Author Rose Levy Beranbaum Photography Joshua Paul
DAY THREE / After last night’s indulgences, you’ll surely welcome the mile walk to breakfast at 1Payard for excellent coffee and pastries. If you get there early enough, the very popular almond croissants may still be available. The spectacular Belle Époque architecture and décor is the perfect prelude for your visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which includes more than 2 million works of art from all over the world, ancient through modern times. On departure, the windows of the haute couture boutiques of Madison Avenue provide a delightful diversion for your walk down to lunch at the Central Park Boathouse. This little-known wonder offers one of the loveliest settings in New York any time of year, and the food’s good, too.
The famed shops of Fifth Avenue begin just where the park ends. Make quick stops at The Plaza Hotel (its ballroom just reopened after restoration), Tiffany, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Along the way, revel in the spectacular holiday windows that bring so many people to New York after Thanksgiving. Then warm yourself with a bittersweet but mellow cup of hot chocolate at Charbonnel et Walker Café on the eighth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue, while gazing at the hypnotically flowing chocolate fountain and conveyer belt of desserts.
Enjoy the smell of roasting chestnuts as you walk past the street vendors to The Museum of Modern Art, which has just completed the largest building project in its history, nearly doubling the space for exhibitions and programs. Be sure to visit the museum shop for a fine selection of tasteful gifts.
On your way to the Rainbow Room, walk through Rockefeller Center to see the skaters whirling by the splendid golden statue of Prometheus descending with the flame of fire for mankind, beneath the towering trimmed Christmas tree. Take the elevator up to the Rainbow Room, sip its famous Bellinis, and enjoy the best view of the Chrysler Building from the observation bar. For the most spectacular panorama go up to the newly opened observation deck on the 70th floor—the Top of the Rock.
It’s only a short walk back to your hotel, which is also home to Atelier de Robuchon, deservedly one of only two Michelin three-star restaurants in New York, and your grand-finale dinner. Sit at the counter to enjoy the plating of each exquisite dish as you savor the vibrant flavors and sip wine from the first-class wine list. Enjoy a glorious tasting menu of many little plates tailored to your taste, culminating with memorable desserts created to order by pastry chef A.J. Bella Rosa—a perfect ending to a perfect dinner and three perfect days in New York.
Rose Levy Beranbaum is the author of many classic cookbooks, including The Cake Bible, The Bread Bible, Rose’s Celebrations, The Pie and Pastry Bible, and Rose’s Christmas Cookies.
A December spree to the Big Apple may not be as bitter as you imagine. Highs top out in the 40s. Morning lows settle into the upper 20s or 30s. The urban heat island keeps the city 5 to 10 degrees warmer than outlying areas on colder nights. The bulk of the city’s snow typically waits for the new year and leaves by late March or early April. May, September, and October are pleasant. Summer features spells of oppressive heat relieved by Canadian cold fronts.
Weather information is provided by The Weather Channel. For more New York climatological details, visit weather.com.
Walking is the ideal way to experience the city, but the subway and bus systems and taxis are excellent options, except during rush hour. For long travels nothing beats the speed of the subway. The Metro pass can be used for both the subway and the bus. Pick up a “one day fun pass” for $7 at a store or buy single rides for $2 at the station. It’s best to allow, on average, 40 minutes to and from airports as traffic is as unpredictable as the weather.
A Hayden Planetarium (haydenplanetarium.org) Laser light shows
B American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org/ museum) Vast collections of flora and fauna
C The Children’s Museum (cmom.org) High-tech, hands-on equipment
D Wollman Memorial Rink (wollmanskatingrink.com) Located in Central Park
E FAO Schwarz (fao.com) The ultimate toy store