Free Best Holiday Activities to do in NYC

How does that jingle go again…? “It’s Christmas time in the City!”

I just went into the city on Friday for two interviews. My bus got into Penn. Station at 5:30am and my first interview at the Conde Nast building on Times Square didn’t start till 10am. My second was over on Park Ave at 3pm, so I had tons of time to kill before, during, and after the interviews. I’ve never seen the city at Christmas before so I literally hit the ground running at 5:30am and maxed out my day, trying to get a taste of the best (free) NYC Christmas must-see’s that everyone else told me I couldn’t miss:

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

I saw this tree and was completely blown away. It’s HUGE. And I’m from Minnesota so I’ve grown up with some big, BIG trees in my lifetime. I don’t know if it was the gorgeous lights twinkling on every single branch (how do they wrap the tree, how many strings of lights do they use, how much does it cost to keep lit??) or the fact that I was so exhausted from my bus ride, but I stood there just staring at the tree until a security guard walked over and asked me if I was alright. It’s really gorgeous, and it remains lit 24/7 (I think).

Rockefeller is packed on weekends leading up to Christmas, but if you can hit the plaza right after rush hour on a weekday, chances of you getting a picture with the tree are pretty good.

Today Show

You don’t need tickets and it’s totally free! People start lining up for the Today Show as early as 6am (or before) but Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer don’t come out of the NBC studio until 7:40am at the earliest. Groups of school children, a dance team from an area high school, families, couples–everyone turns out. I met people from all over the country at the Today Show: a group of sisters in their 40’s from Chicago on a Christmas shopping trip in the city, people from Canada, Iowa, California, the Bronx. I waited awhile outside but since I knew I’d have to leave before the episode wrapped (needed to get the subway back to Times Sq.) I snagged a window seat in a coffee shop across from the Today Show filming area and watched with a hot cup of coffee in the warm bakery. For more information on the Today Show and tips on how to get noticed by the hosts/ get on TV, visit here.

Holiday Displays

After my interview at Conde, I hit up 5th Ave. starting up on 53rd St. and working my way down both sides of the street for three hours of solid window shopping. Saks, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s all have incredibly complex, colorful, animated holiday displays in the store windows that you have to see if you’ve never been to the city at Christmas. So many bells and whistles and twirly gadgets and moving toys.. those displays make the Barbies I played with back in the day look like a caveman’s cave-child’s toy. Visit the Saks perfume counters for a spritz of Armani and you’ll strut out feeling like a zillion bucks.

3 Things To Add to My Bucket List

I met this lady taking pictures in Rockefeller who is some secretary for some hot shot on Wall Street (she was probably late 50’s) and though she’s lived on Long Island her whole life, she loves working in Manhattan, and insists on the hour and a half commute every morning because “the energy of the city keeps her young”. I never got her name, but I did get a ton of good advice from a seasoned New Yorker of things I’ve not added to my (extensively long) bucket list. Among her Christmas favorites were:

Broadway’s production of “White Christmas”. It’s nearly impossible to score tix, and you’ll pay through the roof, she said, but she and her husband have gone every year for the last hundred years and she’s never been disappointed.

Skating at Rockefeller. The morning I was there, and two years ago when I was there during winter, each time the rink was being used for TV production, so next time!

Macy’s Thanksgiving day Parade. Enough said.

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