As you may have noticed, I spend a lot of time in Midtown Manhattan. One of the places that I visit the most is the area around Rockefeller Center. The reason is simply, it is close to the Theatre District, there are lots of food options, and it’s a great place to kill time! Around ‘The Rock’ you will see Radio City Music Hall and signs for Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Once inside, you can just wander around the main and concourse levels. The architecture and design work is quite impressive and worth a look. The concourse levels are where you will find loads of shops and food. Because I am nothing if not me, I usually go to Pret, but there are loads of options. If you head to the massive Starbucks, you will find bathrooms, always important when you wander. On 6th Avenue and 49th, you will see Magnolia Bakery, where I always get a slice of cake! You can go to ‘The Top of The Rock’ but I never have. It is expensive and I’ve done the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower. Price wise is comparable to those, so just pick which view you want. I will say the amount of times I randomly run into famous people on the street (or going to the loo), I have never seen anyone at Rockefeller Center…go figure!
Across the street is the famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral and it is stunning! It is free to go in and I highly recommend. The design is that of a gothic cathedral. It is one of the most famous churches in the United States and really embraces the traditional idea of what a Catholic church should look like and would not be out of place in France. What is surprising as while it has a very traditional design, it is relatively new, only being dedicated in 1910! The stained glass windows, in a cobalt reminiscent of Notre Dame, are the highlight!
A few blocks down, you will come across the famed New York Public Library, one of my favorite spots! It is also free, although much like St. Patrick’s, I put a few dollars in the donation jar. Stand outs are the reading rooms, the lions out front, and, most famously, the original Winnie the Pooh animals. They can be found at the Children’s Center and while it is an informal setting, be mindful of the people around you and don’t cut in front or ruin people’s pictures. It is not very polite! The NYPL has a variety of items in their special collections, including the Gutenberg Bible, but they are not on public display. However, the city and the library have stated they are going to begin a massive project to develop massive exhibit space to display these items. It is several years down the line, but they do have temporary exhibits throughout the year, also free. Behind the library, you will find Bryant Park. In the winter, there is an ice rink and lots of stalls selling goods and food. In the summer there are tables and chairs, perfect for an afternoon reading a good book and eating some cake.
I really love this area and you can find things to kill time before your Broadway show that are free! So grab a sandwich and slice of cake and head down to Bryant Park or a few blocks north the Central Park!