NEW YORK – On a dark December night, a canopy of lights glitters across Lower Manhattan, and not just from One World Trade and the other downtown skyscrapers. The neighborhood sparkles with new attractions, from the otherworldly glow of the SeaGlass carousel in Battery Park to a colorful, choreographed light show called Luminaries at the Winter Garden.
You'll also find upscale shopping, outdoor art, 22 hotels and many dining options. Here are some details.
The SeaGlass Carousel is unlike any merry-go-round you've ever ridden. No toothy wooden horses and vintage organ music here. Instead, the glowing, pastel seats are shaped like seashells that spin and weave while a soaring, dreamlike soundtrack plays. The attraction is located in Battery Park at the tip of Lower Manhattan, a short walk from the boats to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The Staten Island Ferry terminal is nearby as well, with free trips across New York Harbor 24 hours a day. The carousel is open Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, Saturday and holidays until 10 p.m., $5 a ride, http://www.seaglasscarousel.nyc/ .
Not far from the carousel heading west along the waterfront is Pier A Harbor House, a landmark building that dates to 1886. It now houses several dining options, with lovely views of the water on one side and on the other side, the skyscraper canyons of the financial district — increasingly known as FiDi — highlighted by One World Trade. Menus range from fun pub fare to oysters, lobster and other seafood; 22 Battery Place, http://www.piera.com . A plaza surrounding the building entrance is dotted with 12 large, colorful Cool Globes. The globes are a public art installation on view until April, designed to raise awareness about global warming.
WORLD FINANCIAL CENTER/BROOKFIELD PLACE/WINTER GARDEN
This building just west of One World Trade on the Hudson River offers shopping, food and a respite from the hustle and bustle of the streets outside. Enter at Brookfield Place, 200 Vesey St., http://brookfieldplaceny.com/ , and check out the upscale retailers, from Gucci and Ferragamo to Diane von Furstenberg and Michael Kors. Then make your way to the Winter Garden, a vaulted glass atrium 10 stories high, with lots of places to sit. It's a nice place to catch your breath, with an atmosphere that manages to feel simultaneously serene and vibrant. New for the holiday season is Luminaries, a free, colorful, hypnotic light installation that bathes the atrium in a choreographed palette of moody blues, lavenders and other hues from 650 hanging lanterns, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. through Jan. 10, http://brookfieldplaceny.com/events/luminaries .
Also onsite is Le District, http://ledistrict.com/ , a French food hall where you'll find crepes, coffee, cheese, sandwiches, fresh produce, flowers and more. And until Dec. 15, just outside Brookfield on the waterfront is a free interactive exhibit called the Museum of Feelings, billed as a "mood ring of the city" that changes colors based on visitors' emotions; Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sundays until 7 p.m., http://www.museumoffeelings.com . Be prepared for long lines to enter the museum.
ONE WORLD TRADE
A visit to the serene and moving 9/11 Memorial park adjacent to One World Trade is a must for any trip to New York City. Other options for visitors include the 9/11 museum and the tower observatory.
But even if you're just admiring the sparkling, soaring skyscraper from a distance, it's worth remembering how the area has been transformed in 14 years from the smoking wreckage of the destroyed twin towers to a vibrant, beautiful neighborhood that lights up the tip of Manhattan.