My friends and I constantly say we don’t take advantage of coming to New York City as often as we should, especially since we live really only a little over an hour and a half away.
But, I always make sure I come into the city for Christmas. For me, it is a yearly tradition. I typically go the 2nd Saturday after the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. SantaCon also occurs that same day. Seeing Kris Kringle, Mrs. Clause, elves, and the lights and tinsel trim signals my start to the holiday season and puts me in a festive mood.
Usually I take the Metro North train from Connecticut to Grand Central Station. This year, though, I went a week earlier than normal and drove because I had a math workshop. I parked my car in the upper West side and took the subway–the 1 to midtown.
My recommendation would be to arrive sometime around late afternoon, grab a bite to eat, and then start your walking tour of the holiday windows. I think the windows are best viewed at night, but you can easily see them during the day, too. There’s less people.
If you choose to come in earlier, definitely get tickets to watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. The show is worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. It’s magical and puts you right in the holiday spirit.
I am usually hungry after my ride on the train. So eating is my first thing I need to do. No one wants me hangry. Over the years I have tried these restaurants and would recommend them to you:
- Paul’s on Time Square
- Havana Central Restaurant & Bar
- Serendipity 3
- Dallas BBQ
- Max Brenner
- Virgil’s Real Barbecue
- Tommy Bahama Restaurant, Bar, and Store
- Cafe Un Deux Trois
I would highly suggest that you make reservations prior to coming down, especially with Serendipity 3 and Max Brenner. Serendipity 3 is very small in size and there’s often a long wait, especially because many come there to try their frozen hot chocolate after their meals.
Once my belly’s full, I am ready to embark on my holiday window tour. New York City is absolutely beautiful this time of year. It is lit in lights, adorned with Christmas decor and tinsel trim. I like to start downtown and then head uptown. Union Square’s Christmas Market on 14th Street and Union Square is my 1st go to place on my tour. I just like browsing the winding aisles to see what the local artisans and craftsman have made for possible gift ideas for my family and friends.
After, head to Macy’s Herald Square to check out their windows. They always outdo themselves with their annual holiday displays. This year’s theme is “The Perfect Gift Brings People Together.” On one side of the store, you’ll see the holiday windows that depict New York City’s spirit. On the other side of the store, you’ll see the story of “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.”
Then, head towards 5th Ave. and walk uptown, pause at Lord & Taylor’s holiday window displays. Walk a few blocks up and take a little break to watch the Saks Fifth Ave Christmas Light Show, and then turn down 51st and 5th to check out the tree at Rockefeller Center. If you don’t mind the crowds, the traffic, and bustle, head to the tree for your selfies and photo ops. Otherwise, I’d hold off till after 8 or 9 p.m. It gets a lot less crowded at that time. The tree stays lit till about 11:30.
Keep in mind, the worse time to go is between 5 and 7 p.m. because it gets extremely crowded where you get to know the people around you very well. As a result, people share their frustrations vocally and sometimes physically.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is nearby so be sure to go inside. The church is absolutely gorgeous. It is amazing to see this Neo-Gothic style church standing amidst a modern city.
Keep heading up 5th Ave to see the impressive window displays of other stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Tiffanys. Close by to Bergdorf Goodman is Barneys and Bloomingdales. Their windows tend to have a certain theme and are unique and much more contemporary than the others. After Bloomingdales, I love stopping at Dylan’s Candy Bar to grab some of my favorites–sour belts, gummy bears, and cherry Jellybeans.
With my candy bags in tow, I head back towards midtown via 6th Ave to see the Christmas decorations that adorn it.
As I head back to Grand Central station, I like stopping at Bryant Park to check out their Christmas market. It is a bit smaller than the one at Union Square, but nice to take a stroll through. The other nice thing about Bryant Park is the skating rink. Most people tend to want to go to Rockefeller Center to ice skate, but that rink is very pricey. The rink at Bryant Park is free. You just have to pay for the rental of your skates. Bryant Park also has a beautifully lit Christmas tree if you are in need of additional selfies and photos.
Christmas in the city is one of my favorite traditions. I hope it puts you in the Christmas mood and you enjoy it as much as I do. Happy and safe travels!!!