Holidays in New York

By: Jena Tesse Fox

From Thanksgiving to the New Year, New York is one of the most exciting, colorful, beautiful and friendly (yes, I just called New York friendly. You wanna make something of it?) places to be. If you’re considering coming up for any of the holidays, here’s where to stay, where to eat and what to do.

What to Do

Most people don’t come to New York to eat at an Applebees (if you do, I don’t judge), but NYC Trip is offering a nice package for Thanksgiving morning. While visitors and locals alike crowd the sidewalks to get a glimpse of Macy's annual parade, people who take advantage of Applebees' offer can enjoy a free breakfast with juice, coffee and cocoa and a prime spot on 7th Avenue to watch the festivities. When it gets cold, just head inside the restaurant and warm up. Visit nyctrip.com for more information.

Naturally, the first stop for any holiday-themed tour in New York has to be Rockefeller Center. The iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony is scheduled for December 2. The tree will be lit through January 7 from 5:30 AM–11:30 PM; all day on Christmas Day (24 hours); and from 5:30 AM–9 PM on New Year’s Eve. You can look out over the city and four states from the historic Top of the Rock Observation Deck, ice skate at the famous ice skating rink and shop in the many stores in and around the complex. The complex also offers a variety of exciting tours and unique combination tickets.

Where to Stay

Located in the heart of Murray Hill along Park Avenue, the 149-room Kitano New York is getting into the holiday spirit early this year with its “Our Gift to You” package. From November 22–27, December 20–28, and January 1–31, 2010 (package must be booked by October 15), guests can stay at the city’s first and only Japanese owned hotel located in the heart of Manhattan. With rates starting at $209 (not including tax), the special offer includes a discounted room rate and complimentary breakfast for two in the Garden Café.

Families will want to check out the new Eloise suite at the Plaza Hotel. Fashion designer Betsey Johnson is designing a suite dedicated to Kay Thompson’s fictional Plaza-dwelling six-year-old from the popular children’s books. Insiders say that the two-bedroom Eloise Suite will be decorated in a color palette of “Eloise pink” and black, and will be full of surprises and distinct “Eloise moments” throughout the guest room. The layout will include one room for parents and a separate Eloise bedroom decorated by Johnson. Plans for the Eloise suite at The Plaza Hotel will begin following New York fashion week.

NB: If you’re planning on staying at the iconic Milford Plaza in Times Square, you’d best change your plans. Starting in December, the hotel will be closing for 18 to 21 months for extensive renovations. Every guest room and public area in the 1,301-room property will be updated and overhauled. Check back in two years to see what’s new!

Where to Eat

Fine, fine, you’ve got your activities planned and your hotel room booked. But you want to eat like a real New Yorker. Where should you go? So glad you asked.

One of the great joys of wandering around the city is discovering outdoor eating venues, and one of the most beloved al fresco eateries in midtown is Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Lines to order can easily last for more than an hour, and it’s a testament to the quality of the burgers and shakes that people will cheerfully wait. In the past year, Shake Shack has expanded with two satellite locations, one on the upper west side and one at CitiField, so you can at least enjoy a good burger while you watch the Mets lose. A new Shake Shack will open soon at 47 Prince Street, on the northwest corner of Mulberry & Prince Streets.

If burgers and shakes aren’t really your thing (and after you try Shake Shack, they will be), a new restaurant by Danny Meyer named Maialino will open November 1 in Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel. The Italian-inspired restaurant will be located on the first floor of the historic hotel, with views over Gramercy Park. The restaurant will include a dining room, bar area, and private dining room, and will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks. Buon apetito!