Christmas in New York: Things to do in NYC during the holidays
Visit the first Macy’s store
The original Macy’s is located in Herald Square on the corner of 14th street and 6th Avenue in 1858. Macy’s during the holidays is magical. Step inside the winter wonderland that takes place on the ceiling. This specific store has 11 floors. Yes… 11 floors! It is possible to get lost, but so worth it because of how pretty the store is. Step outside and check out their window displays too!
Address: 151 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001
Head to Midtown to check out the wonderful window displays
Window displays in New York City around the holidays is a pretty big deal. And you don’t understand how big of a deal it is until you see it with your own eyes. The city even has window display tours. They take you on a walking tour of all the amazing window displays on 5th You can walk around and find the stores yourself of course, but 3 big ones stood out to me the most.
Saks Fifth Avenue was definitely the most memorable as the whole building is a light show along with their window displays. The light/music show is so big, NYPD shuts down the street in front of the building so people can watch. The theme for Saks Fifth Avenue for the 2017 year is Snow White. It was so cute!
Address: 611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022
Macy’s and Lord & Taylor have pretty awesome window displays as well. Lord & Taylor’s display had different themes for each window with a cute tune playing in the background. Macy’s display this year was “The Perfect Gift Brings people together” theme.
Lord & Tylor address: 424 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018
Walk over to Rockefeller Center, preferably at night, to see the amazing Christmas tree and famous ice skating rink. You will also pass the Today Show while in this area. Rockefeller Center is overcrowded with people, but it doesn’t get in the way of the holiday spirit. It is just as amazing as you would see it on TV! If Rockefeller Center doesn’t get you in the Christmas, then I don’t know what will!
Address: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
If Rockefeller Center is too crowded then head down the street to Bryant Park. I think Bryant Park gets overlooked, but it is just as pretty. You can enjoy a big Christmas tree, Christmas market, and the New York Public Library is right behind it. You can go to the Library to look at all the Christmas decorations as well. Bryant Park will also be way less crowded than Rockefeller Center.
Address: Bryant Park, New York, NY 10018
One World Trade Center
If you have never been to New York City, then I recommend you go down to Lower Manhattan to the One World Trade Center. I consider this spot one of the quietest places in New York. Go across the street in the white building to shop and even hop on the subway.
Address: 285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10007
Union Square Christmas Markets
Union Square is the most popular place for Christmas markets. You quickly understand why this market is favored right off the back. It has the most shops and diverse products. There are little spots with twinkle lights and heat lamps to eat while shopping. You can buy holiday necklaces, phone cases, hats/gloves/scarves, food, and much more.
Address: 14th St & Union Square W, New York, NY 10011
Visit the Plaza Hotel
You can’t actually go inside the Plaza Hotel or actual residents wouldn’t be able to get to their rooms. You can go to the back of the Plaza to visit the bar and shops inside. The outside of the hotel though is so pretty. You can see the employees of the hotel still wear the old classic uniforms with white gloves. Makes you wish you could afford to stay there!
Address: 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019
We were EXTREMELY lucky to experience Central Park while it was snowing. Central Park is located right in front of the Plaza Hotel, and can even pass the Gapstow Bridge from Home Alone and other famous movies. The views of the city also view pretty and can view some of the oldest buildings in New York. There is so much more you can do in Central Park.
Radio City Music Hall – Christmas Spectacular
Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes is a staple in New York City around the holidays. This holiday production started back in 1933 and runs from November 10th to January 1st every year. They also do 5 performances a day with the last time slot being 10 PM. The doors open 1 hour before show time and I highly recommend you do this. The show was amazing and don’t have a favorite part because it was all so good. You will also receive 3D glasses before the show because there is a short video of scenes that are in 3D.
Address: 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020
If you get the chance, take a tour of NBC studies! This is a very cool opportunity, but you have to get ticket way in advance! We didn’t make it in time to grab tickets. You can still go inside and visit the gift shop and restaurants inside. I was told that the best day to tour would be on Sundays which is the day after Saturday Night Live airs. This is your best time to visit the set of SNL since they are not rehearsing. During the week and on Friday’s you won’t be guaranteed access to see the SNL set.
Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station is not overloaded in Christmas décor like some other places in New York. They do, however, how a holiday market inside that you can shop around. The market inside is not very big, but they had some awesome stuff. The bridge that’s on Park Avenue does like up red and green outside of the station.
Address: 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
Extra Activities to do around town:
“Friends Apartment” in the West Village
Head over to the West Village to view the apartment building from “Friends”! The famous TV show was not filmed there, but the takes of outside the apartment were filmed there.
Address: 90 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014
Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex and the City in the West Village
Also located in the West Village and walking distance from the “Friends” apartment is Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex and the City. You are not allowed to walk up the door of the building.
Address: 64 Perry St, New York, NY 10014
Get your touristy photo with the famous LOVE sign which is located on the corner of 6th Avenue and 44th street in Manhattan. Feel free to be more creative than I was when taking this photo. There are so many other people trying to get their photo here as well.
Address: W 55th St & 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10019
The High Line in Chelsea
The high line used to be an old railway but then was converted to a walkway that is about a mile and half long. Here you can see lovely greenery and views of the city. It is located on the west side of Manhattan, and more pretty to visit in the summer and spring than winter.
Location: It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues.
Tribeca and SoHo neighborhood
While in the West Village go down to the Tribeca and SoHo neighborhoods to visit shops and walk around. The areas are very pretty during the holiday’s and great for shopping!
This landmark building is a triangular 22 story steel-framed building. It is located in the Flatiron district on 175 Fifth Avenue. Fun fact: When completed in 1902, the Flatiron building was considered one of the tallest buildings in New York City.
Address: 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010
New York Comedy Club
If the bar and club scene isn’t for you and needs something to do one night, then head to the New York Comedy Club. For $25 you can sit down and eat popcorn while watching 8 different comedians stand-ups. The show last about 2 hours.
Address: 241 E 24th St, New York, NY 10010
You have to visit Times Square at least once when in NYC. Walk over to Broadway from here to look at all the awesome shows you can see!
Christmas Ornament Statue
Across the street from Radio City Music Hall is the statue of BIG Christmas ornaments you may have seen on Pinterest.
Where to eat:
PJ Morgan ($$)
If you are in Midtown, stop by and grab dinner at PJ Morgan which is an Irish pub. The pub serves Irish and American food along with Guinness and cocktails in a lively pub setting.
Address: 3 E 48th St #1, New York, NY 10017
McGee’s Restaurant ($$)
This wood-lined Irish pub is the bar that inspired the How I Met Your Mother TV show. The pub has 3 floors and offers plenty of draft beers. You will also see a lot of How I Met Your Mother memorabilia.
Address: 240 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
Barilla Restaurant Radio City ($)
We ate at this Barilla Restaurant because it is right around the corner from Radio City. We were eating here before the Christmas Spectacular show. So good, and great people! You can sit and watch a chef prepare your pasta.
Address: 1290 6th Ave, New York, NY 10019
230 Fifth Rooftop Bar ($$)
The ultimate rooftop bar to visit while in NYC is 230 Fifth. There are no reservations and come on a first come basis. The brunch starts at 10 AM and it is a buffet (and delicious). After eating brunch inside, head up the stairs to go outside to the rooftop bar where you can find hot chocolate, red robes, and postcard-worthy views of Midtown. There are also igloos that you can sit in that are extremely warm. Sit back in your cozy igloo, drink some hot cocoa, and enjoy views of the city!
Address: 230 5th Ave, New York, NY 10001
Johns Pizzeria on Times Square ($$)
Need some New York style pizza in your life? Johns Pizzeria came highly recommended!
Address: 260 W. 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
Shake Shack ($)
I recommend Shake Shack being your food choice before heading off the airport. We ate of the one in Herald Square by the original Macy’s.
Address: 1333 Broadway, New York, NY 10018
Poké — a traditional Hawaiian dish where chunks of tuna are marinated in soy and sesame — delivers flavorful, protein-dense nutrition that tastes just like summer. Pokeworks is a takeout operation in Midtown where you can get your poke in burrito form.
Address: 63 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018
- Subway $20 (1.5 days)
- Lyft $30 (3 days)
Where to stay:
Springhill Suites – Midtown
Midtown is a great place to stay when spending a weekend in New York City. This area is a great place to stay because it allows you to be around a lot of different activities in the city. It is also walking distance to everything. I spend the weekend in New York City with my best friend who is also in the military. So, we decided to use a hotel with government rates rather than an Airbnb.
Pro Tip: If you are wanting to go see Radio City Christmas Spectacular I recommend you buy tickets from a 3rd party website. Most websites have coupons and deals since the show is pretty expensive. I got my tickets on Travelzoo for half the price and had awesome seats.
The winter season not for you? Check out things to do in New York City in the summer!