Visiting Times Square for New Year’s Eve has always been a bucket list trip for me. Every year, I’d watch the ball drop, and wish that I could be at the big party in NYC. So this past January, I booked the trip!
I’ve stayed in Times Square on a trip with Miss Pickles, and loved the DoubleTree Suites hotel. I used my Hilton Honors points to book the room and found an airfare sale. A few short ( read: long) months later, WE’RE HERE!!!
Preparations in Times Square for the coming new year start very early. In the early morning hours, barricades start going up, and street closings start. People start filling up the streets as early as 9 am! Yes, these individuals will stand for several hours in the cold, without access to bathrooms, for hours awaiting the ball drop.
So if you’re planning to venture out, let’s say for lunch as we did, prepare for a trek. The DoubleTree is at the corner of 47th Street and 7th Ave. The Hard Rock Restaurant is at 43rd Street and 7th Ave…so not far. About 0.6 miles actually, and ordinarily a straight shot. But NYE in Times Square is anything but ordinary. We walked down 47th to 6th and then over to 43rd and back to 7th because of the street closings and barricades.
The restaurants in the surrounding area close early. Many were hosting private parties with views of the activities. For example, Bubba Gump was closing early in order to host a party with a $900 pp ticket fee! (say whaaaaa?) So, if you didn’t make it to the restaurant before about 2 pm, you were out of luck! We ate at Bubba Gump ( because it was open), and as a bonus got great views of Times Square, the preparations, and growing crowds.
This was the crowd at 1pm….
After we finished, we had hoped to take the same route back to the hotel….NO MA’AM! So, we trekked up 44th Street to 8th Ave., then over to 49th Street. We had to show our hotel room key along with a pass (given by the hotel) in order to get through the barricades. So down 49th Street to Broadway-more barricades, and finally a personal police escort (otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere) through more barricades back to our hotel. Whew!
HANGING OUT IN TIMES SQUARE
NYC’s police department uses barricades to create “pens” down 7th Ave and surrounding streets. Some rules:
- Once you enter a pen area, there is no re-entry. Once you leave, you’re out.
- There are no porta-potty’s.
- The pens are closed by 11am.
- Some larger bags are confiscated at the pen entry and are not returned.
So here are my tips for navigating…
- Be aware that some train platforms close earlier than usual on NYE. So your train stop may not be available. And you may not be able to get back to your hotel depending on the time of day ( even with the passes/hotel keys).
- BRING PATIENCE. There are about 1 million extra people in TS on NYE. It takes longer to go everywhere…
- Prepare to walk—alot. On NYE, the streets around TS are closed to car traffic ( except for emergency vehicles) for many blocks.
- The train schedule is altered, check the transit website for details.
- Keep your ID handy.
- Dress for the weather and for walking.
- Plan to get out and back to your hotel early. I had hoped we could do an activity before all the festivities started…nope!
- Reconsider trekking out with very small children (unless you are prepared to carry them), strollers, wheelchairs, etc. The sidewalks are incredibly congested.
All in all, I’m glad that I got the chance to cross this off my bucket list. It was great hanging out with my family, even though we were pretty much confined to the hotel. The energy in the area was incredible, and seeing the ball drop, and the confetti shower at the stroke of midnight, were definitely unforgettable. But I’ll chose another time for my next trip to NYC!
Happy New Year from Dr. Peaches & Miss Pickles!!