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A quiet moment in Central Park, captured with my phone camera!
Happy Wednesday, Noshers! It’s my favorite time of year in NYC – and although that means my battle with throngs of tourists during my commute is daily and frequent, I always get a bit giddy with holiday cheer in December! Today I’m excited to share my Top 10 Holiday Must-Do’s in NYC. Whether you’re visiting NYC for the first time, or a seasoned resident like myself, this list is bound to get you in the NoshGirl holiday spirit :). So let’s get started, shall we?
1. Share a cone of fries from Pommes Frites
Head to the East Village for a generously-portioned paper cone of pommes frites and three dipping sauces (their menu of sauces is mind boggling). If you’re feeling particularly saucy, splurge for the poutine. You won’t regret it! Once you’ve had your fill of fries, head a few blocks up to Union Square to…
2. Visit the holiday markets – during off hours!
Union Square Holiday Market (Source: The Good Batch)
There are several holiday markets throughout the city, including this one at Union Square as well as markets at Columbus Circle and Bryant Park. There are a ton of cute/cool booths selling pretty much anything you need to get that holiday shopping done. Of particular interest to me, of course, are the multitude of food and beverage offerings. I like getting a cup of cider to slowly sip as I browse. The key to these markets is going at off hours if at all possible. A couple weekends ago, I went to the Union Square holiday market on Saturday afternoon and lasted all of four minutes before getting out of there. They are popular and can get super crowded!
If the markets are too crowded for you, head over to City Bakery….
3. Get hot chocolate at City Bakery
Image: Serious Eats
I’m pretty much going to come right out and say it – my favorite hot chocolate in NYC is at City Bakery. That’s a pretty gutsy claim in a city where every bakery has its own incarnation of this beloved beverage, I know – but I’m putting it out there. What puts CB’s version over the top are the ethereal, fluffy homemade marshmallows, and I don’t even like marshmallows! Melting lazily into the rich, luxurious hot chocolate, they are just heavenly. Grab your hot cocoa and then up town to…
4. Be a tourist (for as long as you can stand), exploring the store windows on 5th Avenue and catching a glimpse of the tree
Source: Bryan Bedder on NYC Insider’s Guide
Every year, I manage to catch a glimpse of the tree, whether deliberately or by happenstance. This past weekend, I happened to be in the area for some holiday shopping and decided to take my annual peek. It was beautiful as ever, and although the crowds were a bit overwhelming, it wouldn’t have been the holidays without that visit! Of course in my 5 minutes of standing there, I heard a big whooop and round of applause as a lucky fellow proposed to his lady on the Rockefeller Center ice rink. Awwww.
Time to head to the Upper West Side, where you can….
5. Drool over cookies from Levain. Then eat them.
As I’ve described before, the cookies from Levain are literally the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. They are hefty, simultaneously crispy and chewy, and heavy on the chocolate. If you’re taking them to-go for home consumption, pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds for ultimate chewy melty goodness. Odds are, however, that you will just devour them in front of the storefront. I’ve considered recreating them, but considering I live relatively close to the store, I think I’ll just stick with purchasing them on a regular basis.
Fully fortified from the cookie, head further uptown to….
6. Experience the solitude of The Cloisters
Source: New York Architecture
The Cloisters is pretty far north…in Manhattan, that is. I admit it, I tend to stay on the island quite a bit (and further, to specific neighborhoods on the island – though I am trying to venture further afar these days!); however, the longer subway trip to The Cloisters is totally worth it. A visit to this museum takes you out of the hustle and bustle of the city – even if Medieval European art isn’t your thing (I can’t say it’s my forte), you’ll enjoy the building itself and the relaxing ambience.
Fun Fact – your admission ticket to The Cloisters also grants you same-day admission to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (and vice versa).
Had your fill of arts and culture? Head back down to…
7. Go ice skating at Central Park’s Wollman Rink
Source: Guest of a Guest
The rink at Rockefeller Center might get all the glory, but my favorite ice rink in the city is nestled in Central Park. Stop by for some skating amongst UES and UWS buildings; be sure to bring your mittens!
Looking to thaw a bit indoors – then head out of the park through the west side and stop by to…
8. Visit my favorite tree – the origami holiday tree at the American Museum of Natural History
There are Christmas trees galore in NYC this time of year, but my very favorite one is in the American Museum of Natural History – a statuesque tree adorned with a thousand origami ornaments. There is a theme every year; this year’s theme is Wicked, Wild, and Wonderful, honoring the Museum’s new exhibition The Power of Poison. The planning and folding process begins in April and is completely carried out by volunteers. How cool is that? If you’re in the area, or even if you’re not - check it out
Traverse the park to cross from the west side to the east side, where you can…
9. Be a kid at FAO Schwarz
Source: FAO Schwarz
It makes me a little sad that the huge line that used to occupy the space outside FAO Schwarz has now been replaced by a huge line waiting to get into the Apple store. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I haven’t had the best luck with Apple products and in fact am having trouble activating a demo iPhone that was sent to me. Aaaanyway, my parents used to take my sister and me to FAO Schwarz every holiday season, where I’d geek out at the giant piano featured in the movie Big and the moutanins and mountains of LEGO products. Whether you have kids or are a kid-at-heart yourself, a quick browse of this store is bound to inspire some giddiness
Finally, wrap up your holiday tour of NYC by venturing back into the park to…
10. Catch a bird’s eye view of Central Park from Belvedere Castle
A stormier moment at Belvedere Castle, captured with my phone camera!
One of my (many) favorite spots in Central Park is Belvedere Castle, which offers fantastic views of the Great Lawn, Delacorte Theater, and the city surrounding the park. I like visiting at least once each season to see the leaves and view change
Well, there you have it – my Top 10 Must Do’s this holiday season! Check out 1 or 10 and be sure to let me know what you think! Maybe I’ll see you there…
What are your holiday “must-do’s”?