Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Things to do in New York City at Christmas

Brian and I have done a lot of traveling in our day, but my all-time favorite trip that we have ever taken was our trip to New York City in December.  It had always been a dream of mine to visit the city during Christmastime, and we made that happen for our five-year wedding anniversary back in 2012.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember my recaps about it last year, but if you are relatively new to the blog, you can see the recaps here, here, and here.

I enjoyed recapping this trip so much that I thought I would put together a complete list of all of the fun, festive things that we did while we were there, along with a few things that were on our list that we didn’t have time to do. 

O N E – Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Well, this is probably the number one thing people think of when they think of Christmas in New York, so this may be obvious, but it is the one thing that you definitely must do.  The sheer size will blow you away.  It’s definitely worth fighting the crowds to see!

T W O – Wollman Ice Skating Rink

One of my favorite Christmas movies of all-time, Serendipity, was partially filmed at Wollman Ice Skating Rink.  When standing along the ledge, you are treated to one of my favorite views in the entire city.  The day we went it was cold and cloudy and we were all bundled up for the blustery day.  It was NYC in winter perfection.

T H R E E – Dessert at Serendipity

Are you sensing a theme here?  Serendipity is the little restaurant where Sarah and Jonathan stop to have dessert the night they first meet.  In real life, this place is teeny tiny, extremely quirky, and the Frozen Hot Chocolate is totally worth the wait.  Do plan to stand in line for a while to get in, though.

F O U R – Shop at FAO Schwarz

It wouldn’t be Christmas without toys!!  FAO Schwarz in NYC is the oldest toy store in the entire country and it is also where Tom Hanks danced on the big piano in Big.  Classic and a must-see.

F I V E – Santa Land at Macy’s

This was one of the things on our to-do list that we never accomplished.  We did make our way to the top floor at Macy’s to see him, but we thought it would be open for all to see, and it was not.  We would have had to wait in line for a couple of hours just to get in and at that moment it wasn’t worth the wait for us.  If you do go, just be sure to schedule your visit ahead of time and you should be fine. 

S I X – Department Store Front Tour

Many of the department stores in NYC create very elaborate holiday storefronts.  Fortunately, the majority of them are on Fifth Avenue, so you can do a storefront tour pretty easily.  Some to see on the list:

Lord & Taylor
Saks Fifth Avenue (be sure to stay for their light show!)
Bergdorf Goodman
Harry Winston
Macy’s (you must see the Believe sign!)

S E V E N – The Nutcracker by The New York City Ballet

The Nutcracker is the quintessential Christmas play and you just cannot beat seeing it performed by the New York City Ballet.  Brian and I went when we were there and it was absolutely breathtaking.  It took me straight back to Christmas during my childhood and it was worth every penny.

E I G H T – Radio City Christmas Spectacular

This was another item on our list that we didn’t have time to do.  However, I hear it that it lives up to its name – spectacular – and apparently it is a must-see.  It’s already on my list for next time!

N I N E – Plaza Hotel

Christmas and Home Alone 2 go hand-in-hand just like fall and pumpkin spice.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that one of the greatest lines from that movie is “This is Peter McCallister, THE FAAAATHER.”  Well, you can see where it all began right there at the Plaza Hotel!  Now someone book a room and order a lovely cheese pizza… just for me!  (Another Home Alone quote for all you non-Home Alone fans)

T E N – Carriage Ride Through Central Park

Yes, it’s the ultimate in cheese, but this has always been on my bucket list.  We never had a chance to do it, but it’s definitely on the list for next time.  And if you don’t take the time to do the carriage ride, at least make some time to stroll through Central Park.  It is stunning this time of year.

E L E V E N – Winter Village at Bryant Park

Y’all, I have no earthly idea how we didn’t make it there on our last trip, but the pictures online make it look like the ultimate place to go during Christmastime in NYC.  Ice skating, plenty of quaint little shops, and loads of Christmas lights?  Well, sign me right up!

T W E L V E – Christmas Decorations on Sixth Avenue

Sixth Avenue is known for all of its elaborate Christmas decorations.  We had the privilege of seeing several of these while we were there in 2012, but there are some others we missed:

Giant nutcrackers (UBS Building between 52nd and 53rd Streets)
Giant Christmas balls (1251 Sixth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets)
Toy train of Rockefeller Center Station (1271 Sixth Avenue)
Radio City Music Hall Christmas trees (across the street from the toy train)
Giant Christmas lights (McGraw-Hill Building between 48th and 49th Streets)
Reindeer (News Corp. Building)

T H I R T E E N – Dinner at Rolf’s

This is one of the things that I just found out about fairly recently, but if I had known about it in 2012 you can bet we would have enjoyed dinner there.  Rolf’s is a German restaurant that is known for their insanely elaborate Christmas decorations.  You are literally surrounded by thousands of lights and decorations everywhere you turn.  If you don’t believe me, just check out Google images.  It, too, is already on my list for my next NYC trip!

F O U R T E E N – Top of the Rock

This isn’t necessarily a Christmas activity per se, but it is one of the things we did on our trip that year, and it was one of my favorite things we’ve ever done in the city.  My advice to you?  Head up late in the afternoon before dusk.  This will give you the opportunity to see the city in the daylight, at dusk, and at night.  Once it’s dark, you can take in all of the Christmas lights from up above and it is pure magic.

F I F T E E N – Dyker Heights

This is yet another item on our list that we didn’t have a chance to do.  Dyker Heights is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is known to go all out with the Christmas décor.  Apparently it’s a whole neighborhood of Griswolds all trying to outdo each other to have the best decorated house.  That sounds like something you can’t go wrong with!

S I X T E E N – St. Patrick’s Cathedral

I saved the most magical for last.  Nothing says Christmas like celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, and nothing says celebrating the birth of baby Jesus like celebrating it in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  While we have never stayed for mass, we did drop in one cold night on our trip, and it was absolutely breathtaking.  You will never look at a church the same once you’ve been there.

Have you ever been to NYC at Christmas?  What was your favorite part?  

And now it's time for the Tuesday Talk Link Up!

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  1. I want to go to NYC so bad, now I want to go at Christmas! Maybe close to the big 4-0 Ben will take me:)

  2. NYC at Christmas time is simply the best and man, you packed in all the good stuff!! Love these photos!

  3. We're hoping to go next December to NYC and a lot of these are on my list of things to do or places to see!!
    Sarah at MeetTheShaneyfelts

  4. I am debating on New York or Chicago for a December trip and I just cannot decide. ALL these things would be on my list to do, though!

  5. Oh you know I love this post!!! I need to get there but Rick keeps saying he thinks NYC is so dirty, please tell me to tell him he's wrong and that at Christmastime you wouldn't even notice?!?!! LOL

  6. Now you have me wanting to hop on a plane! I love NYC! The guys in my life aren't interested in going but I keep telling them they would be so pleasantly surprised at how much they would adore the city!

  7. I've gone to NYC for Christmas a few years and it's been so fun! Philadelphia isn't that far away, and there's a tour bus company in our town that does day trips to NYC for like $40! They drop you in Times Square in the morning and come back and get you after dinner! It's such a fun, easy way to get to the city and explore for the day! We went last year, on 12/27, for my sister's 21st bday. Two fun things we did were go to the Museum of Modern Art, and Tiffany's! Rolf's looks amazing, will have to put that on our list for next time!

  8. I LOVE New York, but I've never been there at Christmastime. Looks amazing! Pinned this! :)

  9. NYC is such a fun place & I agree,Christmas is a beautiful time to visit! Sadly, the FAO Schwarz on 5th Avenue across from the Plaza closed in 2015. It was such a fun place!

  10. So many great things to see! I love NYC. FAO Schwarz closed awhile ago, which is sad because my kids would have loved to see it!

  11. This is one of my favorite trips you guys have been on! I can't wait to be back in the city in a few weeks. This time of year is truly magical there. Sierra ~ Beautifully Candid

  12. Looks like a fun trip! My family gets easily overwhelmed in NYC, but picking 1 or 2 things to do is a great way to enjoy it and drive home to CT

    1. That is awesome that you guys are so close! We are a whole flight away so we rarely get to go!

  13. Such a beautiful time to go! I've only been to NYC once, but it was right around Christmas...actually right before Thanksgiving, but they had most of the Christmas stuff up already. We did the skating in central park and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. All amazing. Love seeing the photos of you guys there.

  14. Going to NYC during Christmas is on my must-do list! Definitely keeping this for reference! <3

    1. If you ever get the chance, DO IT! You won't regret it!

  15. I haven't been to NYC in years but I have fond memories of seeing the Rockettes with my dance troupe and taking a trip to the city to see Phantom of The Opera with my grandparents. My gram made a whole day of it with stops at FAO Schwartz and lunch in a swanky hotel.

    1. Ah, such special memories! I hope we can do that for our kids one day.

  16. So many fun things to do! It would be so fun to visit at Christmas time!


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