15 New York Holiday Traditions That Deserve All The Rom-Coms And Fireplace Snuggles
I think Hallmark movies are the cheesiest, most absurd, unrealistic films to grace the planet. Give me an alien invasion before you give me another “big city business woman meets a cowboy in a store, then they get married on Christmas Eve” plot line.
That all changes when I walk the streets of Manhattan in December.
For one month, and one month only, I enjoy frolicking through the city, pretending to be in my very own rom-com. Silly? Absolutely. Worth it? Obviously.
New York City hosts a holiday season like no other. From gigantic trees to ice skating rinks that quite literally pop up out of nowhere, Christmas spirit comes naturally. That being said, pushing through crowds with the tenacity of Ebenezer himself also comes naturally. It really is the full Christmas package.
This is my second holiday season in the city that never sleeps, and I feel much better prepared to take on the holly jolly now that I know what I’m getting into. It’s time to go all out with a Christmas bucket list.
1. Watch the Rockettes at Radio City
I’ve heard amazing things. I’ve watched the camel being walked to Radio City. I’ve said hello to countless Rockettes handing out pamplets on the sidewalk. It’s time to go inside and see the show!
2. Browse each holiday market
I do this multiple times, especially because my office is so close to Bryant Park. But if you’re shopping, you need to hit all the festive parks! To make sure you don’t miss one: Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, Union Square, and the indoor Grand Central Terminal Market.
3. Get the perfect photo of Saks’ light show
Luckily, Saks Fifth Avenue’s light show starts every 10 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about missing it! It’s the gigantic, booming ray of light and sound that’s across from Rockefellar Center. If you can’t find it, it’s a “you” problem.
4. Sip hot chocolate at Serendipity’s
The Insta-worthy frozen hot chocolate that you’re sure to find on any NYC Instagram page once winter hits. Serendipity’s is luxury in an oversized glass, and golly it sure is delicious.
5. Grab a Levain’s cookie and a cup of hot chocolate in the snow
Since I’m highly motivated by anything Levain’s, (the world famous cookie has been on my Best New York Eats list from the beginning), this activity just screams perfection. Give me a cookie and a cup of hot chocolate and let me wander through Central Park…I’ll be the happiest camper.
6. Visit Macy’s in Herald Square (on a weekday as to not get trampled)
Macy’s is a NYC icon, but it doesn’t stop being festive once the Thanksgiving Day Parade is complete. Macy’s goes all out for Christmas as well. AND they have an entire floor dedicated to shoes, if you needed more convincing.
7. Take in the ballet
8. Check out the lights in Dyker Heights
I live in Brooklyn, yes. I live near Dyker Heights, no. That is not to say that I won’t pack up my winter boots and head over the borough and through the park to see what is supposedly the “best Christmas lights in New York City.”
9. Walk through Tiffany’s and observe boyfriends picking out engagement rings
I like doing this year-round, but as we all know, engagements run rampant during the holidays. There must be something in the water. Regardless, wandering through Tiffany’s incredible engagement level and watching nervous boyfriends pick out sparkly rocks for their sweethearts is a real treat.
10. Have dinner at Rolf’s
You know the scene in Elf, when Buddy makes the department store look like Christmas threw up all over it? That’s what Rolf’s looks like. The German Restaurant is WILD for Christmas, so much so that decorations are up until Memorial Day!
11. Wander along 5th Ave and join the crazies in search of window displays
Yes, I know, it’s not Christmas in New York without window displays. From Sak’s to Bergdorf Goodman, the lights are shining and the Christmas spirit is fierce. The crowds are also fierce, tread lightly.
12. Walk along the Brooklyn Bridge in the snow
It’s just pretty, ok?
13. Spend time at a Village coffee shop, people watching
The Village is so stinkin’ cute. It’s already rom-com worthy (maybe that’s why rent is so high?), so add some holiday cheer to the mix and you’ll be thriving. This neighborhood is home to tons of cute cafes, so park yourself with a good book, your Christmas list, or simply a cup of coffee and watch the people walk by.
14. Take a photo with the New York Public Library lions
The NYPL is already one of my favorite buildings in the city, but the library lions are the icing on the cake. They’re also cheery little scoundrels, and dress up for Christmas. I adore them.
15. Experience the Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Garden
I rarely make the trek up to The Bronx, but for the sake of a cute holiday show, I just might! Fun for the whole family ensues when you have festive trains guiding you through the majestic Botanical Garden. The Garden also has an “Adult Only” Holiday Train Show, with holiday cocktails and a cappella groups alongside the trains.