Art / Christmas / Experiences / New York City

Bright Lights Big City – Best Holiday Lights in NYC

12.10.17

New York City transforms into a twinkling winter wonderland during the Holidays. From elaborate over-the-top décor in Brooklyn, to illuminated stars and interactive lanterns, and even a new sea of lights in Lower Manhattan, there are plenty of bright ways to celebrate the Holidays with the family. The best part? They are all completely free! Grab your shades and read on as we shine a light on our favorite light displays in the city with Mommy Nearest HERE.

Dyker Heights Lights in BrooklynDyker Heights Lights – Brooklyn

Luminaries Light Display at Brookfield PlaceLuminaries – Brookfield Place

Holiday Under the Stars at Time Warner Center Holiday Under the Stars – Time Warner Center 

 

Christmas / Experiences / New York City

Glowing Holiday Season – Holiday Cheer Challenge

12.08.17

There’s nothing more cozy then snuggling up on the couch to watch a heartwarming Holiday classic movie with the family. While there are many amazing nostalgic holiday classics, one of our all-time favorites is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. We love that the movie showcases the beauty of differences, doing what makes you happy is a success, and that kindness always is the best.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

The Ultimate Classic: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

An iconic Holiday classic – Rudolph continues to glow (like a light bulb!) each Holiday season. The Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer television special first aired on NBC December 6, 1964. Fifty years later, it has become a beloved Christmas classic—capturing the heart and wonder of many generations of fans. His lovable demeanor, the stop animation feature, and of course the overall heartwarming story is what each and every family (like ours) holds so dear. I watched it at a very young age with my family, and look forward to each holiday season to once again pull out our cherished DVD with our son.

Lessons with the Classics

This year, as our little guy is now old enough to understand the meaning behind shows and movies, we wanted to do something special in addition to simply watching a movie; we wanted to explore how we could take the lessons learned through the flick a step further by giving back. We’ve partnered with DreamWorks animation and Fox Home Entertainment to share how we’ve been getting into the holiday spirit with our all-time favorite Holiday classic.

Woodland Crafts with Rudolph

Spreading the Holiday Cheer

There is no better way to spread Holiday cheer than to give handmade gifts that were made from the heart. What better character inspiration that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! We brainstormed on ideas, and thought that the best way to create our favorite woodland character would be out of natural materials we could find in a park.  We headed up to Central Park and found thick branches for the body and head, and skinny twigs for Rudolph’s legs.  We (carefully!) cut the pieces with a saw, to create all the parts of the body. We also gathered extra pine branches that had fallen from our tress and cut small pieces for the ears and tail, and added a little red bead or ball for the nose. Some hot glue and drying patience – and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created! Can’t wait to give these wonderful keepsakes to friends, and with the added feature that we made these ourselves they rank high on the Holiday cheer factor!

Run Run Rudolph Road Runners Jingle Jog Race

Shine your Brightest this Season

Run Run Rudolph! No reindeer games here! The New York Road Runners Jingle Jog was the perfect place to celebrate Rudolph’s message of spirit and team work. It was a festive morning of running and fitness activities, that concluded with an energetic finish and a green holiday bagel wreath as a reward. The race included all fitness types and ages, and was a celebration of coming together and fitness. While running isn’t my favorite thing – we used the race to showcase to our son that anything is possible with a little work and determination. To add some holiday cheer – I dressed up as our favorite reindeer! The race was a beautiful example of people coming together, inclusiveness, and a (super fun!) experience I will always cherish.

 

Share Joy - Give a Toy! With Toys for Tots

Island of Toys for Girls and Boys

Share Joy – Give a Toy! In the movie Rudolph helps to bring the island of Misfit toys to loving girls and boys. Just as in the movie, we did the same here in the city – and visited our local store to pick out some donations for Christmas presents. We love Toys for Tots and have been participating in their toy drives for as long as I can remember. There is no better feeling then to give to others – and in doing so we are teaching compassion, and a life lesson to our children.

 

A Holiday Classic - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Keep it Glowing

Even after Christmas morning when the tree is gone, and all the presents are done, it’s important to keep the spirit and make sure you don’t forget Rudolph’s cheerful messages of the season. Let’s celebrate our differences, show a bit more kindness & compassion to others, and most importantly – keep it glowing all year long.

Fox Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation are now asking you and your family to take the Holiday Cheer Challenge. There are many simple ways to make a big difference! Catch a classic Christmas movies on iTunes, such as Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Santa Claus; or try a new modern favorite Shrek, Penguins, or Kung Fu Panda on Amazon – and share how you are spreading cheer this holiday season, all with hashtag #DWAHolidayChallenge.

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas everyone!

Thank you to Fox Home Entertainment and DreamWorks Animation for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are of our own.

Christmas / Holidays / New York City

Window Watcher – Best NYC Holiday Windows for Families

12.01.17

A must-see for New Yorkers and out-of-towners during the Holiday season, viewing the elaborate NYC window displays has become a right of Holiday passage. From large, extravagant, work-of-art displays, to windows that are meant for interactive family play – there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit. From Fifth Avenue to 34th Street and everything in between – read on as we pull back the curtain on the best holiday windows to see in 2017 with your family with our latest article with Mommy Nearest HERE.

Happy Window Shopping!

Barneys – Theme: Haas for the Holidays

Bloomingdale’s 59th Street – Theme: The Greatest Showman

Lord and Taylor – Theme: The Best and the Brightest

Christmas / New York City

Santa in the City – Best Places for Santa Greetings

11.28.17

Ho ho ho – the holidays are here! For those who celebrate Christmas, the holiday season is hardly complete without a trip to see one of the city’s many Santas. Get your Christmas wish lists ready quick, and read on for a list of our favorite places to grab a seat, next to jolly old St. Nick.

 Macys Santaland

The grand finale of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC is the arrival of Santa Claus to the Holiday season – and straight from the parade Santa heads over to the massive 34th Street Macy’s Santaland installation. If you haven’t done it before, know that going to see Santa at Macy’s on 34th Street is a very different experience than any local mall or store setting.  This Santa is, due to the Miracle on 34th Street movie fame, is the real Santa, and as such there are hundreds and hundreds of other families lined up to meet him.  There is also much more than just a few candy canes and a throne – Macy’s Santaland in NYC is truly an entire North Pole wonderland and full of theatrics and incredible decor; such as (simulated) train rides that arrive at the North Pole in Disney-esque proportions.  Santaland at Macy’s on 34th Street is truly something each child should experience. Note: New this year, in an attempt to cut down on an unbelievable line and wait time, you must have a reservation to enter.
Macy’s Santaland. Herald Square. 151 W. 34th Street. Macy’s Santaland is on the 8th Floor. More information and reservations HERE.

Winter ONEderland Santa’s Village

Could there be any better Holiday surprise then seeing Santa Claus 102 floors above the New York City skyline? For a truly unforgettable experience in a breathtaking setting – Santa Claus is available to schedule one on one visits every weekend up until Christmas. Take home the keepsake of a visit with Santa on top of the world, with a professionally captured, high quality 8×6 photo. The Santa package also includes a surprise gift with every purchase.
Santa’s Village at One World Trade Center. Located at 1 World Trade Center – West Plaza and West Street. The Entrance to the Observatory is located at the Northwest Corner of the World Trade Center; at the intersection of West and Vesey. Note: Santa visits One World Observatory each weekend until Christmas Eve. Our full experience HERE. 

Brookfield Place – Santa 

Located in Battery Park City – a visit to Brookfield Place is a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season with the family. We love their famous Luminaries, fun ice skating, and their intimate meet and greet Santa opportunities, all within one building!  Unique to other Santa experiences – Santa’s winter wonderland at Brookfield Place features a special children’s coloring and crafting area while you wait (brilliant!). There are also certain days where you can bring a furry friend to the experience for Santa photo pics too. New this year – reservations for timed Santa Sessions. See below for more information!
Santaland at Brookfield Place.  230 Vesey Street. More information and to make a reservation HERE.

 

Rockefeller Center Santa 

Enjoy breakfast under the twinkling lights of the Rockefeller Christmas tree, while watching ice skaters twirl on the famous rink – it doesn’t get more New York then this! An experience here includes a beautiful brunch feast, chocolate fountains and scrumptious treats. Kids receive a special commemorative gift, and even better – families get to bypass the line and enjoy VIP admittance to the famous skating rink (where Santa joins as well!). A Christmas dream come true in New York city’s most iconic holiday destination. Note: Santa is only available at the restaurant during the brunch promotion.
Rockefeller Center with Santa. Dining options available at two restaurants: The Sea Grill, 19 West 49th Street. The Rock Center Café, 20 West 50th Street. NYC. Reservations required. More information HERE.

Stella 34 Breakfast with Santa

It would be a miracle for a family to survive the wait to see the iconic Santa on 34th Street, where the incredibly long lines are almost as famous as Santa himself. A much better (and tastier) option would be to book the Stella 34 Trattoria Breakfast with Santa, located at the beautiful restaurant on the 6th floor of the department store. The restaurant offers stunning floor to ceiling windows, ample space, and most importantly, absolutely no waiting! A delicious Italian breakfast with a choice of options, plentiful time with Santa, a keepsake photo, and takeaway treats are all included in this sweet Santa package.
Stella 34 Trattoria. Located on the 6th Floor of Macy’s. 151 West 34th Street NYC. Reservations Required. More information and reservations HERE.

Bryant Park Santa 

One of our favorite Santa experiences is Santa’s Corner at Bryant Park. With the backdrop that is the skyline of the city and the beautiful Le Carrousel spinning in an urban Setting- this Santa experience screams New York City. Santa stops by Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park for free photo opportunities in the month of December. Families can bring their own camera or cell phone to snap your own pic; or elves will take a photo that can be downloaded from Santa’s Flickr page.
Santa’s Corner in Bryant Park.  Winter VIllage at Bryant Park, Between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Santa’s Corner is located near the carousel. More information HERE.

 

 

Christmas / Holidays / New York City

Festive Eats in NYC – Holiday Restaurants for Families

11.28.17
Looking for a festive place for a family meal to bring in the Holiday season? New York City has plenty of options! From a restaurant that feels as if you are literally sitting inside a Christmas tree, restaurants that have a direct view of a world famous ice skating rink, and dining inside the largest present in NYC – the choices are endless for festive holiday meal madness. Below – a list of our favorites!

Best Holiday Restaurants in NYC

Rock Center Cafe NYCLook at this incredible view of the famous ice rink and the tree! 

Rock Center Cafe
Enjoy a meal under the twinkling lights of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, while watching ice skaters twirl on the famous rink – it doesn’t get more New York then this! Lunch, brunch, or dinner with the ultimate winter view – this restaurant looks directly eye level to the famed Rockefeller Ice Rink, with floor to ceiling windows. A Holiday dream come true in New York city’s most iconic holiday destinations – as you can imagine, reservations are essential. Be sure to also check out the fun Breakfast with Santa options – which include VIP admission (with no wait!) to the famous ice rink.
The Rock Center Café, 20 West 50th Street. NYC. Reservations required. More information HERE.

 

Smith & Wollensky in NYCWrapped up for the Holidays. Photo courtesy of Smith & Wollensky

The Biggest Present in the City – Smith & Wollensky
Is there anything more festive then eating inside a present? As part of its annual tradition, famed steakhouse Smith & Wollensky celebrates the holidays by transforming itself into the city’s largest Christmas present!  Already festive with its green and white exterior, Smith and Wollensky’s gets wrapped in a massive red bow from Thanksgiving through the beginning of the New Year. The restaurant is a New York City institution (celebrating 40 years this year!) and the adornment has become one of our favorite holiday attractions.
Smith & Wollensky. 797 3rd Avenue at 49th Street. More information and for reservations HERE.

 

Night scene with Igloos at 230 Fifth Rooftop in NYCIgloos in the city!

Dinner in an Igloo – 230 Fifth

Do not adjust your screen – that is a real Igloo you see! Perched high upon the 230 Fifth Rooftop in NYC, these amazing igloos are a winter lovers dream. Located on the largest rooftop in all of the city, there are over a half dozen igloos to explore, each made of plastic and PVC pipe, and decked out with fun colorful party lights. Each igloo is outfitted with tables and chairs, and can sit up to 11 people. Note that igloos can not be reserved, and are first come first served. Food is available (think burgers and sandwiches) however it is important to note that it could be cold – the igloos only have small space heaters and do not retain heat. There are restrictions for children – read about this and more in our full review here.
230 Fifth. Located at 230 Fifth Avenue at 27th Street. More information HERE.

 

Pete's Tavern NYCA sea of lights with a bite!

A Blanket of Lights – Pete’s Tavern
Pete’s Tavern, one of the oldest bars in NYC, is world renown for their festive Christmas decorations. The windows in front of the restaurant feature a Christmas village, and the bar entrance area is completely (and beautifully) COVERED in red Christmas lights over the entire ceiling. Grab a seat in the back in the restaurant, and enjoy amazing pub fare such as burgers and sandwiches in a remarkably friendly  and cozy atmosphere. One of our holiday favorites that we frequent year after year.
Pete’s Tavern. 129 E 18th St.  More information HERE.

 

The floor to ceiling windows of Public Fare offer quite a spectacular view!

A Winter Garden Window – Public Fare

Public Fare is a casual eatery that pops-up on the northeast corner of Bryant Park as part of The Winter Village.  It is a light filled space, with 3 separate counters – one for food such as grilled cheese and tomato soup, salads, and sandwiches; the other for coffee and pastries, the other a bar for adult beverages and treats. The food is good, but it doesn’t have anything on the views. The restaurant overlooks the famed ice rink, as well as the beautiful Bryant Park tree. There couldn’t possibly be a more festive setting.
Public Fare. 28 Bryant Park, the Northeast side of the park near the Library. More information HERE.

 

Santa's Sipping Surf ShackSip on tiki drinks with fun Christmas treats!

A Christmas Staycation – Sipping Santa’s Surf Shack
Aloha from the North Pole! Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack, a tiki Christmas pop-up bar, is back for the 2017 holiday season. This festive paradise is the perfect place to get away from the cold while enjoying a fun drink such as a Cindy Lou Who or a Kris Kringle (both of which are cocktails!). While yes, Santa’s Sipping Surf Shack is more of a bar setting, we brought our toddler son and enjoyed food away from the bar at a proper dinner table and it was perfectly fine. He got a kick out of the decor while enjoying one of their famous burgers and chips, while mom and dad were able to sip on a holiday cocktail – a Holiday win!
Santa’s Sipping Surf Shack. A Holiday Pop-Up located at Boilermaker NYC. 13 First Avenue (at First Street). New York, NY. Website HERE. 

 

Best Holiday Restaurants - Rolf's NYCNothing beats the incredible decor of Rolf’s!

Like Eating inside a Christmas Tree – Rolf’s
Can’t stop looking up at this famous German restaurant! From gorgeous glass ornaments to angels in porcelain, faux snow and seemingly miles of fancy tree garland – there is no way you won’t be in a Holiday spirit after your visit one of the best Holiday restaurants in New York City!  Rolf’s Is a NYC Holiday institution, and is much a Christmas spectacular as the Rockettes in Rockefeller Center. As such – the Restaurant is SLAMMED through the month of December, often with a hours long wait to gaze at the festive decor. Best bet for families- make a lunch of dinner reservation for the restaurant, and enjoy space at a (tightly packed) table instead of trying to cram the fam into the standing room only bar area.  Important to note: there is no children’s menu and the food is a bit pricey – be sure to check the menu before going. Even with this – it’s so it is worth it! Quite simply – If you haven’t been to Rolf’s, you haven’t celebrated the holidays in NYC. A must see.
Rolf’s. 281 Third Avenue at 22nd Street. Reservations ESSENTIAL. Website and More Information HERE.