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Exploring the Big Apple for the Holiday Season

Exploring the Big Apple for the Holiday Season

One of my favorite times of the year to go to New York City is right before the holiday season.  Everyone is gearing up for the big seasonal rush.  Some say there’s no place like home for the holidays, but clearly they haven’t experienced the joy of New York City in December.  With an abundance of tinsel-decked stores, lights and Christmas shoppers, this city is central to many of the celebrations that take place in Midtown Manhattan and asked me to share what I know about the festivities.




While visiting New York City, you have the option to escape the hustle and bustle with a walk through nature.  In the heart of Manhattan, Central Park spans 843 acres offering a vast number of activities to enjoy throughout the year.  The park offers everything from trails, bike paths, side shores, fields, and carriage rides. In all my travels, I’ve never seen a place where nature flourishes so plentifully while still having the skyscrapers peek out from behind the high line of autumn-turned trees. On one such walk, we were surprised to come across the Wollman Ice Skating Rink, one of the activities in Central Park that the family can enjoy specifically during the holiday season.



Central Park - New York City
Central Park – New York City
Wollman Ice Skating Rink - Central Park (Image:
Wollman Ice Skating Rink – Central Park (Image:


Rockefeller Center is home to the largest Christmas tree in America!  A tradition which began officially in 1933, the lighting of the tree has continued to be a ritual that takes place in early December featuring 30,000 lights, 5 miles of wiring, and a 550lb star.  The Norway Spruce ranges from 69 to 100 feet tall, with a maximum allowable height of 110 feet. In addition to this festive paragon, a breath-taking sight to see is the Top of the Rock Observation Deck on the Rockefellar Building. At 70 stories high, you and your family can experience 360 degrees of beautiful New York skylines mixed with the shimmering lights of the holiday festivities.


Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (Image: B. Smith)
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (Image: B. Smith)


In line with the holiday spirit, a trip to Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar is a delicious way to celebrate the festivities for those of you with a sweet tooth. Located in Union Square, this famous house of chocolate offers a variety of desserts and main courses including different milk shakes, fondues, chocolate pasta, and even chocolate pizza. Not only will this restaurant cure cravings for all things rich and creamy, but they have a store where you can buy sweets to take home or give away as gifts!


Date Night at Max Brenner New York City (Image:
Date Night at Max Brenner New York City (Image:


If your tastebuds are longing for salty instead of sweet this season, another renown restaurant is Le Relais de Venise. The main attraction of this French spot is the steak frites dish, covered in a delicious secret sauce. While you do have the option of looking at the menu, the unique part of this dining experience is that the meal has already been planned out (unless you specifically request a vegetarian option). The starter consists of a crisp green salad and bread which are followed by two servings of the succulent steaks frites and any way or dessert of your choosing. The wooden tables and warm atmosphere make it a great place to bring fellow friends and family that have never experienced L’Entrecote!


Le Relais de Venise - Steak frites dish (Image:
Le Relais de Venise – Steak frites dish (Image:


Of all the times to plan your trip to the Big Apple, December is truly my favorite time of year to explore New York City. This amazing city has so much to offer between culinary triumphs and shopping wonderlands. When all its already exciting venues are mixed in with the thrill of that holiday buzz, it feels like the perfect place to be to celebrate this heightened time of year. And if you’re still struggling to find that special someone the perfect gift, check out some great gift ideas for travelers here!




About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.


  1. I lived in NYC for 4 years and I will be moving back there soon! I absolutely LOVE New York during the holidays. I love Central Park (it’s my favorite spot in the city any time of year) and Max Brenner’s is awesome. You should also check out the outdoor markets in Bryant Park and Union Square. There are so many cute little shops and vendors! Thanks for this post!

    • Carmen

      I’m heading back to NYC next month, and will definitely check out the outdoor markets in Bryant Park and Union Square. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Joe Bartell

    I have been to NYC once, and yes I loved it. This post wants me to go back, and bring my boys. Thanks for the tour.

    • Carmen

      Hi Joe! That’s great you hear that you enjoyed it. It’s a fabulous city and I never get tired of visiting it. I hope you get the chance to go back soon.

  3. Klipdrifters

    NY sounds like a great city to visit over the festive season. Thank you for a wonderful post.

    • Carmen

      NYC is a great city to visit anytime of year, but for me it’s extra special during the holiday season. Maybe, because I live in Florida and it’s a nice change to be in colder weather. It makes it more festive that way.

  4. How fun! I’ve always thought that seeing the holiday lights in NYC would be a festive way to ring in the holidays! I hate being cold, but it might be worth it to wear a few coats to do all of this. 😀

    • Carmen

      Yes, those extra layers really help when you’re walking in NYC, especially during the winter months. I definitely think it’s worth feeling a little cold to see the tree in Rockefeller Center.

  5. Yeah, dining in NYC is the best part of visiting during the holidays. The new menus and the WARM restaurants make it a great city experience. But, um, scary that the star on the Rockefeller tree is so crazy heavy. Makes me want to admire from FAR away.

    • Carmen

      I agree NYC has some great dining spots. I always go and try a new one restaurant when I go. I just discovered Nello on Madison Avenue, great Italian food but not cheap.

  6. You had me at chocolate bar. I love parades and seeing the Macy’s Day Parade in person is on my bucket list.

    • Carmen

      We went to see it two years back and it was so cold outside that after waiting 30 minutes my husband said lets go back to our room and watch it from the TV.

  7. I’m planning to NY but postponing it due to corona. Wonderful post anyways 🙂
    molly miller recently posted…100 Best Gifts for the 70 year Old Man and WomanMy Profile

    • Carmen Edelson

      Fingers crossed for next year, Molly!

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