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There is something for everyone to enjoy in New York City and many fantastic hidden and not-so-hidden spots to check out during the holiday season. Here are six of my favorite places, including jazz clubs, string ensemble concerts, holiday markets and great food options to check out over the next few months. 

The Village Vanguard, located at 178 7th Ave South, New York, NY 10014, opened its doors on Feb. 22, 1935, and its bright red sign continues to shine as musicians play live jazz music several nights a week. As you enter, its history is present in photographs of Sony Rollins, Bill Evan, Miles Davis and many other famous jazz musicians who have played there. You can take in live music and drink while watching musicians play the piano, saxophone, harmonica, guitar, bass and drums. From Nov. 8-13, Donny McCaslin will perform with Gregoire Maret, Julian Lage, Scott Colley and Johnathan Blake. Several other musicians are scheduled, posted on the Village Vanguard site, and audience members can purchase tickets in advance to watch some of the most talented jazz artists perform. An electric feeling is present in the Vanguard, and jazz fanatics or those wanting to be introduced to jazz can spend an intimate night at the Village Vanguard.  

Another incredible NYC jazz place is The Django, located in the basement of the Roxy Hotel at 2 Avenue of The Americas, New York City, 10013. It is lively, the music reverberates through the space and it is always packed for a good reason. Seven nights a week, performers from all around come to perform while audience members dance, sing, drink and even order dinner at their tables. New performers grace the stage every night with their band, performing original music and popular hits; some nights, they are open till 3 a.m. Reservations can be made in advance, and it is the perfect spot to go on a date or with a group of friends. The Roxy Hotel also has a small vintage movie theater, the Roxy Cinema, on the same floor as the club. It is a great spot to enjoy smaller films not shown in the larger theaters or older classics from the past. Their candy counter is filled with popcorn and candy to snack on. 

If you are a music lover, but jazz isn’t your style, the Candlelight Concerts are a breathtaking and relaxing opportunity to enjoy music. Hosted by Fever, string ensembles come together to pay tribute to some of the most famous songs from musicians like Taylor Swift, Adele, Beyoné and even K-pop bands like BTS. They also have themed nights, including Classic Rock on Strings or Beethoven’s Best Works. The shows take place in various churches around the city, decorated with hundreds of electric candles to create magical multi-sensory experiences for the audience. You can sing along or close your eyes and listen to the bow vibrate against the strings. 

The iconic restaurant and ice cream shop, Serendipity3, located at 225 E 60th St, New York, NY, 10022, is a retro location that brings you back to your childhood. This 67-year-old spot is filled with ice cream parlor-esque decor, round tables to sit at with your friends and all types of posters and art to check out. The menu includes appetizers, frozen drinks, sweets, mac n’ cheese, hamburgers, sundaes, footlong hot dogs, salads, Guinness World Record dishes that must be ordered in advance, sandwiches, Belgian waffles and a variety of drinks. Fan favorites include “The Ultimate Potato Skins,” “The Serendipity 3”, “Truffle-Parm Fries,” “Outrageous Banana Split,” and 13 of their famous hot chocolates. This is a great place to try, whether you are an ice cream lover or a fan of the movie Serendipity, which has scenes filmed in the restaurant.

The Bryant Park Winter Village, which opened on Oct. 28, 2022, will run through Mar. 5, 2023, seven days a week and is filled with many fun outdoor activities, including ice skating, viewing of the large lit Christmas tree and shopping and eating from a wide variety of small businesses. Each year there is a 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink where you can rent skates for $18 and up, depending on the time you choose, or bring your ice skates for free. A time slot can be reserved online with free admission prior to going to ensure you and your friends can skate. Afterward, guests can enjoy a warm cider or hot chocolate as they walk through the holiday shops, filled with small businesses selling jewelry, handmade items, clothes, art and more. Bao by Kaya, Cheesesteaks by The Truffleist and Doughnuttery are just a few options for delicious food and desserts for purchase. Over the last few years, igloo rentals have opened and allow guests to enjoy a 90-minute relaxing experience overlooking the ice rink and midtown skyscrapers. There are two packages depending on how many friends you bring, and each includes popcorn, food and drinks to choose from. 

Although only open from Nov. 17-Dec 24. 2022, the Union Square Holiday Market located on University Pl & E 14th St, New York, NY 10003, is another excellent area to visit, with over 160 vendors selling seven days a week. You can check out a wide range of businesses like Desideri Design, AJS Design Studio will be selling alongside, The Happy Cactus, Mumu Bath, Wafels & Dinges and Palenque Colombian Food. There are a variety of perfect holiday gifts for friends, coworkers and loved ones, all available for purchase from designers and artisans. 

Whether you take your friends, partner or yourself on a date, I hope you enjoy at least one of these New York City activities over the next few chilly months. 


Alexandra Nava-Baltimore is a Dual Degree BA/BFA student at The New School. She is receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography at Parsons School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts. Alexandra currently works for Mélange Magazines as a Journalist and Photographer for their three international magazines. Check out her freelance photography business @byalnb on Instagram. She is an avid traveler and uses her travel to incorporate her passion for volunteering and service. Some of her volunteer trips have been in Costa Rica, The Navajo Nation, Zimbabwe, Africa and most recently, Ecuador.