What to Do in New York City for Christmas

My first trip to New York City was in high school to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show. I’m sorry to say the show itself isn’t really my thing (although it may be yours, so do check it out at least once!), but walking around the city at Christmastime and just soaking everything in? That most certainly is, and I would do it every year if I could.

Tree at Rockefeller Center, 2009

Tree at Rockefeller Center, 2009

For this Country Mouse-turned City Mouse-turned back to Country Mouse, there’s so much sensory overload involved in visiting any city, but Manhattan? At Christmas? Sensory overload on steroids. And I LOVE it.

Last year around this time, my mom and I took a bus up to Manhattan for the day and just wandered around.

Rockefeller Center skating rink

Rockefeller Center skating rink

I was also lucky to be able to meet up with a college friend I hadn’t seen since graduation in 1998, her husband, and new (at the time) baby as well as with two other wonderful ladies I had only known virtually up to that point.

Red trees in NYC

Red trees in NYC

And of course Italy was never *too* far behind.

Versace in NYC for Christmas

Versace in NYC for Christmas

No, there’s never a dull moment in New York City, and that’s exactly what we love about it, isn’t it?

Santa, NYC style

Santa, NYC style

The mix of the cold, crisp air (it had been snowing in Pennsylvania when we left):

Downtown Mount Carmel, PA

Downtown Mount Carmel, PA

with the warmth of laughter, reminiscing, and storytelling among friends made for a truly special day.

Bryant Park tree, 2009

Bryant Park tree, 2009

There’s just something about the magic of the Big Apple at Christmastime. Sure you can load up your shopping bags with designer duds (fake on the street corner or real in the stores), but what do I recommend you do in New York City at Christmas? Just walk around and feel the spirit of the season surrounded by beauty, movement, excitement, and quite simply, life.

Twinkling star on Bryant Park tree

Twinkling star on Bryant Park tree

For more photos from my NYC trip, check out If You Know Me Well, You Know… and my NYC Flickr set.

Have you been to NYC at Christmastime? What do you enjoy most about it?

23 Beans of Wisdom to “What to Do in New York City for Christmas”
  1. 12.07.2010

    Wonderful set of photos, Michelle. Christmas in New York is magical, I don’t think there are many other cities quite like it in this time of year.
    Skating in Rockfeller Center, getting lost in FΒ·AΒ·O Schwartz toy store, eating at Carnegie Deli, the smell of pretzel vendors, steaming potholes… the list of NYC favorites is too long for this comment box!

    Tomorrow is l’Annunziata, so as per local tradition, Little E and I will be building our tree.

    Baci and holiday cheer,
    Ele xx

    Aw how lovely, Ele…enjoy!

  2. 12.07.2010

    Beautiful photo’s and love seeing what your trip and hometown was like….so much fun! xo

    Thanks Pam! I have to post more photos of “home” soon πŸ™‚

  3. 12.07.2010

    For me, NYC is home for Christmas. My memories of my childhood in Manhattan at Christmas time are my strongest ones. We would go to Radio City to see the Rockettes and the Christmas show, to the Police Athletic League for their annual Christmas party for the children of New York, over to Saks and Bergdorf’s to see the windows, we would go and watch the the ice skating and see the tree at Rockefeller Center. The Nativity at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. These are quintessential New York experiences. They are very precious to me.

    When I saw the name Mt. Carmel, PA I was immediately transported back to my Dodge Dart, going back to school from Milford to State College on Route 80.

    Hahaha yup you can always find us off either Interstate πŸ˜‰

  4. 12.07.2010

    I worked in NYC for several years, with an office on the 17th floor of a building on First Ave. There is nothing like Christmas in New York in my book. Everything seems magical — and clean! Winter in general was always especially wonderful. When the lights would begin to come on in buildings as darkness fell, it was as if the entire city was decked in Christmas lights.

    My favorites were the big snowflake hanging over the intersection of 57th and Fifth, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and, of course, Rockefeller Center. But Greenwich Village has its own Christmas magic. I was just back in NYC for Thanksgiving, and I was so wishing all the lights were on so I could experience it again. Might have to go back this month. πŸ™‚

    Enjoy if you get back there, Mary!

  5. 12.07.2010

    I love NYC at Christmastime (and really, anytime). The decorations, the energy of the city – everything about it. I too just like to wander around and take it all in. I’m so lucky I live close enough to visit pretty much whenever I want to!

    Lucky indeed Kelly! Thanks for chiming in πŸ™‚


    I lived in NYC for 13 years before moving to PA five years ago. I still miss the city every day, but never more than at Christmas time.

    Thanks for the great pics, Michelle! and, thanks for your blog. Seeing that you’ve written a new post or added a recipe (many of which I’ve tried) is often the highlight of my day!

    Thanks so much Jeanne — very sweet of you πŸ™‚

  7. 12.07.2010

    Yes, NY is magical at Christmas time. It’s an attraction for many tourists. In fact, in a few weeks I have guests coming from Italy and will be going to NY. Great pics! Today, I wrote about my chilhood “presepio” made from a shoebox and the traditional “brodo di gallina con polpettine di carne e cardone”. Buon Natale!

    Love it Elisa! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  8. 12.07.2010

    I have a girlfriend who is is in NYC as I type on a Christmas shopping expedition so these lovely photos gave me a taste of what she is enjoying.

    Yes, vicarious shopping is fun too!

  9. 12.07.2010

    Beautiful photos!

    Thanks Sue!

  10. Cathy

    I would love to see New York at some stage, and I think it would be just magical at Christmas time. Thank you Michelle for sharing these lovely photos.

    Thanks so much for coming by, Cathy!

  11. 12.07.2010

    NYC is indeed magical…. I live in NYC, but unfortunately, I’ve been single for my entire life, and it’s hard to soak in these holiday memories when you’re alone =(

    I hope you can find some of that magic this holiday season and always, Henway…getting online and writing is an excellent way to make some connections that could turn into real-life friendships if you want that; I’ll be thinking of you πŸ™‚

  12. 12.07.2010

    Christmas in NYC is lovely indeed. I hope to grab a day & hop up to see things this year, I do miss it. But now I’m preoccupied with worrying about Henway above. Watch Hannah & Her Sisters (or similar). It’s not all over!



    Yes Susan! Great advice πŸ™‚

  13. 12.08.2010

    This marks my second holiday season living in the city, and I love all of the lights and the displays and the cheer in Midtown…but I love visiting it for an hour and then getting back on the subway and emerging in the relative quiet of the UWS/Morningside Heights.

    I think it’s because I’m used to darting in the crowds so when I have to do the slow-moving tourist shuffle I get VERY antsy, and having to navigate the nightmare of tour buses on 42nd Street to make sure my parents got on the right one this weekend was a bit harrowing.

    No doubt that living in a city is very different from just visiting to see the pretty! Hope you can get some fun and enjoyment out of it this holiday season πŸ˜€

  14. Gil

    We used to go to my grandparents’ houses either in Queens or the Bronx when we were young. We usually slept at my mother’s parents apartment in Queens as I think it had more room (misnomer by today’s thinking). My father would take us to the city on the El (Audra’s 7 train) and we would walk around and he’d point out the sights. Your post above sums up our trips pretty much.

    Sound so lovely, Gil!

  15. 12.08.2010

    Really lovely photos Michelle. I’ve never been to New York at Christmas, but it looks like a fun place to visit.

    I highly recommend it Cath!

  16. 12.08.2010

    Hello MIchelle,
    Thank you for your post. I miss New York but thankfully I adore where we live now too! It’s a bit more like where you live in Italy, at least I image.
    How are your goats doing?
    I thought of you during while drinking coffee, bella!


    The goats are great Constance — you can always visit them at Goat Berries πŸ™‚ Nice to “see” you, as always!

  17. 12.08.2010

    I’ve always wanted to visited NYC during the Christmas season. As close as I am, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t done it yet. One of these days!

    You should schedule a meet-up with a blogger who lives there (I know a few if you need a rec ;))…always great to get a personal tour πŸ™‚

  18. 12.09.2010

    What a lovely post-I have often thought it would be fun to be in NY around the holidays.

    It’s definitely something I recommend experiencing at least once πŸ™‚

  19. 12.09.2010

    Carlo and I when to NYC on our Honeymoon and it was fab! It was our first trip and we just couldn’t get enough of it. Hopefully our next trip to NYC will be at Christmas time with the kid(s)… maybe next year!

    Sounds like a great idea to me Sonia!

  20. Sandy

    Love New York City, I have only been there twice, but want to go back. Also, Mt. Carmel….isn’t that the city or church in Adriana Trigiani’s book “The Queen of the the Big Time”?

    It very well could be; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is somewhat popular among Catholic churches in the US πŸ™‚

  21. 12.09.2010

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve always wanted to see NY at Christmas time.

    Highly recommended, FH, if you can get there!

  22. 12.11.2010

    LOVE your pictures of the city!! You hometown one, too. Eddie and I are headed up to NY right now…maybe we’ll sneak into the city and see the tree. I haven’t seen it in years!

    Thanks Salena! It had been a while since I saw the tree too…always a fun time!

  23. 12.22.2010

    Since I live in Brooklyn, a borough of NYC, I see the wonderful sights every year! I am blogging quite a bit about the holiday places i’ve seen this season…wrote about the Rockefeller tree tonight!

    Excellent Pat; thanks for sharing!



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake