What to do on Easter Weekend in New York City

By Stuart Bak

Easter is a great time to visit New York, as the east coast shakes off its winter chill and the city bursts into colorful, vibrant life with a riot of tulips, cherry blossom and forsythia. Then, of course, there’s the Big Apple's annual Easter Parade, when a flamboyant forest of the biggest, boldest (and downright wackiest) bonnets you’ve ever laid eyes on weaves its way through Midtown Manhattan. Egg hunts, too, make for a cracking Easter day out for kids aged three to 93 and, who knows, you might even get a chance to meet the Easter bunny herself. So, pack your spring layers, brace your sweet tooth for joy, and read on for our eggs-pert guide to all things Easter in NYC.

The Big Apple in Bloom

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If flowers float your boat and plants set your heart aquiver, there may be no better time to visit New York than over the Easter weekend, when many of spring’s best-loved blooms will be out in force. Central Park is as good a place as any to start your olfactory odyssey. Hit up the Bridle Path at 90th Street, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, and the aptly-named Cherry Hill at 72nd Street for your cherry blossom fix – the pretty pink blossoms opposite the fairytale folly that is the park’s Belvedere Castle make for some of the finest spring selfie opportunities in town. If the weather plays ball, rent a bike to explore all of the park’s hidden nooks, or take a rowboat out onto the tranquil lake.

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The brief but beautiful annual cherry blossom explosion continues over at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where 26 species ensure good coverage from March through May. Meanwhile, the New York Botanical Garden adds a fragrant themed display of thousands of blooming orchids to the 200-or-so flowering cherry trees within its 50-acre forest.

Want more? Take a spring stroll along the High Line (with a tour guide, if you so wish), where colorful wildflowers meet hip outdoor art installations and picnic spots are alive with the sound of birdsong and chattering squirrels. You’ll spot pretty Lady Jane tulips, Sunburst witch hazel and Virginia bluebells along this elevated former railway line on Manhattan’s west side. Or tiptoe through the tulips on Park Avenue: tens of thousands of the colorful blighters burst into bloom along the boulevard every spring.

New York Easter Parade

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Put a great big hat-shaped marker in your diary for Easter Sunday, the eggstraordinary pinnacle of Manhattan’s Easter calendar. For today is the day that New Yorkers from across the state converge at 49th Street to follow the short Easter Parade route along Fifth Avenue, clad in some of the most outlandish headgear you’ll see in this galaxy, or any other. Yes, we’re talking about the annual festival of Easter bonnets, in which you can expect to see people in everything from period costume (a hat-tip to the parade’s 19th-century origins) to iconic New York landmarks in hat form (you may well lose count of the Empire State Buildings and Statues of Liberty), flamboyant flower-festooned fashion statements, and – for the very brave – pyramids of carefully balanced (real) eggs pointing precariously skywards.

There are no prizes to be won, just the fawning admiration of your peers as you strut your stuff along Fifth Avenue in your eggstravagant Sunday best. It’s free to join and you can spend all day mingling with behatted fellow revelers along the half-mile route, with somewhere in the region of 30,000 people expected to turn up most years, weather permitting.

Easter Egg Hunts in NYC

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Whether you’ve got kids or not, there’s surely no better way to spend your Easter weekend than mingling with the Easter bunny, having your face painted in a rainbow of colors and, of course, getting your sticky paws on some sweet, sweet Easter candy. You’ll find plenty of events taking place in parks and playgrounds across the Big Apple over Easter weekend. Note that while there are dozens to choose from, NYC Easter egg hunts are extremely popular so book ticketed events well in advance and turn up early for free hunts to avoid disappointment.

Hit up East Harlem for the admirably punny annual NYSoM Easter Eggstravaganza, a free event that includes timed egg hunts, plus egg painting, a street fair and photo opportunities with the Easter bunny and pals.

Over on Governer’s Island, there are hunts tailored by age group, with a whopping 10,000 painted wooden eggs to be found across 120 acres. Expect magic shows and puppetry as well as arts and craft stalls and a beer garden for the grown-ups.

You can even make it educational. CMoM (the Children’s Museum of Manhattan) runs a fun Easter Egg scavenger hunt that’s included with your admission ticket. Set your little bunnies loose to seek out the cute critters hiding in eggs around the museum. There are prizes for successfully completing the challenge and Miffy – a close relative of the Easter bunny – may also make a guest appearance on the day.

Easter Brunch in NYC

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Brunching is practically a religion in New York so, if the above activities sound just a little too taxing for a relaxing Easter weekend break, feast your eyes on these beauties for some of the finest Easter brunches in town. And remember to book in advance!

  1. The Dutch NYC. This SoHo stalwart promises long boozy brunches fueled by some of the best pre-noon cocktails in Lower Manhattan. Pair heaving platefuls of cornmeal blueberry flapjacks and avocado toast with a reviving Matcha Sour, or a punchy Oaxacan Sunset, with tequila, mezcal, hibiscus, lime and cassis.
  2. Jacob’s Pickles. Hit the dive bars a little too hard last night? This Upper West Side diner has you covered, with comfort food classics including heart-stopping biscuit-and-egg breakfast sandwiches and fluffy pancakes with buttermilk fried chicken. Wash down with a Bloody BLT – vodka, bacon and a jalapeño-pickled egg.
  3. Balthazar. The Oyster Marys at SoHo’s Balthazar are worth the entry price alone, but stick around for the divine eggs florentine and uber-comforting corned beef hash.
  4. The Garden @ The Standard. This East Village garden lets you tuck into oysters, steaks and mimosas in your own private yurt. There’s even an adult Easter egg hunt, with prizes including an overnight stay at The Standard. Ideal if you’ve overindulged in cocktails and chocolate eggs.
  5. Wynwood. For a family friendly option complete with epic brunch buffet, egg hunt and Easter bunny photo opportunities, make for Wynwood on Staten Island. Grateful grown-ups get a mimosa or bellini on arrival.

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New York in April

April is undoubtedly one of the best times to visit New York. Whilst the city isn’t exactly known for its balmy winters, millions make the expedition each year to experience its wonderful springtime. From beautiful gardens and parks to fantastic Easter celebrations, this place has it all. If you’re looking for some inspiration when it comes to planning a trip to the Big Apple, check out our list of the best things to do in the warmer months. To make your money go further, have a look at our Explorer Pass and All-Inclusive Pass. With Go City, you can see more, for less. Taste the City Music festivals provide an experience like no other. To grab a slice of the action, head down to the Brooklyn Folk Festival. True to its name, this event features the very best of American and world folk music across a wide variety of genres, including blues, bluegrass, Latin & Balkan music and much more. In addition, there are vocal and instrumental workshops, film screenings, and jam sessions to sink your teeth into. Ever dreamed of taking a sneak peek at the newest and most innovative automotive trends? Well, as it turns out, you can! The perfect activity for a somewhat disagreeable afternoon, the New York International Auto Show presents the very best that the automobile industry has to offer in a comprehensive and engaging way. A total car-lovers’ dream, this 10-day auto consumer extravaganza features everything from classics and luxury dream cars to new models and even futuristic concept vehicles, right in the heart of Manhattan. With almost 1,000 of the world’s most stunning vehicles on display, we promise you won’t leave bored! New York presents a wide variety of options when it comes to all things food. A total must for meat lovers, Brisket King is a culinary festival featuring 20 chefs and pitmasters serving up their best mouthwatering creations. Enjoy the juiciest brisket in Brooklyn prepared in every way thinkable as well as craft beer, hard cider and spirits. After the brisket king is crowned, guests are encouraged to stay for the after-party and – you guessed it – more food! Sounds pretty good to us. Soak up the Spring There’s no shortage of great outdoor attractions all over New York. Stretching through the Meatpacking District and along the West Side of Manhattan, the High Line is a linear park and popular city landmark, welcoming a whopping 8 million visitors each year. Perfect for a lazy springtime stroll, the structure was redesigned in 2006, and now serves as a living system for a wide variety of plants and animals. Go for a picnic, admire the majestic city skyline or sit back and enjoy the sunset – the choice is yours! Another one of our favorite places to see in the springtime is the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. Since first opening in 1937, the spot has become a favorite for visitors from all over the world and is now known as one of the most noteworthy public gardens in New York City. The garden is comprised of three areas, each with a specific design: the English-style South Garden, the French-style North Garden, and the Italianate Center Garden. April is the perfect time to amble through the winding pathways and admire the waterlily pools and stunning floral displays along the way. If you're travelling during Easter, you might want to check out the many egg hunts taking place around the city. At the beginning of the month, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan throws its own event with egg sculptures hidden throughout the institute. Another great option is the Rockefeller Center’s Inaugural Easter Egg Hunt with live musical performances, Easter bonnet making stations, prize giveaways, and more. Meanwhile, those who want to get in touch with their inner child should consider looking into Central Park’s Easter Egg Scavenger and History Hunt. Get Cultured For those rainy spring afternoons, it just makes sense to have a good backup plan. Eclectic and full of character, Chelsea Market is a great place to visit with friends and family. Located right in the center of the Meatpacking District, this fun attraction is known for its seriously tempting food hall, unique stores and live music performances. Grab a bite to eat, weave through the interesting stalls, and pick up some one-of-a-kind souvenirs for loved ones along the way. The market’s bohemian flair and laid-back atmosphere puts it in a class of its own. Those who are looking to celebrate Easter in style should definitely consider checking out the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival. Beginning as a spontaneous event in the 1870s, this fun annual procession began as a means for the city’s most fashionable dressers to exhibit their impressive festive finery. Though the event draws in smaller numbers nowadays, New Yorkers participate each year with great enthusiasm and increasingly outlandish costumes. Creative and eccentric, the event is a unique cultural expression of Easter which you won’t see elsewhere. Spring weather can be a little touch-and-go - still, New York presents a wide array of fantastic indoor activities right at your disposal all throughout the month. Those who are looking to soak up the culture of the city should consider checking out Tribeca Film Festival. Set up by Robert De Niro himself, this event was developed as a way to restore the Tribeca neighborhood of Lower Manhattan following the 9/11 attacks. The event attracts around 150,000 attendees each year and is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious film festivals in the area. Showcasing a diverse selection of feature films, short pictures, and documentary pieces, there’s a little something for everyone here. Those who are especially interested can also attend immersive programming and Q&As with relevant storytellers. New York in the spring is a beautiful time for many reasons. The weather is warm, the streets are bustling with life, and the city is in full bloom! But the best part? No matter where your interests may lie, you’ll always be able to find fun things to do. From cherry blossom peeping at the Conservatory Garden to seriously tempting food festivals in Brooklyn, there are so many great things to do in the city for every type of traveller! Make the most out of your visit with our All-Inclusive pass and Explorer pass. For more information, check us out on Instagram and Facebook.
Sarah Harris

New York City Marathon 2019 Guide

The TCS New York City Marathon is an annual race held each November in NYC. It is arguably the second-most famous marathon in the United States, after the one and only Boston Marathon. It attracts tens of thousands of runners each year, making it the largest marathon in the world by the number of runners. It’s also one of the six World Marathon Majors, so it’s among the most prestigious races in the entire world. It’s been held every year since 1970, except for 2012 when it was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy. If you’re planning to come to NYC to run the New York City Marathon, coming to cheer for a friend, or just hoping to see a bit of the race during your visit, check out this complete guide to the NYC Marathon. When is the New York City Marathon? The New York City Marathon for this year will take place on November 3, 2019. It’s scheduled for a Sunday to minimize disruptions to commuting patterns as several streets will be closed for several hours. However, be aware that they will block off many streets, re-route buses, and temporarily close some subway stations. What is the New York City Marathon Course? One of the coolest and most unique things about the New York City Marathon is that its 26.2 miles purposefully encompass land in all five boroughs. It’s ideal for runners who want to sightsee while running, too! The course begins on Staten Island and finishes in Central Park. For a full course map and additional details, see the race website. Things to Know about the New York City Marathon For Runners... Runners will start in multiple waves throughout the morning, beginning with men’s professional wheelchair at 8:30 am and ending with Wave 4 at 11:00 am. While hand-held water and fuel belts are permitted, Camelbaks and other such gear are prohibited from the course. You’ll find water and refueling stations every mile from Mile 3 to Mile 25. There are mile-markers and clocks at every mile; the first 8 miles will be color-coded to correspond to your start corral color. Race day is race week! Check out the many events leading up to Sunday’s big event on the race website to make the most of your experience. The course will start to close after about 6.5 hours, with a sweep bus coming along each mile progressively. Runners are welcome to continue the race after this point but should be aware that the course will no longer be completely closed to traffic. For Spectators... There is no place for spectators at the start line or along the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge due to space constraints, so you’ll need to station yourselves along the course. The halfway point, Pulaski Bridge, is closed to spectators. Most fans wait on the Queens side for the runners to proceed past halfway. You will need Grandstand tickets to see the final few yards of the race around Central Park. For full info on the best spots to cheer on runners, see below. They do not allow spectators at the finish line. Meet your runner after the race at the Family Reunion zone on Central Park West between West 62nd and West 65th streets. There’s a party for spectators! At the New Balance Mile 16 Block Party, you can enjoy a DJ, live music, and much more. Because of the marathon’s expansive scope, portions of the city will be closed for several hours, some for the entire day. Check out the closures for more details. There are several prohibited items that spectators can’t bring to the course. Consult the website for full details. Best Spots to Watch Your Runner on the Course Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn (Miles 2-4) Fourth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue (Mile 8) Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Miles 10-13) Pulaski Bridge (Mile 13.1) New Balance Mile 16 Block Party (First Avenue at 62nd Street) First Avenue, Manhattan (Miles 16-18) East Harlem (Miles 18-20) Fifth Avenue, East 90th Street-East 105th Street (Miles 23-24) 67th Street on West Drive (Finish) How to Follow the Marathon Remotely If you’re unable to come to cheer your runner on in person, check out the official TCS New York City Marathon App to track your runner. There are also two digital screens on the course to which well-wishers can submit “Cheer Cards” for their runners to see when en route. As far as television goes, if you’re in NYC, you can watch the race live on ABC. Outside of the NY Metro area, it will be on ESPN2 and affiliated media properties. Save on Things to do After the Marathon If you’re in NYC to cheer on a runner at the New York City Marathon—or run it yourself!—you may be in search of things to do afterward. Check out the best things to do in NYC and save with the Go New York pass. Save up to 50% on combined admission and choose from nearly 100 different attractions, tours, cruises, and more. Share Your Adventure with Us Tag @GoCity or use the hashtag #GoCityPass in your vacation photos and we'll feature you on our page. Follow the Go City Instagram and Facebook pages for competitions, special offers, and events and inspiration for your chosen destination too!
Katie Sagal

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