For many years now, I have had the tradition to spend a day in NYC with my dad during the holiday season. Though somewhat of a tourist destination throughout the month of December, it is hard to find a more festive place to visit this time of year.
Arriving at Grand Central is always an awe-inspiring experience, even after seeing it for the 100th time. During the holidays, the famous train station is transformed into a winter wonderland decorated with wreaths and red ribbons. Before you leave, check out the miniature train exhibit and holiday market featuring homemade gifts and gourmet food.
Our first stop each year is to grab breakfast at Pershing Square. Tucked underneath the bridge right outside of Grand Central, Pershing Square is the perfect place for a nice warm meal to start off the day. The inside of this cafe is decorated with Christmas trees and candy cane striped lanterns. I always order the pancakes and a cup of rich hot cocoa. The cakes are light and fluffy, dusted with powdered sugar that melts like snow in your mouth.
Rockefeller Center is a popular destination in the city this time of year, and though the lit-up tree is mesmerizing, I suggest making this one of the first stops of the day. You will avoid the crazy (and I mean crazy) crowds that come at nightfall, and be able to get some great views of the decorations and skaters on the rink.
I also recommend checking out the festive shop windows early on in the day to avoid long lines. The windows at department stores such as Macy’s and Bloomingdales are uniquely decorated each year with mechanical moving parts and fun displays.
Take a break from the bustling scene in the Manhattan streets and head over to Battery Park. The Winter Garden in Brookfield Place features palm trees and interactive colored lights. The French Food Hall “Le District” is perfect for a quick sandwich or bowl of soup. Be sure to check out the great views of the water and the Statue of Liberty!
As dusk starts to fall, take a stroll through Greenwich Village. You will pass a number of quaint lit-up doorways and small Christmas tree farms, reminders of the small joys of the holidays. You might get lucky and come across a group of carolers, taking to the streets to spread Christmas cheer the old fashioned way.
Before taking the train back home, stop at Bryant Park to see the holiday shops. Taking a look at the wide array of unique gifts is a great way to end the day and do a little Christmas shopping. Be sure to stop at No Chewing Allowed for a cup of the most decadent hot chocolate and Waffles and Dinges for an out-of-this-world crispy sweet treat. The menu outside will remind visitors of the company’s winning waffle that beat Bobby Flay, featuring a gooey speculaas spread.
Take one more look at the crowd of friends and families, holding hands and sharing smiles before heading back to Grand Central. After all, this is what the holidays are all about.
Kate Luongo is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.