If you know me, you know that from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve is my favorite time of year in NYC. It’s truly magical. As the season approaches each year, I can’t wait to fill my days off and weekends enjoying all that the city has to offer. Whether that’s navigating my way through all of the fabulous department store holiday windows, eating my way through the shops at Bryant Park and Columbus Circle, dancing my way through The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, or taking a selfie in front of the famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, there’s no better place on earth than NYC during the holidays.
And, as side note, if you want to feel like you’re 5 years old again, I suggest adding a visit to Santa Land at Macy’s during your trip. This time of year it’s totally acceptable to act like a tourist, and you will no doubt will find me with my oversized camera pushing people out of the way to capture those amazing must-have shots of holiday happenings.
I am lucky enough to live in NYC, so it’s easy for me to fit an entire season’s worth of activities in my time off without missing any of my favorites. But, if you find yourself with only one day to enjoy the city during the holidays, here is my checklist of must-visit venues from Uptown to Downtown:
First spot on the list: The Bloomingdale’s 59th Street Flagship. It’s what I consider the greatest holiday shopping experience in NYC (and I for one might know a little about its set-up…wink ☺ ). This year’s theme is inspired by the new movie The Greatest Showman, so step right up and take in the amazing windows along Lexington Avenue, adorned with endless amounts of Swarovski crystals. The brilliance of the circus theme is so spectacular, that you can see it from a block away. It’s truly like no other store in the world.
Next, head west to 5th Avenue, and check out the Bergdorf Goodman windows. Their theme this year is “To New York, With Love” and celebrates many of the iconic cultural institutions the city has to offer. For example, the Museum of Natural History window features dinosaur skeletons that are covered in over a million Swarovski crystals. (WOW!!!) Be sure to go inside the store to visit Linda Fargo’s pop-up shop on the fourth floor. This curated collection features the famous Fashion Director’s favorite items. Be sure to snap a few Instagram-worthy photos, and then check it off the list.
Continue your stroll downtown to Saks Fifth Avenue. This year the famous department store teamed up with Disney to celebrate the 80th birthday of the animated classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Saks’ windows are always spectacular, and are even more breathtaking after dark when they offer a 3D light show on the building’s front façade. Right after the show stops at Saks, simply turn around, and you’re facing the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Walk around and check out the ice skaters and Rockefeller Center shops, before snapping a photo with the biggest tree in NYC.
Next up are the Bryant Park holiday shops. These shops make my checklist every year, because they’re the best place to shop for those one-of-a-kind presents. You’ll find vendors selling everything from paintings to clothing and custom jewelry, all from inside the Park’s many beautiful glass booths. These glass booths surround the park’s main attraction – the skating rink, which acts as a stage for the audience at the park’s cozy outdoor bar. This is hands down my favorite part of the Bryant Park winter village. There’s nothing like sipping on a cocktail in front of a warm fire, especially when it’s all happening in Midtown Manhattan. You’re instantly transported from the busy city bustle to an upstate ski lounge. Enjoy the smell of the fire and tasty, festive cocktails as dinnertime nears. And don’t forget to snap some photos!
Dinner is definitely the most important part of the day. It’s a chance for you enjoy a delicious meal while you sit, relax, and review the fun spots you visited throughout your day’s holiday journey. My dinner pick this year is Quality Italian. If you’re a foodie, you’ve most likely ogled their famous chicken parm pizza on social media (It’s been tagged 1,000s of times on Instagram.). The entire menu is delectable, but there’s a reason the chicken parm pizza is a crowd favorite. It’s a whole pie made out of chicken. In other words, there’s no bread crust – it’s made with chicken instead. Hey, no carbs! Nonetheless there’s definitely a lot of cheesy, saucy goodness to make up for the lack of carbohydrate calories. (So worth it, though!) The chicken parm pizza is served with an arugula salad and is plenty of food for 2 or 3 people. Grab a glass of wine and an after dinner cocktail to round out your evening of Christmas sightseeing with the ones you love.
Well, that’s it for 2017. Thank you for letting me take you on a picture journey through my favorite holiday spots. Until next year, New York!
About Lori Gizz
Lori is a visual artist, cook, and food stylist. She is a native of Rhode Island who now lives in NYC and who also travels the world in search of food adventure. She recently launched her website www.thegizzcooks.com, sharing her healthy, clean and easy recipes and cooking with real ingredients, the way her grandmother always did. Follow Lori on Instagram @gizznyc for inspiration and creative food ideas.
Photo Credit: Bryant Park photo courtesy of Katia Hashbarger; all other photos courtesy of Lori Gizz