These last few days have been rough. My allergies have been insane- watery eyes, sore throat, congested sinuses, the whole she-bang. On top of it I’m trying to finish my Christmas shopping– which is not very fun when you’re not feeling well. Bah humbug! I can’t be too much of a Grinch though– I spent last week in New York City, which is absolutely magical during the holidays. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you plan a trip to NYC during December to experience all the holiday magic the city has to offer and get you in a festive mood. Keep reading for my guide on the best places to stay, what to do while in NYC and where to eat>>
Where to Stay
I’ve stayed at many New York City hotels but I have to say that my stay this last trip at The James New York- Nomad was one of the best. The location, in NoMad near Flatiron, was perfect and central to everything we had planned to do.
Since there were three of us in the room, I booked a double at the boutique hotel. The room (which had been recently renovated) itself was spacious– especially in terms of New York standards– modern, and clean. While there is no lobby bar and the restaurant was in the process of being renovated, they did offer a ‘Wine Down’ hour with complimentary wine and cheese… yes please! I truly enjoyed our stay there and would definitely recommend this hotel.
Other hotels I’ve stayed at in NYC that I recommend include Dream Downtown, The Maritime Hotel, The Empire, Hudson New York, and The William NYC.
What to Do
It might be a bit touristy, but Seeing the huge Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is a MUST! It’s absolutely gorgeous and worth facing the crowds. Again, I recommend going early to beat the crowds to get the best pics of the tree, however seeing the tree at night all lit up is just so magical.
While at Rockefeller Center, I also highly recommend taking the elevator up to Top of the Rock. The views are incredible and allow you to see NYC in all directions, with a spectacular view of the Empire State Building. In fact, I actually love this view more than the one from the ESB, you can get some really great shots and on clear days, even see the Freedom Tower and Statue of Liberty.
The Bryant Park Winter Village is always a fun stop as I make my way up Fifth Avenue as there are tons of vendors offering jewelry, trinkets, ornaments, art prints and more, along with stands offering yummy snacks and treats (I heard there are churros there that are out of this world!). I’m not much of an ice skater so I enjoy watching others out on the rink getting their skate on. Tip- Be sure to get here early (during the week is best!) and the weekends can get packed.
No trip to NYC is complete without a stroll through Central Park. I am smitten with the park during winter, it looks gorgeous in the snow! I love just taking a random path and seeing where I end up… the views here never disappoint.
I had never been to Wollman Rink at Central Park and ended up catching the tail end of a synchronized skating performance that was really neat! If you love to ice skate or have ever wanted to try it out, this is the spot to do it!
One (of the many) things New York City is definitely not lacking is Christmas trees. You can spot them and other holiday decorations throughout the city– midtown, downtown, everywhere! My favorite trees were in Madison Square Park, which was near our hotel, and Washington Square Park. How gorgeous do they look in the snow?!? Picturesque!
After hearing a couple recommendations, I booked passes for Volez, Voguez, Voyagez – Louis Vuitton Exhibition that is currently running in New York City. I’m not a huge Louis Vuitton fan but I loved learning about how the company started and how it evolved into the luxury brand that it is today. It was cool to see all the vintage monogramed trunks, steamer bags, handbags, cosmetic cases and even dresses worn by some of Hollywood’s elite (including Madonna, Alicia Vikander’s winning Oscar’s dress and Taylor Swift’s famed Met Gala dress). The exhibition is free (reserve your passes ahead of time!) and runs through Jan. 7th 2018.
If you have time, booking tickets for a special Christmas show is a sure fire way to get in a festive holiday mood. I had thought about getting tickets for George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet but we didn’t have time this go around. I’ve always wanted to see a ballet at Lincoln Center so hopefully I’ll have the chance to do so next year. I also heard that the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes is a classic (albeit slightly corny) must-watch show that comes highly recommended.
Where to Eat
It’s hard to NOT find good food in New York City, most spots I’ve tried are always extremely yummy. One of my fave restaurants in the city is Park Avenue Winter… or Summer, Autumn, Spring. The restaurant transforms with each season with a new menu and decor that reflects the current season. The food is really good, the service is fantastic and the ambiance is wonderful. The perfect spot for a romantic dinner for two or for a group of friends.
In the heart of the Chelsea neighborhood lives Chelsea Market, an indoor shopping and eating mecca. This is one of my favorite places to walk around, especially when escaping the cold. There’s an array of boutiques and shops, along with quick serve restaurants and eateries. My favorites are L’Arte del Gelato (their Ricotta con Fichi Caramellati (ricotta with carmelized figs) is a must-try!), Los Tacos No. 1, and Sarabeth’s. There’s so many food options that you can’t go wrong!
Just steps away from the Flatiron Building is Eataly, an Italian market/ food court wonderland. You can grab an espresso, pick up your fave EVOO and panettoni, and enjoy some freshly homemade pasta. Or pizza. Or cannoli. Or risotto. Or gelato. Seriously, if it’s Italian, Eataly has it. The food is absolutely delicious and is a definite must-go if you love Italian.
When I’m in the mood for something sweet, I always head to Magnolia Bakery… especially for their banana pudding. It is SO freaking good! The bakery also offers cupcakes, cookies, cakes, muffins and more.
Do you have any fave New York City holiday picks and spots? Share in the comments below!