New York City has had my little wanderlust heart ever since I can remember. I’ve gone every year since I graduated college and it is just as magical each time. I have quite a few friends making a trip there this holiday season and after sending this list out several times, I decided to share it with all of you! This is somewhat specific to the holiday season but also has tips and tricks for food/shopping/sightseeing in general. So here it is, my list of things you must see/do in NYC:
Shopping on 5th Avenue –
The most iconic shopping in New York, picture all of your favorite movies shot in NYC and there’s bound to be a scene here. Tiffany’s, Henri Bendel, and the Plaza Hotel are sights you have to see! The next two streets over are Madison and Park Avenue and the streets walking in between have the most beautiful brownstones. The “school” from Gossip Girl is on Park Avenue….it’s actually a hotel called the New York Palace hotel and its stunning, has a huge tree at Christmastime and is so picturesque.
Ice skate in Central Park –
Best to do this at night, it’s so very magical…nothing quite like it and be sure to save room for a late night snack of hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream, it’s just at their little concessions stand but it is oh so tasty.
*I prefer this over Rockefeller Center ice skating because it’s so much bigger but both are iconic and beautiful.
Brunch at the Central Park Boathouse –
Delicious and so picturesque. Go for brunch on the weekends or lunch during the week and request a table along the windows. After you’re done, walk out the building to the right and you’ll pass some of the most beautiful views of the park, including the fountain and bridge that you can often find choirs and singers performing underneath. Sounds incredible with the acoustics of the architecture.
Holiday Shops at Bryant Park –
Similar to an outdoor Nutcracker Market (us Houstonians know oh so well!) with local shops set up in rows, an ice skating rink, and tons of yummy food vendors. Tons of locals come out for this and you really feel just a part of the city, doing what New Yorker’s do on the weekends.
Holiday Fair at Grand Central Station –
GCS is a must see in and of itself because it’s so grand, so beautiful and is honestly like a mall + fantastic food court inside a subway/train terminal. I would have lunch here at Shake Shack… It’s one of New York’s claims to burger fame and they have several locations all around the city, with this being the least crowded that I saw. Do the works…shake + burger + fries, you won’t regret it. The holiday fair is another little local set up for the season and its a great place to pick up some unique finds.
*I love to show people this fun NYC find when I’m with someone who hasn’t been to the city before – find the archway cross-section where there is a sign for the OYSTER BAR and stand facing one corner while the other person you are with stands and faces the other corner, whisper, and be amazed.
9/11 Museum – of all of the “tourist” attractions there are to do in NYC (Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, 9/11 Museum and Memorial, etc.)…this one has by far been my favorite. You have to get tickets ahead of time and reserve a time to go the museum but it’s incredible. Its a HUGE museum and my advice would be to quickly work through the first several rooms and then really spend time on the last couple of rooms where you really get to see the stories behind what happened that day. It was fascinating to both my husband and I because we were so young when it happened that we didn’t fully understand at the time, but still lived in that part of history.
*This is near the financial district and Lower Manhattan and I will say, that’s not my most favorite part of town…lots of people working and rushing and the streets are very busy so go and do your sightseeing and then head on to other parts of the city to enjoy.
The Standard Hotel in Meatpacking District, great for champagne and small bites, I think I’ve been there every time I’ve been to NYC, it’s quaint and unique and non-touristy
The “Food Court” beneath the Plaza Hotel, the most incredible food court you’ll ever go to. Go for lunch. Grab the mini donuts as a treat after. You won’t regret it.
The Polo Bar, beneath the flagship Ralph Lauren store on 5th Avenue, call first for reservations ahead of time, take them even if they are early or late! Yummy food, reasonable pricing for fine dining, phenomenal services, celeb hot spot which makes for some fun sightings and dinner conversation.
Brunch inside the restaurant at the Nomo Soho: some of the best brunch food I have EVER had. And of course it’s out of this world beautiful, windows and chandeliers everywhere. So picturesque.
My biggest, biggest advice is not plan to do too much in one day. Choose one or two things to plan out and make reservations for but then just go wherever piques your interest at the time. I think people get overwhelmed because there is so much you can do but you shouldn’t try to do it all, it’s such a bustling and beautiful city that you’re going to just enjoy the ride. Hope this is helpful to all of you and you either can put this list to use sooner or later!