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9 Things to See in NYC at Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year where families get to spend time together and make memories that will last throughout the years. I grew up in NYC and have spent many holiday seasons visiting all the things to see in NYC at Christmas. Here is a list of the many places you should visit if visiting this fun town this time of year!

Radio City Music Hall in NYC

Radio City Music Hall

Nothing says Christmas in New York more than a family trip to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City. I’ve been to the show numerous times and I still get excited every time. The Rockettes are famous for there kickline and it’s a show stopper every year.

From the “Dance of the Wooden Soldiers” to the wonderful colorful costumes, the show is enjoyed by everyone. In recent years the show begins with a 3D movie of Santa and his reindeer waltzing around the city skyline. You also get to see Santa himself and they still have the “Living Nativity”.

Some fun facts about the Rockettes. When my daughter was younger we went for a summer program called the Rockettes Dance Experience where she and other kids got to dance with some of the Rockettes and learn some of their moves. Of course, the famous kickline was part of that. Do you know that they never touch one another while kicking, their arms are just in the back of the performers next to them so they can keep their balance!

Also, several times during the show they have quick costume changes, they give them less than a minute to get back on stage so they layer their costumes. It was a fun experience, we also got to take a tour of the stage and backstage and stand of the famous circle in the stage that moves around while they are performing.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Show Details

  • The show runs from November 8, 2019 to January 1, 2020
  • Tickets go on sale the beginning of July
  • Daily performances begin at 10:30 am and run until 10 pm depending on the date
  • Showtime is 90 minutes long with no intermission
  • Tickets prices range from $49 and go up to $600 depending on seats and date
  • Average ticket range is between $100 and $200
  • The earlier you buy your tickets the better for seating and cost
  • Group sales start at 10 people or more

Discount Tickets

If you are planning to go to the show you can try buying discount tickets here but they only have shows from November 8th to December 1st available with the discount. Prices with the discount range from $45 to $79.

Ice Skating in Central Park
Ice Skating in Central Park Photo credit by Alex Haney

Ice Skating in Central Park

It’s great to ice skate in Central Park and people have been skating here since the park opened in 1858 in the lake and also later in the pond. A hundred years later in the 1950s you were no longer allowed to skate that’s when the Wollman Rink opened.

Conservatory Rink

  • Located between 72nd and 75th streets
  • Free to skate
  • Must bring your own skates
  • only open when weather permits and the ice has to be at least 6″ thick

Wollman Rink

  • Located between 62nd and 63rd streets
  • Opened from November to March
  • Skate and locker rentals are available
  • 33,000 square foot rink
  • Opened 7 days a week, Monday & Tuesday from 10 to 2:30, Wednesday & Thursday 10 to 10, Friday and Saturday 10 am to 11 pm and Sunday 10 to 9
  • Prices are Monday through Thursday $12 for adults, age 11 and under $6 and seniors $5 and Friday to Sunday & Holidays $19 for adults, $6 for children 11 and under and $9 for seniors
  • Skate rentals are $9 and locker rentals are $5

Lasker Rink

  • Located between 106th and 108th streets
  • Opened between November and March
  • This rink is operated by a private organization
  • There are two rinks, one for high school hockey and one opened to the public
  • Hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 to 4:30, Wednesday 9 to 2:30, Friday 9:30 to 4:50 and 6 to 11, Saturday 1 to 11 and Sunday 12:30 to 4:30
  • Prices to skate are $8.50 for adults, $4.50 for youth and $2.25 for seniors
  • Skate rentals are $7.50 and locker rentals are $4
Big Red Ornaments in Rockefeller Center at Christmas
Big Red Ornaments in Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

This year marks the 87th year of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. With over 50,000 lights and a Swarovski crystal tree topper, over 500,000 people are drawn here every year to see this beautiful tree. This year the 85 foot Norway Spruce from Pennsylvania will arrive in the plaza on November 11 and the tree lighting will be December 4th.

You can’t go to Manhattan during the holiday season without stopping by to see it for yourself.

Times Square

Times Square in NYC is always busy no matter what time of year you go but during the holiday season, this is especially true. There are so many specialty shops that draw in crowds making it a great place to get that different gift. Here are some of the stores in Times Square.

Hershey’s Chocolate World Time Square

Located on Seventh Avenue between 47th and 48th Street and open until midnight, you can spend hours in Hershey’s Chocolate World. It features a candy machine where you can mix and match 12 of your favorite Hershey candies.

They have a real RV camper inside the store where you can get smores. The graham crackers have a smoky taste like they were cooking over a fire and it comes with a Hersey bar, of course.

The store also features a freshly baked specialty item, such as cookies. Get ready to also enjoy your favorite Hershey products as they give samples as you are shopping.

Disney Store

With 3 floors of Disney merchandise, there has to be something for everyone. You can spend hours here looking at all your favorite Disney character goodies as well as special NYC merchandise exclusive to this store only. For your convenience, the store is opened until 1 AM in the morning and is located in the heart of Times Square at 1540 Broadway.

M&M Store

Located at 1600 Broadway and 48th Street, the M&M store has 3 floors filled with your favorite candy. They have an M&M chocolate wall that has every color and flavor of M&M you can think of. You can also print your own messages on your M&Ms too. In addition, you can meet your favorite M&M characters.

Midtown Comics

Located at 40th Street and Seventh Avenue, this store sells comic books, novels, T-shirts, apparel and action figures. It’s a great place to visit if you are into comic books and their characters.

Grand Slam NY

On Broadway between 46th and 47th Street, this store has the largest selection of NYC souvenirs starting as low as 99 cents. But it’s gonna be hard to pick up just one thing since you have three floors of souvenirs to choose from. You can even purchase your favorite NYPD and NYFD items as well as the top floor of the store featuring mainly sports memorabilia.

New Years Eve

Times Square is famous for it’s New Year Eve party drawing hundreds of thousands of people, no matter what the weather, to the area from around the world to watch the ball drop at midnight ushering in the New Year. Many millions of people watch this from there homes and parties on television to say goodbye to one year and welcome the next.

Christmas window display at Sachs Fifth Avenue

Store Windows along Fifth Avenue

During the holidays the stores on Fifth Avenue and in that area, decorate their windows into holiday theme displays. Each year you can see different themes celebrated.

Although the city has beautiful decorations throughout, these stores are famous for their extravagant window displays.

  • Macy’s 151 West 34th Street
  • Bloomingdale’s on Lexington Ave between 59th and 60th Streets
  • Sak’s Fifth Avenue 611 5th Avenue
  • Barney’s 101 7th Avenue
  • Bergdorf Goodman 754 5th Avenue
  • Tiffany & Co. 727 5th Avenue
  • Henri Bendel 712 5th Avenue
  • Louis Vuitton 611 5th Avenue, 3rd Floor

Sak’s Fifth Avenue has a daily light show that starts at 4:35 and runs until 11:35 every 10 minutes. The show lasts for 5 minutes.

Macy's Department Sore on 34th Street in NYC
Macy’s at 34th Street in NYC

Macy’s Department Store

Another great thing to do in NYC at Christmas is to visit Macy’s Department Store. Beginning with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade featuring bands for all over the United States, floats and of course the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Balloons.

Macy’s Department Store located on 34th Street between Seventh and Sixth Avenues has beautiful decorated windows, 11 floors of holiday shopping and of course, a Christmas display inside the store featuring Santa where you can take pictures.

Macy’s was the original store in NYC to have extravagant window displays beginning in 1874. This year the windows will feature “Santa Girl” as she wishes she was Santa. Six windows will tell her story with window six being an interactive window that you can take pictures of you being Santa.

Restaurants

Another thing to do in NYC at Christmas is to eat and many of the restaurants go all out to celebrate the holidays. There are way too many for me to mention but I would like to tell you about one of them, Rolfs.

Rolfs is located at 281 3rd Avenue and is a German restaurant featuring German food but has become more famous for its Christmas decorations. They decorate with more than 100,000 lights, 15,000 ornaments, and 800 dolls all decked out. Their display begins in November and is not take down until sometime in April. If you are planning a visit here for dinner you must make reservations. You can also stop by for a drink at their bar in order to see their famous Christmas display.

Carriage Rides

Carriage Rides are a wonderfully relaxing way to see Central Park all year long but especially during the holiday season. It has been a tradition since the 1930s. Rides are priced per carriage but there are rules that need to be followed by all due to strict NYC laws on the rides and the care of the horses. Prices vary depending on the season and length of the ride. You can make a reservation although this will include a reservation fee. You can also do a walk-up ride at the following locations:

  • Grand Army Plaza in the center lane at Fifth Avenue and 60th Street
  • Sixth Avenue within the park entrance north of Central Park South
  • Seventh Avenue entrance, the east curb about 20 feet from Central Park South

FEO Schwarz Toy Store

Fuel your imagination with a visit to the largest toy store in New York City, FEO Schwarz. After closing its doors in 2015, this historic toy store has again reopened in NYC. Its new flagship, 20,000 square foot store is now located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

You will still find many items that they are famous for, such as the dance-on piano featured in the Tom Hanks movie “big” and the colossal clock tower. Over the years the store appeared in many movies including Home Alone 2, Baby Boom, Big Business and Mighty Aphrodite.

New items to the store include a race track to play with cars, a Barbie wall, Build-A-Bear Workshop station, a faux grocery shopping area, life-size stuffed animals and a rocket ship. There is also a place where magicians will teach you tricks.

Conclusion

I’m sure you can think of other things to see in NYC at Christmas. These are just a few of the things that I do in NYC at this time of year. What are some of the places you’ve visited at Christmas and what made that place special at this time of year? I would love to hear all about your experiences and places so I can put them on my list of places to visit at Christmas.

For another great experience to do during the holidays, consider taking a train ride to the North Pole on the Polar Express (Trademark). You can read all about it here.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Holiday Season filled with love and joy. Kathy xoxo

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Big Red Ornaments at Rockefeller Center

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17 thoughts on “9 Things to See in NYC at Christmas”

  1. this post is such a great resource – you’ve added so much information! sharing this with a few friends 🙂

  2. Amazing list! I’m dying to get my husband to visit NYC with me! This makes me want to see it at Christmas! Pinning for later.

  3. NYC is on my must visit list and I really want to see it around Christmas time. Thanks for all the info… I don’t even know if I’ll be able to visit all the spots you mentioned.

    1. A lot of them are close to each other so I hope you can visit all of them. The city is so different from each part its nice to see all different sections to get a good feel of it.

  4. We were in NYC the weekend before Thanksgiving 2017. It is magical! We were able to take in a few of the things on this list, but now I have more to add after reading this. Pinning for later! Thanks & good job on the details.

  5. NYC is top of my travel bucket list but specifically Christmas!

    It had me excited just reading this post.

    We hope to go after our Christmas wedding next year.

    Thank you for such a wonderful post x

  6. I know that Midtown is where the main icons of Christmas in New York are, but there is a beautiful but smaller tree in the Financial District at the Stock Exchange (Wall & Broad Streets) and one at the South Street Seaport. The area is decorated with lights at most of the small plazas and light poles. Don’t miss shopping at Century 21 Department Stores (Cortland & Broadway) or the shops in the Seaport. Financier Patisserie (either Stone or Cedar Streets) is a good stop for hot chocolate or coffee beverages, a sandwich or their delicious pastries (the macarons are excellent!). There is a wide selection of restaurants with all types of cuisine – Cuban (Sophie’s) , Thai (22Thai), Medeterranian (Zeytun, GRK, Pita Press), Irish Pubs (Jim Brady’s, Half Shilling) and Italian (try Eataly) and Chinese (mostly take-out but some with dining areas). Of course, if you want Chinese or Italian, Chinatown and Little Italy are a brisk 10-minute walk… NYC is not just Midtown.

  7. I have wanted to visit the US for so long that it is at the moment a joke. And on the top of that list has been for a long time New York. Every time I see a post about the city I fall in love with it a bit more! And during Christmas it seems as if this place becomes even more magic! Can’t wait to get there soon!

  8. After watching the movie ”Home Alone” New York has become one of my dream destinations, but only at Christmas time! I hope that one day when I will have children, I will travel to NY and do Ice Skating in Central Park! I think that’s must-have!

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