There is no better time, I repeat, no better time in NYC than the holidays! There is a reason that New York City has been featured in countless holiday movies and that reason is that NYC has a unique and remarkable holiday spirit and seasonal vibe. It’s almost like magic, and if you are lucky enough to get immersed in the New York culture during the holidays, you will be left with a lifetime of memories and sensations. As a native New Yorker, I adore partaking in all the classic activities often portrayed in movies like Home Alone and Elf. Whether you’re new to the city or a native that has yet to experience the holidays locally – here are the top 5 things you must do in New York City during the holiday season! (Check out the map on the bottom of the page with all the locations tagged for your convenience!)
1. The Markets
There’s nothing that quite gets you into the holiday spirit as a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows, a caramel covered apple, and millions of multi-colored angel lights. Union Square, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle showcase some of the top local and national vendors, unforgettable food trucks, and in Bryant Park you can even ice skate for free! At the markets you can find one-of-a-kind presents ranging from hand made accessories, to artwork, to super cute onesies.
Union Square Market Dates + Hours
2017 Holiday Market | November 16th – December 24th
11:00AM to 9:00PM Monday through Friday
10:00AM to 9:00PM on Saturdays
11:00AM to 9:00PM on Sundays
Closed Thanksgiving Day and at 4pm on Christmas Eve
Bryant Park Market Dates + Hours
October 28, 2017 – January 2, 2018
Monday – Friday: 11am-8pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am-8pm Many Shops are open on major holidays
Columbus Circle Market Dates + Hours
2017 Holiday Market | November 28th – December 24th
10:00AM to 8:00PM Monday through Saturday
10:00AM to 7:00PM on Sundays
Closes at 4pm on Christmas Eve
Perched right on top of the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle and on the southern tip of Central Park, is Robert NYC,a cozy modern American restaurant with stunning views of Central Park and the north eastern & western sides of Manhattan. Whether you come for dinner or just a signature drink, make sure to call in advance and ask for a window seat. The view is unbeatable & you will catch incredible glimpses of the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, and many holiday lights decorating nearby apartments.
3. Drink at Rolf’s
If you really want to get into the holiday spirit quickly, Rolf’s should be the first place you visit! Stop by the German restaurant in Gramercy Park and enjoy a beer and schnitzel under millions of sparkling decorations. It’s almost like getting kissed under the mistletoe 🙂
Spending the holidays in NYC is not complete without a [free] walking tour of the most glamorous neighborhood in town. The most popular department stores in New York including Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks (among others) dish out hundreds of thousands of dollars to create picturesque window displays. The displays are more than just lights and decorations; each tells it’s own story which is why you may end up in long lines to walk through and get immersed in each one. The best time to go is definitely on early mornings during the weekends!
5. Dyker Heights
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to go on the so called “off-the-beaten-path”, hop on the train to Brooklyn to see an unbelievable display of holiday spirit on private houses! When most people think of the holidays in NYC they think of Rockefeller Center and and The Plaza Hotel … but some of the best holiday sights are actually not even in Manhattan! It’s almost like a competition among local home owners in the area, some of which dish out upwards of $20,000 on professionally installed decorations! Also – please don’t pay for any tours that take you to these FREE public blocks … Dyker Heights is just a $2.75 train ride away and walking is … well, free.