Is it ever a proper holiday season if you don’t celebrate with a spread of festive treats? We don’t think so! Thankfully, a well-decorated sweet is never far away if you live in New York City. This season, residents have the opportunity to try the very best cakes, pies, cookies, and straight-out-the-oven treats the city has to offer.
Don’t know where to start? No problem — check out a few of our favorite holiday hotspots below. But make no mistake, the list below is just a starting place; this season, make exploring New York’s sweet shops a part of your holiday celebration.
This top-notch shop has been an inarguable star of New York’s bakery scene since 2008. If you haven’t visited yet, you are certainly missing out. As the shop itself explains, “We’re not big on feeding the hype beast. But we’re super into feeding our flavorful treats to those who crave the unexpected.”
So, what’s “unexpected” at the Milk Bar this holiday season? Try their Peppermint Bark Cake. It features three layers of rich dark chocolate cake infused with peppermint, as well as creamy white chocolate and peppermint frosting, and fudge. The whole cake is topped liberally with crunchy cocoa crumbs and crushed peppermint pieces, offering the perfect meld of holiday crunch and smooth chocolate. Want to win your friends’ holiday party? Bring this cake.
The Peppermint Bark Cake comes in at $50 for a 6-inch round and can serve eight to twelve people.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Dominique Ansel Bakery has specialized in providing delightful culinary surprises since November of 2011 — and this holiday season, its treats are as creative as they are delicious. When you drop by, order a blooming hot chocolate! Not only does this drink deliver a delicious dose of rich chocolate, but it also provides an Instagrammable experience. When you order it, your barista will give you a marshmallow bud along with your mug. Drop the bud into the hot chocolate, and you’ll instantly see it blossom into an expansive flower — and reveal a delicious chocolate truffle at its center.
Who doesn’t love Ovenly? This bakery is a women-led business that prides itself on its welcoming culture and diverse employee base. Its driving purpose isn’t just to create (really) incredible sweets but to also be a source of positive change for New York City. Honestly, how better to embrace the holiday spirit of kindness than to shop at a place that prioritizes creating positivity with every cake?
This season, cookies are the name of the game at Ovenly. Their Snowflake molasses cookies deliver the perfect dose of sweet and spicy charm and are beautifully decorated with icing lattices. These holiday treats will be available in all bakeshops starting December 1st, but don’t worry — if you want to share the joy with a friend beyond New York’s borders, Ovenly will ship orders nationwide! Who could complain about a gift like that?
Four & Twenty Blackbirds
Some days, there’s nothing quite as soothing as a good, old-fashioned pie shop. When sister pie-makers Melissa and Emily Elsen founded Four & Twenty Blackbirds in 2009, they did so because they wanted to create a place that embodied the welcoming spirit of a neighborhood shop. You should come for the pies and stay for the experience — sit back and enjoy a slice with a hot cup of coffee.
This season, Four & Twenty Blackbirds is offering a broad selection of pies. Our favorite, however, is the chocolate chess. It features a smooth, creamy chocolate filling and a perfectly-golden and buttery crust. Make a note — orders must be placed by noon for next day pickup. Orders placed after noon will be available in two days.
The Chocolate Chess pie can be purchased for $42.
Want more holiday tips? Check out our blog on the best hot chocolates in NYC!
Fall is on its way — which means that it’s time to break out the sweaters and scarves, get out the tasting glass, and prepare to experience some of the best food and wine festivals New York City has to offer. Don’t let your fall fly by without checking out one (or all!) of the city’s top-notch culinary experiences. Want to know what delicious extravaganzas are on your horizon? Check out the events listed below!
NYC Autumn Wine & Food Festival
When: October 10-13, 2019
Where: Locations vary per event
If you take food and fun seriously, this might be the festival for you. In its eleventh year, the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) offers food enthusiasts a chance to take part in a four-day extravaganza that explores the very best culinary experiences the city has to offer. It is the largest annual food festival in NYC, encompassing 500 chefs, over 200 sponsors and partners, and more than 50,000 attendees. The festival’s chefs pose a particular draw for attendees, as the event attracts some of the world’s most renowned chefs, culinary stars, and lifestyle experts. NYCWFF is as good for New York’s underserved communities as it is for the palate; since its establishment in 2008, the event has raised over $12.5 million for the Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry.
If you choose to attend, prepare for a packed calendar — more than 80 events are scheduled to take place, including tastings, dinners with famous chefs, late-night parties, and culinary seminars. Tickets for specific events and days can be purchased online. NYCWFF also offers packages for weekend enjoyment and family-friendly ticket bundles. Note: attendance tends to be pricey, although the festival does offer some under-$100 deals.
Brooklyn Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival: Fall Edition
When: November 9, 1 PM – 10 PM
Where: Industry City, bldg. 2 The Landing; 220 36th Street
Experience classy foodie culture at its best at the Brooklyn Crush Wine & Artisanal Food Festival. Dubbed by Thrillist as one of the events “you absolutely have to do in NYC,” this fall food celebration offers festival-goers an expansive spread of wines, ciders, and hors d’oeuvres. Tables featuring top-tier light fare will be arranged throughout the Industrial City venue, allowing wine tasters to punctuate their sips with delicious craft cheeses, savory charcuteries, delicious international foods, and sweets. Upon admission, visitors will be given a custom-etched crystal tasting glass that they can use for sampling beverages during the event — and then take home as a souvenir!
All vendors will be providing samples, and many will offer full-size bottles and cases for sale. Some food vendors will also be selling their products — so if you like something, you may be able to buy extra to share (or keep) at home!
General admission is $55 plus fees — although visitors should note that tickets are separated between two scheduling blocks. Attendees can sign up to explore the festival from either 2–5 PM or 7–10 PM. Early access tickets cost $120 and allow visitors an extra hour of attendance. All attendees must be 21 or older to participate in the event.
OctFest: An International Beer, Music, and Food Festival
When: October 19, 3 PM – 11 PM
Where: Knockdown Center
Want the best of New York’s music and food — in one place? Check out OctFest! A collaboration between the entertainment magazine Pitchfork and the forerunning beer culture website October, this festival merges all of the best parts of concert-going and beer tasting into a single extravaganza. This event will host two music stages and a spread of beer tasting opportunities that span over 50 breweries from across six continents. Entertainment for the event includes but is not limited to performances by Mogwai, Dungen, Duster, and Control Top.
General admission will guarantee visitors a full 18 ounces of beer samples — however, attendees can purchase more samples or full-size servings if they prefer. Beer sampling hours will run from 3 PM to 8 PM. Buy early! Tickets bought online beforehand are $45 plus fees, while day-of-show tickets are $50 plus fees.
Harlem Harvest Festival
When: October 7, 11 AM – 4 PM
Where: St. Nicholas Avenue, between 117th and 118th Street
Support local business — and enjoy good food and great entertainment while you’re at it! The Harlem Harvest Festival brings the country into the heart of Harlem by featuring food and lifestyle vendors from across the borough. Want to know who makes the best pies, cakes, cookies, and brownies in the neighborhood? The Festival will host a harvest bake-off to settle the matter once and for all — or, at least, until next year’s competition.
When you attend, bring your family! The festival’s Kid Zone offers kid-friendly programming such as a pumpkin art station, face painting, a Children’s Baking Corner with Legendary Master Baker, Mr. Lee, and a gardening activity hosted by Harlem Grown. Other entertainment offerings will include live performances from DJ Stormin’ Norman/Sundae Sermon, DJ Smithy Boy, La Orquesta Majica Latina, and others.
This festival is free to attend — all you have to do is register!
Want more fall fun? Check out our blog on Spooky Halloween Events in NYC!
Want to experience the best Broadway has to offer at a steal? Now, you have the opportunity to do just that — with Broadway Week. During Broadway Week, theater producers offer two-for-one tickets to some of the best shows of the season, including several Tony Award winners. Since its launch in 2011, the program has dispensed more than a million tickets to over 150 unique production titles. This year, the event falls in September and, contrary to what the name might suggest, will run for two weeks between September 3rd and the 16th.
This event is clearly a winning deal for theater-going New Yorkers — but it’s a boon for those in the industry, as well. During the start of the fall season, theater attendance and sales typically begin to drop, slowing business for Broadway and, by extension, the restaurants and businesses in the surrounding area. To combat the downturn, the city’s marketing, tourism, and partnership branch, NYC & Company, bands together with the Broadway League to put on Broadway Week and counteract the downturn in business. The result? New Yorkers have a low-cost opportunity to enjoy a fantastic theatrical performance — and they can attend knowing that they are helping Broadway thrive during its slowest season.
There are some caveats to the event. For instance, while the vast majority of shows participate in the promotion, certain hit plays may choose not to take part. Hamilton, for example, isn’t on the roster for cut-price tickets this year. Attendees will also need to buy at least two tickets to take advantage of the promotion. Each will be issued at 50% of its original price, plus applicable taxes and fees.
That said, given that producers typically use Broadway Week to fill the seats that tend to be more difficult to sell — the mezzanines, balconies, side sections, etc. — those who purchase tickets through the program probably won’t be getting the best seats in the house. However, interested theater-goers do have the option to buy upgraded tickets. These passes will include seat options that are either closer to the stage or have a better view than those available in the general pool. Upgraded tickets are more expensive; purchasers will not only need to put in a flat $30 fee to access the higher-quality options but also pay 50% of the original starting price of the seat. This typically isn’t quite as much of a steal as the general pool tickets, given that upgraded seats tend to be more expensive from the get-go.
But whatever seats or price tag you opt for, one point is for sure — you don’t want this opportunity to pass you by! Some crowd favorites such as The Lion King and Dear Evan Hansen are already entirely sold out. However, tickets to other great plays are still on the market, including those to 2019 Tony Award winners Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations, Oklahoma!, and Tootsie. Passes for kid-friendly favorites like Aladdin, Frozen, and The Phantom of the Opera are also still available for purchase.
You can browse and book tickets by visiting NYC Broadway Week’s event listing on NYC Go. In the meantime, here’s a list of all the shows you could be enjoying during this season’s promotion — don’t forget to check out special pre-theater menus at restaurants near Broadway before you go! Want tips on where to go before the show? Check out our blog on NYC’s Most Exclusive Restaurants!
2019 Season Shows:
Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
The Book of Mormon
Come from Away
Derren Brown: Secret
The Great Society
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
The Height of the Storm
The Phantom of the Opera
Sea Wall/A Life
The Sound Inside
Does anything symbolize summer fun quite as much as ice cream on a hot day? If you’re looking for a top-notch treat, check out one — or all, no judgement! — of these fan-favorite ice cream parlors in New York City.
Location: 88 W Houston Street NY NY 10012
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 12PM-11PM // Friday-Saturday: 12PM-12AM
Founded in 2014 by self-made restauranteur Nicholas Morganstern, Morganstern’s offers a classic ice cream experience. The ice cream parlor prides itself on serving texture-driven, small-batch ice creams that prioritize superb flavors and taste. Along with traditional standbys like chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies n’ cream, and mint chip, parlor favorites also include more unusual flavors such as green tea pistachio, salt and pepper pinenut, and burnt sage. The main star of the show is the ice cream, but don’t overlook Morgenstern’s other offerings! The parlor also serves pies, cakes, floats, and cocktails.
Location: 240 Sullivan Street, New York, NY, 10012
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11AM-9PM // Friday-Saturday 11AM-10PM
When Mexico-born Fany Gerson opened La Newyorkina in 2010, she had a single goal: to introduce New Yorkers to the sweet flavors of her childhood. Her store, La Newyorkina, serves a variety of Mexican sweet treats. Her most popular offering — and the one that first promoted Gerson’s shop to fame — are paletas; frozen treats that can be enjoyed on-the-go. These delights come in a variety of flavors — from creamy and fruity to sweet and spicy. Popular options include Mango Chile, Pineapple Jalapeno, Mango Chamoy, and Passionfruit. All are made by hand in small batches using all-natural ingredients. Don’t just stick with the paletas, though — La Newyorkina also offers delicious chamoyadas, cookies, pan dulce, and cakes.
Republic of Booza
Location: 76 N. 4th Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11249
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12PM-11PM // Friday-Saturday 12PM-12AM
Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of booza before — you won’t find it in stores. Booza, the precursor to our modern-day ice cream, was initially developed around 500 years ago in the Levant region of the Eastern Mediterranean. It’s a dense, smooth, and flavor-packed frozen dessert that sports a more stretchy consistency from what you might expect from ice cream. This change in texture stems from both its unique production process and two unusual ingredients: Sahlab (ground orchid root) and mastic (a resin). Traditionally, booza only came in a “candied cream” flavor; however, New York City’s Republic of Booza prides itself on bringing the dish into the modern era — and giving it a few tasty twists, of course. Flavors currently offered include chocolate, strawberry, horchata de chufa, French lavender, and sour cherry mahlab.
Location: 175 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11249
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 12PM-10PM // Friday-Saturday 12PM-11PM
Want some quirkiness in your ice cream cone? Oddfellows has you covered. The now-four-location parlor prides itself on making the unusual delicious. The idea for the shop first came about when one of the co-founders, Mohan Kumar was attempting to find an ice cream flavor that would suit his wife Holiday’s eclectic pregnancy cravings. During that time, one of Kumar’s longtime friends and bar owner, Sam Mason, made Holiday a batch of homemade pretzel ice cream. She loved it — and promptly suggested they open an ice cream parlor. The Kumar’s twins were born 2012, and the first OddFellows Ice Cream parlor opened a year later.
Today, Oddfellow’s flavor offerings range from delightfully classic to intriguingly original; their menu features highlights like burnt marshmallow, Thai iced tea, and toasted sesame Nutella along with standbys such as chocolate chunk.
Want a few more insights on which dessert spots in NYC are top-notch? Check out our blog on The Most Instagrammable Dessert Spots in NYC!
New York City is a veritable hotspot for arts and culture in the summertime. No matter your artistic passions, at least one of the countless, long-running cultural organizations in the city will have something to appeal to your interests. Add one (or all) of the below festivals to your calendar and share in the excitement! Who knows — some of the best performers in the country may be just a short walk from your doorstep.
First launched in the summer of 1979 by Brooklyn residents, Celebrate Brooklyn! is one of New York City’s longest-running outdoors performing arts festivals. This multi-day summer concert series highlights the best, brightest, and most promising Brooklynite musicians of the year. Since its founding, the festival has showcased over 2,000 artists, many of whom used the appearance as a springboard towards greater success. The festival spotlights internationally-celebrated and emerging artists from all musical genres, including but not limited to classical, jazz, pop, alt, hip-hop and regional American. This year’s lineup features notable performers such as Patti LaBelle, Courtney Barnett, Shareef Keyes & the Groove, and Iron & Wine. Attendees should note that while the festival itself is and has always been free, certain performances are charity benefits and have an associated cost.
Celebrate Brooklyn! starts Tuesday, June 4.
Shakespeare in the Park
Shakespeare in the Park wasn’t always such a summertime staple in Central Park. When director-producer Joseph Staff initially launched the program, he did so with the not-so-hidden disapproval of the then-parks commissioner, Robert Moses. Moses didn’t have a problem with theatre productions in the park per se, but he was firmly against the lawn erosion that audience members were beginning to cause on the grass in front of Turtle Pond. He demanded that Papp charge a fee to cover the cost of sod and lawn care — but Papp refused to charge for the performances, stubbornly maintaining that the theatre should be free to any who cared to see it. A long legal battle ensued between the two parties and ultimately ended in Papp’s favor. Surprisingly, the clash reportedly left Moses with a deep respect for Papp and led the commissioner to request the funds the director needed to build a proper theater in the park.
Since then, Shakespeare in the Park has developed into one of New York City’s most beloved summertime arts offerings. It has entertained over five million people throughout its run, and in past years even featured standout actors like Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, and Al Pacino.
Interested? You can find the dates for 2019’s productions below. Remember — while entry is free, you’ll need to claim tickets beforehand to reserve a seat!
Much Ado About Nothing: May 21 – June 23
Coriolanus: July 16 – August 11
Hercules: August 21 – September 8
Founded by Jay K. Hoffman, William W. Lockwood Jr., Schuyler G. Chapin, and George F. Schutz in August of 1966, the Mostly Mozart festival was initially intended to provide freelance classical musicians with work opportunities during the summer off-season. Then and now, the event’s in-house orchestra pulls its members from notable classical ensembles across the country; its performers hail from high-profile orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and more.
The focus of Mostly Mozart has expanded since its early years. While the festival primarily offers concerts that feature its in-house orchestra, it also features solo classical artists, dance pieces, panel discussions, and film screenings. Most events occur at the David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, but other venues include and are not limited to Rose Theater, Merkin Concert Hall, the Walter Reade Theater, and the David Rubenstein Atrium.
In 2019, the Mostly Mozart festival will run from July 10th through August 10th; tickets for various events available for purchase online.
Midsummer Night Swing
Midsummer Night Swing is a three-week extravaganza of dance, music, and culture. Held at Damrosch Park at the Lincoln Center, this long-running annual event offers new and experienced dancers alike the chance to learn how to swing, disco, salsa, ballroom step, and more. Each night follows a similar pattern: attendees arrive in the early evening for a formal lesson on the dance featured that night, and then spend the next few hours dancing the night away. The fun doesn’t always stop with formal steps, either; in recent years, organizers have even begun handing out wireless headsets and facilitating post-dance silent discos on certain nights!
This year, dancers can enjoy live music from celebrated musicians such as Bobby Valentin, Eyal Vilner Big Band, Curles Turner & Uptown Swing, and Bria Skonberg, among others. This is a ticketed event; attendees can buy four dance passes for $60, six dance passes for $84, a season pass for $170, or advance tickets for select evenings at $18 apiece.
Midsummer Night Swing will run from Tuesday, June 25 until Saturday, July 13th.
Want more artsy events on your calendar? Check out our blog post on the Coolest Pop-Up Museums in NYC!
New York City is known for its bustle, its glam, its excitement, and…its flowers? That’s right — in springtime, our concrete jungle becomes a hotspot for garden enthusiasts. Is one of the city’s best bloom-spotting attractions in your backyard? Read on to find out!
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
If you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in spring, you’re missing out. As the weather warms, the garden boasts no less than 17 varieties of blooming cherry blossoms. Those blooms aren’t the only draw; visitors can find and enjoy the sights and smells of exotic and domestic flowers alike in the garden’s plant collections and specialty gardens. If you’re looking for a dash of culture with your springtime flowers, check out the Steinhardt Conservatory! This horticultural center encompasses the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, an aquatic plant house, an art gallery, and three climate-themed plant pavilions.
Central Park Conservatory
If you’re a fan of European formal gardens, the Central Park Conservatory is a must-see. This quiet, six-acre corner of the Park boasts three sections adhering to the English, French, and Italian styles of formal gardening, respectively. It’s a peaceful haven for flower enthusiasts who want to enjoy a meditative moment of admiration. Wilder blooms can also be spotted along Central Park’s less-formal walking trails and green spaces.
Queens Botanical Garden
What’s spring without a little fun? New flowers pop up and bloom near-daily in this 39-acre plot, making the Queens Botanical Garden a prime weekend destination for nature-loving families. The garden hosts several events to celebrate new blooms throughout the season, including its family-centric Arbor Day Festival. This high-energy event offers kids the chance to do arts and crafts, visit a petting zoo, play in a bouncy castle, and more! Adults can enjoy a quieter spring season by walking through the Queen’s Botanical Garden’s arboretum, visiting its art gallery, or exploring its rose, herb, perennial, and bee gardens.
New York Botanical Garden
Want a tech-friendly take on flower-spotting? The New York Botanical Garden has you covered. If you love azaleas, daffodils, roses, or cherry trees and don’t want to miss seeing any or all in peak blossom, check out the NYBG’s plant trackers! These trackers offer flower enthusiasts a quick glimpse of how far into bloom these springtime staples are from the comfort of their homes. Don’t cap your visit to peak season, though. NYBG hosts a series of events to highlight its plants, including an indoors orchard show!
Wave Hill might be small, but its snowdrop populations are unparalleled. This 28-acre park is a quintessential New York garden spot tucked away in the Bronx; it has wildflower greens, woodland paths, and lovely vistas.
Narrows Botanical Garden
Founded in the mid-nineties by two Bay Ridge residents, the Narrows Botanical Garden is living proof that local engagement can make positivity bloom within a community. The garden is home to several tree groves, a butterfly garden, a turtle sanctuary, and flocks of birds. Interestingly, the Narrows only includes plants native to New York. Today, the park is still maintained by Bay Ridge residents. It has a delightful view of the Bay and the Statue of Liberty.
The High Line
Springtime isn’t only for delicate flowers. The Highline encompasses a collection of hardy New England perennials, shrubs, and trees. Its Lilafee Barrenwort — a tough plant with rich, spring-blooming purple flowers — is particularly beautiful this time of year. The most exciting time for the High Line, however, is its annual spring cutback. Unlike other gardens, landscapers for the High Line allow winter-dried stalks to remain in place as habitat for native wildlife. In the spring, the High Line invites hundreds of local volunteers to join their gardeners in cutting back plants by hand to allow for compost and new growth. It’s an experience that garden enthusiasts won’t want to miss!
So, what are you waiting for? Shake off that winter chill and get hopping; there’s a ton to enjoy at these NYC gardens!
Want more insights about New York’s hidden treasures? Check out our post on NYC’s Most Overlooked Landmarks!