New York is a magical place to spend time during the holiday season — but how to avoid the crowds? Rockefeller Center and any one of its popular sites such as Radio City Music Hall have their pleasures, but New Yorkers who can’t bear facing the crowds look elsewhere for a dose of holiday cheer. Each of the following places offers a less-crowded, high-spirit alternative for celebrating the holidays — with the added bonus of bringing visitors to neighborhoods beyond Midtown Manhattan.
Never heard of Brookfield Place? Many New Yorkers haven’t either — it’s that new. Formerly known as the World Financial Center, this vast promenade flanking Hudson River Park has Statue of Liberty views and a brand new ice-skating rink. This family-friendly rink doesn’t have the same crowds as Wollman Rink in Central Park, offering a more intimate skating venue. Skate rentals are available; the rink is open all day from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with periodic closures to care for the ice. If you happen to strap on your skates Monday through Friday afternoons, some of the best gourmet food trucks in the city park nearby for a tasty lunch.
The much-lauded Smorgasburg market is going indoors this winter season, at a new location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (North Fifth Street and Wythe Avenue). In addition to a wide selection of decadent food vendors (Milk Truck Grilled Cheese, People’s Pops), this holiday market will provide personal, thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. A total of nearly 200 vendors fill an almost-50,000-square-foot space each Saturday and Sunday (10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through December 22, then 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through March) to make your holiday shopping easy — and distinctly New York.
Each year, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx puts on a spectacular train show, attracting families with miniature trains and New York landmarks built entirely from natural materials (bark, leaves, pine cones, etc.). This year, the Holiday Train Show is adding an adult element with Bar Car Nights. These special evenings (December 20-21, 7 to 10 p.m.) allow adults only to enjoy the show in the Victorian-era conservatory against the backdrop of thousands of twinkling lights. A complimentary cocktail completes the experience. On Friday, the libation of choice is The Diesel (Mott Haven Milk Stout, Big Apple Cider and a dash of black currant cordial), while Saturday features A Sparkling Holiday on Ice (Argentinian white wine, Kirsch and fresh lime juice).
Photos Courtesy of iStock, Brookfield Place and TalismanPHOTO