Because there’s more to the Big Apple than Radio City and Rockefeller Center.

By Kira Turnbull
December 22, 2015
bleecker street
Credit: David Alexander Arnold

There's nothing quite like New York during the holidays. Between the lights, the decorations, and the promise of a white Christmas (well, maybe not this year), the city can feel almost magical. The Rockefeller tree, Radio City's Christmas Spectacular, and the extravagant holiday window displays at the department stores on Fifth Avenue are annual must-sees, drawing crowds of tourists and locals alike, but what happens when you want to escape the masses while keeping in the Christmas spirit? Here, we've rounded up some alternatives that are sure to keep you in a festive mood.

bleecker street
Credit: David Alexander Arnold

Holiday Afternoon Tea at The Crosby Street Hotel

Known for its art-filled lobby peppered with modern sculptures and contemporary paintings, The Crosby Street Hotel regularly serves afternoon tea, but in December, they kick it up a notch, offering a special holiday spread. There's a choice of savory and sweet menus, which include classics such as gingerbread spiced English trifle and warm figgy pudding.

The Crosby Street Hotel
Credit: The Crosby Street Hotel

Shopping on Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street is the secret shopping gem of the West Village. Retailers on the quiet stretch of blocks range from boutiques like Goorin Hat Brothers and Swedish candy store Sockerbit to more mainstream staples Michael Kors and Alexis Bittar. Far less crowded than midtown, the neighborhood goes all out for the holiday season with fresh garlands and oversized wreaths.

bleecker street christmas
Credit: David Alexander Arnold

The Nativity Tree at the Met Museum

While it might be a bit smaller than the Rockefeller tree, the Met's nativity tree is just as iconic. The traditional Neopolitan nativity scene is adorned with porcelain angels hovering above the branches and Biblical figurines placed around the moss- covered stand. After meandering around nearby collections, the perfect end to a Met trip during the holiday season is cocktail hour on the mezzanine. The Great Hall Balcony bar is open Fridays and Saturdays from 4:30-8:30 p.m. and is accompanied by live classical music.

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 2: A woman stands in front of the annual Christmas tree on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art December 2, 2002 in New York City. The 20-foot blue spruce is adorned with 50 suspended angels and is on display in the museum's Medi
Credit: Getty Images

Luminaries at Brookfield Place

Designed by the famed architecture and design firm, Rockwell Group, Luminaries at Brookfield Place features more than 650 colorful lanterns hanging from the ceiling in the complex's Winter Garden. The lanterns are interactive and guests can choose a specific lighting display at the installation's Wishing Station.

brookfield place
Credit: David Alexander Arnold

Christmas Lights at Dyker Heights

Fill a travel mug with hot cocoa and head to the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights spectacle in Brooklyn. The neighborhood houses go all out for the season, putting any wreath or garland-draped yards to shame. If you're looking for a more guided experience, check out the Christmas Lights Tour—formerly referred to as the Christmas Lights & Cannoli tour—which boasts the tagline "Rockefeller Center? FUHGETTABOUDIT!" and promises sightings of a mechanical reindeer, nativity scenes, and 30-foot toy soldiers.