Winter has arrived in New York City, and that means chilly air and chilly rain and occasionally snow that puts the “white” in the “Great White Way.” The city is lovely in winter—you can get a fresh perspective on Central Park, or go ice skating in Rockefeller Center, at Bryant Park, or in Central Park’s own Wollman Rink. However, many of us have the desire to stay warm, and New York City has myriad things to do both indoors and outdoors when it’s cold.
Rockefeller Center (50th St. btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.; www.therinkatrockcenter.com) encapsulates much of what the city has to offer this time of year. You can ice skate in the presence of awesome skyscrapers, or enjoy the brisk air and the smiling faces of hundreds of other people as you navigate the famous ice-skating rink. You can also head to Wollman Rink in Central Park (mid-park at 62nd St., 212-439-6900; www.wollmanskatingrink.com) for a more intimate experience, gazing at the buildings walling the park’s south end as you frolic beneath the largest patch of sky the city has to offer. The Pond at Bryant Park (Sixth Ave. & 42nd St.; www.thepondatbryantpark.com), which offers free admission and is open through Jan. 24th, is located in the heart of Midtown, not far from Times Square.
One way to escape any winter blues you might have is to visit the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th St., 212-769-5100; www.amnh.org) and their exhibit, The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter. Celebrating its twelfth year at the Museum, this highly popular winter attraction transforms the iciest day into a magical summer escape, inviting you to mingle with up to 500 fluttering, iridescent butterflies among blooming tropical flowers and lush green vegetation in 80-degree temperatures. Stand outside the vivarium and watch through translucent walls as monarchs, zebra longwings, paper kites, and other butterfly species flutter among people and plants, and transport yourself to a tropical setting.
After two years in dry dock, the renovated Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum reopened a year ago. In addition to a fresh paint job for the 65-year-old aircraft carrier, the entire pier was rebuilt, 16 historic aircraft were refurbished, and there are newly opened areas of the ship, and new multimedia presentations and exhibit collections, which range from thrilling historical re-creations to new interactive displays. Highlights include the namesake 900-foot-long aircraft carrier, with seven full decks and four theme halls; the guided missile submarine, Growler; and an extensive aircraft collection including the A-12 Blackbird, the fastest plane in the world, and the British Airways Concorde, the fastest commercial aircraft in the world. Special exhibits currently on view include Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace, featuring art by Charles Schulz and USS Intrepid crewmembers, and opening Jan. 16th is Mission to Mars, featuring a full-scale model of the Mars Rover. Pier 86, W. 46th St. & Twelfth Ave., 212-245-0072; www.intrepidmuseum.org.
There are a couple of world-famous New York City landmarks we know the whole family will enjoy seeing together: Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. On the Madison Square Garden All-Access Tour (Seventh Ave. btw. 31st & 33rd Sts., 212-465-5800; thegarden.com) you’ll visit the Knicks, Rangers, and Liberty locker rooms, grab your very own souvenir Madison Square Garden backstage pass, and get a bird’s-eye view of the arena floor from one of the exclusive luxury suites. You can even take part in the thrill and excitement that the players feel at each home game by standing on the apron of the basketball court or sitting on the Rangers hockey bench. On the Radio City Music Hall Stage Door Tour (50th St. & Sixth Ave., 212-247-4777; radiocity.com), experience the behind-the-scenes magic of America’s most popular showplace, as expertly trained tour guides take you on a one-hour journey through the history of one of the country’s most magnificent national landmarks. They even throw in a meeting with a real-life Rockette for good measure, and a peak at the Radio City Autograph Book, which has been signed with personal messages by every artist to ever grace the Great Stage.
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