But New York at Christmas is a whole different story. It's even more rammed than Primark on a Saturday afternoon, it's bloody freezing, the picture perfect Christmas trees are surrounded by festival style crowds and the queue for the ferry is three hours long.
So, if you're heading off to the States this Christmas, here's our been-there-done-that advice to help you through the experience...
1. Don't go to Rockefeller Centre at Christmas
You know that scene in Home Alone 2 when little Kevin runs up to the giant tree at Rockefeller Centre to pray for his mum? Looks good right? Well, it is, it's wonderful, but no one warns you about the thousands of people who pile onto the ice rink, skating like sardines in a can. If you can get close enough to take a good picture of the tree, we applaud you.
2. Don't walk in Central Park
In the daytime, stroll to your heart's content. But as soon as you hit 4pm every New Yorker with a smidgen of sense vacates the park like it's contagious. Why? Because it's a popular hang-out for drug dealers, gang members and prostitutes according to the horse and cart driver who trotted us round the park.
3. Don't get angry when someone pushes past you
Imagine a thousand people are trying to get on the last bus home...that's pretty much what the main Avenue's of New York are like at Christmas time. When we we're there the NYPD (the boys in blue) were using yellow crime tape to stop people from walking in the gutters. No joke.
4. Don't go and see Lady Liberty
Yes she's lovely (and not as massive as your might think) but she's also incredibly popular with the tourists. We queued for three hours in freezing temperatures to get on a packed ferry, circled the statue twice and returned to port. You decide for yourself if it's worth it.
5. Don't forget your thermal underwear
Unless you're blood runs cold, we recommend warm clothes. It was -14°C when we were there so you've been warned!
So, what should you do in NYC at Christmas? Here are our top tips...
- Book everything in advance online and invest in fast track tickets to drastically cut short your queue time.
- Explore uptown, Greenwich village and Chelsea before hitting midtown (where most of the tourists congregate).
- Avoid the big department stores and focus your shopping efforts on smaller stores away from 5th Avenue.
- Don't take taxis unless you want to be stuck in traffic for hours. Make the most of the subway or walk.
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