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!
When the Museum of Modern Art renovates, it doesn’t take half-measures. On October 21st, the museum officially reopened its doors to the public and — at long last — welcomed visitors into its expanded campus.
The expansion adds 40,000 square feet to MoMA’s footprint and reportedly cost upwards of $450 million to complete. Today, the museum’s borders span the majority of the 53rd Street block between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It was an admittedly tricky project to execute, as the architects needed to meld two sites — three floors of a residential tower on 53 West 53rd Street and an entirely new building at 45 West 53rd Street — into a cohesive whole with the museum’s original campus. It’s fair to say that MoMA met the challenge head-on, albeit with help; plans for the renovation were developed by the museum with assistance from the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and in collaboration with Gensler.
According to MoMA, the renovations served as a means to “rethink how we share art with you. We’ve reinstalled the entire collection to share exhilaratingly broad views of the art of our time in a way that is always evolving.” And it’s true — besides offering access to three floors of collection galleries and thousands of drawings, sculptures, video, and other artworks, some spaces within MoMA’s expanded campus also provide visitors opportunities to engage with art in a more personal and affecting way.
In the new Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio, for instance, museum-goers experience live and experimental programming firsthand. As one writer for MoMA puts the matter, “Through new commissions, festivals, and residencies, as well as presentations of landmark works from the collection […] you can directly engage with artists and works in process and see pivotal and emerging works in dialogue.”
Similarly, the new Paula and James Crown Creativity Lab provides an experimental space where visitors can interact not only with MoMA’s art, but the artists who create it. Until August of 2020, the Lab will see a steady calendar of conversations and workshops that explore the environments and cultures that underpin artistic practice.
MoMA’s new campus has been a long time in the making. The first phase of the project began in 2014 with renovations to the east wing; that same year, MoMA announced its intent to demolish the former American Folk Art Museum building and construct new gallery space atop its foundation. MoMA faced some blowback for the demolition, both from the former building’s architectural team (Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects) and supporters of the Folk Art Museum. The project pushed on; by the end of 2017, MoMA had completed the first phase of renovations on its east wing and began construction on the west. Now, after years of effort, the museum’s transformation has finally reached a stopping point.
People seem to appreciate the change — for the new galleries, and for the unique architectural environment that encompasses them. As one writer describes for Fast Company: “The building is made up of a series of sharp angles and steel lines, but the galleries are woven into a series of seemingly infinite loops; the experience of viewing each exhibit felt more like an accidental discovery than something I could have ever intentionally charted. The building feels like a puzzle worth solving.”
In a way, the renovated building has itself become art — a tangible, thought-provoking, and walkable masterpiece that exudes the modern artistic spirit and curiosity.
Want more insights into New York’s art and culture scene? Check our blog post on the Coolest Pop-up Museums 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
Let’s face it: New York gets hot in the summer. On the brightest days, it can feel as though the heat from the concrete sidewalk might melt the rubber right off the soles of your shoes if you don’t find some shade, fast. But not to worry — there’s a solution to the heat that doesn’t require you to trade summer fun for air-conditioned purgatory. This season, cool down with one (or all) of these New York City waterfront activities:
Fishing on Pier 5
Need a moment of serenity in the city? Pick up a fishing rod and spend a peaceful morning fishing on the West Promenade of Pier 5! The pier has been arranged for your convenience; it offers bait prep tables and fish cleaning stations for all who visit. The view and ambiance are second to none — even if you don’t get any bites! However, if you do find a catch, take care in who you serve it to; currently, New York’s Waterbody Advisory warns that any fish caught in New York City waters could be harmful if eaten by pregnant women, women of childbearing age, and children under 15 years old.
Relief from the summer heat is never far away in New York. The city maintains dozens of pools of all shapes, depths, and sizes for public use — the Bronx alone has nine swimming spots! Most of these public pools host free aquatics programs in addition to their open swim hours. Pack up your sunscreen and towel, but remember that you’ll need to leave food, glass bottles, electronic devices, and newspapers at home when you do. Floaties are also a no-go at the pool, so parents with young children should play at the shallow end when they visit.
Future Attractions: The Squibb Park Pool!
While the Squibb Park Pool isn’t available to the public this year, it will be soon. When the Brooklyn Bridge pop-up pool debuted on Pier 2 in 2012, it was one of the park’s most popular seasonal attractions. In fact, it was so appreciated that advocates from local neighborhood groups ensured that it recurred for two years after its original end date. The pop-up pool closed for good in 2018, but work is underway to ensure that residents can enjoy a permanent public pool in Squibb Park within a few years — so keep a lookout!
Boat Rentals in the Park
Central Park offers some of the most peaceful views in the city — and now, you can enjoy them from the water! Visitors to the park can rent rowboats and gondola rides at Loeb Boathouse from April until October. Rowboats cost $15 per hour, with a $4 charge for every additional 15 minutes. Professionally-crewed gondola rides can be purchased at $45 per half-hour. It’s a fantastic way to relax and enjoy summer in the park.
Why stay landlocked when you could explore the water? New York City’s countless water trails span over 160 square miles of ocean, rivers, bays, inlets, and creeks for residents to enjoy — and most of the time, you don’t even need to pay for the opportunity!
In Manhattan, the volunteer-run Downtown Boathouse offers paddlers the chance to enjoy no-charge, twenty-minute kayaking trips at their convenience. Their summer programming also includes free kayaking lessons on Wednesday nights and public, three-hour trips from Pier 96 on most weekday mornings. The Boathouse’s only major requirement is that paddlers must know how to swim and must sign a waiver before getting into a kayak.
Long Island Community Boathouse
The Long Island Community Boathouse in Queens also offers free kayaking; however, the boathouse’s major appeal lies in its weekend programming. During the summers, volunteers run hour-long, one-way paddling adventures between Anable Basin and Hallets Cove.
That said, New Yorkers’ paddling opportunities aren’t limited to boathouse-run trips. If you have a kayak of your own, you can set out from any one of the city’s 45 launch sites. However, if you choose to set out on your own, you must have a permit to do so and adhere to regulations set by NYC Parks.
Want more ideas for summer fun? Check out our post on the 7 Best NYC Outdoor Brunches to Enjoy in Spring and Summer!
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!