Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to experience New York City during Christmas. I have been to the city many times and it never gets old but seeing it dressed up for the holidays was extra special. It was also a special trip for Ryan & I because it was our “babymoon” or last trip together before we become parents! We did a lot of exploring but also slept in and relaxed which was perfect. Today I’m sharing fun things to do if you’re planning a trip to the city including our hotel, restaurant recommendations and all the festive holiday activities we did!
Where We Stayed- Moxy Chelsea
After searching around, we decided to stay at the Moxy Chelsea based on the combination of location and some Marriott points. It’s located in the floral district which I had never been to- where New York City goes to for all its plant needs! Fresh greenery lines the streets which was a nice touch. The hotel has a small footprint but is very tall. Since there aren’t any other tall buildings directly adjacent to it, all the rooms have a good view of the city.
Our room was small but that’s typical of most NYC hotels. What’s most important is that it has a king bed, am I right? The main difference was that there are no closets (just a long row of hooks on either side of the TV) and the shower and toilet open into the entry hall of the room. I will say that in a lot of hotels I wish there were more hooks to hang coats, makeup organizers, etc. so they were definitely useful!
There are 2 restaurants and a rooftop bar in the hotel. Unfortunately the rooftop was closed for a private event our first night and closed on Sundays so we didn’t get to venture up but it’s called the Fleur Room (since it’s in the floral district) and looked super cute. The location was perfect for everything we wanted to do!
What To Eat
After dropping off our bags at the hotel, we walked over to Restoration Hardware and had lunch at their rooftop restaurant. I had originally tried to make a reservation but they were all booked up but luckily we got in within 5 minutes. The space is absolutely gorgeous- full of natural light and crystal chandeliers hanging over every table. I was originally going to get the kale Caesar salad but the dressing is made traditionally with raw eggs so that was out. We went with the gem lettuce salad instead and it was amazing!!! Highly recommend. We also got the truffled grilled cheese which was equally as good. We perused around the baby & child floor afterwards- can’t get over how adorable this alpaca teddy bear was!
Our first night we took the subway down to the lower east side for dinner at this trendy spot. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but you actually walk into a pawn shop and then enter the restaurant through another door. It’s very dark and cozy inside and most of the plates are tapas style. The crispy chilean sea bass tacos are a must-order! They also had a large raw bar selection which I was sad to miss out on but we’ll just have to come back one day when I’m not pregnant!
This is a highly recommended brunch spot with several locations in the city (we went to the Park Avenue South location). It’s on the pricy side but the food was delicious!! We got the scrambled egg stuffed popover and apple French toast- both were absolutely delicious!
We opted for Italian on our second night and I randomly stumbled across Scarpetta on Open Table so we decided to try it out. It’s located inside the James Hotel Nomad and has a very cool vibe- loved all the holiday decor too!
I came across these on Instagram probably a year ago and told Ryan we had to get one on our next trip to New York. Their shop is located in The Lodge at Bryant Park and it tasted as good as it looked! We got the s’mores cake and it was pretty rich so we were fine just sharing one. We sat outside and watched the ice skaters while we enjoyed our treat. I was bummed I couldn’t partake but it was still fun to people watch!
Feroce Caffè at Moxy Chelsea
Our hotel had the cutest little cafe/restaurant on the main floor where we had breakfast on our last day. It’s super cute inside and a great place to grab a coffee or pastry or have a sit-down breakfast. The food was delicious and very reasonably priced!
Things To Do
The Vessel & Hudson Yards
This was at the top of Ryan’s places to visit. The Vessel is a large structure made up of stairs and walkways that resembles a beehive (to me at least!) and overlooks the Hudson River. It’s truly a piece of art! It’s also located right besides Hudson Yards which is a new shopping center with a lot of cute boutiques and restaurants.
I have seen so many bloggers post this tree so naturally I had to grab some pictures when we walked by it. Apparently this was the hotel in Gossip Girl (never watched it) and the tree and courtyard is gorgeous- perfect place for a quick holiday pic.
Such a cool spot to visit at night for hot cocoa and views of the NYC skyline. They have several heated igloos scattered on the rooftop- some of which you have to reserve and some are first come first serve. The rooftop opens up at 5 and by 4:30 there was already a long line of people outside the entrance waiting to get in, but then we got right in when it opened. Not to worry if you can’t get an igloo as they have lots of heaters scattered around.
Tea at The Plaza Hotel
I love hot tea and what better place to enjoy afternoon tea than The Plaza Hotel?? I’ve always wanted to see inside this hotel and it truly is grand. I will say a lot of the main lobby is blocked off during this busy time of year and is only accessible to hotel guests, but the lower level is full of shops and tons of dining options. We had tea at The Palm Court and it was the best way to spend the rainy afternoon.
Rockefeller Center Tree & Saks Light Show
The thing I was probably most excited to see was the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. It was so nice, we saw it twice in the same day. We did some shopping/exploring on 5th Avenue and while it was beautiful during the day, seeing it at night was the most magical experience!! The Saks light show plays right across the street and there are tons of people everywhere and I’m so glad we got to be there!
This place is probably one of THE most festive places in the city- a German restaurant completely covered in Christmas ornaments and decor. I called in the beginning of November to make a reservation and they only had one 9pm time slot left and required that each person had to order an entree (then I later read that the food and service weren’t the best). I decided to skip the reservation with hopes we could just get in for a drink but there is a super long line around the place and we didn’t feel like waiting 1-2 hours. Here’s a peek at what it looks like inside and I’v also heard that they keep their decorations up until early spring so you can still see them after the holidays!
New York was everything I hoped it would be for the holidays and was the perfect place to really get in the Christmas spirit. I think we packed in a lot of great activities and the next time I come back during winter, I’d love to go ice skating in Central Park and see The Rockettes. There is certainly no shortage of things to do in the city and you can check out my last NYC travel guide here!