How To Plan The Ultimate ‘Elf’-Inspired Day In NYC

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

How To Plan The Ultimate ‘Elf’-Inspired Day In NYC

“Elf” is such a New York Christmas movie, with so many iconic locations and insider city references. That also makes it the perfect inspiration for an incredible holiday outing in NYC that you can follow along.

Buddy’s first stop in NYC is at the Lincoln Tunnel, though it isn’t pedestrian-friendly so it’s probably not worth a visit on its own. Remember, he “passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly-twirly gum drops, and then walked through the Lincoln Tunnel” to arrive in our beloved Manhattan…

Here’s what he did the rest of the day, which you can easily do as well to get fully in the Christmas spirit!

Pick up the “World’s Best Cup of Coffee!”

photo: @oleandsteenuk
via Instagram

The diner where Buddy wishes a sincere “congratulations!” for the best cup of coffee isn’t an actual location in NYC (that we know of), but you can still congratulate your favorite coffee shop on making the best cup in the world, at least in your opinion! This scene was likely filmed around the Flatiron area, so if you’re really trying to be accurate, try Birch Coffee or Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Or, head to the country’s best coffee shop a borough away.

Get your shoes shined at Grand Central Terminal

Instagram / @leatherspa

Just try not to fall off the seat laughing!

Address: 87 E 42nd St., Grand Central Terminal

Stop in the Empire State Building


Next, Buddy goes to meet his dad for the first time in the Empire State Building. The look of the lobby is undoubtedly iconic, and it was even designated a historic landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. You used to be able to enter the space without a ticket, but unfortunately now they made it the finale of the tour experience, so you’ll have to do the full visit to the top if you want to see the location from the movie.

Just don’t press every floor button in the elevator, even if it does look like a Christmas tree!

Address: 20 W 34th St.

Shop at Macy’s aka “Gimbels”

Macy’s Herald Square / Diane Bondareff

Gimbels doesn’t actually exist anymore, as it was a department store that permanently closed in 1986, but they used it in the movie because Macy’s wouldn’t allow them to use their name. Nothing will be as good as Buddy’s DIY decorating, but at least you can check out their amazing window displays!

Address: 151 W 34th St.

Have a snowball fight in Central Park

Instagram / @centralparknyc

Head to Central Park for a snowball fight if the weather is cooperating. If not, just take a stroll around the park, particularly near the Pinebank Arch where Buddy and Michael have their epic snowball fight. Just don’t chop a Christmas tree down!

Address: Central Park, enter through Central Park West between 61st and 62nd St.

Pick up “elf food” at Dylan’s Candy Bar

Instagram / @dylanscandybar

This wasn’t in the movie specifically, but you need somewhere to get the four main elf food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup. You might have to go to the grocery store for the syrup, and don’t forget a box of spaghetti while you’re at it!

Address: 1011 3rd Ave.

Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center

Facebook / Rink at Rockefeller Center

Have a magical holiday date night like Buddy and Jovie with a trip to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and ice skating in the famous rink!

Address: 45 Rockefeller Plaza

Some other first-time-in-New-York activities he partakes in: hopping across the crosswalk lines, running around and around in a revolving door, and eating gum off the subway railing (though we definitely do not recommend this!).

featured image source: Macy’s Herald Square / Diane Bondareff

Things To Do