'Tis the Seaport

Jonathan Zeller


Some people's fantasy holiday outing would be a trek to Santa's North Pole workshop. In reality, though, a number of obstacles prevent such a journey. Santa's address isn't published. Weather reports say his neighborhood's temperature hovers around -22˚F. And at the North Pole, it'll be dark 24/7 until March.

But cheer up, Virginia. If you want a perfect holiday destination right here in the City, look no further than South Street Seaport.

First and foremost, Santa is there—'tis the season for his annual world tour, and he makes appearances in the holiday seating area on the third floor of Pier 17 Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 7:30pm. And every Saturday and Sunday through December 20 (except on December 12), jolly old Saint Nick leads a fun-filled 1pm story-time session at the third-floor atrium, sharing holiday classics, listening to wish lists and posing for photos with youngsters. This includes the young-at-heart—says a Seaport rep, "Everyone is a child in Santa's eyes." His overflowing reserves of merriment notwithstanding, Santa has no camera; be sure to bring your own.

As if Santa weren't enough, the Big Apple Chorus performs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays—with the exception of Christmas Day—through December 27, with added performances on Christmas Eve. They deliver two 45-minute sets of holiday cheer each day, and their stage is in front of the fittingly named Seaport Chorus Tree, which offers more than 50 feet of evergreen mirth. (For more information, see the full schedule of showtimes.) As an added bonus, Santa appears after each performance.

The Seaport's attractions are not limited solely to holiday-specific fare. Other entertaining neighborhood pastimes include Bodies…The Exhibition, which allows guests to observe the rarely seen inner workings of the body through 22 real human specimens, along with 260 additional organs and partial bodies. The exhibit is open daily; learn more about it at the Bodies website.

Another exhibit, Seaport Past & Future, is South Street Seaport's holiday gift to you—it's free. The collection of scale models, multimedia presentations and archival materials charts the Seaport's evolution over the years and offers a peek at proposed plans for the future. Visit southstreetseaport.com for more information (you must call ahead, as the exhibit is open by appointment only).

Last but not least, South Street Seaport is one of the best places to do your holiday shopping. The on-site mall boasts shops covering a wide range of interests (see the full list of stores). If you get tired and hungry from all of that gift procurement, find tasty grub and comfy chairs at these eateries.

With this Seaport holiday lineup, it's no wonder even Santa himself chooses Lower Manhattan over his traditional polar home.