.

1 comment:

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