New York City at Christmas

Another long weekend trip is in the books! We left VERY early this past Friday morning for a quick weekend getaway to New York City. We visited NYC a few times while we lived in Washington D.C., but neither of us had experienced the city during the Christmas season, thus the reason behind our trip. While the weather may have been a bit uncooperative (single-digit temperatures and rain), we managed to have a blast. Here are some of the activities you can use from our itinerary for your next trip to The Big Apple!


Walk and shop 5th Avenue: The department stores are all decked out for the holidays and have the most festive window displays. We didn't do too much actual shopping but enjoyed walking up 5th Avenue as well as all the lights and décor. If you are not familiar with NYC, use this Google maps guide for 5th Avenue.

Holiday Markets: The markets pop up all over the city and are so fun to explore! We visited the markets at Columbus Circle and Union Square. The markets are a great place to find unique gifts and try food from the various vendors.

Chelsea Market: We walked to Chelsea Market one evening before dinner. It's an old warehouse that was built in the 1890’s for Nabisco’s production of the Oreo and has since been converted into a food and shopping mall. This is another great option for shopping and dining anytime of the year.

Central Park: Central Park is lovely to visit any time of year. We did a bit of walking through the park on Saturday morning and ate at Tavern on the Green (see below). It snowed a few inches earlier in the morning, making the park even more beautiful. Towards the end, we walked past Wollman Rink. We were a bit too cold to go skating, but it was nice to watch those who did.

Rockefeller Center: We enjoyed visiting the iconic Christmas tree and ice skating rink. The area was packed full of people, to the point where NYPD had to direct the flow of the crowds. Regardless, if you’re in NYC during Christmas time, you have to see their display!

Some of our favorite activities from previous trips include: walking the Brooklyn Bridge, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and going to the top Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock). We still have not made it to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, but it is on the top of the list for our next trip. Of course, many would say you can't go to NYC and not see a Broadway show. Theatre has never really been appealing to me, so we decided to save our money for other activities. Check out this site for discounted tickets.


The hardest part about planning a trip to NYC is deciding where to eat! There are so many incredible options. Regardless of where you go, you must make reservations in advance or you will end up eating at 10:00pm for dinner… like we did! Below are the places we visited.

Shake Shack: Yes, I know this is a chain restaurant. But, how can you pass on the opportunity to eat at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park?! On top of the historical element, you have one of the best burgers around! Take your ‘Shroom Burger, which is a portobello mushroom deep fried to perfection filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses, then add a Cheeseburger and you have yourself a work of art – the Shake Stake! Pure bliss! Ben’s Recommendation: You just read it, folks! Prices vary ($8-10)

Shake Shack - New York City - The Kenney Way

Bodega Negra: Tucked inside a tequila warehouse designed in mock Tudor style, Bodega Negra offers outstanding, upscale Mexican cuisine! The music blares, patrons inch past each other – eager to get to their tables, the lights are just bright enough to subtly show the creative decor, the mood is electric… yes this is a New York City restaurant! Ben’s Recommendation: Pork Belly Carnitas ($17) and Chicken Pibil ($16) and of course the Bodega Margarita ($16)

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Tavern on the Green: This place has a ton of history. It has been around since the 1930’s and is one of the highest-grossing, independently owned restaurants in the United States. The restaurant truly is a staple to Central Park and NYC. However, having said that, be cautious of what you order. For brunch I ordered their Spiced Waffles ($19) and was terribly disappointed in the quantity and quality. Fortunately, Emily was across the table and offered her Eggs Benedict Florentine ($22) to me. After I finished, I saw multiple people order the Brioche French Toast ($19), which looked very appetizing. Ben’s Recommendation: Brioche French Toast and their Manhattan ($16) to drink. Trust me, you’ll need a drink after seeing the bill….

Lavo: MAKE A RESERVATION NOW! Do it before reading any further! Lavo and Bodega were recommended to us by a friend – thanks, Lindsey – and we loved them both… but probably Lavo a little more for several reasons. The atmosphere, design, mood, music, people, food, everything is dynamic about Lavo! The décor is similar to something you’d see in a trendy, high-end European restaurant: soft lighting, subway tiles, and old mirrors. Oh yeah, you’re likely to see a few celebrities pop in for a meal or to hang out at the club in basement, also called Lavo. I could go on, but really need to wrap-up this short review… MAKE A RESERVATION NOW! Ben’s Recommendation: Pass on the appetizer, they bring out bread. Crispy Chicken “Dominick” ($35) or Meatball with Salad and Garlic Crostini ($26)… and a Midtown Manhattan ($17).  Also, come here for your birthday - you're welcome! 

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We stayed at the Hilton Fashion District in Chelsea. We are trying to collect Hilton points currently and the Hilton in Chelsea had good reviews. We were pleased with the hotel and it was centrally located to our itinerary. Everything was either a 15 minute drive or walk from where we were going. They also have a rooftop bar, called Rare, which offers amazing views of the Empire State Building and the rest of the NYC skyline. On a previous trip we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria {for free} which was amazing.


Emily KenneyComment