A spring weekend in New York

/ Source: Special to msnbc.com

I love Paris in the Fall and Aspen in the Winter but nothing compares to New York City in the Spring. With over 8 million New Yorkers itching to get out of their apartments, the spring is the best time for a tourist to experience the Big Apple.

Bring the family or that special someone and explore the winding streets of the village or the hubbub of 42nd Street.  Below are my suggestions for things to do and places to see on a spring weekend in New York.           

Top of the Rock
Skip the line at the Empire State Building and head up to the 70th floor observation deck of Rockefeller Center known as the Top of the Rock.  After being closed to the public for 20 years, the refurbished observation deck offers 6 floors of exhibits, interactive displays and a 360 degree unobstructed view of New York City.  After experiencing it firsthand I think it should be everyone’s first stop in New York!

Central Park
Nothing is more special in New York than Central Park.  With over 843 acres of woods, water and paths, Central Park is a chance to escape from the excitement of the city.  For a romantic moment find your way over to the Bow Bridge or hire a horse drawn carriage from 59th street.  Don’t forget to take the kids to the carousel! 

Frozen Hot Chocolate?
After a long afternoon of walking around the streets of New York, nothing is better than a sweet treat.  Make your way over to East 60th Street and indulge in New York’s best dessert- the famous Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity III.  It’s worth the week at the gym it will take you to burn off the calories!

Saturday in the Market
A unique New York Experience is exploring the Union Square Green Market.  Stop by on a Saturday morning and sample local produce, buy some fresh flowers or treat yourself to a cookie.  If you like people watching Union Square is the place to be!  There are also many restaurants in the Union Square area with fantastic menus.  Make sure you request a table outside!

See it first!
Springtime in New York is a chance to see your favorite stars.  From April 25 to May 7 is the TriBeCa Film Festival.  The greatest thing about this festival is that tickets for opening nights and panel discussions are available to everyone.  If you’ve ever wanted to walk the red carpet this is your chance!  Go to www.tribecafilmfestival.org  for more information.

Be a Broadway Baby!
I truly believe that no trip to New York is complete without seeing at least one Broadway show.  Of course you can go the easy route and see classic shows like "Phantom of the Opera," "Beauty and the Beast," "Chicago" or "The Lion King," but if you check out some of the other shows on the Great White Way you just may fall in love with something new.  Below is my list of the top shows.

'Avenue Q'
Puppets and humans deal humorously with racism, sex and the miseries of life in New York in the Tony-winning musical.  By far one of the funniest shows -- if this is your type of humor. Tuesday through Sunday at the John Golden Theatre (252 W. 45th St.). Tickets: Telecharge, (800) 432-7250 or telecharge.com.

'Sweeney Todd'
This chilling musical about the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is presented in a new staging where the actors are also the musicians.  This production is by far one of the highlights of the Broadway season and I encourage you to see it.  With one of Steven Sondheim’s most beloved scores and hauntingly wonderful actors you will never look at a meat pie the same way.

Eugene O’Neill Theatre (230 W. 49th Street). Telecharge.

'Wicked'
The untold story of the Witches of Oz.  If you are a Wizard of Oz fan, you must check it out.  Though it’s had mixed reviews, I say if you can get a ticket, go for it. Tuesday through Sunday at the Gershwin Theatre (222 W. 51st Street). Ticketmaster.

'Jersey Boys'
Based on the story of Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons this new musical is a winner!  From parents reliving their youth to children discovering new music this show is great for the whole family.

August Wilson Theatre (245 W. 52nd Street). Telecharge.

'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels'
Based on the 1988 film of the same name about two con men trying to scam a gorgeous blonde. The songs might not be memorable but with fantastic performances and a great story the show is a winner. Tuesday through Sunday at the Imperial Theatre (249 W. 45th St.). Telecharge.

'The Producers'
Mel Brooks’ musical, based on his movie about two theatrical producers who try to make a flop, is rich with laugh-out-loud songs, sets and costumes.  (Yes, even the costumes are funny!) Having won the most Tony Awards ever in a single year, this is a sure bet for a fantastic show.  Tuesday through Sunday at the St. James Theatre (246 W. 44th St.). Telecharge.

'Hairspray'
This fluffy musical about a heavy girl becoming a TV dance star offers a dose of campy fun. Tuesday through Sunday at the Neil Simon Theatre (250 W. 52nd St.). Ticketmaster.

Tickets available via Telecharge.

'Mamma Mia!'
This show -- about a young girl’s wedding, and her desire to figure out who her father is -- will have you dancing in the aisles, literally. Not much plot, but a good family pick nonetheless.  Wednesday through Sunday at the Winter Garden Theatre (1634 Broadway). Telecharge.

'Tarzan'
Swinging into the Broadway stage is Tarzan.  Disney makes magic again with this high flying musical about the boy raised by apes who meets Jane. Based on the other success of the other Disney musicals - this show will be around for a long time.

Richard Rodgers Theater (226 W. 46th Street). Ticketmaster.

'The Color Purple'
Based on the book by Alice Walker and the movie by Steven Spielberg this musical -- which has the support of Oprah Winfrey -- has a score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel and the blues.  A story of hope and the healing power of love, you will leave the theater with a new sense of being!

The Broadway Theatre (1681 Broadway @ 53rd Street). Telecharge.