Anyone else filled with Christmas spirit? I am currently sipping on a holiday coffee from Starbucks and enjoying a Christmas cookie in front of my tree, and could not be more in the holiday mood if I tried. I recently spent four days in NYC and if you follow along on Instagram Stories then you know just how much I can fit into such a short trip. This was my first time in the city during the holiday season and it did not disappoint. Whether you are an NYC expert, or this is your first time in the Big Apple you are going to be blown away by the city that is quite literally wrapped up and tied with a bow during the month of December.
Some things that are important to note here: you are going to be in large crowds of people almost the entire time. If you are not a big fan of large crowds I found that waking up a little on the earlier side was helpful in avoiding some of the masses, but otherwise, I recommend going in with a good attitude. Secondly, it is cold during the winter! NYC temperatures are no joke, come prepared with a good winter coat, mittens, and a festive hat. It will make your time much more enjoyable.
Possibly one of the most iconic Christmas locations, the giant tree and ice rink are sights that amaze. I was fortunate enough to go to Rockefeller Center a few times, once in the evening and once early in the morning.
Pros of going early in the morning are that the crowds are minimal. I could take beautiful photos of the ice rink, enjoy the tree, and get myself a cup of Ralph’s Coffee. If this pop-up coffee truck is around, please go and get a latte. The morning I spent at Rockefeller Center, I also went to Top of the Rock and had 360-degree views of the city. Tickets are a little expensive, but if this is one of your first times to Manhattan, I think it is worth the price. Going on the early side also means no lines and some great photo ops!
The benefit of going at night is the magic. There is music, lights, and you might even see a little dancing from the Salvation Army volunteers.
Although there is ice skating at The Rockefeller Center, it is on the pricier side and the lines are lengthy. There are several places to go ice skating in the city, so if you don’t have your heart set on this particular venue I recommend holding out. Try Bryant Park or Central Park.
Within walking distance of the Rockefeller Center, you can see all the beautiful Christmas shop windows and the Saks light show. Walk 5th avenue in the evening or at night to get the full experience.
Notable spots on 5th Avenue:
- Cartier with its iconic ribbon.
- Tiffany and Co.
- Bergdorf Goodman
I recommend grabbing a cup of hot cocoa or apple cider and taking your time strolling down 5th Ave. for some serious window shopping.
I had heard about the Christmas Markets from a friend, but I don’t think I entirely knew what I was getting in to. There are many markets strewn throughout the city. Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t help but stumble on one. Most vendors accept a card, but I would suggest bringing cash. To avoid tons of people, go to the markets between 1:00 and 4:00 pm during the week.
Union Square: the first market I went to has stalls with local artisans, food, hot cocoa, and knick-knacks that will keep you oohing and ahhing around every corner. Notable places to stop: No Chewing Allowed for the best cup of hot cocoa, Ramaya Designs for dainty gold jewelry, and don’t miss the salami place.
Bryant Park: no joke, this is the market to beat. Although it isn’t as quaint as the other markets, Bryant Park has the best cup of apple cider, meringues, and my new favorite jeweler, Jet Set Candy. After a long day of walking around the city, I grabbed a cup of hot cider and watched the ice skaters.
Central Park: this market is oddly similar to Union Square, the vendors overlap almost entirely. The bonus to this market is that it dumps you right in the park to look around. I picked up a cup of hot cocoa from No Chewing Allowed and wandered across the park.
Grand Central: is relatively small in comparison to the others. I had already made plans to see Grand Central station on this trip so the market was very serendipitous. If you are looking to pick up a quick gift and don’t want to be in the cold, then head to this indoor Christmas market.
It’s not a real trip if you didn’t get to take some festive holiday photos. I have included all my favorite spots that I got to check out and a few that are on the list for next time.
I am headed back to NYC for New Year’s Eve this year and would love to hear any recommendations you have!