Best Things To Do/See In New York During The Holidays!

For my 4th Blogmas post, I thought it would be cool and fun to share with you guys some things that I think are really great to do and see during this time of year around New York City.

I’ve lived in New York ALL my life, and I can honestly say that the city is such a magical place to be in during the holidays. Personally, all of the shows, attractions, etc. never get old (it could just be because I’m a Christmas fanatic in every sense of the name, but that’s completely besides the point haha).

I do, however, know that it can also be a bit overwhelming to be in the city during this time of the year BECAUSE of everything that’s going on. Plus, there’s so much to do and see, how would you know where to start?! So, I hope you guys find this little ‘guide’ so to speak, helpful in assisting to narrow some of those things down for you! 🙂

These aren’t going to be in any particular order because, well, when do I ever put things in a particular order? And, I literally love going to do and see EVERYTHING that I’m going to mention, so there’s no way for me to order them in any specific way haha.

But anyway, let’s get started!

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  1. Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes (In Radio City Music Hall).

Diego and I actually just took his mom and nephews to see this show this past weekend. It was their first time seeing it, and our 3rd. It’s quickly become a mini holiday tradition of ours to go every year.

This is something that I recommend for EVERYONE (whether you live in NY or are just temporarily visiting) to go see at least ONCE. It’s such an amazing show filled with skits, Christmas music and just generally a great time. It runs for about 90 minutes, and is a great show to go see with a significant other, family, your kids, friends, etc. Scroll down to see some pictures from the show.

For this show, I suggest using the TodayTix app because they tend to have pretty good (and sometimes cheap) ticket options.

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2. The Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

This is another great attraction to do with family, friends and/or a significant other. If you’re not from New York, this specific attraction is actually in the Bronx, but 100% worth making the trip to. I took my family and Diego to see this for the first time (it was also my first time), last year right before Christmas.

I wanna say that it’s been open for about 2 years now, because I remember when it first opened in 2016 it was SO popular that it was next to impossible to get tickets for it. Every single day from the time it opened until it closed for the season was completely sold out. So, last year I jumped at the opportunity to grab some tickets, and we all loved it. The way everything was set up from the trains themselves, to the mini set ups for each section, it is SO well put together. Plus, if you buy tickets for the train show, it also automatically allows you the opportunity to be able to walk around the garden a bit afterwards which, in itself, is beautiful as well!

I’m leaving the link here in case you guys wanted to buy some tickets for this!

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3. Holiday window display(s) and other holiday attractions around the city.

When you’re in the city during the holidays, it’s almost impossible for you to somehow miss all of the decor, window displays and attractions, just because a lot of them just happen to be all around each other. Some places in particular I recommend walking through/by are 5th and 6th avenue, just because you’ll easily be passing a lot of the “main” holiday attractions like from Saks 5th Avenue, Barneys, Lord and Taylor, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, etc.

Plus, all of these places (although they do get pretty busy and packed), are GREAT for videos and pictures of these things if you’re into that for memories sake.

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Saks Fifth Avenue

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Macy’s Herald Square

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Lord & Taylor
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Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
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Radio City Music Hall and surrounding holiday attractions/decor.

4. Ice-skating!

Ice-skating is definitely a go-to thing to do while you’re in the city. Obviously other cities and places have ice-skating as well, but what better then being able to do it in some of the most popular places in New York like Bryant Park, Central Park or even Rockefeller Center?!

Plus, this is a perfect little date night to have with your significant other. Super cute and romantic, and these are definitely other great spots to be able to take cute and memorable pictures.

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Rockefeller Center
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Bryant Park
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Central Park (although they have 2 different ice skating rinks here, one called Lasker and one called Wollman’s rink, the one pictured is Wollman rink).

5. See and buy stuff from the holiday markets around the city (i.e., Bryant Park and Union Square (14th St.) holiday markets).

This sort of piggybacks off the ice-skating suggestion just because, right outside of the ice-skating rink at Bryant Park, they have these little holiday market shops where you can buy all sorts of things from snacks, to clothing, jewelry, etc.

They are the PERFECT little shops to stop at before heading home for the night, especially if you happen to be doing any last minute Christmas shopping for people. They also have mini holiday shops/stands like this in 14th Street, Union Square if you happen to be in that area instead of around Bryant Park.

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14th Street Union Square Holiday Market
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Bryant Park Holiday Market

6. Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise

And finally I want to suggest the Cocoa & Carols holiday cruise. Personally, I think this would be the CUTEST little date to take your significant other on. It’s super chill, not that expensive, and also pretty romantic. HOWEVER, this little excursion is also just as good for family and friends as well (it’s what you end up making of it).

The entire cruise itself goes on for about an hour and a half, and when you buy a ticket, it comes with a complimentary beer, glass of wine, champagne or (the more obvious one), hot cocoa! There are also cookies and other sweets that are included as well. You get to hear and sing along to Christmas songs, and you’ll end up seeing a TON of some of the most popular attractions/sights of New York like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Battery Park, South Street Seaport, etc.

*Groupon and Goldstar tends to have pretty good dates and deals for this excursion btw, so you should definitely check that out!*

The link for Goldstar I’ll leave here for you to easily access. And the one for Groupon, I’ll leave here .

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I hope you guys enjoyed this post, and that whether you’re already from New York, or just visiting, that this helped you in some way, shape or form to narrow down some of the (best) things to do/see in Manhattan while you’re there during the holiday season. It can definitely be a little crazy here during this time of the year, but I think it’s definitely worth the wait and trip.

Thanks so much for reading, please follow, like, share and comment, and I’ll see you guys on Sunday for my next Blogmas post! 🙂

-Xoxo, Leo Girl ❤

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Meeting My Favorite Author For The First Time!!

If you happen to follow me on social media (which if you don’t, you totally should…all my info for that is always left at the end of my posts), you would have seen that this past Tuesday, October 16th, was SUCH an exciting day for me.

I got to meet my favorite author and pretty much the person who is responsible for inspiring me to want to write as more than just a hobby.

The author I’m referring to is Nicholas Sparks, who I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with his work. He is the author who wrote best-sellers like The Notebook, A Walk To Remember, Dear John, The Last Song and SO many others…many of which were later turned into films.

Since it’s still so fresh, and I’m still really excited about it, I thought it would be fun (like most other things that I try to do) and share my entire experience of it with you guys!

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The Waiting Process

I had literally been planning for that day for about 2-3 months in advance since I first heard about the event happening.

It was a big deal, I was SO excited.

I had actually taken off from work to be able to go to it, because I didn’t want to risk missing anything from the event.

So, I made sure to wake up extra early (at about 5-6 am I believe), get ready as fast as I could (doing my hair, makeup in about half hour which I’m PRETTY sure is record breaking time) and rushing out the door. I managed to get to the 14th Street (Union Square) Barnes & Noble store by 8 o’clock. The doors didn’t open until 9 though, so I had (along with many others) to wait outside for an hour.

Personally, although it was REALLY cold that morning, it didn’t feel like all that long of a wait (thank god for social media and YouTube).

Once the doors opened at 9 you were directed to the main cashiers to be able to purchase the book and receive your wristband for the event. After getting both, you had the option of either coming back later when the event started at 12:30 OR just hanging out in the store until it was time.

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I was still freezing from being outside AND starving, so once I got my book and wristband, I quickly made my way upstairs to the Starbucks to get my coffee and something to eat. After getting those, I thought I was being “smart” by running upstairs to get to the floor that the event was going to be at so that I could secure my good seat…I quickly realized once I got up there that a TON of other people had the same idea as me 😂. It was all good though because I still managed to be pretty close up, in like the 3rd row.

By the time I actually got myself settled with my seat and other things, it was only about 10am, so I still had about 2 and a half hours to kill before the event started. Again, the waiting really wasn’t so bad for me honestly. In that time I was able to watch YouTube videos, read the synopsis of the book and author’s note, and even walked around the entire store and managed to come out with 4 extra books then what was originally intended. Needless to say I was very entertained lol.

While I was clearly having the best time EVER wandering around my favorite store and finding more and more books for me to buy by the second, before I knew it it was 12:30 and the event was about to start.

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The Event

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The event itself was pretty cool and fun. The events coordinator for the store introduced Nicholas Sparks a little bit, then had him come up on stage to say a few words before the meet and greet/book signing actually started.

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When he finally came up, he spoke a little bit about his previous books and what led him to write this one specifically (the name of his book is Every Breath if I didn’t already mention that). He spoke about a few key points in this specific book like the characters, their backgrounds, what inspired certain details in the book and a ton of other things that I don’t want to get TOO detailed about because I don’t want to spoil anything. He also took a few questions from the audience which I thought was really nice because a lot of people don’t do that.

I even got to ask and have him answer a question!

I’m one of those people that gets SO nervous about things like that and second guesses whether or not I actually want to and/or should, even if I really DO want to. Anxiety freakin’ sucks man. BUT, I literally had to tell myself to get over myself and just ask my question because how often am I ever going to get an opportunity like this again, ESPECIALLY with my favorite author?

So that’s what I did, I got up the courage to raise my hand to ask a question, and sure enough…he picked me! 😄 My question was, “What advice would you give to aspiring writers like myself who can only hope to be half as successful of an author that you are one day?”

He answered by saying “Speaking for myself, I love to read, so you of course have to read a lot. But you know what else I think helps me? TV and movies, and you know why? Because they’re stories. And if you’re talking about TV, every 8 minutes they kind of have to end on a cliff hanger when a commercial is coming because they have to keep you tuned in. Well that’s very handy in writing as well whenever you end another chapter, because you have to end in a way to make them, your readers, want to turn that next page. So there’s lessons to be learned from any form of good story. So you have to read, learn to value stories, and to see how stories tick and wind, and practice honing reasons why one book is better than another.”

I paraphrased a lot of what he said obviously, otherwise I could’ve gone on forever with his response, but that was pretty much the gist of it.

After he answered my question was when the meet and greets and book signing actually started.

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Meeting Nicholas Sparks Officially

As if simply asking him a question from afar wasn’t nerve-wrecking enough, I was about to finally meet him officially too!!

The whole process went relatively quick, I mean obviously right? There were over a hundred + people there waiting to meet him and get their book signed so of course he had to keep the line moving.

But regardless of the fact that they (his people?) were trying to keep the line moving smoothly and relatively quick, I thought it was really cool and interesting to see the interaction he had with each of his fans. He was really friendly and managed to go out of his way to speak to his fans individually as much as he could, and was even willing to sign as many copies of his book as you bought.

At one point I even saw that there was this girl who had brought every single book she had of his in hopes of getting them all signed by him, and he actually did it. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I just think little things like that says a lot about a person/celebrity (in a good way), because he could’ve easily said no since there were so many people waiting, but he still made the time to do it in between signing his recent book for others.

Anyway, once my time came up, I was SO nervous. I didn’t actually know what to say to him, I wanted to make sure the picture(s) came out nice and a million other things were going through my mind too.

Ultimately, I actually got a couple of good shots of our interaction (see some of them below) and as for what I said to him, although it came out all jumbled up and I’m sure he didn’t understand half of it, I told him that he was my absolute favorite author and one of the main reasons that I decided to take my writing more seriously and hopefully become a successful author one day like he is. He said thank you so much, encouraged me to always keep trying and writing, gave me my signed book and I was on my way.

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Overall, although it wasn’t the ‘longest encounter’ ever, generally, it was a really great,  and very much worth it experience.

I don’t typically tend to do things like go to events like this, ESPECIALLY by myself because of my anxiety, so that alone was a BIG deal for me. Being able to step out of my comfort-zone to meet my favorite author, get to ask him a REALLY important question (to me anyway), get my book signed by him AND get a few pictures with him…what better?! He was also really nice about it all which made it even better.

I can’t even tell you guys how inspired and motivated I felt leaving the event that day, like I had so many different ideas for the blog going through my mind, so many things I wanted to start working on with my writing, etc. It made me really excited for not only my future, but my WRITING in the future. I’ve got some really exciting things coming soon for you guys and I can’t wait for you to see them.

I really hope you guys enjoyed this post. Thanks so much for reading, please like, share and follow if you aren’t already, and I’ll see you guys in the next one! 😊

-Xoxo, Leo Girl ❤

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Apple & Pumpkin Picking 2018!

Happy Monday everybody!

I hope you guys had a good, fun, relaxing and productive weekend like I did! 🙂 Today’s post is going to be about something SUPER Fall-like, which if you haven’t done, you definitely need to at some point!

I’m talking about going Pumpkin and Apple picking!!

This past weekend (on Saturday), me, Diego, a few of his family members, and some of our friends went to a farm to do some pumpkin and apple picking, and we had the BEST time. We went to Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, which if you are from New York, it’s in North Salem (Westchester). I’m going to leave their website linked here for anyone that is interested in checking them out.

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If you’re anything like me, then you probably haven’t gone to do something like this since you were a kid. Up until last year, I hadn’t gone to do this since I was in like 3rd or 4th grade and they took us as one of our school field trips!

Diego and I had found this place last year, but for one reason or another, only got to go by ourselves. We ended up loving it so much, that we KNEW we had to go back this year and bring some of the people closest to us this time around so they could enjoy it as much as we did the first time, and that’s exactly what we did.

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We spent the majority of the afternoon there up until it was closing time for them (which was at about 5:30pm). We all had an amazing time and got to eat great food, pick a TON of apples, and buy some goodies from the store they had on their location.

One thing to mention about this place in general though, is that it’s all cash-only. So if you’re going to make a trip up here, come prepared with that. Personally, I brought $100 in cash and that was more or less fine to hold me off for the day and everything that we did. However, worse comes to worse (although I know people try to avoid this because of the added fee(s)), they do have an ATM on location in case you wanted/needed to take out more.

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One of the really cute things this farm has is their little Country Store. It’s actually one of the first things you see when you’re driving in to the farm. It’s decently big, and super festive for the Fall/Halloween season.

Inside the store they have everything from baked goods, to produce that they grow themselves on the farm, to homemade jams of all different flavors, and even decorations and pumpkin carvers for the pumpkins you pick up there.

This is also where people would go when they place any orders for pies around the holidays to pick them up (which I’ll talk more about later on in the post).

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Although obviously the main attraction(s) here would be the apples and pumpkins, they also have a ton of other things to do as well. There were countless amounts of amazing food vendor stands, little games and activities for kids, somewhat of a petting zoo for kids (which included horses, chickens, and goats), and even live music.

The food was AMAZING. Granted, I am a picky eater and will mainly stick to the foods I know and love like burgers, chicken tenders, fries, etc., BUT nonetheless it was all good.

I’m sure people would say/think that the food is slightly overpriced for what you would normally get anywhere else, but I think it’s pretty worth it considering everyone there  makes everything right in front of you, so it’s all fresh for the most part.

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Something I highly recommend for people to try when you come here is the HUGE turkey legs that they always sell. From what I’ve seen, it’s definitely a best-seller. Diego absolutely loved it last year, and ended up being one of the first things he wanted when we came this time around too (pictured above).

Among the foods I just mentioned, they also had things like ice cream, fried oreos, cider donuts, fresh squeezed lemonade (which btw 10/10 recommend that you try the strawberry lemonade because WOW.), and pumpkin pie cheesecake.

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This is the strawberry lemonade. I believe it was $3 per container like this. We legit kept going back to get more, and by the time we left, we had gotten like 4 or 5 of them. SO good!!

One of MY personal favorite parts of all this was definitely the pumpkin pie cheesecake…….you guys, if you know me (as I’ve mentioned several times in several different blog posts), I am SUCH a picky eater, more so with regular food as opposed to desserts, but nonetheless picky.

 

HOWEVER, when Diego and I came last year, he managed to get me to try a sample of the pumpkin pie cheesecake they had there, and I swear I fell in love after that. So much so that I ended up placing an order for the big size that they had to be able to have that as one of the desserts at Thanksgiving last year, and I FULLY intend on doing the same thing this year as well!! So worth it, and they are all handmade by this cute little family that’s always at the farm!

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Overall, it was a really great and fun experience. Diego and I had a lot of fun last year when we went, but I think it was even better being able to experience it with some of the people closest to us this year as well.

If you haven’t been pumpkin or apple picking, but have been considering going lately and aren’t sure which farm to go to (and are in the NY area), I 100% recommend Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard. It’s a great place to go with a group of your family or friends, and is super kid-friendly as well.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post, and I’ll see you in the next one 🙂 !

-Xoxo, Leo Girl ❤

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