Wise Blue Yonder


December, 2023

USA | New York, New York

Christmas in New York: Navigating NYC With Limited Mobility

Christmas in New York. It’s magical. Window displays adorn the shops of Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf’s and Times Square. Rockefeller Center hosts the iconic Christmas Tree as skaters skate in the famous plaza rink. Pedicabs decorate their cabs with lights and tinsel. As a lover of all things Christmas, the vibe makes my soul smile and my heart happy. Even the grinchiest of grinches can’t help but catch the Christmas Spirit in the Big Apple.

New York City touts itself as one of the most accessible cities in the world. While I whole-heartedly concur they have made great strides in making the city more accessible, if you choose to visit NYC with limited mobility or accessibility challenges, pack your patience pants. It can absolutely be done, but it is not always easy.

The first week of December I traveled with a dear friend to the City That Never Sleeps, for a girls’ getaway and to collect some fodder for December’s Wise Blue Yonder blog and newsletter. Here are the highlights:

Our Itinerary

  • Day One – Michelin Magic: A Foodie’s Dream

  • • Flight from MSP to JFK airport
  • • Cab to Aliz Hotel in Times Square (perfect location, accessible, nice rooms)
  • • Hotel check-in and settling in
  • • Dinner at Per Se, a Michelin Star restaurant located on the top floor of the Shops at Columbus Circle (a true once-in-a-lifetime experience)
  • • A nightcap at Dear Irving on Hudson Rooftop Bar (nice vibe, great cocktails, in our hotel, gets busy)
  • Day Two – Dinner and a Show in Rockefeller Plaza 

  • Rockefeller Center
  • • Dinner at Le Rock (location is swanky, food and service mediocre)
  • • The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall (entertaining & impressive)
  • • After-show drinks at Rockefeller Center Jupiter (right on the Rockefeller Ice Rink, closes at 10!)
  • Day Three – All Things Harry Potter

  • Junior’s Diner (great NYC diner food, service and vibe)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Lyric Theatre (SO good!)
  • • Harry Pottery store, NYC (Butter beer + Muggles + Magic)
  • • The Russian Tea Room (Food, meh. Scene, iconic)
  • • After dinner drinks at Bouqueria Spanish bar (close to our hotel)

For a downloadable itinerary that maps out a fully accessible trip plus special pro tips, subscribe to our premium content, or request a single download for $9.95 at info@wiseblueyonder.com

Six Tips for Navigating New York City with Limited Mobility and Limited Walking

In the meantime, enjoy these six vetted tips and tricks for navigating NYC with limited walking and mobility, courtesy of Wise Blue Yonder. (If you like this, sign up for our newsletter, we get absolutely giddy about our growing subscribers!)

  1. TIP ONE: Request a wheelchair at JFK airport. The airport is very, very large! Conserve walking for the activities you really want to do and leverage the TSA service for assistance. I chose to walk when we arrived at JFK and the walk to baggage claim from our gate was over a mile. When we returned home, I requested assistance, and it was wonderful! I was whisked through security and conveniently deposited at the Delta Sky Club, which was only a few steps away from my departing gate. My friend appreciated it too, because she didn’t have to assist with luggage or walk slooowwwwly (and painfully) with me after 4 busy days navigating NYC
  2. .
  3. TIP TWO: Rent or bring a scooter or wheelchair. Even if you are ambulatory with limited walking, there is SO. MUCH. WALKING! I wished I had rented a scooter so we could have done more with less time and I wouldn’t have been so sore in the evenings and mornings. The streets are crazy busy, but we saw scooters navigating just as well as all the walkers.

  • TIP THREE: Indulge in a pedicab! After a particularly bad experience with a cab driver who got fed up with traffic and told us to get out of his cab while en route to Rockefeller Center, we surrendered to one of the pedicab drivers soliciting us for business. It was lovely! We went through Times Square enjoying the lights and Christmas cheer and made it back to our hotel in 11 minutes versus the 30+ minutes it would have taken via a car. We traveled about 2 miles, and the cost was $6 a minute plus tip.
  • TIP FOUR: Allow for extra time – always! It always took us at least 15 minutes (usually more like 30 minutes) to get where we were trying to go. Allow plenty of time to get to and from your planned activities. We planned one big activity a day and then worked other fun things into our agenda depending on the time and energy we had available.
  • TIP FIVE: Download Curb. Curb is an app that allows you to request cabs as well as ubers and lyfts for short-term trips. They also allow you to request accessible vehicles for scooters and wheelchairs, and they assist you getting in and out of the vehicle if needed.
  • We do not recommend taking the subway, while the New York Transit Authority touts accessible subway experiences, we still found several stations with nonworking escalators and elevators and very long walks once we arrived where we needed to be. We have read from other accessible travel influencers, such as Jennifer Allen of Wonders Within Reach, that the bus system offers a much better experience, but we did not use a bus during our visit.
  • TIP SIX: Go to the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! Not only was the play fantastic, it was SO accessible! Wheelchairs and scooters should enter at the 42nd Street entrance. Once you arrive, they have elevators to all floors, very friendly and helpful staff, and a restroom reserved for disabled and mobility-impaired patrons. Coolest of all, we scanned our seat QR code and they brought beverages and snacks right to our seats at no additional charge! (Bonus: we also received a free chocolate frog with every order)


There are so many more tips to share about our experience in NYC. If you would like the fully vetted itinerary, Click here to sign up for the pre-release itinerary subscription services. For our only $2.95 per month, you’ll unlock access to a library of growing itineraries, vetted guides and special discounts. And, during the pre-release phase, we will personally email you a downloadable itinerary, Christmas in New York: Navigating New York City with Limited Walking

 This itinerary contains:

  • •  Exclusive insider travel tips specific to NYC venues, including Times Square, the Theatre District,
  • •  Inside tips and links for visiting the Harry Potter store and booking tickets to Harry Potter The Cursed Child play
  • •  Links to book our recommended hotels and restaurants
  • • Price ranges for budgeting
  • • Helpful links and more!

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