Top Tips for visiting New York City at Christmas
No other city does Christmas quite like New York City. With dazzling light shows, whimsical window displays and the city dress up in her holiday finest Christmas in New York City is simply magical. A trip to New York City during the holidays will spark a sense a childhood wonder in any scrooge but trying to navigate the holiday crowds without a little research and planning will leave anyone feeling like a Grinch. To earn myself a place on Santa’s nice list I’m sharing these tips for visiting New York City at Christmas because after all, ’tis the season for spreading good tidings and cheer.
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The department stores in New York City pull no stops when it comes to decorating for the holidays. Stop by Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Lord & Taylor to gaze at lavish window displays and be delighted by the dazzling light shows.
Decorated with over 50,000 lights and topped with a 550 pound Swarovski crystal star, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is quite possible the most famous Christmas tree in the world. Be sure to see it during the day and later at night when it’s beautifully lit up.
Ice skating at the Rink at Rockefeller Center is an iconic New York City Christmas experience. General admission is on a first come basis or reservations can be made for special events and night time skating.
With so many Christmas sights nearby it would be a shame not to visit the top of Rockefeller Center, one of New York City’s most iconic skyscrapers. For the stunning views of the New York City skyline at sunset aim to get your timed ticket for around 4:30pm, you’ll most likely have to visit the ticket window a few hours earlier in the day to make sure you get the time you want.
Head to Radio City Music Hall to catch the Rockettes Christmas Music Spectacular.
Across from Radio City Music Hall check out the whimsically oversized Christmas ornaments on 6th Ave
You can never go wrong with a Broadway show, check out wat’s on offer at the TKTS booth for reduced priced tickets.
Love it or hate it, Times Square is an only-in-New York experience that you have to do at least once. Be aware that the crowds and massively lit advertising displays can be a bit of a sensory overload.
For one of the best views of Times Square without the crowds check out the R Lounge at Two Times Square inside the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel.
You will see some of the most entertaining and engaging Salvation Army bell ringers near the Christmas sights. Spread some good tidings and leave a little something in their bucket.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral has been welcoming New York’s faithful since 1910. The peace and calm inside the church is a welcome respite from the hustle of the holiday crowds.
In the shadow of the New York Public Library the Bryant Park Winter Village is a European-style holiday market featuring over 150 local artisans and vendors. For a true taste of Europe make sure you get a piping hot chimney cake (a sweet tube shaped pastry coated with cinnamon, sugar and nuts) filled with Nutella.
If you want ice skating in New York without the crowds skip the ice rink at Rockefeller Center and take a twirl at the Bryant Park Skating Rink. There’s no admission fee here if you have your own skates and skate rentals are available.
No trip to New York is complete without a visit to Central Park. This iconic New York City landmark offers miles of walking trails and two ice skating rinks for winter time fun.
Check out the New York Pass for use of the hop on/hop off sightseeing bus and entrance to many of of New York City’s top attractions .
Indulge your inner Eloise and check out The Plaza Hotel beautifully decked out in her holiday finest.
In the impressive lobby of Grand Central Station the Grand Central Holiday Fair features 40 vendors with a focus on American-made handcrafted items.
New York City Hotels
Even though New York City is well connected by public transportation during the holidays it’s best to stay near the action in Midtown Manhattan.
A few blocks from Rockefeller Center I loved the understated elegance of the Intercontinental New York Barclay.
Right in the thick of Times Square the rooms on higher floors of the Hilton Times Square have great views of Manhattan.
The Library Hotel offers a touch of home steps from Grand Central Station.
Have you visited New York City at Christmas? Share your tips with me below in the comments!