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It’s the holiday season. We’ve dusted off the beanies and blanket scarves from the bottom of our closets, lights are merrily strung around campus, and the weather is, well, fifty shades of gray. Besides the imminent danger that is finals, we’ve got a lot to look forward to. For one, we’ve got the best place to be during the holiday season in our own backyard: New York City. I’m not talking about the whole, Rockefeller Center 500-feet-tall tree and ice rink kind of New York City. I’m talking about the local nooks and crannies you’d never think of visiting. These are the places I like to see. Here’s a quick look at all of my favorite activities, cafes, shops, and photo ops in New York City during the holiday season.

Standard Ice Rink

Located in the heart of the Meatpacking District and right beneath the Highline, this 3,000-square-foot ice rink is the perfect alternative to Rockefeller Center. Open daily, the rink is a great place to settle down after a long walk along the High Line. It offers a brilliant one-of-a-kind menu and a particular drink menu that will make your spirits bright (spiked hot cocoa anyone?)

New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

This isn’t your regular train show, I promise. Located in the Bronx, the botanical garden offers an incredible display of model trains making their way around 150 New York City landmarks. Made with natural materials like bark and leaves, the landmarks include the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, and more. For those who are 21 and over, the garden also offers an adult-only viewing of the show called Bar Car Nights (cute, right?) it’s an after-hours viewing set with street performers, live music, and spiked drinks.

L.A Burdick Handmade Chocolates

If you find yourself in need a of a sweet treat or, quite possibly, one of the best hot chocolates in New York City, look no farther than L.A Burdick. With a perfect location in Soho, the chocolate shop and cafe offers a wide selection of chocolates, pastries, and beverages. Their hot chocolate is made European-style, so basically it’s liquid chocolate. If that doesn’t get you excited then the shop’s cozy atmosphere, properly decorated for the holidays, and chocolate penguins should draw you in. Yes, I did say chocolate penguins.

Eataly

So, this isn’t necessarily holiday-themed, but I figured I’d include it anyway. After running around the city and double-posting on Instagram, you’ll be in need of some seriously good food. Enter Eataly, a vibrant Italian marketplace filled with restaurants, counters, cafes, and markets. There’s something here for everyone: seafood, pizza, pasta, and more. Plus, their rooftop restaurant offers a cozy view of the skyline while you dine on some of the best Italian food you’ll find in the area. As for dessert, head to one of their cafes or Nutella bar for something sweet.

Madison Square Park

Right outside Eataly, you’ll find Madison Square Park complete with a gingerbread house, Christmas tree, and beautiful glowing arches with attached hammocks. Take some time to walk around and enjoy the view of the Flatiron building while sipping your Italian hot chocolate from Eataly’s Lavazza cafe. Definitely Instagram-worthy, I promise.

Jane’s Carousel

If you find yourself in Brooklyn’s DUMBO area, head to Jane’s carousel for a fun ride and breathtaking views. Situated right in the center of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the carousel was originally made in 1922 and restored for the public in 2011. Whether you come for a ride or a quick photo op, it’s definitely worth it. Plus, you’ll be in one of the best places for dining and walking around. Make sure to check out One Girl Cookies and The Atrium while you’re there!

Winter Flea and Holiday Market

Also located in Brooklyn, this time in Fort Greene, is the Winter Flea and Holiday Market. The market offers 75 vintage and antique vendors along with 25 of your favorite Smorgasburg vendors for a quick bite to eat. It’s the perfect getaway for last-minute shopping and a (seriously) good meal. So, take a break from the cold weather and come inside to defrost while holding a ramen burger and browsing some vintage accessories. Tempting, right?

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Public relations major, writer for Her Campus, and social stylist for the Gap. Also an avid lover of corny humor and a good cup of coffee. 
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