Bright Lights, Big City: Holiday in New York

Bright Lights, Big City: Holiday in New York


Being that the autumn and winter holidays are my favorite of the year, I wanted to experience the holidays in a new city. I wanted to visit a city that was close enough for a quick escape but far enough away to feel like a real getaway. It had to be a city that offered the grand holiday experience that I love: lights, music, sight-seeing, and shopping. It had to be New York. Taking the train from DC to New York was the perfect choice.

Train Work Flow

I’m a creative consultant, so being that no job is exactly like the next, working from my computer and smartphone is the one and only constant in what I do. DC is two and a half hours on the Acela Express from NYC, so I was able to answer emails and update social media on the go. With my spare time, I made plans for our time in the city and got in some time to relax before our arrival to the city.

I’ve always been fascinated by trains. My favorite vacation as a child was our family ride on the Auto Train to Florida. My mother took all five kids, the family van, a couple duffel bags and rode the Amtrak as far south as we could go from Northern Virginia and I’ve been hooked on rail travel ever since. Call it nostalgia but if I go, I go by train.

Seeing the Sights

Bryant Park New York

Our train dropped us off at Penn Station, which is conveniently located in Midtown. The train station is a few blocks from the famous tree at Rockefeller Plaza and a stone’s throw from many of the best holiday markets, shows and sights. Every time I visit NYC at the holidays, I have to visit the tree. The wonder of seeing it each and every time never wears away. Watching the ice skaters and the street performers is an added bonus.

Shopping Small in the Big City

It’s so easy to get distracted by the big name stores and advertisements all over Midtown, but my favorite place to shop was the holiday markets. From Penn Station, we navigated quickly and easily to both the Union Square and Bryant Park Holiday Markets. My favorite was the Union Square market simply because of all of the food options. There were rows upon rows of local makers, bakers, chefs and artisans. I am not kidding when I say I ate one of everything.

Union Square

A Place to Rest My Head

I booked a last minute room just a few days before my trip. I am a procrastinator and it’s my downfall… except when it comes to hotel bookings. I found a reasonably priced hotel in a great neighborhood in Murray Hill… only a 15-minute walk to Penn Station. We went for a walk through some of the picturesque neighborhoods, grabbed a bite to eat at a hole in the wall diner, and did some shopping before heading back to DC. This is one of those times booking last minute worked perfectly in my favor. Being that all of our stops on our trip were in the Midtown bubble, this worked perfectly as I got to fit in so many last minute stops on our trip before heading back to catch our train because of how centrally located we were.

Our trip was short, but it was the perfect dose of holiday cheer. Traveling by train, even last minute, is so convenient. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to the Big City.

About the Author: Joy Elizabeth Bythrow is a photographer, videographer, creative consultant and founder of Mornings Like These, a social initiative focused on mindful mornings. Additionally, she works in Northern Virginia as a floral designer with the all-woman outfit, Sweet Root Village.