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Solo Travel to New York for the Holidays

Whether by choice or circumstance, millions of people spend the holidays solo. Those who are lucky enough to be spending the holidays alone in New York have the entire city as their date. You’re free to follow your own itinerary or simply roam the city at will, doing what you want, when you want. It’s almost impossible to feel lonely in New York City during the holidays.

Statistics reveal that solo travel is on the rise every year. Whether you're single and ready to mingle or simply looking to make friends, NYC is a great place to make connections. As the season creeps closer, picture yourself in a grand city filled with dazzling lights and softly falling snow. New York holidays are simply unforgettable, and you’ll be telling this tale for many years to come.

What to do on your own in NYC

Rockefeller Center's ice skating rink is the winter wonderland you've been waiting for. Skating alone gives you the opportunity to brush up on your skills if you aren't the most stable skater. Or, if you're speedy and balanced, you won't have to lug around a clumsy comrade while you make your rounds around the rink. Catch your breath afterwards at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, where stunning views of New York might just take your breath away all over again.

The world-famous Christmas Tree in Washington Square is a spectacular sight to see during your New York holiday adventures. The sheer scope of the tree and the festive decorations cannot be missed. Take plenty of pictures, and ask a stranger to take one of you in front of the tree. Asking someone to take your photo is a wonderful (if old fashioned) way to make a connection.

A 360-degree view from the historic Empire State Building is sure to take away any solo blues. The twinkling lights glow brighter than ever at night, and around the holiday season, you'll definitely appreciate the stunning spectacle. The magnificent cityscape reveals just how big the city is. As you look down on the city that never sleeps, you'll feel anything but lonely. If you’re smart enough to visit the city with a CityPASS booklet, you can see the Empire State Building's crisp skyline in the day and get a bonus view at night of the shimmering city lights. No sparkling garland or string of holiday lights could outshine NYC's natural luminescence.

Since you’re not on anyone’s schedule but your own, you can visit the Museum of Natural History or The Metropolitan Museum of Art and take in each exhibit or piece of artwork for as long as you'd like. See the twinkling lights of the night sky at the Hayden Planetarium or observe the stunning beauty of 5,000 years’ worth of art. Wander as you wish—you don't have to keep track of anyone but yourself.

You can also partake in one of the oldest New York City Christmas traditions — catching a movie. Then, end your day by filling up at John Dory's Oyster Bar, where flavorful food and body-warming beer will make your cozy sweater feel that much cozier.

A CityPASS Holiday

The best way to see the top spots in New York City is with a CityPASS booklet. Many attractions have holiday hours, and CityPASS lets you skip most ticket lines so you can do more for less on your holiday. (We suggest spending the savings on a nice Christmas present for yourself!)

Attractions Open on Christmas Eve:

Attractions Open on Christmas Day:

Attractions Open on New Year’s Day

After you see the best NYC has to offer, you’ll have lots to share with your friends and family. Just don’t be surprised if some are jealous of your adventures!

Most Underrated Shopping Cities

As you read this online, you’re probably aware of the fact that most anything can be done on the Internet...even holiday shopping. Sure, it’s convenient. But there is something about the holiday season that makes the physical experience of walking into a store so much better than any overly stuffed online shopping cart. We are drawn to the festive décor, the lively energy that hums throughout the streets, and being able to physically hold and observe a gift before making the decision to purchase it.

Of course, the big cities for holiday shopping—New York, Chicago, San Francisco—are always in the limelight come the holiday season. But because of their popularity, the experience of making your way through the eager shopping crowds might be a bit overwhelming.

Luckily, there are other cities in the United States that provide an excellent shopping experience around the holiday season, and most are quite underrated. The cozy buildings unleash traditional holiday warmth that cannot be found anywhere else. The most underrated cities for shopping are full of holiday cheer, and they’re waiting just for you.

Come experience Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Seattle for the most spirited holiday shopping experience you’ll ever have. With a CityPASS to any of these treasure cities, you’ll see the holidays in a whole new light. Trust us, those warm fuzzy feelings are much more difficult to get from the Internet.

Shopping in Atlanta

Atlanta’s quintessential Southern hospitality makes for a warm and welcoming holiday shopping experience where you’ll truly feel like a local. With artistic talent sprouting from every corner, one-of-a-kind gifts are a-plenty. These quality, handcrafted products cannot be found in at any regular store. Check out all Atlanta has to offer for the holiday shopping season:

Atlanta MADE:

The name of the store couldn’t be more spot-on for the kind of unique gifts you’ll find inside. Everything is made within 25 miles of Atlanta’s center, and when you see it all, you’ll really get a sense for the artistry that seeps from the heart of this cultivated city.

Give a child a traditional gift with a modern spin—a rocking horse is a classic, but a rocking dinosaur will rock their world! And let’s not forget about the adults, either. Beautifully designed jewelry, scrumptious sweets, and all-natural bath soaps are only some of the amazing gifts offered at Atlanta MADE. When you pair those gifts up with truly original, hand-stamped wrapping paper, you’ve got yourself a holiday shopping trip that you can’t find anywhere else.

Unique Holiday Shopping

Aside from the quirky Atlanta MADE store, there are plenty of local markets and exhibitions that crop up throughout the year—especially around the holiday season. The A also has an abundance of things to do in the fall and winter seasons, thanks to its more favorable weather.

The Spruill Center for the Arts Gallery is located in a historic home from the late 19th century, and its timeless architecture complements the artisan crafts within. Every year from November 13 through December 23, the Spruill Center for the Arts holds an annual Holiday Gallery Artists Market where unique crafts and décor are showcased. Over 90 artists will reveal their work during the market. For a quieter shopping escape that still radiates the holiday spirit, the Spruill Center for the Arts is a great place to shop.

Boston Shopping

Boston is another wonderful city full of life. Even in the fall and winter seasons there is so much to do. With deep roots in liberty comes the freedom of choice. During the holiday season, Boston offers many choices. Whether you’re looking for the quirky and unique or the big brand commodities, you’ll find it all in Boston.

Browse the Antiques

Everyone has that one person in their family who will shun the gift card and the readily available new releases. They want something from the heart, something truly picked out for them, something unique, and something that speaks to the soul.

At Beacon Hill’s 30-40 antique shops, you can find something special for that special someone. Even if you don’t walk away with the perfect gift, the experience of strolling through the picturesque neighborhood is a wonderful gift in and of itself. The charm of the red bricks is only accentuated by holiday décor, and an evening saunter through Beacon Hill will leave you with a glow that not even the brightest string of holiday lights can emanate.

High-End Holiday Shopping

At Boston’s Prudential Center, you can get a fashionable dress at Saks Fifth Avenue or create your own belt at the Build a Belt kiosk. The Prudential Center is a great option for those who aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for but will know it when they see it. If you have a day to spare, spend time exploring the shops and the kiosks. Both offer a great selection, and the Prudential Center is a great place to get some ideas if you’re not ready for the full-on holiday shopping experience.

Holiday Shopping in Philadelphia

If you’re in Philly for the holidays, you’re in luck. There are more than enough ways to enjoy your holiday both in-store and out, making Philadelphia a truly underrated shopping city. With some of the best holiday shopping around the nation and even more holiday cheer, you’re bound to leave Philly with more than just a great gift.

Historic Wanamaker Building

The Macy’s located in downtown Philly is recognized as a National Historic Landmark, and for good reason! With more than 100 years under its belt, the Wanamaker building is a timeless retail space that continues to attract visitors year after year.

From the day after Thanksgiving through the end of the year, the Christmas Light Show creates fantastical holiday images with more than 100,000 LED lights. Snowflakes and reindeer parade the velvet curtain four stories high while you shop. The lightshows happen every two hours from 10am-8pm, and if you happen to make it to the noon show, you’ll get to hear the beautiful music play from the Wanamaker Grand Organ during the finale.

In between your shopping, visit the 3rd floor and see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol come to life with 100+ animated figures. A truly festive experience, Macy’s Center City holiday decor will surely lift your spirits.

Holiday Shopping Pop-Up Village

Philadelphia sure loves the holidays – so much so that LOVE Park is completely transformed into a festive European village! Delicious food, unique gifts, and memorable entertainment are what make the Christmas Village one of the top things to do in Philadelphia this holiday season. The outdoor market features more than 60 vendors from all over the world—no two gifts are alike. The twinkling lights, crisp weather, and sweet hot chocolates will make you wonder whether you’re still in Philly or have been transported to Santa’s village! Admission is free, so even if you’re not there to shop, there’s no reason to skip such a festive experience.

Shopping in Seattle for the Holidays

‘Tis the season for jolly good times and Christmas spirit! In Seattle, the holiday cheer is taken to a whole other level: the grand festivals remind you that the holiday season truly is the greatest time of the year. In downtown Seattle, merriment and fun are expected— it’s very unlikely your inner Grinch will come out while you’re having such a great time.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Well, the weather outside just might be frightful, but that’s not going to stop you from your holiday shopping, now is it? Sure, the snow is beautiful, but too much of it can make a pretty snowfall turn into a shiver-inducing blizzard.

At Pacific Place, you can enjoy a delightful flurry while you explore the shops. Starting on November 28, you can stand in the atrium and watch as a magical snow falls from the sky. See a free performance from 12-2pm or 5-7pm on the weekends and enjoy the winter wonderland while you listen to some great holiday jazz. Explore fashion outlets, jewelry shops and gadget stores to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones.

Magic in the Market

Let’s face it—Pike Place Market is already magical. Throw in a rosy-cheeked Santa Claus and a plethora of twinkling lights and you’ve got yourself a Christmas paradise. On Saturday, November 28, you can decorate gingerbread cookies, drink rich hot chocolate and spiced tea, take a photo with your favorite Claus, and watch as the 20-foot holiday tree lights up for the first time. A performance by the Figgy Pudding Caroling Team makes your shopping fun even more festive. Pike Place Market is the perfect place to find some locally crafted gifts that only a Seattleite could create.

If you do decide to do some online holiday shopping this season, CityPASS is the perfect place to start. With CityPASS booklets starting at $44, you can give the gift of travel to North America’s top cities at an affordable price. Your loved ones will be singing your praises long after the New Year.

Beyond Fall Foliage: Things to Do in Boston in Fall

Crisp air, the crunch of autumn leaves and holiday festivities are what people look forward to come the end of summer. When the warm days drift away, don’t spend the cool seasons hibernating under a blanket—Boston is the perfect New England city to welcome fall and winter, and the town comes alive with events and activities. Come experience the many fun things to do in Boston in fall!

Boston Museum of Science Activities

Pixar Exhibit

While you still have the chance, don’t miss the opportunity to see the Science Behind Pixar exhibit. This temporary Museum of Science exhibit offers a behind-the-scenes look at the science behind the studio responsible for some of the most-loved animated films of the century. With more than 40 interactive elements to play around with, the Science Behind Pixar showcases the technology that brings the beloved characters to life. There are eight sections focusing on the different aspects of the Pixar filmmaking process, from modeling and rigging to animation and lighting. An amazing experience for young and the young at heart, this exhibit is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to understand the intricacies of the Pixar process.

Astronomy After Hours

On clear Friday nights through mid-November, head to the Gililand Observatory on the roof of the Museum’s parking garage to view stars, planets, the moon, and more!! This free activity is kid-friendly, but adults are the ones who are really wowed. Astronomy After Hours is held from 8:30pm to 10pm with inside astronomy-related activities on cloudy nights.

Things to do in Boston on Halloween

For only one day out of the year, children, teenagers and adults ditch their day outfits for an entirely new wardrobe. Pirates, witches and giant pumpkins parade the streets for candy, and the orange and black décor, silky spider webs and candle-lit jack-o-lanterns make the entire holiday a festivity worth celebrating. But, in Boston, you can take Halloween celebration to the next level. From Salem ghost tours to festive pub-crawls, there are plenty of treats awaiting your arrival.

Salem Ghost Tours

If you’re into Halloween for the sheer thrills and chills, you probably know about Salem’s rich, albeit creepy, history. For the entire month of October, Massachusetts celebrates the haunt of Salem with guided ghost tours. Less than an hour away from Boston, Salem becomes a real Halloween town with festive carnivals, concerts and parades. The night ghost tours are so popular it’s recommended you make reservations ahead of time. Discover the hysteria of the Salem Witch trials with a haunting tour that’ll rattle your bones.

Halloween at Fenway Park

If you’re looking for some good, old-fashioned, free fun, the Boston Red Sox are hosting a family-friendly Halloween party on October 30th. Don’t worry if your name’s not on the list, because…there is no list! Children and adults will get the chance to trick-or-treat around the Fenway track and watch the classic Halloween flick Ghostbusters.

The trick-or-treat fun and the movie are free and open to the public. Try fun activities such as face painting, balloon art, stilt walkers and more! Show off your best and most creative costume and enjoy the Halloween hoorah with the beloved Boston Red Sox.

Boston Pub Crawl

Boston loves pub crawls. Boston loves beer. If you’re 21 or older and enjoy a good time and a good brew, the Halloween Pub Crawl might be your ideal Halloween celebration. Get your costume ready--more than 12 bars will be waiting for your trick-or-treat. Come on boils and ghouls, it’s time to release the spirits!

Hop on the Haunted Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is arguably Boston’s most popular attraction. It’s deep-rooted in history and harbors some of the greatest stories of the American Revolution. With each step you take, a piece of history is unearthed. But with history comes spirits, and in the old city of Boston, they’re around every corner.

A Spooky Adventure

It’s a common belief that spirits and ghosts come out to haunt the living at night. If you’re into ghost stories and are looking for an interactive experience, the Freedom Trail Ghost Tour is calling your name.

This 90-minute tour, guided only by lantern light, leads participants to sites of documented ghost encounters such as Boston Common and Boston Harbor. On the tour, you learn about the 1660 hanging of Quaker Mary Dyer and other lost souls. The creepy tour will get your blood pumping—just don’t fall behind lest a ghost find you first.

Day of the Dead

The celebration of ghouls and spirits isn’t exclusive to Halloween. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican holiday celebrating ancestral spirits. The festivities of Dia de los Muertos are so colorful and exciting; the holiday has spread far beyond the borders of Mexico. Everything worth celebrating in the fall is celebrated in Boston. Enjoy authentic Mexican food, dancing skeletons and Latin music as you honor the lives of loved ones who have passed on and memorialize the spirits of your ancestors. At Harvard University in Boston, Dia de los Muertos will be celebrated on Oct. 30th with music, food, and folk art. Purchase your tickets online to reserve your spot today!

Fall Activities in Boston

Craft Beer Tours

As said before, if there’s anything you really need to know about Boston, you better know beer. We’re not talking the kind of beer you can buy from any grocery store, we’re talking real, foamy, craft beer. You’ll be diving into a brew-tiful fall adventure.

Craft beer tour include a variety of 12 or more craft beers, a lunch and beer tasting, and round-trip transportation, but you can also stop in at most Boston breweries for a more intimate tour of each facility on your own. Harpoon Brewery, Cambridge Brewing Company, Idle Hands Craft Ales, and Samuel Adams are just a handful of the breweries that participate, though Boston has plenty of craft breweries.

Most breweries offer tours and tastings throughout the week. No matter how you tour your craft beer, if you’re looking to escape the chilly weather, a cozy brewery might just be the getaway cave you’ve been looking for. Beer is known for warming you up, and we can’t think of anything better than a hot meal to go with your cold beer.

Fall at its Best

What better way to see the autumn colors than 700 feet high up in the sky? At Boston’s Skywalk Observatory, you’ll have a crystal clear view of Boston 360 degrees around. The self-guided audio tours provide visitors with interesting information about some of Boston’s most treasured landmarks. The summer views, although nice, are known to get a little hazy. In the crisp fall and winter months, the nighttime views are incomparably stunning.

The occasional autumn fog hangs over the rusted trees like a misty blanket, and the panoramic view makes the Skywalk Observatory a great place to take plenty of pictures. In the winter, the snow is a wonderful contrast to the urban jungle beneath. If you’re new to the city, the Observatory might be the first place you’ll want to stop at; you’ll have the best perspective of the city right off the bat. The night lights are definitely worth seeing.

Looking to experience the best that Boston has to offer this fall? The Boston CityPASS gives you 47% on admission to the 4 best attractions in Boston, plus lets you skip the ticket lines. Plan your trip to Boston today!

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The Best Restaurants in San Francisco (and the Celebrities Who Love Them)

Best Restaurants in San Francisco It’s no surprise that shows like Top Chef, The Taste and The Chew have become popular with the masses: foodies are everywhere! While they may have been considered food snobs in generations past, today’s foodies not only love trying delicious new restaurants, but are also able to enjoy the full experience that comes along with dining out these days. And San Francisco is one of the best foodie cities in the country right now. A major restaurant boom over the past few years has both locals and visitors alike scrambling to get reservations to some of the most coveted seats in town. read more »

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