I can’t even tell you the number of times that relatives and family friends say to me, “it must be SO exciting to be in New York City at Christmastime!”
I usually just nod and smile and agree, but in reality the city gets downright crazy at this time of year. Tourists flood the streets to sight-see and shop, and while I won’t deny that New York really is beautiful at this time of year, it certainly makes simple tasks like getting to and from work a big hassle.
Despite all of my complaining, I really do love the holidays in New York — I just have a different idea of a good time than getting plowed over by tourists trying to catch a glimpse of the Rockefeller Center tree. Here are my suggestions for nice holiday activities away from the crowds:
Instead of hitting up the crowded outdoor holiday markets for shopping…
Try to find something unique in a quieter location. The Museum of Art and Design (MAD) at Columbus Circle has a beautiful gift shop that is right across the circle from the holiday markets, but sells much nicer items that are both stylish AND useful. This year, I’ve also been loving a great pop-up shop on Broadway near West 88th Street called Annie’s Urban General Store (they are only at that location until December 24th, but they also have a full store in Brooklyn). With a little searching, you can find awesome, unique gifts without the crazy crowd.
Instead of fighting your way down 5th Avenue and Herald Square to look at windows…
Veer away from the crowds to check out the windows at Barney’s and Bloomingdales instead, which are located slightly further from the hustle of 5th Ave. The windows at Barney’s are pretty much always better than those at Saks or Macy’s anyway, and you probably won’t need to stand in line or crane your neck to see them.
Instead of freezing your butt off trying to snap pics of the Rockefeller Center tree…
The museums in New York, particularly the Met and the American Museum of Natural History, have beautiful trees that are more elaborately decorated (although not quite as massive) as the one in Rockefeller Center. I’m hoping I get a glimpse of the origami tree that AMNH has this year!
Of course, if you have your heart set on doing these things during your stay I have only one recommendation: get there early, see what you want to see, and then move to a less tourist-centric part of town where you can actually enjoy the city and not be trampled by the holiday maniacs!