Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal’s annual holiday fair. Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Grand Central Terminal is more than a train station; it’s a hub of activity with free family friendly holiday events. And it’s a great place to wile away a few hours indoors if it is raining, snowing or just too cold to walk around outside.

In fact, one of the delights of Grand Central Terminal (aka GCT) has nothing to do with the holidays; it’s a passageway that opened up about 15 years ago, letting you walk underground to 48th Street and Park Avenue or 47th and Madison Avenue, from Lexington and 42nd Street. If you have kids who dream about secret passageways and tunnels, this is an unexpected delight.

What’s in a name?

Just a bit of history; I grew up calling the place, which was then an eyesore, unsafe and filthy, Grand Central Station. I picked up this nomenclature from my parents, who used the name THIER parents used. In 1913, it officially became Grand Central Terminal. If you want to sound like a New Yorker, just call it Grand Central and be done with it.

Holiday, not on ice

Holiday Train Show at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store. Credit: New York Transit Museum.

Every year, Grand Central hosts a Holiday Fair. This year’s, open November 17 to December 24, features 76 artisans, craftspeople and local businesses. Just walking through the market can put you in a festive spirit and it is a good place to pick up last minute gifts.

Trains, of course

The New York Transit Museum (which is in Brooklyn) has a gallery annex and gift shop in GCT, and the annual Holiday Train Show is on display from November 16 to February 22, 2015. Model trains run through a miniature New York City, including a scale model of Grand Central. The store is also a great source of gifts for train aficionados.

Free, for a fee

Buying anything negates the ‘free in New York’ but if you do shop, or eat here, you can earn rewards and get free gifts, like mugs or coasters. Earn points November 10 to December 19.