The Best of New York City at Christmastime!

I can’t think of a US city that feels more like Christmas to me than New York City. With its electricity and excitement, NYC puts on a great holiday show, so I visit every holiday season.  Here is why I love to visit NYC at Christmas time! I hope it helps you plan your New York City Christmas itinerary if you are spending Christmas in New York.

Start your Day Around Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Plaza is the location of one of the world’s most famous Christmas trees. There is a Lego Store here, which my kids love, and a Metropolitan Museum of Art Store, which is lovely to meander through. All of the fabulous decorations to see are within walking distance of here, so spend some time meandering up the streets to see all the sculptures, lights and decorated trees. It is least crowded in the mornings, so head out early.

Read on for the things you must experience at the holidays in New York City. #NewYorkCity #thingstodoinNYCatChristmas #Christmas #NYC
There are many options for ice skating at Christmas in New York City. This is the most famous, but the Bryant Park and Central Park rinks are just as lovely, without such a crazy wait.

Magnolia Bakery

The decorations are divine, and you can stop at the wonderful Magnolia Bakery where the Snickers Refrigerator Cake is chocolaty, rich, and delicious. Their banana pudding is the stuff of legends. Get your sweets, sit on the parade, and watched the decor and people.

Go Ice Skating in Rockefeller Center

Everyone should ice skate in Rockefeller Center at Christmas time at least once. It is very festive, alive with holiday music, but expect to wait unless you book a lesson, which has an appointed time.

Check Out the Famous Department Store Windows

Be sure to walk up Fifth Avenue to see the magnificently decorated storefronts, and I always love to drop by St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Also, walk down to 34th Street to check out Macy’s Department Store with the iconic Miracle on 34th Street windows.

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Walk into Time Square

santadrums
How many places in the world can one see Santa joining in on a jam session?

We then went to Times Square, which is full of bright lights and characters of all sorts on every block. It is always one of the busiest parts of the city, but a place my kids still want to visit because they love the M&M Store, which is the most visited store in the world. Right near this area is the famous Broadway where we lucked out getting great tickets to Aladdin: The Musical at the New Amsterdam Theater box office, which was so very good. You can stop by the TKTS kiosk in the middle of Times Square to try to score some discounted same-day show tickets.

Eat Roasted Chestnuts from a Street Vendor

Roasting chestnuts fill New York's night air.
Roasting chestnuts fill New York’s night air.

A Story from my Visit in 2015

The crowds were noticeably thin for a beautiful, almost sixty degrees holiday season weekend. We spoke to some local business people who said following the Paris bombings people had been canceling their planned trips into the city. We have been visiting NYC during the holidays yearly and have never seen it so relatively quiet. It made me sad that this world is not a peaceful place and that tourists are choosing to let that deter them from their plans, but then a couple of things happened, which lifted my heart. My friend’s daughter forgot her gloves, and a lovely man on one of the ubiquitous carts selling hats and gloves gave her a free pair off his cart and spent time having a friendly chat with my son. Another time in the night, my ATM card wasn’t working, so I didn’t have any cash, and an Arabic food cart vendor offered to give my son anything he wanted to eat off his cart free. Those who depend on tourism for their livelihoods must feel the pinch of terrorism, and it was beautiful to see their kindness and the pleasant side of humanity shine.

We loved ice skating among NY's Central Park whilst sky scrapers loom over us in the background.
We loved ice skating among NY’s Central Park whilst skyscrapers loom over us in the background.

Central Park

Be sure to take in the peace of Central Park, an oasis from the bustling energy of Manhattan.

New York City Christmas itinerary
Reflection on one of NY Central Park’s many bodies of water.

I always love Central Park. It is so lovely with its winding bike paths and walking trails going through its hills. There are plenty of rocks to climb on or lay on for hours, taking in all the trees with the backdrop of the city. It is a splurge, but taking a carriage ride through the park is iconic and charming and will give a chance to see most of the park. If you didn’t ice skate at Rockefeller Center, you could skate here with shorter lines.

spending Christmas in New York
A charming carriage ride through Central Park, NYC

Brooklyn

It is always an excellent idea to leave Manhattan and experience the other boroughs. Brooklyn is said to be all dressed up for the holidays as well. Check out Christmas Lights in Brooklyn from Just Go Places for ideas on where to visit.

Check out the Christmas Market in Bryant Park

You don’t have to go all the way to Europe for an open-air Christmas market; there is one right in the middle of Manhattan.

 

The Ride- Holiday Edition

To see the City without all the walking and cold, check out my review of The Ride, which does a beautiful holiday tour.

Where I Stay

Over the last few years, I have stayed at and loved these hotels:

Hilton Gardens Midtown East

Our large room had a large desk, microwave, refrigerator, and coffee/tea maker.  The rooms were large and clean, the staff accommodating and the room was very quiet. The only downside was that it was about a 15-minute walk from where the action was, but the peace was worth it. They had a cute happy hour with candy, and we also had their breakfast buffet, which was a great way to start our day.

Radisson Martinique of Broadway

I have stayed here the last two times I have visited the City. The rooms are New York City small, but it is ideally located to explore for Christmas, just two blocks from Macy’s and ten from Grand Central Terminal. The staff is fabulous.

I hope you have a great holiday season and enjoy NYC as much as we did. Where is your favorite city to experience the holiday season?

Jamie

PS. This post contains affiliate links. If you use them to book a room, I make a commission at no cost to you. Cheers!

Central Park in the Winter
City Vs. Nature
Plan your time in New York City for the holiday with my one-day New York City at Christmastime itinerary. #NYC #holidaysinNYC #NewYorkCityatChristmastime
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