Christmas in New York

Though I’ve been to New York City several times, it’s always been a dream of mine to spend Christmas in New York. A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to do just that. Though we’d built in lots of free time to explore on our own, we did have a few items on the agenda. Here’s a summary of what we did over our four-day visit.

We stayed in the heart of Times Square (more on that in another post), which was super convenient.

The collective highlight of our trip was visiting the Empire State Building. We started our visit just before sunset and took in views from the 86th and 102nd Floor Observatories. Wowza! We could clearly identify the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges, the Chrysler Building, One World Trade Center, Summit One at Vanderbilt, the all-new Edge, Central Park, and more.

Celebrating its 90th year, the exhibits on the 2nd and 80th Floors tell the story of the building’s construction, history, purpose, and pop culture references.

Thankfully we had the foresight to purchase Express tickets which allowed us to skip the lines going up and down. Highly recommend!

Both the DH and I were pleasantly surprised that the teen and tween were engaged in exploring Central Park. Even in winter, the park is stunning. On one of our free days, we set out to find the John Lenon Memorial, Belvedere Castle, Bow Bridge, and Shakespeare Garden.

The tween had a reservation for ice skating at Wollman Rink, and on a whim, the DH and I decided to join her. The teen decided to be the official photographer, but based on the number of photos taken, I’m sure he spent more time playing games on my phone. 🙂

Though we enjoyed our time on the ice, Wollman Rink was a bit disorganized and understaffed. If we go again in winter, I would like to try ice skating at Rockefeller Center.

We did a 2-day hop-on/hop-off bus tour, which included a sunset cruise past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and a nighttime city lights tour. These bus tours are ubiquitous in New York City. Hop-on/hop-off bus tours aren’t my favorite way to sightsee, but this one helped us cover a lot of ground. And gave us the flexibility to spend as much time in our favorite areas as we wanted. On the first day, we focused on downtown, and on the second day, we focused on uptown and Harlem.

Without a doubt, the cruise offered the best views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. It did feel very crowded, but then so did all of New York City.

We promised the kids this trip would not be museum-heavy. But high on the DH’s list was the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum. Have you ever seen two happier boys?!

High on my list was Stranger Things: The Official Store. Open for a limited time, the store brings the fictional Hawkins, Indiana to life, recreating iconic sights and scenes from the show. Like any good pop-up shop, there is exclusive merchandise and memorabilia for sale.

Awwww man, can’t wait for the new season to drop!

So what did we miss?

Days before our visit, we received an email that our Broadway play Harry Potter and The Cursed Child was canceled. We expected this, but that didn’t make it sting any less. We briefly thought about purchasing tickets for Wicked, but ultimately decided not to.

Here’s hoping the play makes it to Nashville!

Especially because we missed the play, we were stoked to visit the Harry Potter Store. And apparently so was everyone else in New York City. We tried for two days, but alas it was not meant to be.

I did get to visit The Disney Store and scored the perfect Haunted Mansion ears on sale, so I was pretty chuffed about that!

We heard about Money Heist: The Experience – NYC while there. As huge fans of the show, the DH and I couldn’t think of a more perfect activity for a date night. Unfortunately, it was sold out for our dates, but I’ve bookmarked this one in case we find ourselves in any of the participating cities. Hint: The participating cities coordinate with the names of the characters. #mindblown

Edge – the highest outdoor sky deck in the western hemisphere recently opened and makes its mark on the city’s skyline. It offers 360-degree views, an outdoor sky deck, Skyline Steps (outdoor stairs and seating area), and City Climb (open-air building ascent). In my opinion, this would be best appreciated in fairer weather. So it’s something we’ve bookmarked for a future visit.

If you’ve made it this far and want to check out a few TikToks, please see here, here, and here. I’d be tickled pink if you subscribed!

New York City is every bit as magical and quirky as I remember. Even more so during the holidays.

Stay tuned for a recap of where we stayed.

Christmas in New York / New York Marriot Marquis

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