NYC during the holidays can be a magical time. There are lights everywhere, bars and restaurants are decorated, and there's fun parties and events almost any given night of the week. However, NYC during the holidays is also one of the most crowded times of the year. Tourists flock to the city, and locals, myself included, make sure to take advantage of being able to go out and about before the bitter cold and snow arrives. I love celebrating the holidays, but I hate being uncomfortable in crowds and waiting in lines. So I decided to compile a list of some of the most overrated places and events to skip and alternative, more under the radar things to check out instead.
Check Out: Boilermaker
Even if you don't live in NYC, you've probably seen photos of Rolf's, a German Bar and Restaurant with extravagant Christmas ornaments and lights hanging from the ceiling. I've never been here, but it only has 2.5 stars on Yelp, so I don't imagine the food or drinks are very good, and I've heard it's ALWAYS a ridiculous wait to get in. I actually saw a blogger I follow on Instagram post on her Stories that she went to line up outside Rolf's before they opened just to make sure she was able to get in and get pictures.
Instead, head to Boilermaker in East Village. At Christmas time, this place turns into "Sippin' Santas Surf Shack". They serve up tiki drinks, decorate the bar in kitschy holiday decor, and play 60's beach movies, like "Blue Hawaii" and "Beach Blanket Bingo" on a projector. Also, their burgers and fries are amazing too!
Skip: Bryant Park
Check Out: Union Square
Bryant Park is one of the biggest destinations during the holiday season. They have a holiday market with vendors, as well as the ice rink, which makes it a popular place for both tourists and locals. I love to shop the market for gifts from local businesses, but the crowds make it unbearable.
Instead, check out the Union Square Holiday market. They have similar unique, "shop small" vendors, and while this market can still get crowded, especially on weekends, I feel like its a bit more under the radar than Bryant Park.
Skip: The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular
Check Out: A screening of "It's A Wonderful Life"
Ok, ok, I love The Rockettes, and I've been lucky enough to see the show twice in my life, but it's a tourist trap and the tickets are super expensive!
Instead, check out a screening of "It's A Wonderful Life". A few theaters around the city show it, including IFC, which is one of my favorite indie theaters in West Village. Try checking out smaller scale productions of live theater or dance too. I was lucky enough to catch a live radio show of "It's A Wonderful Life" at the Mile Square Theater in Hoboken. It was a great performance and and lovely evening because the theater was cozy and intimate and not overly crowded. The show is still running until this Sunday, if you're interested in checking it out! You can find tickets here:
These photos were taken at the Vintage Holiday Train two weekends ago. Since it's in such a public place like the subway, this event can get pretty crowded with vintage lovers, photographers, and just the common New Yorker or tourist who just happens to find themselves in the subway and stumble upon the event. The event is happening again this Sunday (the 23rd) and next Sunday (the 30th). You can board the train starting at 10am at the 2nd Avenue subway station and ride it uptown to 125th street. I highly recommend catching the first train at 10 because it gets crowded later in the afternoon! The trains depart at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm from 2nd Avenue.
P.S. if you'd like to shop my dress, you can find it here:
Dress: c/o Smak Parlour
Tights: H&M; Shoes: Steve Madden; Purse: Vinage; Bow: Claire's; Bracelet: Kate Spade; Coat: Vintage
Location: 2nd Avenue Subway Station (East Village)