The holidays are here again and if you’ve just moved to New York City, you have landed at a special time. It’s not yet cold enough to be uncomfortable outside, but chilly enough to enjoy a hot coffee or a hot chocolate while taking in the beauty of the holiday decorations and enjoying our beautiful city. And while you probably feel you should be opening boxes and settling into your new apartment (and you likely should), it’s also nice to take some time to appreciate some holiday sites that won’t be back till next year. Here are some Big Apple spots we like to visit during the holidays:
The Tree and The Rink at Rockefeller Center
People come from all over the world to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Lit at the end of November, the gigantic tree will have its lights on until January 7, 2018. And while the crowds can be annoying at times, you’d be sorry to miss this great holiday symbol of our city. After you’ve basked in the glory of the giant tree (it can be up to 100 feet tall) and its lights and snapped some shots (cause you know, Instagram), grab a cup of coffee, and watch folks skate on the ice just below the tree. The rink is yet another iconic New York City scene and while you’re mesmerized by people going round and round, you might be taken aback to simpler times. Or if you fancy, take a spin on the ice yourself.
Department Store Window Displays
You’re likely dreading shopping at the department stores, and we don’t blame you, it’s a bit of the nightmare with all the people crowding the shopping areas looking for that perfect gift. But the window displays on 5th Avenue will make your trek worth all the headaches that come with holiday shopping. Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Macys, Tiffany’s, Henry Bendel, and Bloomingdales all have their own fabulous window display themes put together by master artisans. There’s a throw-back feeling to watching dolls move and snow fall behind glass. They’re best viewed at night and kids will get a huge kick out of it also.
Even if you don’t want to shop, we still recommend visiting at least one of the city’s holiday markets—though you’ll likely pick up an item or two for people on your list, or for yourself (no worries, we won’t tell). There’s something very European about the outdoor holiday markets with their hot cider, hand-made, one-of-a-kind gifts, music, and decorations. We especially love the German gingerbread cookies that are available only around this time, unique dry tea concoctions, and hand knit warm accessories such as hats and mittens. There are several New York City markets to choose from but we especially like The Union Square Holiday Market and Columbus Circle Holiday Market. And for those who want a refuge from the cold, the Grand Central Holiday Fair or the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar are also be special.
If you want to be rendered speechless—really, truly speechless—head on over to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn where neighborhood residents have taken decorating and outdoing one another to a whole new level. Seriously, you have got to see this. From giant inflatable snowmen to life-sized motorized nutcrackers, over-the-top lighting and music, this extravaganza is one you likely haven’t seen anywhere else. Go there and see why more than 100,000 people visit this Brooklyn neighborhood during the holidays each year.
Winter Village at Bryant Park
Though this venue can easily falls under the category of a holiday market, the Winter Village at Bryant Park is more than just a market. The space also boasts a 17,000 square foot ice skating rink (which you can use for free, that’s right free) and food, but more importantly a feeling of being transported to a village where you can meander walkways and visit the more than 150 vendors, snack, have some hot soup, or enjoy a drink while you sit under a tree to watch others. Bonus: the shops are semi-warm as they are inside temporary enclosed surfaces, some of which have heaters.