The city at Christmas…maybe the best way to capture holiday spirit. Not everyone will agree with me. Some of you prefer a cozy country setting or small town friendliness. But my vote goes to at least one day of over-the-top glitz that can only happen in a city. Wherever you live, your city will surprise and delight you.
Need a few reasons to get on a train, brave the traffic, or hunt for an expensive parking spot? It may seem like an unnecessary hassle, but if you’re looking for decorations on a big scale–along with the excitement of the season–it’s worth your time.
The lights: Let’s start with the obvious. You won’t find more lights, well-planned and well-placed, at the mall. They are everywhere, extending for miles. The sheer expanse of lights lining the streets is breathtaking.
The parades: New York City kicks off the season with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but most cities also have their own celebrations and local flavor. Join the crowd and wave to Santa. Cheer for the high school bands. Let the little kids get up close. We don’t have as many parades as we used to, so a Christmas parade is a happy event. And there’s really nothing like watching it in person, hot chocolate in hand.
The food: Wherever you live, there’s a special food that means Christmas. Sure, there are roasted chestnuts, but what else? Herring? Buckeye candy? Hoppin’ John? The city will certainly have booths and carts peddling the regional favorite. There may also be special traditions, such as High Tea at the Drake Hotel in Chicago or Reveillon Dinners in New Orleans. A small town may have a sweet version, but the city will pull out all the stops. Get dressed up and go!
The markets: Christmas markets spring up in most American cities, including the marvelous German markets that seem to capture the spirit of the season. Get a cup of mulled wine and stroll the stalls filled with delicate glass ornaments, beer steins, and all types of fun gifts. Have a sausage sandwich and some gingerbread. From California to Connecticut, people flock to get a dose of authentic Weihnachten. Other markets can feature arts and crafts from local artisans.
Local traditions: If you’re in Seattle, head to the water to see the nightly Christmas Ships. In San Antonio, don’t miss Fiesta de las Luminerias, the thousands of luminarias on the River Walk during December weekends. Of course, New York City dazzles with the tree and ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza.
Another reason to go: The city at Christmas even gets its own song:
“Silver bells, silver bells…It’s Christmas time in the city…”
Looking for gifts for the travelers on your list? Check out my Gift Series: