The other day I kept singing the song “New York I love You” by LCD Soundsystem and I started thinking about how amazing my time in New York during the holidays was. Although the song conveys a seemingly solemn message, I find that it speaks volumes of the capacity for New York to be a memorable destination experience. Here, in America’s fastest city (a New York minute as they say), you can find so much beauty amongst so much chaos.
So you’ve never been to New York during the holidays? This guide will trigger some wanderlust in you. I know it.
So, why New York?
Well, the massive Christmas tree that just so happens to be at the Rockefeller Center every year is why I decided to go in the first place.
The Christmas tree tradition began in 1931 during the same time 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened. This 80-foot-tall that is decorated with over 30, 000 multicoloured lights and is ready by mid-November and remains lit until early January every year. That’s right, this is a tradition you must see once in your life because you will never see a tree as big as the one at the Rockefeller Center. More on the history of the Rockefeller Christmas tree here.
After you see the tree, I highly recommend ice skating in Bryant Park or Central Park. Grab your friends, family or even a special someone and head to this magical ice rink. While admission is free, patrons must pay for skate rentals, locks and bag check. The ice rink does get hectic during the month of December so make sure you go at the earliest time to enjoy some time on the ice.
Next, a trip up the Empire State building is a must! This famous skyscraper will be decorated in festive Christmas colours. You will be mesmerized once you reach the very top of the Empire State Building. If you want to skip the lines, buy your tickets online here to save yourself some time.
A broadway show is always a great idea in New York. If you’re looking to end the night with some relaxation on Broadway, then I highly recommend that you check out one of my favourite sites for buying tickets to shows on Broadway. The site is called Broadway Box and they offer discounts on tickets and if you’re interested, discounts on popular tourist attractions.
Nothing says Christmas like watching the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall. While in New York, it’s a must to attend the annual musical holiday stage show, a spectacular tradition since 1933. (Location: Sixth Avenue and 50th Street).
For all of you shopaholics, you definitely won’t want to miss New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue. You’ll feel like you’re walking in a winter wonderland when you pass the festively decorated stores like Lord & Taylor, Saks and Tiffany’s. I’d say why not give your eyes an early Christmas treat by checking out the holiday decorations on the Avenue of the Americas. From festive, oversize tree ornaments to jumbo, coloured lights, you’ll be aesthetically pleased every which way you turn! (Location: Fifth Avenue between 39th and 60th Streets).
If you love great big department stores then you better head to Macys. Macys can be a magical place during the holidays due to its extravagant decorations, fancy lighting and the jolly Christmas music playing throughout the holiday season. (Location: 151 West 34th Street).
A Christmas without toys can be a very sad Christmas for kids. Because I am a kid at heart, I especially found that to be true when I visited the famous toy store FAO Schwartz, unfortunately, this toy store permanently closed in 2015. You’ll want to go to check out the toy stores in New York because they most likely have absolutely every toy you can think of. For those of you who love toy stores, I would highly recommend going to the Disney Store, the LEGO store and Toys R Us. You can let your inner child play among the life-size stuffed animals, dolls and high-end toys. Ah, I wish I was a kid again.
As a kid, one of my favourite holiday movies was Home Alone 2: Lost in New York starring Macaulay Culkin. If you’ve ever watched the movie, you’d know that Kevin the main character played by Macaulay, stays at the Plaza Hotel using his dad’s credit card and eventually evades the hotel staff near the end of the movie (lol). If you go to New York during the holidays, this hotel is a must see because of the neat shops, boutiques, bakeries and restaurants located in the lower level of the hotel. (Location: 768 Fifth Avenue).
Look at that beautiful Christmas tree found in the lobby of the Plaza hotel!
If you’ve got a sweet tooth like mine, then Magnolia Bakery better be on your to do list. My favourite dessert to order there is the banana pudding. The only downside to going to Magnolia Bakery are the long lineups outside. I would suggest going early as soon as they open so that you can get first dibs on their incredible selection of pastries, cupcakes and banana pudding. (Rockefeller Center, 1240 6th Avenue).
A good slice of pizza in New York isn’t hard to find especially if you stop by John’s Pizzeria. I am always met with such incredible and welcoming staff every time I go for pizza at John’s. Even when this place is swamped, my order was ready within ten minutes! This is a perfect place to go for a quick lunch after you’ve spent hours sightseeing. (Location: 260 West 44th Street).
These are only a few of the many reasons to spend Christmas in New York. Hopefully you all get the chance to experience a Christmas in New York one day and if you’re a Christmas nut like me, I guarantee that your trip to New York will only make you appreciate the holidays even more. The city of New York is always alive with excitement. However, there is something even more magical about New York during the holidays. This time of year is enchanted by an abundance of lights and life size ornaments. Not to mention, the air is filled with such crisp excitement and the chances of watching snowflakes gracefully fall from the sky are quite good. A lineup of holiday inspired events take place throughout the city. Locals greet one another with Christmas cheer and extend a warm welcome to visitors from all over the world. If you have been contemplating a trip to New York, the Christmas season is perfect timing due to the captivating atmosphere mixed with the attributes of this city during a time where people come together to celebrate.