The holiday season is in full effect and the streets of New York are as crowded as ever. Personally, I can’t get enough of the energy of the city now – with its festive, happy vibe – though it’s important to note that I make sure to clear my head and place myself in total zen mode before hitting the streets to take it all in.
But, taking it all in can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t exactly know where to start. This is when taking a list can be extremely helpful in not only getting you to the best spots to see in the city, but also to highlight some other things you might have not noticed or known about.
I took a couple of days of playing tourist in the city to check some fun tours and happenings in town.
The Holiday Sites and Lights Tour with On Locations Tours takes you to some of the city’s most popular holiday movie sites, as well as some of the best window display viewings in town. Film location spots from popular movies such as Elf and Home Alone 2, among others, are highlighted. You also get a chance to stop and admire some of the most unusual and beautiful holiday displays showcased by popular shopping destinations such as Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. You do all this while riding on a comfortable (and warm) bus, which covers a lot of territory during your tour saving you time, as well as keeping you safe from the cold and crowds. The guides are always fun and friendly, offering tons of behind-the-scenes information about the city and the films that celebrate it. I really enjoyed this tour at night especially because it’s when you really can appreciate the lights. The tour is about 2.5 hours long and adult tickets are $35, plus $3 fee. The tour is family friendly. Tours run till beginning of January.
Lord and Taylor Holiday Windows
Barney’s New York Holiday Windows
Lincoln Center, favorite film location for many films, including holiday favorites.
The Ride Holiday Edition is a lot of what I already love about this unique tour, but with a holiday twist. See New York City in a way that few can, and meet fun New York City characters that help to make this city what it is. The tour is over an hour-long, but you really wouldn’t know it, as the fun never ends. By far one of my favorite bus tours in the city and definitely a must when visiting. The tour is a family friendly ride and, in my opinion, is best during the day. The holiday tickets are on sale till early January and are about $64.oo for a matinée excursion.
Interesting NYC characters can be seen from The Ride
City views from The RideRocking out inside The Ride.
Discovery Times Square is a fabulous place to visit anytime of the year, so if you are looking for a cool place to visit with fun exhibits, this is a must on your list. The exhibits are always changing, but to give you an insight of how cool they can be, I wanted to share what they were showcasing when I last visited. (Updated 2018: This venue is no longer in business. We are searching for another epic venue to review in its place).
The Art of The Brick by Nathan Sawaya. If he is exhibiting at your city, I recommend you check him out. I took my little ones and we were in awe from the moment we walked in. Mr. Sawaya’s work using nothing more than LEGO is incredible – definitely put all my Lego projects to shame! I especially enjoyed seeing my children completely captivated by all the pieces and taking in every detail of how things were put together, how many bricks were used, and where the original inspiration came from, especially with the replicas of famous paintings by artist such as Van Gogh and Munch.
Go during the latter part of the day and you might avoid the holiday crowds and lines. Definitely aim to take your time there. The pieces aren’t for kids to play with, but admire, so it might not be best suited for little ones who may be tempted to touch.
Of course, I have mentioned the rink and pop-up shops at Bryant Park. Another rink that just opened up to the public this weekend (till early March) is the rink at South Street Seaport. Pier 17 itself is under development, but the South Street Mall is in full swing with bars, shops, and now a fully lit Christmas tree and ice-skating rink to help celebrate the holiday season. Admission to the ice skating rink is $10, plus $6 for rentals. They also offer lessons and host birthday parties.
Don’t miss pop-up shops by Columbus Circle and the light display in the Time Warner Center.
We loved stopping into The Smith’s newest location on 63rd and Broadway for generous servings of comfort brunch food, as well as raw bar. Like all The Smith eateries around the city, this one doesn’t disappoint!
Needless to say, there are tons to see, plenty to do, and lots of fun places to shop in.
Wear comfortable shoes, dress warmly, and don’t forget your smile. Head out and see why the holidays in NYC are my absolute favorite time here!
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