Best Christmas Present Ever: Our Trip to NYC

Hi loves! I hope you are having a fantastic week! We got some snow this morning and I loved it! Driving to work in a winter wonderland makes the day so much better! Today I am going to be sharing our trip to NYC! I love New York and every time I’m there, I am just so in awe of that amazing city. I had never been to New York at Christmas so I asked Joey for a trip to the city for my Christmas present this year! Everyone always says New York is so magical at Christmas and I can’t disagree. I was in awe of the lights, decorations, and music that adorned every square inch of the city! If you can brave the cold, I HIGHLY recommend going at Christmas.

We took the train into the city because there was no way we were driving there and then paying for parking. The train was so easy and we got there in about an hour and 20 minutes. From Penn Station we took a Lyft to our hotel. If we didn’t have bags with us it wouldn’t have been a bad walk but I wasn’t lugging a bag for 1.5 miles haha

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Fifty Hotel & Suites by Affinia which is just a mile and a half from Penn Station. The hotel had a wine hour every day in the lounge and I thought was just a cool touch. I was expecting our room to be tiny because it’s New York and there isn’t a lot of room but it was a pretty nice size! We liked the location of our hotel (Midtown) a lot because it was just a short walk to all the main Christmas attractions (Rock Center, Fifth Avenue, Radio City Music Hall, etc.). The hotel had a really modern but cozy feel. We really liked it.

Where We Ate

Playwright Celtic Pub: This was a super cute pub we found in Times Square our first night. They had all the traditional foods you’d find at a pub with some trendy options like a veggie burger (which is what I got). It was decorated from top to bottom and it was super cozy! I really liked the atmosphere in this restaurant.

Ess-a-Bagel: I was on a mission to have a New York bagel for breakfast one of the mornings we were there. This bagel shop was right next to our hotel so we got bagels before we left on our last day and it was amazing! Bagels that come from a bag at the grocery store do NOT do bagels justice. I don’t know if I can go back to bagged bagels now that I’ve tasted a New York bagel. This particular shop had any kind of cream cheese you could possibly think of! It was insane! You could also get breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and muffins if a bagel didn’t tickle your fancy. Definitely hit up Ess-a-Bagel the next time you’re in NYC.

Black Tap: This restaurant has a few locations in NYC as well as Las Vegas, Disneyland, and multiple international locations. We went to the location on 35th Street. To say this restaurant has a cool and trendy vibe is a giant understatement. The walls were covered in interesting art and neon lights. The food was just as interesting. I got a Quinoa Kale salad topped with a vegan burger and it was DELICIOUS! I don’t even like kale very much but I LOVED this salad. They are known for their burgers and their crazyshakes. They have burgers with a lot of really cool toppings and don’t even get me started on their crazyshakes. They’re the kind of shakes you see all over Instagram. We got the Sweet and Salty shake. No amount of Lactaid pills was going to help me but I couldn’t not try one of their shakes! This shake had a chocolate and peanut butter frosted rim with M&Ms topped with peanut butter cups, a sugar daddy, pretzel rods, chocolate covered pretzel, whipped cream, and caramel & chocolate drizzle. Guys I almost died after tasting it. It was amazing! They even have a shake with a whole piece of cake on it! This is such a unique find!

Carmine’s: This restaurant was recommended to me by a few people so we had to go! It’s located in Times Square and was so cozy but SUPER crowded. We had a reservation at 5:30 and it was packed when we got there. I 100% recommend making a reservation or you’ll probably be waiting forever. We went here for dinner before we went to see the Rockettes! Carmine’s is an Italian restaurant and the food is served family style so you basically order for the whole table. The portions are huge because they are meant to be shared so the price for one dish is about $30. We got angel hair pasta with marinara sauce (because that seemed the safest in terms of dairy haha) and even after we had our own portions, there was SOOOO much left! They give you a ton. It’s probably a whole box of pasta! If you don’t like crowds in small spaces, this probably isn’t the place for you but we really liked it!

What We Did

Rockefeller Center: We went here the first night we were in NYC and we actually just stumbled upon it. I had it on the agenda but we were walking back to our hotel and it was right there so we stayed and looked. The tree wasn’t lit yet but we still marveled at how huge it was! Right next door was FAO Schwarz as well as the giant Christmas lights and big red ornaments! I had wanted to see those for forever and I was so excited when we came across them!

Saks Fifth Avenue Light Show: This was high on my list and we walked by it several times while we were in the city. The whole side of the building lit up and was synchronized to music and I enjoyed it a lot!

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular: This has been on my bucket list since I was a kid and I finally got the chance to go! I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would just be the Rockettes the whole 90 minutes but it was so much more! There were different themes and stories throughout the whole show! They even had a very elaborate telling of the Christmas story and I was so surprised that was even featured! It was absolutely amazing and I enjoyed every minute! I didn’t take many pictures that night because it had been raining, sleeting, and snowing all day and it was super windy. After waiting outside for an hour to get in, I kind of looked like a street rat haha. The inside of the theater was amazing though! Just gorgeous. I recommend getting there 1.5 hours before the show. We got there about that time and we were at the front of the line to get in. It builds up quickly so getting there early is a MUST!

Winter Village at Bryant Park: This is the place for you if you love little shops and ice skating! There’s a little skating rink surrounded by a variety of little booths to shop at that are all decked out in Christmas decorations! There’s also a pavilion with a few places to get food. We didn’t stay here long because Joey wasn’t feeling well.

Central Park: I had never been to Central Park before this trip so I definitely had to make my way there. Joey and I strolled a bit through the park but we didn’t stay long because it was snowing and FREEZING! It was so cool to see Gapstow Bridge with the Plaza Hotel in the background! I felt like I was in a movie! So iconic!

Grand Central Holiday Market: This was kind of a last minute idea. We had some time to kill before lunch and we wanted to do something indoors because, once again, it was freezing. We walked down to Grand Central Station where they have a holiday maret with different vendors. To be honest, I was underwhelmed by the market but seeing the beautiful and ornate architecture of this famous train station was worth the walk. I can’t even get over how gorgeous it was. Checking that off my bucket list!

Lotte New York Palace Hotel: This one could be great to see any time of year but at Christmas there is a gorgeous Christmas tree and decorations in the courtyard of the hotel. The hotel itself is grand but the tree just makes it even more beautiful. Joey and I walked by the hotel several times and each time I couldn’t get over how gorgeous it was. If you’re as obsessed with Gossip Girl as I am, you’ll know this was the hotel that Serena Van der Woodsen and her family lived in during the first season. I was so excited to see it! My sister and I plan on taking a Gossip Girl tour around the city sometime 🙂 I never took any pictures because everytime we walked by, it was either crowded or pouring rain and windy haha

Walking Down Fifth Avenue: Seeing all the luxury stores and their Christmas displays just made me so happy!

This truly was a trip of a lifetime despite all the bad weather. I am so thankful for my husband for walking 10+ miles with me and doing all the fun Christmas things! I look forward to going again this summer to see so many more spots more suited for the summer. Have you gone to NYC recently? I’d love to hear about it!

XO, Gabby

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