what to do in NYC over the holidays!

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i’ve rounded up all of our favorite things to do over the holidays in NYC, since this time of year is truly so magical and so many of you have been inquiring! i’ve also included some tips for getting around and staying warm, since so many of the activities are outside and sometimes keeping mittens on a child can feel impossible (wait- just mine?! shoot!) anyway, hope this is helpful! and if i missed anything, be sure to share in the comments…

to start off–

THANKSGIVING!

we love thanksgiving in the city! if you’re wanting to do the macy’s thanksgiving day parade and wanting a front row spot for you and your group, it’s best to arrive before 5AM (we have friends that go between 4 and 4:30AM to ensure they get a good spot) and have heard that the east side of the street is best along central park west. you don’t have all the late time crowds pushing in on you, since they close off the street by 6:45AM and people can no longer cross central park west.

something we have done in the past is make a reservation for breakfast at landmarc in the time warner building at columbus circle which has incredible views of the parade below. it’s a bit of a warmer option, if you aren’t up for the full experience of standing and waiting outside in the cold for several hours. ;)

we have also loved seeing the balloons being blown up the afternoon and evening before the parade at the american museum of natural history (although in my opinion, this event has gotten so crowded over the last few years, sometimes it feels worse than the actual parade the following day!)

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CHRISTMAS IN NYC!

a few of our favorite things to do over the holidays in the city….

— if you have little ones, go see peter and the wolf at the guggenheim museum. we go every year and it’s truly our favorite. it’s only about a half hour long, with live music and actors, with the stage set in central park. my kids talk about it all year long.

— we love walking down 5th avenue and seeing all of the beautiful window displays (especially the windows at bergdorfs).  here is a helpful interactive map! of the best route to take.

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— in addition to seeing all the decorated windows down 5th avenue, we like doing a christmas tree crawl and seeing many of the trees decorated for christmas around the city. the tree at rockefeller center of course, bryant park, washington square park, madison square park, lincoln square… we love the origami christmas tree at the american museum of natural history, and the one at the metropolitan museum of art always makes me cry.

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— in addition to a christmas tree crawl around the city, there are so many great santas to visit around the city as well, you might as well do a santa crawl.  we’ve enjoyed visiting santa at santaland at macy’s (the set up and experience is pretty fun), but tend to go back every year to the santa at the plaza hotel (he is so sweet and the lines never seem to be terrible).  ABC carpet and home has the most magical st. nick who we saw several years ago when eleanor was a baby (remember these photos?!) but be prepared to wait several hours because he’s only there a few days a week though so check the schedule here. haven’t been able to find any info on whether he will be back this year.

— my kids have also loved the holiday train show at grand central (there’s also a big one at the botanical gardens) as well as the gingerbread extravaganza at the le parker meridien hotel in midtown. (if you go, you can grab a burger at the hidden burger joint also in the hotel lobby, one of our family’s favorites.) here are some old photos when E and S were practically babies loving the train show!

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— as far as treats go around the holidays in NYC, you can’t go wrong. there are so many good ones. it’s always a fun time of year to grab a frozen hot chocolate with friends at serendipity. i also love an excuse to eat  the homemade marshmallow on top of the hot chocolate at city bakery (you’ll want to split their hot chocolate though, it is SO rich!). city bakery also happens to be so close to dough doughnuts, which is a great spot to grab a good donut in the winter. the dolce de leche is my favorite.

— and speaking of great treats, if you visit the holiday markets around the city (so many good ones! union square park, bryant park, etc), you must try the nutella stuffed churros at the columbus circle holiday market. i maybe walked down there this weekend to see if the market was set up yet because i can’t wait much longer for my churro (it wasn’t, sadly), but i’m looking forward to visiting multiple times once it’s up!

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— we have loved seeing the radio city christmas spectacular with the rockettes each year (i just bought tickets last night for our family in a few weeks!) as it’s seriously one of the most magical shows out there. a little tip, if you get seats in the front half section of the theatre, the snow will fall on you at the end and it is our favorite part, for sure.

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chelsea market is a fun place to visit during the holidays, the lights are beautiful! another spot that we have yet to visit but i’m determined to get to this year are all the holiday lights in dyker heights, brooklyn. i hear it’s amazing and every year we try to go but somehow don’t make it out. this year! this year!

— there is a live nativity on christmas eve at the church of the heavenly rest on 92nd and 5th avenue.  we’ve had friends participate in years past and hear it’s something else.

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— we love the puppet shows at the marionette theater in central park! they do a holiday puppet show each year, details here.

— ice skating in new york city is also a fun thing to do this time of year. you can skate in central park, bryant park, and rockefeller center. there’s also a darling smaller ice rink outside the standard hotel downtown.

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— josh and i loved the big band holiday concert last year at jazz at lincoln center. they also have a webop family holiday jazz jam this year on december 9th if that’s something your kids might be into!  and of course, the nutcracker takes place at lincoln center every year with the new york city ballet, which is always a magical show, as well.

— on christmas eve, there’s caroling where all are welcome to join in under the washington square arch around 5pm!

LOVE-TAZA-NYC-SNOWDAY-83hfj-17LOVE-TAZA-NYC-SNOWDAY-83hfj-18as for staying warm while enjoying all of the fun things happening around the city, we often put merino wool layers on underneath all of our kids clothing. that helps so much when it gets really cold out. i think polarn o. pyret makes some really great options when it comes to warm outer wear for kids (we are major fans of their snowsuits) and we also love the down jackets by patagonia. i’ll bring gloves, mittens and hats with us for the kids, and eventually my kids will ask for them even if we left the apartment with them not wanting any. we have used down stroller sleeping bags (called footmuffs) for our stroller seats in years past and they are life savers. especially since we do so much walking in this city and are outside for long stretches of time.  you can always hop into a shop or store though for a few minutes to get warm if your little ones need it! and lots of hot chocolate breaks every couple of hours always seem to help me. ;)

by the way, if you’re traveling around NYC with a stroller, HERE is a map we made showing all the working subway elevators (so you only have to carry it up and down the subway stairs maybe half the time!) and HERE is a big guide we made that should help you with navigating the city (taxis, subways, groceries, food and broadway shows).

LOVE-TAZA-christmas-card-photos947h4-14LOVE-TAZA-christmas-card-photos947h4-12(last two photos by katie rain.)

if i missed anything you love to do in the winter in the city, please share it in the comments below! HAPPY HOLIDAYS FRIENDS!!!!!!!!!!!

  1. Rena

    I see you can do many more things in NYC during the holidays as we can do here in the Bavarian country :) Love not only your tips but also your fantastic pictures! Thanks a lot for sharing.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    http://www.dressedwithsoul.com

  2. Emma

    Thank you for this post Naomi! I am visiting NYC this Christmas for the first time ever, and can’t tell you how excited I am.

  3. OHHHHHHHHHHHH the photos are magical!!!!! I need to save money to spend at last one winter holiday in NY!!!! and please with snow!! :):)
    Maybe next year?? I keep my fingers crossed (please, please, please)

    Kisses from France

    http://www.mapetitetribu.com

  4. megan

    Love this post! love to see more event guides like this one.

  5. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in NYC with some friends; it’s our tradition! So psyched for the holidays! Although we’ll be there for Thanksgiving, I’m excited to see all the winter/Christmas storefronts! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  6. Gabrielle

    Moved to NYC last january and just missed all the holiday fun – SO EXCITED for it this year and this list helps immensely! Thank you!!! :)

  7. Amy

    Hi Naomi, where do you all get the seasonal fabrics for your bugaboo stroller? I just bought a bugaboo and have been wanting to swap the fabric to something more wintery but couldn’t find where to buy it?

    Thanks! <3

  8. Sydney

    Thank you for this fantastic guide! I’ve been looking to visit NYC in the winter, so now I have a place to start!

  9. Miranda B.

    There is something truly magical about New York during Christmas. I have only been to NYC once, and it was about six years ago right after Thanksgiving. It was THE BEST. You are blessed to have all this at your fingertips. I can not wait to come back again someday.

  10. evan

    these types of posts are my favorite! you’re so good at suggesting things without coming off like you’re reading a list line-by-line.

  11. Rose

    This is quite possibly the most helpful and amazing holiday guide I’ve seen!!! Thank you!! ❤️❤️ I live in Bethlehem, PA (Christmas City!!) and we try to make a trip or two into the city for the holiday with the kids and I can’t wait to go to some of these things I’ve missed out on!!

  12. Teresa

    Oh this is perfect! We are headed to NYC with our babies this year and really want to get into all of the Family friendly Christmas activities. Thanks!!!

    xoxox
    Teresa

    http://www.aleandtere.com

  13. Hannah

    It’s been almost a year since I was in New York…. Can I come back already!! Christmas looks so lovely there!

    http://www.chausadventure.com

  14. Heidi

    I love this post! Heading to NYC tomorrow, and was looking for a breakfast spot! Is Landmarc a good option (even not during the parade)? Any other recommendations? Thank you!

  15. Stephanie

    Thanks so much for putting this together! We have a few items listed here on our itinerary for my family trip there this Thursday! The thing I am most nervous about is it strollers in restaurants. What do we do if the space is limited??

    Thanks!!

  16. Hannah

    You should do a blog post about your favorite free things to do in NYC!

  17. Nicole

    This will be my first holiday season living in the city and I can’t wait to try all this. Thank you so much for the great guide!!

  18. Rachael

    Thank you! This was clearly lots of work and is much appreciated!

  19. Sarah

    Can I ask where I could find your darling bright purple snow pants? They are so darling!

  20. Ashley

    Will be in NYC for 2 weeks in December for work. This will be my first time visiting the city during the holidays. Something I’ve always dreamed of since watching Home Alone 2 as a kid :). Can’t wait to check these places out (hoping I don’t get lost)! Thank you for sharing.

  21. Anne

    hey dear
    could you share some of your favorite blogs on the www with your readers pls? :)

  22. Melissa

    As an almost thirty year old woman I don’t know if I should be amazed that Eleanor have almost the same pink bell sleeved shirt or horrified :O I’m going to go for amazed!

    All that snow!

    http://www.melodramticadventures.com

  23. Caryn

    Fantastic post Naomi! Thanks! I added a few things to our bucket list this year. This is our fourth year living in Manhattan and our list grows every year! Christmas in NYC is so magical! A couple things we love (not that your list needs more, but things get SO crowded, I love knowing about all the options in case something doesn’t work out.) We always attend Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Center which is the Monday after Thanksgiving. Our girls ask about it starting after Halloween. There are tons of food booths from all the local restaurants, live music, and a bunch of kid events at different stores (indoors and free!) We always do several of the crafts and if the line isn’t too long, we try to say hi to a couple characters at the television studio on 66th! Our other favorite spot is Brookfield Place. They have a bunch of activities going on from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but if nothing else, take a trip down there just to see the luminaries in the atrium. It is stunning. There has been a small ice skating rink there the past couple years too, but I haven’t seen if it is coming back this year. Thanks for all the fun, family posts!

  24. Caryn

    Oh! And don’t miss the Apthorp Cleaners windows on Amsterdam and 79th. Ha! We love the small store window displays almost as much as the mega big ones sometimes.

  25. I am patiently waiting for my christmas in NY. I can’t wait to experience it.

  26. Mollie

    This post brings up so many wonderful memories of NYC during the holidays – the food! the windows! the skating!. And terrific recommendations, too! Was just in the city a few weeks ago, but this makes me want to get back ASAP. Great list and photos! :)

  27. ShaLyse Walker

    Loved this post! Can’t wait to do some of these things when I’m in the city in a few weeks! Thank you!

  28. Margaret

    Thanks for a great post!!!
    Can’t wait to take our grandson:)

  29. Megan B

    Oh my goodness! I need to visit New York for the holidays NOW! Please enjoy some of it for me this year!

  30. LouAnna

    Naomi – please help :)

    I’m visiting NYC in February and really want to attend something like that Pipilotti Rist exhibit you went to last year(?) OR something like that Ann Hamilton exhibit from the armory – the one with the swings!

    Anything like that going on next spring? interactive art is my fave. thx doll.

  31. NYC looks so magical this time of year! I wish I could visit for christmas since we probably won’t get any snow over here in England :(
    Such a great post and the cutest pictures xx

  32. carson

    what is the pink lipstick you’re wearing in the pic with churros and black hat, its so good!

  33. Just read this and you already got me in the Christmas spirit. Love thanksgiving, but I think I’m going to be pulling out decorations a little early!

    We love Peter and the wolf too! Noah keeps asking when we are going! The train show at grand central is awesome too!We truly are fortunate to live close to the city to experience such joy and fun with our family, and with you being in the heart of New York I’m sure your kids have a blast during the holidays! Have fun, and happy holidays to you!

  34. Jaqui

    This post has me day dreaming about Christmas in New York City so much now! I’m going to seriously sit down and plan a trip to visit early next December because it looks so magical! Thank you so so so much for putting this guide together! It was incredibly helpful!

    – Jaqui
    http://www.blissfuljaqui.com

  35. Vusala J

    Thank you so much for this great post. I have 2 questions. My little one is 2.5 and i wonder if it’s too early to take her to the Peter and the Wold and Nutcracker? How early have you started taking your little ones?

    once again, thank you for this awesome and very helpful post.

    -Vusala

  36. LAURA

    I LOVE YOUR FAMILY, SEE TO GROW YOUR CHILDREN .. YOUR ADVICE, I AM YOUR FAN!!! ;)

    TE MANDO UN BESO DESDEESPAÑA

  37. Kait

    This so makes me want to travel to NYC for the holidays! Everything sounds so dreamy and festive!

  38. Lauren

    Dang! I wish you had given this last year when my husband and I were in nyc for thanksgiving!! It was my facorite trip I have ever taken but man was it exhausting!!

  39. Christina

    Naomi, do you remember which lipstick you are wearing in the ice-skating picture? I love it!

  40. Paula

    I love NYC so much and miss it still, having lived in the city for 3 years (almost 3 years ago). Reading your guides i can almost feel that i’m back in NYC. I remember so many things about the city so vividly, but Christmas time in the city is the best time of year….except for spring…spring in the city was pretty amazing.

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