things to do in nyc during christmas!



as i mentioned in my last post, today’s blog is all about things to do in new york city during christmas! there’s something so special about the holiday season in manhattan, with christmas music playing on repeat, trees lit up on every block, ice skating, hot chocolate, and countless other little things that make this time of year everyone’s favorite. i know i’ve said it a million times before and i’ll say it a million more, but christmas time here is simply the greatest.

i’d like to note that my friend melanie (you can check out her blog for more pics and things about what we did yesterday here, she’s my blogging sista) and i had soooooo much fun yesterday in the city taking a bunch of these photos and doing as many christmas-y things as we could fit in! and we did a lot! so even if you’re in new york for only a day or two, if you plan it right and are willing to wake up early and stay up late (the only proper way to visit nyc in my opinion… you can sleep when you’re dead! lol) then you’ll be able to cross off a bunch of these things to do!



1. ice skating 

there are three main places to ice skate in nyc: rockefeller center, bryant park, and wollman rink in central park.


rockefeller center-skating here is one of the most christmas x new york city things you can do! it’s the most expensive of the three (at about $40/person for admission and skate rental) but if you want to go all out for this event, this is the place to do it! another benefit of the rock rink is that they only allow a limited number of people on the rink, so it’s far less crowded than others.


bryant park-my personal favorite place IN GENERAL (i know i mention this in every holiday post but i just can’t get over it). the nice thing about this rink is that it’s FREE! (unless you rent skates which are $15, still the best deal). there are usually tons of people but they play great music and you’re surrounded by the holiday market, including gorgeous views of the city, so you can’t go wrong skating here either!


wollman rink-this is where they film scenes in tons of nyc christmas movies, including my favorite, serendipity (on netflix right now, you have to watch if you haven’t seen it! or even just again if you have!!). it’s $18 admission, with $8 skate rental. it’s also the biggest rink of the three, so if you’re a master skater and want lots of room to show off your ice skating skills, i’d come here! (i haven’t skated here before because i am not a master skater and do not have any ice skating skills and prefer to always be as close to a solid wall to grab in case i fall as possible, haha). photo-pinterest

2. window displays 

honestly pretty much every store in new york has some sort of holiday window display during december. some of the best are bergdorf goodman, saks fifth avenuebarneys, lord and taylor, and bloomingdales. for most of the displays, different artists or designers are tasked with designing one of the many windows and they are truly works of art.


bergdorf goodman-754 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019


every 15 minutes or so, saks fifth ave puts on this incredible holiday show on the outer wall of the store, complete with music and all! a must see, even with the crowds


saks fifth avenue-611 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022


barneys-660 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10065


lord and taylor-424 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018


bloomingdales-1000 Third Avenue 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10022

3. holiday markets 

bryant park, again, has an amazing winter village! there are tons of cute little shops to get unique gifts for friends and family, as well as places to get great food (also some of them give out samples, yayyyyy FREE FOOD is what i live for! sometimes i walk there during my lunch breaks just to get an array of chocolate and cookie samples for dessert, haha)


union square park-another great one, they have tons of shops here too!! also on the weekends, they have a farmers market right next to the holiday market which is just as fun to walk through.


columbus circle-similar to union square park, but it’s also near the shops at columbus circle, which is like an indoor mall. if it’s cold, you can easily hop inside to warm up and shop some more there! there’s also a williams sonoma to get even more free food samples!! (kind of want to write a post about all the places to get free samples of food at in nyc, hahaha).


4. christmas tree scavenger hunt

there are christmas trees literally EVERYWHERE in new york. like you cannot walk two blocks without seeing one, i think it’s a proven fact.something fun to do one day you visit might be to go on a little scavenger hunt to find some of the best tree displays in the city, and maybe get hot chocolate or dessert at the closest places near each one (just thought of that and now i want to do it, that’d be so fun!). anyways, below are some of my favorites i’ve visited throughout the city, as well as others on my bucket list to see.


bryant park




new york public library

the met

origami tree at the american museum of natural history

south street seaport tree

5. rolf’s german restaurant



when i heard about this place a few days ago, i told melanie, WE HAVE TO GO! it is the most christmas-y place i have ever seen in my life! so after getting brunch on saturday morning, we casually walked over to the restaurant around 11:45am, as it opened at 12. when we turned the corner to head for the door, we noticed a GIANT line of people waiting to get in!! apparently it was in time out magazine a few years ago and now you can only get a table to eat dinner there if you book months in advance. but, if you’re willing to wait outside in line for a while, you can order drinks at the bar. we ended up not waiting because we had a bunch of things to do but will definitely be going back!


^^^ the photo i took from peeking in the window, haha not quite as great as the ones from inside but you can still tell how impressively decorated it is in there!!

6. carriage ride in central park

if you’re going to go all out for a trip to the big apple during christmas, you might as well tack this on your list. i have a feeling it’s one of the most new-yorky things to do in december. with blankets and hot chocolate and the sights of the city, how could you and whoever you go with not have fun????


7. rockefeller center

i know i’ve mentioned this place for ice skating and the christmas tree, but there are also tons of shops around and inside rockefeller center that are fun to visit-especially when it’s cold out and you’re in need of some warmth!! also, if you have never been, top of the rock is a must see-no matter the time of year!


8. holiday hotels

every hotel in the city goes all out with christmas decorations, making it even more fun to visit during the holidays! some of the best below.


the plaza! mel and i had some major home alone 2 vibes while walking past and through this place. i follow them on instagram and their holiday decorations are always some of the best. sadly, as we found out saturday, unless you’re staying at the hotel or having tea, you can’t go in through the main entrance to check out the lobby and the tree:( you can however, go in through the side entrance which leads to the shops below the plaza, where kiddos can take photos with santa too! also they have these gorgeous wreaths out front, so it’s still pretty special to see.


the waldorf-astoria– i’ve stayed here before and it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful hotels in the city, even more so during christmas! also as mentioned earlier, i’m a major fan of the movie serendipity, and like half of the movie was filmed here. it’s a christmas classic.


the warwick-i’ve stayed here a few times too and it’s beautifully lit while also in a great location – away from the madness that is new york city during the holidays (i’m talking people EVERYWHERE 24/7).


the lotte palace-one of my favorite trees to visit during the season, and also-gossip girl!

9. chelsea market


especially on colder days, chelsea is another classic holiday spot. there are tons of places to shop and eat inside, with lots of unique spaces too. that clock tower with the streamers in the middle there is one of the main reasons i visit every year, so unique.

you can also easily get to the high line from chelsea market, a fun place to walk if you’ve never been.


10. radio city rockettes/nutcracker ballet


these are some of the best holiday performances in new york city. the radio city rockettes  is a must-see classic holiday show and i don’t think you can do nyc during christmas right unless you see it! i am always fascinated with how beautiful and elaborate every detail is.


the nutcracker ballet is performed at lincoln center and is another beautiful performance for the holiday season. i have never been, but it’s on my list and i have heard nothing but amazing things!

however, if you can’t get tickets to any of the holiday shows, you can always check out one of the many broadway performances, including info on the broadway lotteries HERE.

10. frozen hot chocolate at serendipity


ok this is not only a christmas thing to do but also an “i would do this every day of the year” thing because my goodness is serendipity goooooood!! it’s super touristy but whatever because sometimes the touristy things are actually the most fun ok! and also the wait times can be crazy long but it’s new york during the holidays aka one of the busiest places on planet earth at the time so what can you expect. when mel and i went yesterday, we waited 3 hours because it is that good. so go, put your name in, walk over to dylans candy bar and bloomingdales and the million other stores (zara, urban outfitters, h&m, aldo) to shop at right around the place to pass the time, and then after you’ve patiently waited your turn, order the greatest frozen hot chocolate or hot fudge sundae you can think of and ENJOY!


i hope everyone has a healthy and happy holiday season and maybe (hopefully) a fun trip to the big apple to partake in some of these activities! xo

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