There's no place like home. But let's be honest, there's also no place like New York City during the holidays. There is the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the annual National Dog Show (which airs on TV directly after the parade) and the gorgeous holiday window displays up-and-down 5th Avenue.
I stayed in the city this year for the holiday and was lucky enough to spend it with one of my besties visiting from California. Because it was her first time in NY during the holiday season I wanted to make sure she got the full experience.
Even after living in NY for 3.5 years the holidays are still a magical time for me - and I wanted to share my tips for enjoying this truly American holiday in The Big Apple!
SIGHTSEEING: What you definitely have to see
- If you have no patience to wake up at 6am to secure a spot to watch the parade on Thanksgiving, head up to CPW the night before and watch them blow up all those famous balloons
- Ice Skating: you can do it all over the city but the most magical locations are in Central Park and at Rockefeller Center
- Holiday Markets: They aren't just popular in Europe. They all officially open after Thanksigiving, but the two early birds you can check out are the Union Square Holiday Market, and the Winter Village in Bryant Park (complete with ice skating rink and pop-up restaurant)
- All the decorations (obviously): Don't just walk down 5th Avenue, make sure you head over to Columbus Circle, walk down 6th Avenue, and ...
FOOD AND DRINK: You don't have to cook 'the meal' if you don't want to
- Coffee + Tea: when it's cold outside nothing is better than a hot drink, and Saint Ambroeus, Alice's Tea Cup, and XX have you covered.
- Weekend brunch: No trip to NYC would be complete without a weekend brunch, and XX is the place you want to go.
- Drinks: Pop-up bars become more prevalent during the holidays and two that you definitely need to check out are Santa's Surf Shack and The Lodge at the McKittrick.
- Thanksgiving Dinner: Why spend the time cooking dinner when you are only in the city for a few days? Lucky for you there are a handful of restaurants that keep Thanksgiving Dinner reasonably priced under $100 for multiple courses.
- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: If you decide to go keep these tips in mind...arrive by 7am and secure a spot further uptown near Columbus Circle. Only ticket holders are allowed to be in those spots in front of Macy's, and you will be able to leave before all the crowds when the parade is over.
- Hard Cider Festival: It's fall, it's the holidays, of course there would be a Hard Cider Festival in the city. Make sure to check the site, events happening in locations throughout the various boroughs.
- Not Your Standard Bingo: This isn't for Grandma. It's at the hip Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking. Put on your cutest outfit, because this is a see and be seen type of event, that also happens to have a fun game attached to it.
- Broadway show: No trip to NY would be complete without seeing a broadway show. If you don't want to pay full price make sure to check out Broadway For Broke People to see what shows have rush tickets and lottery entries (some are even online). TodayTix is also a great app for your phone which allows you to get discounted tickets for some of the hottest plays and musicals.