Whether you simply decide to travel there for Christmas or you want to do something special for a loved one by surprising them with a trip as a gift, it’s one of the most special places in the United States to be during this special time of year.
Let’s look at a few reasons why!
Let’s not get carried away – New York City is expensive, and your hotel room won’t be any exception. That said, however, it’s probably fair to say that most of us imagine any New York hotel that’s even remotely nice costing hundreds of dollars per night. That just isn’t the case! These days you can actually stay at a comfortable hotel in midtown Manhattan for a reasonable rate, anywhere between $80-$200 a night.
Sometimes when looking into something like this it’s actually helpful to look at recommendations from abroad, as foreign travelers are trying hard to save money and maximize their experiences. On that note, The Guardian had an article on the best new affordable hotels in the city that pointed out many of the top options. Pod 39 Hotel in the Murray Hill neighborhood is a particularly trendy option, and CitizenM in Times Square is shockingly affordable for how chic and modern it is. Point being, you can stay in the thick of the greatest city in the world for less money than you probably expect.
Pure Visual Glory
Not to use language that’s over the top, but New York City during the weeks around Christmas is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. Yes it’s quite cold, and the endless skyscrapers occasionally function as wind tunnels emphasizing that fact. But the visuals of the city are enough to make up for it. Shop windows light up with decorations and new products, parks, small squares, and lamp posts are strung with Christmas lights, and certain areas like the famous Rockefeller Center come alive with holiday activity. It’s all wonderfully exciting, comfortable, and attractive. Be sure to take a walk or two down 5th Avenue in particular.
Central Park Ice Skating
It doesn’t matter whether you’re with friends, with your family, or alone with that special someone – ice skating in Central Park is a special experience. It’s not just that you’re skating outside in such a magnificent city, but rather that you actually feel like you’re doing so. One of the beautiful things about Central Park is that as enclosed as it feels, you can almost always see a border of towering skyscrapers. The same is true while skating at Wollman Rink near the lower edge of the park. Looking around, you’ll see other happy skaters, cold winter trees, shrubbery and walkways and bridges twisting through the park; looking up, you’ll see the glory of New York City. It’s just a very unique place to skate, and a perfect activity for a cold, winter afternoon.
Many of us like to go to the movies with friends and/or family over the holidays. But in New York, you can enjoy a more intimate form of entertainment and see some of the most renowned theater performances in the world. You might be able to score tickets for a newer musical like “The Book Of Mormon” known to make everybody laugh, or go with your children to a family-friendly show like “Aladdin” or “The Lion King.” However, you may not realize how many of the classics are also still playing.
Shows like “Chicago,” “Cats,” and “Wicked” are all currently appearing on Broadway. And perhaps most relevant of all, “The Phantom Of The Opera” at The Majestic is a mainstay. Not only is this one of the most famous Broadway shows, but there’s a chance it could soon get a boost in modern entertainment. An internet game based on the show was released just this year as a new installment in NetEnt’s “very sporadic Universal Monsters series,” around the same time Universal is trying to keep a monster film franchise afloat. If indeed a film is on the way in the coming years, you may be glad you caught the musical.
It’s true that the shop windows at places like 5th Avenue are among the most impressive attractions in the city. But don’t forget to check out some of the holiday markets as well! The Winter Village at Bryant Park is a particularly famous one, complete with an ice rink, pop-up shops, and kiosks with delicious food to sample. But you may also want to look into the Union Square holiday market (which features some goods from some of the city’s most famous eateries), the Columbus Circle Market right on the corner of Central Park, and some of the smaller craft fairs that belong to specific neighborhoods or smaller areas.
The Intimate Cafés
This is somewhat of a vague suggestion, but an earnest one. New York is known for having a Starbucks on every corner (and more and more Dunkin Donuts as well). It’s also famous for having about as many nice places to eat as you could possibly imagine. But during the holiday season, there’s a special charm to finding the more intimate and independent places – little cafés and coffee shops that don’t necessarily belong to big chains. It can be easier said than done, but keep your eyes peeled and do some research on the area around where you’re staying.
My personal pick: The Chocolate Room, a pretty little place tucked away in the famous Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn (incidentally a perfect place for a holiday season stroll). Called a “sophisticated version of a malt shoppe” that can satisfy adults and breathe life into children’s fantasies of Wonka-like candy shops, it’s just a delightful place to sit for a drink and a treat.