You decided to visit New York City for the holiday season!
We’re really glad you’re here...as long as you don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk to check Google maps for the nearest Sbarro or constantly clutch your purse for fear of getting mugged like it’s still 1986.
New York is a fucking blast --- that’s why you came here for vacation instead of hitting up a tropical locale, which would’ve been considerably warmer but cost about the same. New York around the holidays is even more of a fucking blast, because everything is decorated and pretty and incredibly over-the-top.
If you’re visiting NYC around the holidays, you’re gonna have a good time. You’ll have an even better time if you follow these eight suggestions, which will ensure you don’t have the same New York holiday adventure as the 25, 047 other people who took a kissing pic in front of the #rockefellertree.
1. Don’t eat at Rolf’s
You’re here for one weekend and you want to waste 2 ½ hours of your day waiting to eat decent-at-best German Beef Stew with Spätzle?
Cool, never mind, carry on.
Rolf’s is famous for its Christmas decorations of epileptic proportions. And, to be fair, it’s pretty phenomenal to witness. But in the interest of doing cool things that actually matter, my advice is this: Walk in, look up, take a photo, add it to your Insta story, and bounce.
Or literally just look at pics online, your life will not be impacted significantly either way.
2. Keep your mouth shut
Surprise! New York is cold in December.
Surprise! You’re here at the literal busiest time of the year.
Surprise! We walk. A lot.
Let those three revelations wash over you like a $15 Vodka Cranberry and accept them as readily as you do a homeless man’s fake sob story on the 2 train.
If you’re complaining about how freezing you are while you shuffle through the line to look at Macy’s window display, go back to South Carolina. Seriously. You currently have free internet, so the ability to check the weather and read tourist guides on Thrillist was afforded to you long before you jumped off the plane at JFK and spoke too loudly and too slowly to the cabbie who was born and raised in Queens.
3. Skip ice skating at Rockefeller Center
If this is on your girlfriend’s bucket list then I literally cannot save you. However, should the opportunity to negotiate plans arise, mention that between peak-season admission and skate rentals, you’re looking at a $45-per-person special memory that you’ll be sharing with 150 other people.
The real kicker is that you can do the same activity cheaper at Wollman Rink in Central Park or at the Winter Village at Bryant Park. Or you can just watch people [try to] ice skate for free, because let’s be honest: neither of you actually know what the fuck you’re doing out there anyway.
4. Realize that Macy’s Santa is a glorified mall Santa
I have lovingly forced my boyfriend to see the Macy’s Santa with me for four straight years, because I’m obnoxious as fuck but incredibly cute. So I realize the hypocrisy that comes with this statement.
Admission aside, making your kids come all the way to New York to see Santa Claus at Macy’s is child abuse, straight up. That line is a three-hour-long human centipede of lost patience and abandoned family values. Santa is a stud, but no more so than the one at your local shopping center in Missouri.
5. Avoid Times Square
I recommend this at any and every time of year, but it’s especially true at Christmas.
No one that lives in New York likes Times Square.
Your friend that you’re visiting does not want to take you there.
The waitress at Olive Garden wishes you would have gone to a real Italian restaurant in Little Italy.
The other tourists who don’t know how to walk at a proper pace are annoyed that you’re bumping into them.
Dora the Explorer is going to take off her mascot head right in front of your 4-year-old niece, and she’s not going to give one quarter of a shit what you have to say about it.
In short, it sucks. Go anywhere else. Consider this tip my holiday gift to you.
5. Keep your holiday market visits to one
Unlike American citizens, all holiday markets are, in fact, equal.
You will find the same knit scarves and Amish playthings at every market from Columbus Circle to Union Square to Bryant Park. If your boyfriend says he needs to taste the “unique fare” at each of the markets to really get in the holiday spirit, you need to return that J. Crew sweater and gift him a Planet Fitness membership instead.
If you want to visit cool shops with original artisans, take the L to Bedford Ave in Brooklyn and follow the nearest bearded modern pilgrim and/or hipster into any dimly-lit store.
6. Forget the frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3
Why are you waiting four hours for it?
Did you know you can buy a kit on Amazon to make it at home?
Did you know there are three Starbucks in a three block radius of Serendipity 3 where you can get a hot Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate?
Did you know Starbucks exists in every state?
Did you wait in line anyway and feel a judgement-filled eyebrow raise in your midst?
That was me.
7. Freeze your ass off for free, not at minus5 Ice Bar
Any bar that can also be visited in Las Vegas and Orlando has no place on your must-visit list.
You want me to don a rented parka and gloves while I drink out of ice glasses and sit on ice chairs and observe an LED light show set to Martin Garrix? And I’m not allowed to take photos on my own camera because you want me to look psyched for professional pics that I also have to buy because this experience wasn’t enough of a soul sucker? No thank you, please.
8. Be unique
Try to have an experience that is unique to you and your travel buddies.
The reason you can google “NYC holiday must-dos” and get 21,500,000 results that are all some version of, “IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS IF YA DON’T SEE THE ROCKETTES!” is because everyone who visits is too scared of figuring out the subway and getting yelled at by a local to actually branch out and do something cool.
This place is not your comfort zone.
It’s not anyone’s comfort zone.
It’s a clusterfuck of lights and cheap pizza and jaywalking. But if you choose the tiny Moroccan restaurant for Christmas dinner or ride the 6 up to East Harlem for no other reason than it’s not Midtown, you’ll have cooler stories than your neighbor who insisted you stop in at a little shop called Urban Outfitters because they’ve got “such rare vintage clothing.”