christmas window display in new york city

A New York City Christmas in 24 Hours

The morning we were supposed to go into New York City to soak up 24 hours of Christmas buzz, we had a rather large snafu. After booking our Amtrak tickets from the closet Connecticut station, making a one-night reservation for Odin at a Petsmart in Hartford, and packing up his bone and ziplock baggies rationing out each meal’s kibble, we wound up at the Pet Hotel counter two hours before our train departed with a dog we couldn’t drop off. His six-month bordetella vaccine was set to expire during the stay. It didn’t matter that he had a vet appointment scheduled. They simply couldn’t take him.

The domino effect included a healthy dose of adrenaline and frantic phone calls to every vet with boarding facilities in a 45 mile radius. Our Christmas miracle turned out to be a top-notch facility called the Animal Hospital of Old Saybrook that happened to be spitting distance from the train station. We caught the train, emerged from Penn Station, walked nine blocks down 34th street, navigated the doorman’s interrogation, and arrived at our good friend Joey’s apartment ready to follow instead of lead. The stress of the morning quickly faded into the background. Joey whisked us away on the ultimate New York City Christmas tour, hitting all the tourist highlights on foot and compressing a full holiday extravaganza into just 24 hours. Here were the top five stops.  

the macy's storefront in new york city

1) Macy’s

We began with a shopping classic: the city-block sized Macy’s department store decked out in all of its holiday swag. Each display window’s merchandise had been swapped out with ornate holiday exhibits. These elaborate artistic arrangements filled window after window. Some were set to music, others had coordinated movement and lights. Passersby of all ages squished in close to get a peak. The store’s interior was just as majestically decorated. Every inch was coated in evergreen branches, glitter, and reminders to Believe.

Christmas window at Macy's
the Macy's believe sign in new york city
a crystal ball with evergreen branches

2) Bryant Park Winter Village

Next we made our way down 5th Avenue to Bryant Park’s Winter Village tucked just behind the New York Public Library and their iconic lions. A maze of small holiday shops encircled a skating rink and Christmas tree. Lights outlined each storefront and wrapped around each bush, and as the sun went down, the windows in the surrounding skyscrapers started to glow as well. Each shop was overflowing with handmade gifts or delicious food. We ate churros filled with dulce de leche, different variations of deep-fried risotto, and a crepe the size of Joey’s head.

the holiday market in bryant park
a holiday churros stand in bryant park
the holiday market in bryant park

3) Rockefeller Center

From one tree to the next, we continued down 5th Avenue to Rockefeller Center. The 30 Rock theme song kept replaying in the our heads as we glanced from one iconic view to the next. Everything was over the top: the tree, the flags, the crowds, the blinding light show on the Saks 5th Avenue store front. Even the Lego Store had gone all out with a 3 foot Santa and miniature Rockette dancers. It was exactly the type of exuberance we’d been looking for to jumpstart our holiday spirit.

rockefeller center at christmas
the christmas angels at rockefeller center
the holiday lights show at saks 5th ave
rockefeller center at christmas

4) The Radio City Rockettes

The highlight of our holiday extravaganza was without a doubt seeing the The Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Radio City itself was stunning. Its bright lights revved up our excitement, and walking through the door we were hit over the head with all the glitz and glamour you could dream up. The show was jaw-dropping. From the musicians on their levitating pit to the dancers and their immaculate precision, we walked out on a holiday high.
the outside of the radio city music hall
the lobby in the radio city music hall
the stage at the radio city music hall

5) Grand Central Station

As the evening wound down and we worked our way back to Joey’s apartment, we made an impromptu stop at Grand Central Station and soaked up a few quiet moments surrounded by its timeless architecture. Under the soft light and sprawling constellations, late night travelers moved through the station. This final stop was the perfect exhale to our breathless tour.

the clock at grand central station
the eagle outside grand central station
train times at grand central station
the ceiling at grand central station

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