I can’t think of a US city that feels more like Christmas to me than New York City. With its electricity and excitement, NYC puts on a great holiday show, so I was thrilled to visit it last weekend. Here is why I love to visit NYC at Christmas time!
We started our day in the heart of the tourist area in Rockefeller Center. It is least crowded in the mornings, so head out early. The decorations are divine and you can stop, like we did, at the wonderful Magnolia Bakery where the Snickers Refrigerator Cake is chocolaty, rich and delicious. Their banana pudding is the stuff of legends. We got our sweets, sat on the parade and watched the decor and people. In the past, we have ice skated here, which everyone should do once. It is very festive, alive with holiday music, but expect to wait unless you book a lesson, which has an appointed time. There is a Lego Store here, which my kids love, and a Metropolitan Museum of Art Store which is lovely to meander through. All of the great decorations to see are within walking distance of here, so we spent some time meandering up the streets to see all the sculptures, lights and decorated trees. Be sure to walk up Fifth Avenue to see the great store fronts and I always love to drop by St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Also, walk down to 34th Street to check out Macy’s Department Store with the iconic Miracle on 34th Street windows.
We then went to Times Square which is full of bright lights and characters of all sorts on every block. It is always one of the busiest parts of the city, but a place my kids always want to visit because they love the M&M Store, which is the most visited store in the world. Right near this area is the famous Broadway where we lucked out getting great tickets to Aladdin: The Musical at the New Amsterdam Theater box office, which was so very good. You can stop by the TKTS kiosk in the middle of Times Square to try to score some discounted same day show tickets. Since Aladdin is so in demand, we bought our tickets at the box office same day and were really lucky that they had great seats available. Here is my complete review of Aladdin: The Musical.
The crowds were noticeably thin for a beautiful, almost sixty degree holiday season weekend. We spoke to some local business people who said following the Paris bombings people had been cancelling their planned trips into the city. We have been visiting NYC during the holidays yearly and have never seen it so relatively quiet. It made me sad that this world is not a peaceful place and that tourists are choosing to let that deter them from their plans, but then a couple of things happened which lifted my heart. My friend’s daughter forgot her gloves and a lovely man on one of the ubiquitous carts selling hats and gloves gave her a free pair off his cart and spent time having a nice chat with my son. Another time in the night, my ATM card wasn’t working, so I didn’t have any cash and an Arabic food cart vendor offered to give my son anything he wanted to eat off his cart free. Those who depend on tourism for their livelihoods must feel the pinch of terrorism and it was beautiful to see their kindness and the wonderful side of humanity shine.
In the past, we had skated in Rockefeller Center, so we wanted to use today to ice skate in Central Park. Although it is very festive to skate at night, all the city’s rinks are least busy in the morning hours. There is also a nice free rink in the market in Bryant Park.
I always love Central Park. It is so lovely with its winding bike paths and walking trails going through its hills. There are plenty of rocks to climb on or lay on for hours, taking in all the trees with the backdrop of the city. It is a splurge, but taking a carriage ride through the park is iconic and charming and will give a chance to see most of the park.
It is always a nice idea to leave Manhattan and experience the other boroughs. Brooklyn is said to be all dressed up for the holidays as well. Check out Christmas Lights in Brooklyn from Just Go Places for ideas on where to visit.
The Ride- Holiday Edition
If you want to see the City without all the walking and out of the cold, check out my review of The Ride which does a wonderful holiday tour.
Where I stay
Over the last few years I have stayed at and loved these hotels:
Our large room which had a large desk, microwave, refrigerator and coffee/tea maker. The rooms were large and clean, the staff very helpful and the room was very quiet. The only downside was that it was about a 15 minute walk from where the action was, but the peace was worth it. They had a cute happy hour with candy and we also had their breakfast buffet, which was a great way to start our day.
I have stayed here the last two times I have visited the City. The rooms are New York City small, but it is perfectly located to explore for Christmas, just two blocks from Macy’s and 10 from Grand Central Terminal. The staff is fabulous.
I hope you have a great holiday season and enjoy NYC as much as we did. Where is your favorite city to experience the holiday season?
PS. This post contains affiliate links. If you use them to book a room, I make a commission at no cost to you. Cheers!