New York has always been one of my favorite states: between the upstate wilderness and open space and New York City, it's difficult to find anywhere else in the US that has so much to offer in such close proximity. I had the chance after Christmas to spend a few days in New York, which reinforces my opinion that it remains one of the greatest cities in the world.
Regardless of your religious affiliation, Christmas in New York is something to experience. Here's the lit tree at Rockefeller Center:
And a tree entirely decorated with origami in the American Museum of Natural History:
And here's Radio City Music Hall celebrating its 75th anniversary:
It's hard to spend time there and not get swept away by the energy, commerce and diversity in Manhattan. I'd move there, but it strikes me as too expensive for the average person.
I wanted to recommend two things to fill a day if you are visiting Manhattan anytime soon. The first is a place to spend the day and the second, a place to have dinner. Plan at least one full day, preferably two, to spend in the American Museum of Natural History on West Central Park. I have never been to a better science museum, period. The exhibits are large enough to require a good deal of time to explore. The layouts are fantastic and the explanatory notes in each exhibit are accessible, yet not dumbed down. They do an excellent job of showing the interrelationships between animal taxonomies.
We spent most of the day and were only able to explore parts of two floors (of four) and never got to see any of the planetarium. Incidentally, they are running an Imax film called Dinosaurs Alive, narrated by Michael Douglas, that is worth seeing, especially with kids.
Here's a fossilized mammoth skeleton from the exhibit featuring mammalian fossils:
And here is a (crowded) photo of Lucy, the famous example of our ancestor australopithecus:
Here's a quick photo of a cast of archaeopteryx that I took (I've always been fascinated by this early link that shows the origin of bird species from their dinosaur ancestors):
All the other photos are by my wife. The guy with the good looking head that reappears in a couple of the pictures is me.
Lastly, I wanted to recommend the restaurant Russian Samovar in midtown, which was recommended to me by a friend that moved to New York from Russia. Most of the customers were Russian and we were greeted with the assumption we were as well (my wife is not). We enjoyed a great meal: the food is not extraordinarily fancy, just authentic.