New York City and Christmastime – two of my favorite things. Earlier this month, we got to experience the two together. And even though Matt and I have been to New York before, there were so many opportunities for new experiences this time around.
For this trip, we traveled to NYC with friends who had never gone before and met up with a good friend we haven’t seen in a few years. New York is such a good city to explore with friends because there is just such a wide variety of things to do. It was really easy during the planning process for us to find a lot of common ground. It was also easy because it’s such a major travel hub that we were all able to find flights that landed relatively close together, even our international friend.
This time around, we chose to stay in a hotel in Brooklyn called The Box House hotel. I cannot recommend it enough for multiple reasons – 1) the hotel itself is absolutely adorable and comfortable, 2) it’s outside of the hustle and bustle of the city, so it’s quieter at night, and 3) it gives you the opportunity to explore Brooklyn and not just Manhattan.
Since I’ve written extensively on what fun and exciting things there are to do in NYC from our last trip here, here, and here, I’ll keep this post limited to the new things I recommend and the one thing I do NOT recommend.
What to do:
Window displays. The Christmas window displays at Lord & Taylor, Macy’s and Sacs 5th Ave are one of a kind and are worth the trip to that part of town. It was a little crowded, but not so much that we were unable to see the displays. In fact, I was able to get close and get pretty good photos of every window I wanted to. Since these displays are unique both to Christmas and NYC, I definitely recommend them.
Christmas decor around the city. Sure, everyone talks big about the Rockefeller Center Christmas decorations, but the whole city is decorated and there are some areas that are much less crowded and just as cool. For example, we went to the NYSE not looking for Christmas decor, but were joyfully surprised by one of the largest trees I’ve ever seen. The crowds there were 1% of what was at Rockefeller, and the tree was just as cool. Maybe cooler, since you could actually get a photo of it and, you know, stand still without being trampled by an angry mob.
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Central Park. Okay, okay. This one isn’t new. But I did say in my other post that Central Park is my favorite place in the world and, well, it still is. But one of the beautiful things about Central Park is that it’s different each time you go. When we went in the summer it was hot and green and blooming – this time is was cool and red and brown. Both beautiful, but in totally different ways.
Ferry rides. The subway isn’t the only way to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan – there’s also a commuter ferry! This was one of the coolest things we did the whole trip, and it only cost less than $3 per person. It provided some of the best views of the city and a whole new experience.
Bike riding in Central Park. I know, I know – I already wrote about Central Park (twice now actually). But this is worth calling out as its own activity. We rented tandem bikes in Columbus Circle (it cost about $40 for 2 hours) and were able to bike the entire 6+ mile loop around the park. This was really awesome because I’ve actually never had the opportunity to see anything north of the Met (another must do) in Central Park walking because it takes so long. But biking is quicker and allows you to see almost the entire park. One word of caution – Houston is flat. New York is not. The north end of the park is very hilly… consider yourself warned.
The High Line. Last but not least… another repeat. I’m not going to apologize because it’s not really a repeat though. Like Central Park, the High Line is different each time you see it – not only because of the changing seasons, but because of the changing art work as well. It’s well worth the time to see any time of year.
What NOT to do:
I really only have one recommendation of what to avoid – Rockefeller Center. I alluded to it above, but honestly it was not worth it. I have never seen so many people in one place at one time, and we went the very first weekend of December. I can only imagine how crazy it gets closer to Christmas. Not only was it so crowded that you could barely see the tree but to be honest, I didn’t even feel safe because there were just too many people. The tree at the NYSE was just as cool and way less crowded.
Bonus – Where to eat:
So you wouldn’t know this from my other posts but I am actually kind of a foodie… in that I love food. I don’t normally write about where to eat on vacation but here’s a few recommendations.
Angelo’s on Mulberry Street in Little Italy. As an Italian, I’m usually disappointed in “good” Italian food. This place was like being in Italy. It was delicious and I will probably eat here every single time I go to New York.
Do. Edible cookie dough? Sign me up. The line wasn’t too bad and the taste was worth it. Try to limit yourself to just one scoop though – my friends got two and wanted to die.
Cafe Lalo. Do you want to try any and every dessert and pastry known to mankind? Well, look no further than Cafe Lalo on the upper west side. It was also featured in the movie You’ve Got Mail, so that’s cool.
NYC is always going to be one of my favorite places to visit because each time you go, it’s totally different and yet uniquely the same. Have you traveled to New York during the holidays? Let me know your favorite sight to see in the comments!