Cure your winter blues with these festive holiday spots

Finals are not fun, but this list of winter activities is!


Camila Ceballos

(Camila Ceballos for WSN)

Liz Lindain, Contributing Writer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As temperatures drop and tourists visit to see all the holiday sights, you’re stuck inside trying to get those assignments done. If you need a little break between studying and sitting for exams, here are some affordable and fun activities for this winter season.

Study spots 

Holiday season at NYU also means finals season, but studying doesn’t always have to be miserable! If Bobst Library is full, or you just want a change of scenery, check out these cozy cafes to finish your last-minute work. 

Koneko Cat Cafe 

26 Clinton St. (~$20)

Although you probably won’t be able to study effectively at this cafe, it is the purr-fect place for cat lovers and burnt-out college students. Located on the Lower East Side, Koneko Cat Cafe serves a variety of espresso drinks, Japanese snacks and pastries, and even sake. To hang out with the cats, you can reserve a spot at their Cattery. It is $20 per person per hour, but on Wednesdays, you can take advantage of their $15 deal. 

The outdoor dining area on the street outside a cafe with text “BOOK CLUB” written above its entrance with five people sitting outside.
(Kevin Wu for WSN)

Book Club

197 E. 3rd St. (~$5-10)

Take a break from reading that biology textbook and instead read your favorite novel at Book Club. Located a quick 10-minute walk from campus, Book Club is an independent bookstore with a coffee and cocktail bar located in the East Village. They have a plethora of books to choose from, as well as a variety of espresso and alcoholic beverages at the bar. There is a no laptop rule after 7 p.m. which makes Book Club a great place to wind down with friends.

Black Cat LES

172 Rivington St. (~$5-10)

Although a little crowded at times, Black Cat LES is one of my favorite cafes in lower Manhattan. Located on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side, this cozy, living room-like cafe is a great place to get away from campus and focus on your work. Along with affordable beverages and food, Black Cat LES also has free Wi-Fi, a printer and comfy lounge chairs. It’s a popular spot for students, and the baristas are really friendly. If you aren’t in the mood to study, Black Cat LES also has comedy shows multiple days per week. The cafe sometimes hosts tutoring sessions, academic lectures and themed movie nights. 

Holiday markets

One of the most popular winter activities in New York City for tourists and locals alike is visiting the city’s various winter villages. Filled with kiosks of local businesses and food spots, holiday markets are some of the best places to purchase gifts for your loved ones or to collect little trinkets. I’m sure you’ve been to the Union Square Holiday Market or the Bryant Park Winter Village multiple times like I have, but chances are you haven’t checked out these holiday markets around the city. Entry to all these markets is free, but vendor prices vary.

A series of green-roofed booths selling various foods are visited by people wearing brown, black and white coats. They are buying products and sitting at beige picnic tables drinking out of white cups.
(Katherine Giroux for WSN)

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

Columbus Circle 

Take a trip above 14th Street to visit the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Expect to see aisles of art, jewelry, home decor and food from local vendors. The market is running until Christmas Eve. It is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., except on Sundays when it closes at 7 p.m.

The Makers Show at City Point

445 Albee Square W. 

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Dec. 23, take a trip to downtown Brooklyn and visit the Makers Show. This pop-up holiday market supports and connects small businesses. It’s just a 7-minute walk from the Tandon School of Engineering and a 20-minute train ride from the Washington Square campus. 

Brooklyn Made Holiday Pop-Up Shop

51 35th St.

Check items off of your holiday shopping list at the Brooklyn Made Holiday Pop-Up Shop. Shop a variety of handmade and designer products, all curated by The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. The pop-up is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Ice skating

If the ice rink at Bryant Park is a little too crowded for your liking, and the Wollman Rink at Central Park is too expensive for your wallet, don’t you worry! These rinks aren’t the only places in the city where you can ice skate. Here are three reasonably priced ice skating rinks in Manhattan.

The Rink at Brookfield Place with Gregory & Petukhov

230 Vesey St. ($20-24)

Take the 6 train all the way to the Financial District to ice skate at The Rink at Brookfield Place! This rink located in lower Manhattan has stunning views of the Statue of Liberty as well as the New York Harbor. On weekdays, admission is $15 and skate rentals are $5, but on holidays and weekends, admission is $17 and skate rentals are $7. After skating, you and a friend can grab a bite to eat or go shopping at Brookfield Place.

Sixteen people in various colored coats skating across a heavily scratched ice skating rink at night. The surface is covered in orange and green light. Four children wearing brightly colored puffy coats are being led across the ice by parents, one with a purple ice skating assistance device.
(Kevin Wu for WSN)

The Ice at StuyTown

66 Stuyvesant Oval ($25)

From now until Feb. 26, you can hit The Ice at StuyTown, located at the center of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village. $25 admission includes ice skate rentals and two hours on the rink. Unfortunately, this rink is only open to residents of the StuyTown community, but maybe your friend who’s a resident will let you be their guest. 

Governors Island Winter Village Ice Rink

Colonels Row, Governors Island (~$20)

Take a little day trip to Governors Island, where free ice skating is offered every Thursday! Skating on weekends is $13 while all other weekdays are $12 — besides the $9 skate rentals. About an hour away from the Washington Square campus, you can skate while looking at incredible views of the harbor and lower Manhattan. 

Light shows

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn (free)

Remember when you were a little kid and you asked your parents to drive around the neighborhoods with the decked-out Christmas lights? Although it’s not your hometown, you can revisit the nostalgia in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood to see the over-the-top Christmas light decorations. With life-sized inflatable Santas, sleighs, reindeer and colorful lights, crowds visit the Brooklyn neighborhood to experience these light displays. Many homeowners turn off their lights by 9 p.m., so we recommend you take the trip early in the evening. The commute time from the Washington Square campus is about an hour by train. 

Meatpacking District Holiday Lights

Ninth Avenue and Gansevoort Street (free)

Perfect for a holiday photoshoot with your friends, the Meatpacking District is full of colorful lights and abstract shapes that create a winter wonderland scene. From Ninth Avenue to Ganesvoort Street, you can see the large snowman installation and glowing dandelions. There are also shops and restaurants around the area for some last-minute holiday shopping or a quick bite. Plus, there’s free public WiFi.

Amaze Light Festival

41 Seaver Way ($36.00 – $270.00)If you are looking for a more fancy holiday experience, the Amaze Light Festival at Citi Field welcomes people of all ages to feel the spirit of the holidays with hundreds of beautiful light displays, live music, food and dance performances. There is also a holiday market that has a variety of sweet and savory treats, as well as specialty drinks and cocktails. Amaze has been open since mid-November and will remain open on select days from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. until Jan. 8. Prices for this event vary depending on age and the selected ticket package.

Contact Liz Lindain at [email protected]