what not to miss in NYC this christmas!

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i used to always tell people the best time to visit new york city was in the fall. maybe early october, when the leaves are at their peak colors and the humidity has finally left us be and the crisp feel of autumn is in full effect. i still love autumn in the city a lot, but i’m starting to feel that being here around the holidays cannot be topped.

since it’s a frequently emailed question, i’ve pulled together some of our very favorite things you won’t want to miss if you’re new to the city or just visiting this season.

christmas in NYC: what not to miss!

  • radio city christmas spectacular with the rockettes (it really is quite epic. we loved it this year.)
  • visit the holiday markets around the city… columbus circle, bryant park, and union square (our favorite) – check the schedule here!
  • if you have little ones, go see peter and the wolf at the guggenheim museum. we have gone the last two years and loved it. it’s different every year… last year it took a more comedic route with the juilliard ensemble playing the music and a few actors and dancers on the stage. it’s short and sweet so the kids adored it. we’re excited to go again this year.
  • the holiday train show at the botanical gardens or at grand central!  it was a hit with samson in particular last year.
  • check out all the decorated trees around the city! …rockefeller, the met museum angel tree, madison square park (fun fact: madison square is the home of america’s first public christmas tree in 1912!) and the origami christmas tree at natural history museum which is my personal favorite.
  • the marionette holiday puppet show at central park for your little ones!
  • do a santa crawl. you can visit him all over the city but we’ve enjoyed visiting him at santaland at macy’s (the whole set up is pretty fun), the plaza hotel, and ABC carpet and home (he’s only there a few days a week though so check the schedule here.)
  • ice skating in central park, bryant park, and rockefeller center.
  • if you go to chelsea market for any holiday shopping, check out the lights! also, the dyker heights lights in brooklyn are supposed to be incredible (we need to go. still haven’t been personally.)
  • window shop and see the gorgeous displays down 5th ave (here is a helpful interactive map!) i especially love the windows at bergdorfs.
  • enjoy holiday treats! …hot chocolate at city bakery, peppermint bark at jacques torres, and gingerbread cookies at sarabeth’s. yum.
  • play in FAO schwarz toy store (our kids love the big piano keys!)
  • stop by the washington square arch around 5PM on christmas eve for some caroling!

did i miss any favorites from any locals? please share in the comments!

see more NYC guides HERE.

merry christmas!!!!

  1. jemima

    Wow…. Amazing! I’m yet to visit NYC but it is top of my list! I’ve always thought I wanted to go around Thanksgiving/fall but seeing this is making me reconsider… Hmmm….

    Seems like a truly magical place to spend time with kids over Christmas.


  2. I love this post! And I would love to visit NYC during the Holidays. We had a single day in the end of October this year before we had to get our flight back home to Denmark, and even though it was only a day, I still love that fall feeling. But I imagine it must be almost like a fairytale during Christmas time!

  3. This list looks such fun, it’s one of my little dreams to visit NYC at Christmas time!

  4. I always love living in NYC but there is something especially magical about being here during Christmas…this is a fantastic list!

  5. Layla

    Wow, there’s so much going on NYC at Christmas, it all sounds incredible! :) x

  6. arielle

    not quite sure what it is, but I have been jonesing for christmas in new york this year and this just makes me feel like I need to make it a reality. definitely saving this for then. thanks for sharing, naomi!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  7. Aisha

    THANK YOU!!!!! This is so helpful! We’re going to NYC next week with our little munchkin (3 years). Can’t wait!

  8. This is amazing! I’ve always wanted to go to NYC at Christmastime. Last time I went, FAO Shwartz was definitely a highlight! The big piano was so much fun!


  9. Anne

    My fast time in New York was during christmas (now 4 years ago). Actually I sprend both christmas evening and new years in the city. It was pretty crazy. Back then I had no orientation about what was up and down in NY so everything was a bit caotic during that trip. Especially when the snow storm came. It was that year with that really crazy snow storm which closed pretty much every single airport in NY not to forgot northern Europe too. Once the snow was fallen the streets were like one big desert (except from all the tourist in Midtown). I remember my sister and I walking in the middle of the grand boulevards of the East Village. Crazy holiday but oh man, one holiday which defiantly will stay in my mind forever. Since then I have been to NY twice (and going again next year) and let me just say the experience of the city was quite different during spring than during December/January! New York always put up a show, love it!

  10. Tara

    I love this post! I pinned it for later use. I am grateful to have a guide written by someone other than a tourist company. Thanks for sharing.


  11. this makes me wish we were visiting the city for Christmas, hope you all are enjoying all the things!

  12. Jess.

    Nothing beats NYC at Christmas time. Do you know the Brooks Brothers at Lincoln Center also has a Santa, and they print all the pictures (you can pick yours up for free a few minutes after sitting with the Jolly Old Elf). Not quite as awesome as the ABC Santa, but a little more awesome than Santaland’s, and did I mention free? xox

  13. Jessi

    Good morning, Naomi!
    I will be in Washington, D.C. for a few days this weekend and was wondering if you had any recommendations of any “must see” places to go and things to see (maybe even Christmas related?) And, of course, I wouldn’t be opposed to any restaurant recommendations as well :)

    I hope you and your sweet little family are doing well and enjoying every minute of the Christmas season! wishing you all the best with soon to be baby #3 :) Looking forward to following along with your new little adventure soon!

    xx, Jessi

  14. kiely

    niece sounds magical at christmas! someday i want to visit in december! thank you for the tips :)

    xoxo, kiely

  15. Kate

    It really is the most wonderful time of the year. Thank you so much for sharing these, it sounds like you’re making the most of holidays in the city! I hope to visit New York one year soon, and winter time sounds like so wonderful a time to do it.


  16. Lauren

    Replying to some of the people who haven’t been to NYC…
    I’ve lived here for a while and Christmas in the city is quite magical! BUT, You have to be okay with frigid temps, especially if you plan on a shorter trip with lots of walking out and about. The wind rarely stops here. So, if you can take that in stride and enjoy the ride then you’ll love it. If you are completely dependent on nicer weather to enjoy your time, then fall is definitely your time. :)

  17. Noelle

    I have been loving all your recent blog posts and this one especially! I can’t wait to visit nyc in december next year! I’ll have to use this list! Thank you.

  18. These are all such great ideas. I wish I lived in NYC.


  19. Rachel

    I agree with you, the holiday time is one of the best times to visit New York City. Yes, it’s cold but there’s so much to see and so much to do. Especially for the kiddos! I love bringing my three-year-old to the city when I visit the east coast!


    • TAZA

      So true! We love that! I totally forgot about it. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Bea

    Thank you!!!!!!
    ….but I think I’m going to visit NY in fall!

  21. Emily

    So excited about this post! We are going to be in NYC in a couple of weeks and this is perfect!! Thank you for sharing! :)

  22. Sarah

    What a lovely guide, I’m so jealous of everyone who lives in New York! I hope I get the chance to visit soon – these sound wonderful!


  23. Ashumi

    I have always wanted to go to New York during Christmas and pretend I’m in Elf or Home Alone 2! It seems so magical and a lot like London (where I’m from). Will definitely save these tips for when I go (one day I hope!) so thank you! X

  24. AGATA

    hi Davis Family!

    Awww, I want to visit New York during the Christmas time! All Streets looks so amazing and beautiful and magic. Love it.


    take care,


  25. marie

    One of my wish list is to visit NYC during the new year, and I can’t wait to bring my kids to NYC one day. ;) I’ll be celebrating Christmas with my family at home this year and I can’t wait! It’s the first Christmas for my babyboy. Hope all is well with you and your family :)


  26. emily

    ah this guide makes me want to live in nyc so bad!!!

  27. Sibaunne

    I wish I had this list when I was in NYC last holiday season. One thing I loved which wasn’t on the list was the NYC Ballets performance of The Nutcracker!! Magical! Wishing you the best for your new arrival from Melbourne xxx

  28. Madison

    I love New York City and I have always wanted to visit during the holidays! One day… I will have to save this list for when I am finally in New York for Christmas. Happy Holidays!


  29. laura

    I’ve never been to New York in the winter but I would love to. All the trees and the sparkle look amazing!

  30. Angela

    Where did you get Eleanor’s beannie? I would like to get one for my daughter. Thanks!

    • TAZA

      It’s from a local boutique here in the city! But I have seen similar ones at zara this year!

  31. caroline

    Where did you get your beautiful scarf, Josh?!!?

  32. Kimberley

    Brought my kids to the city a few years ago during the holidays and will say that if you want to see visit all the hot spots, avoid wednesdays when the theaters have their matinee performances. I found it was way too chaotic and managed to lose my 9 year old son for about ten minutes. Horrific experience… but the crowds were to much and parking impossible. Take the train in if possible. Lovely list… thank you!

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