Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year in New York, so I’m still kinda not over it. This year was the first year that I’ve made a special trip and amazed at all of the amazing Christmas displays the windows and storefronts. Since I’m still relishing in the holiday spirit even though it’s nearly mid-January (how did that happen?!), here are some snapshots of the beautiful window displays snapped by myself and my friends as we wandered along the iconic stretch of Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center.
Christmas in New York is one of my favorite times of the year. Everyone is nicer, the decor is so festive and the joy of the season just works its way into everything in the best way possible. The one downfall, however, are the huge crowds that some of the city’s best attracts draw during this busy time of the year. Instead of hitting up the big draws that have the big crowds, try these off-the-beaten-path attractions that will still get you in the Christmas spirit without all of the hassle. Without further ado, here is the Naturalized New Yorker’s Christmas guide to New York.
The Union Square Christmas Market is on my hit-list every year. Though it can be crowded on weekends, take a trip on a weeknight and you’ll get to see all of the vendors without as much of the stress. This market is one of my favorites for a few reasons: they’ve got amazing, one-of-a-kind gifts from local vendors for a range of prices. You can find cute little trinkets next to expensive artwork next to mini donuts. They’ve got something for everyone and the festive atmosphere reminds me a lot of European Christmas markets, right in the heart of NYC.
There’s a reason the Rockefeller tree is such an attraction – it’s beautiful and nothing says Christmas quite like a million-foot tree in the middle of the city. But, the major crowds within the few blocks around the tree make it hard to have an enjoyable experience. Instead, hit the Palace Hotel. This dazzling tree (of Gossip Girl fame) is beautiful and makes for a perfect photo opp without the same overwhelming crowd. Though there will probably still be some onlookers, it’s nothing like what you’ve got at 30 Rock.
After you’ve seen all the sights, head to City Bakery in Flatiron for their world-famous hot chocolate. The homemade marshmallows and the thick, rich hot chocolate is the perfect way to warm up and take a break from the cold before heading out once again.
Finish up the night with a cozy cocktail at the Campbell Apartment or Lobby Bar at the Bowery Hotel. Both spots are usually a bit crowded, but it’s worth the wait for the ambiance and killer craft cocktails. What better way to end the day than by sipping a great drink next to a crackling fireplace? Answer: there isn’t one.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Now that Thanksgiving is officially over and done with, we can move on to Christmas for real. The holidays in New York is one of my favorite times – the festive lights, elaborate decor and all around happy vibe fills the city with that Christmas magic. In honor of this festive feeling, check out these things to do in December to get into the holiday spirit.
Bryant Park Winter Village, November 1 – January 2
This year, head to Bryant Park to instantly feel the Christmas spirit. The winter village features ice skating, local vendors for easy Christmas shopping and great festive decor. Browse the shops or just wander around and take in the holiday cheer at this magical spot that is open through January 2 of next year.
Holiday Train Show, November 19 – January 16
Discover the New York Botanic Gardens stunning show featuring familiar, but miniature, sights like the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Coney Island. Almost a half-mile of train tracks make up this exhibit that brings the magic of the holidays to life.
Union Square Holiday Market, December 1 – 24
The Union Square Holiday Market is my go-to spot each year for unique holiday gifts. Made by local New York artists and some visiting vendors, the kitschy stalls are a great place to wander around and take in all of the sights. Pro tip: it’s also a bit of a foodie haven with offerings from beloved food vendors like Arancini Brothers and Sigmund’s.
Ice Skating at Wollman Rink, October 23 – April 2
Located at Central Park Lake, the Wollman Rink has been a New York Staple since 1858 when it opened to the public. I’ve never skated there, but it’s been on my to-do list since I moved to the city and I think this year is the year. The weekday hours are a little wonky, so head to the rink over the weekend but be prepared for a bit of a wait, as it’s a popular attraction. Or, head there after the holidays for a less crowded experience.
Santacon, December 10
This is one of New York’s most infamous annual events. But, love it or hate it, Santacon takes over the city one day each year, with crazy (often drunk) people running around decked out in full Santa garb. The event itself is free with a suggested donation, and many bars around the city run specials for that day. Check out the official site for more info.
Latke Festival, December 19
Latke’s are amazing, so it’s no wonder that they’ve got a whole festival in their honor. This annual event, in its 8th year, comes at a bit of a steep price but includes both unlimited latkes and unlimited beer, wine and nonalcoholic drinks at its home in the Brooklyn Museum. Early bird tickets are sold out, but the general admission price is still available, plus all profits are donated to charity. Check this out to support great cause and nom on some great food.
Grand Army Plaza New Year’s Eve Fireworks, December 31
New Year’s Eve in New York can be hard. This year, forgo any thoughts of Times Square or an overpriced ticketed party and head to Prospect Park for some warm drinks and fireworks. Live music begins at 11pm and you can snag a free cup of hot cocoa at Grand Army Plaza before the fireworks go off at midnight. Happy New Year!
A few weeks ago, a group of friends and I hit the open road and headed upstate to explore Storm King Art Center. The trip had been in the works for a while, and I was excited to finally cross it off of my fall bucket list. We tried to time the trip to coincide with the peak of fall foliage, and even though we missed it by a week or two it was still a perfect day exploring with the gals.
It’s a bit of a trip out of the city, but we rented a Zip Car and all piled in. There are also organized bus trips available that are a flat rate for the round trip fare and the entrance into Storm King – check it out here.
The Storm King property itself is pretty huge – we had originally discussed renting bikes to take it all in, but we got there a little bit later in the day than anticipated so decide to forgo the bikes and instead walk. The only downside to this plan was that there were a few entire sections of the park that we didn’t get to check out. If you’re planning a trip, my recommendation would be to hit the road early and get there in the morning so you have ample time to take in the sights before heading out for the day. If you want, you could even pack a picnic and enjoy the beautiful fall weather.
After being stuck in the city for a few months, it was a nice change of pace to be surrounded by so much greenery and fall foliage. The rolling hills of the property offer plenty of spots to take in the stunning views from higher ground and you can spot some of the sculptures tucked away in various parts of the property.
As a group, our favorite piece of art was Alyson Shotz’s Mirror Fence, which is a bit obviously, a mirrored fence. It is hard to spot among the trees because the fence blends perfectly in with its surroundings. We spent a while hanging out in this secluded area before heading on to the larger sculptures.
Storm King is the perfect spot to head upstate and take in the fall weather and the beautiful leaves. Make a day of it with your gal pals or a group of friends and aimlessly wander for an enjoyable and relaxing day. Plus if you’re super cheesy you can get a cute pic with the leaves, because really, why not?
I honestly can not believe that it is already November. This year has flown by in the blink of an eye, and especially October. Between traveling to LA to visit my best friends from college, a visit from my parents and celebrating my birthday, I feel like last month moved faster than the rest. But, on the bright side, I’m looking forward to all of the amazing things to do in November. Without further ado, here they are!
Bryant Park Winter Village, November 1 – January 2
Even though Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, head to Bryant Park to get into the Christmas spirit. Go ice skating, get in some Christmas shopping or just wander around and take in the festivities at this magical spot that is open through January 2 of next year.
Savor the Bronx, November 7-18
It’s no secret that I love to try out new spots to eat, and Savor the Bronx is a great opportunity to do so. With a wide range of restaurants all over the Bronx participating in the event, you can discover great deals and some new cuisine in the city’s sometimes underrated neighborhood. Similar to New York Restaurant Week, restaurants offer deals on dining, though in this case it’s usually a percentage discount (oftentimes 15 percent) taken off of the total check.
Holiday Train Show, November 19 – January 16
Every year, the New York Botanic Gardens puts on a stunning show featuring familiar sights like the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Coney Island. Nearly a half-mile of train tracks make up the exhibit that bring the magic of the holidays to life.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Inflation, November 23
I’ve been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, but when I was much younger and only visiting New York. It was freezing cold and fairly miserable to be outside for many hours, but the balloons and the spectacle were worth it. Since moving to the city, I’ve been wanting to check out the balloon inflation that takes place the night before on the Upper West Side (unfortunately, I’m usually on a plane headed home for the holidays). Anyone who is in the city this year, check it out and let me know how it is!
Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting, November 30
This is one of the most iconic events in all of New York. If you want a decent view, make sure to get there early because hoards of New Yorkers and tourists alike flock to Rockefeller Center to witness the extravaganza. Or if you’re more of a homebody, check the whole thing out on network TV.
I am always on the hunt for a good coffee shop around my ‘hood. The Upper East Side has plenty to offer, but I have yet to find a spot that strikes a good balance between overly crowded and completely deserted. Another eternal struggle is that, despite my former employment, I don’t particularly enjoy hanging out in a Starbucks and working on freelance projects. Thankfully, I’ve discovered Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. This cute little neighborhood spot sports whitewashed brick walls, high ceilings and a front wall of all windows, allowing in a ton of light and a lot of good vibes, making it the perfect spot to buckle and and get some sh*t done.
In addition to some top notch and overpriced coffee, Irving Farm has one of the best BEC sandwiches in the game. With a selection of delicious breads (think croissants, everything bagels and homemade sourdough) topped with multiple slices of sharp cheddar and made-to-order eggs and crispy bacon, this breakfast sandwich will change your life. Or, if you’re looking for something even more mind-blowing, opt for the homemade chive biscuit and add on some avocado—I had this exact sandwich (pictured above) and still dream about it at least once a week. A little hard to eat because of the crumbly deliciousness of the biscuit, but def worth a few extra crumbs.
Check them out on Third Avenue between e. 80th and e. 81st St. if you’re in my ‘hood, or check out any of their other locations.
I have already visited Jack’s Wife Freda for lunch, but I have been itchy to go back for a true brunch extravaganza. A few weeks ago I had a friend in town visiting, so what better excuse to brunch than that?
After a pretty length wait for a table, even on a holiday weekend, we were seated at one of the patio tables which was great for the beautiful weather (though a little crowded from the hoards of people waiting to be seated). Since I was nursing a bit of a hangover I opted for a little hair of the dog: a Bloody Mary. The traditional accouterments included olives, lemon, lime and celery. It was the perfect amount of spicy and hit the spot on a brisk Saturday afternoon.
Last time I ate at Jack’s Wife Freda I had the Prego roll, so this time I opted for something from the breakfast menu. I got the with grilled haloumi cheese, tomatoes and poached eggs topped with pesto and slices of crusty sourdough bread. It was delicious, though I could have stood for a slightly larger portion.
Two of my friends went for the Madame Freda and they totally won the ordering game. Like a traditional croque madame but with duck prosciutto, cheddar bechamel, gruyere cheese and a sunny side up egg, this sandwich looked life changing. The perfection of the egg no top and a smattering of greens on the side literally made me want to eat it every day for the rest of my life – and I didn’t even taste it. Definitely go this route if you visit for brunch.
I really cannot believe that is it already October – where has the time gone? It seems like it was summer only yesterday. But, on the bright side, there are a ton of great things to do in October around the city that I’m pretty excited about. Check them out below, and let me know if there’s any I’ve missed!
OysterFest, October 1
This is the final event of the weeklong Oyster Festival. Moving to a new home of the South Street Seaport this year (it was previously held on Stone Street) OysterFest is a great place to sample different oysters and brews from local eateries while enjoying the beautiful, recently redone seaport area.
Skate at Rockefeller Ice Rink, October 8–April 1
Though most people think of this during the holidays, beat the rush and head to Rockefeller Center to ice skate this October. The lines will be shorter, the rink less crowded and overall just a better experience. What more could you want?
Harvest Fest, October 16
Visit Harvest Fest at the Queens Botanical Gardens for a fun-filled day of fall activities. There will be live music, pumpkin picking, a beer tent and more. Soak up all the fall-ness while you still can.
Cider Week, October 21-30
During Cider Week, events all over the city celebrate cider in all of its forms. From cider tastings, to a Harvest Dinner, to pop up shops, this weeklong celebration of hard apple cider is sure to please the cider-obsessed and casual fans alike.
Tour de Bronx, October 23
Started in 1994, the Tour de Bronx features two different rides. The 25-mile ride takes participants through the east, middle and south Bronx through the likes of the Mott Haven district, along the East River and into Pelham Bay Park. The 40-mile ride also visit Throgg’s Neck, City Island and Woodlawn. Both rides end at the New York Botanical Gardens with a few festivities to celebrate the day. Bonus: It’s free to register and if you forget your helmet, DOT will be providing them the day of the event.
A vegan alternative to the traditional burger and fries, by Chloe. has taken the New York Instagram scene by storm over the past few months. The cute branding and bomb food makes for an unbeatable combo, especially when it comes to Insta-obsessed New Yorkers (myself included). One of the new locations opened by my office in Flatiron earlier this summer, so I obviously had to go check it out.
The lunch rush was so real when I went on a Thursday afternoon, but I had been planning for this lunch all week so I stuck it out. However, be warned if you’re in a hurry that this is probably not the spot for you.
Their menu features a delicious combo of burgers, salads and and sides all of which are completely vegan. I was in the mood for a burger so went that route, but was having some order envy as I watched them serve the salads – it looked like you couldn’t really go wrong with either.
I chose to get the classic burger made that is made of tempeh, lentils, chia and walnuts and topped with onions, pickles, beet ketchup and a special sauce all served on a potato bun. The burger had a similar consistency to other veggie burgers I’ve had. It was fairly dense and didn’t hold together particularly well, but the flavor was delicious.
I also had a side of the air baked french fries, which were good though a very different texture than traditional fried french fries. The real standout is the beet ketchup and the chipotle aioli for both the fries and burger. They are unusual flavors that took me a little bit to get used to, but once I did I was realllllly into it.
Next on my hit list of things to try off of their menu is definitely some of the desserts—Chef Chloe Coscarelli, the restaurant’s namesake, is a baker by trade and has won several awards for her vegan baked goods. The chain also just opened the first Sweets by Chloe in Greenwich Village and that’s definitely going down on my list of spots I need to try.
Stay tuned and follow along by signing up for emails from The Naturalized New Yorker at the top of the page!
Fall has always been my favorite season. The weather is the best, the changing leaves are beautiful and my birthday is in October. As the temperatures begin to cool down in New York, I’m always excited to be out and about and enjoying the crisp air and all of the fun fall activities that start to fill up my calendar. For this post and collaboration with some lovely blogger gals, I’ve taken some inspiration from Meghan of wit & whimsy, and have come up with my very own Fall Essentials bucket list.
Eat & Drink
This new East Village outpost is a 70s-inspired sensation that will transport you back in time. The four-story space has different hippie decor on each floor and is a totes itself as a club-restaurant, offering a full menu with table side cocktail service, but also has lounge-y areas and a large bar to accommodate the nightlife scene.
This vegetable tapas restaurant opened earlier this summer and I’ve been itching to go. From the owner of beloved cocktail lounge Death & Co., Ladybird has adorable decor an a decadent vegetarian menu featuring the likes of seared peach caprese and saffron risotto. The mouth-watering food and extensive craft cocktail list are a winning combination. Brb, making a reservation as we speak.
Ice & Vice
My parents will be visiting at the end of October and my mom and I have already excitedly discussed that we HAVE to visit Ice & Vice. This Lower East Side outpost has some of the most outrageous ice cream I’ve ever seen and I want nothing more than to get my hands on some. The custom, small-batch ice cream has both unusual flavors–like toasted milk with sea salt and chocolate–and also serve up some crazy toppings, including an ice cream sandwich, on top of your scoop.
Every year, the Lower East Side shuts down a few blocks of Orchard Street to celebrate one of the best foods there is: pickles. This year the event is this coming Sunday, September 25. Vendors come out in full force and offer pickles, pickle-flavored goods (I’ve had popcorn and baked goods) and also non-pickle fare along with live music and a pickling contest. It’s the perfect spot to wander around on a crisp fall afternoon and nom on some snacks.
Shuffleboard at the Royal Palms
This has been on my to-do list for ages, and now that the weather will finally be cooling off and calling for more indoor activities, I think the timing is perfect. With courts reserved for walk-ins, a rotating food truck selection and house-kegged cocktails, the Royal Palms sounds like the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Plus who doesn’t love a little shuffleboard?
Oysters + beer + an afternoon outdoors = a Saturday well spent. This year mark your calendar for October 1 as the day to head to the South Street Seaport and slurp your fill of fresh local oysters and drinks served up by local eateries. The finale of the Oyster Week events, OysterFest is a can’t-miss.
Storm King Art Center
Located in the Hudson Valley, Storm King Art Center is the perfect spot to escape the city for a day. The 500-acre sculpture park has over 100 sculptures in a beautiful landscape, making fall the ideal time for a visit. The beautiful sculptures plus changing foliage is bound to be unbeatable.
Halloween Dog Parade
Every year, the East Village is home to this kitschy event. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so wandering around and seeing dogs dressed up in Halloween costumes sounds like an afternoon well spent. I’ve always wanted to go and I think this year is the year.
Rolf’s Christmas decorations
This German restaurant is known through the city for their crazy Christmas decor. I tried to visit with a few friends last year in December, but the unmoving line snaked around the block. This year, I think the move is to visit earlier in the fall – their website doesn’t include the exact date the decor will go up, but I’m not missing my chance this year to witness the Christmas craziness for myself.
Don’t forget to also check out the fall essentials the other gals have rounded up! They’ve got some great fall finds and activities for you to add to your agenda.
Eva of simplyevahxo.com
Eva has amazing style and she is always rocking bold colors and great patterns. Check out her Instagram for some outfit inspiration or follow her on Snapchat for a peak into her daily life.
Alessia of Hauteandhoundstooth.com
Alessia is always rocking amazing looks and trendy color combos. Check out her blog for stellar fashion finds.
Katelyn of Katelynblogs.com
Katelyn covers a big range of lifestyle on her blog, from blog posts about blogging to some wedding planning (she’s engaged!). Her site is full of amazing content but be sure to peep her fall essentials.
Lauren of rosesandrainboots.com
Lauren posts a TON of fashion content and always looks so put together and stylish. Her photography is amazing, and she somehow manages to do it all in addition to being a full time teacher! Props to you, girl.
Ashlee Liz 0f ashleeliz.com
Ashlee blogs about blogging and her tips are always so helpful as a fellow blogger. She also shares beauty tips, life advice and just produces all around good content!
Savannah of thealwaysblog.com
Savannah is a traveler and amazing writer – she’s been to 22 states! She also has an amazing Instagram feed. Check out her blog for tips on college, life, and inside stories from her adventures in nannying.
Charlie & Kimmy of eatlovewear.com
This best friend duo posts amazing outfits, style tricks and amazing food pics on their blog and Instagram. And what could be better than blogging with your best friend?
Chelsea of thecrookedhammer.com
Chelsea writes about books, style, fashion, and posts monthly buckets lists (I drew a little inspo from her for this post!). Don’t forget to head over to her Instagram for some killer photography.