a trip to new york city at christmas time

It is already December 28th and I am just now sharing this blog post. Many of you may have already thrown your Christmas tree out on the curb. And just like your great aunt Debbie’s leftover pecan pie, this post is now three days old and not worth it. But I am moving forth with it anyways, so here we go.

If you search “New York City at Christmas time” on Pinterest you will find thousands of itineraries full of lavish things to do in the city: broadway shows, the Radio City Rockettes, and a horse drawn carriage ride through central park in the snow. Fair warning: This is not one of those itineraries. Flash back to a rainy Saturday in October, I was scrolling the interwebs and stumbled upon flights from Charleston to JFK round trip for $120 each and I could not resist. I began planning an end of the year getaway for Will, myself, and the kids knowing that we were going to make the most of the this trip but try not to break the bank right around the holidays.

A Kid Friendly Christmas:

I tried to of course cram in as many kid-friendly Christmas activities as we could in two days. We reserved a spot in line in advance to see Santa at Macy’s Herald Square on 34th Street (as in Miracle in 34th Street). This was more crowded than I thought it would be for a Friday mid-day, but the line moved really fast and was well organized. I don’t think I’d do it again, but it was nice to say we’ve seen “the real Santa” at least once. Afterwards we headed to the Holiday Market at Bryant Park that has an ice skating rink, a really big beautiful Christmas tree, and lots of food and vendors. There is also a cute vintage outdoor carousel that opens at 11am. This was a fun spot for a snack and people watching. Since we got there early and missed this carousel, we decided to ride the Seaglass Carousel downtown by Battery Park. It was $5 a person (they even charged the baby although he sat on my lap) but it was pretty magical.

The next day we headed into midtown to see Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. This was so unbelievably crowded both times we tried to go in the evenings so I would suggest coming really early (like 4pm) to avoid the crowd. Likewise, one block over Saks Fifth Avenue’s light show was pretty neat and was set to Frozen music! But again, the street crowds were crazy. I have heard if you go early in the season (closer to the first week of December), its not so bad. It started to rain so we popped into St Patrick’s Cathedral which was beautiful decorated for the holidays and a nice break from the crowd. We decided to take Liam “shopping” at FAO Shwartz which is right there next to the Rockefeller tree. But we didn’t end up buying anything but it is always a fun store for kids to shop around and browse the latest and greatest toys. Right there at Rockefeller is also the ice skating rink which we did not do on this trip but was fun to people watch.

Where We Ate: 

So like I previously mentioned, Midtown/Time Square is a madhouse this time of year and there will be a wait for a table no matter what day of the week or time of day, so I suggest if you don’t have reservations and you are rolling deep with kids or a big party, get on the train/subway and head elsewhere for a good meal. If you are in Bryant Park around the holidays, you can pick up food at the holiday vendors, grab a seat, and do some people watching. La Pain Quotidian had yummy sandwiches and drinks. For lunch the first day, we took the train to the Flat Iron and ate at Eataly. On day two, we headed to Chintown for some ramen noodles. I can not remember the name of the restaurant in Chinatown but Will’s only input when it Chinatown is to look at the restaurant’s food rating in the window and if it doesn’t have an A rating, move on to the next one. For dinner twice this trip we grabbed pizza at Little Italy Pizza downtown and had the best slices. Nothing beats a proper slice of pizza for $2 that you can grab on the go. Best part of being in the city, in my opinion.

For the Ghostbuster Enthusiast:

You may also be wondering why during this Christmas excursion, we threw in a trip to see the Ghostbuster’s fire house. Well the answer is simple, Liam is currently OBSESSED with all things Ghostbusters. So once we told him we were going to NYC, we knew the Ghostbusters would somehow be involved. So for any of you also interested in knowing, the real Ghostbusters house is actually an active fire station in Tribeca (Hook and Ladder 8 at 14 North Moore St). We also rode the free Staten Island ferry so he could see the Statue of Liberty (big deal in the second movie). Other spots in town that we didn’t go see but would be fun if you are a fan of the movies includes: the NY Public library, Tavern on the Green in Central Park, Spook Central aka Dana and Louis’s apartment at 55 Central Park West, and the National Museum of the American Indian from part two.

Also, of course it wouldn’t be a trip if I didn’t make a video to summarize the weekend. Enjoy this video and let me know if you ever have any NYC tips and trips for traveling with kids.   xx


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