One of the cities Jim highlighted in his recent post on three places to celebrate Christmas in America was, naturally, New York. This is a follow-up post on three specific places to check out in the Big Apple if you want the quintessential New York Christmas experience.
1. Rockefeller Center
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Rockefeller Center is at the very heart of a New York Christmas. Its giant tree and ice skaters are familiar to everyone. As Jim mentioned, it’s definitely a fun place to just walk around and absorb the holiday cheer: lights, carols, and street vendors selling warm caramelized nuts.
Tip: Avoid Rockefeller Center and mid-town in general on Christmas Eve. I’ve been to the Rockefeller Center a few times during the Christmas season. Each time it’s been busy, but in a pleasant bustling sort of way. However the one time I went on Christmas Eve, it was insane! I was pressed in on all sides by people to such an extent that even if I had fainted I would have remained upright. It was way more intense than any concert I’ve even been too. It seemed just as crowded as Times Square on New Year’s Eve, which was perplexing because there wasn’t a specific event. It was a bit too much. All other times have been a blast.
2. Macy’s Herald Square windows
I’ve already written about Macy’s as a New York destination in and of itself. This is most true at Christmas than during any other time of year, in part because of their famous holiday windows and decor.
Macy’s knows the draw their holiday windows have for New Yorkers and tourists alike. When I was shopping a few weeks ago, they were still in the process of being set up. All the Charlie Brown-themed ones were partially obscured with cleverly tagged screens.
Other windows were already unveiled.
But Macy’s doesn’t have a corner market on holiday windows —just walk around and explore.
3. Union Square’s Holiday Market
This may be the least known, and my new favorite holiday experience in the city: Union Square’s Holiday Market. I discovered it just last week while going for a Sunday stroll. Apparently it’s in its 20th year, and is already a New York staple.
It’s an Urbanspace pop-up market that feels like a throwback to medieval city marketplaces. Hundreds of booths create pedestrian alleys that wend around the large square.
Each booth is independently run, and it’s a visual treat just to wander along all the colorful, handcrafted, made in New York wares. I found a perfect hand-printed birthday card for my sister at one of the booths that sold prints and artworks. I know she is going to absolutely love it, and it’s 100% unique and specific to New York.
Some of my favorite stalls were the sweet smelling chocolate shops, pastry stands, and other locally made holiday goodies.
Tip: Hot apple cider was sold at many of the stalls and it is a delicious must!
— Laura Rowley