Day 5: Herald Square and the Empire State Building
Our last stop was Herald Square. The flagship Macy's department store had an elaborate holiday display that put a sort of whiz-bang mad scientist twist to the season. But Macy's wasn't our goal, the Empire State Building was, and so we headed down 34th street to find the entrance.
Getting up to the observation deck on the 86th floor is a bit like queuing for a ride at Disneyland. No, it doesn't have animatronic tableaux or cheesy music, but there are maze-like paths roped off to follow (fortunately pretty empty Sunday morning), and you are offered additional opportunities to spend your money seemingly at every turn. I wanted to carry a sign that said: no, I don't want buy a special map, or rent the audio tour, or watch the NYC virtual tour, or have a photo taken in front of a green screen (with the backdrop added in later), or buy some expensive souveniers.
We did eventually get up to the top without emptying our wallets, and the view was spectacular. I didn't stay outside that long, though, because the temperature was frigid - and on the south side of the building the winds were fierce.
A fitting end to our trip to NYC!