NYC Life Insider’s Guide: The Best Things to Do This Holiday Season

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With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we hope you’ll take some time to enjoy all the magic NYC has to offer this time of year, even during a pandemic. Here are highlights of some of our favorite holiday sights, shopping, and fun places for holidays drinks and dinner. If you’re looking for a feel-good Broadway show, Valerie Smaldone says Mrs. Doubtfire is a musical with heart! Or checkout some of the new exhibits at our museums. And great news this week for the now iconic Fearless Girl bronze statue on Wall Street. Happy holidays to all our Tomatoes who ❤️  NYC. We’ll be back with our NYC events newsletter on January 8.

Holiday Sights

Lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Our roving photographer, Nicole Freezer Rubens says, get illuminated and escort yourself into the holiday season at Lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. You will meander through the beautiful settings in the dark past 14 light installations including the Winter Cathedral Tunnel, and the Fire Garden. Nature, light and music collide and please all of your senses. There is also poetry projected in light onto the pathways and the earth. The mood is chill and zen. Hot chocolate with marshmallows (and Bailey’s) as well as s’mores are available along the way. This show is open through January 9th. Nicole is the author of The Long Pause and the Short Breath.  Follow her on Instagram@nfrconsult.

Lights and Wishes for a Good Cause

Head downtown to Brookfield Place for the mesmerizing display of colorful lanterns with a new experience called Maestro that allows you to conduct the canopy!  For each wish made and interaction with Maestro, Brookfield Place will donate $1 up to $25,000 to City Harvest. Get the details.

Now. – Jan. 23. The Holiday Train at NYBG

This beloved tradition returns for its 30th year with a miniature wonderland in the warmth of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Gardens. Marvel at model trains zipping through an enchanting display of more than 175 famous New York landmarks—imagine the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Rockefeller Center, and other favorites—each delightfully re-created from natural materials such as pinecones, acorns, and seeds. Get the details.

Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo

The Park comes to life with holiday cheer as immersive light displays, custom-designed animal lanterns and animated light shows sparkle across the zoo. The outdoor celebration is complete with festive entertainment, seasonal treats and classic holiday music. The walk-through experience is a beloved tradition, enchanting and fun for all ages. Get the details.

The Pulitzer Fountain

Here’s another fun holiday sight, The Pulitzer Fountain. It’s the one across from the Plaza and near the entrance to Central Park. And this year the fountain features handcrafted animal sculptures, icebergs and 5,000 feet of lights.

Holiday Magic at Hudson Yards

The magic of the holidays in NYC now includes Hudson Yards, Shine Bright Holiday Décor which is adorned with 115-miles of string lights, 725 evergreen trees dressed to create a gleaming forest for visitors to explore, 16′ tall, illuminated set-pieces in the shape of hot air balloons arranged throughout the Public Square and Gardens and a 32′ hot air balloon centerpiece suspended in The Great Room of The Shops and Restaurants. You’ll find performances every Saturday through December 18th. A complete schedule of Holiday kick-off events is available here.

The Holiday Markets are Back!

NYC LIFE Insider's Guide

New York City takes its shopping experience to a new level with the many holiday markets that pop up for the season. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and brave the cold to find homemade wares for everyone on your list at the three big outdoor markets:

Union Square Holiday Market (November 18–December 24),

Holiday Shops at Winter Village at Bryant Park now open)

Columbus Circle Holiday Market (November 27–December 24)

Or stay warm at the indoor Grand Central Holiday Fair (opens November 15) and the 4th Annual Holiday Market at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (December 4–5).

Holiday Drinks and Dining

Views and Dining in a Private Greenhouse on the Water

Head to Winter Wonderland, a stunning 10,000 square foot venue perched at the end of the beautifully proportioned double-level Pier 15, Watermark offers an exceptional panorama of the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges and Brooklyn skyline. Watermark now features outdoor dining like never before. Enjoy the views with private glasshouses that are heated to keep you cozy through the winter months on the water! Enjoy a delicious food & beverage menu including cheese fondue, s’mores plus weekend brunch. Get the details.

The Pink Winter Lodge in the Heart of Times Square

NYC LIFE INSIDER'S GUIDE: Fun Dining Venues, Winter Village, Sondheim, Broadway and More

The rooftop at the Moxy Hotel has been transformed into an après-ski lodge featuring a carousel with over 25,000 crystals. The entire rooftop glows pink and keeps customers warm with outdoor heat lamps. There’s even pink hot chocolate on the menu as well as additional winter-themed treats! Indoor and outdoor dining including Saturday and Sunday Brunch. Get the details.

Holiday Cocktails in the East Village

NYC LIFE Insider's Guide

Head to the Ready Rooftop at the Moxey Hotel in the East Village which has been turned its rooftop space into “Palm Holiday.” The all-season rooftop with panoramic views of the East Village and beyond has transformed into a tropical holiday paradise with palm trees, holiday lights, and flamingos. Sip on your favorite seasonal cocktails like Spice Spice Baby and Tropical Holiday Frozen Hot Chocolate. They also serve tacos and nachcos. Get the details.

The Most Christmas-y Restaurant is Back!

Rolf’s German Restaurant in Gramercy Park, is the iconic spot that will put even the Grinch in a Christmas mood. Last year they were closed during COVID, but they are back and all the amazing decorations are up. Rolf’s Restaurant is located in in Gramercy Park at 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue.  281 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010 .  Phone 212-477-4750 and ☏ 212-473-8718. Their Christmas decoration will be on the display all year.

The Fearless Girl Gets a Reprieve

The now iconic Fearless Girl  bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal, commissioned by State Street Global Advisors was first installed in the Financial District on March 7, 2017, in anticipation of International Women’s Day , promoting female empowerment.

Strategically placed across from the Charging Bull on Wall Street, The Fearless Girl was originally given a one-week City Hall permit that was later extended to 30 days. It was however moved across from the New York Stock Exchange following complaints from Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor of the Charging Bull.

It became a hugely popular symbol for equality and several politicians and advocacy groups fought for it to say, and a permit was granted through Nov. 29th of this year. The Fearless Girl sculptor and other equality advocates for equality have continued to fight to keep the statue in NYC. On Tuesday, the New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to keep the beloved statue in its place for three more years. However, it still has to pass approval of the Public Design Commission which will vote in January. Here’s to keeping our Fearless Girl!





  • The tomato behind The Three Tomatoes. Cheryl Benton, aka the “head tomato” is founder and publisher of The Three Tomatoes, a digital lifestyle magazine for “women who aren’t kids”. Having lived and worked for many years in New York City, the land of size zero twenty-somethings, she was truly starting to feel like an invisible woman. She created The Three Tomatoes just for the fun of it as the antidote for invisibility and sent it to 60 friends. Today she has thousands of friends and is chief cheerleader for smart, savvy women who want to live their lives fully at every age and every stage. She is the author of the novel, "Can You See Us Now?" and co-author of a humorous books of quips, "Martini Wisdom." Because she's lived a long time, her full bio won't fit here. If you want the "blah, blah, blah", read more.

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