NYC during the Holidays


New York is in full swing celebrating the holidays again much like the years before 2020. We made our annual pilgrimage to the glitzy city for a little joy, a little laughter and a lot of shopping.

After purchasing our one week pass at the metro station, we were ready to take it all on. Here are some our favorites, by no means a complete list, please feel free to send your own favorites along to us.

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After checking out the most spectacular, display windows head to Bergdorf and Goodman’s top floor for shopping– or maybe just looking. Then head to their restaurant for high tea or lunch. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. This department store is an absolute treasure. Of course, Saks does a light show intermittently in the evening across from the Rockefeller Center and its amazing Christmas Tree which looks down on the ice skating rink below.

The Plaza hotel is not open to visitors any longer except through the south side door to the handful of stores that remain. So, if you love over the top hotel lobby decorations check out The Peninsula, The Waldorf-Astoria and the St. Regis for lunch or the bar after 4:00pm. The doormen are highly tolerant of the tourists.

At the north end of the High Line, Hudson Yards is busy again and full of sparkly lights, hot air balloons, good food and good shopping. We always enjoy grabbing a bite to eat on the bottom floor in Little Spain. Dylan’s candy shop is a favorite for kids and gummi bear enthusiasts both young and in our case old.

If you are a foodie, visit Eataly in the Flatiron or FiDi, Le District in the Winter Garden in Battery Park City (where there is also ice skating) or the Tin Building at the Sea Port. The Tin Building is a resurrection of sorts from Hurricane Sandy that had damaged much of the structure. Now it houses a number of wonderful restaurants and specialty grocery shops. We had the most wonderful sea bass and pea shoots at the Red Pearl which is located through some curtains, speak-easy style at the back of a little asian specialty food store on the second floor. I am still dreaming about that lunch!

The minuscule John Derian stores both in West and East Village are a special treat for the eyes as well as ABC Home with its gift of display and merchandising. Another favorite shopping haunt during the holidays is Chelsea Market which is inevitably busy but charming.

Photos above: Bryant Park, Winter Garden, Central Park, Wall Street, Hudson Yards

If you can afford a show New York is the place to make that effort. This year we saw Music Man with Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman–an absolute delight. The Rockettes are always a Christmas classic. Midweek has the most affordable prices for many Broadway shows. And, you can try one of the discount ticket locations. If you are staying in a hotel the concierge will often help run down tickets.

The Christmas Tree on Wall Street is gorgeous. A few steps away is a Tiffany’s inside a beautifully restored old bank. The elevators take you up to the table top and stationery floors. If you have your walking shoes on you head from here to the Brooklyn Bridge and walk across with the masses. Drop down in to the DUMBO where many an iconic photo can be taken. The Empire Stores are located in this area in an old coffee and sugar warehouse. There are great views of the bridge and Manhattan from the second level. Outside is a glass enclosed carousel. Try the Bombay Bel at Chote Miya–Bombay Street Food. We have never had anything like it, but enjoyed it so much we are trying to figure out how to replicate it at home. Also, the spicy hot chicken curry, honey chili cauliflower and samosas are great bets.

Regardless of the season, Central Park is a welcome respite and a place we never fail to visit for a quiet meander. If you are ready for crowds the festive Bryant Park with its Ice rink, Christmas Village and holiday decorations is lots of fun. Further afield, the light and train show at the New York Botanical Garden located in the Bronx is a yearly treat.

Finally, we attended a beautiful Complin Service at St. Paul’s in the FiDi which is held on Sundays during advent. And on an even more poignant note, St. Nicholas at long last has risen from the ashes of 9/11. It is now open for two services on Sunday as well as brief tours for the public during the daytime. At night time it glows above the 9/11 memorial as a light in the darkness which as a universal sign of hope.

I feel like I have just skimmed the surface of sights and experiences in New York during the holidays. Hopefully this list will give your family some inspiration. Let us know what we missed.

Check out New York City hotels that can sleep a family of 5 or more!

Happy Holidays,

From Sleeps5

Photo above: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church




  1. Hotelier Syl on May 23, 2023 at 11:59 pm

    Your blog post on visiting NYC during the holidays is a fantastic guide for anyone planning a trip to the Big Apple. I appreciate how you highlight the city’s enchanting festive atmosphere, from the dazzling holiday decorations to the ice skating rinks and festive markets. Your recommendations for must-see attractions like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular add to the excitement of the holiday season. I also found your tips on navigating the crowds and finding affordable accommodations very helpful. Thank you for sharing your expertise and providing valuable insights for a memorable holiday experience in NYC. Well done!

    • Holly Jacobsen on July 10, 2023 at 11:00 am

      Thank you

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