Christmas in New York City is magical! From spectacular holiday displays to dressed-for-the-season landmarks, exciting attractions to twinkling lights on decorated trees and plenty of great shopping plus warming cups of rich hot chocolate and tasty food, you can’t help but be swept into a joyous holiday mood during one of the most festive times of the year! The things to do in New York City for Christmas are endless. Here are some of the best, most festive and memorable ways for you to celebrate the magic of Christmas in the Big Apple.
Where to Stay
Manhattan Club Hotel
New York City has dozens of landmark hotels within walking distance to many of the area’s major attractions. Many lower their prices on Christmas Eve and Christmas day so you can experience luxury accommodations at budget prices right near the holiday action. The Manhattan Club Hotel at 200 West 56th St. is conveniently located in the heart of midtown Manhattan and only three blocks from Central Park. You’ll find the accommodations comfortable. And, there’s a state-of-the-art fitness center for those who’d like to stay active while on vacation. Plus, the price is on the low end for comparable hotels during the Christmas season.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Another great option: The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 80 Columbus Circle at 60th St., also close to the holiday attractions. The hotel is located inside the historic Time Warner Center on floors 35-54 and offers gorgeous views of Central Park, the Hudson River, and Manhattan Skyline. Columbus Circle houses an awesome variety of shops, restaurants, and bakeries. No matter what you have a yen for you’ll find it. Have lunch at the Landmarc, a delightful restaurant with a nice, quiet atmosphere. The daily pasta specials are delicious and the restaurant offers plenty of vegetarian options.
What to Do
Catch the spirit of the season in New York’s number one attraction–the stunning Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. This 80-foot tall tree that dazzles with more than 30,000 multicolored lights. This spectacular tree absolutely glows beneath the New York City skyline with a radiance that will warm your heart and fill you with holiday joy! You’ll enjoy listening to Christmas carols and festive holiday songs ringing in the air. This outdoor celebration is packed with holiday cheer, live music, and carolers. Ice skating on a crisp winter day or evening is a traditional holiday activity and ice skaters have long enjoyed gliding across the rink at Rockefeller Center with the famed Christmas tree in the background. Visiting this attraction is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in New York City for Christmas.
Bryant Park’s Winter Village
If you want to ice skate but prefer not to wait in long lines at Rockefeller Center, head over to Bryant Park’s ice rink. It is quite large and also aglow with twinkling lights. This popular park is a scenic landmark in midtown Manhattan located between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Admission is free. Skate rentals are $15. The rink is the centerpiece of Bank of America’s charming Winter Village. A large open-air market for handcrafted goods, this New York City favorite offers more than 125 boutiques with lovely gift ideas from around the world, as well as great local food.
Fifth Avenue Window Displays
During Christmas in New York City, spend some time strolling past the spectacular window displays adorning the shops along fabulous Fifth Avenue. You’ll marvel at the holiday decorations in store windows. Many re-create classic tales and celebrate the best of the holidays with amazing artwork and moving displays. These showcases come together to create one the can’t miss things to do in New York City for Christmas.
Macy’s elaborate Santaland is a stunning scene of Christmas trees, elves and toy trains. One set of windows revisits scenes from the beloved movie “Miracle on 34th Street” while another set of windows changes each year to focus on a different holiday theme. If you show up during the week before the store opens at 9 a.m. you’ll only have a short wait.
Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Lord & Taylor are just a few of the many stores that create awesome window displays making it the most beautiful time of year to be in New York City. Wander through the stores, browse and maybe even splurge a little!
After you window shop, visit Serendipity 3, the neighborhood’s old-school dessert destination located at 225 East 60th St. between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Well-known for delicious frozen hot chocolate and other fabulous desserts, it usually draws a crowd. However, it’s definitely worth the wait!
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
No roundup would be complete without mentioning the city’s lasting holiday tradition: The Rockettes performing at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This amazing one-of-a-kind holiday musical tradition will charm you. The Rockettes, a legendary dance company, have danced into the hearts of millions for more than 85 years. You’ll be immersed in the magic of Christmas with the world’s largest flown indoor LED screen transforming the interior of Radio City Music Hall into a magical canvas. As a result, it ranks as one of the best things to do in New York City for Christmas for both visitors and locals alike.
Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show
For an ultimate Christmas experience, the Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train show will take your breath away. Located at 2900 Southern Blvd. in the Bronx, it provides a unique experience for visitors and locals during the holiday season. Watch model trains zip through the miniature, enchanting city past popular landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Rockefeller Center. The Holiday event is so popular that we encourage visitors to make advance reservations.
Giant Christmas Ornaments
Expect to be dazzled when you embark on a stroll along 6th Ave. (Ave. of the Americas) near Radio City Music Hall, a New York City landmark called the “Showcase of the Nation.” On display every which way you turn are amazing giant red ornaments, twinkling lights, toy soldiers, decorated Christmas trees, and even a model train. Be sure to take your camera!
New York City Ballet
New York City is known for its shows no matter what time of year. But Christmas offers something much more special. You’ll be dazzled by George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center. It’s a most anticipated holiday tradition.
Where to Eat
Russian Tea Room
After spending a cold day exploring the city, warm up by dining at the historic Russian Tea Room, a midtown restaurant founded by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet in 1927. Walking into the restaurant will transport you back to a different era of sophistication and grandeur. The décor is like something out of a winter palace. Try the Tea Room salad. It’s delicious and the portions are huge. If you like chocolate, the chocolate pyramid with raspberry cream filling is outstanding.
Bonus: Times Square New Year’s Eve
Ready for more things to do in New York City for Christmas? Stay for the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration and watch the ball drop from the massive crowd that gathers. Spectacular fireworks illuminate the night sky, and the celebration is the largest free-family-oriented event in New York City. In addition, it is a premier attraction for visitors from all over the world during the holiday season. While there, look up at the Empire State Building. The skyscraper will be decorated in festive Christmas colors, with green and red lights at the very top!
Experience All the Things to Do in New York City for Christmas
Make this Christmas a special time in New York City. Its pure holiday magic and truly an enchanting and unforgettable holiday destination well-worth every second you are there!