It’s no wonder that spending time over the holidays in New York City is on so many wish lists. Iconic destinations are even more glittery and grand when adorned with spectacular lighting and decorations. If you are planning a trip during the winter wonderland season, here are seven ways to make it memorable.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the United states and is grand on every level. As you climb the steps to enter through the doors of the Beaux-Arts facade, rest assured that whatever your art interests may be, you will find plenty of examples here. The Museum’s Christmas tree is an annual favorite and you could do all of your shopping at the wonderful museum store.
The moment you step foot into The American Museum of Natural History, you may time-travel back to when your kids were dinosaur-obsessed, but we promise there are no purple ones on site. Visit darkened dioramas, the gigantic reassembled T-Rex, and statue of Teddy Roosevelt, whose father was one of the museum co-founders. Should you desire your own Night at the Museum experience, take the tour by the same name.
Other favorites are the Frick Museum, the Guggenheim, the Morgan, the Modern Museum of Art…only time holds you back from exploring amazing museums throughout the city.
Bergdorf Goodman, with two stores on 5th Avenue, between 57th and 58th Streets, across from the Plaza Hotel is a perfect starting place to begin an eight-block shopping stroll. Though now a member of the Neiman Marcus chain, the original building opened in 1928 in what was a Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion. (The one across the street houses the men’s department.) The Christmas window displays of the main store are, without fail, the most inventive in town, giving a sneak peek to the high style found inside. Take the elevator to the 7th floor to see the Home Collection and feast on the Central Park views which are among the prettiest you will see. To begin to understand the singular fashion presence BG occupies in the city, take a look at of the 2013 documentary, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman.
Tiffany’s flagship store sits on the corner of 57th street and 5th Avenue where it has held court since 1940. As you stand outside the stately granite building, it may be impossible to resist thinking of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly staring into the windows of her favorite spot in town. Enter the revolving door to the ground floor and gaze at some of the most gorgeous pieces of wearable art that makes Tiffany’s much more than a mere “jewelry store,” and those blue boxes much more than just gifts.
Saks Fifth Avenue, on 50th street, reminds us of what departments stores used to be like, and how their numbers have dwindled. The Shoe Salon has it’s own zip code, 10022-SHOE, so don’t fail to visit the 8th floor to see the incredible array of footwear for yourself.
Rockefeller Center, across Fifth Avenue from Saks, is a complex of 19 buildings covering 22 acres. After the crash in 1929, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was the sole financier of the development that would span the next decade. The skating rink is the iconic focal point, but my favorite part of the center is the Channel Gardens so-named as they separate the British Empire from La Maison Francaise Buildings. Every year the tree at Rock center attracts tourists and locals alike. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else!
When night falls and you catch a glimpse of the Empire State Building or Chrysler Building’s terraced crown illumination, prepare to be awed, regardless of how long you have lived in NYC or how many times you have visited. An elegant example of Art Deco architecture, the building’s gargoyles are modeled after Chrysler automobile products like the hood ornaments of the Plymouth.
The Theater District houses 40 theaters offering an astonishing concentration of live productions. Pick up a copy of The New Yorker for a complete listing of shows and reviews as a starting point. Be forewarned, the crowds during the holidays can be brutal, and Times Square will be filled to capacity.
There are memorable meals to be had in neighborhoods all over the city, and extraordinary dining is often within walking distance regardless of where you are staying. Here are Zagat’s 2015 50 top restaurants for you to consider. On the other end of the spectrum are the food trucks offering way more than hot dogs and pretzels. For other meals on the fly, the Open Table app is my favorite for nabbing a table and trying to avoid long waits.
Seeing a play is not the only spectator sport. Madison Square Garden hosts basketball, hockey and concerts, and, of course, Radio City welcomes the annual Christmas Show with the famous Rockettes. The show may be old fashioned but is definitely worth seeing once.
Walking the streets of Manhattan never disappoints. The store windows decked out for the holidays, the people, the energy are unlike anywhere else we have ever lived or traveled. Our tip? Bring two pair of very comfortable shoes to rotate so blisters have a chance to heal. Better yet, make the stop at Saks shoe zip code first on your list.
Picking favorites for the holidays in New York City can only cover a tiny fraction and walking the city’s neighborhoods will lead you to your own discoveries. If you’re on the Upper West Side, stop in at Zabars or Fairway. Take a stroll on the High Line, or pop in and out of the fabulous boutiques in SoHo. We could go on but what have we left off that you love about New York?