NYC

What To Do in NYC Over the Holidays

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Meet You at Fifth and 50th

The holidays are a particularly fun season to shop in and around Herald Square. Stores like Saks, Macy’s Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s and Tiffany create scenery in their windows that rival any Broadway stage.

What To Do in NYC Over the Holidays

One of this season’s Saks Fifth Ave window displays

Some people consider a visit to the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship a pilgrimage. And, given that they unveiled their holiday windows by closing off 5th Ave and orchestrating a 200-person choir group and light show, I respect that. Even after all these years (it opened in 1924), Saks is still considered the best department store in terms of quality, styles and service. Enjoy browsing and don’t let anyone rush you.

What To Do in NYC Over the Holidays

A provocative, holiday-themed window at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC

Relax, NYC-style

And to take a relaxing break from all that Madison Avenue shopping, plop yourself into a seat for an $8 pot of tea (between 3pm and 5pm) at The Gallery at The Carlyle. It’s NYC’s best-kept luxury-on-a-budget secret. Then, if you’re looking for more fun, step into Bemelman’s Bar, The Carlyle’s gorgeous piano bar, with murals on the walls and candles creating romantic mood lighting, and treat yourself to a few $25 cocktails (note: there’s a $25 to $35 cover when the jazz trio is playing). If that’s not convenient, grab a drink at one of the other many fancy, uptown hotels — my favorites are: The Plaza, The Lowell, and The St. Regis.

What To Do in NYC Over the Holidays

The Gallery at the Carlyle Hotel, NYC

But most of all: relax and enjoy… because it’ll all be over in what’ll seem like a New York minute. Happy Holidays!

What do you do in NYC around the holidays?

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A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

34 Comments

  1. Claudia Nainggolan

    NYC Christmas shows are the best!

  2. Phillippe Salvatore

    Perfect! I appreciate your list, especially now that I’m in search for some yuletide fun.

  3. For me, the best thing to do in NYC (over the holidays) is watch Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting.

  4. Debbie Jones

    Thank you for the suggestions 🙂 I’d like to share that I love Macy’s window displays. Never fail to impress!

  5. Irene McCarthy

    I recently had a beautiful dinner (a day after Thanksgiving) at Tavern on the Green. The decor has old New York charm and I loved the bar area with fireplace.

  6. NYC during the holiday season is definitely something else with the gorgeous combination of festive lights and tall skyscrapers. I love ice skating at Rockefeller Center with my boyfriend 😉

  7. I agree! NYC is really at its best during holidays! And yeah, my daughter love Christmas shows!

  8. Jessica Carlson

    NYC is home to me. It’s already a great place to live in as it is, and with all the lights, sounds, and spectacular sights, one can’t help but get excited for the coming of the holidays. This time of the year is always the most anticipated, among the adults and more so among the children. This huge urban jungle more than compensates for the lack of natural sights with superb holiday decorations, colorful sights, delectable food, and merry activities. After a long and hard day at work, it’s just nice to step outside of the workplace and immediately get enveloped with the spirit of the yuletide season and the atmosphere of merriment.

    Thanks to the author for this article as well. That’s a long list of must-see places and new hang-outs to check out. 🙂

  9. Jennifer McSween

    I saw the Nutcracker in 2013! Such an incredible setting. Something I will never forget!

  10. Kim Hartford

    All of you people who get to spend their holidays in the big apple are the luckiest people on earth, and you better know and appreciate it 🙂

  11. Evelyn Sandler

    Miracle on Ninth Street is my favorite bar in New York! A bar where it’s always Christmas. Am I in Heaven? The North Pole? No… I’m on 9th and Ave C in Alphabet City. God bless the USA. <3 🙂

  12. Molly Twain

    This year we are doing a Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise in NYC. I am so excited!

  13. Kimberley Foulkes

    If you are in New York during the Christmas season, The Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heights is a must! You get to see the houses as you know them, from American movies / shows. During the tour there is plenty of time to take pictures and you’ll be amazed by the decorations. This tour will certainly get you in the Christmas spirit. I can’t wait to go again this year! 🙂

  14. Susanna Milton

    To be honest it’s the beautifully decorated streets and shop windows in New York that surely put you in the Christmas mood!

  15. Sabrina Wellington

    Christmas atmosphere in New York is really indescribable! Last time I visited, I amazed by countless lights and magical decorations. =)

  16. Ayla Pennington

    I just read some news about people declaring war on Christmas in Bronx. I hope that doesn’t kill the vibe in rest of the New York.

  17. Amelia Beckons

    I’ve read that New York stores already have impressive Christmas decorations up!

  18. Sabrina Grattidge

    Winter in New York is worth the hype!! 🙂

  19. Lynn Hayes

    It’s the articles like this convince me that New Yorkers are the most fortunate and blessed people on this planet!

  20. Frances Seifert

    I can’t wait to order the biggest raw seafood platter at Le Balthazar!!!

  21. Kimberly Thompson

    I am so inspired to take a New York trip right now. Wow!!

  22. Catherine White

    Sooooo many romantic places! I can’t make it this year, but I’m already saving up for next year.

  23. Pearl Nguyen

    I know why you love Balthazar! 😀 You’re a Paris lover, and Balthazar is very Parisienne!! Great bistro with an extensive menu full of French favorites. The best French food without traveling to France. 🙂

  24. Pamela Sanabria

    Bemelmans Bar is the BEST! I heard so much about this place that I just had to get here!!! Great music, great crowd, and seriously, I don’t know what they do to get it so good, the perfect vodka martini!! Served in a chilled glass, the drink is ice cold and incredibly delicious. he live band was wonderful, offering that perfect mellow mood for a quintessential NY evening with dimmed lights and upholstered chairs tucked away into cozy nooks. All that was missing was a good cigar. The wall murals (Madeline children’s book series) were an added bonus. 🙂

  25. Kaitlyn Barrett

    All I have to say is, I am so jealous of you New Yorkers!!!

  26. Olivia Peterson

    For those who are in New York on New Year’s Eve; I would recommend you go to New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop Party! I went last year. And will be going again this year! Incredible location with a direct view of the ball drop and the fireworks in central park. Much better than being in the crowds! We had a great view, and the party was fun!

  27. Olivia Peterson

    I went to some of the places you recommended and I agree, they’re all rather nice and fun locations. 🙂

  28. Sydney Nowak

    Park Avenue Winter has a good seasonal menu concept with sleek modern inside, waiting staff, coat check and bar. It’s kind of overpriced for my budget, but it was well worth it!

  29. Anna Kaplan

    The Waverly Inn is one of my favorite places to! I hope to run into you there one day. 🙂

  30. Julia MacLean

    Hello Hilary! Thank you so much for the recommendations. It’ll be very useful as I’ll be spending Christmas with my family in New York this year!

  31. Franny Pimms

    I wish I could spend Christmas in New York.

  32. Sarah Uibel

    I always love going to see the Rock Center Tree. It just never gets old. Love NYC this time of year, it’s magical! : )

  33. Monica CONOVER

    My sister and I used to love to check out the Christmas lights on 5th Avenue, by foot or from a bus (MTA, not doubledecker). Glad that’s one thing that still has its magic in NYC!

  34. Sasha Rosswell

    I wish it would snow so it would be an absolute winter wonderland! 🙂

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