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3 Ways to escape NYC without leaving the city


Every New Yorker has a love-hate relationship with the Big Apple. And there's a breaking point when the daily city grind becomes unbearable. Here are three ways to escape the city this winter — without actually leaving it.

Family-friendly winter wonderland:

The 250-acre New York Botanical Garden in wintertime
Source: New York Botanical Garden

It may seem counter-intuitive to visit a garden during wintertime, but at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), it's actually their busiest time of the year.

"At winter, you see the grandeur of this place. You understand the size, majesty and age. You don't see as many buildings, don't hear as much traffic, and you really feel as if you've escaped," according to Todd Forrest, Head of Horticulture at NYBG who's been with the Garden for 18 years.

The Garden's 250-acres transforms into a winter wonderland and at the conservatory, the annual Holiday Train Show rolls into town, featuring over 100 replicas of New York landmarks made from organic plant material such as twigs, fruit and seeds.

"The hours just melt away at the Gardens. It's really a full day escape — come see the train show, and then go visit the rainforest and desert galleries," Forrest said, "There's a tram that takes you around the entire landscape. Then you can walk through the wood-chip trails in the forest for miles and commune with nature."

If you're thinking luxury:

The Hickory Wood Sachet is served with Prosciutto & Ricotta Crostini with hickory smoked cranberries, and a hickory old fashioned.
Source: Royalton New York

Book a fireside stay at the Royalton New York. The midtown boutique hotel boasts 55 wood-burning fireplaces in its guest rooms, the most of any hotel in the city.

Royalton is taking it to the next level by incorporating the talents of their bar and culinary team. Choose from 5 wood types that are paired with a menu of small plates and cocktails that were created to complement each wood scent. You'll get your own 'fireplace butler' who handles the set-up and clean-up.

"Being able to just get out of the apartment and to have that level of service really differentiates this program from anything else that's available," according to Bryan Woody, General Manager at Royalton New York.

Woody suggests going with the hickory fireplace, which is paired with a small plate of prosciutto and ricotta crostini topped with hickory smoked cranberries, burnt honey and greens. It also comes with a hickory old fashioned, with charred hickory-infused bourbon, maple whiskey, Applejack and honey water.

For an all-day pamper affair:

There's a handful of all-day spas in New York where you can let out steam and melt away any city-induced stress. At these all-day spas, you'll get the bang for your buck without worrying about over-staying your welcome.

Check out the Great Jones Spa — if you book one treatment, access to the spa's wet lounge (including a hot tub, plunge pool and sauna) is free. Or book a holiday getaway to the mother of all spas — Spa Castle. Admission to the four-floor bathhouse is $40 on weekdays or $50 on weekends and includes entry to indoor & outdoor pools, hot tubs, saunas and free wifi.