10 New Things to See in New York This Winter

Dec 13, 2014

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Heading to NYC this winter? New York-based TPG contributor Adee Braun gives us some highlights for how to enjoy the city during the chilly months ahead.

The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting another boots and shovels kind of winter for NYC. But cold temperatures and mud-colored snow has never stopped New Yorkers from having a good time. Winter in New York means more lights, more festivals and more comfort food, so don’t let the shorter days get you down. There’s plenty to do this time of year to stave off the winter blues.

The re-opened Cooper-Hewitt will offer visitors the chance to collect design ideas and create their own images using an interactive Pen.

1. The Cooper-Hewitt Museum Reopens – Can a vacuum cleaner be beautiful? On December 12 you’ll get a chance to decide for yourself when the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum reopens exactly 112 years after Andrew Carnegie moved into the 64-room Upper East Side mansion where the museum is housed today. The Cooper-Hewitt is the only museum in the U.S. exclusively devoted to design and it will now include 6,000-square-feet of never before used gallery space. After a 3.5 year renovation, the public will be treated to over 700 objects on view across 10 inaugural exhibitions and a snazzy new high tech Pen that will allow visitors to play designer.

SLS New York
Few details about the SLS New York are out, including an exact opening date, but this luxury brand will no doubt hit NoMad with a bang.

2. SLS New York – The SLS New York joins the Ace and The NoMad hotels in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan (North of Madison Square Park). Once dominated by wholesalers, the area is transitioning into a chic little corner of lower Midtown. And the arrival of the SLS New York in February (if all goes according to plan) is certainly helping that effort. The 190-room hotel is designed by Philippe Starck, and will include a restaurant, lounges and an “exclusive rooftop experience.” Information on the exact opening date and other details are scarce for now. But if the SLS Las Vegas, Beverly Hills and South Beach locations are any indication, expect big and flashy. No word on rates yet, but odds are that New York will follow the rest of the SLS family and participate in the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.

Dyker Heights
The neighborhood of Dyker Heights alights with tens of thousands of bulbs during the annual Christmas display showcase

3. Dyker Heights Christmas Lights – Over on Fifth Avenue, the department store windows are festooned with holiday-themed couture and elegant Christmas displays. If you want to experience a very different kind of dazzle and sparkle, head down to Dyker Heights to check out the annual Christmas light displays. Each year the residents of this Brooklyn neighborhood deck their homes out in extravagant displays, making the department store windows look like meager attempts. They go big, bright and loud! An estimated 100,000 visitors come to see the light displays each year. You can make the trip yourself, or go on a guided tour. The lights go on at sundown and off around 11p.m. so that the good people of Dyker Heights can get some sleep. November 28-December 31.

Pier A Harbor House in Lower Manhattan

4. Pier A Harbor House – Four years ago Pier A, the 128-year-old pier building in Battery Park City, was an abandoned decrepit mess. Today is has been converted into a cavernous multi-level restaurant and event space complex. The interior of this nautical-themed venue seats 400 and nearly as many outside. The casual beer hall/oyster bar, Pier A Harbor House, is already up and running serving pub fare and seafood. An event space and three restaurants on the upper floors are soon to follow in January, including The Commodore Room, The Harrison Room and a mystery farm-to-table restaurant. 

The Horse, the Rider, and the Clown (Matisse, 1943-44)
Henri Matisse’s “The Horse, the Rider, and the Clown” (1943-44) on view at the MoMA

5. Matisse’s Cut-Outs at the MoMA – Ten years before his death, suffering from pain and insomnia, Henri Matisse bridged the boundaries between painting, sculpture, decorative arts and drawing with his series of exuberant cut-outs. The vibrant and often fantastical works are now on view at MoMA after a successful run at London’s Tate Museum. These are some of Matisse’s most well-loved and memorable works created by a painter that could no longer paint, working in an overlooked medium. Over 100 pieces are on view now at Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, until February 8, 2015.

The Baccarat sits across from the Museum of Modern Art, but is going for old-world opulence

6. Baccarat Hotel & Residences – As the name suggests, the Baccarat is one part hotel, one part apartment building and all parts extravagant (Baccarat crystals have been applied liberally, as in everywhere). The first 17 floors of the 50-story building will house the 114-room hotel, which opens in December. Located a stone’s throw from the MoMA on 53rd St. and 5th Ave., the Baccarat will include a restaurant, bar, salon and event venue as envisioned and executed by Charles Masson, of La Grenouille fame, the iconic French establishment also down the block. No room rates or a firm open date yet.

1-El Colmado
Seamus Mullen’s El Colmado Buchery is due to open some time in December

7. El Colmado Butchery – Chef Seamus Mullen is bringing his Gotham West Market tapas-bar concept to the Meatpacking District with the addition of a butchery. The shop will have a large rotisserie and will offer take-away items like housemade charcuterie, pork stock, rotisserie chicken, salads and sandwiches. The 41-seat tapas bar will serve up creative twists on classics, such as lamb meatballs, Ibérico-ham croquettes and langoustines in fennel aioli. Opening in December.

Cambria Hotel
Cambria Hotel & Suites in the Flower District

8. Cambria Hotel & Suites New York  This is another addition to the growing collection of hotels in Chelsea’s Flower District. The hotel’s 135 contemporary rooms will include “free wireless high-speed Internet access, a coffee maker, desk, hair dryer, microwave, refrigerator, private bath, sitting area, flat-screen television and sofa sleeper” and some will be outfitted with a microwave. Amenities include a fitness center, meeting rooms, lounge and restaurant and a rooftop terrace. Reservations are being accepted now for after February 27. Room rates start at $175.

Rendering of a rustic corner of Bierocracy, a sprawling beer hall opening in December is Long Island City, Queens.

9. Bierocracy – Part gastropub and part beer hall, this 4,000-square-foot venue will evoke a laid back central European beer hall with food to match. Beers on tap will include regional imports, as well as local brews and ciders. But this is just the beginning for owner Marek Chatrny and his partners who are planning world wide beer hall domination. Could Bierocracy do for the beer hall what McDonald did for burgers? You can be the judge when Bierocracy opens in December, a block from MoMA P.S. 1 in Long Island City, Queens.

Get your chocolate fix every day of the month in February at City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Festival

10. City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Festival – Each day this February will be another opportunity to sample a taste of heaven at City Bakery where the Hot Chocolate Festival will enter its 23rd year. Baker-owner Maury Rubin’s talent for delectable hot chocolate is parlayed into 28 different flavors of molten liquid. This year’s lineup will be announced in January, but if last year’s offerings are any indication, there will be standards (cinnamon, espresso), curiosities (“Ode to The Polar Bear,” “Sunken Treasure”) and the unexpected (creamy stout, banana peel). If only there were more days in February!

TPG Tip: When it comes to traveling this holiday season, the Chase Sapphire Preferredis a great card offering 2x the points on dining and travel.

Are you heading to New York this winter? What do you hope to check out?

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