Do you just love when the first cool front blows in and all things autumn start? It is by far my favorite season! It brings pumpkins, good food, and family. I have to stop myself from dragging out all the decorations before the official day of fall. If you are anything like me then spending the holidays in NYC will blow your mind! We have been blessed to experience Thanksgiving and Christmas time in the Big Apple. Plus when the weather is cool you can’t smell the stinky streets! HAHA Let’s talk about the amazing things to see and how you can get there on a budget! By the way don’t judge my 2011 photos! Cameras and my skills were not the best! 😉
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
We went to one of the first parade streets to watch. When you watch from the streets it is different than what you see on television. The floats and balloons are continuous with no pauses for performances. I was okay with that because really it’s the magnificent floats that I wanted to see up close and boy are they gigantic masterpieces! You will also see lots of well known celebrities on floats. We went in 2011 during the 75th anniversary. We are really hoping to return for the 100th. It was cold for me so I strategically placed some hand warms in pockets and shoes to help me survive the wait. We got to our location about an hour and a half prior to the start of the parade and we were able to stand about three rows back. We had a great view and it wasn’t overly crowded. After viewing the parade, we walked down the street to a diner to grab breakfast. We are able to watch the parade again on TV while we relaxed and ate! By the way, Macy’s is the only thing closed on Thanksgiving Day so do not worry whether you will have things to do after the parade.
Radio City Rockettes
Thanksgiving night we attended the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with some friends. The performance was phenomenal and so festive. I truly feel there is no bad seat in the place. It is a beautiful display of the holiday spirit. It is a story line with awesome dancing numbers and a visit from Santa. The performers are the best of the best and nothing compares!
Rockerfeller Christmas Tree
When we went for Thanksgiving the tree had scaffolding around it and we decided we had to return to see the tree in all its glory! They light the tree the Wednesday after Thanksgiving so we planned a trip in 2015 for the second weekend of December. Be prepared for tons of people! It is gorgeous and breathtaking and worth the mass amounts of people.
Santa Land at Macy’s
The Santaland at Macy’s is a whimsical display of the North Pole. I would highly advise getting there early! The line for Santa gets very long and even though the displays are eye catching, kids only have so much patience. After you visit Santa you must go to their Christmas section to wonder through all the Christmas tree displays and find unique ornaments.
You can either visit the Central Park skating rink or The Rink at Rockerfeller Center. They are both beautiful. Of course, be prepared for the crowds and lines but if you attempt to go during off times you may be able to avoid the lines.
Window and Street Displays
You have to wander down 5th Avenue to see all the holiday window displays and then head to Macy’s for their iconic window creations. Near Rockerfeller Center, you can see over-sized Christmas lights and ornaments. At night, Saks Fifth Avenue puts on a mesmerizing light show on the side of a building that you cannot miss!
Christmas Markets and Grand Central Station
During the holiday season Bryant Park and Union Square have street markets where you can get some one of a kind gifts to take home. You can try out some festive eats while you wander around. Grand Central Station has gorgeous displays and some pop ups with great little stocking stuffers as well. We did more shopping than taking photos. 🙂
The Plaza Hotel and Kid Stores
If you want to channel your inner Kevin McCallister, then you have to stop by the infamous Plaza Hotel. They actually offer some kind of package to get the full experience but last I checked it was over priced. The hotel does not exactly look the same but if you know the movie well you can see similarities. It is still beautiful and has holiday displays to get anyone in the spirit. Sadly the Time Square Toys R Us is no longer there but FAO Shwarz reopened at Rockerfellar Center. You can also stop by the American Girl Store, Disney, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Macy’s, the Lego store, M&M World, Hershey’s Chocolate World, and Godiva. The opportunities to bring out your inner child are endless.
NYC Budget Tips
Lodging can be very pricey. The first time we went we were lucky enough to stay with friends but the second time we went we stayed in a Country Inn and Suites in Queens. It was one stop past Manhattan and very close to to the subway. We paid $100/night and it included breakfast. We ended up having an amazing view of Manhattan! This area has several hotels to choose from, with affordable pricing.
Flights and Transportation
We flew into Newark, NJ both times and it ended up saving us tons of money. Once you land you will ride the Amtrack to NYC and exit at Madison Square Garden. Children 6 & under ride the subway for free! The subway is really the only way to get around unless you plan on paying tons of money for taxis. If you have the Google Maps app (tutorial video) it is very easy to navigate your way around on the subway. Also, if any thing is only a few blocks away, WALK! Don’t waste money on riding the subway! Now with Spirit and Frontier airlines, it might be possible to fly right into NYC affordable. Unless you are trying to go to the tree lighting or parade I recommend going the second or third week of December to save money.
We tried the stroller thing for a couple hours and soon realized it is difficult! We used our baby carrier for the rest of the trip. Everything in NYC is cramped and tiny, so strollers do not fit in restaurants and the streets are so crowded it is hard to maneuver. Most things that you do allow children under 5 in free! Dress them comfortable and have snacks on hand for subway rides. Check the weather! When we went in 2011 it was cold and in 2015 it was a pleasantly cool. No jacket necessary! The cute little UGG boots people in Texas like to wear are not a good idea! Wear a duck boot or a boot with a rubber exterior to keep feet dry from water or snow. Also, our little one was able to nap in the baby carrier so we didn’t have to trek back to the hotel mid day.
We, of course, ventured over to all the other regular NYC attractions but that will be another post! I really hope you consider visiting NYC during the holiday season. I only scratched the surface with all the things it has to offer, it really is a one of a kind experience!