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How To Holiday in NYC

New YorkLocal Guides

New York during the end of year is a dream straight out of a holiday movie —the tree at Rockefeller Center, the Rockettes, the 5th Avenue window displays. Sure, these are all awesome activities — but here’s our tip for the holidays: avoid the NYC tourist trips, and find the under-the-radar seasonal gems, from local theaters to the lesser-known ice rinks where you won’t have to wait in line for hours. Here are our favorite New York holiday stops in the city we’ll soon call home.

 

WHAT TO DO

Gramercy Theatre (127 E 23rd St.): One of New York’s most famous music venues, the Gramercy Theatre hosts a selection of well curated plays, concerts, and stand-up. This season’s highlights include an interactive show with comedian Doug Bensonand a holiday-themed performance by artists Tyler Hilton and Kate Voegele.

 

The Rink at Brookfield Place (230 Vesey St.): Don’t wait for hours at Rockefeller Center. Check out the recently opened Rink at Brookfield Place, complete with amazing views of the Statue of Liberty. This year, Olympians Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov are curating the rink’s programming — sign yourself up for a class, and you might just leave knowing how to do a double axel.

 

Little Branch (22 7th Ave S): New York has an impressively large speakeasy scene, and Little Branch has long been a mainstay. Enter through a barely-marked door on 7th Avenue, list off your favorite drink ingredients, and, almost like magic, a totally individualized cocktail will appear at your table.

WHERE TO SHOP

Union Square Holiday Market (14th St. & Union Square W): Holiday markets abound in New York City at this time of year, but the best selection of gifts and treats can be found at the Union Square Holiday Market. Pick up a pack of Compost Cookies from the iconic bakery, Milk Bar; a box of sweets from Macaron Parlour; or a painting from the famous YoHo artist community in Yonkers.

 

Young & Able Pop-Up (277 Berry Street, Brooklyn): This seasonal boutique brings in totally unique goods (pineapple boxes! Speckled mugs! Handmade aromatherapy oils!) from up-and-coming artisans. This year’s theme is la femme, meaning all goods available will come from women-owned businesses.

 

Housing Works (Various Locations): Housing Works is a non-profit organization built to benefit those affected by HIV/AIDS. The centerpiece of these efforts are Housing Works thrift stores, located all around the city, where you can find an amazing selection of gently-worn gems (there’s usually a good selection of designer apparel and accessories!), and also donate those clothes and home goods you no longer have a need for.

WHERE TO EAT

Upland (345 Park Ave S): This is the sort of restaurant where you can take anyone, no matter how picky. You’ll find a stellar menu of creative pizzas and pastas that mix Italian and California cuisines. (Don’t miss the Estrella pasta with Chicken Liver, Rosemary, and Sage.) Upland is also a stellar option for brunch, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

Casa Mono (52 Irving Pl): Mario Batali’s Michelin-starred ode to Spanish cuisine has remained a favorite for locals, and for good reason. Executive Chef Anthony Sasso churns out exciting tapas the fuse tradition and innovation, from mussels with chorizo to oxtail stuffed piquillo peppers.

Fairfax (234 W. 4th St): You’ll feel right at home at this wine bar meets all-day West Village café with one of the coziest living rooms in town. Pull up to the bar for some bluefish pâté and a Tuscan red, or just relax on the couches with a cup of coffee.

Photo: Austin Scherbart