travel

5 Stunning Examples of Architectural Beauty in Saratoga Springs

saratoga springs

Recently I spent some time in Saratoga Springs, New York, while attending a New York Press Association convention.

Saratoga Springs may be known for horse racing and mineral springs, but there’s something about the architecture of this “small town” city. While I wish I could stay a bit longer and scope out every single beautiful home and business, I did get a chance to see some gorgeous architectural beauty.

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Best Christmas Houses in Queens and other places in NYC

christmas house in whitestone

If you’re like me and you’ve been feeling that holiday life ever since November 1st, you must must must go visit some Christmas houses y’all. I love Christmas homes because they represent all the warm, dazzling, over-the-top qualities of the holiday without you having to spend a dime (typically). While Dyker Heights in Brooklyn has become a tourist attraction over recent years, I find myself drawn to Christmas Houses in Queens.

With ample parking available and easy access to public transportation and major expressways, there are two standout Christmas houses in Queens that are definitely worth a visit.

The More-the-Merrier House
185-07 80th Avenue in Jamaica Estates/Fresh Meadows
Public transit: Q17, Q46
Next to: Grand Central Parkway

christmas house in jamaica estates

I visited some Christmas houses as a child, but when I think of ‘Christmas House’ — this is it.
Since I’ve heard of this place, I always make sure to visit each year. There’s just so much to see. I loved looking at the detailed toy workshop and all of the whimsy creations. There are plenty of photo opportunities too. You can always head down there and snap a few photos for your holiday christmas card.

christmas house queens

Each year there are new additions, like the little town or the light section dedicated to animals of the Arctic.

One new thing this year (as far as I could remember) is the tree of knowledge that sits in the middle of the entrance to the home’s yard. When Frank and I approached the tree at first, we thought the mechanical tree was spitting out pre-recorded messages. But, as it turns out, there was someone talking to visitors. We even got a rendition of Run DMC’s Christmas is Hollis. As the night went on, the person changed, but they could see you through a small webcam in a birdhouse on the tree. Visitors could (and did) have conversations with the “lively talking tree.”

christmas houses queens

christmas house queens

christmas house queens

Before or after you go (depending on what time you visit), head to the nearby Lulu’s Bakery on Union Turnpike. The superb, five-star family business recently won “Cake Wars” on the Food Network among many accolades. We always have their scones and danishes when the entire extended family gets together. So good!

Christmas-Lights House
At the corner of 166th Street and 23rd Avenue in Whitestone
Public Transit: Q16, Q76
Next to: Cross Island Expressway, Clearview Expressway

christmas house in whitestone

This home looks like the fairy lights gods vomited all over and that is why I love it. It’s layer after layer of bright, warm lights. While there is less space and attractions to walk around and check out, by no means is this house dull. While driving there for the first time, we spotted the house a few blocks away because it stands out that much. It’s bright and cheery. And every inch is covered.

christmas house in whitestone

There are some aspects that are similar to the Jamaica Estates house, such as the gigantic skiing snowman and the walking soldiers lights. Still, I think this home may be a tad more kid-friendly because there are a bunch of kids characters there. Think Pooh, Barney, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gang and so on. The kids will be impressed.

christmas house in whitestone

christmas house in whitestone

Both homes feature a stunning town atmosphere with sweet shops and little village people enjoying winter activities. I even found my own little shop at the Jamaica Estate home, called “Jennifer’s Cookies and Candles Shoppe.” Yaas. By the way, the Jamaica Estate village also featured a two-level train set, which could be a treat for your little ones (or yourself!).

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
If you decide that you must absolutely go to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, please remember that parking is EXTREMELY difficult to find. Because the decorated homes are found along 11th to 13th Avenues from 83rd to 86th Streets, there is plenty of traffic and you must look out for people/cars. It is a beautiful place, but it’s a lot to look at. Still, here is what you can expect to see…

christmas house nyc
christmas house nyc

christmas house nyc

christmas house nyc

Manhattan
If you find that you have absolutely no time, but you need to check that big old tree at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, stay and watch a SPECTACULAR light show done by SAKS Fifth Avenue. Yes, the place is filthy expensive but you don’t need to go inside. Make sure you’re across the street from the store’s main entrance, which means you’ll be on the side of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. From there, wait about 10 to 15 minutes for a beautifully done ice-castle themed show with just lights and Christmas music. I enjoy it more than the same-old, same-old tree.

Have you ever been to any of these places?

♥ Jen

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