First off, let’s be upfront and honest from the beginning.
If you are visiting New York this year or you’d love to visit during the holidays in the future, you should! New York is one of the best places to get in the Christmas spirit. Everything is decked out in gorgeous light displays, every tree is covered with sparkles, there are about 10 different ice skating rinks, hundreds of cute Christmas-sy shops, fun festive events, and endless food and drinks. However, as glorious as this all may seem I need to be honest….so here’s my little DISCLAIMER…
Try going earlier than everyone else…or later than everyone else!
Try to go late late at night OR early early AM if you plan on doing anything super touristy, as you may know, New York can be a total shitshow (excuse my mouth) this time of year with THOUSANDS, if not millions of people swarming through the city trying to see the Christmas-sy displays! Be prepared to go at later times or super early AM times to get the best experience, otherwise, prepare to be trampled. LOL. Kidding. Well, sort of. 🙂
Bryant Park Christmas Village
The Bryant Park Christmas Village is one of my absolute favorite things to do in New York City during the holiday season. Located in the middle of Manhattan, Bryant Park is just steps away from Midtown, Times Square, and on the way to Central Park! It’s a prime location to stop, go for a round on the ice skating rink, drink endless hot cocoa, and spend time with loved ones exploring all the individually-owned shops. Plus, there’s an indoor eatery and bar to keep warm, and a giant sparkling blue Christmas tree to keep the scene festive and make some for epic Instagram photos.
2. Madison Square Park
This year, Madison Square Park has set up a gorgeous tree with sparkling lights that calls for epic nighttime photos, but also a giant Gingerbread house that you and your children (or, erm…just you, the adult) can explore! The Gingerbread house is casually my NYC apartment goals. NBD.
3. Washington Square Park
Down by Washington Square, there’s also a glamorous tree to get you in the holiday spirit! I love this particular tree because it sits directly in the center of the famous arch that this park is known for! I decked myself out in a pretty holiday dress and went there to shoot late at night, and luckily got some shots before the tourists could take over! This is a nice place to relax, have a hot cider and enjoy the view of the arches from a bench while you chill with your loved ones. Or, in my case, chill with myself and pretend I’m in love. *sigh*
4. Dyker Heights in Brooklyn
Well, this is BY FAR the coolest spot (close!) to NYC. It’s about a 45 minute Uber but if you already have a car, great. That makes life super easy. Dyker Heights’ residents are known for decking their mansions out with sparkling Christmas lights, giant snowmen, snowglobes, hot cocoa stands, reindeers, polar bears, Santa Clauses, you name it, it’s there. It’s almost like a competition between the neighbors of who can have the most epic Christmas house. People spend thousands of dollars on decorations and making sure everything is perfectly instagrammable for this time of year! How cool. And expensive. And crazy. And awesome!?
5. Saks Fifth Avenue
Every year, Saks Fifth hosts an epic light show over their Fifth Avenue building. The entire building is decorated with lights and the lights play cheery holiday music and put on an entire display for everyone who walks by. This year, the theme was red, but last year was this pretty ice blue, and I couldn’t help but think the blue color fit the scene better. Still, the red light show is epic and is definitely a MUST see if you are visiting for Christmas.
6. Rolf’s German Restaurant
Okay, so here’s the deal with the most festive and stunning holiday restaurant/bar in all of NYC. Rolf’s is the absolute go to if you’re looking to drink a beer in the middle of a Christmas miracle. This place is SO gorgeous, and makes for some cool photos for sure, but keep in mind now that it’s literally gone viral all over the internet, getting in is quite the challenge! Especially during the WEEK of Christmas! My tip is to go as early as possible and wait on line to get in so you have a chance of actually seeing this place. If you want to see it for yourself, you’ll have to be there at 10 AM to wait on line until it opens at 11 AM. Otherwise, the line can wrap around the block for days, as it’s become super popular! Also, if you do go, be sure to get one of their famous pitchers of beer – it really sets the rest of the holiday mood in my opinion 😉
7. 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
If you’re looking for giant heated snow-globes during this time of year in the city, look no further than 230 Fifth. It’s a rooftop bar overlooking the Empire State Building and featuring heated globes and hot apple cider to warm you up during the coldest season in NYC! Although I personally would avoid this place due to tourist overload, if you’ve never been, it’s a cool place to see if visiting. I do recommend going an hour before they open to get in early and snag a snow-globe before the masses rush in.
8. Brookfield Place
This side of the city always goes big for the holiday season! Usually you can find tons of trees decked out in Christmas lights, and the actual Brookfield Place mall has a cool lights display as well! Not to mention, you can walk around, browse the stores and treat yourself to something nice at the shops. There’s tons of luxury stores that always inspire my Christmas shopping at Brookfield. Also, stopping by the Oculus is never a bad idea.
9. Jingle Bells
Right by Radio City Music Hall, this giant display of bright red ornaments will always be the perfect IG photo. Since this place is close to Rockefeller, it’s the perfect pit spot to grab a few photos and compare how tiny you really are compared to this giant Jingle Bells.
10. Union Square Christmas Markets
Union Square is also a solid choice to get the feel of New York’s famous holiday markets. I’ve been here twice this year already, and it’s always fun to explore the shops, pick up a hot pretzel, some hot cocoa or tea, and walk around. It’s conveniently inside of the actual Union Square park, and surrounded by good stores and in a central location, so it’s a decent way to pass some time before grabbing a warm and cozy dinner nearby.
If you’re planning on visiting NYC in the future for the holidays, be sure to share this post with a friend so you can hit all the spots and get some amazing photos, and of course, real-time experiences 😉
Would love to hear if you’ve ever been to NYC during Christmas time, or if you’re planning on it in the comments!