New York City is one of those destinations where you can visit countless times and have a different experience each trip. You start off with that super touristy first visit where you see the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State building and then once you check off all the sites like that, you can explore the city for its shopping and food. In 2019 we visited for a long weekend during the holiday season – here’s where we stayed, visited, and eat and drink!
When deciding where to stay in the city, it’s really going to depend on what area you want to explore during that particular visit. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, but here are a few suggestions with modern amenities within close proximity to many of the activities we’ll be suggesting in this article as you read on!
Kimpton Muse Hotel
130 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036 / (212) 485-2400 / themusehotel.com
Fully embrace your touristy side by visiting Times Square lit up at night and enjoy being just a few short clocks from Rockefeller Plaza. It’s the perfect time of the year to see the tree!
LUMA Hotel Times Square
120 W 41st St, New York, NY 10036 / (212) 730-0099 / lumahotels.com
In the center of all the hustle and bustle of the city is the LUMA Hotel Times Square. The hotel is just a block from Bryant Park where they host the Winter Village and close to the Museum of Modern Art, a perfect indoor activity if you’re hit with rough weather.
Bryant Park Hotel
40 W 40th St, New York, NY 10018 / (212) 869-0100 / bryantparkhotel.com
If you’re looking for something with more of a unique spin, the Bryant Park Hotel built inside of a 1924 midtown skyscraper is overlooking the park and all of its winter festivities! It’s a close walk to the subway, a short 4 minute walk to Times Square, and just a 10 minute walk to the Empire State building.
It’s Christmastime in the city and there’s just something so magical about seeing the tree in person or hopping in one of those goofy rickshaws with your loved one, cozied up under a fuzzy blanket. Ours gets extra points because he pulled out a tiny boombox and blasted I wanna dance with somebody by Whitney Huston as he weaved in and out of NYC traffic to get us to our holiday destination!
Your first stop should definitely be the Winter Village at Bryant Park (bryantpark.org). It’s one of my favorite New York City holiday traditions. You’ll certainly be fighting some crowds, but the delicious food, jewelry, accessories, clothing, ornaments, and so much more for you to check off your Christmas shopping list at the holiday market makes it worth it. The kiosks are open until January 5th, giving you plenty of time to check out the holiday shops. I highly recommend grabbing a warm beverage while watching the skaters at the ice rink (open all the way until March).
The department stores take festive to another level with Saks Fifth Avenue putting on an incredible light show complete with cheerful seasonal music and Macy’s decking out their windows, keeping the tradition alive!
Of course, seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center (rockefellercenter.com) is just a spectacular opportunity. Having the chance to view that gigantic Christmas tree in person is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. You can grab tickets to check out the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall or take a stroll through the snowy streets to find the big ornaments and Christmas decorations.
Of course people think to visit Central Park in the summertime, but it’s actually very beautiful in the winter, too. Not only is the Central Park Zoo open year round, but they have ice-skating, sledding, carousel rides, and more available while you take in the views of the snow covered trees.
The High Line
From Gansevoort St. to 34th St. on Manhattan’s West Side / thehighline.org
The High Line is an elevated rail structure that’s been made into a public park, extending for 1.45 miles. When news hit the city that the rail track was set to be torn down, locals rallied together to turn the track into a park to keep that from happening and preserve the landmark. The High Line pulls together art, nature, and plenty of restaurants and things to do all in one place!
Grand Central Terminal
89 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017
There’s more to Grand Central Station than standing on the upper level reciting Gossip Girl lines. Spotted, an absolutely amazing food market that you need to check out. XOXO, the vendors. If you love food markets, you know New York City has a plethora of options, including the Grand Central market. We stumbled upon it when we were looking to find the holiday market in Vanderbilt Hall featuring vendors selling art, clothes, accessories, and toys (closed for 2021 season).
Back to the food market – we discovered this European style gourmet market full of candies, cheeses, meats, breads, spices, and more! They even have specialty items like caviar, 160 different types of seafood, 400 types of cheeses and meats, and the best part is every merchant located in the market is from local businesses and many of their products are locally sourced. Although the holiday shops are seasonal, the food market is a permanent fixture!
Downtown – 101 Liberty St Floor 3, New York, NY 10007 / eataly.com
Flatiron – 200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010 / eataly.com
Although it’s not just a local to New York City, I’ve visited a few Eataly’s in other cities and the New York City one is my absolute favorite. You can explore the cookbook section, rummage through the seafood department, and even relax while enjoying a charcuterie platter and plenty of freshly made cheese. Spend the afternoon discovering all of the Italian classics within the market before you head upstairs to the stunning winter greenhouse Serra Alpina where you can enjoy delicious food and an impressive cocktail menu.
East 45th Street & Vanderbilt Avenue
When I learned that there was a food hall walking distance from Grand Central Station from Rachel Peace, Domestic Communications Manager for NYC & Company I knew I had to check it out. Urbanspace Vanderbilt has a rotating selection from a wide range of culinary concepts. The bao buns and dumplings from Mian Kitchen were amazing and you can’t leave without trying the hibiscus donut from Dough. Red Hook Lobster Pound brings Maine lobster to New York City, serving items like lobster BLTs with crispy bacon and plump lobster rolls!
167 West 74th St, NYC 10024 / levainbakery.com
In case we haven’t mentioned enough treats, Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald brought the ultimate sweet treat into our lives. They concocted a delicious, 6 ounce cookie, freshly baked and put on this earth to satisfy your sweet tooth. The cookies are so giant, the outside has a nice crisp, despite them being warm still, while the inside is almost like a warm, gooey cookie dough.
529 Hudson St. New York, NY 10014 / 2170 Broadway New York, NY 10024 / redfarmnyc.com
With two locations, one in the West Village and one on the Upper West Side, this modern Chinese restaurant serves fantastic dumplings. When I visited the crispy duck and crab dumplings, lamb dumpling shooters, and the Pac-Man shrimp dumplings were my favorites. However, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Their food is absolutely incredible!