Earlier this month, Corey and I took a long weekend trip to New York City! Neither of us had been before and both of us wanted to visit New York City at Christmas time, so we thought our five-year anniversary was the perfect time to go. We flew into the city early on Thursday, December 6 and left in the evening on Sunday, giving us almost four full days in the city. It was the perfect amount of time and we were able to do so much while we were there. We did a lot of touristy things since it was our first time in the city, but it was everything we wanted to do. Today, I am sharing our trip with you as a New York City at Christmas Time Travel Guide – where to stay, where to eat, what shows to see, and what else to do.
For reference, we flew into LaGuardia Airport in Queens because we heard it was the closest to Manhattan. We took an Uber from the airport to our hotel and it only took about 45 minutes, despite the morning rush-hour traffic.
Where to Stay
We were extremely lucky when planning out our trip to NYC because of a friend of mine has a friends and family discount for Hyatt. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt next to Central Station and it was the perfect location for what we wanted to do during our time there. It was only about a 15-minute walk to Times Square and Fifth Avenue, and we were right next to the train station if we wanted to take the subway anywhere. Plus, the room was very nice and we received complimentary drinks and snacks (once for each day we were there). It was also nice because they were able to hold our luggage for us the day we got there and the day we were leaving. I think most hotels in NYC do this, but it was nice to know that ahead of time since we had early and late flights. Overall, our experience at the Grand Hyatt was a 5-star experience, and I highly recommend staying there.
Pro tip: Be sure to use Ebates when booking your next hotel and flight so you can get cash back! I received cash back for booking our flights on Travelocity.
Where to Eat
Joe’s Pizza is probably the most popular place to “grab a slice” in New York City. Featured in Toby Maguire’s Spiderman and shoutout’s by celebrities, Joe’s Pizza is also famous. When you walk in, you will see photos hanging on the walls of all of the celebrities that have eaten there, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper. The pizza was pretty good and the perfect quick lunch while walking around Broadway during the day.
Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizza
We stumbled upon Angelo’s Coal Oven Pizza after walking back to our hotel from Central Park. In my opinion, this was the best pizza we had while in the city. Their pizza isn’t the traditional New York-style thin crust, but you could taste the fresh ingredients and sauce. I loved the crust because of the charred edges.
El Rio Grande
Corey and I stumbled upon El Rio Grande through Yelp because we were craving Mexican food. We were planning to meet up with a friend and it wasn’t too far away from our hotel, so we decided to give it a try. It was in a more residential area of Manhattan so it wasn’t crazy busy like the more popular restaurants. Our food and service were excellent. The chips were freshly made, which is honestly my favorite part about eating at Mexican restaurants. And I highly suggest the steak quesadilla – it was sooo good! The margaritas were also delicious and very strong! Overall it was a great experience.
District Social was another restaurant we found through Yelp and went to for dinner with friends. The front of the restaurant has more of a bar vibe and the back has tables for dining. We ended up ordering quite a few appetizers to share and Corey and I both ordered the linguini as our entree. The food was pretty good, but I wouldn’t say it was the best we had on our trip. They had a wide selection for their drink menu and I saw they happened to have Logsdon Farmhouse Ales. I obviously had to try one since my last name is Logsdon!
Black Tap Craft Burger & Beers
Corey and I stopped at Black Tap for a late night meal since it was super busy earlier in the night and the wait was over two hours. It was suggested to us by a friend so we really wanted to try it. The burgers were so juicy and the shakes were fantastic. The shakes are loaded with toppings, making them Insta-worthy.
Xi’an Famous Foods
We were looking for a great, authentic Asian restaurant to eat at without having to go to China Town since it was our last day in the city and we had limited time. We ended up finding Xi’an Famous Foods on Yelp and decided to give it a try. The food was delicious and was so fresh! The portion sizes were good and the broth on both the plate and soup were delicious. We also learned that Xi’an Famous Foods was featured in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times so you know it has to be good! I highly recommend if you are near Fifth Avenue and want good, authentic Asian cuisine.
Shows to See
While we were in New York, we saw Mean Girls on Broadway. Corey and I have always been big fans of the movie so when we found out it was becoming a Broadway show, we knew we wanted to see it. The musical was updated to include social media, but for the most part, the adapted musical followed most of the original plot of the movie and included most of the famous lines. Even though Regina George is the girl everyone wants to hate, the actress that played her delivered and was amazing! The show is going on tour, so if you want to see it and aren’t able to see it in NYC on Broadway, definitely check out the tour site to see if it is coming to a city near you.
Other shows to see:
- Chicago (one of my all-time favorites – I saw this on tour)
- Wicked (another favorite – I also saw this on tour)
- Book of Mormon (Corey wants to see this one)
- The Lion King
Things to Do
Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center
Ever since I was little, it has been a dream of mine to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center – #figureskatergoals. So the first thing we did when we got to the city was go skating! We wanted to beat the weekend crowd (and honestly the weekend jacked-up admission price) so we went skating at noon on Thursday. The public skate was two hours and it was plenty of time for us to skate around and for me to do a few jumps and spins. There were a lot of people that didn’t really know how to skate or were very slow, so if you are an experienced skater like me, just be aware of this when you go. If it is extremely busy, it might be hard to maneuver around the rink quickly and not get bored. Skating at Rockefeller was honestly my favorite part of our trip and I am so happy Corey enjoys skating as much as I do!
Walk Around and Shopping on Fifth Avenue
While you are near Rockefeller Center, check out the holiday windows at the stores on Fifth Avenue. Stores like Tiffany’s, Cartier, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue all decorate and have beautiful displays for the season. Saks Fifth Avenue actually has a light show once it gets dark and is fun to watch. And if you are ready to do some shopping, there are plenty of stores along Fifth Avenue, including more affordable stores like H&M, Forever 21, Zara, and more. Surprisingly, I did not buy a single article of clothing while we were there (lol 😅).
Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
Going to the Statue of Liberty is probably one of the most touristy things to do in New York City, but it was such an incredible experience and cool to see what our ancestors saw when they came to the states. Corey and I both had family that immigrated to the US through Ellis Island and we were even able to find some of the documents for our family in the database. There is only one tour that actually takes you to the islands, so if you want to get off the boat and explore, make sure you book your tickets here.
My dad is a huge fan of John Lennon so I had to take this photo to send to him.
Top of the Rock
If you want to see an amazing view of the city and still see the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, I suggest going to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. The view is incredible and you can see all of Manhattan and beyond.
Other fun things to do:
- During Christmas in NYC, Bryant Park has the Winter Village, which has the ice skating rink, a giant Christmas tree, pop-up shops, and food stands.
- The Rockett’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular is probably one of the most iconic shows to see in New York City at Christmas time. We didn’t get to go see this show, but if we ever go back at Christmas, we will definitely go!
- Central Park is way bigger than I ever imagined! We probably only walked through an eighth of the park because it was so big. I think it would be really fun to take a carriage ride through the park to see everything, but we just didn’t have time for that this time. There are also more ice skating rinks in Central Park and the iconic Central Park Zoo.