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!
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!
Museums are known to house sacred pieces that shape history and society as we know it. Silently walking the halls while using your eyes alone to take in the exhibit is becoming a routine of the past. New types of exhibitions are springing to life in cities all over the world. Enter the pop-up museum, created specifically for hands-on interaction and the boosting of everyone’s social media presence. Here are the top pop-up museums in New York City right now.
The Color Factory
A bright take on art makes this museum one unlike any other. It is centered around – you guessed it – colors. It features prestigious artists, illustrators, makers and designers, non-profits, and local food vendors. Located in a 20,000-square-foot Hudson Square space in Soho, this pop-up highlights all the happiness and fun that come from vibrant colors. No outfit is too flashy here.
The Museum of Pizza
The website describes this pop-up as “A space to bask in multi-sensory, psychedelic pizza joy.“ The $35 ticket will buy you a tour of pizza-themed rooms such as the “cheese cave,” a “pizza beach,” and others. Otherwise, they’re a little cheeky as to what it all actually means. Whether you’re intrigued or creeped out, this experience is guaranteed to be “marvelously-’grammable.” Bring your cameras and all cheesy pizza hashtags. It will likely make you hungry.
Here, everything is made of candy thanks to the talents of Hollywood “candy queen” Jackie Sorkin and fabricator Zac Hartog. The website sums up the museum as “where colossal candyfloss constructions meld with a tantalizing taffy twistedness!” If that doesn’t sum it up, you’ll have to see it for yourself. A tour through Charlie’s Chocolate Factory may not live up to this modern-day pop-up. Bring a sweet tooth and your Instagram game.
The Velvet Underground Experience
If you think you should’ve lived your best years in the 1960s, this museum may be your cup of tea. Connect with Lou Reed in his prime and go into a technicolor world befitting Andy Warhol’s iconic banana album cover. This pop-up features six films, 350+ photos, 1,000+ objects, and special events such as concerts, lectures, installations, exhibitions, screenings, and masterclasses.
Museum of Illusions
Want to see your head on a platter without actually losing it? This is the place to do so. When you’re in this museum, everything is an optical illusion. It will make you question your senses and learn about them at the same time. Nothing is what it seems until you leave the building. Great for kids and adults alike. Perfect for selfies.
The weather is getting chilly, so go inside to warm up and check out these delightful budding forms of pop culture in the greatest city in the world. The caveat to these Millennial-centric pop-up museums is that they are only around temporarily. Get your selfies in before they close!
As a center of culture, it should come as no surprise that some major literary names have called New York City home. From natives to visitors, there are plenty of different kinds of NYC authors throughout history, and many neighborhoods make up a vital part of their histories. These are just four of the many acclaimed writers who inhabited some of New York’s most beloved neighborhoods.
From the Mississippi River to Salt Lake City, there’s almost no corner of this country that the famed writer and humorist didn’t at least visit during his 74 years on Earth. His first visit to NYC at age 17 sparked a lifelong love of the Big Apple, and later in life, Twain lived in different addresses across the city: in the West Village, Gramercy, and even Riverdale in the Bronx, overlooking the Hudson River.
For a certain generation, the story of New York City is found in the words of this Park Slope-born author, whose memoir A Drinking Life recalls his youth and misspent adulthood in Brooklyn during the 50s and 60s. Hamill, whose brother Denis is a regular columnist for the Daily News, cut his teeth in regional papers like the News, the defunct New York Herald Tribune, the New York Post, Village Voice, and Newsday. He now calls Prospect Heights home.
This Catcher in the Rye author was famously reclusive, so it’s no wonder his time on the Upper East Side was somewhat brief. Salinger rented an apartment at 300 East 57th Street right after Catcher was published, and stayed in his sparsely furnished pad for only a year before he moved to obscurity in New Hampshire. He would remain there until his death in 2010, never seeing the city again.
The Moby Dick and Billy Budd author fed his nautical passions on merchant ships out of New York Harbor in the early to mid 1800s. Born into wealth in Lower Manhattan, his family suffered during recessions and Herman was forced to find work as a crewman, giving him the inspiration to write his beloved masterpiece in 1851. Unappreciated in his time, Melville died in his borough of birth in 1891 and was buried in the Bronx.
Summer weather is a distant memory by now, but NYC’s best museums have tons of great exhibits to get us through the winter. In a city with a huge range of things to do and see, these presentations show why these museums are cherished by New Yorkers old and new. Check out some of the featured collections that will make trekking through the cold well worth it in 2018.
Museum of Modern Art – Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age
New York’s premier Modern Art museum can always be relied upon for a look at the most cutting-edge and thought-provoking works, and this exhibit running until April 8 is no exception. Thinking Machines gathers artworks designed by computer software and even formulated with artificial intelligence. This collection promises a fascinating look at the implications of computer learning-if they can create art, what else are machines capable of?
Metropolitan Museum of Art – Celebrating the Year of the Dog
What better way to ring in the year of the dog than an artistic tribute to our four-legged friends? Humankind’s best friend for millennia, dogs have inspired artisans and artists throughout history, appearing in everything from practical metalworks to regal earthenware statues. Visitors to the collection are sure to gain a newfound appreciation for their loyal pooches. This exhibit gathers a wide spectrum of East Asian canine pieces from the Met’s extensive archives just in time for the Lunar New Year on February 16.
Museum of the Moving Image – Video Arcade
In their heyday, video arcades were the premier place to discover the latest and greatest games. While that action has moved to our living rooms, visitors to the Museum of the Moving Image can step back in time into a faithful recreation of the fun centers of the 1980s (minus the cigarette smoke). Games ranging from early classics like Defender and Frogger sit here alongside 90s favorites Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam, making this interactive exhibit a mecca for gamers of any age. Arcades like this are a thing of the past, and this exhibit will be the same at the end of January 2018. So gather up those quarters and hop the R train to Astoria before it’s too late!
Museum of the City of New York – Mod New York
1960s counterculture lives in NYC in 2018, thanks to this exhibit featuring the fashions that shocked one generation and thrilled another. The Mod look, originating in London, hit its stride on these shores with even First Lady Jackie Kennedy (she of Hamptons high society) trying on the revolution in self-expression. In addition to an extensive clothing collection, talks and film screenings bring the spirit of the anything-goes 1960s to the Museum’s Upper East Side address through April 1.
New York Public Library – Picturing the City: Illustrated Maps of NYC
The evolution of New York City is an endlessly fascinating subject for many, and this exhibition gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of those changes. Curated by historian and author Katherine Harmon, Picturing the City promises an illuminating look at the entire history of Manhattan’s growth from Dutch trading post to the cultural capital of the world. A special emphasis on creative maps adorned with rich illustrations and the character of the city makes what could be a dry presentation to a fun and engaging survey of shifting attitudes and the unique character of the streets of NYC.