9 a.m. Why not step off the train into the city’s newest, most uplifting public space, the Moynihan Train Hall? With soaring ceilings and good signage, this recently opened extension of Penn Station is a civilized way to say hello to New York.
9:30 a.m. Walk or cab east for breakfast at the rooftop café of the newly renovated Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (455 Fifth Ave.) Enjoy coffee and the famous pastries and sweets of Amy’s Bread with views up Fifth Avenue and across to the Beaux Arts-style library building, guarded by lions Patience and Fortitude.
10:30 a.m. If you’re in New York City for the holidays, you must shop. Cross Fifth Avenue, where Bryant Park has been taken over by the annual Holiday Shops. For a store we definitely don’t have on the North Fork, cross to Kinokuniyaat 1073 6th Ave, a Japanese bookstore where you can buy a Godzilla T-shirt, fancy fountain pens and miniature stationery decorated with octopi.
Noon Make your way uptown to elegant Storico, a Venetian-inspired café located in the New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West) for a bowl of roasted sweet potato soup and a side of zucchine fritte.
2 p.m. It wouldn’t be holiday time without bling, so you’ve reserved a timed ticket to visit the newly reopened Hall of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History (200 Central Park West at 79th Street). A geode taller than Santa stands at the entrance to the hall, full of dazzling purple crystals.
3 p.m. You live fewer than 100 miles from one of the great opera houses in the world,
and you have not been to the Metropolitan Opera? If you have a well-behaved child
in tow, consider one of the December matinees of “Cinderella” (3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19) or “The Magic Flute: (1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18).
5 p.m. Let yourself glow at The New York Botanical Garden (2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx) for a 1.5-mile path of colorfully illuminated plants and artfully lit buildings with outdoor bars serving drinks and hot cocoa.
7:30 p.m. Three women created King (18 King St.), a peaceful temple of Italian-inspired seasonal food in the West Village. A short menu with a long finish, an elegant dinner at King is the memorable culmination of a dream day.
Staying over? The beaux-arts Hotel Beacon (2130 Broadway) has 278 studios and suites and has been welcoming guests since 1928.