A NYC Daycation
It's officially the greatest time of year!
Back in the day, December 25th could not come soon enough. I would impatiently count down the days till the Big Man came to town. (Let's just say the hype was real.) But as I've grown older, I almost love the season more than Christmas morning itself. I love shopping in stores decked out in decorations and sipping my Starbucks from a festive red cup. I love jammin' in my car to holiday tunes and driving past houses illuminated by twinkly lights. It's a big part of what makes this time of year so merry -- and we wait for it all year round.
But when it comes to getting in the holiday spirit, New York City can't be topped! It's the ultimate winter wonderland to kickstart the season. There is nothing as magical as celebrating Christmas in New York. For this very reason, Brady and I plan a day trip to the city each December. (We like to call it our "daycation.")
To avoid the complete chaos that is trying to drive in NYC, we opt to take the bus. For the past two years, we've been able to Groupon our way to the Big Apple for a great price. The charter relieves the pressure of trying to navigate unfamiliar roads at 6 in the morning and let's us relax on the way home after walking all over Manhatten. (Not to mention it's only a $33 round trip!! Score.)
On our annual trip, we embrace being touristy tourists. Because let's be honest -- there's no way I could resist visiting Rockefeller Center's iconic Christmas tree! Whether you're a first time visitor or a native New Yorker, it's a sight worth seeing. I promise, it's worth maneuvering the commotion, crowds, and countless Selfie Sticks. (According to Rockefeller Center, more than half a million people pass by the famous tree each day!)
Brady and I spent a good chunk of time here snapping pictures by the tree, admiring the impressive decor and watching ice-skaters glide around The Rink, another celebrated New York tradition. As you can see from some of the photos above, there's so much excitement to take in at Rockefeller Center!
To stay warm, we relocated inside to peruse the shopping options. And there's plenty! (Over 100, here.) Brady relived some of his favorite childhood memories at the Lego store while I oohed and aahed at pretty much everything over at Free People.
As much as I love the hustle and bustle on the streets of New York, the city is infinitely more beautiful 70 stories in the sky! This year, we added Top of the Rock to our itinerary -- an observation deck at Rockefeller Center, 850 feet above street level. From the top, we were able to point out the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park -- just to name a few. There are multiple levels for viewing, both inside and outside, to help switch up the vantage points.
Even though it was absolutely freezing (and windy!), my favorite deck was at the very top of The Rock. The unobstructed, 360-degree panorama view was simply too epic for words.
With the peak holiday season come long lines, especially in a tourist trap like NYC. It's inevitable, right? Wrong. To avoid wasting our day waiting in line, we purchased our tickets for Top of the Rock online while riding into the city. And let me tell you, it was our smartest move of the whole day - we hung out at Rockefeller Center until our scheduled time, then presented our tickets on my iPhone and rode straight to the top. Planning ahead gave our daycation the structure needed to best utilize our short amount of time in the city. That said, if Top of the Rock is high on your list of things to do, I definitely recommend the timed-ticket option.
On my very first trip to New York in 4th grade, I was infatuated with the window displays on 5th Avenue. As an aspiring shopaholic, it was unlike anything I had ever seen before at a department store. Years later, not much has changed; I'm still just as inspired by the posh, over-the-top Christmas displays that lure crowds without fail. On the busy streets of Manhattan, it takes something truly spectacular to make someone slow down and stop for a moment -- and these windows are capable of doing just that.
Saks Fifth Avenue's theme this year is "Land of 1,000 Delights." The giant colorful candy had me running across the street, dragging Brady by the sleeve, to get a better look at the sugary-inspired scenery. As you can see from the photos, fashionable eye candy was mixed tastefully with real candy. Pretty clever concept in my opinion.
If you have the chance to wander through Midtown this winter, be sure to include the following stores on your self guided Christmas Window Display Tour: Bergdorf Goodman, Barney's, Macy's, Henri Bendel, Bloomingdales and Lord & Taylor.
So I know what you're thinking... What is THAT? Last year, Brady and I discovered this savory sweet goodness by accident.
When we stumbled upon the Winter Village at Bryant Park, we instantly fell in love with the charming ambiance of the space. Comparable to our hometown's leisurely vibe, we almost forgot that we were in the middle of vivacious New York City. (The skyscrapers surrounding us quickly reminded us where we actually were.) This time of year, the park is transformed into a classic Holiday Market -- complete with pop-up boutiques, tasty food kiosks, a free ice skating rink and, of course, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
As we browsed, we noticed a couple sharing a dessert that looked so delectable. Hungry and unashamed, we asked them where to get whatever it was they were openly enjoying. Between chocolatey bites, they smiled and pointed to the Hungarian Chimney Cake stand.
This year, we found the kiosk by literally tracing the sweet scent with watering mouths. Pictured above is the S'mores Chimney Cake from our recent visit. Essentially, it's a warm sugary bread, filled with a thick spread of Nutella, a handful of marshmallows and topped with whipped cream. It's goood. Brady and I even joke it's the real reason we visit NYC each year.
How do you get in the Christmas spirit?