Many people say fall in New York is the best time of year, but I believe nothing can compare to the holidays in NYC. The city becomes a magical place with pretty lights and decorated Christmas trees in almost every park. As soon as Thanksgiving is over every vendor sets up Christmas tree shops on the sidewalks, so it constantly feels like you’re walking through a holiday wonderland.
Being abroad last year there were many things I missed about the city, but mostly I missed the magic of New York as Christmas approaches. Ever since I can remember my family has come to New York for a weekend in December to visit my aunt and uncle and see a show on Broadway. These weekends are some of my favorite childhood memories and honestly part of the reason I so desperately wanted to go to college in New York. Everything from going to the American Girl Doll store and riding the ferris wheel at Toys R Us to pushing through the crowd to reach the Rockefeller Christmas tree made me fall in love with this city before I was ten years old.
Now, years later I still look forward to the most ‘touristy’ parts of Christmas in the city, but I’ve also started to make my own traditions and have a bucket list of smaller holiday festivities I want to see before I graduate. Keep reading to find out what’s on my must-do list around the holidays 🙂
1. A visit to the Rockefeller Christmas tree. So I know this is #1 on the tourist to-do list, but I have a thing for beautiful Christmas trees (evident by my instagram) and Rockefeller will always be the best. A trip after dark is always incredible, but if you live around New York try going on a weekday morning. It will be way less crowded and you will really be able to appreciate the decorations.
2. A stop at Ralph’s Coffee Shop inside Polo Ralph Lauren. This hidden gem has been on my Christmas wish(to-do)list for years and I finally went last week. While the shop is open year around, you can’t miss the Christmas decor. The whole shop twinkles and it’s the perfect escape from the surrounding midtown craziness this time of year.
3. Shopping at the Union Square Holiday Market. While downtown isn’t necessarily known for our holiday festivities I always love the holiday market at Union Square. One of my favorite memories from my first Christmas in New York in college is heading up on a chilly evening with friends and getting lost in the maze of shops. Plus, it’s the best place to shop for last minute gifts 🙂
4. Browsing the holiday windows at Bergdorfs. While Macys might come first to your mind when you think of holiday windows, Bergdorfs definitely does it best. Their windows are truly pieces of art and if you want to know even more about the windows then Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorfs is a must-watch. It’s actually one of my favorite Christmas movies to be honest (yes I know that’s kind of weird!).
5. Watch the Washington Square Park Tree Lighting. And we are back to my Christmas tree obsession… Even though WSP is basically the center of NYU I’ve never gotten a chance to watch the actual tree lighting in the park since I’m usually too worried about finals. I’ve made a pact with myself though that I will see it at least once before graduation.
6. Walk through a snowy Central Park. So this is very dependent on whether or not the weather wants to cooperate with me 🙂 During one of those December visits to NYC as a kid I woke up in the morning to a perfectly snow covered city and it is one of my favorite memories. Since then I’ve been waiting for a snowy morning to coincide with a free morning so that I can head up to Central Park and disappear into the glittering snow.
7. See The Rockettes! While I’ve done so many of New York’s typical holiday activities I’ve never actually seen The Rockettes. I don’t think I can truly say I’ve experiences everything the Christmas season has to offer here until I’ve seen them, so this will stay firmly on my bucket list until I can splurge on tickets.
8. Set up a Christmas tree in my apartment. This is my first year not living in a dorm and I only recently realized that meant I could get a Christmas tree for my apartment. While it won’t be happening this year, I’m looking forward to next year when I will most definitely be starting a tradition with my roommates of tree decorating and hot cider, even if we can only fit the tiniest of trees.