Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree NYC
Travel

Christmas Itinerary for New York City

New York City
View of Empire State Building as seen from the Top of the Rock!

New York City is a great place to visit anytime of the year.  But, I always wanted to go during December when the city is decorated for the holidays and experience all of that holiday magic!  Last December I met my mom in NYC for a 3 day weekend.

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Day 1

We coordinated our flights to arrive in Newark, NJ airport within 30 minutes of each other. This worked out fabulously. I was flying on a redeye from Portland, OR and my mom was flying from Burlington, VT. Prior to our trip I had outlined an extensive itinerary so that we wouldn’t miss anything that we wanted to do, and of course left some items on the itinerary as optional. I always find that I detour from my initial itinerary a little bit, and I think that is okay. What you never want to happen is to go somewhere and not know what to do…especially if you are going for a long weekend. Time is of the essence!

We both had carry-on bags, so no need to wait at the baggage claim terminal (yay!).  We took the train from Newark to Penn Station in NYC.  From Penn Station we walked half a mile to the Ace Hotel. We knew that checkin was not until the afternoon and it was only 9:00am, but we thought we would try to check in and at the very least at least leave our bags with the hotel so that we did not need to walk around NYC with backpacks.

Sure enough we were not able to check in early (it was a long shot), but the Ace Hotel staff were more than happy to let us leave our bags with them until we came back later to check in.  The Ace Hotel is a boutique chain out of Seattle with locations in Portland, OR, LA, Palm Springs, New Orleans, Chicago and New York.  It is quintessentially “hipster” in all the great ways. Great style, great food, and of course great coffee. After living on the west coast for 5 years I have become quiet a coffee aficionado. The Ace Hotel Manhattan happens to house a Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the lobby. Stumptown is of course a Portland, OR based coffee company that has grown in size and was bought out by Peet’s Coffee Roasters over a year ago. In any case, great coffee.

My mom and I decided to sit down and have a proper breakfast at The Breslin which is a great restaurant connected to the Ace Hotel Lobby. We were able to catch up with each other and rest from our morning travels before hitting the NYC streets for our first full day of sightseeing.

We decided to walk from the Ace Hotel to Rockefeller Center and along the way we saw beautiful holiday window displays from major department stores.  This could be over an hour of free fun if you want to walk the official NYC window display tour. 

Walking tour of the window Christmas displays in NYC
Walking tour of the window Christmas displays in NYC

We wanted to go to Rockefeller Center to see the huge Christmas tree. Just like Kevin McAlester in Home Alone 2-Lost in New York.

As well as take the Top of the Rock tour. I highly recommend, as you get magnificent views from the top.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Rockefeller Plaza - Tree and ice skating rink
Rockefeller Plaza – Tree and ice skating rink

After seeing the huge Christmas tree and touring the top of Rockefeller Center we decide to walk to the New York Public Library and take a free tour.

New York Public Library
New York Public Library
Exterior of the New York Public Library
Exterior of the New York Public Library

Next we decide to stroll through Bryant Park grab a tea and coffee browse through the market of hand crafted jewelry and artwork for sale before taking the subway to Brookfield place near the financial district for some browsing and lunch.

Happy hour drinks!
Poutine fries!

There is an upscale foodcourt inside Brookfield Place that we hit at the right time for happy hour. So we each got a glass of wine and some poutine fries!

Bunk Bed room at the Ace Hotel NYC
Bunk Bed room at the Ace Hotel NYC
Tiny, yet functional room at the Ace Hotel NYC
Tiny, yet functional room at the Ace Hotel NYC

Finally time to check into our room at the Ace Hotel.  The room was so cool. It was on the small side, but that was perfectly fine with us, and very typical of hotels in NYC. The Ace Hotel had a sleek retro theme inside. We even had bunk beds! I thought this was so fun. We both slept so well that night.

Day 2

We start day 2 off with breakfast in Greenwich village at Buvette. Buvette is a french restaurant serving small plates and stellar ambiance. We had to wait about 40 minutes but it was well worth it. The area streets near Buvette have great clothing stores, so we didn’t mind spending some of our morning shopping before eating.

We sat at the bar side by side and took in the ambiance of observing the waitstaff run around quickly taking orders and making hot espresso drinks alongside bloody marys.

After breakfast we take a short walk to the Chelsea Market.  The Chelsea Market is a great shopping mall with an incredible food court. This area is very popular and busy, especially on the weekends. It connects to the NYC high line.  If you haven’t heard of the high line, it’s a raised train track that was converted to a pedestrian walkway as a revitalization project. We decided to take a short walk on it to check it out and cross it off our list. Had it not been December we probably would have enjoyed walking on it longer.

We then made our way to the NYC famous Dominique Ansel bakery to try the cronut. For those of you that are wondering, what the heck is a cronut? Well, it’s a cross between a croissant and a donut. We waited in line only to find out when we finally reached the register that the cronut was sold out.  My advice is to go in the morning not the afternoon. That way you are more likely to get the famous cronut. We decided to get a coffee and tea and enjoy a few pastries since we were already there.

We have awkward smiles because we just realized they ran out of the coveted cronut!
Dominique Ansel Bakery NYC

After our late afternoon sugar and caffeine fix we headed back to the Ace Hotel to get ready for the evening.

We take the subway north to the Beacon Theater to see Mariah Carey’s Christmas Concert. We got there early, and had a drink and appetizer in the connecting Beacon Hotel hotel lobby before going into the theater.

Inside the Beacon Theatre NYC
Inside the Beacon Theatre NYC

The concert was amazing! Mariah Carey has traditionally held her Christmas concert at the Beacon Theater since 2014 and will hold shows again this year, 2017.  It really get’s you in the holiday spirit. I was excited that she also sang about 3 non holiday songs that were classics, Hero, We Belong Together and Emotions. It really brought me back to my childhood!

Day 3

We awoke and ate breakfast at The Breslin again as it was conveniently connected to the hotel lobby. After breakfast we packed up, checked out of the hotel and walked a half mile to Penn Station to catch our train to the Newark, NJ airport.

Christmas in NYCNew York City Christmas

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