Are you coming to New York this holiday season? Blog reader Jill Gregory asked for things to do in New York at Christmas time. There is so much, but I’ve narrowed it down. Here’s my list of suggestions.
Things to do in New York at Christmas Time
Definitely decorations! Be sure to check out Rockefeller Center and see the magnificent tree as well as the angels and other decor. Stop for a minute and watch the skaters, or cut up the ice yourself! Nearby, you can see the Saks light show dazzle the face of the department store, and the UNICEF snowflake dangle over Fifth Avenue. While you’re on this famous shopping street, stroll up and down to see the holiday windows displays in all their glory. Don’t miss the Bergdorf Goodman windows at 58th Street, where innovation meets glam. You’ll also want to get to Bryant Park, an oasis in the Times Square area. The tree there is just as beautiful as the one at Rockefeller Center (in my opinion), and there’s a skating rink, holiday market and more. The entire city is festive during this time of the year, so you can’t go wrong anywhere you wander, especially in Midtown.
If you feel like making a trip to Brooklyn, ride the subway to Dyker Heights, where houses compete for the most over-the-top display of Christmas lights. It’ something to see! Here’s a guide to that event this year.
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a classic for Christmas in New York, and everyone should see it once. But since you have teen boys, they may enjoy a sporting event at Madison Square Garden instead. Perhaps you could drop them off at the Garden before heading to Radio City and meet up afterward for a late dinner. I recommend Joe Allen or Blue Ribbon Brasserie for a late-night bite.
December can be pretty chilly, and if you’re like me and have an aversion to winter weather, then you may want to spend some time indoors. Take an afternoon or day and explore Museum Mile. You’ll have more than a half a dozen museums to choose from. After you’ve warmed up, walk to the Conservatory Garden at 105th and Fifth Avenue. It’s the jewel of Central Park. And if it snows, embrace it. There is no more beautiful place in the snow than New York, particularly Central Park!
To immerse yourself in the multiculturalism of New York, hop the 7 train at the 42nd Street station and ride it through Queens. A string of neighborhoods will take you around the globe, but get off at Flushing’s Main Street where you can peruse the Asian restaurants and grab a bite to eat. Try Joe’s Shanghai, Xi’an Famous Foods or Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong.
Ride the 7 train back to Grand Central Terminal and walk through this iconic train terminal that’s one of the busiest in the world. Stop by The Campbell for a classic cocktail. I think a Manhattan may be in order. 🙂
If dive bars are more your thing, skip the froufrou cocktails and head for Jimmy’s Corner in the Theatre District. It’s one of the best dive bars in New York, and the drinks are affordable. Plus, you may have the chance to chat with boxing great, Jimmy Glenn. You can also check out these other spots near Times Square.
You can’t come to New York without trying the pizza! Yes, you’ll taste some of the best in the world here in NYC. No matter which corner of the city you find yourself in, pizza will be there. Here’s where to eat pies in the five boroughs of NYC.
If you want to shop for unique and often locally crafted gifts to take home with you, visit the holiday markets. They’re scattered around the city and worth a browse.
If you’re not in the spirit yet, hop the subway and head north to the Bronx where the New York Botanical Garden train show will surely put you in the holiday mindset.
And finally, to finish off your holiday excursion, pop into Macy’s Santaland for a visit with Santa Claus in the Christmas village on the eighth floor. You’ll have to make a reservation to land a spot, but it will be well worth it. The flagship store is brimming with cheer along with really good sales. 🙂 Here’s all you need to know about visiting Santaland in 2018.
As far as where to stay, I recommend these hotels in the Times Square area, so for anyone aiming to be based in Midtown, they’re terrific options. Renting an apartment probably isn’t going to be much less expensive, but might provide a little more space. Personally, I like housekeeping service every day, and when staying in an apartment, you wouldn’t have that. Plus, you’ll pay the cleaning fee and the service fee, which tacks on a few hundred dollars more. I have some other hotels I recommend and you can see those here.
There’s so much to do in New York at Christmas and on any day of the year. If you plan to visit NYC at the holidays, you’ll see first hand why this city is the most magical place on earth during the season.
Have a wonderful time!
And if you’re looking for things to do in New York at Christmas Time, not having a plan and meandering up and down the avenues might be enough. Be sure to bring a camera take a lot of photos.
Train show photo by Sam E. via Yelp.
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