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picture of Big Ben in winter Big Ben on a snowy London Day

There’s nothing quite like seeing the joy in children’s faces as they frolic in the snow. Of course, wintertime cannot be entirely devoted to those white flakes. The answer? London. Centuries of history spread out across 3 districts offer countless activities for you and your family during the winter season. Some of these activities take advantage of snowfall, while others are best for chilly days where you cannot bear to be anywhere besides indoors. Here is a list of our favorite things to do for families in the wintertime.

1. Visit the city’s museums

Image of the Natural History Museum The National History Museum is just as famous for its architecture as it is for its exhibits

The metropolis of London is not short on museums, many featuring priceless artifacts! For marine fanatics, the HMS Belfast stores nine decks worth of history, from the ship’s mechanics to the ways in which sailors lived aboard the vessel. Want to know more about London’s iconic double-decker buses and black taxis? You’re in luck: The London Transport Museum seeks to educate the masses on the importance of London’s public transportation system. The National History Museum, one of London’s most prominent galleries, boasts exhibits dedicated to geology, ecology, zoology, paleontology as well as a wildlife garden. (And don’t miss the most complete Stegosaurus known to humankind.) For astronomy, engineering, and medicine, the Science Museum cannot be matched. A day of kitschy fun can be found at Madame Tussauds, where you and the kids can pose with the lifelike wax figurines of your favorite celebrities! And for the child in all of us (or the children in your party), there’s the V&A Museum of Childhood, which displays toys and other playthings as a testament to the boundless imagination of kids. South Kensington is home to many other museums; check out our guide to the district here. Read the entire story here…»

 

Photo of Eiffel Tower under the snow Exploring the Eiffel Tower in the snow is magical

Often when we think of winter activities for kids we think of Christmas – visiting Santa and baking cookies – but what is there to do once all the Christmas decorations are down and the presents are unwrapped? Contrary to popular belief, there are lots of things to do with your family for a winter holiday vacation well after the holiday season has drawn to a close. This is especially true in Paris, where wintertime is a season of bustling activity! Although there is no shortage of kid-friendly activities in the City of Lights, these are a few of the ones we think are the best.

1. Go Ice Skating

The ice skating rink outside the Hotel de Ville. Ice Skating in front of City Hall? Don’t mind if we do.

Unlike in the United States, many of the city’s winter ice skating rinks stay open for weeks and months after the holidays. Popular indoor skating centers include the Patinoire Pailleron and the Patinoire Sonja Henie. However, the most famous and popular of all ice rinks in Paris is hands down the Patinoire de L’Hôtel de Ville, the ice rink in front of City Hall. Be sure to admire the surrounding architecture, as much of Paris was redesigned in the late nineteen hundreds in the Haussman style. In fact, that’s part of why Paris has so many stairs! Read the entire story here…»

 

Image of brownstone steps Central Harlem’s rich history means it is home to the traditional brownstone apartment

Welcome to Central Harlem:

Perhaps no neighborhood in New York can match Harlem for its artistic and cultural output, thanks to the works of its African-American community. The Cotton Club at 142nd and Lenox made icons of bandleader/composer Duke Ellington and singer Lena Horne; activist Marcus Garvey is immortalized by the eponymous park; and famous residents have included the likes of Maya Angelou and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Central Harlem is north of Central Park, south of the Harlem River, west of 5th Avenue and Harlem River Drive, and east of Morningside Park and Edgecombe Avenue (guide to the neighboring districts of Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights here). Although an area of historical significance for centuries (the Continental Army successfully prevented the British from invading New York during the American Revolution), Harlem became world-famous thanks to the period known as the Harlem Renaissance. The era, linked to the 1920s, witnessed an explosion of literature and the arts from the district’s black population. Read the entire story here…»

 

Photo of people rallying against illegal hotels in front of New York’s City Hall People rally outside of New York City Hall to protest against illegal hotels in the city. William Alatriste, New York City Council

On January 20th 2015, the New York City Council conducted a hearing on short term rentals and the legislation affecting them. This controversy affects all New Yorkers, since illegal rentals can result in safety and noise concerns, as well as overcrowding and a decrease in building services, not to mention eviction of the leaseholder and their guests. New York Habitat attended the hearing, since the agency actively monitors the status of laws affecting apartment rentals in order to provide the most reliable service possible to clients.

Changes are coming to the way the city deters illegal rental activity, which will have a large effect on city residents and tourists alike. Therefore, it is important for all New Yorkers and their guests to understand the controversy and outcome of the hearing.

What is the status of short term rentals in New York as of January 2015?

Image of the facade of New York City Hall in Manhattan New York City Hall in Lower Manhattan

New York property laws set the length of time and manner in which a unit can be lawfully rented, and limit the conversion of units from permanent residences into transient hotels. These regulations were put in place in order to protect the safety, privacy, and quality of life for residents and tourists alike, as well as to curb the city’s affordable housing shortage. Read the entire story here…»

 

Canary Wharf is to London what Lower Manhattan is to New York – a financial powerhouse characterized by towering skyscrapers and finely pressed suits. Global banks and media houses attract some 100,000 workers daily. It is actually one of two main financial centers, sharing the title with the City of London. (See our video tour of the City of London here.) In fact, the second tallest building in the UK, One Canada Square, calls Canary Wharf home. Canary Wharf has historical roots in shipping, and for 160 years was one of the busiest docks in the world. The docks were finally closed in 1981 after the port industry began to decline. Its current iteration is the vision of Michael von Clemm who first came up with the idea to convert Canary Wharf into a bank office and business district in the late 1980’s. As one of the poshest districts in town, be sure you’re caught up on our basic tips for London etiquette.

Canary Wharf and London from above Canary Wharf in London on the horizon of the Thames

Located on a little peninsula along the north of the River Thames, Canary Wharf and Docklands can be found in the east of London on the Isle of Dogs. Its northern borders stretch from Limehouse in the west to London City Airport in the east. For information on what else is in the area check out our video tour of Hackney and the East End. This article will discuss the places in Canary Wharf and Docklands mentioned in the video, including Cabot Square, the West India Quay, the Thames Barrier, Island Gardens, and the Greenwich foot tunnel. Read the entire story here…»

 

Image of Central Park in winter Central Park looks beautiful in any season, but the winter snow makes it extra idyllic

New York may be a city of millions that seems perpetually catered toward the young twenty something demographic, but that is an egregious oversight. There are plenty of reasons why people of all ages enjoy the benefits of being a New Yorker (or at least a temporary one). Lest you think the best hotspots are trendy bars and clubs, remember that New York’s best sights and activities are classics, whether it’s a spirited jaunt around a skating rink or a sampling of hot chocolate. Best of all, these activities are perfect for each member of your party! Here are some of our favorite family-friendly activities for wintertime in New York! (Don’t forget activities you can do with your family all year round, or activities for rainy days in New York City!)

1. Ice Skating

Image of Central Park’s ice skating rink Many people come to Central Park in the wintertime just to glide across its famous rink

A classic wintry day on the town, children love to glide (though you can expect more slipping and sliding from novices) across smooth ice.

  • The best rink combines wide skating space with a scenic view. Perennial favorites include the rinks at Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center (which are surrounded by loads of shopping and dining opportunities) as well as the open greeneries of Central Park and Lakeside at Prospect Park. (Why stop there for Central Park? Explore more of the parkland with our helpful guide to Central Park). Read the entire story here…»
 

Welcome to one of London’s best-kept secrets – the East End! In this video tour we’ll show you a glimpse of all that this thriving neighborhood has to offer, including a bit of the history, culture, and of course the local hot spots. Starting as a series of villages outside of the City of London, local docks brought high demand for workers and with them the seed of urban development. This has blossomed in the last few decades, making London’s East End and the greater neighborhood of Hackney a haven for art and culture.

Canal in the East End Take a walk along one of the East End’s many canals

The East End can be found (understandably) in the eastern section of London. It’s bordered by Bishopsgate to the west, the River Thames in the south, the River Lea in the east, and Regent’s Canal in the north. This article will discuss the places mentioned in the video, including Shoreditch, Hockston, and Spitalfields. Not sure how your London street smarts compare? Our tips and etiquette guide for visitors might help you out. Read the entire story here…»

 

Image of Williamsburg, Brooklyn Overlooking the East River, Williamsburg is a hip neighborhood and full of vitality

Brooklyn has always marched to the beat of its own drum, with a rich array of cultural enclaves, artistic and architectural triumphs and outdoor attractions separate from its New York siblings. (Check out this Brooklyn guide for further proof.) Recent years, however, have intensified the borough’s popularity. Although the neighborhood of Williamsburg has existed since the early 19th century, the past decade has made it the poster child for Brooklyn’s widespread recognition.

Welcome to Williamsburg, in Brooklyn

Williamsburg lies in the westernmost area of Brooklyn. It is situated north of Bedford-Stuyvesant, south of Greenpoint, west of Bushwick, and east of the East River. Originally an industrial epicenter, Williamsburg is now associated with the hipster and indie music scenes. Like much of Manhattan, the borough abounds with celebrities, from current residents like actors Ed Westwick and Zoe Kravitz to those born or raised in the neighborhood pre-reinvention, like author Henry Miller, award-winning star Barbra Streisand, and singer Barry Manilow.

Williamsburg’s proximity to Manhattan makes it an attractive option for anyone living in the city. The Williamsburg Bridge connects the Brooklyn district to the Lower East Side of Manhattan (discover our neighborhood guide of the Lower East Side) while multiple subway lines run underneath the neighborhood. When staying in New York City, don’t rule out the outer boroughs – Williamsburg might just be the perfect fit for you! Read the entire story here…»

 

Empire State building skyline sunset The sun sets behind New York and the Empire State Building

Congratulations, you’ve made it to New York City, the largest city in America and the center of art, business, and culture. Your days are jam-packed dawn till dusk with exciting activities and your nights are a blur of lights and Broadway shows. But if you haven’t yet planned to visit these great places to watch the sunset, you’re missing out! From New Jersey to Queens and Harlem to Wall Street, these five places are the absolute best spots to watch the sunset in the city that never sleeps.

1. Hudson River Park

One world trade center sunset See the sunset light up the One World Trade Center

Stretching all the way from 59th Street to Battery Park, Hudson River Park is the second-largest park in Manhattan. One of its most defining features is its five mile long bike and running path, and the free kayaking at Pier 40 is always a crowd favorite. It’s a great place to do yoga or just meditate on the meaning of life. But if you come for the attractions you’ll stay for the view – you can see all of Jersey City and the Statue of Liberty from any point in the park. Of course, if you really want a view you should check out these apartments with a great view of New York. Read the entire story here…»

 

Holiday greetings from New York Habitat Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year from New York Habitat!

It’s that time of the year again! The streets of New York are filled with shoppers looking for the perfect Christmas gift, Paris’ Champs Élysées look better than ever with all these Holiday lights, ice-skating rinks are popping up all around London and villages in Southern France are filled with traditional holiday markets!

Our entire team wishes you all Happy Holidays! May your new year be successful, prosperous and healthy!