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  • Writer's pictureHeather Horn

Making the Most of Your Time: 12 Hours in NYC

*Note: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.

Visiting New York City at Christmastime has always been a Bucket List item for me. Sometimes it’s so hard to coordinate schedules with friends so that everyone can go and I was tired of waiting. So I decided to tackle this trip on my own, but my travel plans were a bit more adventurous than I had planned!

There is a local company that often organizes bus trips here in Kentucky (where I am). Basically, you pay for a seat on their bus, they drive you to the location, drop you off for the day, then pick you up that night at a designated spot. For anyone that doesn’t understand what a whirlwind that is, I live in Kentucky…about 10 hours from NYC. So, I got on the bus at 6:00pm on a Friday evening immediately after work. I was exhausted. The bus drove through the night, we made a few stops along the way including one stop outside of the city to “get ready for the day” at a truck stop…a whole other experience that really wasn’t that bad at all. The bus dropped me off in NYC around 8am on Saturday and pickup was that night to drive me home. Yes, it was a little crazy. That gave me a little more than 12 hours to experience New York before I had to get back on the bus, but I was ready to make the most of it!

I planned ahead of time to make sure I had tickets for everything I wanted to do, especially since things tend to book up and sell out around the holidays. I started the day out with a photoshoot before I became a hot mess from freezing outside.

Veronika is the best!

When traveling solo, one of my favorite things to do is a photoshoot so I can get amazing pics of wherever I am. I certainly didn’t want to miss out on this experience and booked a session that did not disappoint with Veronika Bykovich. Look her up on AirBnB to book a session or find her on IG. She took me to spots with all the beautiful Christmas decorations, acted as a tour guide when we walked the streets, and helped me pose to make sure my photos were perfect! They turned out to be some of my favorites I have ever taken!

One of the Holiday Drinks I got before the show started

After photos, I headed to Radio City Music Hall to watch the world famous Rockettes and it didn’t disappoint. I had amazing seats there and they served lots of fun, festive drinks and snacks. This show is a must do at Christmas and a great way to get inside and warm up!

Once the show ended, I headed to check out Empire State Building! I decided to purchase a skip-the-line ticket and am so thankful I did because it helped me maximize my day. I knew I was limited on time, and once I saw how many people were waiting in line as I whizzed past them all, it made it worth it. You can get your own skip-the-line tickets from the links below so you don’t spend the day waiting!

Empire State Building Views

My next stop was Central Park to spend some time at Wollman Rink for a little ice skating. I was so tired from walking the city all day and had seen people riding in pedicabs and it looked so fun. They were decorated with Christmas lights and the drivers were playing Christmas music, so it definitely got me in the Christmas spirit. It was also a great way to rest for a few minutes since I had walked all day. It was dark by that point and the city views were absolutely gorgeous from the skating rink. You should definitely purchase your tickets ahead of time so you don’t miss out. And if you want to level up your experience, try getting a VIP Ticket so you can enjoy a heated tent that you can relax in, complete with unlimited hot chocolate and snacks. It was worth the money to me so I could rest after walking the city all day.

After skating, I still had time to do some walking and check out Christmas lights in the city and visit Times Square. I made sure to stop at Sak’s 5th Avenue for the Light show and visit Macy’s for all their holiday fun! Then, I had a little time left to stop by Bryant Park Christmas Market and do some shopping to get my usual souvenir ornament I like to get for each new place I visit. By then, it was time to head back to the bus for that long ride back home to Kentucky. It was a quick adventure in New York but it was one I'll always remember!

You can use these links to get tickets to enjoy some of the fun activities that I did in New York City:

Looking for more ideas for activities in NYC? Check out some excursions here!


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Hi, I'm Heather! Thanks for dropping by!

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