Leave the sleigh at home, and take a bus to New York

A stress-free ride to holiday sights, sounds and shopping

Trips: Road Trips/Regional Events

December 16, 2004|By Diane Macklin | Diane Macklin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

New York City in a day?

It's hard to imagine, what with all there is to do. However, if you ride with one of several local luxury bus companies that leave from the Baltimore area, you can begin your journey stress-free. In about three hours, you will be enjoying the sights and sounds in Manhattan. Holiday shopping, fabulous shows, ice skating in Rockefeller Center and viewing the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center are a few reasons to make the day trip.

What to do

Rockefeller Center (Fifth Avenue to Seventh Avenue, between 47th and 51st streets): Rockefeller Center is home to the famous New York City ice rink, which is overseen by the gold statue of Prometheus and the colossal Christmas tree, usually more than 70 feet tall and decorated with more than 30,000 lights. The decorations are on view through Jan. 6. Visit www.therinkatrockcenter.com for ice rink hours and prices. While here, you may also want to partake in the NBC studio tour. Purchase tickets in advance by calling 212-664-7174.

Radio City Music Hall (Sixth Avenue and 50th Street): The Radio City Christmas Spectacular has a costumed cast of 140 performing holiday dance to original music. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Ticketmaster outlets or by calling the Christmas hot line at 212-307-1000. A one-hour behind-the-scenes theater tour is available daily. Call 212-307-7171.

Chinatown (Canal Street): Visitors can purchase everything from jewelry, watches and purses to unique Chinese items. Stroll Canal Street and visit the many vendors who expect you to bargain for their wares.

See a show: The Broadway Ticket Center is in the Times Square Information Center on Broadway, between 46th and 47th streets. Visit here for advance or same-day ticket sales, show information, brochures and a friendly staff willing to answer all of your Broadway questions. Or go to www.livebroad way.com for complete show listings before your visit.

Window shopping

Elaborate New York City holiday window displays are world famous. See the department store displays for some of the most intricate in holiday decorations. While there, you may want to pick up something for the folks on your gift list.

Macy's Herald Square (151 W. 34th St., at Broadway and Sixth Avenue): Offers 10 floors of shopping. Visit the Macy's Visitors Center, where consultants are available with information on New York City events and attractions.

Lord and Taylor (Fifth Avenue, between 38th and 39th streets).

Saks Fifth Avenue (Across from Rockefeller Center, between 49th and 50th streets).

City Pass

Purchase a City Pass if you are interested in visiting an assortment of New York attractions. The pass will allow you entrance into several of them, including the American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises and the Empire State Building and Skyride. Visit www.citypass.com or call 707-256-0490.

Where to eat

Casa Bella (127 Mulberry St., between Canal and Hester streets; 212-431-4080): Little Italy is transformed into a Christmas wonderland Dec. 20-22 with lights, carolers and free musical entertainment from noon to 5 p.m. While visiting Little Italy, be sure to dine at Casa Bella, which offers many homemade Italian specialties in a friendly, family atmosphere.

The Stage Deli (834 Seventh Ave., at 53rd Street; 212-245-7850): If you are in the mood for an overstuffed New York corned beef or pastrami sandwich, head straight to Stage Deli, which has been a mainstay in the Theater District since the 1930s. Keep in mind before ordering that the sandwiches are huge, although you can always share.

Serendipity 3 (225 E. 60th St., between Second and Third avenues; 212-838-3531): Serendipity 3 is known for its desserts. The Frozen Hot Chocolate - acclaimed by celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Oprah Winfrey and Meg Ryan - is a blend of 14 exotic cocoas, milk, ice, whipped cream and shaved chocolate, big enough to share. The sundaes are large, and the other dessert offerings are so numerous it would take many visits to try them all. Serendipity 3 sells many of its wares online at www.cosmeticmall.com.

Getting there

Superior Tours (410- 602-1704): Superior Tours offers luxury buses daily to New York City with breakfast included for $50. Buses leave Greenspring Shopping Center in Pikesville at 6:15 a.m. and Providence Road in Towson at 6:30 a.m. Drop-off is at either Times Square or Rockefeller Center, and the bus departs from Rockefeller Center at 6 p.m. with a movie shown on the way back to Baltimore.

Golden Ring Travel (410- 391-8700): Golden Ring Travel's buses travel Saturdays for $40. Pickup locations include Pikesville at 7 a.m., Golden Ring at 7:30 a.m. and Edgewood at 7:45 a.m. The tours leave New York from Eighth Avenue and 48th Street at 6:30 p.m.

Hunt Valley Motor Coach (410-584-7377; 800-924-1359): Hunt Valley Motor Coach buses travel to New York daily for $45. They depart from Security, Pikesville, Carney and Fallston. Call for specific times. They drop off at Times Square or Macy's and depart between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. from Times Square.

More information

Visit www.NYCVisit.com for information or call 212-484-1200.

For more regional trips, see Page 39.

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