Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THANKSGIVING IN NYC: MAKING THE MOST WHEN YOU CAN'T GO HOME


When you decide to move to the opposite side of the country from your entire family, there are certain things you learn very quickly: traveling home is expensive, traveling home for the holidays is more expensive, and when you cannot, you're never the only one. As New York is a city of transplants, it's a guarantee that at least a handful of your friends will be here, too. 

I've been fortunate enough to take up with a group of friends here who are from all over the place—Memphis to Indianapolis, Newport Beach to Paris, and Seattle, of course. Each year, I've stayed here for Thanksgiving, gathering with friends and visitors and friends of visitors for a rag-tag feast delicious enough to rival those prepared by my (much-missed) family.

The crowd varies by year, but one thing is consistent: It's always a great weekend to be in New York. It's the first truly festive weekend of the holiday season, the non-touristy parts of the city empty out, and the touristy things feel more fun than torturous.

On that note, click through for my recommendations on what to do on Thanksgiving weekend in New York City. Not surprisingly, most of them have to do with drinking and eating...

// CLICK THROUGH FOR FOOD, DRINKS & TURKEY DAY FUN! //


HAVE A LEFTOVERS GAME DAY ON FRIDAY
This is a new addition to my Thanksgiving weekend, which will be tested out for the first time this week. (It was Meghan's idea, and I think it's quite genius!) Gather up all the friends you have in town, tell everyone to bring at least one leftover, bust out Cards Against Humanity, Taboo and good ol' King's Cup—then get the Christmas music playing. A festive, filling and competitive day awaits.

MAKE IT TO A MUSEUM
Always promising yourself you'll get up to The Met or the MoMA to catch the latest exhibit? Still promising yourself that you'll get to the new Whitney someday? This weekend you've got no excuse. True, the influx of visiting tourists might draw crowds, but what do you expect? This is New York City and these are some of the best museums in the world. Why not put on a chill playlist, tune everyone out and have some one-on-one time with Matisse for a few hours?

HAVE A CLASSIC NEW YORK COCKTAIL HOUR
I say there is no better weekend to fork over the price of an entire dinner for one or two extremely decadent drinks. Get dressed up and go out on the town, old school style.
  • The Rainbow Room: This iconic restaurant at the top of Rockefeller Center just reopened this month. While the actual Rainbow Room is only open for fancy events on Sundays and Mondays, SixtyFive cocktail bar (on the 65th floor) is open Monday-Friday evenings so you can treat yourself to a wildly expensive Manhattan and take in the unbeatable view. 
  • Gramercy Tavern: This is one of my all-time favorite spots in New York—and their cocktails are tops. Saddle up to the bar (you'll probably have to jostle a bit) and fill up on roasted nuts while taking in the holiday decor and old money 90s New York vibes.
  • Bemelman's Bar at The Carlyle: I had my first visit to The Carlyle recently, and fell in love with the historic old New York atmosphere of Bemelman's. Settle into a cozy booth under the Madeline illustrations, order and Old Fashioned and enjoy the nightly piano music (usually jazz, natch).
GO TO ROLF'S
Okay, so since the arrival of Instagram, this place has become something of a mad house. It is packed every evening from Thanksgiving to NYE, to the point that you literally cannot get in the door because there are so many people at the bar. However, their over-the-top holiday decorations are unrivaled in the city, and a treat to see every year. My suggestion? Make it an early occasion and get there when the restaurant opens (it's Thanksgiving weekend, after all!) at 12 noon for the most expensive, mediocre and 'gram-worthy hot wine of the season.

HAVE A BROOKLYN DAY
Get a little group together and head over to Brooklyn for brunch, perhaps a (bundled) rooftop drink or two, and a stop by one of the biergartens for a cozy Belgian brew and some bratwurst by a fire. (I love Radegast and Spritzenhaus.) For all my best recommendations in that borough, head over to this post. Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time to walk the streets, pop into some of the boutiques on Bedford (like my favorite, Catbird) and take in the relative calm of busy neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

No matter how you spend your time, make sure you spend it with people you love (or at least like). Alone time is great and all, but this is the time of year to be grateful for both the family you were born into and the one that you create for yourself.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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