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Christmas in New York City, 2023 – Inside of Knoxville

Christmas in New York City, 2023 – Inside of Knoxville

As we bridge the gap between Christmas and New Year Day, here’s a look Christmas in the big city and some of what we did there when we slipped out of town earlier this month. This is the second annual Christmas trip for Urban Boy and Urban Girl, given as their Christmas gift instead of things they will soon forget. We hope we can squeeze in a few more before Urban Girl moves along and does her own thing.
Allegiant cheaply flies from Knoxville to NYC in about an hour-and-a-half and drops off at Newark Airport, which is a train ride from Penn Station. For now, they fly both ways on Friday and Monday, perfect for most of a week or a weekend like this one. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the magic of air transportation: I have breakfast in Knoxville and lunch in New York City. That first step out of Penn Station and onto the street always makes me smile.
We stayed south of the Madness that is Times Square and Broadway, only venturing there when we went to shows on Sunday. The shift south also made the walk with luggage to the hotel much easier, making for a happier family. After check-in, the first order of business is lunch, which means a street dog for him and the Bryant Park Pret a Manger for her.
We hung out in Bryant Park for a while, though rain soaked us pretty good, and we opted for some time in Macy’s, which was less than a block from the hotel. The highlight of the first evening was The Summit at Vanderbilt 1. The observation decks and art installations run from the 91st to the 93rd floor. Urban Daughter and I visited last summer and knew it would be a hit for the younger ones. While Urban Boy was a little more than nervous on the mirrored and glass surfaces, they did have a blast, particularly throwing the balls around in the Affinity portion of the interactive space.
The views of the city, of course, cannot be beaten as you look down on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Urban Girl and I stood on the plexiglass hanging out over the street, but the others declined. It was a great way to spend the early evening and we followed with a late dinner at Hakata Ton Ton, which was on the same block as our hotel. The highlights were Urban Boy and I braving (and enjoying!) the pig feet and the pretty desserts.
Saturday morning, we hit the trail early, hoping to squeeze in two museums. Didn’t happen. We rode the subway to the Natural History Museum which they love both for what is there, as well as for the connection to the movie, “A Night at the Museum.” They loved it so much we spent more time there and scratched the other museum (Museum of the American Indian).
We took the subway to the southern tip of the island and stopped by at the Oculus, the 9/11 memorial, the Bull of Wall Street, and Trinity Church (Hamilton’s burial spot and more importantly to them, a key scene from the movie “National Treasure”). Dinner at Fraunce’s Tavern (also discovered last summer) was a crowd pleaser, particularly the Lobster Mac and Cheese. After an Uber back to the hotel, Urban Girl pleaded to set out again (the two of us) for the Barnes and Noble on Union Square (the biggest in the world). We had a great walk which ended, of course, in book purchases. She needed Albert Camus and I happily complied.
Sunday dawned, our last full day in New York City, as Urban Boy, who becomes a human metronome of time left on trips, informed us. We had breakfast at Paris Baguette, a new favorite, before splitting up. Urban Woman and Urban Girl found a cute outfit marked way down at H&M, so it was Urban Boy’s turn for Nike shoes at the Nike Store on Fifth Avenue. Of course, that meant a stop at the Nintendo Store, as well.
We grabbed lunch then split up again. Urban Woman and Urban Boy enjoyed Lion King at the Minskoff Theater (Urban Girl and the rest of us saw it in 2017). Urban Girl and I had a later show, and we spotted the Museum of Broadway, grabbing tickets and enjoying it tremendously. Some of the displays were moving (Rent) and some of them were fun (Hair). She loved the costumes and particularly the pieces from “Six,” which she recently saw at the Tennessee Theatre. We then walked to the Lunt-Fontanne Theater to see Josh Groban in “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Josh Groban was predictably great, but I felt Annaleigh Ashford (as the “baker”) stole the show.
We ended the night in my current favorite restaurant in the city, Monty’s on McDougal Street in the Village. Great Italian food from a family that has owned it for over a hundred years. And the best cannoli I’ve ever had. We all loved the meal, and I, declaring it the family favorite. It was a perfect way to end the day and the trip.

The next morning, up early, we got a shuttle from the hotel — toward the wrong airport. We lost an hour, had a bit of a panic and some not-so-great driving, but we arrived early enough to have a final bagel, get our bearings, and board the plane. There always must be that one thing, right?
The city was beautiful, all dressed up for Christmas and we’ll look forward to the next magical excursion. More photos below:
Thank you for sharing the details of your trip and pics of your beautiful family. I love that you value the experience over “ the stuff”.
I always enjoy your Christmas New York trip and all that it entails. This is true again this year. It makes me want to schedule our own New York Christmas trip! Maybe next year. Thanks for all the great places to visit and the wonderful non-chain restaurants that make up many of the big cities in our country. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!
Nice photos…FYI… Reverend Dan Matthews who served at St Johns Episcopal in Knoxville also served at Trinity Church in Manhattan…prior to and during 9/11. Great leader ❣️
Love this and your family. Love NYC. Happy New Year.
Loved reading about your fabulous New York trip. You are creating wonderful memories for your family and readers.
Happy New Year!
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