There is nothing more exciting than the holiday hustle and bustle in New York City. So many festive things to see and do with the kids. Growing up in New York and raising three children in Manhattan means I have definitely done the legwork when it comes to kid-friendly holiday activities.
From Ice Skating to shopping and everything in between I have compiled an extensive list of things to do in NYC for the holidays. There is literally something for everyone…it is an exhaustive list so obviously don’t try to do it all at once! But if you love the holidays like I do…challenge accepted, right?
Santa in the City:
ABC Home & Carpet Santa is our all-time favorite.
The Plaza Hotel Santa – you really can’t beat the Central Park Plaza Hotel Holiday vibe here…maybe a stroll through the park with hot chocolate afterwards.
Macy’s SantaLand is a classic. Miracle on 34th Street anyone?
Brookfield Place in Battery Park City has a great Santa and the schedule is super flexible. He is there seven days a week in December and Christmas Eve.
Christmas Trees in the City:
Rockefeller Center…obviously. I mean how can you not visit the most famous tree in the city?
NY Stock Exchange has a great tree right outside.
South Street Seaport turns into a magical holiday wonderland this time of year and the tree is lovely.
Bryant Park’s Winter Village has a beautiful tree (and you can skate at the rink while you’re there).
I just love Lotte New York Palace Hotel tree which stands right across the street from St. Patricks Cathedral.
Shows in the City:
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular show runs November 11-Jan 2 and it is one of those shows you just have to check off the list at some point in your life.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center is another classic that we have made a tradition out of attending.
Brookfield Nutcracker has a special show in the beginning of December that is free and so festive when you’re surrounded by the elaborate holiday decor of the Winter Garden.
Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens is incredible and runs until January 16, 2017
Holiday Train Show at Grand Central Terminal presented by the New York Transit Museum runs until February 2016.
Ballerina Swan and The Nutcracker at New York City Children’s Theater is such a fun show. It only runs November 26-December 18 but it is something to keep in mind for very year.
Very NYC in the City:
One World Observatory is offering a family holiday package which includes chocolates and collectables. It is a breathtaking view of the city, especially during this time of year. Try to plan your visit on a clear winter day so you can see everything.
Circle Line Cruises has a holiday offer where kids sail free. Sometimes you want to get out of the chaos of the city and enjoy it from the outside…what better way than on a boat sailing around Manhattan!
Hot Chocolate in the City:
City Bakery is hands down the richest most dreamiest tasting hot chocolate I have every experienced. It isn’t so much hot chocolate as it is hot fudge! It is so rich and creamy I can only handle a small shot of it!
The Standard Downtown has a yummy hot chocolate you can order along with a huge ginger bread cookie while you ice skate!
Ice Skating in the City:
The Rink at Rockefeller Center is an obvious choice that doesn’t disappoint. It is iconic and you can’t beat the holiday vibes there. There are also packages for Breakfast with Santa!
Central Park is an another iconic place for ice skating. You can’t do NYC during the holidays without hitting Central Park.
Winter Village at Bryant Park offers a beautiful city setting for ice skating right in the center of the city—they also have a winter village.
The Standard on the High Line transforms into a Swiss-inspired skating rink for the winter months. And not just any ice rink, but one that spikes their cocoa, serves hot toddies, and has giant gingerbread men. Cozy up in fur covered rockers and indulge in alpine inspired apres-ski menu to keep you in the Swiss spirit until late.
The Rink At Brookfield in Battery Park is fairly new to the ice skating game but the rink is situated in the heart of Brookfield Place outdoor plaza and overlooks the Hudson River…I mean, you can’t beat that.
Kid-friendly Hotels in the City:
The Conrad Hotel in Battery park has a Santa wonderland three Saturdays in December and is conveniently located near tons of kid-friendly food options like El Vez, Blue Smoke and Shake Shack.
The Ritz Carlton Battery Park offers an indoor camp-out package. Kids can sleep in a tent (in the room) with all-chocolate camping-themed treats.
The Peninsula offers kids gingerbread house decorating, Polar Express holiday Tea and other kid-friendly amenities for hotel rooms—like toys, play station, kids tours and culinary classes.
Lotte Palace Hotel has a Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular package with a Rockettes themed welcome and discounts for the show.
Four Seasons New York The Garden’s talented pasty team will unveil their seasonal culinary work of art as they display their gingerbread house, beginning on December 3, 2016 for guests and the community to enjoy. The Hotel’s gingerbread house decorating class, taught by Four Seasons New York pastry chefs, invites guests and locals to learn how to make a festive, sugary home.
Holiday Windows in the City:
Macy’s ‘Believe’ windows are really fun. The kids love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade—so the holiday windows are very special, too.
Lord and Taylor’s ‘Enchanted Forest’ is really cool for the kids.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s ‘Land of 1,000 Delights’ is pretty amazing. Siells especially loved the Nutcracker window.
Bergdorf Goodman ‘Destination Extraordinary’ windows are amazing. Inspired by the natural world—something we rarely see in this concrete jungle.
Barneys ‘Love, Peace, Joy’ windows make you stop to appreciate the season.
Tiffany & Co. might just have windows that mama will love—bejeweled trees decked with diamonds.
Shopping In The City:
Columbus Circle: This annual holiday bazaar, run by the people behind the Union Square farmers’ market, features handmade items from local artisans and snacks from vendors such as Hill Country Barbecue and La Sonrisa Empanadas.
Union Square Market: If there’s one alfresco shopping event worth braving the cold for, it’s this one. This European-style winter market boasts more than 150 local and national vendors.
Bryant Park: Not only is there free ice skating on Bryant Park’s 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink (bring your own skates!) but also more than 125 holiday shops, including a bunch of new kiosks and eateries.
Chelsea Market: Brooklyn purveyors set up shop at Artists & Fleas’ seasonal pop-up bazaar, situated inside Chelsea Market. Expect to find trendy and noncommercial holiday-themed gifts.
Would love to hear any of your NYC Christmas suggestions! Happy Holidays!