Trip Report – Christmas in New York City

Happy Christmas Week!! After a wonderful weekend in NYC, I’ve only got two days in the office and a work-from-home day on Wednesday before the Christmas celebrations begin! I get to experience The Night of The Seven Fishes with Jay’s Italian step-family this year – should be interesting for a girl who doesn’t like fish… I’ll just be filling up on pasta and crab cakes!

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The purpose of this post is NYC, though! After the unseasonably warm temperatures for the past two weeks, it was back to normal in the low 40’s Saturday and Sunday. However, there’s something about bundling up and briskly walking through the city that made it feel more Christmas-y! Keep reading to hear about our 24 hour whirlwind tour:

Day 1 – Saturday

  • Train Travel and Macy’s
    Jay introduced me to a new method for getting into the city – trains! Let me tell you, it is so much less stressful than driving (at least from a passenger’s perspective, but I’m sure actual drivers would agree!) It only took an hour and 15 minutes and $30 round trip to get to New York Penn Station from central New Jersey. Overnight parking in the city would have cost more than that, not to mention gas and tolls.

    Excited about my first train trip to the city
    Excited about my first train trip to the city

    Penn Station is located in the heart of downtown, only a few blocks from the flagship Macy’s store.

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Naturally, we had to go there first to see the Christmas windows. They featured Peanuts characters on one side and the tale of Virginia’s search for Santa Claus on another. From there, we walked about ten blocks to the Intercontinental Times Square hotel to drop off our bags.

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  • Lower Manhattan
    We took an Uber from our hotel to the One World Trade Center area around lunchtime. Helpful hint, purchase tickets to the One World Trade Center Observatory online rather than waiting outside in the cold. We avoided at least a twenty minute wait by purchasing our tickets on our phones while we ate lunch.

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Lunch was at Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place, an upscale food court that Jay discovered. It had an excellent variety of counter service eateries, including made to order salads, BBQ, pizza, sushi, and burgers/sandwiches. I settled on a classic chicken Caesar salad and Jay picked a pork BBQ sandwich.

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After lunch we walked across the street to see the memorials for the Twin Towers before heading to the entrance of One World Trade Center. With our pre-purchased tickets we were immediately ushered downstairs to the security line. After passing security, we got in an elevator for the ride to the 102 floor in under 60 seconds! After stepping out, we walked down to the observatory which featured a full 360 degree view of New York City.

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I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical of this attraction and the price tag ($32) when Jay first mentioned it. However, I’m immensely pleased he won me over. It was a very different attraction from my typical NYC visit and the views were breathtaking (also literally breathtaking when I stood to close to the windows – the fear of heights made itself known a few times).

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Thankfully, it was a mostly sunny day and the vista was unobstructed. We spent an hour up there gazing at the skyline, so it was certainly worthwhile.

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After coming back down, we wandered over to Wall Street (my idea!). It was smaller than I expected, but we got to see the New York Stock Exchange building and found a Christmas tree! We also found the place where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States.

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  • Dinner and drinks, plus a long walk for a big tree
    We tried out Lyft for the ride back to our hotel (a bit of a disaster) then agreed on Lansdowne Road, an Irish sports bar, for dinner. It was decorated for Christmas, so I immediately liked it.

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The atmosphere was cozy and local, with laid back service and delicious food. The wings were decent and my pulled pork sandwich and Jay’s buffalo chicken tacos were tasty. Sufficiently stuffed, I decided I still wanted to see the Rockefeller Tree lit up at night, so we tried to take a Lyft to that part of the city. Unfortunately, our selected driver told us he couldn’t pick us up in our location for some unknown reason, so we ended up hoofing it on foot to Rockefeller Plaza…saw the tree…then turned around and headed back to our hotel. What can I say, Jay’s a trooper : ) It was cold and the streets were crowded, but I was happy hehe.

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Plus, Jay was looking forward to the last stop of the night, Rudy’s. This ridiculous dive bar is a must-do for him and his friends when they’re in the city. I’d only heard tales of this place, so I was cautiously eager to see it for myself. Luckily, it was cleaner than I expected! Everything else was great, as long as you can tolerate dive bars. It’s cash only and the house “blonde” (described by Jay as a mix of Bud Lite and Coors Lite) is only $8 for a pitcher. It really is the perfect place to people watch and drink cheap beer. I loved it!

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Regular crowd at Rudys
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Rudys Blonde on the left and Rudys Red on the right

Day 2 – Sunday

  • Breakfast and Bryant Park
    After the previous night, we were both craving egg sandwiches when we woke up. In a city known for their bagels, I assumed it would be extremely easy to find a quick, cheap place to get a bagel sandwich. Oh, how wrong I was. We spent at least 45 minutes wandering up and down random streets searching for a shop. Suffice to say, they’re nonexistent. Every place that served breakfast was your typical sit down brunch with omelettes, Eggs Benedict, french toast, etc and prices from $10-$20. Not what we were looking for. At our wit’s end, we finally found Cafe Metro, a life-saver. This little cafe near Bryant Park was the only place we saw serving egg sandwiches!! And they were made right in front of us with real eggs and Thomas English Muffins (not a bagel, but beggars can’t be choosers) 🙂
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Ice Skating at Bryant Park

Luckily, we had made it all the way to Bryant Park by this time, so we walked right over after we demolished our sandwiches. Bryant Park transforms in winter and features an ice skating rink and a Christmas village full of little shops. This is probably my favorite NYC Christmas activity, so I thoroughly enjoyed watching the ice skaters (and vowed to come back and actually ice skate next year – as always) and browsing through the local artists’ wares.

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The third Christmas tree we saw!

By this point, we had accomplished everything we set out to do, so we made our way back to Penn Station. As luck would have it, we walked right by the Lord & Taylor window displays. These were phenomenal and far out shined Macys!! Among the displays were an advent calendar with doors that opened, a gingerbread house held up by gingerbread men, and an intricate sweets shop. Absolutely adorable. Well done Lord & Taylor!

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It was the icing on the cake after a lovely weekend in the city. We also enjoyed returning home in the early afternoon…with plenty of time to order pizza, relax on the couch, and watch Frasier : )

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