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Madison's Tips for surving New York during the Holidays.

Thank you for registering for my email list! As your first gift I am sharing my top 10 list of the tips designed to make sure you have an amazing time in New York during the Holidays. I grew up in New York, and have been giving city and Central Park tours since 2009, so I know a few things about how to have a good time in this crazy place.  My goal is to empower you with things that you can do that will let you have the most fun while also not wasting time in lines, crowds, or spending lots of money.


Here we go!


Section 1: City Survival: Prep and Travel in Midtown Manhattan.



    1. So you are in midtown Manhattan for the holidays to see shows, sights, and visit landmarks. Great! You and about a million other people. My top tip for getting around is to ASSUME YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO CATCH A TAXI CAB IN MIDTOWN. This is especially true between 4:30 and 7:30pm. Everyone is in town for shows, holiday festivities, dinner reservations, all on top of the normal New Yorkers just trying to get home after a hard day’s work. Even if you are lucky enough to catch a cab, the traffic will be insane. I’ve seen people in a cab in traffic for 20 minutes just to go three blocks. New York was designed as a walking city. Save yourself the stress and give yourself enough time to explore it on foot. 

    2. As an alternative, for long distances, take the subway. Don’t be afraid of the underground tubes, they won’t hurt you. You may have to squeeze in close to other people traveling but again, half the fun of New York is participating in our common adventure. 

    3. The best alternative for short distances and especially in midtown is a pedicab bicycle rickshaw because they can cut through the traffic and take routes that cars can’t take. Call me and I will be happy to pick you up!


  1. Dress properly in layers and wear comfortable, warm shoes.

    1. Again, New York is a walking city, so be prepared. If you want to look good when you get to the party, remember that half of looking comes from you being happy and unstressed. If you show up too cold and with some unknown substance stuck to your blue suede shoes, your gonna have a bad time. Make sure you have proper outer layers and good, whole foot covering shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. LEAVE THE WHITE SNEAKERS HOME. They won’t be white by the time you leave NYC. Assume that you may step in something you don’t want to step in or that you might be outside for longer than you think. I’ve seen way too many people suffering due to improper footwear and not insufficient clothing. Remember, you can always remove layers and bring your nice shoes in a bag to put on when you get there.


  1. LESS IS MORE! Don’t plan to do too much.

    1. New York city is a place where anything can happen. You never know who you will meet, what you will see, or what hidden gems you may find. I have had travelers show up on my tour miserable because they tried to do the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center Museum, and Rockefeller Center all the same day, and didn’t get to enjoy any of them because they spent most of their time rushing and hopping from neighborhood to neighborhood trying to see it all. 

      1. (Don’t get me started on people thinking they are going to “See the United States” in a week. I’ve had people say they are going to do 2 days in New York, then fly to Los Angeles to do three days there, and then 2 days in Las Vegas. You will need a vacation from your vacation when you get home from the exhaustion of trying to do so much.)

    2. Less is more. Pick one area and explore that fully. I recommend Central Park as a full day affair, and then migrating down to Rockefeller Center along 5th ave. By staying in one general area you can allow yourself to get caught up in what you are seeing and you can actually relax and enjoy the city. 


Section 2: Where to Eat: Good Cheap Eats!


If you want to spend a lot of money on food you could eat anywhere, stay in midtown and go to tourist restaurants. You want to eat like New Yorkers eat? Better, more unique food at a good price is available if you allow yourself to explore a few places off the beaten path.


  1. BEST PIZZA: The Original Patsy’s Pizza: 1279 1st Ave, New York, NY


    1. You want the Best Pizza in New York, right? My recommendation is the original Patsy’s Pizza on 118th st. and 1st Ave. Don’t be fooled by other “Patsy’s” locations round the city, these are nothing like the original spot in Spanish Harlem. It might sound far away, but this small shop open since 1933 has the best thin crust pizza you can get as it is baked in one of the last original coal burning oven in the city. You’ll know it because there is always a line up of city workers and cop cars parked outside trying to get fed on the way home from work. Rule of thumb, if the cops eat there, it’s probably good. Patsy’s gives you two dining options. If you want a sit down experience, the restaurant is quiet and traditional without all the tourist crap in midtown. It is less expensive and the food is of higher quality than average. Its also the place that was used in the Godfather, the scene where Michael goes into the bathroom to get the gun from behind the toilet, that scene was filmed at Patsy’s. If you want to just pop to the separate pizza shop like a regular New Yorker, you can get a whole pie at the counter for $11.00 that feeds 2 or 3 people. You can also just grab some slices at $1.75 each. I sometimes eat a whole pie on my own, but I can do that because I pedal a bike for a living ☺. 


  1. BEST CHINESE: Shanghi Café Deluxe, 100 Mott st. near the corner of Canal St.


    1. This gem is my favorite place in Chinatown. High energy, no nonsense food. It might not be the fanciest place, but the high quality Shanghi style food, amazing staff, and incredible prices make up for it. You will be amazed at how fast the food comes out as the wait staff seems to be turbo charged. They have an amazing synergy that is awesome to watch. They will be shouting orders across the room. They place is loud, but it is real. And so are the dumplings. When you go order the Xiaolongboa, otherwise knows as Steamed Juicy Pork Buns or Soup dumplings. They are some of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. They are super fresh and you get 8 dumplings for $4.95. When I go with my guests we each get an order for ourselves, then try other delights like scallion pancakes, rice cake noodles, and garlic Bok Choi. After lunch or dinner you can explore Chinatown and Little Italy (Which is one block over from the restaurant) and get yourself some knock off designer sunglasses and hand bags. Cash only. Good times!


  1. BEST BURGER: Shake Shack! 366 Columbus Ave, New York NY, 10024


    1. There are many contenders for the best burger in New York, but I love Shake Shack. You can choose from a beef burger, Shroom burger (Mushroom and cheese patty) or both with the Shack Stack. These things are just fall on your face delicious and under $10.00. There are many locations in the City including Madison Square Park, but I like the location on the Upper West Side because its right outside the Museum of Natural History. Grab lunch here and then walk into the Museum satisfied. Delicious!


Section 3: Places to go!


  1. Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    1. I don’t need to tell you how awesome the two major museums along Central Park are. They are a must and you can spend a whole day in each. They are beautifully designed architecturally, and inside they have priceless wonders. Instead of more description I’m just going to tell you how to get in for $1.00 each. When you arrive the signs will lead you to believe that it costs $25.00 each to get in, but these museums are subsidized and by donation. If you go up to the counter and say that you would like to make a donation of $1.00 you can get in. Save money, spend a day at the museums!


  1. The Park Plaza Hotel:

    1. I am assuming that you are already going to see the gorgeous Holiday display windows along 5th Ave, as well as Rockefeller Center. These are absolute musts. What you may not know to do is to go into the Park Plaza Hotel on the corner of 59th St. and 5th Ave. This is probably the most gorgeous building in New York both inside and out. During the holidays you might not be able to enter up the front red stair case because so many people try to get in at once they limit that entrance to hotel guests only during certain hours. However you can enter via the shops entrance on 58th st. and get into the see the beautiful lobby that you might remember from such movies as Home Alone 2. You can  have drinks in the Champagne room and look at the world’s largest Tiffany ceiling. It is absolutely incredible and you will feel like one million bucks walking in there. If you are adventurous take the stairs up to see the grand ballroom on the 3rd floor or the chapel on the 2nd floor. Each of those places will fill you with wonder. In the basement these is also a food court with many high-end micro restaurants for you to feast on. This place is a gem!


  1. Central Park:

    1. By far the best thing you can do is spend a day exploring Central Park. This 843 acre park is the lifeblood of New York City and has dozens of statues, fountains, bridges, gardens, all for your pleasure and relaxation. You can go to the ice skating rink and skate in surrounded by nature and skyline alike. You can walk the Bow Bridge into the bird sanctuary to see the nests of the red tailed hawks. You can walk in the Mall of Amerian elm trees that you’ve seen in dozens of movies like when Harry Met Sally, Enchanted, and Maid in Manhattan. You can walk on the bridge where they had the snowball fight in Elf. There is also Belvedere Castle where you can climb to the top and get a 360 degree view of the city, the Conservatory Gardens, a French, Italian and English Garden on the North side of the park. There is even a waterfall. Who knew? This is a place of wonder. Give yourself a good amount of time to get lost as it take many hours to explore. Bring cash as there are no ATMS in the Park, dress properly, and you will be blown away by the beauty of this place.



  1. LAST BUT NOT LEAST: A Pedicab Tour.

    1. All of these places are amazing to explore on your own and I hope I have empowered you feel like you know where to go and how to go there. However if you want to really give your trip a boost I recommend booking me for a pedicab tour of the park and the City. The places I mentioned in the park and the city are spread out and you may not know how or want to spend the hours it takes to get to each of the spots you came to see. With my team and I giving you a guided tour via pedicab, we will bring you to all the best locations without you having to waste time and energy walking for hours. We take out the guess-work and curate a fun, informative, and magical experience. We can do the park in an hour or two, then take you down 5th Ave beating the crowds and traffic to things like the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, the light show at Saks Fifth Ave, and all your favorite Broadways shows in times Square. You booking a private tour with Madison and Park Tours will be the best money you spend in New York. We will show you a great time and inform you as to all the amazing things going on so that you can save money and avoid wasting your valuable time. 


Check out our website for Tour information, or call any time to book at (626) 677-4326.


I hope this was helping to you. Thank you so much, and check your inbox in for future update from up regarding amazing things you can do in New York City!


Happy Holidays!


Madison Reyes. 

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