NYC Christmas Sights: Blogmas Day 19

On Friday, December 9th, Steven and I made the trip to New York City -- insert Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York -- to complete a list of holiday sights we wanted to see. The night before, I searched and searched for holiday exclusives in the city and mapped out a plan to tackle the city that never sleeps... in December... 16 days before Christmas. Yes, we knew we were crazy. However we hoped that going on a Friday instead of Saturday or Sunday would help.

I am going to outline where we went, share pictures and how we went about conquering these sites. Hopefully, this will help you if you go to the city this holiday season or in the future.

To give you some back story, I used to go into the city multiple times a year. When I was really into theater, NYC was the place to go. Once upon a time, I wanted to live there. Therefore, I know the city pretty well.

We started our day by heading to the NJ Transit train station and took the approximately hour ride. Once we arrived, we made our way through New York Penn Station and up into the streets of the city. First, we got Starbucks because we were both in need of caffeine.

Then we headed to our first stop of the day: Macy's.

We walked up to the view of the Empire State Building in the daylight. We saw Virginia, the little girl, atop one of the entrances into the store. If you didn't know, Virginia is part of Macy's Believe campaign. It is inspired from a true story where an 8-year-old named Virginia wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun in 1897 asking if Santa exists. The editor responded, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

In her hand, as she sits above the store, Virginia holds her letter.

Once we entered, we looked for earmuffs for Steven as the wind in the city made it quite cold. The store had yet to get men's ones in. We then made our way to the eighth floor, asking a few employees for help navigating the gigantic store.

We knew that Macy's has a visiting area with Santa per our research the night before. I highly recommend getting an express pass on Macy's website if you are going. It is free to check-in online and also to visit Santa. (You do have to pay for the picture with him though.) You can make an express pass within the 48 hours before you want to visit.

However, Steven and I were okay with not seeing Santa. One day, when I have kids, I think it would be cool to meet Santa at Macy's in NYC and brave the lines and craziness.

My one friend, Hannah, works at Santaland. I messaged her and she told us to go up to Holiday Lane--a ninth floor Christmas shop. She said that it was beautiful and she was right!

Not only does Holiday Lane sell ornaments and decor, but it has decorated themed trees in themed rooms, snowflakes and ornaments hanging, and much more.

I'll let these pictures do the talking:

Pretty, right? I loved seeing this! We didn't end up buying anything but we did spend quite a lot of time in this area.

After, we started to make our way down the nine stores to head out of Macy's. After going down a set of wooden escalators, I saw the giant Believe Santa Mail box. It was pure luck that we found this but I was happy we did. 

Once we got down to the main level again, we had trouble finding our way out. If you were doubtful at how big the Macy's is... that should explain it. We started following along the wall until we found doors and made our way back onto the sidewalks.

Outside, we got to see the Macy's holiday windows and some were even interactive! I really, really wanted to try but there were a few kids waiting and I figured they would enjoy it even more. (It was a pinball machine window! WHAT!)

Each window had a theme, such as Celebrate, Magic, Santa, Love, and more.

While getting pictures was quite difficult with the amount of people taking selfies and group photos in front of the glass, it was still very cool to see.

As we walked, we headed towards our second stop of the day. And as our destination was only a few blocks away, we walked.

Place number two: Bryant Park.

For the holiday season, Bryant Park's Winter Village is a place full of holiday shops, a free ice skating rink (if you don't count rentals), and it's own festive tree.

Winter Village is very busy as there are so many shops. I quite enjoyed looking through all of them as there were so many new and fun things to see. The little shops also had little food vendors. Steven thought that the Pickle Stickle--a pickle on a stick--was very interesting haha.

The fully stocked holiday shops were, of course, my favorite. But the overall theme and fun of the stores is what made it fun.

For example: Mrs. Claus' Cafe was a very cute candy store.

After walking around and browsing the over 125 vendors, Steven and I decided to take a few pictures by the tree.

The tree was red, silver, and blue and adorned with many, many ornaments. I liked this tree a lot as the Rockefeller tree only has a lot of lights... no ornaments.

After our pictures by the tree, Steven and I went to the front of the rink so I could take a picture.

After this, we decided to make our way towards our next destination.

With my planning and basic subway knowledge, we decided that our destination was a little far to walk with all we wanted to accomplish. We hopped onto the Subway at 42nd St Bryant Park and took Subway F to Lexington Avenue/63rd St. This brought us two blocks over from Central Park and where we wanted to enter.

Stop number 3: Central Park

We entered near the zoo, stopped to use the restroom in the zoo's food court, and headed towards Wollman Rink, the ice skating rink in Central Park.

As we walked, we came across one of the many giant rocks in Central Park that people climb up on to take pictures. While nervous with my clumsiness, we made it up in one piece. We were able to get a pretty good view of the skyline and, if you can spot it beyond the bridge, the ice skating rink as well.

The view was fantastic, but we both forgot to ask someone to take a picture of the two of us and later regretted it.

After carefully climbing down, we made our way to the rink. Now, this rink you have to pay for (both to skate and to rent skates) and it is cash only. Again, Steven and I declined to skate as we are both not the best with gravity on our feet. Instead, we bought a foot-long hot dog above the rink and people watched.

With the backdrop of the city, it was quite the view to see. One day, I'll brave ice skating in NYC somewhere. But, again, this was not the time. (Honestly, I'd go on a weekday that is not Friday. It's cheaper at some places.)

Once our feet were rested and we finished our snack, we started towards another stop.

Stop number four: Columbus Circle Holiday Market.

On the southwest corner of Central Park is Columbus Circle. Much like Bryant Park, for the holidays there are a bunch of vendors to shop from. We saw a lot of the same vendors that we had saw at Bryant but the few varying vendors were worth the stop. I did not take any pictures here as I was too busy browsing. However, the shops were very similar to Bryant with the green structure.

Now, at this point, Steven and I realized we had planned so well, too well, that we were way ahead of our personal schedule. Originally, after Columbus Circle, we planned to head to Rockefeller to see the tree... it was still light out.

We ended up moseying around shops and stores as we made our way down to Times Square. (We originally wanted to stop there last and see it at night, but we decided it would be less crowded and something to do during the daylight hours left.)

Stop number 5: Times Square

As Steven and I headed into Times Square from the north side (where the red steps are) we noticed a few banners waving in the wind. Once we were closer, I got excited!

Planet Fitness was asking people to make confetti wishes that would be dropped on New Year's in Time Square.


This is a free, fun thing to do from December 1-29th (closed Christmas Day) from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm. If we had gone to Times Square at night like we originally planned, we might have missed this! Everything happens for a reason!

With hardly any crowd, shocking for Times Square, Steven and I headed over. We were able to pick out a piece of confetti from a bucket of many colors and sizes. We then wrote down our wishes.

I had to Photoshop what we wrote, as if I told you it wouldn't come true! 😉 But Steven picked a red confetti piece and I picked blue.

After dropping our wishes into the bin, I took a few photos of Times Square. While the 2016 lights under the New Year's ball had yet to be changed to 2017, there were constant reminders on the screens that New Year's Eve was only a few weeks away.

I got this pretty shot of the screens below the New Year's ball making a tree and saying, "Seasons Greetings."

I then made my way to the Times Square Disney Store, of course. I always love stopping inside to see what the store has. However, because of the approaching holidays, the store was very, very busy.

Upon entering, there is a large Mickey and Minnie all Christmas-themed. To the right was a Moana display and to the left was a Rogue One area.

The castle on the second level had gorgeous ornaments and lights on it, something I hadn't seen before since I never looked around stores much when in the city for the holiday season.

There were many, many special holiday decorations. Woody, from Toy Story, was in a box that said, "To Andy, From Santa." The little touches of Christmas magic made the Disney store even more magical.

Once we finished, it still wasn't dark so we found a little Irish pub to get some drinks at and to also get a bite to eat. After, it was finally dark and we made our way to our final stop of our visit:

Stop number 6: Rockefeller Plaza.

As we walked to Rockefeller, the crowds began to intensify. The sidewalks became packed and my bubble was burst from the amount of people in my space.

We finally got to the tree, took a few selfies and photos before walking around the rink to get a better look.

Between the people taking photos, selfies, and holding up their phones, it was difficult to get a good photo of the rink and the tree.

We also spotted Saks Fifth Avenue put on their holiday light display. The lights on the side of their building go to music approximately every 10-15 minutes. Only one song programmed repeated for us but it was still cool to see.

Hoping to get away from the madness for a moment, Steven and I ducked into the Lego Store. We were very wrong. The store was so packed that I had my first-ever taste of claustrophobia.

We went back out on the street to watch the Saks Fifth Avenue show from a different, less crazy angle. While up close, we got to see that the doors were outlined in candy decor. It was quite beautiful.

Seeing the show up closer was so much better than far back near the Rockefeller tree. I took some video and photos. Once the show ended, we started to make our way out of the plaza.

As we spotted these on the way to Rockefeller, Steven and I stopped for photos of the large ornaments and holiday lights on the sidewalks.

The lights you saw at the top of the post behind the text were the decorations we saw in addition to the red ornaments.

By the time we finished here, we were ready to lose our minds with the people and the crowds. We decided that although it was only six, we wanted to leave. We had done almost everything that we had wanted to.

As we made our way back to New York Penn Station, we walked by Macy's again. We got to see the Macy's entrance with Santa and Believe on top.

Finally, as we turned down the last street, we got a glimpse of the one additional thing we wanted to see:

The Empire State Building.

During the holiday season, The Empire State Building is lit red and green on top. We were able to grab a few photos before we completely were ready to leave.

And that pretty much sums up our day in the city!

I hope that if you are heading to New York City for the holidays that my experience helped you in what to see and how to go about seeing it.

Thanks for reading! Safe travels and happy holidays!

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