The 10 Best Things To Do In New York City During Christmas

Holidays NYC

Are you looking for the 10 best things to do in New York City at Christmas?

I absolutely love spending the holidays in New York City. If it’s your first trip or your fifty first, you can soak up the festivities all over Manhattan. There is a lot to see and do , so I have narrowed down the 10 best things for you to do in New York City this Christmas season.

Here are my top 10 best things to do in New York City during Christmas.

Must See In New York City
Christmas in NYC

Know before you go

             When To Go to NYC

I highly recommend NYC in November and December. The holidays are delightful in the city, the festivities abundant, and the air can be crisp and invigorating. Don’t let rain or snow slow you down!

                                         PRO TIP

Consider the  New York City Pass which gives you access to 5 attractions for $129. Not a bad deal!

Where To Stay in nyc

I suggest you look for VRBO rentals or Expedia hotels that feel affordable to you. You will be out and about and not spending much time in the room. From the upper west side to the lower east side, you can easily walk to the spots on this list and will fall in love with the charm and vibe of whichever part of town you choose. A big part of the New York City experience is the neighborhood culture, the local coffee shops, markets, and street venders, so embrace the holiday spirit and get outside! Look for 3 star hotels with 5 star reviews.

Where To Eat In NYC

Here are some favorite places to enjoy the holidays. They all have Gluten Free options. Serendipity 3 and Sant Ambroeus are famous for their hot chocolate!

Serendipity 3
Sant Ambroeus
Jack’s Wife Freida
Katz’s  Deli
Modern Bread & Bagel
La Pecora Bianca
Lola Taverna
The Waverly Inn
Via Carota

         Getting Around In NYC

Getting around NYC is pretty easy. I always recommend walking because it is part of what New Yorkers do and you can see so much more!  Not to mention, city walking is great exercise! Taxi and ride apps are always available. The subway and bus systems are also very efficient and easily accessible. 

                       Pro Tip

You can purchase a Metrocard at subway stations and use it on the buses as well. Each ride costs $2.75, but a 7 day, unlimited ride card is $33 for one person use. The Regular Pay Per Ride cards allow you to swipe through the turnstile and pass the card to your travel partner behind you. It’s actually legit to do that with up to 4 people.

So, buy one unlimited card for the trip or load up a regular card and use it for the whole family! Please take Covid precautions when using public transportation. 

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Spend the most wonderful time of the year in the most wonderful city of New York! Here’s a guide to help you make the most of New York City during the Christmas holiday season. Here are the 10 best things to do in New York City during Christmas.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Go for a skate, for the views, for the mosaics and statues, or for pics by the Christmas tree – just go!

PRO TIP: If you go to the Top Of The Rock, you can see the Empire State Building and its lights! 

You can buy tickets to skate, take tours, and go to the observation deck at 

#1 The Iconic Christmas Tree
At Rockefeller Center

Between 48th & 51st Streets at Fifth Avenue

The one and only tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center is on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. The ceremony begins about 6:00 PM and the tree is lit at about 9:00 PM. Enjoy the festivities with thousands of proud New Yorkers who love their tree!

For the whole season, you can find the tree at Rockefeller Center towering over the famous ice skating rink. Check out all the lights and music to skate by. 

Rockefeller Center, which opened in 1939, is actually 22 acres of 19 buildings, but the iconic spots are its Top Of The Rock viewing area, the famous ice skating rink, Radio City Music Hall, and the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor.

Christmas In NYC
Christmas in NYC
Christmas in NYC

#2 The Empire State Building During The Holiday Season

20 West 34th Street

The Empire State Building is open 365 days per year from
8AM – 2 AM. And during the holiday season you’ll see beautiful decorations and the famous light show. Enjoy a glass of bubbly and see the whole city lit up for the holidays. Do it, you won’t be sorry.

PRO TIP: Don’t feel compelled to spend $77 p/adult, $71 p/child. $75 p/senior for the 102 floor. Instead, spend $44 p/adult, $38 p/child, and $42 p/senior for the 86th floor.

Must See in New York City

This is the iconic spot where all the best NYC movie scenes have been filmed.

Buy your tix for late afternoon and SURPRISE! You’ll be able to drink champagne and listen to music for the sunset experience. Prep for cold and windy! But there are heating lamps and the famous viewing binoculars. I promise it’ll be one of the most memorable things you’ll do on your Christmas holiday visit to NYC.

Radio City Music Hall
Must See In New York City

#3 The Christmas Spectacular Starring
The Radio City
Music Hall Rockettes

1260 Sixth Avenue

You may have seen them on TV for the Thanksgiving Parade, but to see these gals live in the famous theater of Radio City Music Hall is quite another thing entirely! Since the 1930’s The Rockettes have been performing in the famed theater for the holiday season. Watch the kick line! It’s fun for the whole family. Get your tickets early because it’s a very popular show. Most days there are 4 shows, so you have plenty of choices.

Christmas in NYC
Christmas in NYC
Christmas In NYC

#4 Walk and Shop 5th Avenue During the Christmas Holiday Season

A day not to be missed includes the fabulous stroll from Central Park down 5th Avenue to see all the holiday window displays. Pass The Plaza and the dancing Polar Bears and continue on to experience the lights and decorations in all the stores. Look for the window displays at Bergdorf’s, Bloomingdales, and Saks.

When you get to the Empire State Building at 34th St, then head west for a block to arrive at the magical Macy’s at Herald Square (34th St). Plan on some time to stop in to say hello to Santa at Macy’s Santaland, a true winter wonderland.  It’s legendary!

Back to 5th Ave, keep walking down to the Flatiron Building (22nd St) and Union Square (17th St) to find the festive Holiday Markets at Union Square.

#5 Chinatown At Christmas

Looking for somewhere to eat on Christmas? Go to Chinatown and find  lanterns, lights, and food. Stroll on Mott Street between Bleecker and Chatham Square or Canal Street and you will be in the pulse of Chinatown. Enjoy the best Chinese food and all the NYC souvenirs your family wants for the holidays. 

#6 Little Italy At Christmas

Little Italy loves the holidays!  New York’s large Italian population thrives in this neighborhood. Great restaurants and bakeries are just north of Chinatown. You’ll be in the center of Little Italy on Mulberry Street.

Mulberry Street is famous for its celebrations during the holidays. Go there hungry and eat your way through the the holidays.

Things To Do In Lower Manhattan
Things To Do In Lower Manhattan
Christmas in NYC
Christmas in Central Park

#8 Metropolitan Museum
Of Art During The Holidays

1000 5th Avenue and Central Park

The Met is the gem of Museum Mile any time of the year, but during the holidays, it is particularly special. Check the schedule for the Met’s spectacular tree and its daily light show. You can just imagine that one of the world’s best art museums will have the  most gorgeous decorations.

#7 Central Park During
The Holidays

Lighting shows, carole singing, ice skating, horse and buggies; its all possible in Central Park in winter. The Wollman Ice Skating Rink has been a favorite spot in the winter since 1949. Get tickets online that include skate rentals.


There will be long lines at popular times, so get your tickets in advance and plan on grabbing a pretzel or hot chocolate while you wait to get in!

#9 Hudson Yards At Christmas

Located between 10th and 12th Avenues from West 30th to West 34th Streets, Hudson Yards is a massive hub of shops and cultural spectacles. Visit during the holidays and you’lll be struck by the amount of sparkling lights and the eating and shopping opportunities! Look at the schedule for all the holiday events and celebrations.

Hudson Yards NYC
Hudson Yard NYC
Christmas in NYC
Must See In New York City
Christmas in NYC
Must See In New York City

The traffic to Times closed by 3PM, the festivities begin at 6PM and the performances begin at 8PM. Recommendations are that you arrive by noon!

The earlier you get there, the better your chances are of getting a spot and seeing the ball drop.

However, that does mean you will be standing in the cold for at least 12 hours!

#10 New Years Eve Ball Drop
At Times Square

42nd Street and Broadway

Warning! This activity is not for the faint of heart!

The New Years Eve Ball has dropped from the One Times Square Building since 1907. ​​The current Times Square Ball weighs six tons with 32,256 LEDs.

Times Square used to see about 60,000 people for the famous ball drop festivities. Since the pandemic, the crowd is now capped at 15,000 on a first come first serve basis.

Some say its worth it to experience at least once in your life. Tell me what you think!

Christmas in NYC

Looking for More To Do During The Christmas Holiday Season In NYC?

  • Bryant Park Winter Village
  • Brooklyn Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
  • New York Botanical Gardens
  • New York City Ballet Nutcracker
  • Holiday Cruises
Christmas in NYC

Now you are ready for the best holiday season yet by enjoying the 10 Best Things To Do In New York City During Christmas!



Hi There! I’m Carrie.

Carrie Green-Zinn Bio Page

I’m a native New Englander, turned New Yorker, turned California girl! Following a dance career, working as a dance therapist, and being a school psychologist, I’m now ready to share my passion for photography and travel with you! I absolutely love seeing the world with my family and friends. I know you feel the same! Let’s go! 

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