My Dash & Lily’s Christmassy Tour of New York City
How is it already time for Christmas? Time seriously flew! What have you done to get into the holiday spirit? I kicked off the Christmas season by reading Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by author duo Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. My new friend Dee from simply Dee in D.C. suggested we read it. I like the way this girl thinks! Cuz yeah, I like YA and it’s ADT (About darn time)I read this genre again. I’m practicing my chatspeak to stay hip. IKR? I’m so in touch with today’s youth. NVM that ADT is totally made up or has something to do with security.
Anyway…Dee and I connected first in the blogging world and then, happily in real life too. We’ve already hung out a couple of times so when Dee asked if we could do a book tour together, I said, “Hell ya!”
We both wanted to see some Christmassy sights in the city to get us in the festive spirit, so that’s what we did. And speaking of getting in the festive spirit, Lily, in Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is filled with festive spirit.
Case in point:
1. She starts her own caroling troupe.
2. She dresses festively.
3. She complains about her brother’s lack of festive spirit: “So much for day before the day before Christmas Eve Cheer.” Brothers!
In case you don’t know a whole lot about this book, it starts off when Lily leaves a red notebook in the Strand Book Store, which Dash stumbles upon and you guessed it, that begins Dash & Lily’s book of dares. They basically send each other on a Christmassy scavenger hunt throughout the city, throwing challenges and dares at each other. They totally bond through the notebook even though they’ve never met IRL. Of course, as you read, you wonder when and how they might meet up. It’s a fun and clever ride!
Our tour stops include many of the spots that Dash & Lily send each other to. So the tour itself might be considered a spoiler. However, I won’t necessarily let you know exactly what Dash and Lily did at the spots. With that said, if you plan on reading the book, keep this in mind. Although, I personally think this tour will make you want to read the book more.
*Update: This tour took place in 2019. Stay until the end for Christmassy bonus material from NYC 2021 at holiday time.
Shall we continue?
I think yes.
Strand Book Store
The Strand boasts 18 miles of books, it has used books, rare books, signed books, bookish gifts, literary events, 4 floors…can I go on? You could easily get lost in this bookstore for days. Bring protein bars and camping gear. You need not bring your own ladder.
Be like Dash and climb up one.
Dash: “It was a dusty ascent, the out-of-reach heights clouded with disinterest, making the air harder to breathe.”
Methinks Dash is a bit tongue-in-cheek-melodramatic.
My favorite exchange in the Strand is between Dash and a store clerk. Dash is searching for an employee named Mark.
Clerk: “There are about twenty of us named Mark. Can you be more specific?”
Dash: “Dark hair. Glasses. Ironic detachment. Scruff.”
Clerk: “That doesn’t narrow it down.”
Besides tracing Dash’s steps in this store including searching for the Sex & Sexuality section, yes, Dee and I went there. Although technically we claimed victory when we found the Erotica section. I blushed, Dee perused. Jk! She did not. Sorry, Dee. Not that there would be anything wrong with that.
After the 18 miles of books at the Strand, we all built up an appetite.
If you are visiting the Strand, this place is nearby so if you’re into vegan food, this is a great spot. Years ago I went to the location on the Upper West Side and had their legendary “burger.” When Dee’s friend D suggested this spot, I recalled that burger fondly, and asked, “How fast can we get there?” If Dee is reading this, she’ll be thinking, “You did not say that. You said, ‘I will totally eat Mac & Cheese at the fried chicken place! I’d eat up the Mac & Cheese all over this city!'” True story. Maybe I didn’t say that last part out loud but I certainly thought it.
Anyway, whether you’re vegan or a meat eater, you need to eat this burger! Meat eaters, I dare you to eat it and not like it. I don’t know how they make this patty, I think there might be drugs mixed in with the avocado, it’s that good. One thing to note is that they need more filling options for gluten-free eaters. Dee would agree.
After eating, we head to Lily’s neighborhood, the East Village, and hang out spots in Alphabet City.
Let’s take a look around…
I have two potential spots for Lily’s apartment building. *Lily’s Grandpa owned a neighborhood family grocery store on Avenue A and after selling that business, he kept the corner block building where he raised his family. Lily’s family lives in that building along with her Grandpa. Lily explains that now the grocery store is a sushi restaurant, however, NYC is always changing. Perhaps there is no sushi restaurant anymore? And yes, I realize it’s all fiction, but stay with me…the sushi restaurant no longer exists and now it’s…
Now the sushi restaurant is a Jamaican restaurant named after Lily herself! I didn’t know Lily was into Jamaican cuisine but I guess that part of her personality was left out of the book.
Or maybe this cool building is their home…
Tompkins Square Park
Lily often goes to Tompkins Square Park because she knows all the dogs there and actually works on occasion as a dog walker for the neighborhood’s dogs. After an incident with a pet gerbil, Lily has been banned by her parents from ever having a pet again, but they allow her to be a dog walker. A happy compromise Lily accepted with grace, although, not having grace is what got her that doggy deal.
We went to Tompkins Square Park in the hopes of some good ol’ dog stalking opportunities, or at least, that was my hope. I didn’t exactly disclose my dog stalking needs to my tour companions, although Dee knows me well and kept pointing out the dogs to me. Thank you, Dee!
I want this to be the bar where Lily had her infamous scene, however, that was an Irish bar. Maybe this is an Irish bar with a taco special? Never know! It looks like a cool place though. Dee, we’ll have to hang out in this bar next time. We couldn’t stay because it was time to get our Christmas sights in.
On our way to the next Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares tour spot, we checked out the Union Square Holiday Market.
New York City Holiday Markets
We checked out two of them- the Union Square one and the Bryant Park Holiday Market, which is shown in my featured image.
These pop-up markets are a staple of NYC around the holiday time. Local vendors fill the markets with tons of unique holiday gifts. Artsy gifts, beautiful jewelry, fun gifts, yummy food, cozy gifts…you name it! The Bryant Park market also includes global vendors.
There are many throughout the city including pop-ups in Brooklyn and Queens, but the ones that are open throughout the holiday season include (in addition to Union Square and Bryant Park):
- Grand Central Holiday Fair (returns 2022)
- Columbus Circle Holiday Market
Keep in mind that these holiday markets get crowded, however, since there are a ton of vendors, it doesn’t usually take too long to make a purchase.
For our next tour stop, we head to Macy’s. Lily sends Dash there to complete a dare and this is how Dash feels about it-
“Macy’s. Two days before Christmas Eve. She might as well have gift-wrapped my face and pumped carbon dioxide in. Or hung me on a noose of credit card receipts.”
Needless to say, he was not too thrilled about this trip. Our group, on the other hand, was pumped to see the Macy’s Christmas windows! Okay, we all were a bit apprehensive about battling the crowds too, but we soldiered on.
Macy’s at Herald Square
Lily gave Dash quite a dare to complete at Macy’s but I won’t spoil it here. Let’s see the windows!
Next, we head to more Christmassy sights and landed on Saks Fifth Avenue, which did NOT disappoint. I had no idea that they had this Frozen-themed light show happening. If you’re in the city, you MUST check it out!
The next stop on my Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares tour is a spot that Dash sends Lily as “payback” for Macy’s. Dash sends Lily to FAO Schwarz on Christmas Eve.
My favorite exchange from this section of the book:
“Sofia wears the most gorgeous clothes. From Spain. Do you speak Catalan?”
Lily: “I said no in Catalan, but since the word sounds the same in English, Hermione didn’t notice.”
I told my tour companions that we did not have to go to FAO Schwarz to snap a picture, but the real New Yorker in the group, points and goes, “It’s right over there.” I turn and what’d ya know? There it is!
The toy soldier was a friendly guy who asked me where I was from after we posed. Awkwardly, I told him that I’m from here (not a tourist!) and then I tried to explain about the book tour I was on. He misunderstood and said, “Oh you wrote a book!” I had to be like, “Um…no…I read a book. That’s totally just as cool. I can read!” He also told me that I could do a book signing there. Who knew?
After this tour stop, my tour companions and I say our goodbyes. Thank you, Dee and Dee’s awesome crew for joining me on my Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares Tour.
It was so nice sharing the tour with some cool peeps. It’s kind of a strange thing I do so it was nice of them to support it and hang out with me for the day. Everyone, please check out Dee’s awesome blog: simply Dee in D.C.
The tour is not over! I made quite a trek to my last stop. Since I live in Brooklyn, heading there wasn’t terribly out of my way, like it would have been for Dee and her crew.
I couldn’t wait for this stop. My family and I once did a quick drive through the area, but I reveled in the opportunity to be able to soak it all in on this tour. Lily sends Dash to this spot.
“Since Grandpa wasn’t here this year to take me to my favorite Christmas sight — the way way waaaayyyyy over-the-top decorated houses in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, which this time every year were lit up to such an extreme that the neighborhood was probably visible from space.”
Dash is tasked with finding The Nutcracker House. I had no idea where it was or if it was fictional (I’m too forgetful to remember if I saw it that time with my family) but I planned to search for it once I got to Dyker Heights.
The houses in Dyker Heights that have the most elaborate decorations are from 11th to 13th Avenues and from 83rd to 86th Street. It was quite a trek from the stop I got off on the D train. It was a long walk with not many people around, so even if you’re with people, if you take the train, you might want to call an Uber. I’d recommend using an address for a nearby spot Bella Nail Salon- 8222 13th Ave. The houses are an easy walk from there.
However, I did see some more modest but still pretty decorations on my walk over.
Yes, this is modest for Dyker Heights. I LOVED this one…
Still the modest section…
Time for the crazy over-the-top famous Dyker Heights Christmas Lights.
The Nutcracker House
This concludes my Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares Tour. I loved reading this book and going on this tour. I hope you enjoyed it too. If you haven’t read Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares yet, I highly, highly recommend you do. It’s a very clever and sweet read.
Buy the book:
But before you go…
Since you may be here for the Christmas content, I have some bonus NYC Christmassy things for you from 2021. This tour is from 2019 so I want you to see NYC in 2021 too. It’s a different time now and all of this was taken before Omicron made its presence known in NYC.
Macy’s Holiday Windows
Macy’s also has interactive gaming windows that are pretty fun for the kiddos and the kiddos at heart.
Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Saks Fifth Avenue
Saks asked kids in NYC what are their dreams for the holidays so all the windows were inspired by the kids’ answers. Pretty on-brand for kids, I think, especially “Dreaming of holiday gaming.” Other dreams seen here include, “Dreaming of a holiday under the rainbow” and “Dreaming of a sweet holiday at home.”
Bryant Park Winter Village
In addition to skating and checking out the Holiday market, at Bryant Park Winter Village, you could also rent out a “Cozy Igloo,” with prices starting at just $200. Could you imagine? Sounds astronomical to me. Especially since the pandemic started, there are lots of cozy igloo-type spots in the city to enjoy some yummy food.
But if your heart desires for up to 4 people, it’s $200/250 and for 5 to 8 people it’s $400/500. Those are family vs. adult packages. Adult packages include booze, so sign me up Scotty!
Maybe it’s not so astronomical when you think about how much dining out in NYC costs and with this option, you have Christmassy atmosphere, a holiday market, and can sign up for skating (at an extra cost). So I will stop being Grinch. You could spend a whole day here experiencing Christmas in NYC at its finest.
In addition to the cozy igloos and holiday shopping galore, there are also tons of food vendors here. I had the most delicious donuts from the Doughnuttery. I honestly love Bryant Park at Christmas time. Totally ignore my Grinch moment.
The New York Public Library
The Lions, Patience & Fortitude, guarding the library decked out in their holiday best. This year they had a holiday pop-up on Dec. 4th and 5th for “friends” of the library. They had caroling from the Harlem Gospel Choir and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus right on the steps. Also music and storytelling for children. It sounded amazing. While I am a “friend” of the library, unfortunately, I was not able to attend. Next year!
The library, which is right next to Bryant Park, also has a nice gift shop so it’s a good spot to find holiday gifts for your bookish family and friends. I wanted to buy out their Jane Austen section for myself but I got something for my father instead. I did, however, get myself a cute, Cats & Bookstores tote.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all! I hope whatever you are doing, it is something special. Whether you’re with family or doing something on your own, make it count like Dash & Lily.
See you in the New Year!
If you liked it, pin it!
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram, I have a Story Highlight titled “Dash” for more pics and videos from this tour. Find me @literary_dates.
If you enjoyed this tour, you might also like:
Christmas in New York- A Local’s Guide
Well done! Looks like a fun tour.
Thank you Joan! Glad you enjoyed it!
I had a blast with you. Next time I will bring a protein bar and I will be able to weather any storm! Or I will give in and eat the burger with the bread! Gluten be damned!:)
I loved hanging with you behind the scenes and looking for clues into Dash and Lily’s lives. It was neat seeing how you roll when doing your tours and then voila- this magical and magnificent project! Your pics were amazing! And I was right there at FAO but didn’t even see you take that pic with him! I was probably taking pics of something else as if I have never seen NYC at Christmas. 🙂
I really enjoyed hanging with you and if there is a next time with a book tour with you, I will definitely leave my kid and D behind to do their own thing! Thanks so much for having all of us tag along and I am so glad we got to read this book together. I really enjoyed it.
You are so talented and entertaining. Can’t wait for your next tour my friend!!
I had a blast with you too! Next time we have to plan out our food better. And I went back to Bryant Park yesterday. We should have gone deeper into the area because they had a spot that looked better for food. I saw sausages and hot dogs along with some adult beverages.
Thank you! Glad you liked how the post turned out. My toy soldier pic was courteous of your sweet daughter. She encouraged the pic. Heart her!
Haha sounds good! One day! Although I love your crew. One day we’ll have to do something again that everyone is onboard with.
Thank you for reading and for your compliments! It’s very encouraging!❤️
What a lovely and festive tour! OMG I want to visit Strand Bookstore some day, it looks so cool!
Holy cow those Christmas lights on those houses…do you ever wonder how much their electricity bill must be? Like, how can you afford that?? Haha these are the things I wonder about LOL.
I’m so glad you got some dog stalking in, so cute!
And LOL that toy soldier thinking you wrote a book…that definitely means you should keep writing! I cannot wait to read it!
Thank you Sarah! Your continued support means the world to me.
I want to go back to the Strand and spend about a day there. We’ll go when you visit!
Seriously all those people who live in those houses must be very wealthy. I wonder what life in Dyker Heights is like. It’s way out there deep in Brooklyn. Must have their own lifestyle there.
I always have to get my dog stalking in. I got to pet the dogs during my Roomies tour so next tour I will have to step up my dog stalking game again.
I need to start writing again! I’m going to after Christmas.😊
Ok I’m admitting I skipped over your post because I want to read the book first!! So, back story, I picked up The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily from Bookoutlet because I saw you were doing this tour, but just now realized it’s the sequel!! I’ll be going to request the first book from the library right away so I can read it and then come back and enjoy your post to the fullest 🙂 I’m so glad you had a great time from the recap!
Haha!! I completely understand. Try not to look at my next Instagram posts either even though I want you to see those too.😢 But no worries! Read the book and then come back! I’m almost through the audio version of The Twelve Days.😊
Seeing your posts in my inbox is one of the highlights of my week. That and Friday mornings. Anyway…
That was another great post, Miss Lauren. There’s nothing quite like having a tour led by a true New Yawker. You could almost feel the wind or hear the bits and pieces of conversations, in the bookshop, on the sidewalks or anywhere else. You truly are a writer, my friend. Or even a multi-talented artist (writer, filmmaker, blogger, tweeter and dog-stalker.)
I can’t wait to read the next post! 🙂
Thank you so much Alex for all your compliments! I’m glad you enjoy my posts. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment so nicely. It’s very motivating to keep this up!
Happy Holidays to you!
Yay! I’ve been looking forward to your Christmas tour, and you did not disappoint. 🙂 This looks like so much fun! I love that the Nutcracker house has so many decorations that you can barely see the house. It’s just right! Can’t wait to see more of your literary adventures inspired by A Booklovers Guide to New York, too. That’s awesome you had a buddy on this tour with you. Maybe someday you can come do a Portland-based book tour with me! 🙂
Aww Tara thanks so much! Means so much that you were looking forward to it. Glad you liked it!
That Nutcracker House is serious! It had perfectly instagrammable spots too. A seat right next to Santa for people to pose on. It kind of made me feel a bit bummed not to have an Instagram boyfriend with me.😉 Oh well, it was still sweet seeing that neighborhood. I think I might go every year now for as long as I’m in NYC at least.
Thanks for noticing my new project with the booklovers guide. I’m excited to see where that will take me.
I would love to do a Portland tour with you! That would be pretty cool. I went to the Portland area briefly for a wedding a couple of summers ago but would love to go back. Do you know any good books set in Portland?😊
I think there are a bunch of books set in Portland, but I haven’t read many. 50 Shades of Gray comes to mind with some chapters set in Portland… 😆 Also, Chuck Palahniuk has a nonfiction book about his favorite parts of Portland that I’ve been wanting to check out. It sounds like it already sort of is a literary date/tour of the city, but could definitely inspire another literary date. 😊
Haha! 50 Shades would inspire quite a literary date! I would need a guy to do that tour with. On 2nd thought, although should have been my 1st thought, Nooooooo!! Haha! I read that book. I want a guy but not that kind of guy!🤣
Let’s go with the Chuck book. I did like Fight Club! Oh wait…now I’m nervous about this one too.😂
Jesus, that Nutcracker House is insane!! I bet they watch that Christmas Light Fight show religiously in December, haha.
Thanks for the great tour! I especially loved the Bryant Park Christmas Shops photos since I used to love going there. So many great things, and it feels very “holiday in the city” since you’re surrounded by all the tall buildings. And, it’s just a quick walk up the street to Rockefeller Center! I used to work right across the street from there and it was fun to go see the tree during my lunch break, particularly since I could take the underground tunnels to get there and avoid the teeming streets of tourists, even at lunch! I’m venturing into the city over the Christmas break since we have friends visiting from the UK, so I think this may be a good year to revisit the Bryant Park shops. 🙂
It seriously is!! I had to google that show. Sounds intense.😉
I went back to Bryant Park yesterday and I think it might be my favorite one in the city. I should really go ice skating there. It’s so beautiful there. Lots to do and enjoy. I’d definitely enjoy having lunch breaks there. That would be so sweet. I hope you got to go there with your friends.
Thanks so much for reading my post. I really appreciate it! Merry Christmas!!!
David Levithan is one of my favorite YA authors–I have to read this book! NYC at Christmas looks beautiful! I visited the Strand SO long ago, I barely remember it. I’d probably stay there for days and days. I’ve also been to FAO Schwarz, and it is crazy busy but SO much fun. I’d love to see Macy’s at Christmas, even though I don’t love department stores. Another NYC classic for this tourist! I actually didn’t know that NYC had so many Christmas Markets–what was I thinking?!–but I bet that you can find some mulled wine there! You’ll have to let me know. Love that you met up with Dee too–how fun!
This was the first I’ve read from him. I loved it. I’ll have to read more. I’m currently listening to the audiobook of the sequel to this one and enjoying that one too.
I want to go back to the Strand and spend like a day there. I went back to Bryant Park yesterday and now realize that’s my favorite Christmas market. They’d probably have mulled wine there I bet. I want to spend like a day there too.
I’ve had some fun in FAO Schwartz too in the past. The old location. I almost thought about including pics I took with my friend from there. We took some funny ones and played the floor piano.
I’ve also seen the Macy’s Santa up close and personal. My old coworker said he’s definitely the real Santa even though he’s one of many. Haha! He visits the kids at the hospital where I work every year.
Thank you for reading my post and for your awesome comment!😍
Okay, I know you had to look up what “finsta” meant, but I gotta tell you, I did NOT know what ADT meant, and I’m so glad you explained it to me :’) Considering I’m supposed to be young & hip, I really don’t know much slang, not gonna lie.
This book sounds so festive. A festive scavenger hunt??? I wanna go to The Strand so bad omg.
“I’ll explain in a dash.” Stop it! You’re killing me with these puns omg :’)
I adore these Christmassy photos!! I’m currenly employing the pomodoro technique as I do school work and study, so reading your post was one of my breaks. I’m going to go back into my paper-writing feeling more festive because of these pictures 😉
Haha!! I made up ADT! I don’t think that one will take off because of the security system of the same name.😅
I think you’re young, as hip as you need to be, and probably wise beyond your years! Great things to come for you for sure!
I loved this book! I think you’d really like it. You should read it!😉
I want to go back to the Strand and spend at least a day there.
Haha! So glad you liked my pun! I’m so corny. Glad you appreciate corny humor.
Thank you so much for taking time in between all your school stuff and your own blogging stuff to read my post. I seriously appreciate the support! I hope it was a good break for you!
Glad you enjoyed it!
Hey friend! Sorry, I’m so late commenting.
I love YA books!
This is such a fun tour and I love all the NYC Christmas stuff. I will say, it definitely feels like Christmas in NYC and it is one of the best times of year to visit. You made me miss it a little.
I love that picture of you at FAO Schwartz. I always think of the movie BIG when I see that store. Imagine how cool it would be if you did a book signing here. I’m sure they charge big bucks for that!
I love the quotes from the book that you added to this post.
You don’t have to apologize. I appreciate all your support always.
I love YA so much too. One of my fav genres.
I’m so glad you liked this tour. Christmas in NYC is pretty sweet. I’m glad my blog encourages me to get out and enjoy it. There’s so much going on this time of year.
My friend and I once played the floor piano in FAO Schwartz to pay tribute to BIG.😉 It was fun!
Glad you liked the quotes. I want to do more of that in my posts. I hope they give a better idea of the book and tie in well to the tour.
Thank you again for reading and for all your support!❤️
Holy crap, that nutcracker house is A LOT. I love it though! What a fun tour. I laughed out loud at the “There are about twenty of us named Mark. Can you be more specific?” – I really need to read this book now! All of your posts make me want to go on literary dates so bad!
It seriously is crazy!! I wonder how much that costs to decorate like that. It’s probably the house that everyone looks for every year.
You should definitely go on a literary date! I need to do an international literary date one day!
Yes, you do! I also think that Scotland should be your literary date country.
That would be so awesome to do some literary dates there! 🙂
Jamaican Food and a Nutcracker Display. Park Dogs and an Irish Pub…you’re having way too much fun. As if reading isn’t escape enough! Thanks for the adventure.
Kay!! You’re awesome for checking out my blog again. Sorry for my delayed response. Haha! It was a good time. It’s cool getting to kind of experience what the book’s characters do.😊
Happy New Year!!
Ahh! It’s about time I came to visit you on your actual blog! I’ve been meaning to for the longest time but life/time got the better of me. I’m planning on going to NJ to visit friends in March–not sure yet what we’ll be doing, but if we end up in NYC, I definitely want to check out that bookstore! *-* That park is beautiful too, and I really love all the pretty lights! <3
Thank you for visiting! I hear you, life is pretty distracting sometimes.;) I was in the same boat as you! I finally visited yours too and definitely will go back.
I hope you have a great time in NYC in March! So many possibilities of things to do. Have you been to NYC before?
Thanks again for checking out my blog! See you on the ‘gram!
This looks like such a fun tour to take! The park is always so peaceful in pictures, which is kinda ironic in the middle of such a busy area. I feel like I would be there with the dogs all the time.