We have done countless trips to New York during Christmastime and HIGLY recommend it! We did it before we had kids and after & have seriously loved every trip. We’ve been there when it’s been snowing and we’ve been there when it’s been 60 degrees in December. Whether we’ve been bundled up or in t-shirts, there is nothing like New York City during Christmas.
We have a whole updated NYC blog post on hotels and restaurants that you can read HERE, so this post is going to be ALL about New York at Christmastime. (We also have a blog post from a few years ago on NYC pre kids; some restaurants are closed now but some of the info is still a great resource – read that one HERE).
Below are our top 10 picks for what we love to do in the winter in NYC:
1.) See the Rockettes – This might sound cliche but you HAVE TO see the Rockettes at least once in NYC during Christmastime. It’s an incredible show and entertaining for all ages. Bryan & I saw it when we were dating and then we took Eloise last year (she was almost 4 years old) and it kept her entertained the whole time. She loved it!
2.) Macy’s – The original Macy’s in Herald Square is definitely something worth checking out during Christmas. They have the cutest window displays outside (sometimes even with live animals) that kids and adults enjoy. It’s also super fun to walk around inside – sometimes it’s a mad house in there but definitely worth it to see it decorated inside once. We’ve seen Santa twice there and absolutely loved it. We made an appointment online first and still had to wait about 30 minutes to see the big guy BUT the line decorations and attractions make the wait go fast.
3.) Tavern on the Green for brunch – One of our FAVORITES! We’ve been to Tavern on the Green for brunch during Christmastime at least 5 or 6 times and it is always such an experience. The food is amazing, the atmosphere/decorations are so festive and it’s always just so beautiful.
- A few tips: We make our reservation about a month in advance. They book up fast so don’t forget to book early. We always ask to sit in the “Central Park Room” as it’s a glass ceiling so it’s spacious, so bright and if it’s snowing it’s like you are in a real life snow globe. After we finish brunch, we always head out to the main courtyard for pictures around the huge tree. Definitely a great memory! We also always walk around Central Park after our brunch since the restaurant is in the park, it makes it easy to take a nice stroll after you eat.
4.) Rockefeller tree – A cannot miss! The Rockefeller tree is iconic and a great spot for some holiday photos. It’s fun to grab a banana pudding or hot chocolate from Magnolia bakery right across the street and then go watch the ice skaters at the main tree. There is also an FAO Schwartz right there if you have kids. Prepare for it to be crowded but worth it!
5.) Ice skating in Central Park at Wollman Rink – If you want to go ice skating in Central Park during Christmas, I recommend either Central Park or Bryant Park. Central Park is my top pick as the rink is much bigger and the views of the city are incredible. The Rockefeller rink is very small and very crowded. Tip: You can book a time and tickets ahead of time for ice skating at Wollman Park which makes waiting in line a breeze.
6.) Bryant Park Winter Shops – Walking around the Bryant Park shops is one of my favorite things to do. I have found some of my favorite small businesses there and love how festive it is! If it’s warm enough, we love having a drink in the middle of the park at the Porch. The shops are also a great spot to grab last minute Christmas gifts and knick knacks!
7.) Eat at Serra by Birreria on the rooftop of Eataly – We love this restaurant! We’ve been with kids and without and it’s always so much fun. They decorations are so gorgeous, the drinks are amazing and food is great!
8.) Union Square Holiday Market – Another great holiday market to check out, full of little small shops and fun Christmas decorations. This market is about 1/2 mile from Eataly so we usually walk this market before or after eating at Serra.
9.) City winery Rockefeller Center – We discovered this last year and loved it! It’s right in the middle of Rockefeller Center and a great spot to sit, people watch, take in the tree and enjoy a glass of wine or beer!
10.) Carriage ride through Central Park – Mixed reviews on this one, but we LOVED it! We did it with the kids last year and they thought it was the coolest thing. It’s also a great way to see Central Park without walking it, so you can stay bundled in the carriage and enjoy the views. It’s a little pricey but way worth it in my book! Tip: We didn’t book anything in advance, we just waited for the best weather day, walked over to the front of the park and picked a carriage to ride in. They line up along the south side of Central Park so you can just walk right up, chat with them, figure out pricing and go from there!
Macy’s at Herald Square Santa picture
Both the picture above and below are taken in the courtyard of Tavern on the Green
There are so many other fun things to do in NYC during Christmas but these are just our top picks. No matter what, it is always a great time and definitely puts you in the full Christmas spirit!