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Hidden Gems on The Upper West Side: An Insider’s Guide to December in New York City  blog image

Hidden Gems on The Upper West Side: An Insider’s Guide to December in New York City

October 27 2021

The Hotel Beacon, located in the heart of New York’s Upper West Side, is within walking distance of some of Manhattan’s most famous landmarks and must-see tourist locations. Broadway, Central Park and Times Square - to name a few - are a stone’s throw from the hotel, providing endless activities to enjoy throughout December and over the holiday period.

However, some of the best things to do in New York’s UWS are hidden gems throughout the neighborhood. 

Turnstile Underground Market - Columbus Circle Subway Station, 59th Street

Located underground, between 57th and 58th Street, the unique Turnstyle Market offers 39 eateries, shops and different pop-ups – showcasing mostly local businesses. Situated in the Columbus Circle subway station the subterranean market was opened in 2016 covering an entire city block. The market is perfect for picking up quirky, hand-crafted gifts, to sample a range of authentic international and fusion cuisines or to try some freshly made Bubble Tea.

Grand Bazaar - 100 W 77th St 

Open every Sunday throughout the year from 10am to 5pm, the Grand Bazaar is NYC’s biggest weekly market. Throughout December there are three* Grand Holiday Bazaar dates where more than 100 hand selected independent and local merchants are invited to sell and share their products (that can’t be found elsewhere) – a great place to grab a unique gift for a loved one. The market donates 100% of their profits to four public schools and is the oldest, largest and most diverse weekly market in the city.

*(5th, 12th and 19th of December)

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights - located between 83rd and 86th streets and 11th and 13th Avenues

The small NY neighborhood takes the holiday period very seriously and the majority of the houses in the area take part in transforming three avenues and several streets into a huge Christmas lights display. On from the first weekend after Thanksgiving until the New Year, the displays attract around 100,000 people every year – a hidden gem by New York’s standards - but if you want to avoid the crowds it’s best to visit in early December. More Information.

Pomander Walk in NYC - a small private through-street with British Tudor style homes on either side of the street and traditional lamps - NYC sky scrapers in the background.

Pomander Walk - West 95th St off Broadway

Pomander Walk is such a hidden gem that thousands of people walk past it every single day without ever realizing it’s there. If you turn onto West 95th street from Broadway and take a stroll down the street, about halfway down the block you will find a small gate with a staircase behind it – you’d be forgiven for walking right past – but through the little gate is a little world concealed within the Upper West Side. Pomander Walk is a byway between 94th and 95th street that is lined, either side, with 27 two story Tudor homes. The residential street was built in the 1920’s and the perfectly preserved homes offer lush gardens and quaint window boxes as well as traditional tudoresque facades – the residential street is private and gated but it's possible to catch a glimpse through the gates at either end if you’re in the area.

World’s Largest Menorahs - The intersection of Central Park South and Fifth Avenue

New York City is home to the world’s largest Menorahs, both standing at 32 feet. The sculptures are located in the Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan and the Grand Army Place in Brooklyn. Throughout Hanukkah the Menorahs are lit at sundown where thousands of people come to celebrate with live music, hot latkes and special gifts for all children who attend – the lighting of the menorahs also invites non-Jewish guests to celebrate the ceremony. More Information.

Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise - Leaving from Pier 62 at Chelsea Piers 

This Christmas treat is a real indulgence for locals and tourists alike – offering million-dollar views of the New York City skyline, Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty - the 90-minute cruise is an experience you’ll never forget. The 1920’s luxury yacht is decorated in festive lights and a live jazz band plays throughout the cruise – all guests are invited to enjoy a warm hot chocolate, Christmas cookies and a glass of champagne, wine or beer while enjoying the tour. Ticket Information.

View of the Empire State Building and NYC skyline at night, from roof garden in NYC

230 Fifth Rooftop Igloos - 230 5th Ave – Corner 27th 

Fancy a cozy night out? In December the idea of spending a cold evening on a city rooftop in New York might not seem ideal – but the city is home to the perfect spot. With panoramic views across Manhattan, 230th Fifth is home to the biggest outdoor rooftop garden in NYC – and in the colder months it is transformed into a winter wonderland. From November 1st through April 15th every year, heated and transparent igloos are installed on the roof terrace – where guests can stay warm, enjoy views across the city with a luxury meal or cocktail and even enjoy a blockbuster movie on the outdoor screen. Booking Information.

Thinking about visiting New York City this holiday season? Check out the apartment style suites at the Hotel Beacon in the heart of The Upper West Side.