This is the 3rd NYC Christmas post I’ve done over the years. Because, yes, Christmas in NYC really is that magical. 🙂 🙂
Here are my other two round-ups with some really good nuggets:
And I wanted to get these new ideas to you early in case you’re planning a trip to NYC anytime soon…
Danish Christmas Fair in Brooklyn Heights
Old time Italian Brooklyn still exists, my friends!! L&B Spumoni Gardens, in Bensonhurst, is seriously keeping it real. It delights me to no end and I hope evidence of Brooklyn’s Italian roots will exist forever. L&B is especially fun to visit after a stroll around the insanely bonkers Christmas-light-entrenched neighborhood of Dyker Heights. Plan on a long wait. But savor the old ladies with Brooklyn accents and the huge families crammed in the waiting area. As soon as you get a table, big Italian guys with aprons will start bringing out free mini slices of pizza right away while you fuss over how many pizzas and meatballs to order.
Amish Country Sleigh Rides
This would be just over the top ridiculous. A sleigh ride in December through the woods and darling towns? I can think of nothing more charming. I’d take a thermos (we love this one) of hot chocolate. And ideally stay in a farmhouse B&B somewhere where they had a roaring fireplace and a dutch oven dinner waiting for you. I think I’d have to find an Amish quilt for the occasion, too. (Do any readers have quilt recommendations?)
Carol Services at New York City’s Churches
The city’s churches will have holiday services throughout December, so check online for special events such as those at St. Bartholomew, West Village Chorale, Trinity Church on Wall St., Riverside Church, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (pictured below.) Just think, every Sunday you could church hop and see a new Christmas service, not to mention commune with lots of festive New Yorkers and get acquainted with some of the most amazing architectural gems in the city. (Here is another line-up of churches and synagogues to check-out in the The NY Times.)
NYC Cookie Crawl
This part goes against every bit of healthy tips I’ve ever given here. 🙂 But in case you’re wondering, these are the places that have the most outrageously good cookies in NYC…and yes, I’ve tried them. I wasn’t always gluten-free, you know. And yes, even though I love our Paleo cookies, I MISS THESE COOKIES!
Levain Bakery (my favorite is the dark chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips. Ask for warm ones.)
The City Bakery (best up: chewy chocolate chip cookies with crisp edges and sugar cookies, which are melt-in-your-mouth and like none I’ve had before. And don’t miss the insanely rich, pudding-like hot chocolate.)
Jacques Torres (really, really impressive chocolate chip cookies. And you also must get the Wicked Hot Chocolate – perhaps my favorite of all time. Favorite location: the original chocolate factory under the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO.)
William Greenberg Desserts (very, very famous for black & white cookies – and these ones actually taste yummy.)
Ladurée (the best, most beautiful macarons in NYC and other places like a city called Paris. 😉
–The City Bakery catered my first wedding in Manhattan. It was all kinds of delicious – including the leftovers that we barely fit into my itty bitty refrigerator in my first studio apartment. We were eating chocolate tarts for days out of zip lock bags.
-Danny and I went to Levain Bakery the very first weekend we met!! The woman who set us up was in town and she met us there, too. She was simply DYING to hear how our first date went!!!! 🙂 We went for a walk after getting the cookies and Danny was holding my hand!! So I’m sure that was making her heart beat, as it was mine, I’ll tell ya that. Later, when we were married, I once worked across Central Park from the bakery and hired a messenger to go to Levain to pick-up a box of cookies so I could surprise Danny on one of our anniversaries. Whatever it takes. 🙂
-I used to risk getting parking tickets by hovering in a no parking zone (or flat-out double parking) while I dashed for the line at Ladurée. Oh my. On Madison Avenue of all places! I had to choose a dozen flavors of macarons in under two flat seconds. Not an easy task.
-At a hedge fund I used to work at, some of the Jewish employees regularly got the black & white cookies delivered from William Greenberg Desserts. I WAS HOOKED. My favorite is to slice it so you have strips with both the black & white frosting on one piece.
Apparently this Cookie Crawl needed it’s own post? 🙂
This should straight up be a yearly Girls Night or Couples Night in December, right?! I haven’t been here yet myself, personally. But friends I trust completely love it and totally recommend it. We get to enjoy something like this in Cuenca at the moment…and it’s HEAVENLY to go and just relax for hours among hot baths, mud baths, and steam. My skin always looks noticeably more smooth and vibrant after we go. Wear the coziest clothes ever to put on afterwards for the journey home.
Buy Ice Skates Already!
New Yorkers, we all need to just do this already. Because we all know ice-skating is FREE at Bryant Park if you have your own skates. So why oh why don’t we just buy the dang skates?! I didn’t buy them before, either. But it’s literally what I’m going to ask Santa for the very first Christmas we return. Two or three iceskating outings will pay for the skates. It seems e-Bay or Craigslist would be a good place to look. Talk about the best ever winter dates and Christmas morning traditions (we skated one year on Christmas morning and it was magical.)
A Jaunt To An Actual Bookstore
The holidays are for book-a-thons, right?! So do your soul a favor and go straight into one of New York’s charming, independent bookstores and peruse to your heart’s content. In fact, this should be a family affair! Everyone should go and pick out new books for the holidays. New traditions in the making right here. I currently can’t wait to do this with Danny! (We don’t buy actual books here in Ecuador – just Kindle. So I’ve been longing for actual books for quite some time!)
New York’s Bookstore Gems:
Rizzoli Bookstore, pictured – (Flatiron)
McNally Jackson (Soho)
Housing Works (Soho)
Books of Wonder (Flatiron)
192 Books (Chelsea)
Book Culture (Upper West Side)
BookCourt (Cobble Hill) [Best Sellers are always 30% off! by phone or in-store.] powerHouse (Dumbo)
Greenlight Bookstore (Fort Greene)
Three Lives & Co. (West Village)
I hear Mohonk is great for seasonal day trips. And Grace Bonney says the place has stunning views!
Also, there’s Cross Country Skiing. Explore more than 30 miles of groomed trails with sweeping views of the Catskills. The ski shop provides maps and tips on what trail is best suited to your skill level. Ski alongside the lake, head for Sky Top Tower, or choose one of the many other trails that honeycomb the property. The ski shop has snowshoes for rent, maps, and attendants who can advise you on trail conditions. Snowshoes may also be used to play disc golf during the winter, weather permitting. I so want to do all of this. Except maybe the disc golf. Aiming is not forte. haha.
On our end, we thought we’d be living back in the States by Christmas this year. But we’ve had some delays, so our plan now is to still be in Ecuador for the holidays. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. To me, the fun of Christmas involves friends, family and all the traditions and food that you know and love. Last year, truth be told, we felt lonely here. We’re missing our roots! But we have some exciting things in the works before we return. I’ll keep you posted on all of that. 🙂
And do any of you have some unique holiday plans?
With Lots of Love,
P.S. OMG: as I was looking up the link to L&B Spumoni, I saw here that the pizza boss, Louis Barbati, was just shot & murdered outside his home this last summer in a robbery as he returned home from L&B. Oh no!!! What horrible news to find. 🙁 Love to his family, employees, and everyone who adores this beloved pizza place.