Mon, October 10th, 2011 - By

My Favourite Time of Year in New York City…

As much as I love sweating my way through a humid New York summer, my favourite time of year in New York City is the winter – specifically that run up to Christmas, where every avenue in the city is lined with some sort of Christmas cheer. Some have Christmas lights, others have your typical impromptu Christmas tree , and some, well, still have that New York City grit but even the grump at the convenience store on the corner is sporting a snowflake scarf.

Sadly, Christmas in NYC isn’t a cheap affair, because it’s such a popular shopping destination for Americans and those coming further afield, hoping to find the perfect Christmas present.  How to enjoy it on a budget? Here are some tips and recommendations.

  • Book ahead.  Like, yesterday. To get cheap flights and reasonably priced accommodation for a Manhattan Christmas, you need to book well ahead. Like, yesterday. (Sorry). Everything sells out due to demand, so if you haven’t, get your plan sorted. Now.
  • Remember, it’s not just Manhattan. Most just focus their attention on the classic sights – but there’s more than just Manhattan. Think about walks along the shore in Brooklyn and staying in a B&B, the foodie scene in Astoria. You can also save a LOT if you stay in one of the Boroughs – after all, the subway system is superb, easy to use, and is arguably all part of the experience.
  • Some of the best things are FREE. Personally I think that famous skating rick at Rockefeller Centre is too busy (but then again, I’m a terrible skater). I think the people watching and just the ambiance of the glittered angels and twinkling lights is the real experience – and that one you don’t have to pay for. Same with visiting these massive department stores; you could drop a fortune on Macy’s, but those whimsical displays in the windows? Totally free – just have some patience for the crowds.

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  • Waiting in a Queue can save you. Those TKTS booths where you can get discounted show tickets? They’re mayhem at Christmas. But, they still have the same great deals, so, decide who will take a hit for the team, and wait. You’ll save a bundle, for sure.
  • Take advantage of Christmas-only opportunities. For example, at the Children’s Museum, your kids can pop into the arts studio and make ornaments. Many restaurants do Christmas-y specials where you get a bit more than your normally would (though I wouldn’t expect discounts – just extras, at least in my experience).
  • And also… don’t miss the everyday things. I mentioned the best things are free, but certainly even the cheap things to do year-round in New York don’t close for Christmas. The Staten Island ferry. Walks across the Brooklyn Bridge. Thumbing through the shelves at old book-stores. Hot dogs from street vendor. Cocktails (or hot chocolates) with a view. These are the things that make New York such a wonderful place to visit, and live.

What are your tips for surviving a New York Christmas on a budget?

Photo credits: Duncan Currier, marianne o’learyJamie Pearson

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Monday, October 10th, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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