I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Published December 27th 2010
Consider yourself lucky if you're staying in the city over the holiday break. As most New Yorkers already know, seeing the sites is much easier and more appealing when the city's population suddenly drops. In fact, it's possibly the best time to see the attractions that you've put off in order to avoid bustling crowds. For those of us staying in town, be sure to check out the following holiday locations uptown.
First, head to Rockefeller Center to see the 2010 holiday tree. With thinning crowds, it's the perfect time to get great views (and the best photos). Get up close to see 74-feet of Norway spruce and remind yourself why you love New York. Stick around to shop at the Metropolitan Museum's gift shop outpost, the French gift shop Pylones, or Rock Center's newest retailer, the Lego Store. Moderately priced dining with a delightful view of the ice skaters can be had at the Rock Center Café, where breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served all day and night on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Be sure to see the massive mural inside the lobby by 1930s Spanish artist Josep Maria Sert that depicts Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It's not too late to catch the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall (Sixth Ave. and 50th St.) to see the world famous Rockettes. Tickets are still available for daily shows between 12/23 and 12/31, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Visitors to the website can also benefit from substantial discounts for the 90-minute show, which begins with a 3-D film. Be sure not to miss the photo op in front of the McGraw-Hill Building (Sixth Ave./49th St.) where giant-sized Christmas lights and red Christmas balls dot the landscape.
If you want to get charmed by the Deco-era dancers but don't have time for a performance, consider taking the Top of the Rock tour instead, which includes a timeline of history related to Radio City as well as an elevator light show and impressive city views from several observation decks on the 67th-70th floors. Open 8AM-8PM on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it's an interesting way to spend the holiday.
Other nearby sites include the outdoor holiday light display and shop windows of Sak's Fifth Avenue (across from Rock Center), Saint Patrick's Cathedral (Fifth Ave./50th Street), the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman's (Fifth Ave./57th St.), and the quintessential New York toy retailer, FAO Schwarz (Fifth Ave./58th St.), established in 1862. Kids will love the Muppet Whatnot Workshop that enables them to design their very own Muppet puppet as much as we love razzing the live nutcracker soldiers working the entrance.
Rock Center, Ajagendorf25/FlickrCC;
Radio City, Matt Lucht/FlickrCC