There aren’t many nationalities that do Christmas quite like the Americans and you can turn a simple city break into an incredible experience. You know what this means…Christmas certainly comes early for New York shoppers.
New York is the perfect place to do all your Christmas shopping and still manage to fit in some relaxation time. Not only is New York aesthetically beautiful, but under a coat of fairy lights and possibly a dusting of snow, it transforms into a magical movie-set wonderland. Neon lights burn, shop windows are wrapped in decorations, and the air is filled with roasting nuts from street vendors.
Plus, everyone wants to finish their Christmas shopping over a long weekend and not have to worry about panic-buying presents for your parents or your office secret Santa on the 19th after work, right!
Why New York City?
Firstly, because the city is incredible with a pulse like no other. Plus, if you’re going to deal with the stress of Christmas, you’ll need to buy presents. That means braving the city shops, so you might as well be in the world’s most buzzing metropolis.
There’s Fifth Avenue and Times Square where you can window shop and feel like you’re in a Christmas movie set in NYC. Plus, plenty of malls where you can actually shop, because things aren’t stupendously overpriced. Between all the perusing and purchasing, you can take in the towering sights, eat classic New York pizza, and explore the city. It’s a win win.
Plus, when you’ve shopped but not quite dropped, there are so many great things to do in New York in December. Winter sports abound, including the chance to ice skate on the rink at the Rockefeller Centre, or watch your favourite game. Shopping reaches a fever pitch in the Christmas month, from crafts and artists’ markets to bargain hunting flea markets, to sample sales and more.
Where to shop
How long is a piece of string? There are so many options depending on budget and what you’re shopping for. Department stores are good as you can tick a lot of boxes in one day, here are a few helpful suggestions to help you spend your British pounds.
Woodbury Common Premium Outlets is basically a giant partially-outdoor mall comprising of outlet stores, meaning that they’re selling fancy designer stuff at significantly reduced prices.
Bryant Park Winter Village is your classic Christmas market, perfect for unique gifts that you won’t find in department stores. You can also take a break from the shopping by trying out the park’s ice rink.
Soho has transformed from being undiscovered to uber-fashionable and quite simply, no other neighbourhood rivals its ambiance. SoHo’s shopping grid runs from Broadway west to Sixth Avenue, and Houston Street south to Canal Street and is paved in cast-iron architecture, cobblestone streets and shops galore. Hard to resist right?
If you are flying out of Newark airport, then The Mills at Jersey Gardens in New Jersey might be convenient, so you can literally shop until you fly. You may not receive the same discounts however, you won’t pay tax on anything you buy. Sound good?
Where to stay
Once upon a time there were areas of NYC that were more preferable than others, now each of the five boroughs are prime real-estate, offering something unique.
Ninety per cent of the more popular attractions can be found on Manhattan and on the island, and if you’re going to stay anywhere, Midtown, north of 31st Street is a great place to look. In Manhattan you will find the towering Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center, the beautiful Chrysler Building, and of course Times Square. Lower Manhattan is the southernmost part of the island of Manhattan and where New York was actually founded, these days it signifies the business district.
Brooklyn is probably the second most famous district of New York after Manhattan. The most enjoyable way to get to Brooklyn is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. To get to Prospect Park which is more wild than Central Park, or Coney Island for the famous beach and amusement park, the best option is to take the Subway. Brooklyn Heights delivers not only the most quintessential views of Manhattan, but also the historic district where many celebrities have lived.
Queens is the largest and most eclectic boroughs of New York City. It is home to 150 different cultures and its economy revolves around art, tourism and cinema. As well as the Contemporary Art Center P.S.1 museum, you can visit the American Museum of the Moving Image (dedicated to cinema and television) and the Bowne House (the oldest house in Queens built in 1661). Queens is also the cradle of Jazz (Louis Armstrong lived in the area) and for rap and hip hop along with the Bronx.
- The Bronx
The Bronx is separated from Manhattan by the Harlem River and is the only district in New York located on the mainland. During the twentieth century, the Bronx was known for its gangsters and poor neighbourhoods, it is now hugely sought after. Yankee Stadium is a big draw card for The Bronx, as is Bronx Zoo which recreates an animal’s naturalistic habitats without the need for cages.
- Staten Island
Staten Island is only half an hour from Manhattan yet remains the least visited borough of New York. The Staten Island Ferry will get you there in 25 minutes and provides a contrast to city life. Colonial buildings adorn the streets and views of the Manhattan skyline are as good as you will find. Visit Richmond Town, a restored rural town with houses dating back to the seventeenth century, or Fort Wadsworth, built by the Dutch to protect New York from the incursions of enemy ships.
If you’re looking to get out of New York City and explore the state more, read this blog post.