A Weekend in NYC at Christmas Time – Travel Guide for a Memorable Visit

New York City is HUGE and during Christmas time there is so much to see, do and take in.  You’ll want to narrow down the places you want to see to just a few so you don’t feel overwhelmed.  To make a trip successful to NYC one must PLAN, PLAN, PLAN.  Sketching out your itinerary and purchasing tickets ahead of time will make everything go smoothly.  This time of year, NYC is magical, and you want to make the most of it and focus on the one of a kind, once in a lifetime opportunity and make great memories with your family. 

During the 1990’s I lived in Murray Hill while working as an intern at the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side, so I knew we wanted to be close to old stomping grounds and I also knew a few main attractions I wanted to share with my family, like exploring Bryant Park, Central Park and the Solomon Guggenheim Museum. 

5 Top Tips!

Here are our 5 top tips to enjoying this magical season in NYC with budget saving pointers:

1. Find a centralized hotel that is local to the experiences you want to enjoy while in NY.  For us, we really enjoyed the convenient location, the affordability, and modern and historical aspects of the Renwick Hotel on 118 East 40th Street—just two blocks away from Grand Central Station with fun views of the Empire State Building.  The Renwick once held host to famous intellectuals and writers such as Steinbeck and Scott Fitzgerald, so the vibe of the hotel and rooms are evocative of its literary past with easels and stencils, writing paper and ink.  The delicious restaurant on site, Bedford and Co., has Argentinian flare that brought in a lively, fun crowd.  By Manhattan standards, this hotel is considered inexpensive, so we were happy with its atmosphere.  

2. Wollman Ice Skating Rink in Central Park is one of New York’s premier attractions and for good reason.  Its backdrop is the New York skyline view and postcard perfect.  During Christmas time, you can’t get a more NYC classic activity.  Located at 830 5th Avenue – it’s about a 40-minute walk or 10-minute taxi ride from the Renwick Hotel.  Get ready for some lines but luckily, they do go fast.  Once at the check in, prices are reasonable for peak season with $23 for adults and just $6 for kids (11 and under).  The skate rental is an additional $11. 

3. After Ice Skating head back to Bryant Park Winter Village area for some strolling around at Bryant Park holiday shops.  You can pick up lunch/snacks at the various kiosks, eateries, and vendors and save some money by enjoying some people watching and finding some discounted only in NYC souvenirs.  

4. Plan a morning and afternoon by taking in the iconic Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Show at Avenue of the Americas.  Be sure to purchase tickets ahead of time and arrive early to avoid lines.  You absolutely won’t regret it.  Everything about this 90-minute performance is spectacular and has remained nearly unchanged since its introduction performance in 1933 making it a timeless holiday tradition.  After the show, the line empties you out right near the American Girl Doll HQ store at 75 Rockefeller Plaza.  If you have a young child in your family, this is a delightful treat and a convenient way to do some Christmas shopping. 

5. I usually wouldn’t recommend dragging young children around to NYC museums, but the Guggenheim Museum is more than just a museum it is an experience in and of itself.  From the Renwick Hotel you can hop on the subway up to the museum and experience some underground urban life.  Purchase admission tickets ahead of time and enjoy this expansive and inspiring building.  If your trip falls on a Saturday, they have Saturday “Pay What You Wish” options during certain hours.  Café 3 – an espresso and snack bar adjacent to the Kandinsky Gallery on level 3 has a stunning view across 5th Avenue to Central Park and serves up yummy sandwiches and pastries. 

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