Whether it’s the abundance of Christmas movies that have been filmed here, the amazing window displays, or the Rockefeller Christmas tree there is something about NYC that begs you to come visit over the holidays. Here’s my list of bucket list things to do and see in NYC this holiday season.
- Hunt down your favorite Christmas tree. A few trees that are worth a visit include the tree at Rockefeller Center, the tree in the Plaza hotel (channel your inner Kevin McCallister), the courtyard of the Palace hotel, Madison Square Park, the Angel tree at the Met Museum, and the Origami tree at the Natural History museum.
*Traveling Chic Tip – Personally I would skip planning your trip around the Rockefeller tree lighting (unless large crowds energize you). It’s so packed with people, you’re much better off watching the lighting on TV.
- See a Holiday Show: The Radio City Rockette’s are infamous, the Nutcracker ballet is a classic, and the Elf the Musical is perfect if you’re looking for a laugh.
- Taste test the best hot chocolate in NYC: You can’t beat the hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows at The City Bakery. Jacques Torres’ wicked hot chocolate will certainly warm you up, check out El Rey for brownie batter hot chocolate, and if you aren’t too cold, head to the charming Serendipity for their frozen hot chocolate.
- Experience NY on skates– If you want to ice skate in the middle of a city block check out Bryant Park (you can reserve ahead of time to avoid the line) if that’s not your thing then rent skates in Central Park. I wouldn’t recommend Rockefeller Center as the rink is pretty small and it’s a bit pricey.
- Christmas at Rolf’s – For over the top holiday décor, the best place to visit is Rolf’s for a pre-dinner drink or stay to eat if you’re in the mood for German cuisine. This restaurant is so festive it would make Clark Griswold proud. Here are a few photos if you’re interested.
- Stroll through the holiday window displays – Saks, Bergdorfs, Tiffanys, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, and Lord & Taylor go all out for their window displays in December. Head to Midtown in search of your favorite.
- Holiday light tour – If you’re looking for holiday lights, there is no better place to tour than Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. If you don’t have a rental car, there are plenty of tours that will take you through the decorated Brooklyn neighborhood. If you don’t want to trek that far you can enjoy the Giant snowflake (5th Ave. & 57th), Chelsea Market, or the world’s largest Hanukkah menorah (Grand Army Plaza 5th Ave and W 59th Street – across from the Plaza Hotel)
- Macy’s Santaland – A visit to Santa at Macy’s can be a memorable experience or a tourist nightmare. If you’re set on a visit, be sure to make a reservation with Santa ahead of time. If you hate lines there are excellent alternatives around town like the Santa at ABC Carpet & Home
- Holiday Markets – To be fair, the holiday markets in New York have nothing on the European marks, but they are still fun places to explore and find a unique gift to bring home. Check out the holiday markets in Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle.
- Holiday train show – If you’re traveling to NY with little ones, a stop at the botanical gardens or grand central for the train displays could be a huge hit
- Milk Bar – I always seek out Milk bar for a cookie when I’m in New York, and their holiday spin on the infamous cornflake cookie made with mini marshmallows and crushed up candy canes is a must stop on my list
- Alpine Bar – Eataly is a crowd-pleaser for both tourists and locals. The pop-up alpine bar is just one more wonderful reason to visit. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time to enjoy Baita, to transport yourself to an Italian mountain town
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