New York City in December
Having lived in New York City for my entire life, I’ve always thought New York was one of the greatest cities in the world. Having a family that celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah, I’ve always looked at that stretch between Thanksgiving and New Years’ as being one of the most festive and delightful times of year. New York in December is probably my favorite thing ever. Whether you’re visiting the City around the holidays or you’re thinking about what you might be doing in December during your time at Barnard, I’ve compiled a list of fun activities in New York during the most wonderful time of the year.
See the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. As a typical New Yorker, I’m basically allergic to most touristy things, but the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is iconic New York in December. Just make sure you don’t go on the night of the actual tree lighting, lest you get stuck in a huge crowd and miss the whole thing because you’re too short to see above everyone else’s head.
Go to the Union Square Holiday Market. The word “Christmas” goes hand-in-hand today with “shopping.” However, shopping doesn’t have to be clicking through Amazon or buying a mass-produced gift for your mom. Enter the Union Square Holiday Market, a bustling conglomeration of a bunch of local vendors selling their unique and handmade items (including food). Last year, I bought a scarf for my grandma, a necklace for my best friend, and a bone for my dog --there truly is something for everyone.
Drink some hot chocolate. Alright, so this one is not “New York” by definition, but a long day of exploring the City calls for a winter treat, and nothing gets more winter than hot chocolate. And there’s truly something for everyone, from classic hot chocolate (Jacques Torres) or dairy-free (Sant Ambroeus), to a minty chocolate (Cocoa Bar) or Mexican hot cocoa (Two Little Red Hens) and even red velvet hot chocolate (Martha’s Country Bakery). If you need a hot chocolate right after your Barnard tour, Kuro Kuma is maybe the BEST hot chocolate I’ve ever had and very conveniently located about a ten minute walk away on Broadway and La Salle.
Visit the Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Train Show. If you’d like to explore some of the other boroughs, a trip to the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx is a great option. You can go for their Holiday Train Show, which features replicas of iconic buildings and structures throughout New York City in a festive display, or you can walk through their gardens which look beautiful throughout any season.
See the World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorahs. Not everything is all about Christmas! Even if you’re not Jewish, the lighting of the world’s largest Hanukkah menorahs is a sight to see (and you can check that off your bucket list). Just head over to either of the Grand Army Plaza Hotels in Brooklyn or in Midtown to celebrate the Jewish festival of light under the bright lights of New York City.
Go see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. As a kid growing up in New York City, it was always a nice treat when my parents or my grandmother would get tickets to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Rockefeller Center around the holidays. It’s a show you could see a dozen times and never get tired of and the Rockettes are just so talented. Plus, it’s something that is certainly unique to New York City.
See the Fifth Avenue Window Displays. Since I’ve moved to Manhattan, I’ve really come to appreciate New York City in December. Just walking down the street, everywhere--from little coffee shops to big department stores--looks a lot cozier and more inviting. One of the grandest and probably most whimsical parts of New York in December is the window displays, whether it’s little boutiques or big department stores. If you’re looking to see something truly spectacular, just walk around Midtown and get a peek at the displays in every store’s window. Last year, my friend and her roommate went to see the tree at Rockefeller Center and then walked around the Saks Fifth Avenue display. It’s still probably one of my favorite memories of my first year at Barnard.