NYC expert shares tips on what to do in the city this week

Big Apple Greeter Jo Murray often takes her

Big Apple Greeter Jo Murray often takes her daughter, Diana, 7, along with her on her NYC excursions. (Credit: Courtesy of Jo Murray )

Jo Murray, 44, of Marble Hill, has been a Big Apple Greeter since 1996, showing visitors often overlooked parts of our city. Murray took a beak from escorting outsiders around to give residents some tips on how to enjoy NYC in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Q What do we feel like doing this week?

A A lot of people are Christmased out. You can see that great gingerbread house extravaganza at the Parker Meridien Hotel – it’s up until Jan. 3 – but a lot of people don’t want to see another gingerbread house or decorated tree. Ice skating often gets short changed, though: If you have your own skates and bring your own combination lock, you can skate for free at Bryant Park. The lockers are free if you bring your own lock. You can also rent skates for $14 and use the bag check for $7 or $9. The ice is pretty good and cleaned frequently, and while it may seem crowded, it’s not as crowded as Rockefeller Center. There’s a new ice rink at Battery Park City and another one at 242nd St. and Broadway in Van Cortlandt Park. They’re not free, though.

Q Any overlooked passions we should indulge?

A I’m a carousel fan. And if you haven’t been to Jane’s Carousel in Dumbo, you should go! For $2 you get a ride in a restored, early 20th Century carousel – and it’s not cold. There’s also a small one in Bryant Park, just south of the ice rink.

Q Public transportation fans have a lot of options this season.

A The subways aren’t as crowded this week because so many people are off work. So you can go see the 11th annual Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Station celebrating Grand Central Terminal’s 100th birthday. It’s up until Feb. 10 and by the station master’s office near track 38 and it’s free! It’s a branch of the New York Transit Museum on Hoyt and Schermerhorn in Brooklyn. They’ve got great programs for kids (including a subway safari and miles of tiles program referencing subway mosaics) including special programs for kids on the autistic spectrum. The Enid A. Haupt conservatory at the Bronx Botanical Garden also has a holiday train show.

Q How can we use this week to prepare for what awaits in 2013?

A This is the perfect week for cleaning out all your closets and taking the gently used things that you don’t use to Housing Works or Goodwill for a 2012 tax deduction. You can also organize all your receipts so taxes won’t be so time consuming once your W2s arrive. A lot of people like to open their windows for Spring cleaning. If the weather is warm enough, I guess you can do that!

Q Any great museum shows?

A There are always so many good exhibits around it’s hard to choose. I just took my daughter to The Met to see “Extravagant Inventions.” The Museum of Mathematics just opened (Dec. 15) at 11 Ea. 26th St., so you can be among the first to check that out. And the Seaport Museum just reopened with a printers shop exhibit, so it would be nice to go down and support that area, that was so hard hit by Sandy. Zoos are good, but they’re cold. And the New York Aquarium, which got hit really hard by the storm, is closed until further notice.

Q Any must see movies?

A There are still a lot of little movie theaters in NYC that need to be supported: The Film Forum, the Angelika, Sunshine Cinemas, Lincoln Plaza. Support a local movie theater. Support an independent book store! Explore a neighborhood you’ve never been to!

Q What about people who feel they need to recover from all that happened in 2012?

A Spa Castle in College Point is mobbed on the weekends, so the weekdays might be a good time to go!

Q Anything else?

A It’s always good for families to get together for more things than just opening gifts. Take a little breather and see the families and friends you love. Spend time with that aunt you don’t get to see very often.

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