A new park in mid-Manhattan, a new major museum, new plays on Broadway, new exhibitions. Those are some of the attractions awaiting visitors to New York City this autumn.
Then there are such traditional attractions as Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, the Radio City Rockettes in their spectacular Christmas show, Fifth Avenue stores all dolled up in holiday finery, and holiday lights and decorations creating a glow over the city.
They all add up to make autumn and the Yule holidays a glorious season to visit the Big Apple.
To accommodate tourists, the city this year will have more lodging choices than ever. With the opening of a new Park Hyatt in midtown, New York City will reach a milestone — more than 100,000 hotel rooms for the first time.
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And there’s more to see and do. Among the biggest headlines are a high-visibility park and the reopening of the Rainbow Room.
Manhattan’s newest park is actually a half-mile-long extension of an existing one, the High Line. The third and final transformation of the former elevated railway into a linear park opened on the West Side on Sept. 21. The $90million section, called High Line at the Rail Yards, extends the park north to West 34th Street. Amid lush landscaping, the park provides unique vistas of the city. www.thehighline.com.
Reopening to the public Monday is the iconic Rainbow Room atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which has been closed since 2009. Located on the 65th floor, the Rainbow Room will have a catered event space as well as a restaurant. In addition, a previously unused outdoor terrace will be transformed into a bar and lounge. www.rainbowroom.com.
Last year, New York was still recovering from the damage wreaked by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. Most repairs have been made, but some are still in progress.
At South Street Seaport, Pier 15 reopened in May, but the museum and some shops are still closed, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says the ravaged new South Ferry subway station won’t reopen until 2016. Until then, passengers are using the old South Ferry station.
Here’s a rundown of other highlights in the Big Apple this fall and early winter:
The big news in New York museums was the opening this spring of the 9/11 Museum at the site where terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in 2001, killing almost 3,000 people. Located underground, below the Memorial Plaza that marks the footprints of the twin towers, the museum tells the story of the 9/11 attacks, including the attack on the Pentagon and crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.
Biographies and profiles of those killed in both the 9/11 attack and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing are displayed, along with spoken remembrances. Pieces of the airplanes, personal items of the victims, the “Survivor Stairs” and remnants of the buildings’ structural columns are also on view.
New at the museum is a display on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, with such items as a uniform shirt worn by one of the Navy Seals who found the al-Qaida leader, a Challenge Coin and a brick from the bin Laden compound.
Since its opening in May, the museum has seen more than 1million visitors. Admission costs $24 for adults, $18 for senior citizens, veterans and collegians, $15 for youths 7-17. It is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through Dec. 19. Holiday hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 27-30 and Dec. 20-Jan. 1. www.911memorial.org.
Elsewhere in the city, two museums have undergone major expansions.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened a completely redesigned David H. Koch Plaza on Sept. 10. The $65million project, covering four city blocks along Fifth Avenue, involved new fountains, 106 new trees, new lighting, groves and allées of trees, and seating. www.metmuseum.org.
The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, housed in the former home of Andrew Carnegie, is expanding by 60 percent, creating four floors of exhibitions and programming. It will open Dec. 12. www.cooperhewitt.org.
Among autumn exhibitions of note:
▪ A Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens showcases the work of Chuck Jones, the man who perfected animated characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd, and created Pepe Le Pew and Wile E. Coyote. The exhibit, What’s Up, Doc?, will run through Jan. 19. www.movingimage.us.
▪ An exhibit on Cubism opening Oct. 20 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents 80 works by four preeminent cubists, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Leger and Pablo Picasso. It will run through Feb. 16.
Many new plays will grace Broadway stages this fall. Among the stars will be Brian Donnehy, Mia Farrow, Carol Burnett, Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg, Anjelica Huston, Martin Sheen, Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Rupert Grint, Megan Mullahy, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Glenn Close and Hugh Jackman. (See story, Page 1J). For more information on openings: www.newyorktheater.me/2014.
If you’re visiting New York at Halloween, the city has special events in all five boroughs. A major event in Manhattan is the annual Village Halloween Parade — the 41st — in Greenwich Village the evening of Oct. 31. www.halloween-nyc.com. Among other Halloween doings: A LED Tower Light Show at the Empire State Building, a Wall Street Ghost Tour, and Boo at the Zoo at both the Bronx Zoo and the Brooklyn Zoo. For events for kids, click on www.nycgo.com/articles/boo-york-city-halloween-for-kids.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marks the traditional start of the holiday season in New York. The parade, this year on Nov. 27, will feature new floats, performances and balloons, including London’s Paddington bear and Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. www.macys.com/parade.
But even before the parade steps off, Radio City Music Hall will be deep into the holiday spirit with its Christmas Spectacular show. Starring the Rockettes, the annual show runs from Nov. 7 to Dec. 31. Information: Visit www.radiocitychristmas.com.
Most other holiday-themed exhibitions and performances also get under way in late November.
The New York Ballet will put on its highly popular annual performances of The Nutcracker Nov. 28-Jan. 3. Features include marching toy soldiers, a one-ton Christmas tree that grows before the audience’s eyes, and crystalline snowflakes. www.nycballet.com.
Another popular annual attraction, the Origami Holiday Tree, will be on view at the American Museum of Natural History Nov. 24-Jan. 4. And Carnegie Hall will perform Handel’s Messiah on Dec. 27.
The Big Apple Circus returns to New York City’s Lincoln Center Oct. 17 for a run that continues to Jan. 11. This year’s show, Metamorphosis, is brand new and features a flying trapeze, musical clown and contortionists. Visit www.bigapplecircus.org.
Gingerbread masterpieces will be on view during the annual Gingerbread Extravaganza at Le Parker Meridien Dec. 4-Jan. 4. www.parkermeridien.com.
A favorite visitor excursion during the holiday season is checking out the window displays mounted by the city’s big department stores. Check out the windows at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Barney’s, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. Many of these may be in place in late November.
At Rockefeller Center, the nationally televised Christmas Tree lighting will take place on Dec. 3 in a 7-9 p.m. program that includes live performances. The iconic tree will be lit until Jan. 7. Visit www.rockefellercenter.com.
Celebrating the Yule season, a giant crystal snowflake will hang over Fifth Avenue at 57th Street and a giant Menorah will be lit outside the Plaza Hotel at Fifth and 59th Street. Twelve 14-foot stars will hover at the Time Warner Center, Tiffany’s store on Fifth will be “wrapped” with red ribbons, and the Empire State Building will be bathed in red and green light.
Several companies offer tours of the city’s holiday attractions. The Ride’s Holiday Edition has a motor coach tour of the festivities that also includes street performers. Ten tours are scheduled from Nov. 17 to Jan. 4. Visit www.experiencetheride.com. NYCVP offers motor coach holiday lights tours Wednesdays through Saturdays Nov. 27-Dec. 27. www.nyctrip.com. On Location Tours takes visitors to sites made famous in movies in its annual Holiday Lights and Movie Sites tour Nov. 26-Jan.1. www.onlocation.tours.com. And Windows-Wear offers tours of stores’ holiday window decorations starting in late November. www.windowswear.com.
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For tourism and general information: NYC & Company, 212-484-1200, www.nycgo.com.